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BE THE SMARTEST GUY AT THE GYM
SEPTEMBER 2017 Vol. 26, No. 7
THE
HUNTERS
FIGHTING
FOR PUBLIC
LAND
THE
DOOMED
VOYAGE
OF THE
SS EL FARO
Jeremy
Renner
An Action Hero
Shifts Gears
GEAR LAB
SPECIAL
HIGH-TECH
SHADES
SOLO
CAMPING
GRAVEL
BIKES
MENSJOURNAL.COM
th
VOLUME 26 NUMBER 7
p.
54
Renner Rides Solo
Jeremy Renner could have been
Hollywood’s next action movie star.
Instead, he’s pursuing something
different: a sane life. By Josh Eells
p.
60
The Last Voyage
of the SS El Faro
A cargo ship sailed into a hurricane.
No one onboard survived. Using its
black-box recording, we explain what
went so wrong. By Jeff Wise
p.
68
This Land
Is Our Land
Leading a gritty group of Montana
hunters and anglers, Land Tawney is
on a mission to protect public lands.
By Abe Streep
Push through your
limits with some
savvy training
tweaks. Page 43.
p h o t o g r a p h b y D Y L A N C O U LT E R
24
The SUV gets
a luxury makeover.
NOTEBOOK
18 Seal of Approval
Rocker Steve Earle’s favorite things; plus,
expert advice on surviving Burning Man.
28 Drinks
Mixing with mezcal.
30 Food
How to make summer veggies taste
even better.
26
34 Profile
Stylish
hikers for
every day
This doctor’s prescription for a longer,
healthier life: more sex.
36 Essay
A son of amateur geologists on a childhood spent searching for rocks.
20
Pitcher
Jake Peavy
plots a
musical life
after baseball.
HEALTH & FITNESS
43 Training
How to be the smartest guy at the gym.
48 What Works for Me
Acclaimed chef René Redzepi shares
his fitness epiphany.
50 Nutrition
How to eat your way out of diabetes.
GEAR LAB
78 Eyewear
Performance shades that do more than
block rays.
80 Backpacking
What you need — and don’t — to take an
epic solo adventure.
75
Bikes that
devour gravel
Gear that keeps you cool and stink-free.
84 Grills
Four portable models that will make you
king of the tailgate.
THE L AST WORD
86 Ken Burns
The prolific documentarian on staying
authentic and making sense of Vietnam.
10
MEN’S JOURNAL
SEPTEMBER 2017
ON THE COVER: Jeremy Renner photographed for Men’s Journal by Simon Emmett on May 5, 2017, in Palmdale,
California. Styling by Paris Libby. Grooming by Roz Music for Tracey Mattingly. Production by Flower Ave Photo
Production. Renner wears jacket by Saint Laurent, shirt by AllSaints, jeans by Diesel.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: COURTESY OF ALFA ROMEO; DAYMON
GARDNER; COURTESY OF GIANT/JAKE ORNESS; JARREN VINK
82 Fitness Apparel
EDITOR IN CHIEF
Jann S. Wenner
EDITORIAL DIRECTOR
Jason Fine
T R AV E L
EDITOR
Mark Healy
Last-Minute
Summer
Vacations
Whether it’s renting a
houseboat on Lake Powell
(pictured) or bumming around
the Bahamas, you still have
time to catch the summer fun.
CREATIVE DIRECTOR
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
DEPUTY EDITOR
FEATURES EDITOR
ARTICLES EDITOR
SENIOR EDITOR
Joseph Hutchinson
Jennifer Santana
Larry Kanter
Ryan Krogh
Greg Emmanuel
Marissa Stephenson
CONTRIBUTING EDITORS
Dr. Bob Arnot, Mark Binelli, Tom Brokaw,
David Browne, Kitt Doucette, Daniel Duane,
Josh Eells, Kevin Gray, Laird Hamilton,
Erik Hedegaard, Joseph Hooper, Walter Kirn,
Dr. Robert Mordkin, Seamus Mullen,
Stephen Rodrick, Paul Solotaroff,
Matt Taibbi, Jesse Will, Sean Woods
COPY & RE SEARCH
COPY CHIEF Thomas Brown
RESEARCH CHIEF Jordan Reed
ART
ART DIRECTOR Justin Long
ASSOCIATE PHOTO EDITOR David Carr
DEPARTMENT FINANCE MANAGER Sandford Griffin
ART PRODUCTION MANAGER Mark Hewko
FASHION
FASHION EDITOR Brynn Coleman
MENSJOURNAL.COM
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Michael H. Provus
HEAD OF SALES
HEAD OF DIGITAL SALES
HEAD OF MARKETING
ADVERTISING DIRECTOR
Jay Gallagher
Matthew Habib
Kerri Mackar
Jessica Grill
NEW YORK Craig Mura, Timothy J. Murray,
F I T NE S S
GE A R L A B
Strong Without
Squats
What We’re
Testing
SOUTHEAST Gary D. Dennis
NAVIGATE MEDIA, 1875 OLD ALABAMA ROAD, SUITE 1320,
ROSWELL, GA 30076 678-507-0110
MIDWEST Adam Anderson, Brian Szejka
333 NORTH MICHIGAN AVENUE, SUITE 1105, CHICAGO, IL 60601
312-782-2366
DETROIT & PACIFIC NORTHWEST Lori Friesner 248-743-1022
CALIFORNIA & UTAH Stacy Cohen, Kurt DeMars,
Tiffany Keele Grana, Nina Sasson
5700 WILSHIRE BOULEVARD, SUITE 345,
LOS ANGELES, CA 90036 323-930-3300
1. Dumbbell Step-Ups
Holding a weight in each
hand, step on and off a box.
2. Hill Sprints
Find a steep, 50-yardlong hill and sprint up at
95 percent effort, walk
down to recover. Repeat
six times.
3. Trap Bar Dead Lift
Grab the handles of a trap
bar for this dead lift variant.
4. Hip Bridges
Lie on your back with a
weighted bar on your lap
and drive hips into the air,
then lower slowly.
TEXAS Adam Knippa
LEWIS STAFFORD CO., 5000 QUORUM DRIVE, SUITE 545,
DALLAS, TX 75254 972-960-2889
DIRECT RE SPONSE ADVERTISING
800-442-9220
DJI Spark This high-flying camera can transmit video
for up to 1.2 miles and can be controlled by either phone
or gestures. The best part? It’s less than $500.
MARKETING / ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT
Gina Abatangelo, Emma Greenberg, Sara Katzki,
Gabe Newman, Ashley Rix, Kerry Ryan
ANALYTICS & RE SEARCH
Katie O’Mealia
ON INSTAGRAM
Iceland might be known
for glaciers and
volcanoes, but horses may be
its most remarkable feature.
There is roughly one horse for
every four people, and the wild
horses that dot the country are
a special breed — descendants
of Viking steeds, they say.
PUBLICITY
Kathryn Brenner
DIGITAL MEDIA
HEAD OF DIGITAL Gus Wenner
DIGITAL OPERATIONS Alvin Ling
CIRCULATION
Linda Greenblatt, Elyse Kossin,
Amy Fisher
MANUFACTURING
Chris Marcantonio
CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
GENERAL COUNSEL
HUMAN RESOURCES DIRECTOR
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LICENSING
CONTROLLER
Timothy Walsh
Natalie Krodel
Victoria Kirtley Shannon
Maureen Lamberti
Karen Reed
WENNER MEDIA
CHAIRMAN
Jann S. Wenner
WENNER MEDIA 1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104–0298 • 1-800-677-6367 • mensjournal.com
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES Copyright © 2017 by Men’s Journal LLC. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole
or in part without permission is prohibited. Men’s Journal® is a registered trademark of Men’s Journal LLC.
12
MEN’S JOURNAL
SEPTEMBER 2017
VICE PRESIDENTS
Timothy Walsh, Jane Wenner
CREATIVE DIRECTOR
Joseph Hutchinson
FROM TOP: ADAM BARKER/TANDEM STOCK; COURTESY OF DJI; COURTESY OF ANDERS OVERGAARD (@ANDERSOVERGAARDPHOTOGRAPHY)
Squats build core, back, and
leg strength. But if you hate
them, try these instead.
Danika Parente, John Stark
1290 AVENUE OF THE AMERICAS, NEW YORK, NY 10104
212-484-1616
Letters
“ Too many people think
that rescuing is the
only ethical way. In the
end, there are people who love
dogs and people who exploit
them. You can f ind both
types on either end of the
breeder-rescue spectrum.”
GRIZZLY WARS
I read “The Grizzly Man’s Last
Stand” by Rick Bass with
great interest. While it was a
fascinating personal profile, it
fell short on facts and the
realities of management of
apex predators. The facts:
Grizzly bears in the Greater
Yellowstone Ecosystem
surpassed every recovery
goal under the federal
Endangered Species Act. The
population has exceeded the
delisting threshold by 40
percent and has remained
stable and above recovery
goals for nearly a decade
while also tripling its
occupied range. The delisting
of the Greater Yellowstone
Ecosystem grizzly bear
should be celebrated for
what it is: one of the greatest
wildlife management success
stories ever.
EVAN HEUSINKVELD,
CEO, SPORTSMEN’S ALLIANCE
COLUMBUS, OH
Doug Peacock’s challenge to
us is simple — if we can save
these bears, we can save
ourselves. His task is made
harder by human ignorance,
but Peacock is right. Our
natural world is at stake.
DAN SULLIVAN
LIVINGSTON, MT
For Peacock to rail against
allowing grizzlies to be
hunted, while he is fine with
hunting elk, deer, and
antelope, is the definition of
hypocrisy. I wonder why he
thinks his hunts are any
different from anyone else’s.
MIKE VAUGHN
OVIEDO, FL
FOR THE LOVE OF DOGS
I want to commend you for
your defense of purebred
dogs [“Life’s Just Better With a
Dog”]. Puppy mills are
obviously wrong, but every
dog deserves a loving home
no matter where it comes
THE
GRIZZLY
M A N’S
LAST
STAND
AUTHOR AND NATURALIST DOUG
PEACOCK OWES HIS LIFE TO
MONTANA’S BEARS. NOW WITH
THE FEDS SET TO LEGALIZE GRIZZLY
HUNTING, HE’S WORKING TO REPAY HIS
DEBT — BEFORE TIME RUNS OUT.
W E ’ V E B E E N WA L K I N G S L O W LY T H R O U G H T H E D A R K
for a long time, the old soldier and I, beneath a thumbnail
silver moon, the coyotes chattering like roosters. He makes
his way using a wooden f lagpole for a cane, a rif le and a
tripod strapped to his back. Here, some 30 miles north
of Yellowstone, at the edge of Montana’s Crazy Mountains,
on this cold morning in November, the mind feels clean
and clear, focused on this one moment. We’re hoping to kill
an elk at daylight.
Doug Peacock has barely hunted, or even fired a gun,
since his days in Vietnam. He experienced enough killing
there, he says, to last several lifetimes. He was 27 when he
came home, racked with PTSD, back before there was a name
for it — his Army medical papers described his condition
as: “Occupational and social impairment . . . due to such
symptoms as: depressed mood, anxiety, suspiciousness, panic
attacks, sleep impairment . . .”
Peacock thought he was alone back then; he didn’t know
that every soldier experienced some version of this. Once
home, he wandered the West — Utah, Arizona, Wyoming —
in solitude for weeks at a time. Eventually, he found his way
into Yellowstone country, just a day’s walk from the sagebrush
prairie we’re traversing this morning. In the small number of
14
JUNE 2017
Doug Peacock beside
the Yellowstone
River, near his home
in Emigrant, Montana
065
MEN’S JOURNAL
MEN’S JOURNAL
ANTHONY DEMARCO
JERSEY CITY, NJ
BAD MEDICINE
I am a huge fan of Tom Brady,
but as a sports-medicine
doctor, I was disappointed in
what I felt to be a very
unbalanced view of Alex
Guerrero and his practices
[“My Miracle Cure: Tom
Brady’s Guru,” by Mike
Chambers]. Guerrero
encouraged Chambers to
walk on his foot months
before his surgeon recommended, telling Chambers
that his surgeon “doesn’t care
if you ever run again. He
doesn’t care if you want to
climb Mount Everest.” I take
issue with that. The great
majority of physicians care
tremendously for their
patients and their f itness
goals. I’ve personally seen
what can happen if athletes
bear weight too early, and I
am so glad that those
complications did not happen
to the author. Doctors,
therapists, and alternativemedicine practitioners should
be working together toward a
common goal of preventing
and healing injury, not
working against each other.
JESSICA FLYNN, MD
BOSTON
CONTACT US
BY RICK BASS
PHOTOGRAPHS BY TOM ROBERTSON
064
from. Too many people
look down on responsible
breeders and think that
rescuing is the only ethical
way. In the end, I believe there
are people who love dogs and
there are people who exploit
them for money. You can find
both types on either side of
the breeder-rescue spectrum.
The article you published
about finding the right dog
acknowledges that.
SEPTEMBER 2017
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16
MEN’S JOURNAL
SEPTEMBER 2017
A
Straight
Line to
the
Abyss
p h o t o g r a p h b y R YA N R O B I N S O N
SURFERS HAVE OAHU’S North Shore.
Mountaineers have Everest. For
slackliners, there are few more iconic
sites than Taft Point, 2,000 feet above
Yosemite Valley, a location made famous by the late climber and BASE
jumper Dean Potter, who once walked
a line here with no protection. “For
slackliners, it’s a bucket-list item,”
says photographer Travis Burke. “I’ve
always wanted to do it.” In late May,
Burke connected with his buddy Ryan
Robinson, a professional slackliner, to
rig up the line at Taft. Delayed by
snow on the trail — unusual for this
time of year — the pair had to rush up
the mountain to beat the setting sun.
“As soon as it was rigged, Ryan was
like, ‘You’re up,’ ” says Burke. “He
wanted me to go first. The previous
highest slackline I’d done was 400 feet
— it was terrifying.” While the slackliner worked the camera, Burke,
wearing a harness and leash for protection, scooted out onto the inchwide webbing. Halfway through, he
turned sideways to the line, a trick
called an exposure turn, and stared
into the abyss, the roar of Yosemite
Falls in the distance and no focal point
below him except the valley floor. “It
was literally the coolest view I’ve ever
had,” he says, “like you’re just floating
in space.” — RYAN KROGH
SEPTEMBER 2017
MEN’S JOURNAL
17
AGENDA
Q&A
SEAL OF
APPROVAL
SAFETY TIPS FROM
BURNING MAN’S ER DOC
FISHING I’ve been
fly-fishing for 20 years.
It’s a recovery thing. I
don’t do it regularly, but
I keep a five- and
six-weight rod on the
tour bus at all times. I
have a Winston rod and
a Waterworks-Lamson
reel. I need something
powerful since my
casting is terrible when
I start. It takes me a
few hours to get back in
the groove.
TELEVISION I’m an
HBO and Showtime
guy. I saw every
episode of Girls.
Somebody finally got
the Williamsburg
hipster thing right; I
trip over them all the
time. The writing was
great — funny but also
kind of tragic. I loved
when it ended that she
didn’t tie up all the
loose ends, because
that’s not real.
JEANS I don’t go on
mass retail websites
very often, but I buy
clothes on eBay. When
you find something
cool and they
discontinue it, you can
find it there. I buy lots
of Levi’s 527 jeans
there, slim fit in black.
They fit me in the ’70s,
and they fit me now.
ACCORDING TO
Steve
Earle
The singer, songwriter,
actor, and novelist — whose
new album, So You Want
to Be an Outlaw, is out
now — shares his favorite
offstage discoveries.
—AS TOLD TO
DAVID BROWNE
FILM
THE OTHER RUSSIA SCANDAL
Netflix’s latest tour de force documentary, Icarus, begins as something of a Super Size Me for PEDs, as filmmaker and
cyclist Bryan Fogel dopes himself to prove just how easy it is to cheat in sports. But the film soon turns into a full-on
exposé as Fogel reaches out to Russian doctor Grigory Rodchenkov, the head of Moscow’s anti-doping lab. Rodchenkov designs an undetectable protocol for Fogel, even flying to the U.S. at one point to smuggle back Fogel’s urine
samples for testing. Soon it emerges why Rodchenkov is so savvy at the endeavor: He’s the main doctor behind
Russia’s state-sponsored Olympic doping program, one linked to Vladimir Putin and backed by the former KGB. As
a World Anti-Doping Agency investigation heats up, Rodchenkov flees Russia to join Fogel, and the two begin working
with the New York Times to expose the scandal. But when
two colleagues of Rodchenkov’s die under mysterious
circumstances, Rodchenkov must decide whether to join
the witness protection program. What starts as a shopworn participatory doc spins into a hair-raising Tom Clancy
thriller. You’ll never look at the Olympics the same way
again. —RYAN KROGH
7
SO ARE ALL YOUR PATIENTS NAKED?
“The vast majority of people have
some form of clothing on. It just
might be pasties and thong shorts.”
HOW COMMON ARE OVERDOSES?
“You’re more likely to get people
tripping on the guide wires of tents
than tripping on drugs. One percent
of our complaints are drug-related.”
WHAT IS A TYPICAL INJURY?
“Dehydration. A lot of people
underestimate how much they
need to drink on a daily basis. Also,
the Playa is as hard as concrete. We
see a lot of people simply because
they fell off their bike.”
WHAT’S THE CRAZIEST INJURY?
“A few years ago, we had a piece of
art called Coyote, which was 30 to
35 feet tall with a head that spun
around, so when people were
climbing up 20 to 30 feet, if they
weren’t paying attention, its ears
could come around and knock them
off. You get things like that that you
really won’t see anywhere else.”
WHAT’S YOUR SAFETY ADVICE FOR
A VIRGIN BURNER?
“Go with a veteran. The more
experienced Burners — some of
them have been going for 20 years
— we generally don’t see them very
much.” —JOE JACKSON
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: COURTESY OF CHAD BATKA; COURTESY OF JEFF WESTIN; COURTESY OF NETFLIX
READS Nick Tosches
blows my mind. In the
Hand of Dante is one of
my favorite books. They
think they’ve run
across a copy of The
Divine Comedy in
Dante’s handwriting,
and Tosches makes
himself a character and
wants to authenticate
it. I love the idea of
taking something true
and extrapolating it
into fiction.
For the past three years, Dr. Jeff
Westin has overseen Burning
Man’s “emergency room,” a
2,000-square-foot tent called the
Rampart, staffed with 100 medical professionals. During the
weeklong event, some 70,000
half-naked Burners descend on
Nevada’s Black Rock City (this
year’s gathering is August 27 to
September 4), and Westin’s team
treats roughly 250 people a day,
which is many times the visits
for a town this size. As for the
actual work? He describes it as
“a different genre of medicine.”
C U LT U R E
Peavy’s
New Pitch
A little bit Deadhead and a little bit Duck
Dynasty — former Giants hurler Jake Peavy
wants to turn Mobile, Alabama, into the new
Music City USA. by RIEN FERTEL
I
T WA S A S H E L L I N G that lasted
the whole season. Jake Peav y, a
journeyman fastballer for the San
Francisco Giants, was greeted in
the early part of the 2016 season
with the news that he’d been bilked out of
$15 million by a financial adviser. As the
summer wore on, meetings with lawyers
outnumbered strikeouts, depositions overshadowed wins, and Peavy’s ERA soared
to a career high of 5.54. His season was cut
short when he stepped on a pair of scissors,
forcing the two-time World Series winner
to sit out the postseason, too. He returned
home only to be served with divorce papers.
Undoubtedly, it was a very bad year for
Jake Peavy, but you wouldn’t know it by the
party he hosted in early December. Seventy
friends and family trekked out to Catherine, Alabama (pop. 22), 80 miles west
of Montgomery. It’s the pitcher’s offseason
home away from home, a 5,400-acre ranch
and hunting camp named Southern Falls.
Guests packed the property’s spacious barroom/concert venue/bowling alley, the Mill
Creek Saloon, as if it were a championship
locker room, hoisting bottles and cans,
moonshine jars and joints.
The host weaved through the crowd,
cheer ing t he house band jamming
onstage. It was a southern-f lavored shindig, with an oyster roast and barbecue buffet and plenty to wash it down. As guest
after guest — southern-rock legends and
almost-famous singer-songwriters — sat
in for a turn with the band, Peavy boogied,
hollered, and used his iron-veined hands
to pogo off the shoulders of others while
shouting, “Can you believe this, brother?
Can you believe this!”
As he eases toward retirement after
15 seasons in the majors — during which
the reliable right-hander won a Cy Young
Award and spots on three All-Star rosters
while inching his way up to 56th on the
list of all-time strikeout leaders — Peavy
has begun his walk toward a new passion
project: Building a musical outpost in his
20
MEN’S JOURNAL
SEPTEMBER 2017
hometown of Mobile, Alabama. “Any city
that’s worth a dang certainly has a musical
heartbeat,” he says, “a culture and a scene
that can stand on its own.” He’s not out to
build it from scratch but simply to turn the
volume up on a city that has produced an
eclectic mix of musicians, from Jimmy Buffett to James Brown’s longtime band director, trombonist Fred Wesley.
So he built a studio, Dauphin Street
Sound, in downtown Mobile in the hope
of turning the town into a mini Music
City USA. Located in the heart of the Gulf
South — just over two hours’ drive from New
Orleans and six hours from Nashville —
the studio comes complete with Peavy’s collection of guitars, valued at a half-million
dollars (including a 1955 Fender Telecaster
that may be the first with a sunburst finish), the expertise of three-time Grammywinning producer and engineer Trina Shoemaker (who has worked with Sheryl Crow,
Out of uniform, Jake Peavy resembles the southern rockers he idolizes — and whom he plans to
lure to his Alabama ranch and studio.
