Monday, February 12, 2007

Charlie LeDuff

Matthew Price reviews US Guys: The True and Twisted Mind of the American Man.

Very nice:

LeDuff fancies himself a tolerant, accepting fellow, but his equanimity has its limits; he can fly off the handle and it's fun to watch. Venturing into "the sandbox of counterculture" (not exclusively a male preserve), he checks out the Burning Man festival in Nevada. He's appalled by the posturing, the consumerism masquerading as faux enlightenment: "Destruction as an artistic movement; let us call it Nouveau Nihilism." He's not buying it. His scorn is withering: "[F]orty thousand freaks scream without moving their mouths. Forty thousand stray dogs pissing all over the place." He finds not an ounce of authenticity.

Even better:

But LeDuff finds the heart of fakeness back in his old stamping ground, New York, "capital of glam and soft-work-for-a-living." He goes there to investigate male beauty and is even more appalled. Attempting to become a male model, he stops by the now-defunct Cargo magazine, a kind of cut-rate GQ. The fashion industry is trying to make men soft, LeDuff observes: "They are creating a whole subgenus. The alpha-pansy." It's pretty amusing watching him go through the motions: He gets a facial, a manicure, a haircut, tries to find in himself "the girlish alter ego that lurks underneath the mustache of every man." Needless to say, he doesn't. All this stuff is ruining New York, he gripes. The city has become "self-satisfied, self-centered and self-important (emphasis added)."

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