Saturday, August 2, 2008

Atomic Dog - Men, Love, and Sex

Atomic Dog is TC Luoma's weekly column over at Testosterone Nation. In it, he tends to wax politically incorrect on all things masculine, but he makes some good points.

This week, he takes on Men's Health editor, David Zinczenko and the whole idea of metrosexuality that Men's Health tends to promote (but not really, so keep that under your hat). Zinczenko has a new book out, too, which TC seems to have actually read, and now wishes he hadn't.

Men, Love, and Sex

Despite being a part of the "fitness industry," I'm only peripherally aware of Men's Health magazine.

Sure they write about exercise and health, but comparing Testosterone to Men's Health is like, I don't know, comparing MSNBC's Hardball to your local 6 o'clock news.

They both cover current events, but one is a little more hard-core and in-depth, while the other talks a lot about cats stuck in trees and how the coach of the high school football team was caught driving drunk and naked down main street at midnight and how there are certain common food products in your cupboard right now that could kill you so you better tune in at 11 and find out what they are lest your children accidentally eat them and die a horrible, writhing death right there on the kitchen linoleum, you negligent, irresponsible bastard, you.

I know that some of Testosterone's writers have had articles published in Men's Health and that T-Nation Managing Editor Lou Schuler, who I respect mightily, was one-time fitness director for Men's Health before it got so heavily into fashion and skincare.

I've certainly got no problem with any of that. For instance, mainstream writers all make fun of Reader's Digest, but most would give up drinking rye whiskey to get an article published in the Digest.

Similarly, most "fitness" writers wouldn't mind getting an article published in Men's Health. They also wouldn't mind paychecks fueled by the Jaguar and Porsche ads in the magazine.

Amazingly, Men's Health outsells other male mags like GQ, Esquire, and Details. In fact, Men's Health sells about 24 million copies every year. I believe the numbers, all right, but I think they're horrendously inflated by happenstance and I've got proof.

A semi-demented street person whom I'd just given all my loose change told me he used to be an editor for Men's Health before he was kicked out into the street for wearing the wrong color of khakis with his sport jacket.

"The truth is, ain't no man ever actually read a copy of Men's Health," he told me, cackling and hacking up a phlegm ball.

Okay, I made all that up. But part of me thinks that I'm not far off the mark.

But like I said, the mag's been mostly off my radar for the most part, until last Sunday, that is. There on the front page of the "Styles" section of the NY Times was a half-page photo of beaver-toothed editor of Men's Health, David Zinczenko.

Apparently, Zinczenko is my spokesman. He's your spokesman, too. In fact, he's the spokesman for Everyman, declared the Times. My God, why else would he have been invited onto the Today show on 19 occasions? (Personally, I think he should be a spokesman for the Scrabble board game: ZINCZENKO. Holy Mackerel, that's 33 points, even without a double or triple word score!)

His reputation is as a "guy's guy." Even his former girlfriend Rose McGowan attests to the regular guy label, citing the fact that when she first met him, "he was using Irish Springs to wash his face."

Listen Rosie, I once washed my 'nads with Lava Soap. That doesn't make me the spokesman of my generation. Regardless, Zinczenko apparently likes to cultivate his image as the anti-metrosexual.

"Metrosexuality is dead," declared Zinczenko during one recent Today Show appearance. "And good riddance. But let's be clear here: the trend is a tough calzone to swallow."

Let's forget for the moment that as Editor-in-Chief of Men's Health, David is the mayor of Metrosexual City, population: 2 million hamsters.

David ol' buddy, if you're trying to declare metrosexuality dead, don't use metaphors like "tough calzone to swallow" because it's something a metrosexual might say. You sound like Nathan Lane in The Birdcage when Robin Williams is coaching him in how to emulate a straight guy:

the birdcage

Regardless, the Everyman spokesman has made a bold play to be the Every woman spokesman, too, because he's just co-authored a book that tells women how men think: Men, Love & Sex, The Complete User's Guide for Women.

"Thousands of men confess their well-guarded secrets about how they think, feel, and behave!" declares the subtitle.

"You see," explains David in the opening chapter, "the truth is men do share their feelings — their fears, their desires, even their deepest secrets. They've shared those feelings with me. And now I'm here to share their feelings with you."

Oh joy! The battle of the sexes is over! Misunderstandings, gone! Conflict, gone! Men and women everywhere, simpatico!

Thanks to der Zinkster, we need to do no more than glance into each other's eyes for a moment to gain complete understanding, to grok each other's essence at which point clothes will magically melt away and women will exact the exact amount of foreplay necessary before a naked segue into transcendental sex that is as perfectly conducted as Leonard Bernstein's orchestra, alternating between precise amounts of slow, rhythmic plucking of her string section and just the right amount of tooting on the horn section, culminating in a cymbal-clashing mutual orgasm as explosive, wet, and fizzy as dropping a dump truck of Mentos into a water tower of Diet Coke, followed by the gosh-darn best part, the cuddling and noodling and spooning.

Oh puke.

Zinczenko wrote the guide after passing the results of 5,000 responses to an independent Harris poll through his lavender hued Men's Health filter. What the results say about American men, or Men's Health readers, I don't know.