Emmylou Harris, and Whiskeytown), and
a nearby band house that doubles as a private rehearsal and event space. And then,
just two hours north, there’s Southern Falls,
where Peavy recently built an outdoor theater and a 48-bed lodge — “a Bass Pro Shop
on acid,” a friend called it. In an era when a
musician can cut a record just about anywhere, Peavy’s dream is for the two locations to become destinations, like FAME
Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, or
Sonic Ranch in West Texas — workspaces
that will allow singers and songwriters to
escape the world, hunker down, and write
and record music.
Peavy talks about music like baseball
fanatics rave about a batter’s perfect home
run swing or the sublime form of a star
p h o t o g r a p h s b y D AY M O N G A R D N E R
C U LT U R E
pitcher’s windup. Music is “vital to who
we are as a people,” he philosophizes. “The
closest man-made thing to that next level,
the spiritual.” Growing up in Semmes, just
outside of Mobile, he remembers watching
his grandfather sing gospel harmony in
the family’s church and playing bluegrass
and Hank Williams records back home. On
Sundays, his grandmother would transport
her grandkids to the local nursing home,
where she would, in Peavy’s words, “beat on
a piano” as the children sang out “This Little
Left: Peavy with bandmate Ben Jernigan and
producer Trina Shoemaker. Above: On the mound
in game two of the 2014 World Series.
22
MEN’S JOURNAL
SEPTEMBER 2017
up with a team in the second half of the
2017 season — Peavy seems content to nest
in Alabama, surrounded by his four sons,
wide circle of musician friends, burgeoning
guitar collection, and brand-new recording
studio. But at Southern Falls that evening,
Peavy had focus only for music: someone
playing a piano, a songwriter willing to
share tips on crafting that perfect melody,
even a stereo softly humming in the corner,
stole his attention. After the barbecue was
cleared and the house band was only tuning,
Peavy allowed his mind to wander.
“It’s time to be more involved where I’m
gonna spend the rest of my life,” he says,
side-stepping any talk about the money
troubles or the divorce. On this night, even
baseball is nothing more than an abstract
metaphor for music. He takes comfort in the
belief that musicians, like the most nonjaded
of athletes, “show up for nothing other than
the music,” for the love of playing to packed
auditoriums or empty stairwells.
Late in the night, Peavy joined the band
onstage, grabbed a guitar, and stepped up to
the mic. “Living on the road my friend,” he
sang, “is gonna keep you free and clean.” The
crowd cheered in recognition of “Pancho
and Lefty.” We raised our drinks as Peavy’s
tentativeness transformed into a voice that
sounded determined and resilient, and we
sang along: “Now you wear your skin like
iron, your breath as hard as kerosene.” Q
RON VESELY/MLB PHOTOS/GETTY IMAGES
Light of Mine.” His father, Danny, exposed
him to healthy doses of classic rock before it
was called classic rock — “Bob Seger saved
American music in [my father’s] opinion,”
Peavy says.
After skipping college to work his way
up through the minors, Peavy joined the
San Diego Padres in 2002 as a 21-year-old
rookie in need of a mentor. He gravitated
toward the team’s third-base coach, Tim
Flannery — the Padres’ fan-favorite second baseman throughout the 1980s and
a roots-country singer-songwriter with
a dozen albums to his name — who could
often be found on road trips strumming his
travel acoustic, accompanied by a bottle of
wine, in hotel stairwells. The young pitcher
begged Flannery to teach him the song his
grandfather sang to him as a boy: “Pancho
and Lefty,” Townes Van Zandt’s oft-covered
ode to an outlaw’s struggle with the bittersweet memory of a life spent on the road.
(It is, in Peavy’s estimation, “the best country and western song ever written.”) The
coach eventually snuck a guitar into Peavy’s
locker, a gift with a note attached: “Bring
this with you.”
Professional baseball players spend a
shit-ton of time away from home, and Peavy
spent most of it seeking out music. He frequented Chicago’s blues-bar scene after
being traded to the White Sox in 2009. In
Boston, where he won a World Series in
2013, he faithfully worked to build his guitar and piano skills while crate-digging for
vinyl in each city the Red Sox landed. In San
Francisco, where he was reunited with Flannery and secured his second World Series
ring in 2014, Peavy befriended and jammed
with luminaries of that music scene, including Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead.
Last August, Peavy partnered with the
Dead’s Rex Foundation in hosting a Jerry
Garcia tribute concert to raise money for
several San Francisco nonprof its. (His
band, the Outsiders, played on the bill.) It
was the highlight in a season dedicated to
charity. At home and out of town, Peavy
toted his guitar to children’s hospitals,
sharing what he calls “the sheer joy of
music” by covering Tom Petty and Bob
Marley tunes for young patients. In Boston, he gathered a group of friends, including Jennifer Hartswick, the trumpeter in
Phish frontman Trey Anastasio’s solo band,
and Widespread Panic drummer Duane
Trucks to play a benefit concert. Back home
in Mobile, he sponsored the TenSixtyFive
music festival, a free three-day event to promote the revitalization of the city’s downtown corridor.
Now a free agent — and hoping to hook
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STYLE & DESIGN
Luxe Utility Vehicles
The high-end five-seat SUV has officially taken over. Here are three legitimate reasons
to splurge. by JESSE WILL
are liv ing
in a particularly polarized
moment, but there are a few
things we can at least agree
on: Papa John Schnatter is a
pizza-making god; professional video gamers are athletes; and Maroon 5 belongs in the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. OK, we’re clearly
joking, but what we can get on board for: You
should buy an SUV. The debate is over, and
sport-utes have won. They now make up 53
percent of the market. The biggest chunk of
those are in the so-called B segment: your
two-row, five-seat midsizers — sometimes
called crossovers — which are nearly a quarter
of all new vehicles sold.
The competition is the most interesting
among the luxury brands. High-end carmakers are using lighter mixed-material subframes that improve performance and fuel
economy; torque-vectoring all-wheel drive
and differential braking systems that impart
sport-sedan-like performance; and autonomous safety tech that may actually save your
life (even swerving away from oncoming
cars) when you inevitably look down at your
phone. Beginning with last year’s fantastic
Jaguar F-Pace and continuing through this
summer’s release of three standout entrants
from Audi, Volvo, and Alfa Romeo, we may be
arriving at the high point of the gas-powered,
five-seat luxury SUV era.
W
24
E AMERICANS
MEN’S JOURNAL
SEPTEMBER 2017
AUDI SQ5
VOLVO XC60
The last Q5 was appealing enough for Audi
to sell more than 1.5 million units worldwide. It’s harder to find fault in the 2018
model — based on the same platform as the
Porsche Macan. We love everything from
the Q5’s clear, logical tech controls to its
velvety power delivery. But we argue that
it’s worth the nearly $13K upcharge for its
more muscular brother, the SQ5, and not
just for the significant leap in power.
Adding on the S Sport package ($3,000)
brings a hydraulic rear differential that
sends up to 100 percent of its available
power to one rear wheel, keeping you eerily
planted in corners, while adaptive steering ($1,150) tightens up as your speed
increases — both of which offset the SQ5’s
4,400-pound weight. We found ourselves
bombing down British Columbian forest
roads as if piloting a hot hatch. Of course,
loading on those options gets pricey. But
the SQ5 is so quick and so polished that
it’s hard to resist diving into deep savings.
audi.com
The Nordic conquest of the luxury market
enters its next phase with the launch of
the XC60 — essentially a smaller version of
the cooler-than-a-leap-into-a-fjord XC90.
The XC60’s similarly minimalist cabin could
have been designed by anticlutter guru
Marie Kondo, accented with pale wood and
seats that prove more comfortable than
their slender, space-saving profiles would
hint. We dug the flat, near immediate onset
of torque from the T6 model’s two-liter,
super- and turbocharged four. There’s also
a cheaper turbo four and a late-arriving
plug-in hybrid, which will hit a Porsche
Macan–rivaling 400 horsepower.
In line with Volvo’s tech and safety push,
the XC60 has some advanced semiautonomous features baked in, including one called
Pilot assist, which can accelerate, brake,
and steer at speeds up to 80 miles per hour.
ENGINE 3-LITER SUPERCHARGED V6
HORSEPOWER
354
MSRP FROM
$55,275
On the winding, heavily trafficked Spanish highways we tested it on,
Pilot proved more stress-inducing than task-relieving. (The Volvo folks
admitted that the system may be better suited to U.S. interstates than
twisty European thoroughfares.) Bottom line: The drive is so entertaining, you’ll want your hands on the wheel anyway. volvocars.com
ENGINE
HORSEPOWER
MSRP FROM
2-LITER SUPER- AND TURBOCHARGED 4
316
$44,900
ALFA ROMEO STELVIO
Can an SUV have soul? Such is the question posed by the first peoplehauler from Alfa Romeo — yeah, the same folks who won the first
Formula One championship. While an SUV might seem anathema to a
motorsport heritage brand, remember that the Cayman basically saved
Porsche. Luckily, Alfa’s five-seat Stelvio has good genes: The second
vehicle in the brand’s comeback shares its underpinnings with the
rousing Giulia sedan. And like that car, among a same-same group
of vehicles, the Stelvio feels livelier. Part of that is because of its lighter
weight, the result of using components like a carbon-fiber drive shaft
and magnesium and aluminum elsewhere. Like the SQ5 and XC60,
its all-wheel-drive setup favors the rear wheels. But the Stelvio almost
begs you to drive it with spirit — from big, column-mounted paddle
shifters to a “dynamic” drive mode that really is just that. The cabin
doesn’t quite match the hushed sophistication of the Audi or Volvo —
you can see the Fiat Chrysler shadow in places like the rubbery dash.
But after our test drive in the sweeping Tennessee foothills, we didn’t
want to leave it. Even more surprising? Topping out near $54,000, with
all the options, the Stelvio is kind of a deal. alfaromeousa.com
ENGINE
HORSEPOWER
MSRP FROM
2-LITER TURBOCHARGED 4
280
$42,990
STYLE & DESIGN
Mountain Kicks
1/ WINTERHAVEN
MID
KEEN
$150
These shoes borrow DNA from classic hiking boots to
form a stylish hybrid that’s perfect for fall.
Keen crafted this rubbersoled boot with insulation
that’s designed to keep
feet warm even when temperatures dip to –4. The
technology might be inspired
by the rigors of nature,
but the shoe looks as if it’s
meant for city streets — and
the black-and-white laces
are a nice accent.
by JASON CHEN
1
2
2/ KILLINGTON
LEATHER HIKER
TIMBERLAND
$130
With a 50 percent recycled
mesh lining and 15 percent
recycled rubber outsole, the
Killington is the eco-choice
that also happens to be comfortable: The outsole is made
of three layers that provide
cushioning and support.
3
3/ THE HIKER
KENNETH COLE
$195
The sole of a sneaker
combined with the upper
of a hiking boot, this
high-top has a sleek, dark,
good look you could wear
to the office, even with
eyelets that could have been
lifted off a dusty trail shoe.
4
4/ DANTE
TRETORN
$100
5
The tonal contrast of the
Dante’s upper — a heavy
wool flannel with leather
trim — gives these shoes
a rugged, mountaineering
aesthetic that’s complemented by the bright, alpineinfluenced laces.
5/ THURSTON MOC
$140
STYLING BY PETER TRAN
FOR ART DEPARTMENT
ROCKPORT
The standard lacing (rather
than D links) shows sophistication, and the stitching
has a neutral Top-Sider vibe.
26
MEN’S JOURNAL
SEPTEMBER 2017
photograph by JARREN VINK
FOOD & DRINK
OAXACAN OLD-FASHIONED
½ oz mezcal
1½ oz reposado tequila
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 barspoon agave syrup
Orange twist
Add ingredients to an ice-filled rocks
glass. Stir until cold. Garnish with a
flamed orange twist.
MEZCAL MULE
2 oz mezcal
½ oz Ancho Reyes Verde Chile
Poblano Liqueur
½ oz fresh lime juice
Ginger beer
Lime wedge
Sprig of mint
Add first three ingredients to an
ice-filled highball glass, then top it off
with ginger beer. Garnish with lime
wedge and mint.
KATE VALK
2 oz mezcal
¾ oz lemon juice
½ oz yellow Chartreuse
¼ oz agave syrup
⅛ oz Ricard pastis
Mixing With Mezcal
Tequila’s smokier cousin is a hard beast to tame in a cocktail, but a few masters have
figured out how to subdue it — with delicious results. by ST. JOHN FRIZELL
M E ZCA L I S tequila’s older country cousin,
made from different types of agave that
infuse it with big, brawny f lavors — think
smoke, sweat, and petrol. As such, it doesn’t
always play well with others. In Mexico,
people drink the stuff undiluted and have
for hundreds of years. Mezcal seemed to prefer it that way. That’s why I used to say that
mixing cocktails with mezcal was like trying
to teach a pig to sing: It wastes your time and
annoys the pig. Best just to leave it alone.
28
MEN’S JOURNAL
SEPTEMBER 2017
But lately I’ve warmed to mezcal cocktails. It helps that there are more mezcals on
the market now, and many of the new ones
aren’t so smoky, like Marca Negrá Espadín
and Real Minero Jabalí. “There are fruitforward mezcals, and mezcals with so many
botanical f lavors you would think they’re
gin,” says Nacho Jiminez, the head bartender at Ghost Donkey, an agave-focused
bar in New York City.
Bartenders have also figured out a couple
of strategies. One: Keep it in the agave family by combining mezcal and tequila in a
classic recipe, like a margarita or Oaxacan
Old-Fashioned. Two: Make it a fair f ight by
pitting mezcal against an equally assertive
ingredient, like the fiery ginger and poblano
pepper in the Mezcal Mule or the explosively herbaceous Chartreuse in New York
bartender Tyler Caffall’s Kate Valk. Follow
either of these rules and you’ll have that pig
singing in no time. Q
p h o t o g r a p h s b y TA R A D O N N E
LIQUID STYLING BY REBECCA JURKEVICH FOR EDGE REPS; PROP STYLING BY SARAH CAVE FOR EH MANAGEMENT
Shake; strain into a cocktail glass.
FOOD & DRINK
SUMMER SUCCOTASH
Serves 4 to 6
3 tbsp unsalted butter
½ sweet onion, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
2 ears of corn, kernels cut off
the cob
2 cups fresh peas (about 1½ lbs),
shelled
½ cup vegetable stock, chicken
stock, white wine, or beer
¼ cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground
black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 ounce Asiago or Parmesan
cheese, grated
2 tbsp minced herbs (parsley,
chives, chervil, tarragon, or some
combination)
(Optional: 1 cup cooked white beans
or 1 cup cooked farro and/or 2 cups
chopped fresh shrimp)
1. Heat butter in a large skillet over
medium-high heat until foamy.
Add onion and cook, stirring
frequently, until translucent,
about 4 minutes.
2. Add garlic and peppers and cook,
stirring frequently, until the
peppers have barely softened,
about 5 minutes.
Chef Sean Brock’s secrets on making the most
of your late-summer green-market haul.
by DANIEL DUANE
THE ACCLAIMED SOUTHERN chef Sean Brock
abides by certain rules, codes to live (and
cook) by. So in late summer, when farmers
markets are brimming with gorgeous produce, he wants you to remember three big
rules to wrest maximum f lavor from highseason corn, sweet peppers, peas, squash,
and whatever else you can get your hands on.
30
MEN’S JOURNAL
SEPTEMBER 2017
Rule Number One: “Learn to shop,” says
Brock, the former co-host of The Mind of a
Chef and current owner of some of the hottest restaurants in the South, including
Husk in Charleston, South Carolina, and
Nashville. “You’re looking for vegetables
picked at that absolute peak moment of
ripeness.” The more a plant or vegetable is
4. Add cream (and, if you’re using
beans/grains/shrimp, an extra
½ cup of stock), simmer, and stir
until liquid has thickened and
everything is warmed through,
about 2 minutes.
5. Remove from stove, season with
plenty of salt and pepper, and
stir in lemon juice. Gently fold in
cheese and herbs and transfer
to a serving bowl.
p h o t o g r a p h s b y TA R A D O N N E
FOOD STYLING BY REBECCA JURKEVICH FOR EDGE REPS; PROP STYLING BY SARAH CAVE FOR EH MANAGEMENT
A Veggie Genius
Tells All
3. Toss in the corn kernels, peas,
and stock (or wine or beer) and
bring to a bare simmer (no hard
boiling). Cook, stirring occasionally, until the stock is reduced by
half, about 3 minutes. (If adding
cooked beans, grains, or shrimp,
this is your moment.)
M A K E R ’ S 4 6®.
SEAN’S SECRET
WEAPONS
Why do Brock’s veggies taste
better than yours? He keeps
a couple of cards up his sleeve.
“I like adding depth to my succotash and
other simple vegetable dishes by adding extra
acidity, like you get from vinegar or citrus.
It opens up your tongue to accept more flavor,”
Brock says. “I also up the umami, that savory
taste you get from mushrooms or anchovies.
It makes you salivate so all those flavors stick
around your mouth longer.”
For Acidity “I have probably 60 different
vinegars in my house, but I love the ones
from Lindera Farms in Virginia, especially
its Hickory Vinegar. Add it by the drop to
your vegetables. Keep tasting after each drop —
when your eyes widen, you’ll know you’ve
got it right.”
For Umami “I love this stuff called Takii
Umami Powder, which is made from shiitake
mushrooms. It takes any dish from ‘Really, really
good’ to ‘Holy crap, that’s amazing!’”
Brock hunts for the good stuff at Thornhill Farm
in McClellanville, South Carolina.
FROM THE HOME OF
PETER FRANK EDWARDS/REDUX
handled, says Brock, the more it deteriorates.
“So try to find farmers who pick stuff from
the field right into a truck and then drive to
market,” he says.
Born and raised in rural Virginia, where
his family grew cabbage and corn, Brock has
built his reputation on reviving the foods of
the pre–Civil War South: Sea Island red peas,
benne seeds, traditional country ham. He’s
dabbled in farming, too, with a plot on Wadmalaw Island in South Carolina. That’s where
Brock developed Summer Produce Rule Number Two: “Don’t overcook it.”
“There was just something about eating
vegetables out of my own field, still warm
from the sun and alive, that taught me the
value of handling them as little as possible,”
he says. “It’s all about chasing the precise
instant when great vegetables slip past raw
to being just barely cooked, so you keep all
that fresh f lavor but you’re not just biting
into a raw radish.”
Which leads us to Summer Produce Rule
Number Three: Make succotash.
The all-time champion of southern summer staples, succotash is an opportunity to
toss together whatever amazing produce
popped up in the market that day. “Succotash is really a theory more than a recipe,”
Brock says, “so it doesn’t matter what you’ve
got.” The dish goes great alongside chicken,
fish, and beef, but Brock also suggests serving it as a main course. “In that case, I might
add white beans or some kind of hearty
grain like farro or rye berries,” he says.
(Cooked first, of course.) “If you really want
to try something cool, make the succotash
a little thinner, with extra chicken stock,
and then, when everything else is just about
cooked, drop in some beautiful, small pieces
of peeled fresh shrimp and let them poach.”
“Or, while we’re on the subject,” Brock
says, “skip the shrimp and add even more
broth and call it a soup! Oh, and I always top
my succotash with lots of fresh herbs, like
tarragon, chives, or parsley.” Fresh herbs, of
course, raised right by a good farmer and, in
this case, not cooked at all. Q
WE MAKE OUR BOURBON CAREFULLY.
PLEASE ENJOY IT THAT WAY.
Maker’s 46® Bourbon Whisky, 47% Alc./Vol.
©2017 Maker’s Mark Distillery, Inc. Loretto, KY
PROFILE
This Doctor’s Orders:
More Sex
Researcher Nicole Prause is on a mission to link good sex
to better health. Not everyone is onboard. by JOEL WARNER
N A R A I N Y Januar y afternoon, Nicole Prause sits in a
cozy apartment in Los Angeles’ Venice neighborhood
with two laptops in front of
her. The screens display graphs that constantly update a stream of information. In
the bedroom next door, less-clinical data
can be heard: “Uh, uh, uh.” Rhythmic moans
rise, shifting in volume and pace. “Uuh!
Uuh! Uuh!”
As a sex psychophysiologist, Prause
studies the mental and physical changes
that happen during sex, and she’s made a
career of dreaming up outlandish devices,
protocols, and experiments to do so. “My
goal is to identify the general health benefits
O
34
MEN’S JOURNAL
SEPTEMBER 2017
of sexual stimulation,” says Prause. “There’s
good reason to believe there’s a link.”
Today, that means hooking up Matt and
Cara Brand to an EEG monitor to track brain
activity, finger cuffs to measure heart rate,
and an armband that monitors movement.
The Brands are in the middle of something
called orgasmic meditation, or OM. This
relatively new practice requires a partner to
stroke a woman’s clitoris to achieve “an optimal state of consciousness” but not necessarily orgasm — OM is not about getting off.
Devotees claim that it can increase productivity, focus, and confidence. (“We OM twice a
day, every day,” Cara says.) Prause is out to
determine whether the method is legit.
