Tuesday, August 30, 2011

GQ September 2011 Issue - Will Leitch on Michael Vick & Other Features

I've not been much of a GQ Magazine reader in the past, but found the most recent issue to have some solid content as well as (at the risk of being a bit hyperbolic) borderline spectacular.

What got me to purchase (and it's the first magazine I've bought from the rack in probably years) was seeing that J.R. Moehringer wrote the cover story. Author of the brilliant memoir The Tender Bar (which I reviewed here) as well as co-writer of the equally brilliant Andre Agassi memoir Open, Moehringer pens for this issue a profile of New York Jets Quarterback Mark Sanchez.

The piece is titled "Broadway Mark" (currently available online just in excerpt form) and while good, didn't necessarily strike me as great. To this point, I kind of like when my favorite writers do stuff that I like, but not as much as other work of theirs. Reminds me that everybody's human and while you strive to do your best work at all times, you're simply not going to have everything you do in life be your best work. When it is, that's great, and when it's not... you know you did what you could and then move on to the next project.


What I felt was the best piece of writing from this issue was another quarterback profile... this one written by Will Leitch (he off the book God Save the Fan that I reviewed here). His piece "The Impossible, Inevitable Redemption of Michael Vick" is really good writing on an interesting subject... and has the additional cachet of having created news itself. Leitch's reporting of Vick being directed towards the Philadelphia Eagles by the NFL is likely not something the league office would want put out and there and a pretty remarkable detail assuming it's true (and I have no reason to think it's not).

Back to the writing itself, though... Leitch takes the approach of portraying Vick as more than just a caricature of someone who was a bad guy who hated dogs and now is a good guy that loves dogs. Really interesting look at someone who is both an ideal (good or bad) that people assign to him and an actual guy.


Another piece from this GQ that featured a compelling story was a restaurant review (that's right, a restaurant review as compelling) by Alan Richman. "Diner for Schmucks" details his experiences at and with the proprietors of the New York eatery M. Wells. It's remarkable reading that traffics in the concepts of service, customer expectations and the power of accusation.

Postcription to the M. Wells piece... restaurant lost their lease and now closed. Don't feel bad for the owners in the slightest.


Finally, this issue contained the Chris Heath piece "Tell: An Intimate History of Gay Men in the Military". It featured accounts from various gay current and former Servicemen and what struck me was an anecdote towards the end of the piece.

From an unnamed member of the military who will soon be able to serve his country without his sexual orientation being grounds for dismissal if publicly known...

"Since I'm a single officer in the Marine barracks and I've got the highest security clearance you can get, I also serve at the White House in close quarters with President Bush and President Obama at social events. Very seldom was the president ever alone, but one time the president had said, 'Go and get the vice president,' and all the straphangers went, and the president went in the Blue Room and was just standing there waiting for Biden. And there was no Secret Service around or anything, and I went, 'Fuck it, I'm going to go and talk to the president about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." ' He was looking out south—there's an incredible view down past the Washington Monument to the Jefferson. And I just stepped in and said, 'Sir?' and he turned around and walks to me and I just started: 'You know, sir, I want to let you know that there are a number of us that work very close to you who appreciate very much what you're doing on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"—more than you probably realize.' And he was shaking my hand, he looks up and it's like...he got it. I said, 'I want to thank you for this.' And he goes, 'No, I want to thank you. Thank you for your service, and thank you for your courage.'"