All I know is that the majority of the people who answered the survey are quivering pats of butter and it's a wonder any of them have the courage to zip up their fly in the morning, let alone ever talk to a real woman.

Furthermore, for someone who claims to know how men think, Zinczenko hits the mark about as often as Stephen Hawking hurling darts with his amyotrophic laterally sclerotic fingers.

One female survey taker wants to know why, after being married for six years, the amount of sex between her and hubby has dropped off from 3 to 4 times a week to maybe once every two weeks.

Zinkster pontificates about how we feel pressure from our job, the kids, and even body issues, and we too wonder if we're giving her the sex she needs. "The rapid-fire sex machine we were when we first met may become more like popguns," explains Everyman.

Please, Zinky. This guy's been working the same terrain for at least 6 years now, probably longer, and it's hard to get the plow out when it's the same crop, every day, year-in and year-out. He knows her pussy better than he know his momma's face, so it's not the job, it's not the kids, and Good Lord, it's not "issues" we have with our bodies.

You want more sex, mam? Put on a wig. Walk in wearing a Catholic school uniform. Put on some dark makeup, a burka, and tell him you came from the Middle East to see if the legend of the Mother of all Penises was indeed true. In other words, give him something other than the run-of-the-mill; give him something exciting.


In another one of the books' 25 pithy chapters, Zinczenko lets women know why we're sometimes not as communicative as they'd like us to be. He explains that it's because we're "afraid to say the wrong thing".

I'm sorry, it's not because we're afraid, it's because there probably isn't anything going through our heads. It's like Capone's vault when Geraldo punched through the brick wall. We might be bored, detached from reality, or even confused by your yammering, but afraid? The truth of it is, if we're aware of you at all, we're fantasizing about one of those ball-gags from Pulp Fiction.


Then there's all the usual tired ol' fluff about men, why we change channels a lot, or why we don't ask for directions, why we sometimes miss the toilet (surprisingly, Zinczenko doesn't recommend men sit down to pee) and a nauseating amount of type given to what it means if a man calls you right after the first date or doesn't call you right away and what it means if he calls you the next day or three days later.

Sheesh. With all this agonizing, it's a wonder these people ever hook up at all. If I liked a woman, I wouldn't have any qualms about calling her right away. "Oh no, she might know that I like her!" If I get a new game for my Xbox and I have a great time playing it, why would I put it away for a week? What am I, some sort of wanna-be ascetic monk?

Hell no, I want to play it right away, and often, until my fingers bleed.

Besides the head-scratching advice, the book is peppered with saccharin-sweet, Testosterone-draining quotations.

Michael, age 30, believes "Men are a lot like eggs. Under the right pressure, we can withstand any stress you put on us, but inside, we are soft and vulnerable."

"I cry every time Lois Lane finds out Clark Kent is really Superman," writes Kevin, age 32.

Jeff, age 30, says, "A woman climaxing is the most wonderful feeling to a man."

Eggs indeed. Would that you had a pair, Michael! You cry during Superman, Kevin? You're a hamster! Making a woman climax is indeed a wonderful feeling, Jeff, but no more so than sinking a 3-pointer from your driveway, from behind the trashcans and over the defending arm of the old oak tree.

Adam, age 35, confesses, "Men are starved for affection for the most part — that includes cuddling, foreplay, caressing, soft touches. It's very important for a man's self esteem and ego to have his partner tell him as well as show him through notes, cards, and initiating love-making."

The only note I want from my partner is, "I'm bringing a friend home tonight. Get lots of rest. Oh, and wash that thing."

Then there are lots of highlighted quick-advice sections like SAY THIS, NOT THAT:

SAY THIS (to the hamster carrying in some grocery bags):


Would anyone with a functioning pair fall for that claptrap? It's patronizing. That's the kind stuff you say to little children. And really, if the closest your man gets to being an action hero is carrying in the groceries, well you've landed yourself a catch, haven't you? Do us a favor and don't procreate.

Then there are the noggin-scratching surveys. When asked how often men look at other women when they're with wives or girlfriends:

53% said,

28% said,

19% said,

What a fantastically trained bunch of poodles you all are! Tell me, do you know any other tricks?

Another survey suggested that the favorite fantasy of 68% of male respondents was "he's a patient, she's a nurse."

Apparently, nobody wants a threesome, anymore. Personally, I think the nurse/patient thing is only a rung or two above the fantasy evolutionary ladder of pretending you're a baby and you need her to change you because you just made a boom-boom.

I'm hoping that most women ignore this book because it could set back male-female relations hundreds of years. You think global warming is a problem and we've got to cut back on our carbon footprints? Well, Zinczenko has an emoboy footprint and it's about the size of Greenland.

And the men in the survey? I should set up an Alpha Male concession stand outside the palace where these eunuchs live.

I'd clean up.

the birdcage

Photo by David LaChapelle.

Did I mention that he isn't politically correct? Hell, he's just plain vulgar sometimes, and he has a loyal readership. He obviously favors the "old school" masculinity made popular by John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Sylvester Stallone, but he is no idiot. He also believes in old school values such as loyalty, honesty, and integrity.

I seldom agree with everything he says, but his column often appeals to some more "caveman" part of me.

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