“What Nicole’s doing — studying human
sexual response in the lab and tying it to
neuroscience — very few researchers in the
country are doing,” says Justin Lehmiller,
director of the social psychology graduate
program at Ball State University.
That’s partly because sex research is a
dying profession, at least in America. Stymied by persistent puritan convictions and
a pullback in federal funding, even leading
sex-research institutions have stopped studying actual sex. Researchers are forced to rely
on rudimentary tools like surveys rather
than studies involving actual genitals and
orgasms. It’s why the majority of American
sex researchers have lately decamped for
Canada, Australia, and other countries with
fewer hang-ups and funding challenges.
Currently, only two U.S. labs studying sexual arousal have federal funding, and since
Prause’s former mentor at the famed Kinsey
Institute took a job in Belgium in 2014, Kinsey hasn’t had a full-time psychophysiologist
on staff. Which means the iconic center is no
longer actively studying how the body and
mind interact during sex.
But Prause continues to tackle questions
others are too gun-shy to address: How do
you know when a woman is climaxing? What
size penises do women really prefer? And perhaps most important, could sex be akin to
medicine? Prause hopes to show how intercourse can help supplement or even replace
certain prescription drugs and expensive
therapies, similarly to medical marijuana.
BAC K IN TH E VE NIC E apartment, and after
Matt and Cara complete their OM session and
get their clothes back on, Prause instructs
Prause (left) studies the mental and physical
changes that occur during sex, and how we can
tap into those responses for better overall health.
photographs by ART STREIBER
them to do a series of frustrating computer
tasks. (The couple did the same tests before
the session.) She wants to see if OM has
improved their composure and resilience.
Both claim they feel sharper, more confident, and less stressed than before OM-ing.
Now Prause just needs an additional 150 or
so couples to help create a clear conclusion.
As long as sex science has been around,
a kind of squeamishness about the topic
has hindered progress in the field. “I can
measure your heart rate with 10,000 different things,” says Mark Cohen, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Los
Angeles, who is one of Prause’s mentors,
“but nobody has a tool out there that measures vaginal lubrication.”
Despite being one of the most integral
parts of existence, our concept of sex is still
riddled with misconceptions. “It wasn’t
until 1998 that we realized we’d missed a
part of the clitoris,” says Prause. “There are
all kinds of big questions left.” For example,
scientists don’t know why some people take
sexual pleasure from pain; or what exactly
makes sex most rewarding — the arousal or
the climax; or even what triggers orgasm in
the first place.
In addressing those questions, Prause
has developed a reputation for rigor. “When
it comes to her process, she holds herself
to a higher standard,” says Ardy Rahman, a former UCLA research collaborator. “She overengineers her science.” For a
study that measured whether condom use
in porn impacted sexual arousal, Prause
could have simply shown participants some
scenes with condoms and some without.
Instead, says Rahman, to create a more
exact comparison, she used a single scene
of unprotected sex and had a research assistant digitally add a condom to the male porn
actor, frame by painstaking frame. “Poor
thing,” Prause says with a laugh.
The cheery demeanor hides a def iant
streak that’s spurred Prause to dabble in
belly dancing and fire spinning, in which
she twirls f laming staffs and batons. In
2014, she crashed while racing her motorcycle and suffered broken ribs and a shattered scapula. Three days later, she met up
with her track club — where the 38-year-old
is known as Danger Nikky — arm taped to
her side and ready to run.
That tenacity transfers to her work,
where Prause dreams up devices to help
answer lingering questions about sex. In
2010, she was the first and only U.S. scientist
to use genital vibrators and MRI machines
to test brain response in the midst of stimulation. Two years later, she used a 3D printer
to produce 33 erect penises of various sizes
to deduce, for the first time, what length
women actually prefer. Answer: big penises,
but only 0.4 inches longer than what’s often
considered typical — 6 inches long — and
only for short-term f lings. Women favor
slightly shorter options — on average 6.3
inches, with a 4.8-inch circumference — for
long-term partners.
struggled to obtain
funding and approval for sex research involving actual sex. “Program off icers at the
National Institutes of Health instruct you not
to include the word sexual in any of your grant
applications,” she says. “Apparently, congressional aides run regular searches of funding
databases to look for studies they can make
examples of, and sexual is one of the words
they search.”
Under the current administration, these
problems could intensify. “I worry about this
FO R Y E A R S , P R AU S E
try to have an orgasm,’ all of a sudden the
brain appeared to become disengaged and
galvanic skin response dropped. We don’t
know why that happens. Maybe to reach
orgasm you have to reach a state of mind
where you are no longer trying to control
your environment.”
But what she’s most interested in learning
is how sex can be used to make us healthier.
She’s hoping the OM study will help her
reveal a connection between genital stimulation and the positive benefits that people
get when taking antidepressants. At the
same time, she’s working on a grant proposal that would allow her to explore how
IT WASN’T UNTIL 1998 THAT WE REALIZED WE’D
MISSED A PART OF THE CLITORIS. THERE ARE ALL
KINDS OF BIG QUESTIONS LEFT.
more now in the face of a
government that is hostile
to all forms of sexual discussion,” says Cohen at UCLA.
“It is going to get worse for
everybody.” It doesn’t help
that the country has a history of sex-research witch
hunts: In the early 2000s,
Congress nearly defunded
NIH-approved studies on
sexuality and health. At the
same time, a lobbying organization called the Traditional Values Coalition
compiled a hit list of 157 sex
researchers, many of whom
were subsequently grilled
by government staffers on the health benefits
of their work.
In late 2014, when her UCLA contract was
up and the university declined to accept the
private-company funding she’d obtained to
study orgasmic meditation, Prause decided
it was time for a change. She launched her
own research institution, Liberos, with the
tagline “The freedom to desire.”
She’s using that freedom to explore the
most mysterious sex organ of all: the brain.
Prause is currently studying whether brain
stimulation might prove to be a more promising treatment for female sexual disorders
than Addyi, the “female Viagra” that’s
become infamous for troubling side effects
and limited effectiveness. And she’s hoping
the OM trials will help her better understand unexpected shifts in galvanic skin
response — a measure of emotional arousal
— that she’s noticed in past studies. “When
we showed people porn or turned vibrators
on, galvanic skin response went up and up
and up,” she says. “But when we said, ‘Now
Prause uses myriad sensors — like this armband
that tracks minute movements of the arm and
wrist — to monitor how people move during sex.
sexual function could be used to understand
depression; increased sexual activity is often
a sign that people with the mood disorder
are improving. She also wants to design a
study that will ask people to masturbate
in her lab, then try to fall asleep while she
monitors their brain waves. The idea is to
investigate whether orgasms could replace
drugs as a treatment for insomnia.
All of this research fuels Prause’s belief
that, one day soon, doctors will be prescribing good old-fashioned sex for what ails us
— she just has to prove it works.
“People would care if there was evidence
that orgasms can replace your antidepressant
or sleep medication,” she says. Right now,
though, science ignores the many beneficial
changes that happen in the body when it’s
sexually aroused. Says Prause: “We ignore
them because it’s sex — and that’s stupid.” Q
SEPTEMBER 2017
MEN’S JOURNAL
35
PROFILE
compass, gem guide, topographic maps,
rif le, pistol, f ishing rod, peanut butter
sandwiches. We would pack the pickup and
growl off into eastern Oregon or northern
California to scramble across scree slopes
and wade hip-deep through rivers — caught
up in our quest for rocks, minerals, and fossils. We clawed geodes from hard-packed
sage f lats, hauled petrified logs from dry
canyons, carved fossils from limestone
shelves, and — occasionally — blasted the
head off any rattlesnake that got in our way.
This was my childhood.
visitors from all over the
world attend the Tucson Gem and Mineral
Show, in Arizona. They come for the jewelry
and beads, the sculpture and furniture, the
bins of fossilized shark’s teeth, the purplegutted amethysts as big as coffins. They
come to ogle the allosaurus skulls and the
knives with petrif ied-wood handles, the
3,000-pound boulders of rose quartz and the
12-foot cave-bear skeleton arranged upright
so that it sits on its haunches, its claws outstretched and shredding the air.
I am here to join my parents in what is
known as the world’s biggest treasure hunt.
Tucson is their Burning Man, their Lollapalooza or Coachella. When we shoulder
our way through the crowds, they spot old
friends, banter with strangers, and shake
hands with dealers who remember them
from previous years.
My father wants a dinosaur bone. My
mother wants a spider nested in amber. But
they plan to see everything, to slowly navigate the miles of vendor displays and take in
all the agaty wonder. “Isn’t this great?” my
mom keeps saying, while my dad asks me
more than once, “You aren’t bored, are you?”
I would complain, especially as a teenager. We sometimes saw no one else for
days, outside of the lonely convenience
stores we frequented for diesel and Corn
Nuts and Diet Coke. “I’m bored,” I would
say. “This is ridiculously boring.”
While my friends were wandering
through malls, I was scraping through
rabbit-brush thickets, exploring lava tubes
that stretched on for miles. While my friends
were holding out change for an Orange
Julius, I was holding out a shard of chert
and asking my father, “Do you think this is
a broken Clovis point?”
Sometimes I would go on strike. “Find
your own damn rocks,” I would say and lie
in the skirt of shade beneath the truck and
read a mass-market paperback, usually with
a dragon on the cover.
But t hen someone would call out,
“Snake!” or “I found something!” and I
would join them again.
E V E RY W I N T E R ,
A Boyhood
on the Rocks
Growing up with geologists meant vacations doing
fieldwork and easy access to snakes, but those family treasure
hunts yielded something more precious than stone.
by BENJAMIN PERCY
M
36
MEN’S JOURNAL
SEPTEMBER 2017
an Audubon guide on rocks and minerals for
one birthday and a .357 for another.
It was not uncommon to find my parents
kneeling on the living room f loor, peering
through a magnifying glass at the geologic
surveys spread out before them. They made
notes on legal pads and f lipped through
guidebooks, using terms like mother lode
and greenstone belts and tetrahedron and lowgrade, large-tonnage deposit.
At least once a month, my sister and I
would join them for what was less a vacation and more an expedition. Here was our
checklist: pickax, trowel, whisk, shovel,
The author in 1995, on a quest for petroglyphs in
eastern Oregon.
COURTESY OF BENJAMIN PERCY (3)
OST BOYS, when you ask them
what they want to be when
they grow up, say a professional baseball, basketball, or
football player. I, too, had trouble deciding — whether I should become an
archaeologist, paleontologist, or geologist.
This is what happens when you grow
up with parents who call themselves rock
hounds. I wore a fedora and safari pants
with bulging pockets and a belt with a utility
knife strapped to it. I subscribed to Archaeology and attended lectures on the geomorphic drivers of arroyo dynamics. I received
PROFILE
Our standard routine was this: My father
would study geologic surveys until he determined an area that might be rich with gems
and minerals. Then we’d drive to the middle
of nowhere, his eyes bouncing between his
map and the rutted road ahead, until he
killed the ignition and snatched the revolver
off the dashboard and said, “Roll out.”
We would then spread out and march
together at a slow pace, hunting for veins
of quartz, humps of petrified wood. Hours
would go by as we patrolled a predetermined
grid, and my neck would cramp and my eyes
burn from looking so hard.
In much the same way, we now work our
way through Tucson — through the tents and
hotels and warehouses — treasure hunters
searching for the right prize at the right price.
a lawyer, my mother a botanist. But they have probably spent more
time in the field than many career geologists. Their house exists as living space but
more so as a repository for their collection.
Visitors often refer to it as a museum, but
that word doesn’t fully capture the atmosphere of worship. My mother touches a
geode in passing as if rubbing a quick prayer
with rosary beads. My father stands before a
trilobite and sips his wine as if taking Communion before the cross.
Every shelf, every nook, every windowsill
and mantel, every bureau and end table and
credenza, is a display. My parents will move
a lamp or adjust a shade for complementary
lighting, so that the house seems to sparkle
from every corner.
They have an encyclopedic understanding of every single stone and bone. Not only
its historical, biological, and geological significance, but their personal connection to it.
Here is the four-foot, 334-pound Brazilian amethyst geode — with one white crystal toothing its center — that stands next to
their fireplace. Together my parents mummied it in towels and wrestled it off the back
of a truck and into the house, a process that
took several hours and nearly crushed my
mother. “He’s always doing things like this
to me!” my mother says. “Making me move
rocks as heavy as pianos!”
And here is the 100-pound hunk of pure
obsidian that my father hefted out of the Paulina flow in Oregon prior to its being declared
a national monument. And the clutch of three
hadrosaurus eggs from the Gobi Desert. And
the 88,000-year-old cave-bear skull from
Romania. And the 24-inch, 350-million-yearold, Carboniferous-era ammonite that looks
like the granddaddy of all nautilus shells.
Every time I visit, there is something
new — and by that I mean something old.
My mother has always been the most energetic among us. The first one up in the morning, standing by the window at 5 AM, waiting
for the sun to rise, her hands wrapped around
a mug of coffee. The first one down the hiking trail, waving us all on, yelling, “You guys!
MY FATHER WAS
38
MEN’S JOURNAL
SEPTEMBER 2017
Hurry! Up ahead there’s a blooming field of
penstemon that’s to die for!”
An exclamation mark lurks in most everything she says. The skin to either side of her
mouth is creased like parentheses from all
her smiling. She is deeply tanned from the
time she spends outside. She wears brightcolored clothes and jewelry studded with
turquoise. She talks to flowers. She pinches
off sprigs of sagebrush and sniffs them. She
spent years, after moving to Arizona, plant-
she was sleeping sometimes 20 hours a day.
My father drives a Dodge Ram pickup
with a grill like a clenched fist. It’s a muscular
tank of a vehicle, but in the rear cab, he’s built
my mother a nest of blankets and pillows.
She has trouble climbing in and out when he
drops her off and picks her up at the entrance
of every site we visit. She carries a backpack
full of pills with her. If she spots a bench — or
a crate — she sits down on it. “Sorry,” she says,
as if she’s bumped into a stranger in herself.
MY PARENTS WRESTLED A 334-POUND GEODE
OFF A TRUCK, A PROCESS THAT TOOK HOURS
AND NEARLY CRUSHED MY MOTHER.
“I’m feeling suddenly really old.”
My father looks a little like his truck. Like
someone you don’t want to fuck with. Tall
with muscled shoulders and a thick neck and
big hands. My grandfather regularly told the
story of the catcher — way back in his Little
League days — who quit the team because
my father kept bruising his palm with his sizzling pitches. People are intimidated by him.
But he is gentle with my mother, offering her a fleece, helping her in and out of the
truck, as if she were some precious gem he
worries might break.
a geologist, paleontologist,
or archaeologist. I spent a summer researching rock art with the Oregon Museum of
Science and Industry and another summer
excavating a Paiute village with the University of Oregon — and then I canceled my subscription to Archaeology. I hung up my fedora.
I had inherited my parents’ stony dreams
and dusty appetites. But once I moved away
— away from their maps and magnifying
glasses and gem guides — I couldn’t maintain my enthusiasm.
But I feel it again now — that old treasureseeking rush — when my father and I enter
the 22nd Street Mineral & Fossil Show, a
pop-up pavilion that accommodates several
acres of high-end vendors. We are here for an
ulna. My father already owns the vertebrae
of a diplodocus, and he wants another piece
of it, hoping to eventually puzzle together the
long-necked dinosaur in its entirety.
He missed out last year. He was readying a bid when another buyer swooped in
and bought the bone he wanted. My father
narrows his eyes and lowers his voice murderously when he recalls the moment. “Not
this time,” he says and marches straight for
the booth of Jason Cooper, the president of
Trilobites of America.
Jason is about my age and about my build,
and I can’t help but imagine him as some
alternate version of me. He wears the belt
I NEVER BECAME
The diplodocus ulna that the author’s father had
sought for years.
ing shade trees, cacti, and succulents, creating a desert garden that she fusses over daily.
She keeps binoculars in the house, in the car,
and in her backpack, and she is constantly
reaching for them, saying things like, “In
that juniper over there — I think I see a yellow tanager!” or “It’s just so difficult to tell
if it’s a Cooper’s or a sharp-shinned hawk.”
But something has changed since I last
saw her. She’s quieter. Paler. Thinner, so
that I can feel her bones when I pat her on
the back and ask if she’s doing all right.
In the fall, she learned what was wrong,
but she didn’t tell us until after Thanksgiving. Cancer. She’s suffered through weeks
of a chemo-radiation combo that blistered
her skin and melted the fat off her and
weighed her down with exhaustion so that
PROFILE
knife and safari pants that were once my
uniform and looks a little like a game warden
from Jurassic Park. He studies geologic surveys, leases or buys land, hires out a crew, and
excavates dinosaur bones to sell at shows like
this one. “My company has the whole story,”
he says. “We find it, dig it, finish it, sell it.”
He has dozens of fossils on display, along
with photo narratives that show the excavation process, much of which takes place
outside the town of Dinosaur, Colorado.
My father wastes no time with small talk.
The show opened minutes ago, and people
are streaming thickly through the aisles.
“That diplodocus ulna,” he says and pulls
out a thick wad of cash. “It’s mine.”
Anywhere else, we would be an unusual
sight — two men hoisting an enormous black
bone through a hotel lobby — but everyone
in Tucson is here for the rock show, so they
The Percy family (from left): Susan, Benjamin,
Peter, and Jennifer, in 2016.
swarm us and admiringly call out, “Wow!”
and “There’s a beaut!” and “I’ve got a stegosaurus plate on display at my dental office!”
The speakers in the elevator play Elvis
Presley as we head to the third f loor, and I
note that the song is the perfect soundtrack
for our quest for early rock. My father doesn’t
laugh, maybe because it’s not funny, but
maybe he’s just worried about my mother.
We knock and hear her moving about in
the room, and she answers the door with
sleep-mussed hair, and he says, “Have we
got a surprise for you.”
“You got it!”
“We got it.”
We negotiate our way into the room and
lay the bone down on the bed that’s still
tangled and warm from her nap. “Well,”
my father says. “What do you think?” He
sweeps his arms outward, like a magician
performing a trick.
“I think you’ve been dreaming about this
all year, and now it’s finally come true.”
40
MEN’S JOURNAL
SEPTEMBER 2017
“Yes. We finally got our dinosaur ulna.”
“Oh, this is so exciting.” She smiles and
knits her fingers together in what looks like
a prayer, and my father puts his arm around
her and kisses the top of her head, and they
stare at the bone lying on the bed while the
window air conditioning wheezes and blasts
the room with its crypt-cold breath.
My father owns thousands of rocks and
fossils, and for every single one of them, he
can rattle off the date and place they were
harvested, all the way back to his childhood. And I know that years from now,
when he stands before this diplodocus ulna,
he will remember it as the fossil he bought
when my mother’s veins were streaming
with a chemical cocktail that made her feel
half-alive.
L A S T Y E A R , M Y FA M I LY vacationed at the
Grand Canyon. When we hiked the switchback trail — into the shade of the gaping
chasm — my parents pointed out the layers
of stone. Sandstone, limestone, shale. Red,
purple, tan, gray. My father
lustily eyed the cliffs, and
his hand closed around
an imaginary pick. “I can
practically smell the stromatolites,” he said.
My mother paused at a
viewpoint and scanned the
canyon with her binoculars. “Just think,” she said.
“We’re touring our way into
the past with every step we
take, and by the time we get
to the bottom, we’ll be in a
world that’s billions of years
old. Time travel is possible.”
That’s a little like how it
feels every time I visit my
parents. Like I’m swirling
into the past, reliving my
childhood.
In my day-to-day life, I’m so caught up in
the rush of deadlines, parenting, housekeeping that I’m always focused on the future.
Worried about whether the kids will need
braces, about securing the next book deal,
saving enough for college.
But I grew up focused on ancient history.
And the traces of my past — the fossils of
who I used to be — still exist at my parents’
house. In photo albums, in bins packed with
my old report cards and sports trophies and
school projects, in the stories my mother
tells about me.
“Do you remember that time we went to
the John Day fossil beds?”
“Which time?” I say. “We went to John
Day a thousand times.”
She clarifies. The time we found that slab
of siltstone — fanned with the needles of an
ancient metasequoia — that we chipped out
of the thinly bedded rock of what was once a
shallow lake nearby.
“Oh, right,” I say.
She goes on to describe how, on that
trip, I was walking through a dry riverbed,
hunting for agates, and nearly stepped on
a diamondback rattler six feet long. It was
sunning itself on a flat stone, and if I hadn’t
yelled for my sister to stop where she stood,
only a few paces behind me, she would have
leaped down onto it.
Or she tells the story of how, at the age
of two, I walked out the door and hiked all
the way up our long driveway — to the highway — and got “the spanking of a lifetime”
to make certain I never wandered off again.
Or the time my sister was riding a sheep and
broke her arm. Or the time I was left alone
in the truck and pulled the gearshift and
started to roll backward down a hill and
how I surely would have died if my father
hadn’t chased after me and jumped through
the open door and slammed the brake.
I do remember. With their help, I remember the wild strangeness of it all. When in
their company, I am still the child, but now
they are strangely the vulnerable ones.
MY MOTHER never finds her amber-trapped
spider, so she buys some cyanobacteria
instead — a knuckly mass of stromatolite.
This one is 250 million years old and among
the earlier forms of life on Earth.
It’s another two months yet until the surgery. The doctors will probe around in her
body and slice the tumor from her — and I
can’t help but imagine it will look a little like
this discolored mound of rock.
“So . . . Mom?”
“Yes?” I can tell she’s worried about me,
just as she worries about my father. How
we’re processing her condition. “It’s OK. Ask
me anything.”
