Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Even The Rhinos

I read Even The Rhinos Were Nymphos by Bruce Jay Friedman. A great collection of some of his magazine writing, and the title piece is worth the price of admission. In it, Friedman tries to give vivid portrait of what it was like to work on the sweats, who was reading them, and what kind of stories appealed to them.

Along with death trek and survival stories, yarns about tough cops who had embarked on county cleanups were surefire; also guaranteed to please were pieces that had anything to do with islands - storming them, hiding out on them, buying them at bargain rates, becomign GI king of them... "Breakouts" were another highly successful feature. Any story called "We Go at Dawn" or "No Prison Bars Can Hold Me" would be read with satisfaction... Another source of delight was the account of some GI who had attacked an enemy with an ingeniously devised contraption... Also popular was the revenge or "trackdown" yarn, one in which the hero caught up with someone who had behaved unattractively to him in a hellcamp (Remember me, Kraus?) and gunned him down in a postwar Ankara cafe.

I'll definitely be reading more Friedman.

The High Life

Hat tip to my buddy Rich for finding these gems, the Miller High Life TV spots by Errol Morris. I absolutely love these and, honestly, they made a High Life drinker out of me (that and the $5 price tag). A terrific celebration of characteristics of manly life that jive with me. They used to show these on ESPN Classic and the Vs. network and I was sad to see them pass out of circulation. But now here they are - all of 'em! Watch a few and you can see they've got my version of Virile Lit. all over 'em.

Advertising is a subject of interest to me because I work in the communications industry and the "beer wars" are an interesting topic in this vein, the endless struggle, fought out in creative spots on TV and in magazines, between the various mainstream brands in the U.S. I always thought Miller should stay in this direction, concentrating on sports and poker and the "everyman" appeal of its brand to weekend warriors, bowling alley lotharios and softball sluggers. It's an activity I remember from my childhood in the 70s and 80s, my dad playing softball with a bunch of guys and, dusty and grimed, hitting a friendly watering hole afterward. Are those days gone?

By the way, COD is gonna give me shit for my love of Miller High Life, Miller Lite and, yes, Budweiser (but not Bud Lite). To which I say only mea culpa! I like the craft brews, to be sure, especially this little label from my town, but, you know, steak and potatoes and all that....