So I do. “Why do you guys love rocks so
damn much?”
At this my mother laughs. Her shoulders
rise and fall in a shrug. “Why does anyone
love anything?”
Because she does, damn it. That’s what
she seems to be saying. Why do I like the
color blue or pecan pie or autumn or horror
movies? It’s just the way I’m hardwired.
Twenty minutes after I ask the question,
she finally has an answer, “Why do I love
this place? And all these stupid old bones
and rocks?” She picks up a jagged piece of
jade, a sick green color. “Because they took
millions of years of grinding and braising
and cooking to become a thing of beauty
and end up in my hand right now. And
because for a little while, for just a speck of
their existence, I get to be their custodian.”
Permanence. The rocks will outlast our
wonder for them, will outlast these words
you’re reading now, will outlast our fragile
bodies and this country and humankind
altogether. They’re as close as we can get
to forever. Q
BENJAMIN PERCY is the author of six books,
including this month’s The Dark Net.
THE PLAYBOOK FOR A LONGER, STRONGER LIFE
The
Smartest
Guy at
the Gym
By now, we’ve learned a lot about
what it takes to be fit. But the
difference between good shape
and great shape comes down
to how you apply the science.
by DANIEL DUANE
WE LIVE IN A GOLDEN AGE OF FITNESS SCIENCE . Studies come out every month that confirm one or another fundamental truth about how to get in shape — the power of rest and recovery, the importance of mental toughness, or the unbeatable efficiency of high-intensity interval training. Still, buried within all those studies are
subtleties and finer points that can make all the difference in how strong, fast, and healthy you feel and look.
And that’s where we come in. We raided the latest research, talked to leading experts, and honed five workout upgrades that you can make right now. The tweaks may be simple, but follow the advice faithfully and the
results will be nothing short of genius.
p h o t o g r a p h s b y D Y L A N C O U LT E R
SEPTEMBER 2017
MEN’S JOURNAL
43
ADVICE
1
Fact: Interval training works.
How to use it: Go harder and
shorter to get fitter.
By now, most everyone knows that short
bursts of intense cardio deliver big leaps
in f itness: You move faster, breathe better, and even your blood sugar numbers
improve. There’s just one catch: “Intense”
leaves no room for half-assing. From the
landmark 1996 Tabata study that kicked off
the interval-training craze to the hundreds
of similar studies that have followed, the
largest gains have always come when subjects drove themselves to the wall. “There’s
no free lunch with intervals,” says Martin
Gibala, chairman of the kinesiology department at McMaster University and a leading
researcher for high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
“You have to go very hard — well outside your comfort zone.” This means you’re
pushing so hard that you’re thinking Holy
shit! but you’re unable to actually speak
the words “Holy shit.” However, you don’t
have to keep this up for long. In fact,
HIIT is most effective when it’s incredibly
clipped. “When people do longer interval
workouts, they save their energy,” Gibala
says. “But if you’re only doing a few minutes’ worth, you really go all-out.” That
maximum effort is what challenges your
heart, lungs, and muscles — and ultimately
strengthens them.
AN INTERVAL
PLAN THAT
DOESN’T SUCK
With this 30-20-10 routine, the tough
stuff lasts only 10 seconds. First, pick
an activity that quickly ramps up your heart
rate — treadmill, spin bike, even burpees.
Warm up for two minutes, then repeat the
following progression five times through
without taking a break. (It will take you
five minutes total.)
30 SECONDS: Go easy, you’re at about
50 percent of your all-out effort.
20 SECONDS: Crank to a midlevel pace,
between 70 to 80 percent of your max.
10 SECONDS: Everything you’ve got.
Now, take a two-minute breather. Repeat
the whole thing two more times.
In a Danish study, runners who did the
routine for eight weeks not only shaved 38
seconds off their best 5k time, they also
bettered their blood pressure and lowered
their resting heart rates.
If you can easily
bang out big sets
of body-weight
exercises, don’t add
reps — add weight.
Fact: Functional exercises are
the ideal way to get strong.
How to use it: Advance a little
every time you train.
Pushups, pullups, squats, dead lifts. These
classics are the foolproof way to build
strength, and are a helluva lot more useful to
get you through everyday life than muscleisolating curls or leg raises on machines.
The common mistake: doing the exact same
functional workout over and over and over
again. The human body is remarkably good
at adjusting to new demands: Even within a
month, muscles can become accustomed to
doing the same routine and your strength
gains plateau. But the solution is not to
randomly vary the exercises every time you
44
MEN’S JOURNAL
SEPTEMBER 2017
work out. According to Mark Rippetoe,
reigning American barbell guru and author
of Starting Strength, “the variable that you
tweak should never be exercise selection. It
has to be load or none of your muscles have
a chance to adapt.”
Yes, constantly doing a different mix of
exercises may stave off boredom and certainly burns calories, but it creates a kind
of muscle confusion that you don’t want if
you’re trying to get strong. Your neuromuscular system — the communication center
between your brain and muscles — never
has a chance to learn the movements and
then cue your muscle fibers to grow bigger
and stronger after you break them down.
Instead, stick with a set group of functional
strength exercises, but force growth by making small progressions each time you work
out. Increase the number of reps, the total
number of sets, or the amount of weight, or
decrease the amount of rest you take. (For
example, for lower-body movements like
back squats and dead lifts, add five pounds
to the bar every time you train. For upperbody exercises, like overhead presses or
rows, go up two or three pounds. For bodyweight exercises, like pullups and pushups,
add extra reps to what you normally do or
give yourself less rest between sets.) Only
when you get to a point where you can’t add
more reps or weight without failing should
you consider doing new exercises. And even
then, employ standard variations on your
go-tos, like front squats instead of back
squats or a narrow-grip bench press instead
of a wide-grip. That way, you keep targeting
the same fundamental movement patterns
while also changing things up enough that
you stay mentally invested.
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ADVICE
3
Fact: Mobility is key to fitness
gains and injury prevention.
How to use it: Zero in on hips
and shoulders.
One of the biggest revelations in athletics is
that mobility — the freedom to move without pain through the full range of squats,
lunges, pushups, and pullups — depends less
on stretchy muscles than mobile, supported
joints. And no joints are more important
than the two big guys: hips and shoulders.
Limited mobility in either place, and even in
one joint — a hip, for example — can cause a
chain reaction of problems throughout the
body. “It creates a compensatory pattern,”
says Chicago physical therapist David Reavy,
who treats professional athletes as well as
mere mortals. “Say, if you lose what we call
‘posterior glide’ in that hip — your hip joint
gets so stiff that you can’t sink into a proper
squat — then your glute shuts down and stops
firing.” Soon, your pelvis is tilting forward,
your lower back muscles are seizing up, your
hamstrings are tight, and, ultimately, your
knees start to hurt — and all because one hip
joint got constricted. A parallel story happens
above the waist. There, a tight shoulder — you
can’t raise your arms straight overhead, the
shoulder blade hikes up when you try — can
set you up for the painful, common shoulder
condition called impingement syndrome.
A tight upper back, constricted lats, and
hunched posture follow soon after. The good
news, says Reavy, is that you can prevent all of
this with the two basic mobility drills below.
TWO MOVES TO INJURY-PROOF YOUR WHOLE BODY
ILLUSTRATIONS BY JASON LEE
These exercises loosen and strengthen the hips and shoulders and prevent a cascade of
problems that occur when those joints are tight and weak. Do them before every workout.
1. GLUTE STRENGTHENERS Loop a resistance
band around legs and just over knees. Lie on
one side, knees bent, legs stacked. Keeping
feet together and squeezing glutes, lift top leg
up and down. Repeat 1 minute. Switch sides.
2. SHOULDER ROTATIONS Stand tall, a band
looped around right shoulder and under right
foot. Hold right arm out to side in a goal-post
position; rotate arm so forearm is parallel to
floor. Repeat 1 minute. Switch sides.
Tight pecs can
restrict motion in
your shoulders; open
up the joint with this
standing stretch.
4
Fact: To make gains, you have
to recover. How to use it:
Recover by moving.
The essence of training goes like this: First,
you tell your body that it’s not fit enough
by applying a new stress — lifting a heavier
weight, running a faster mile. That breaks
down muscle fibers, and during recovery,
your body repairs the fibers and makes them
stronger. That means recovery is just as
vital as the workout. But the most effective
method doesn’t always mean taking a day
off. In many cases, active recovery — moving
around — helps you bounce back fitter, faster.
After a heavy weights day, for example, a University of Oregon study found the ideal recovery strategy is a day of light lifting using the
exercises that got you sore. (So if you crushed
the bench press with three sets of 10 reps at
135 pounds, your recovery session could be
two sets of five reps at 65 pounds.) Same for
cardio. After a long run Sunday, log a light
30-minute jog on Monday. “The idea is to
increase circulation to those same muscle tissues,” says Pete McCall, adjunct professor in
exercise science at Mesa College and spokesman for the American Council on Exercise.
“That helps f lush the metabolic waste that
contributes to soreness and speeds delivery of
oxygen and nutrients to repair muscle fibers.”
5
Fact: Strength requires
willpower. How to use it:
Create motivation.
Anyone who has ever decided that an afterwork beer sounds better than going to the
gym knows the critical role of willpower.
Here’s the thing: You can actually plan to
have more of it. According to Frank Martela, a willpower researcher and the author
of Willpower: The Owner’s Manual, the key is
to simultaneously focus on big goals and the
small steps that will achieve them. The mere
act of pausing midafternoon and reminding
yourself of the long-term plan — packing on
muscle or completing a marathon — flips the
stressed-out mind from short-term gratification (an IPA sure would taste good) to longterm satisfaction (crossing that finish line is
going to feel amazing). Plotting small steps
makes it all feel more doable. “Be precise, and
decide ahead of time how, when, and where
to fulfill them,” Martela says. In other words,
don’t just think “Maybe I’ll go for a training
run tonight.” Pull out your phone, and write
“4 miles at the track at 6 PM” on your Google
calendar. And that beer? We guarantee it will
taste better after hard work.
SEPTEMBER 2017
MEN’S JOURNAL
47
W H AT WO R KS FO R M E
Finding the groove
I wasn’t looking for a beach body, and I wasn’t
going to be fanatical about exercise or nutrition. I just wanted to be healthier, to have
more energy. I wanted to be able to play with
my kids. I started slow: I’d go for a run, huff
and puff up a hill, maybe do a few burpees.
Then I ran into an old friend, Thomas
Røde Andersen, at a coffee shop in Copenhagen. Thomas had been head chef at Kong
Hans Kælder when I was sous-chef there.
Back then, he was kind of pear-shaped
and slightly overweight. He told me he’d
decided to take control of his life, leave
The Denmark-based Noma team exercised
together almost every morning of its sevenweek stint in Tulum, Mexico.
Burpees
on the Beach
René Redzepi was the world’s most celebrated chef, but he felt
terrible. So he overhauled his routine with a pre-breakfast ritual.
A
guests coming from all over the world for
a meal, and you want things to
go perfectly. It means I work up
to 90 hours a week. A few years
into this, I started noticing that I was incredibly exhausted. I felt so drained on weekends,
I didn’t have the capacity to do anything.
Even creative work made me tired — I was
tired all the time.
I thought it just came with the territory
of being a chef. But then one day I was playing with my daughter, Genta. I was throwing her in the air, and I felt something in my
back give — it was like a twitch or a crack.
I couldn’t walk for two days. Finally, I went
48
T NOMA, WE HAVE
MEN’S JOURNAL
SEPTEMBER 2017
to the doctor. He pressed around a bit, and
then he just looked at me and said, “René,
you’re out of shape.”
He was right. I had always worked out
when I was younger: I was athletic, I played
soccer. But it had been about six years since
I’d done anything, and I’d gained 20 to 25
pounds since my mid-twenties. I was up
to 180. I wasn’t fat, but I was soft. I looked
at these other guys in the industry, people
I knew who had heart attacks in their forties
or had to go into observation for high blood
pressure, and thought, “That could be me. I’m
almost 40. Now is when things go downhill.”
That was about three years ago, and it
was the start.
cooking, and focus on fitness. When I told
him I had started doing a few things, he
immediately said, “Let’s work out together.”
So I joined him and a few others, and it was
exactly what I needed — somebody who
knows what he’s doing to make a plan.
And it was hard. One day, the leg exercises
were so tough, a guy who worked out with
us had to shit standing up. It’s not like we
were doing anything crazy, but back then,
doing 100 squats and 100 lunges and sprinting 50 meters f ive times was enough to
make that happen.
I hated work ing out , ever y single
moment. It was the time more than anything. I’d wake up, be tired, and then I’d
have to use this small window of time off to
exercise. It was a huge hurdle, and I didn’t
get over it quickly. It was six months before
I started to feel OK when I was running,
rather than feeling like my heart was going
to explode. And it was six months before
I stopped dreading the workout. It sounds
so dumb to say, because spending six
months to make that kind of change — to be
better with your team, have more energy for
your kids, have more energy in general — is
such a small investment. But at the time, it
didn’t seem like it. I really had to adopt this
positive mentality, tell myself, “This is good
for you, good for the family.”
p h o t o g r a p h s b y L I N D S AY L A U C K N E R - G U N D L O C K
After my youngest daughter, Ro, was born,
my wife, Nadine, wanted to get in shape, too.
We realized we’d have to be a bit more organized, so we hired a trainer for the whole
restaurant, a great guy named Johan Troels
Andersen. I guess what we do is considered
functional training. There are a lot of pushups and pullups and burpees, and sometimes
we do weights or yoga. But Johan mixes it up,
and there’s a playfulness to it. Sometimes we
“fight” each other by trying to tap the back of
each other’s knees, and the loser has to carry
the winner piggyback. I think that if you want
to stick with exercise, it has to be fun. If you’re
just being told to run here, lift this, touch the
ground, stand up — it becomes robotic, like
chopping onions every day. Putting playfulness into the mix makes it seem less like work.
The training took off. More people from
the staff started coming, and we added a second session in the afternoon, between lunch
and dinner, that we lead ourselves. We even
put pullup rings in the office. Sometimes, if
there’s a break, guys will start doing sets.
When we decided to go to Mexico for a
seven-week pop-up for Noma, we wanted to
keep up the training. So we brought Johan
with us. We worked out six days a week, every
morning on the beach, and we’d have as many
as 35 or 40 people training. Afterward, we all
had breakfast together — fried eggs, avocado,
fresh fruit, and homemade sourdough. It definitely made us closer as a team.
I tell Johan he’s the only person in the
world who tells me what to do, and because
he’s always changing things, giving us new
goals, and keeping it fun, it motivates me.
I still wouldn’t say I enjoy working out, but
now I only hate it about 25 percent of the time.
A huge change
I know focusing on my health has made me a
better chef. I can’t say that any particular new
dish or event is a result of the workouts, but if
I zoom out to two years ago and how I would
feel at the end of the day, I see a huge change.
I didn’t have the same feeling of being ready
to attack a challenge, and back then we were
just talking about doing a new menu or something like that. Now the tasks are far more
daunting — the pop-up in Mexico, opening
a new restaurant last summer and another
this summer, and of course closing the old
Noma and building a new one. We’re changing everything up, but I’m much more confident and comfortable going into it. I feel
more creative, like I can think faster, and
I have more energy and patience.
The one thing that hasn’t changed is how
I eat. I have bread, love a piece of cake, and the
other night I came home and went through an
entire bag of chips. But now I eat with a clear
conscience. And I’m down to 163 pounds.
Above all, it’s been better for my family.
When my youngest daughter is 10, I’ll be
48. I like knowing I’ll still be able to play
with her. —As told to Lisa Abend
NUTRITION
EXERCISE
Eat to Beat
Diabetes
Sugar-packed diets are putting us on the path to a lifelong disease.
Here is a simple way to reverse course. by JOSEPH HOOPER
you like a
slap in the face: Nearly half of
Americans have diabetes or
likely will soon, according to
a recent crunching of national data in the
Journal of the American Medical Association. If you just mentally counted yourself
out of that half because you aren’t fat, or you
think you’re pretty fit, heads up: You’re not
immune. Twenty percent of Americans with
prediabetes are at a normal weight — double
the percentage from two decades ago.
What’s going on? “Our food supply has
become f looded with sugar, which has
exposed a latent metabolic vulnerability in
an awful lot of people,” says Dr. Tim Church,
THE NUMBERS HIT
50
MEN’S JOURNAL
SEPTEMBER 2017
a researcher with the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. In other words, evolution hasn’t had the chance to catch up with
the way we eat. From 1977 to the present,
the amount of added sugar we consume has
soared 30 percent, and our metabolism is
losing its ability to process the onslaught.
This means that if you eat a lot of refined
carbs and added sugars — which, let’s face it,
most of us do — and you aren’t blessed with
the genes that can handle them, your pancreas has to produce an overload of insulin
to clear sugars from your bloodstream. That
excess insulin cues more fat to be stored in
your gut. This “visceral fat,” explains Dr.
Samar Hafida of the Joslin Diabetes Center,
THE IDEAL
WORKOUT
COMBO
Avoiding diabetes is a two-part
process: First you eat the right kind
of calories, then you burn them up.
That means doing more than just
running, cycling, or weightlifting.
Studies show that hitting both
cardio and strength buys you
the most metabolic bang for your
buck — “like combating a disease
with two different drugs,” Church
says. The cardio steadily eats
sugars as you keep your heart rate
elevated, while resistance exercise
builds the muscle mass that will
burn sugars all the time, not just
when you’re training. Shoot for
strength work twice a week, and
cardio three or four days a week. If
you can combine the two — circuits
that mix heart-pumping exercises
with strength work, for example —
so much the better.
LEVI BROWN / TRUNKARCHIVE.COM
“produces inflammatory hormones that can
cause diabetes as well as heart disease and
strokes.” Worse, you may not even know this
is happening. The added fat can wind its way
around and inside organs and muscles without ever producing a telltale beer belly or an
alarming number on the bathroom scale.
We need a collective wake-up call. Diabetes is a nasty disease that, over decades,
can age virtually every system in the body
before you arrive at grim late-stage symptoms like numbness, pain, and infections in
the extremities. That’s why it’s imperative
that all of us know exactly how well — or
how poorly — our bodies handle the sugar
and carbs we consume.
The first sign is at your waist. If it measures 35 inches or more, you’re at risk. But
even if you’re relatively slender, ask for a
blood test the next time you see your doctor.
You want hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), which
provides the most sophisticated reading of
sugar levels. Ideally, you want a score of 5.5
or below. A range of 5.7 to 6.4 means you’re
prediabetic; anything above 6.4 is diabetes.
Another warning sign: metabolic syndrome. This is when all or most of your lab
numbers — LDL cholesterol, triglycerides,
blood pressure, waist size — are high, but
your blood sugar may be normal. Because of
that fact, many primary-care doctors overlook metabolic syndrome’s connection with
diabetes. But the condition suggests that
excess insulin, and the inf lammation that
follows, is gumming up your metabolism.
Those with metabolic syndrome, Church
says, have a seven times greater risk of
developing diabetes. And if one of the bad
numbers in your metabolic syndrome diagnosis is high blood sugar, that risk jumps to
21 times greater.
So, if you have diabetes, or you’re on the
road to it, what do you do? The biggest payoff comes from attacking your diet. Church’s
prescription: “Go low-carb, all-in.” This
approach can also help you shed weight,
recent studies confirm. Here’s what such a
diet looks like:
MEALS To fill the carb void, nutritionist
Kathie Madonna Swift recommends three
things: first, lean protein, like chicken and
fish, along with legumes — such as beans
and peanuts — which are a great source of
plant protein and full of stomach-f illing
fiber. Second, nonstarchy vegetables like
broccoli, peppers, and greens, which have
tons of fiber and phytonutrients and few
carb calories. Finally, healthy fats, like
those found in avocados and olive oil.
Limit grains, even brown rice and wholewheat pasta. “They’re not as healthy as you
think,” Hafida says. Yes, they have fiber, but
they also pack a lot of carbs, which can keep
blood sugar and insulin levels high.
Also, keep in mind that pretty much any
packaged food — in a can, bottle, or box,
organic or not — is a likely and avoidable
source of added sugar: Campbell’s soups,
Wonder whole-grain bread, Triscuit crackers. Same goes for condiments like ketchup,
salad dressing, and even hot sauces.
SNACKS Do you eat a carb-infused sports
gel or bar during or after a long bike ride
or run? Replace it with an apple and a packet
of almond butter, suggests Hafida. The fruit
will boost energy, and its fiber will slow carb
absorption, while the fat and protein in the
almond butter will help satiate you for hours.
For snacks around the office, be mindful of
nutrition labels: A package of trail mix can
be doused with added sweetener, creating a
faux-healthy sugar bomb.
COURTESY OF SAMSUNG
DRINKS Avoid bottled teas, sodas, and
sports drinks that list sugar as one of the
first three ingredients. And no more fruit
juices: They can be three times as sugarladen as eating the whole fruit. As for
alcohol — which is basically sugar in a
glass — you may want to hedge to one drink
a day, less if possible.
TIMING It’s not only what you eat, but when.
A new study from the University of Pennsylvania found that snacking and dining as late
as 11 PM raises blood sugar more than eating
the same food earlier. This may be because
food eaten right before you lie down for the
night isn’t metabolized as quickly and efficiently. Try to give yourself a cutoff of 8 PM.
TREND WATCH
VIRTUAL FITNESS IS HERE
Four new VR games that yield real-life results. BY CLINT CARTER
1/ Holopoint
3/ Glow!
It’s not billed as a fitness game, but
Holopoint will make you sweat. In it,
you’re a warrior armed with a bow
and arrow, firing rapidly in what
amounts to a motion similar to what
you’d do on a rowing machine.
Meanwhile, attackers come from all
angles, so you squat and jump to
dodge them. One user recently
credited the game with helping him
drop 50 pounds and trim four
inches off his waist in five months.
Designed to help users cope with
anxiety, Glow! uses a heart-rate
sensor to control the program. The
better you’re able to keep calm —
and your heart rate down — the
more you’re able to interact in the
world around you. It’s not a game
per se, but more of a biofeedback
practice that works like deepfocus mindfulness training.
SYSTEMS: HTC VIVE , OCULUS RIFT
firsthand.com; $300
store.steampowered.com; $15
SYSTEMS: HTC VIVE , OCULUS RIFT
4/ VirZoom
2/ Guided
Meditation VR
Zenlike mindfulness may come
more naturally if you aren’t sitting
on your living room couch. Guided
Meditation VR offers the upgrade:
Find solitude atop a glacier, on a
beach, or along a trail as autumn
leaves drift to the ground around
you. Choose from 2-, 5-, or
10-minute programs, or simply sit
quietly with the sounds of nature.
SYSTEMS: HTC VIVE , OCULUS RIFT,
SAMSUNG GEAR
guidedmeditationvr.com; free for
Gear VR, $15 for HTC, and $8 for Rift
Stationary bikes can be boring, so
VirZoom ups the fun factor with an
actual bike equipped with VR
arcade games. With the headset on,
you pedal to navigate a virtual bike,
tank, kayak, helicopter, or Pegasus
through a digital world, using
buttons on the bike’s handlebars to
control gameplay. Want to move
faster? Pedal harder. The bike also
folds to fit under a bed or in a closet.
SYSTEMS: GOOGLE DAYDREAM, HTC
VIVE , OCULUS RIFT, PLAYSTATION VR,
SAMSUNG GEAR VR
virzoom.com; $400 (or $100
for a VZ Sensor compatible with a
stationary bike)
SEPTEMBER 2017
MEN’S JOURNAL
51
REPORTS
Health News
The month’s most important discoveries, updates, and advice.
by MELAINA JUNTTI
WHY YOU
SHOULD
SWAP RED
MEAT FOR
WHITE
A report of a half-million
people showed that
those who ate the most red
meat — processed or
unprocessed — were 26
percent more likely to die
of eight diseases, including
cancer and heart disease,
than those who ate the
least. However, those who
ate the highest amount of
white meat, instead of red,
had a 25 percent lower risk
of disease-related deaths.
Researchers say red meat’s
X factors may be high levels
of heme iron and nitrates.
WHAT TWO
WEEKS OFF
EXERCISE
REALLY DOES
TO YOUR BODY
Just Five
Drinks a Week
Can Damage
Your Brain
52
MEN’S JOURNAL
SEPTEMBER 2017
In a first-of-its-kind study,
scientists at Swansea University
asked 144 adults, nearly half of
whom identified as internet
addicts, to stop using the Web.
(The subjects averaged five
hours a day online, including
time at work.) As expected,
people reported feeling anxious
when they weren’t allowed
online. But their heart rate and
blood pressure also jumped 3 to
4 percent, suggesting that the
withdrawal was mental and
physical. “That’s enough to
move you from normal to
pre-hypertensive range,” says
study author Phil Reed. And if
you’re prone to anxiety, it may
exacerbate symptoms. The
takeaway: Be mindful that
screens don’t become a crutch.
FACT OR FICTION?
Running leads to
arthritis in knees
FICTION. A study of
114,000 people in the
Journal of Orthopaedic &
Sports Physical Therapy
shows that just 3.5
percent of regular
recreational runners
develop hip and knee
arthritis, while 10 percent
of nonrunners develop
arthritis in those joints.
THE GOOD BRIGADE/OFFSET
Before you pour that nightly glass of beer,
consider this: You could be doing lasting
damage to cognition and memory. That’s the
result of a study on 550 healthy middle-aged
people who were tracked over 30 years. The
trial found that the more the subjects drank, the worse
off they were. The surprising part was that even moderate
drinkers (five to seven drinks a week) were three times as
likely to have a shrunken hippocampus, which affects
memory, compared with nondrinkers. They also performed worse on cognitive tests. “Excessive alcohol acts
as a toxin to brain cells and leads to vitamin deficiency,”
explains lead researcher Anya Topiwala. “This could also
be what’s happening with moderate drinking.” Her suggestion: Limit weeknight “just because” drinks.
Internet Addiction
Is Real — and Physical
Effects Prove It
When British researchers asked
healthy adults to stop exercise
for 14 days, they found the break
produced enough change to
increase the risk of heart
disease and type 2 diabetes.
While researchers assumed that
subjects might gain a pound or
so, “we didn’t expect to see fat
around the liver and loss of
cardiorespiratory fitness,” says
study author Kelly Bowden
Davies. “These were significant
changes and would be detrimental if continued long term.”
More reason to move as much
and as regularly as you can.
54
was poised to become Hollywood’s
next mega-franchise action hero. Instead, he aimed
toward a different destination: a sane life.
JEREMY RENNER
BY JOSH EELLS
PHOTOGRAPHS BY SIMON EMMETT
I F YO U WANT TO HAN G at Jeremy Renner’s
place, you need to follow a few simple rules.
The rules are displayed in a five-by-seven
picture frame atop Renner’s bar, a marbletopped walnut number he installed himself,
stocked with enough Bulleit to give Kentucky the year off. There are five rules in all
— printed in block capitals and superimposed
over one of those red NO SMOKING circles:
waterfall kicks in” — five waterfalls, to be
precise, cascading down to Renner’s lagoonlike pool — “you kind of capture all this.” He
punctuates the sentence with a sweep of his
hand — the king on his barstool throne.
Renner’s place is a Frank Lloyd Wright–
style number built in 1964, set deep in a
canyon in the Hollywood Hills on a quiet
cul-de-sac with no cell service. It sits on its
own man-made plateau, with no houses on
either side; his nearest neighbors are actors
Chris Pratt and Anna Faris, who live down
the hill. But you can hardly see their house
through Renner’s thick pines and 30-foottall bamboo. “I’m not too big on city views,”
he says. “So instead I’m just surrounded by
these old-ass trees.”
Renner calls his house “the Nest” — first
because it feels like being in the treetops and
second “because it ties in to Hawkeye,” the
avian, bow-and-arrow-toting comic book
hero he plays in Marvel’s Avengers movies
“HE’S A LITTLE BIT OF AN
ANARCHIST,” A FRIEND SAYS.
“WHEN YOU’RE AROUND
RENNER, ADVENTURE IS
SOON TO COME.”
DO NOT FUCK WITH AVA.
NO SOCIAL MEDIA.
NO GLASS BY THE POOL.
NOTHING IN JR’S BUTT.
Ava is Renner’s four-year-old daughter,
his only child, and the center of his world.
The ban on photos and social media, he says,
means “I didn’t invite everybody on Snapchat or Instagram.” Glass by the pool is an
obvious safety hazard. As for JR’s butt?
“That’s a joke,” Renner says, laughing.
“But also, don’t put anything in my ass. I
really don’t want that.”
When Renner is at home, which these
days is often, he spends a lot of time at the bar,
with its imperial views of his lush backyard.
“The bar is the focal point of the house,” he
says. “The only problem is these windows are
heavy as shit, so to be able to open them. . . .”
With that, he presses a button, and the
large glass panes emit a hydraulic whine and
start motoring upward, like a garage door. “I
spent so much dang money on this,” Renner
says. “But when you open these up and the
Contributing editor Josh Eells profiled
Werner Herzog in the May issue.
PREVIOUS SPREAD: RENNER WEARS T-SHIRT BY RICHER POORER, JEANS BY CULT OF INDIVIDUALITY, AND BOOTS BY ALLSAINTS.
NO PHOTOS.
(and the role that probably helped pay for
this house). Renner likes that unlike his colleagues Thor or Iron Man, Hawkeye isn’t “a
guy who flies around with a hammer or does
intergalactic stuff.” He’s just a hardworking
dude who shows up, does his job, and goes
home to see his family.
You could say the same about Renner. He
grew up in blue-collar Modesto, California,
where his dad ran a bowling alley and his
mom worked at a poultry-processing plant.
He stumbled into acting at Modesto Junior
College, and he’s not sure what would have
happened if he hadn’t. “I still would have
left Modesto — unless I got somebody pregnant,” he says. “I had a lot of friends who did
that. Who knows? If I didn’t find the acting thing, I might have three divorces and a
mullet, driving a forklift.”
Actor Sam Rockwell, one of Renner’s
good friends, met him while filming The
Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward
Robert Ford. “He was at a bar in Calgary,
kind of crouched over a whiskey,” Rockwell recalls. “He had this sort of West Coast
machismo, an old-school Steve McQueen
thing. It’s cool to have guys like that in the
movie business, because they’re not around
much anymore. Renner’s good on a motorcycle, he’s good on a horse, he can drive a car.
He’s just a dude.”
For the first 15 years of his career, Renner’s
stern looks and gritty bearing won him roles
as a parade of scumbags and psychopaths:
skinhead, child molester, con man, serial
killer. But then in 2008 and 2010 came the
one-two punch of Kathryn Bigelow’s The
Hurt Locker (in which he starred as a bomb
tech in Iraq) and Ben Aff leck’s The Town
(in which he played a bank thief in Boston).
Renner carried one film, stole the other, and
earned Oscar nods for both. An overnight
success at 40, he responded by going all-in
on Hollywood, signing on to not one or two
but three massive franchises — The Avengers,
Mission: Impossible, and The Bourne Legacy, in
which he replaced original star Matt Damon.
The work took its toll. “I was fucking
exhausted,” Renner says. “In four years, I
slept in my own bed maybe two months. I
didn’t see my family, didn’t see my friends. I
spent four birthdays in a row with my assistant. It was a glorious time — but it was a
long, long run. By the end of it, I was toast.”
Not that he has any regrets. “It was
all things I wanted to do,” he says. “But I
wouldn’t do it over again.” He looks down
the hill at Pratt’s house. “Chris is kind of on
that train right now. I couldn’t go on that
train again.”
Renner is dressed in heavy boots, slimcut jeans, and a brown suede work shirt
unbuttoned over a navy tee. At 46, his face is
handsome but aged, with a boxer’s nose and a
cop’s squint. He’s one of those actors like Sean
Penn who always look a little rough, as if he
might still be coming off a bender from the
night before, and also a little dangerous. Like
a guy who has seen some shit. “He’s a little bit
of an anarchist,” Rockwell says. “When you’re
around Renner, adventure is soon to come.”
But Renner also has a way of surprising
you. Elizabeth Olsen, his co-star in the new
film Wind River — a taut crime drama set in
the snowy wilderness of Wyoming — met
Renner several years ago while f ilming
Avengers: Age of Ultron. “I used to think of
him as this kind of grumpy, funny dude who,
like, stretched a lot,” she says. “But what I
got to see making [Wind River] was a much
more sensitive, full-rounded person.”
Before filming started, for example, they
were rehearsing some stunts and Olsen
found herself holding on to Renner as they
hurtled down a mountain on a snowmobile.
“We were about 1,200 feet up, and there’s
this steep, steep drop — almost like we’re
going vertical,” she recalls. “We’re in a cloud,
so we can’t see the bottom. And I’m behind
Jeremy, squeezing him and telling him,
‘Please slow down.’” Olsen thought Renner
was the kind of guy who’d gun the throttle
just to mess with her — and he does have a
reputation as a prankster. But, instead, he
eased off and talked her through her fear.
“If someone doesn’t screw around with you
Above: Renner smooches with his daughter,
Ava, at this year’s Academy Awards. Right: With
co-star Elizabeth Olsen in the upcoming thriller
Wind River.
FROM LEFT: COURTESY OF JEREMY RENNER; COURTESY OF FRED HAYES/THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY
in those moments,” she says, “all of a sudden
you really feel safe in their hands.”
“ YO U WA NT CO F F E E or anything?” Renner
asks. He pours us each a mug the size of a
Big Gulp, black, and we head out to his patio,
where he sits at a long table and lights a yellow
American Spirit. His hands are large and callused: Even after he’d made it as an actor, he
had a lucrative side hustle renovating houses,
and his ropy forearms and sturdy grip suggest a man who knows his way around a
sledgehammer. His fingernails are large and
pulverized — except for the one on his right
pinkie, which is coated in a shimmery pink.
“My daughter,” Renner explains, holding it up
in the sunlight. “Glitter sparkles.”
Ava is with her mom this week, so Renner
is getting some errands done. He’s got some
guys coming over to show him some gear for
his recording studio, and later this afternoon
he has a tuxedo fitting before he heads to
Cannes for the Wind River premiere. “I try to
get all my work stuff done when I don’t have
the baby,” he says. “Because when I have the
baby, everyone else can fuck off.” (As for the
two slender brunettes chatting in the living room, one in denim cutoffs, the other
in a Batman T-shirt that just barely covers
her bikini bottom? “That’s Jess and Alison,”
Renner says. “They’re just friends.”)
Renner’s backyard has a serious Asian
vibe — bonsai trees, a koi pond, a Buddha, a gong. “I love Japan, dude,” he says.
“I got a lot of inspiration from there — and
the house had kind of a Zen thing going
anyway.” He planted Japanese maples and
added the walls of bamboo. He also outfitted the whole place with solar panels. “I
redesigned every square inch,” Renner says
proudly. “I did way more than I ever would
if it was a spec house.”
He’s done a lot of spec houses. Renner’s
house-f lipping started 15 years ago. He’d
been knocking around Hollywood for a
while, paying the bills with Bud Light commercials and guest parts on forgotten ’90s
shows; between gigs, he’d work the makeup
counter at Lancôme. Then in 2002, he landed
a supporting role in the ’70s cop-show reboot
S.W.A.T. — his first major studio film.
Renner had only $200 in the bank.
But he’s a master at knowing a f inancial
opportunity when he sees one. He used his
S.W.A.T. contract to get a loan, and he and a
good friend, an actor named Kristoffer Winters, went in together on a modest threebedroom in Nichols Canyon, about a mile
from where we are now. They paid $659,000
for the house, added a patio and some landscaping, and sold it a few months later for
$900,000 — more money than they’d ever
made in their lives.
From there, Renner and Winters invested
in bigger and bigger properties, from a 1940s
Spanish-style place near Laurel Canyon
(bought for $915,000; sold for $2.4 million) to a 1924 Greek Revival in Hollywood
(bought for $1.5 million; sold for $4 million).
Winters oversaw the interior design while
Renner handled “the exterior finishes and
the f low.” They often lived in the houses
while renovating them, usually without electricity or running water. When Renner was
nominated for an Oscar for The Hurt Locker,
he had to brush his teeth before the ceremony
in a Starbucks bathroom. Still, he always
knew he’d be OK in Hollywood because
even if things didn’t go well, he could just
say, “Fuck it. I’ll go build a house.”
In 2009, as the rest of the real estate
market bottomed out, Renner and Winters had one of their best years ever. Then
in 2013, they pulled off their magnum opus
— a 10,000-square-foot Art Deco mansion
above Beverly Hills that they bought for $7
million and sold for an eye-popping $24 million. Even Marvel paychecks aren’t that big.
Renner likes flipping houses for the same
reasons he enjoys making movies: the collaboration, the element of risk, the hustling
to be on time and under budget. He’s a solution finder, a problem solver. “He’s very tactile,” Winters says. “He can sit and talk to
the electrician for hours. Or he’ll go on and
on about doorknobs.”
All of this came together in his current
place, the first one Renner renovated for
himself. He calls it his forever house: If he
has it his way, it’ll be the last place he ever
lives. “It was 100 percent his vision,” Winters says. Renner spent $5 million redoing
it — adding guest rooms and hiring an architect who helped design the San Diego Zoo
to redo the pool. “It’s a lot,” he admits. “But
if I had to sell it, I would make money.” He
smiles. “But I’m not going to.”
Back inside, Renner takes me on a quick
tour of the Nest. He points out details he’s
especially proud of, like the recessed baseboards (“which is not common”), the woodburning f ireplace (“you can’t build ’em
anymore”), the glass-encased bathrooms
(“it’s like you’re showering in the damn
trees”), and the pulsating control room
that houses all the security and electronics
(“the brain of the house”). The whole place
is filled with light and is even bigger than it
looks outside. “You hear it’s 9,000 square
feet and it’s got 10 toilets, and you’re like, ‘Oh
my God, it’s a mausoleum,’ ” says Renner.
“But it’s really homey.”
WALKING THROUGH THE HOUSE, it’s hard not
to notice that Ava’s toys are everywhere — a
stuffed fox under the coffee table, a pair of
pink-and-teal Rollerblades wedged under
the couch. It all seems to emanate from her
bedroom, a Hurt Locker–esque explosion of
stuffed animals and clothes. We stand outside
her door, and Renner skeptically regards a
four-foot plush giraffe.
“She’s got too much shit,” he says.
Renner was 42 when Ava was born. “It
was like seeing The Matrix,” he says. “In a
second, everything just opened up and made
perfect sense.” He named her Ava because it’s
“a classic Hollywood name” but also because
it’s a palindrome, like Renner. He has custody
every other week, he says, and the rest of the
time she’s with his ex-wife, Sonni Pacheco, a
former stand-in he met on the set of Mission:
Impossible. Pacheco lives down the hill from
him, and Renner says they’re cordial enough
57
58
In Wind River, Renner plays a hunter
for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who
teams up with a greenhorn FBI agent
(played by Olsen) to solve the murder of a
young woman on Wyoming’s Wind River
Indian Reservation. His job is complicated
by the fact that he’s an emotional wreck,
still mourning the death of his daughter
a few years earlier. It’s a fantastic performance, one of Renner’s best: Sadness and
anger play across his face as he swallows his
words the same way he’s been swallowed by
grief. “Taylor [Sheridan, the screenwriter
and director] explained it to me in a really
interesting way,” Renner says. “He was like,
‘I wanted to see what happens when you take
a piece of granite and a bar of steel, and you
smash them together.’ That made a lot of
sense to me.”
The script sat in Renner’s pile for a year
before he got around to reading it. “I wasn’t
trying to work too much,” he explains. “But
my whole team was like, ‘Dude, you’ve got
to read this thing.’ So I f inally begrudgingly sat down and read it, and I was like,
goddamn. The themes in it, and what I was
going through in my life — I just couldn’t
say no.”
At the time, Renner was coming off a
pretty brutal custody fight. He and Pacheco
had split the previous year, and the divorce
got gnarly. Pacheco accused Renner of fraud
and claimed he’d endangered Ava’s life by
keeping unlocked guns around the house.
Renner reportedly alleged that Pacheco was
a negligent mother who’d admitted to marrying him only for his money and a green
card. The f ight dragged out for months,
splashed across the tabloids and TMZ.
“It was awful,” Renner says. “Airing dirty
laundry, the mudslinging. I don’t give a fuck
“If I didn't find the acting thing,” Renner says,
“I might have three divorces and a mullet,
driving a forklift.”
RENNER WEARS JACKET AND SHIRT BY ALLSAINTS.
to do the handoff with no drama. “That’s my
number one thing as a parent,” he says. “Continuity and consistency.”
I ask him the most fun parts of having
a daughter. “Everything’s fun, man. Especially at this age.” She loves dance, gymnastics, musical instruments, swimming.
Renner tries to keep her from being too
girly: “Like this Christmas,” he says, “she got
a princess castle, but she also got a tool set.”
Renner takes out his phone and pulls up
a video: It’s Ava, towheaded and adorable,
lying on her back underneath her miniature
piano, banging on the strings with a plastic
hammer. Behind the camera, Renner asks
her what she’s doing. “I’m tuning my piano!”
she shouts.
Friends say Ava is everything to Renner.
“She has her daddy wrapped around her finger,” Winters says. “The few times in life I’ve
seen him cry were because he missed something of hers — whether because of work or
because it wasn’t his turn.”
about my feelings. But do what’s best for the
baby.”
Our tour ends down in Renner’s master
bedroom, a gigantic suite with two bathrooms and huge walk-through closets on
either side. We stand in one closet, full of
his dress clothes — suits and ties, watches,
vintage Louis Vuitton luggage, and an entire
drawer just for sunglasses. Renner looks a
little embarrassed. “It’s designed to be hisand-hers,” he says. “This was the ‘his’ closet,
and then the girl’s would be, like, dresses.”
But when we walk over to that closet, it too
is full of Renner’s stuff — T-shirts and jeans
and motorcycle jackets. “I fill up this whole
stupid thing,” he says. “It’s kind of pathetic.”
For the first time, Renner looks a little
lonely. He bought this house before Ava
was born, when he and Pacheco were still a
couple. There must have been a period when
he pictured the three of them here together,
growing old as a family. But now it’s back to
being just him, and Ava half the time.
Renner says he would have loved to have
more kids. “I’d like to have eight running
around,” he says. “A gaggle, a little clan.” He
thought about having another girl and naming her Hannah, also a palindrome. “But at
this point,” he says, “that’s not in my future.”
I tell him you never know, but he shakes
his head. “It takes two,” he says. “Doing it
alone is not fun. You want to share the experience. You kind of want a partner. I’ve done
so many amazing, cool-ass things in my life
— but I think as we get older, there’s more
value in doing something with somebody.”
Renner switches to
Marlboro Lights and talks about the future.
Now that he’s no longer a real estate magnate, he’s f inding other ways to occupy
himself. His production company, the Combine, has several projects in development,
including a Steve McQueen biopic (Renner
would play McQueen) and a Doc Holliday
TV series (Renner would play Holliday).
Last year the company released its f irst
film, which Renner wasn’t in, called The
Founder, starring Michael Keaton as legendary McDonald’s chairman Ray Kroc. The
movie got early buzz as an Oscar contender,
but it was pushed back several times and was
ultimately kind of a bust. The disappointment still stings: “Michael was tremendous
in it,” Renner says. “But these days, unless
you put on a cape and fly around, it’s tough
to get asses in seats.”
Speaking of which: The new Avengers is
filming soon. It will be Renner’s fifth time
donning the Hawkeye suit, and he insists
he’s looking forward to it. The movie shoots
in Atlanta through the end of the year, and
after that, he says, “I can kind of do whatever. But I’m not itching to do three movies next year.” One movie he is doing is an
animated film called Arctic Justice: Thunder Squad, in which he plays a fox named
Swifty. “It’s so fun — and I get to sleep in my
BRAD BARKET/GETTY IMAGES FOR REMY MARTIN
B AC K O N T H E PAT I O ,
Renner onstage in New York City in 2015
Most people know him for his
movie roles, but Renner’s also
a wannabe rocker.
Renner got his first taste of performing
as a teen, when he played drums in a
garage-rock band called Hot Ice. After
moving to L.A. in the 1990s, he practically
lived at a Sunset Strip karaoke bar, where
he and a crew of regulars — including future
The Voice winner Alison Porter and fellow
aspiring actor Amy Adams (who would later
co-star with Renner in American Hustle and
Arrival) — would get free drinks in exchange
for pulling in crowds with their singing.
Renner’s repertoire included Bon Jovi,
Queen, and occasionally Carly Simon: “We
did it for like a decade — it became a whole
community,” he says.
Since then, Renner’s musical side has
made it onto the big screen a few times: In
y
the Charlize Theron–starring North Country,
he does karaoke to George Thorogood’s “I
Drink Alone,” and in The Assassination of
Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, he
performs a Confederate hymn called “Good
Ol’ Rebel Soldier.” For his new film, Wind
River,r Renner did himself one better, writing
an original song — an Aerosmith-style
power ballad called “Garden of Stone.” “I was
sitting at the piano one day watching my
daughter pick flowers in the garden, and I
realized she never takes notice of this old
rock,” he says. “Parenting is not a sexy thing.
But when someone has fortitude, they’re
always going to be there.” So he’s the rock?
“I’m the rock,” he says.
The song was originally supposed to play
over the film’s end credits, but, says Renner,
“it’s a big, sweeping song, and it just felt like
too much.” But you may still hear it
someday: Renner has recorded more than
50 songs in his home studio and says he’s in
the process of whittling them down for a
potential album, maybe even two — one with
a band and one solo. He wants to do it very
organically — release some singles
anonymously or put a few songs in movies.
“I’m open to anything,” he says. “If enough
people want to hear it, I’ll play a show.”
own bed,” he says. Plus Ava can see it, which
is a first. “I won’t even let her watch Avengers,” he says. “The only reason she knows I’m
Hawkeye is I’m on her pajamas.”
Renner’s tuxedo fitting is soon, so it’s
almost time to leave, but first he wants to
show me some of his toys. We start in the
garage, with his collection of motorcycles:
a replica Norton Commando (one of just 50
built); an electric-powered Zero; and two
Triumphs, a Speed Triple and a new 1,200cc
Thruxton. Then his cars: the Porsche 914
he’s been rebuilding for a decade; his
2012 Tesla, which he says is the first new
car he’s ever bought; and a futuristiclooking Acura NSX supercar, a gift from
Acura (which does product placement in
the Avengers films).
And finally, in the driveway, there’s his
Ford F-150 Raptor. “I love that big, ol’ truck,”
he says. “It’s a beast of a rig — the thing is
just silly. But I need it for Tahoe. It’s essentially a work vehicle for the ranch.”
The ranch is Renner’s biggest toy of all.
He bought it three years ago and just finished renovating it: a stone-and-timber
cabin on six acres near Lake Tahoe, across
the Nevada state line. (Officially, Renner’s
a Nevada resident, which he admits is
partly “a business decision.” Nevada has no
state income tax.) “It’s like Camp Renner
up there,” he says of the spread. “All these
little outbuildings and trees, clean water
and air.” He’s been teaching Ava to ski. And,
of course, there are more toys: ATVs and
UTVs, motorcycles and snowcats — all the
goodies a working-class kid from Modesto
could want. (In the words of a wise man: “He
has too much shit.”)
“I always wanted that shit as a kid, and I
could never afford it,” Renner says. “So I just
said, ‘Fuck it. I deserve it.’ ”
Renner’s newest acquisition is a giant
tour bus, with bunk beds, a shower, and a
full kitchen. It’s fun, but it’s also an investment. Never one to miss an angle, he plans to
use it on set, instead of a trailer, and have the
studio pay him rent. “So they pay me to have
my own trailer that I like better,” he says,
grinning at the deal. “Over a couple of years,
it’ll get paid for, and then I’ll have this great
thing my daughter and I can tool around in
and see the country.”
I ask him why he thinks he’s always working angles like this — the real estate, Nevada,
the bus — and he cracks up. “Because I was
always broke as shit!”
Recently, Renner bought the property
next to his in Tahoe, an additional three
acres. It was a preemptive move. He was
worried a developer might build condos on
it, so he swooped in and got it before someone else could.
Of course, being Renner, he already has
plenty of ideas about what to do with it. “I’ll be
developing it soon,” he says. “But not now.” MJ
“I GOT CONTAINERS
IN THE WATER!”
“RING THE ABANDON
SHIP. TELL
THEM WE’RE GOING
IN. BOW IS DOWN.
BOW IS DOWN!
CHIEF MATE?”
“HEY, CAPTAIN!”
“GET INTO YOUR
RAFTS! THROW ALL
YOUR RAFTS INTO
THE WATER.”
“THROW THE
RAFTS IN THE
WATER. ROGER.”
“EVERYBODY GET
OFF! GET OFF
THE SHIP!”
The
Last Voyage
of the
SS El Faro
On a routine passage
from Florida to Puerto
Rico, a cargo ship
sails into the heart of
a hurricane. No one
aboard survives. With
the discovery of its
black-box recording,
we re-create the
ship’s final 26 hours
and the decisions that
sealed its fate.
BY
JEFF WISE
PHOTO
ILLUSTRATION BY
GARRIGOSA STUDIO
62
IT STARTE D AS A DIP of low pressure over the Atlantic that gathered a loose circle of
sluggish wind. Ruffled, the summer-warmed sea released more moisture as vapor and the
pressure went down a bit further. The wind picked up, driving big waves and unleashing
more moisture and heat. During the next few days, this chain reaction turned into an
atmospheric buzz saw that spanned hundreds of miles: Hurricane Joaquin.
As the Category 4 storm bore down on the Bahamas with winds peaking at 140 miles an
hour, people evacuated and vessels raced for safety. But one ship did not. On October 1,
2015, the SS El Faro — a cargo carrier whose veteran 33-member crew enjoyed modern
navigation and weather technology — sailed into the raging heart of the storm. Everyone
aboard perished in what ranks as the worst U.S. maritime disaster in three decades.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) were left to grapple
with a seemingly unanswerable question: Why?
The NTSB launched one of the most comprehensive inquiries in its 50-year history,
interviewing dozens of experts and colleagues, friends, and family members of the crew.
Then, last August, came the crucial discovery: A robot submersible retrieved El Faro’s
voyage data recorder from the three-mile-deep seabed. The black box contained
everything that was said on the ship’s bridge, right up to its final moments afloat.
The transcript reveals a narrative that unfolds in almost cinematic detail, with
foreshadowing, tension, courage, and hubris. Like most tragedies, no one factor brought on
the disaster — but human error was chief among the problems. This is the answer to the
riddle of El Faro’s baffling final path, in the words of the crew members themselves.
I
A DOOMED COURSE
Hoping to avoid Hurricane Joaquin, El Faro veered off its usual
course from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico. But Joaquin veered, too.
JACKSON V IL L E
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FL ORIDA
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San
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BAHAMAS
Old
CUB A
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LAST COMMUNICATION
MEN’S JOURNAL
Jeff Wise is the author of Extreme Fear:
The Science of Your Mind in Danger.
ILLUSTRATION BY JP LONG
The Untrackable Storm Six major prediction models, including the
National Hurricane Center’s official forecast, all misjudged Joaquin. “We
didn’t forecast it to get as strong as it did,” says James Franklin, chief of forecast
operations with the NHC, noting that Joaquin was the most powerful October
storm to hit the Bahamas in 150 years. Because Joaquin was able to hold together
better than predicted, the storm moved in an unexpected direction.
SEPTEMBER 30, 5:36 AM As the recording begins, El Faro — Spanish for “the
lighthouse” — is 150 nautical miles
southeast of Jacksonv ille, Florida,
steaming toward San Juan, Puerto
Rico. The sea is calm. In the predawn
darkness, the ship’s captain, 53-year-old
Michael Davidson, pores over navigational charts with 51-year-old chief mate
Steve Shultz.
El Faro shuttles the weeklong route
back and forth between Jacksonville and
Puerto Rico roughly four times a month,
as regular as a commuter train, carrying
cars and containers filled with groceries,
clothing, electronics, and other consumer
goods. Today, though, there’s a hiccup.
Tropical Storm Joaquin, which has just
been upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane.
The ship can expect 45-mile-an-hour
winds and 12- to 15-foot swells — a rough
ride even for the 790-foot El Faro.
Hurricane Joaquin is 200 miles
northeast of the Bahamas and currently
on a course straight for the islands —
and El Faro’s track line — but the forecast predicts the storm will soon curve
to the northwest. If they angle their
course slightly south, Davidson reasons,
they’ll scoot through a gap between the
islands and the storm.
This would be only a 10-mile diversion, a distance that means the trip will
take just 30 minutes longer and burn a
negligible amount of extra fuel. Still, the
decision doesn’t seem to sit well with
Davidson. A 20-year veteran of the U.S.
Merchant Marine, he had applied for
a transfer to a newer ship with TOTE
MICHAEL DAVIDSON/FACEBOOK
Maritime, El Faro’s shipping company.
He may have thought that even a minute
amount of extra expense wouldn’t help
his cause.
“We’re not that much off course,”
Davidson says, as if to reassure himself.
“It’s a good little diversion. Are you feelin’
comfortable with that, Chief Mate?”
“Yes, sir,” Shultz says and adds, “The
other option is drastic.”
That option is a more southerly route
called the Old Bahama Channel, which
would require the ship to turn 90 degrees
to the right, sail 200 miles south, then
turn east, and sail along the northern
coast of Cuba, sheltered by the islands of
the Bahamas. The ride would be much
smoother, but the trip to San Juan would
be 160 miles longer — six hours’ sailing
time and about $5,000 in extra fuel.
“It doesn’t warrant it,” Davidson says.
“Can’t run from every weather pattern.”
“Not for a 40-knot wind.”
“Now, that would be the action for
some guy that’s never been anywhere
else.” The captain mimics a panicky voice:
“ Oh my God! Oh my God!”
Davidson had endured plenty of rough
water, including a decade running oil
tankers from the legendarily stormy Gulf
of Alaska to the West Coast. He noted one
particular voyage across the Atlantic in
the transcript: “We had a gust registered
at 102 knots. It was the roughest storm I
had ever been in — ever.”
“It should be fine,” Davidson says, then
corrects himself. “We are gonna be fine,
not should be. We are gonna be fine.”
To the east, the sky is growing bright.
“Oh, look at that red sky over there. ‘Red
in the morning, sailors take warning,’ ”
Davidson says, quoting the old seafarers’
saw. “That is bright.”
11:45 AM The morning opens into a fine
tropical day, blue skies with temperatures
in the high 80s. But the swell has started
to build with the energy of Joaquin, still
some 300 miles away.
At noon, 34-year-old second mate
Danielle Randolph begins her shift on the
bridge. Randolph is a popular member of
the crew, an extrovert with a passion for
pumpkin-spice coffee and a penchant for
singing along with the radio.
By now the ship is approaching the
f irst of the Bahamian islands, Little
Abaco. Third mate Jeremie Riehm tells
Randolph about the slightly altered
course that Davidson has laid out. As second mate, Randolph is responsible for the
ship’s navigation. She makes clear that
she doesn’t think the captain is taking
Joaquin seriously enough. “He’s telling
everybody down there, ‘Oh, it’s not a bad
Capt. Michael
Davidson
In the maritime world, Maine
native Michael Davidson had it
made. He’d joined TOTE Maritime, the
company that owned El Faro, in 2012,
signing on as a third mate and working
up to captain. That made him the
highest-ranking officer on the largest
category of ship in the U.S. cargo fleet,
with pay in the $200,000-plus range.
But he’d also learned the hazards of
not toeing a company line.
Before working for TOTE, Davidson
was a captain for Crowley Maritime in
Jacksonville — but he lost that job after
refusing to sail a ship because he said
the vessel’s steering was unsafe.
At TOTE, two months before
Hurricane Joaquin, Davidson took a
160-mile detour to avoid Tropical Storm
Erika. That extra time and fuel may have
made him look bad in management’s
eyes. In the black-box transcript, he
agrees with his chief mate that he’s “in
line for the choppin’ block.” TOTE had
ordered two brand-new natural-gaspowered ships for Davidson’s route, and
he’d applied to be captain. He’d been
turned down for one and wasn’t
optimistic about getting the other.
As for his management style, crew
members described Davidson as
magnanimous but arrogant, with little
interest in the details of running a ship.
Seaman Kurt Bruer, who had worked
under Davidson, calls him “one of the
laziest captains I’d ever sailed with,”
saying that Davidson spent most of his
time in his cabin instead of walking the
ship as other captains would do.
Still, others who have borne the
responsibility of captaining a ship say
Davidson’s failure to deal with Joaquin
could have happened to any leader. “He
seemed like a pretty normal captain,”
says George Collazo, a Seattle-based
ship captain. “He could have done the
same thing 100 times and been fine.”
MEN’S JOURNAL
storm — it’s not even that windy out. I’ve
seen worse,’ ” she tells Riehm.
Even the amended route El Faro is on
exposes it to the risk of getting trapped
between the storm and the shallow
waters of the Bahamas. “It’s nothing —
it’s nothing!” Randolph says, quoting
Davidson. “I think he’s trying to play it
down because he realizes we shouldn’t
have come this way. Saving face.”
Minutes later, Davidson returns to the
bridge, complaining that the engine room
isn’t giving him as much speed as he’d like.
“Oh yeah?” Randolph asks. “I think
now it’s not a matter of speed. When we
get there, we get there — as long as we
arrive in one piece.”
3:45 PM By the time chief mate Shultz
returns for his 4 PM to 8 PM shift, the
ocean swell has increased to eight feet,
the crests whipped into whitecaps by
the stiffening wind. The deck crew has
tightened the lashings that hold El Faro’s
391 containers in place on the deck and
scoured the ship to make sure everything
has been secured.
El Faro’s sister ship, El Yunque, is 33
miles abeam, heading in the opposite
direction toward Jacksonville. Shultz
calls on the radio for a chat. El Yunque’s
chief mate tells him that they put on
speed to outrace Joaquin but still got
beat up pretty bad. At one point, they
recorded gusts of more than 100 miles
an hour. “You are going the wrong way,”
the chief mate says.
When Davidson returns to the bridge,
Shultz does not pass along this warning.
“There could be a chance that we
could turn around?” asks the helmsman
on duty, 49-year-old Frank Hamm.
“Oh, no, no, no,” says Davidson.
“We’re not gonna turn around.”
6:51 PM As twilight settles, Davidson
comes up from his office to find Shultz
standing watch. “I just sent you the latest
weather,” Davidson tells him. Four times
a day, the captain receives a forecast
from a private meteorological service he
subscribes to called Bon Voyage System
(BVS). Its colorful graphics, with areas
of severe weather in yellow and dangerous weather in red, are easy to understand, and Davidson relies on the reports
exclusively, ignoring the hurricane alerts
and National Weather Service (NWS)
updates that are printed out and posted
on the bridge, and are the standards
most captains use.
What Davidson doesn’t know is that
the BVS forecasts are up to 21 hours outof-date, and their estimate of Joaquin’s
location is off by as much as 500 miles.
The free NWS reports are timelier and
more accurate.
But by now, even the BVS forecast has
grown ominous. It shows the storm continuing on its southern course toward the
Bahamas and El Faro. Davidson plots a
new course that will take them around
San Salvador Island, which, according
to the BVS chart, will provide shelter and
limit the size of the swells.
However, the three off icers have
been watching more accurate forecasts
and have a much clearer idea of what’s
in store. All three tell Davidson they’re
concerned about the ship’s course, but
the captain is unfazed.
Davidson leaves the bridge at 8 PM, just
after third mate Riehm relieves Shultz. “I
will definitely be up for the better part of
your watch,” Davidson tells Riehm. “So
if you see anything you don’t like, don’t
hesitate to give me a shout.” He heads to
his stateroom for the night.
As he leaves, the National Hurricane
Center upgrades Joaquin to a Category 2,
with winds of 105 miles an hour.
Second Mate
Danielle Randolph
Growing up in coastal Maine,
Danielle Randolph felt the
seafaring urge at an early age. When her
mother, Laurie Bobillot, burst into tears
while saying goodbye on Danielle’s first
day of kindergarten, she scolded:
“Mama, how am I going to learn about
boats if you don’t let me go to school?”
Sure enough, she went on to enroll at the
Maine Maritime Academy, then began
sailing for TOTE at age 24. “If she had it
in her mind to do something, says
Bobillot, “nothing was going to stop her.”
At sea, Randolph was consummately
professional but rarely staid. Even in the
thick of a crisis, she would crack a joke or
go brew someone a fresh cup of coffee.
A decade in the Merchant Marine,
though, had begun to take its toll. Life
aboard El Faro meant 12-hour
workdays with rest broken up into odd
hours between her midday and
midnight shifts. She told her friends
that El Faro was a “rust bucket” and
marveled, in particular, at the
inadequacy of the obsolete open-deck
lifeboats. She had been reluctant to
sail with El Faro on this voyage but felt
that she had to in order to get her
10-week rotation over by Christmas.
Still, she never hesitated to obey
orders. Like many mariners, she had
family ties to the sea — her mother
was in the Navy — and was raised to
respect the Merchant Marine’s
military-like pecking order. Upon
joining, she had sworn to “faithfully
and honestly carry out the lawful
orders of my superior officers.”
Bobillot confirms her daughter’s
mind-set: “She was going to obey orders
even if she knew it was wrong.”
Just before she embarked on the El
Faro run, Randolph told her mother, “If
anything happens to me when I’m out
at sea, it’s OK, because that’s where I
want to be.”
MEN’S JOURNAL
O C T O B E R 1 , 1 :2 0 A M El Faro
approaches Rum Cay. If Randolph is
going to make a turn to the south, she’ll
have to do it soon.
“I’m going to give the captain a call,”
she says. When Davidson finally picks up,
it’s clear he’s been asleep. “It isn’t looking
good,” Randolph tells him, then explains
her idea. Davidson isn’t convinced. He
tells her the worst of the storm will soon be
behind them, so she should stay on course.
She hangs up and turns to the helmsman.
“He said to run it.”
At this point, Randolph has a choice.
Her captain has given her an order that
she knows could have a terrible outcome.
She can follow it, putting her crew mates
in certain danger, or she can take matters into her own hands and turn the ship
toward a hope of safety.
Going rogue, though, is not an option
for Danielle Randolph. To defy Davidson’s
order is the kind of insubordination that
would get her fired upon arrival in San
Juan. The chain of command has ruled life
at sea for centuries, and for good reason:
A crew’s safety is dependent on discipline,
with no room for dissension. A captain’s
unquestioned authority is something a
mariner accepts with the job.
So, instead of turning south, Randolph
instructs the helmsman to continue east.
Directly into the storm.
1:55 AM A particularly large wave
slams into the ship. “That was a good
one,” Randolph says. “Def initely lost
some speed. Although we’re not doing
the max RPMs.”
The ship’s engine burns oil to generate steam, which drives the turbine that
turns the propeller. It’s technology that
was familiar to sailors during Titanic’s
era. If the boiler can’t generate enough
heat, the propeller’s revolutions per minute will fall and the ship will slow. The
40-year-old El Faro had reportedly suffered loss of propulsion at sea before, and
its boilers were scheduled to be repaired
later that fall.
A little-known quirk of the powerplant design was that if the ship listed,
or leaned over, more than 15 degrees —
DANIELLE RANDOLPH/FACEBOOK
10:30 PM As the night drags on, the
weather gets progressively worse. Bands
of heavy rain and gale-force winds lash
the ship as El Faro enters the main body
of the storm system, an area of rainfall
the size of South Carolina.
In the control room, Randolph continues to worry about their predicament. If
they were in the open ocean and the storm
grew dangerous, they could turn tail and
run, but as it is, their options are limited,
with the ship hemmed in by the islands
and reefs to the southwest.
“We don’t have much space,” she
tells her helmsman. “Not much wiggle
room, you know, ’cause it’s so shallow
everywhere.”
“I don’t like our chances,” the helmsman says.
At 12:26 AM, the satcom printer, which
provides the latest updates from the
NWS, chatters to life and spits out a new
report. Randolph tears it off and reads.
Joaquin hasn’t turned, as all the forecasts
predicted. In fact, it’s grown stronger,
and they’re heading right into it.
“I may have a solution,” Randolph
says. She shows the helmsman the chart.
Around 2 AM, they’ll pass Rum Cay. At
that point, they can turn south and head
for Crooked Island Passage. They’ll avoid
hurricane-force winds, and once through
the passage, they’ll be sheltered from the
swell by the islands. “From there we
connect with the Old Bahama Channel,”
Randolph says.
A weather report comes on the radio:
Joaquin has been upgraded to a Category
3 hurricane, with winds of more than 111
miles an hour. As if on cue, three minutes later, the ship lurches violently to the
left, nearly knocking Randolph and the
helmsman off their feet.
“Whoa!” the helmsman shouts. “Biggest one since I’ve been up here. This is
fixing to get interesting.”
“Mistaaake,” Randolph drawls.
65
THE PERILS OF A 40-YEAR-OLD SHIP
A U.S. Coast Guard report said that if El Faro were built today, it “would not meet
current damage stability standards.” Here’s why.
OUTDATED LIFEBOATS El Faro carried two
open-air lifeboats. “Today, a vessel like that
would be required to have totally enclosed,
motor-driven lifeboats,” marine safety
consultant Robert Markle told investigators.
Such vessels, which can be launched from
the inside so that no one is left behind, can
turn right-side-up if they capsize. “If they
had enclosed lifeboats,” says former El Faro
seaman Kurt Bruer, “they would have been
able to survive.”
31.5
TONS
43-PERSON LIFEBOATS
an unlikely possibility — the lubricating
oil would run to one side and the engine
would stop. It’s a problem that is less
likely to occur on modern ships.
“Damn sure don’t want to lose the
plant,” the helmsman says, referring to
El Faro’s engine. That’s because a ship
is designed to plunge through heavy
weather bow first. But with insufficient
power, wind and swell will cause it to list
sideways, exposing a vulnerable f lank.
Soon the ship could take on and fill with
water, then capsize.
ILLUSTRATION BY TODD DETWILER
2
A DYING INDUSTRY Antiquated ships are not
unusual in the U.S. Merchant Marine. Once the
world leader, the U.S. fleet has been in decline
since World War II and survives only because
of a law called the Jones Act, which restricts
shipping between U.S. ports to Americanflagged ships and crews. The industry limps
on within this protected safe zone. The
reason? Money. American mariners are
expensive. It costs millions of dollars a year
more to operate a ship under a U.S. flag than
with foreign crews. Were it not for the money
the U.S. shipbuilding industry makes, the
government might scrap the Jones Act
altogether and let U.S. shipping die off.
2:44 AM Over the next hour, Joaquin
batters the ship with increasing intensity. Waves break over the bow, sending
torrents of water surging over the deck.
Explosions of spray splatter the windows
of the bridge. Unseen clankings reverberate over the howling of the wind as the
storm wrenches away loose fittings.
“Figured the captain would be up
here,” says the helmsman.
“I thought so, too,” says Randolph.
“He’ll play hero tomorrow,” the helmsman says.
A few minutes later, a massive wave
790
FEET LONG
hits. “That was a doozy,” Randolph says,
nervously laughing. “We won’t be able to
take more of those.”
Minutes later another wave hits, and
this one nearly knocks Randolph off her
feet. An electronic alarm sounds, warning
that the ship’s autopilot has been shoved
off course by the force of waves that have
grown too big for it to handle.
4:09 AM Shultz arrives on the bridge
and relieves Randolph, who goes below
deck and staggers to her cabin. There she
writes an email to her mother: “We are
heading straight for the hurricane. Give
my love to everyone.”
On the bridge, Davidson returns
after an eight-hour absence. The winds
raking the ship are 100-plus miles per
hour, but Davidson feigns nonchalance.
“There’s nothing bad about this ride,” he
says. When Shultz asks if he’s managed
to get any sleep, he says he’s been “sleeping like a baby.”
“Not me,” Shultz says.
“What? Who’s not sleepin’ good? How
come?”
“I didn’t like it.”
MEN’S JOURNAL
A CORRODED BOAT Built in 1975, El Faro
was some four times older than the average
container ship at sea. One sister ship,
El Morro, had recently been scrapped
because its aging steel hull was so
corroded. El Faro’s other sister ship,
El Yunque, was taken out of service in 2016
because of extensive corrosion.
391
CONTAINERS
294
TRAILERS AND CARS
“Well, this is every day in Alaska,”
Davidson retorts.
Shultz points out that the ship is listing
to the right. The wind is hitting El Faro’s
exposed left flank, pushing it even further
to the right side.
“Yeah,” the captain says. “The only way
to do a counter on this is to fill the portside ramp tank up.” In other words, they
can pump stored water from the right side
to the left side of the ship, to help steady it
against the wind. If they don’t, the list will
continue and the powerplant could fail.
While Davidson goes to get breakfast,
the chief engineer phones to tell Shultz
that the engine lubricating oil is acting
up. Evidently, shifting the water hasn’t
worked. It’s time for plan B: Turn El Faro
into the wind. Davidson rushes back to
the bridge. “Going to steer right up into
it,” he declares. “Let’s put it in handsteering.” To prevent a more drastic list,
they need to point the bow directly into
the hurricane-force wind. But that’s no
easy feat. El Faro is now in the eye wall
of a hurricane that is strengthening from
Category 3 to Category 4. Thirty-foot
waves, their crests whipped to foam by
115-mile-an-hour winds, hammer the
66
ship every 10 seconds. The wind howling against the bridge sounds like a jet
engine on takeoff.
5:43 AM “We got a prrroooblem,” Davidson says. Engineering has called with
more bad news.
A type of hatch called a scuttle, located
between cargo decks, has f lown open,
allowing water to f lood the hull of the
ship. A lot of water sloshing in an open
hold makes a ship incredibly unstable
and prone to capsizing. Efforts to seal the
hatch fail, so Davidson orders the crew to
run water pumps to remove the seawater.
He tells Shultz to go check it out.
The chief engineer calls in soon after.
“OK,” Davidson tells him, “I’m going to
turn the ship and get the wind on the
starboard side. Give us a port list.” Davidson hopes that with the ship leaning in
the other direction, the water will drain
away and they can secure the hatch.
Sensing that the ship is in trouble,
Randolph returns to the bridge in her
off-duty clothes. Davidson greets her
with a friendly “Hi!” and tells her about
the hatch. A few minutes later, Randolph
notices that the engine power is falling
and asks, “Did we come down on the
RPM, or did they do that?” referring to
the engine room.
Davidson says he didn’t ask them to
reduce power. It’s more than worrying.
A loud thump comes from outside.
“There goes the lawn furniture,” says Randolph, likely seeing objects on the deck
start to come untethered.
“I’m not liking this list,” Davidson says.
A few seconds later, the engine RPMs
drop. He turns to Randolph: “I think we
just lost the plant.”
How an antiquated
engine and hurricaneforce winds brought
down a 31-ton vessel.
El Faro’s engine burned oil to
generate steam, which drove the
turbine that turned the propeller.
When the old boilers couldn’t
produce enough heat, the
propeller’s RPMs fell off, and the
ship slowed. Winds pummeled its
left (port) side, and it began to
lean right (starboard). When it
hit a critical 15-degree list,
lubricating oil ran to its right side
and the engine stopped. Without
power to move forward, it filled
with water and capsized.
“All hell’s gonna break loose,” Davidson
says. Somewhere, alarm bells are ringing
and rescue teams are saddling up.
“Wake ever ybody up!” Davidson
shouts. “Wake ’em up!” He adds: “We’re
going to be good. We’re going to make it.”
Shultz hurries back to the bridge. “I
think that water level’s rising, Captain.”
But he can’t determine where the water is
flooding in. “I saw cars bobbing around.”
“All right, we’re going to ring the general alarm here and wake everybody up,”
Davidson says. “We’re definitely not in
good shape right now.”
Davidson tells Shultz to “muster all the
mates,” then calls the engine room: “Captain here. Just want to let you know I am
going to ring the general alarm . . . . We’re
not going to abandon ship or anything just
yet. All right? We’re gonna stay with it.”
Davidson hangs up, turns to the crew
on the bridge, and shouts, “Ring it!”
A series of high-pitch tones blare
throughout the ship.
MEN’S JOURNAL
ILLUSTRATION BY TODD DETWILER
6:55 AM By now the goal is no longer to
get to San Juan but to simply keep the ship
af loat. With each swell, El Faro lurches
further onto its right side.
“How long we supposed to be in this
storm?” Hamm asks.
“Should get better all the time,” Davidson says. “We’re on the back side of it.”
Davidson makes a satellite phone
call to Capt. John Lawrence, the head of
TOTE’s emergency response team and
the man responsible for coordinating
rescue efforts. Instead of abandoning El
Faro, Davidson tells him, “No one’s panicking. Everybody’s been made aware.
Our safest bet is to stay with the ship. The
weather is ferocious out here.”
After he hangs up, Davidson tells Randolph to send a satellite distress signal.
“Roger.” The satellite terminal chirps:
Message sent. The time is 7:13 AM.
WHY
EL FARO
CAPSIZED
7:28 AM Shultz calls in on a walkietalkie to report that everybody has mustered on the starboard side. “Captain, you
getting ready to abandon ship?”
“Yeah, what I’d like to make sure is
everybody has their immersion suits, and
get a good head count.”
A minute later, Randolph lets out
a yell. “I got containers in the water!”
Ravaged by the 115-mile-an-hour wind
and bashed by crashing waves, stacks of
containers on the deck have started to
plunge into the ocean. The ship is coming apart.
“Ring the abandon ship,” Davidson
orders.
A high-frequency bell tone rings in
seven short pulses, followed by a long
pulse. “Tell them we’re going in,” says
Davidson loudly.
Randolph asks if she can get her life
vest. Davidson says yes and asks her to
bring his and one for helmsman Hamm.
“I need them, too!” Hamm yells.
“Please!”
“OK, buddy, relax,” Davidson says. “Go
ahead, Second Mate.”
Randolph leaves, and the captain and
the helmsman are alone on the bridge.
The ship is taking on water fast. The
morning light is strong enough now that,
through the rain and spray, Davidson can
see the front of the ship slip beneath the
roiling surface. “Bow is down,” Davidson
says. “Bow is down!”
He calls Shultz on the radio: “Chief
Mate, Chief Mate.”
“Hey, Captain!” Shultz shouts over the
freight-train roar of the storm.
“Get into your rafts!” the captain yells.
“Throw all your rafts into the water.”
“Throw the rafts in the water. Roger.”
“Everybody get off!” Davidson shouts.
“Get off the ship. Stay together!”
On the bridge, Hamm has slipped
on the now steeply pitched deck and is
having trouble climbing up. Each time
the ship lurches, the slope gets steeper.
“Cap . . . Cap,” he’s saying.
“What? Come on, Hamm. Gotta move.
You gotta get up. You gotta snap out of it.”
“OK,” Hamm says. “Help me.”
“You gotta get to safety, Hamm,”
Davidson pleads.
Hamm is becoming increasingly panicked. “You’re going to leave me.”
“I’m not leaving you! Let’s go!”
Hamm lets out a primal scream. “I
need somebody to help me! You don’t
want to help me?”
“I’m the only one here, Hamm.”
“I can’t!” Hamm yells. “I’m a goner.”
“No, you’re not!” Davidson shouts.
Hamm screams as the deck lurches
ever steeper. The voices cut out.
7:39 AM Thousands of tons of water
FROM TOP: COURTESY OF HAMM FAMILY; NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD/AP
crash onto El Faro’s exposed left f lank.
Destabilized by flooding below decks, the
ship eases past the critical angle. The deck
rises up to vertical, then past it, and like
a toppled seven-story building, it breaks
apart. Containers stacked on the fore and
aft decks scatter like Jenga blocks as seawater surges into the shattered hull.
The crew members mustered below
are unable to launch the lifeboats. Even
if they could, the open-top boats would
likely capsize almost immediately. The life
jackets and immersion suits are likewise
useless. Simply put, trying to abandon El
Faro in the teeth of a Category 4 hurricane
is suicide, and the crew doubtless knew it.
A hundred feet beneath the roiling
waves, where the morning light fades into
perpetual black, the sea is calm. Torn-off
sections of the ship ride downward toward
it, streaming bubbles, followed by a torrent of man-made objects: containers,
cars, air conditioners. They fall three
miles down, into the quiet.
THE AFTERMATH The Coast Guard in
Portsmouth, Virginia, picks up El Faro’s
emergency signal. They spend a day trying to radio the ship. Days later, once the
storm has subsided, they send an HC-130
reconnaissance plane from Clearwater,
Florida. It spots nothing.
When Danielle Randolph’s mother,
Laurie Bobillot, opens the last email that
her daughter sent her, she immediately
fears the worst. The sign-off — “Give my
love to everyone” — sounds like a farewell.
Three days after the sinking, a Coast
Guard helicopter sees a body floating in
an immersion suit but is unable to retrieve
it. No other remains are ever found.
The immediate reaction was to question the judgment of Michael Davidson.
“I don’t think he believed he was going
to get into 100-knot winds, even though
the data was right there in front of him,”
says Seattle-based ship captain George
Collazo, who has done research on the
causes of maritime disasters. “You do
something so many times and it always
comes out right — you start to get a feeling of invulnerability.” However, Collazo
adds, in the shipping industry, a captain’s
job is defined not simply by getting from
point A to point B, but by how well he
leads and listens to his crew.
By spring 2017, all of El Faro crew’s
next of kin had settled claims against
On November 12, 2015, a U.S. Navy submersible
discovers the torn-off bridge of the SS El Faro,
resting 15,000 feet below the ocean’s surface.
Helmsman
Frank Hamm
Forty-nine-year-old Frank Hamm
joined the Merchant Marine when
he moved to the port city of Jacksonville,
Florida, in 1995. He rose to the rank of
able seaman, entrusted with physically
steering a 31,000-ton ship.
“He talked about the amazing career
it was, how he loved to travel,” says his
wife, Rochelle, adding that wherever
Hamm would go, he’d collect a souvenir
shot glass to display in his man cave at
home. On land, Hamm doted on his five
kids and three grandkids, and loved
watching cartoons with the youngest.
“The old-school ones,” laughs Rochelle,
“Popeye, Looney Tunes, Scooby-Doo.”
In 2011, the helmsman had a career
highlight: Hundreds of miles out at sea,
he spotted a lone boat in the distance.
The two fishermen aboard had lost power
and been adrift for three days. Hamm’s
keen vision saved their lives.
TOTE for $500,000 each in pain and
suffering and undisclosed amounts
for financial loss. Insurers paid TOTE
$36 million for the ship’s loss. Last
May, those insurers launched a lawsuit
against StormGeo, the company that
owns Bon Voyage System, claiming
that its outdated reports were to blame
for the disaster. Apart from settling
accounts, anger remains. “The laws need
to be changed,” says Kurt Bruer, a seaman who had worked on El Faro. “The
industry is more interested in protecting the Jones Act [the law that requires
that only U.S. ships sail to and from U.S.
ports] than they are about safety. They
don’t care about us mariners — we’re just
replaceable bodies.”
The NTSB, still working on its investigation, does not expect to issue a final
report until this fall. (Both TOTE and
StormGeo, citing the unfinished investigation, declined comment for this story.)
Even if the NTSB proposes new regulations, there will be powerful industry
resistance to any money-spending measures. Mandating closed lifeboats for older
ships, for instance, would be opposed
strongly by ship owners as being overly
expensive, says Robert Markle, a marine
safety consultant for the Coast Guard.
“This whole tragedy has opened my
eyes so much,” says Bobillot. She reels off
a litany of safety shortcomings aboard El
Faro, from a shortage of emergency locator beacons to the lack of closed lifeboats.
“Had I known half of what I know now, I
would have totally discouraged Danielle
from shipping out,” she says. Then she
laughs ruefully. “I don’t know if she would
have listened to her mother.” MJ
THIS LAND IS OUR
by
ABE STREEP
photograph by
CHRIS
DOUGLAS
68
MEN’S JOURNAL
SEPTEMBER 2017
A SCRAPPY CREW OF HUNTERS AND ANGLERS
LED BY MONTANAN LAND TAWNEY ARE
MARSHALING THEIR POLITICAL MUSCLE TO
FIGHT FOR AMERICA’S LAST WILD PLACES.
ISSOULA, Montana, never suffers a dearth of pickup trucks,
but the number of jacked-up
4x4s rises dramatically in late
April. That’s when Backcountry Hunters & Anglers gathers for its annual
three-day Rendezvous, with camo-clad history lessons, camp cook-offs featuring meals
like Arizona javelina, and lectures on the
finer points of field-dressing an ungulate. At
a standing-room-only seminar titled “Use
the Whole Animal,” topics range from elk
tongue preparation (parboil it) to whether
brain really tastes like sausage. (It does.)
The crowd here is a mix of biologists,
military vets, TV hunting personalities, former hippies, and ardent Trump supporters.
All are dedicated to one issue: the preservation of America’s wild public lands. Many
are wearing sweatshirts emblazoned with
the phrase PUBLIC LAND OWNER, a rallying cry
for the nonprofit group. During an awards
luncheon, a muscled guy from Wyoming
M
ILLUSTRATION BY DEEP BEAR
LAND
says he’s skeptical of climate change but
nonetheless opposes the state’s Republican
congresswoman, Liz Cheney, on account of
her support for transferring federal lands to
the states. At an outdoor wild-game feast,
I run into a blue-eyed 33-year-old woman
named Lauren, who says she got into hunting because “I thought it was important to
take responsibility for meat-eating, karmically.” Now she’s hooked on killing. Her
entry in the cook-off is a cougar pinwheel
roast stuffed with morels.
Across the tent, a reddish-blond man in
a blue shirt and camo vest yucks it up with
a handful of brawny guys drinking beer.
Land Tawney, BHA’s 42-year-old president,
is a ruddy-faced, fifth-generation Montanan
who calls creeks “cricks” and could fit a pen
in the gap between his front teeth. He owns
more than 20 guns. In an era when much of
the GOP is intent on transferring or selling
off vast swaths of public land (mostly in the
West), Tawney represents an aggressive line
of defense for America’s wild places. Since he
took the reins in 2013, BHA has grown tenfold, largely because of Tawney’s ability to
create this bipartisan coalition.
One of his more charming habits is a tendency to compare politicians to dogs. “The
dog understands the stick,” Tawney says,
“and so do politicians.” Recently he has been
using the stick to great effect. This spring,
Tawney took on former Utah Congressman
Jason Chaffetz — who resigned in the summer to take a job as a political pundit at Fox
News — after the representative introduced a
bill to “dispose” of 3 million acres of federally
managed public land. Tawney countered by
mounting a fierce grassroots response: At a
rally at Montana’s capitol organized by his
group, a thousand protesters in cowboy hats
and camo crammed the corridors, denouncing the bill.
BHA helped launch similar efforts in
Idaho and New Mexico. Chaffetz eventually stood down, and shortly thereafter, in
a combative press release, Tawney issued
something of a warning: “[Chaffetz’s] fellow
lawmakers should take note of the ire and
rapid response by hunters and anglers. We
aren’t going away.”
Tawney’s role at the Rendezvous includes
greeting his tribe, meeting with BHA’s 24
nationwide chapter chairs, and managing his
full-time staff of 14, who oversee the event.
Throughout the weekend there are plenty of
VIPs to glad-hand, among them Montana
Gov. Steve Bullock, bigwigs from sponsors
including Yeti, and hook-and-bullet celebrities like Randy Newberg, a TV host on the
Sportsman Channel. But Tawney appears
most focused on the next generation, listening in on a session about millennial
recruitment and introducing himself to
BHA’s younger members. The Rendezvous’
most popular event is story night, essentially
organized fish tales, during which Newberg
tells a Garrison Keillor–esque yarn about his
uncle throwing a treble hook into his dad’s
crotch. Then a 10-year-old girl takes the
stage. Her name is Lola, and she’s from Wisconsin. Along with her parents, she screens
a simple film that consists entirely of her
catching fish. Every time she hooks up, the
crowd roars. At the end of the film, she takes
the stage and says, “My name’s Lola, and I’m
a public land owner from Wisconsin!”
At that, Tawney stands up, pumps his
fist, and howls thunderously.
P
UBLIC LAND in America exists
largely because of hunters. Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird
Grinnell formed the Boone and
Crockett Club in 1887 in order to
protect Yellowstone National Park from mining and railroad interests. The group was
responsible for many of conservation’s early
victories, including legislation allowing the
president to set aside “forest reserves” — a
crucial precursor to Roosevelt’s establishment of national forests and monuments.
In the latter half of the 20th century,
however, hunters slowly ceded much of their
political clout to the National Rif le Association, which mostly focused its efforts on
fighting gun control. So protection of public
lands often fell to big legacy organizations,
including the Nature Conservancy, or leftleaning groups like the Wilderness Society, whose environmental concerns often
clashed with those of locals dependent on
extractive industries — oil and gas workers — as well as with ranchers and loggers.
Federal land is managed for “multiple
use,” meaning the government’s supervision
of it must plan for recreation and conservation in addition to drilling and grazing. But
this has created a cauldron of conf licting
interests that have occasionally come to a
boil. The most recent land-transfer flare-up
started roughly five years ago, not long before
Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy mounted an
armed insurrection against federal agents.
It was also around the time when industryfriendly groups had started a campaign to
persuade Americans that the government
69
70
MEN’S JOURNAL
was the pick of the litter for sure.”
So far, in the early days of the Trump
administration, Tawney has helped stall the
most direct attacks on public land, including Chaffetz’s bill, but there are plenty of
worrying developments — most notably a
Trump-ordered review of national monuments, including Utah’s Bears Ears, which
Zinke recently suggested shrinking. Utah’s
congressional delegation, however, would
prefer to do away with it altogether.
“The precedent of undoing a monument
could have dire consequences,” says Tawney.
“We don’t want that precedent set in any way.”
Following Zinke’s recommendation on
Bears Ears, BHA issued a press release critical of the move and asked its membership to
flood the Interior Department with input on
the monument review process, generating
nearly 15,000 comments. But Tawney has yet
to organize the kind of rallies that moved the
needle on the Chaffetz bill — a sign, perhaps,
of his choosing his battles carefully. “The
minute you put your foot in Zinke’s ass,” he
says, “you lose an ally.”
Tawney finds himself in a delicate position. To win his war, he must rally his
bipartisan coalition of hunters, anglers, and
other conservationists; convince gun lovers to criticize legislators supported by the
NRA; and go to battle with land-transfer
advocates who are backed by some of the
most powerful industry groups and special
interests in the country, including the Koch
brothers’ network.
“There’s a lot of money behind that movement,” says Martin Heinrich, the Democratic senator from New Mexico, a lifelong
hunter and prominent public lands supporter.
“I don’t think it’s going to go away.”
SEPTEMBER 2017
T
AWNEY OFTEN wears muck boots
and camo to his office, a brickwalled space where dogs roam
freely. Fly-tying materials sit on
shelves, and taxidermied ducks
adorn the walls. When I come to visit, Tawney’s new puppy, a black Lab named Tule,
romps around, and Tawney’s iPhone buzzes
constantly. The ringtone is the call of a
drake mallard.
Tawney is not shy about implying that he
was born for this role. One afternoon, while
taking me on a tour of his family’s property,
in a steep canyon outside Missoula, he notes
with pride that Jim Posewitz, the author of
Beyond Fair Chase, a seminal backcountry
hunting book, drove his mother, Robin, to
Tawney addresses his BHA following at the
organization’s Missoula Rendezvous.
the hospital on the day of his birth. “My dad
was out fishing,” Tawney says, smiling.
Phil Tawney, Land’s father, was the
first attorney for the Rocky Mountain Elk
Foundation and a prominent early Montana
conservationist; he also served as executive
director of the state’s Democratic Party.
Land was named for Land Lindbergh, a
family friend and the third son of the aviator Charles. Land shot his first whitetail at
14, Phil smearing blood under his son’s eyes
after the kill, “almost like war paint.” When
Tawney tells me the story, he notes, “Teddy
Roosevelt had done that to one of his sons.”
As a high schooler, Tawney was, in his
own words, “a punk kid,” interested primarily in soccer and girls. He went off to college
in Seattle, but his father was soon diagnosed
with leukemia, and after he died, Tawney
COURTESY OF LYLE JAMES VINSON
was botching the management of their land.
Their general argument is that states can
manage the acreage more efficiently than
the federal government. But states have a
poor track record of keeping the land public:
70 percent of the roughly 200 million acres
that were given to states upon their entering
the union has since been sold or transferred
to private interests such as landowners and
companies. Much of the remaining acreage
has been leased out to extractive industries
that have limited or cut off access.
This is the nightmare scenario that Tawney envisions if the large-scale transfers
that the GOP supports become a reality,
and he’s turned the matter into his animating mission. “It’s not a political game for
him,” says Kai Anderson, former deputy
chief of staff for Sen. Harry Reid and now
a lobbyist who works on the issue. “It’s
‘What’s the right outcome from a sportsman’s perspective?’ ”
Last summer, the Republican National
Committee went so far as to add transfer of
lands from the federal government to the
states — a process called divestiture — to
its platform. Now, under President Trump,
pro-transfer Republicans are eager to carry
it out, and environmental groups have about
as much sway at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
as Howard Dean. That leaves swing-voting
hunters as the rare conservation-minded bloc
with access to the administration.
“[BHA] is seen as more credible,” says
Athan Manuel, who oversees public land
issues for the Sierra Club. “We’re saying
the same thing, but they probably do vote
Republican more than Sierra Club members do.”
There are other conservation-minded
groups trying to stem the land-transfer tide
— among them Trout Unlimited and the
National Wildlife Federation — but few have
had the effect of BHA. “Their political clout
is all connected to the turnout, the energy
they’re able to harness,” says Peter Aengst,
who helps oversee public land issues for the
Wilderness Society. “You know that saying,
‘The world is shaped by those who show up’?
Well, BHA members show up.”
BHA now has a budget of $2.5 million
and 13,000 members, a number that grows
monthly. Recently, some high-profile names
have joined the cause, notably MMA fight
analyst and podcast phenom Joe Rogan,
as well as Donald Trump Jr., who became
a lifetime member in 2015. “I was ready to
be unimpressed,” Tawney says of Trump
Jr. “But I was encouraged by his acumen
and knowledge of conservation history. He
passes the smell test.”
Tawney also suspects that Junior has had
an effect on policy, namely with the ascendancy of Montana congressman Ryan Zinke,
an avowed public lands supporter, to the post
of secretary of the interior. “If you think about
a litter of dogs,” Tawney says of Zinke, “he
This land is
your land?
Public lands face more pressure than ever—development,
resource extraction, political incentive to sell off priceless places
to the highest bidder. But these hundreds of millions of acres
belong to you, to us, and to the future.
1906
Devils Tower National Monument,
1908
Wyoming, Roosevelt El Morro National Monument, New Mexico,
Muir
Roosevelt Montezuma Castle National Monument, Arizona, Roosevelt Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona,
Woods
Roosevelt 1907 Chaco Canyon National Monument (Now Chaco Culture National Historical Park), New Mexico, Roosevelt Cinder Cone National Monument
National
(Now Lassen Volcanic National Park), California, Roosevelt Lassen Peak National Monument (Now Lassen Volcanic National Park), California, Roosevelt Gila Cliff Dwellings
Monument, California,
National Monument, New Mexico, Roosevelt Tonto National Monument, Arizona, Roosevelt 1909 Mt. Olympus National Monument (Now Olympic National Park),
Roosevelt Grand
Washington, Roosevelt Navajo National Monument, Arizona, Taft Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve, Oregon, Taft Mukuntuweap National
Canyon National
Monument (Now Zion National Park), Utah, Taft Gran Quivira National Monument (Now Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument), New Mexico, Taft 1910
Park, Arizona,
Sitka National Historical Park, Alaska, Taft Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Utah, Taft Big Hole National Battlefield (Now Nez Perce National Historical
Park), Montana,
Roosevelt Pinnacles
Taft 1915 Dinosaur National Monument, Utah, Colorado, Wilson Walnut Canyon National Monument, Arizona, Wilson 1916 Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico, Wilson
National Park, California,
1911
Sieur de Monts National Monument (Now Acadia National Park), Maine, Wilson Capulin Mountain National Monument (Now Capulin Volcano National Monument), New Mexico, Wilson Old
Roosevelt Jewel Cave
Colorado
Kasaan National Monument (Became part of Tongass National Forest), Alaska, Wilson 1918 Casa Grande National Monument (Now Casa Grande Ruins National Monument), Arizona, Wilson
National Monument, South
National Monument,
Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska, Wilson 1919 Scotts Bluff National Monument, Nebraska, Wilson Yucca House National Monument, Colorado, Wilson 1922 Lehman Caves
Dakota, Roosevelt Natural Bridges
Colorado, Taft Devils
National Monument (Now Great Basin National Park), Nevada, Harding Timpanogos Cave National Monument, Utah, Harding 1923 Aztec Ruins National Monument, New Mexico,
National Monument, Utah, Roosevelt
Postpile National
Harding Hovenweep National Monument, Utah, Colorado, Harding Mound City Group National Monument (Now Hopewell Culture National Historical Park), Ohio, Harding Pipe Spring
Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park,
Monument, California,
National Monument, Arizona, Harding Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, Harding Carlsbad Cave National Monument (Now Carlsbad Caverns National Park), New Mexico, Coolidge 1924
Montana, Roosevelt Tumacacori
Taft 1913 Cabrillo
Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona, Coolidge Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, Coolidge Statue of Liberty National Monument, New York, Coolidge Fort Pulaski
National Historical Park, Arizona,
National Monument,
National Monument, Georgia, Coolidge Fort Marion (Now Castillo de San Marcos National Monument), Florida, Coolidge Fort Matanzas National Monument, Florida, Coolidge Wupatki
Roosevelt Portion of Rio Grande
California, Wilson
National Monument, Arizona, Coolidge 1925 Meriwether Lewis National Monument (Now part of the Natchez Trace Parkway), Tennessee, Coolidge Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve,
National Forest, Colorado, Roosevelt
Alaska, Coolidge Lava Beds National Monument, California, Coolidge 1929 Arches National Park, Utah, Hoover Portion of White River National Forest, Colorado, Hoover 1930 Sunset Crater National Monument (Now Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument),
Arizona, Hoover 1932 Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado, Hoover Grand Canyon II National Monument (Later added to Grand Canyon National Park), Arizona, Hoover 1933 White Sands National Monument, New Mexico, Hoover Death
Valley National Park, California, Nevada, Hoover Saguaro National Park, Arizona, Hoover Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado, Hoover Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah, Roosevelt 1935 Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida,
Roosevelt 1936 Joshua Tree National Park, California, Roosevelt 1937 Zion National Park, Utah, Roosevelt Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona, Roosevelt Capitol Reef National Park, Utah, Roosevelt 1938 Channel Islands National Park,
California, Roosevelt Fort Laramie National Historic Site, Wyoming, Roosevelt 1939 Santa Rosa Island National Monument (Became part of Gulf Islands National Seashore), Florida, Roosevelt Tuzigoot National Monument, Arizona, Roosevelt 1943 Grand
Teton National Park, Wyoming, Roosevelt 1949 Effigy Mounds National Monument, Iowa, Truman 1956 Edison Laboratory National Monument (Now Thomas Edison National Historical Park), New Jersey, Eisenhower 1960 Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge, Alaska, Eisenhower 1961 Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, Maryland, Eisenhower Russell Cave National Monument, Alabama, Kennedy Buck Island Reef National Monument, Virgin Islands, Kennedy 1969 Marble Canyon
National Monument (Later added to Grand Canyon National Park), Arizona, Johnson 1978 Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota, Carter Misty Fjords National Monument (Became part of Tongass National Forest), Alaska, Carter Aniakchak
National Monument & Preserve, Alaska, Carter Becharof National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, Carter Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Alaska, Carter Cape Krusenstern National Monument, Alaska, Carter Denali National Park, Alaska, Carter Gates of
the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Alaska, Carter Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska, Carter Kobuk Valley National Park, Alaska, Carter Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska, Carter Admiralty Island National Monument (Became part of Tongass
National Forest), Alaska, Carter Noatak National Preserve, Alaska, Carter Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska, Carter Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, Alaska, Carter Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, Carter 1996 Grand
Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah, Clinton 2000 Agua Fria National Monument, Arizona, Clinton California Coastal National Monument, California, Clinton Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Arizona, Clinton Portion of
Sequoia National Forest, California, Clinton Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Colorado, Clinton Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, Oregon, Clinton Hanford Reach National Monument, Washington, Clinton Ironwood Forest
National Monument, Arizona, Clinton President Lincoln and Soldiers' Home National Monument, Washington, DC, Clinton Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona, Clinton 2001 Carrizo Plain National Monument, California,
Clinton Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, New Mexico, Clinton Minidoka National Historic Site, Idaho, Clinton Pompeys Pillar National Monument, Montana, Clinton Sonoran Desert National Monument,
Arizona, Clinton Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, Montana, Clinton Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument, Virgin Islands, Clinton Governors Island National Monument, New York, Clinton 2006
African Burial Ground National Monument, New York, Bush Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, Hawai'i, Bush 2008 World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, Hawai'i, Bush 2009 Rose
Marine Atoll National Monument, American Samoa, Bush Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, Hawai'i, Bush Mariana Trench Marine National Monument, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Bush
2011 Fort Monroe National Monument, Virginia, Obama 2012 Fort Ord National Monument, California, Obama Chimney Rock National Monument, Colorado, Obama César E. Chávez National
Monument, California, Obama 2013 San Juan Islands National Monument, Washington, Obama Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, New Mexico, Obama Harriet Tubman Underground
Railroad National Monument (Now Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park), Maryland, Obama First State National Historical Park, Delaware, Obama Charles Young
Buffalo Soldiers National Monument, Ohio, Obama 2014 Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, New Mexico, Obama San Gabriel Mountains National Monument,
California, Obama 2015 Honouliuli National Monument, Hawai'i, Obama Pullman National Monument, Illinois, Obama Browns Canyon National Monument,
Colorado, Obama Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, California, Obama Waco Mammoth National Monument, Texas, Obama Basin and
Range National Monument, Nevada, Obama 2016 Mojave Trails National Monument, California, Obama Sand to
2017 Birmingham Civil
Snow National Monument, California, Obama Castle Mountains National Monument, California, Obama
Rights National
Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, Washington, DC, Obama Stonewall National
Monument,
Monument,
New York, Obama Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument,
Alabama, Obama
Maine,
Obama Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument,
Freedom Riders
Massachusetts, Obama Bears Ears
National Monument,
National Monument, Utah,
Alabama, Obama
Obama Gold Butte
Reconstruction
National
Era National
Monument,
Monument,
Nevada,
South Carolina,
Obama
Obama
Stand with us. Protect your public lands.
This graphic lists national monuments designated and safeguarded under the Antiquities Act of 1906.
Some are now national parks, but those that remain can have their protection rescinded without congressional approval.
moved back to Missoula, where he enrolled
at the University of Montana to study wildlife biology. Soon thereafter, he met his wife,
Glenna, while teaching soccer, and they
moved into a log cabin with no running
water that his parents had built.
Before his death, Phil had launched
Montana’s first sportsmen’s political action
committee, called Montana Hunters and
Anglers. Land took over in 2009. He started
on the state level and later moved on to
national races, always supporting Democrats. At the time, Tawney was frustrated
with the lack of moxie among hunting
groups. “Hunters are complacent,” he says.
“And hunters and anglers are conservative.
Have they traditionally voted around the
Second Amendment? Yes.”
Tawney claims he doesn’t identify as a
Democrat or Republican — “I’m a one-issue
voter,” he says — but for an independent, he
has frequently leaned left. While he won’t
criticize the NRA, he’s not a member, either.
“The only thing that’s frustrating,” Tawney
says, “is that there’s power there that could
be used for conservation.”
In 2013, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers
reached out to Tawney, and from the
moment he took over, he focused entirely on
sportsmen’s issues. This often meant sending out sleepy press releases about, say, the
Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act.
But he also pushed lawmakers on both sides
of the aisle. In 2015, Montana Sen. Steve
Daines voted for a measure to facilitate land
transfer. BHA blistered him in the press,
and, according to Tawney, “he’s been good
on land ever since. He got educated.”
The more confrontational the group
was, the more it grew. The first year under
Tawney’s leadership, BHA’s membership
more than doubled from 1,000 to 2,400.
Around the same time, it gained some
new enemies.
Though it’s most frequently associated
with the Bundy family and the populist
movement supporting them, the idea of
transferring federal lands to the states has
been mainstreamed by a couple of Washington, D.C., think tanks and advocacy organizations with extensive ties to the oil industry
— most notably, the American Legislative
Exchange Council, a Koch Industries–
backed group that pushes industry-friendly
bills to state governments. Another Beltway
nonprofit, the Environmental Policy Alliance, started a campaign in 2014 to label
BHA, among others, as a “green decoy” —
a front group for “radical environmental
activists.” That year, the alliance’s director
of research, Will Coggin, began publishing op-eds throughout the West attacking
BHA. Coggin turned out to be an employee
of Richard Berman, a notorious public relations executive who runs a series of think
tanks, one of which received $57,250 from a
Koch-backed nonprofit for so-called “hunt-
72
MEN’S JOURNAL
ing organization opposition research.”
Tawney soon realized that he was in
a messaging war. So in the fall of 2014,
he organized a pro–public land rally at
t he Montana capitol, in Helena, g iving out T-shirts that read #KEEPITPUBLIC .
When the Bundy brothers occupied the
Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in
Oregon, Tawney was struck by how easily
they were able to convince rural westerners
that they were trying to “return” the land
to the American people. “I was like, ‘It
belongs to us,’ ” says Tawney. He commissioned a batch of hooded sweatshirts
bearing the words PUBLIC LAND OWNER, which
soon became something of a tribal identification item, the hunter’s equivalent of a MAKE
AMERICA GREAT AGAIN hat.
“ I’D LIKE TO
SAY THERE
ISN’T A WAR IN
THE WEST GOING
ON,BUT THERE
IS. THEY AIN’T
COMING FOR
OUR WALMARTS.
THEY’RE
COMING FOR
OUR BEAUTIFUL
PLACES.”
One of Tawney’s staffers began distributing them at “pint nights” across the West,
where BHA gave away beer and preached
the gospel of public land. “People are coming into the political process who are not
experienced and maybe a little naive,”
Tawney tells me. “But they’re psyched.
It’s rad.”
N THE EVE of the Rendezvous,
BH A V IPs g at her for a
$350-a-head wild-game feast
in a barn at the conf luence of
Rock Creek and the Clark Fork
River, 20 miles east of Missoula. Outside,
appetizers like chunks of seared elk heart sit
on trays, and two mule-deer shanks lathered
in bear fat roast over an open fire. Westernformal abounds — bolo ties and dresses — but
Tawney wears a red checked shirt, a ranger
hat, and cowboy boots, his favored footwear
O
SEPTEMBER 2017
around politicians. “They give you an extra
half-inch,” he says, “and it’s business time.”
Before dinner, Gov. Bullock addresses
the crowd: “I’d like to say that there isn’t
a war in the West going on, but there is.”
He continues: “They ain’t coming for our
Walmarts. They’re coming for our beautiful
places. And the threat is real.”
Then everyone steps inside the barn to
eat, gathering beneath the bleached and
mounted skulls of three bull elk. Tawney
sits next to the governor. I find myself at a
table between two donors. Blake Fischer,
a 38-year-old Idahoan and owner of an
irrigation business, has well-coiffed hair
and a snap-button shirt adorned with two
roosters. Baker Leavitt is a brash and bald
41-year-old from Washington. The guys talk
football for a minute, and then, inevitably,
the conversation turns to bragging about
recent kills. Leavitt produces his phone and
pulls up a photo of piles of dead feral hogs,
which he dispatched using night-vision.
Fischer recounts a family javelina-hunting
trip to south Texas.
When I ask about the public lands fight,
Fischer corrects me, saying, “It’s not a fight.
We own the land.” Leavitt, an enthusiastic
Trump supporter, says he understands why
some politicians find divestiture appealing.
But, he says, “it’s like communism: sounds
great in theory.”
“I’d like to see river guys and hippies and
hunters unite behind a common cause,”
Leavitt says. “It’s cool to pick up the ball and
run with people you have nothing in common
with other than your love for public land.”
Now Tawney starts to mingle, shaking
hands and wearing his gap-tooth grin.
“They named him Land,” says Fischer,
“and he’s the number one land advocate in
the country. It’s his birthright! I don’t know
what his middle name is — but I think it’s
‘Fucking.’ ” Leavitt finds this hilarious and
roars approvingly: “Land Fuckin’ Tawney!”
Midway through the dinner, Tawney
stands up to give a sort of keynote speech,
and it’s about a recent bighorn ram hunt
in Montana. He tells it as the main course
is being served — osso buco with risotto
cooked in the broth of the ram he shot.
The story stands out for what it lacks: the
kind of chest-beating one might expect from
the hunting crowd. Mostly, Tawney talks
about failure. During his hunt he crashed his
truck and missed one shot. He talks about
family, noting how deeply he missed his wife
during the hunt. And, mostly, he talks about
the solace of the mountains. “Those places
don’t exist in other parts of the world,” he
says, “where you can go lose yourself on public lands and have those experiences I did.”
At the end, there’s a silence, then Tawney
raises a glass. “A lot of people think we’re just
doing this so we can shoot the next thing,”
he says. “That is not even close to why we are
all here.” Then he sits down to eat his kill. MJ
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ES SE NTIAL S FOR THE WE LL- EQUIPPE D MAN
No Road,
No Problem
Whether commuting on
rough pavement or racing
off-road, our favorite
new two-wheelers are
gravel bikes. Drop bars,
beefy tires, and light, sturdy
frames add up to a bike
that can really do it all.
by BERNE BROUDY
1
Giant TCX Advanced SX
$2,050
Giant took the frame and fork
of its cyclocross racers and
made an even more rugged
ride, with 40c tires, a widerange drivetrain, and spreadout handlebars. The result
is a bike that feels pretty
indestructible. We spent a
lot of time commuting on
this rig and would purposely
steer toward potholes and
hop curbs whenever possible. It’s a tank — in a good
way. giant-bicycles.com
photograph by JAKE ORNESS
SEPTEMBER 2017
MEN’S JOURNAL
75
G R AV E L B I K E S
3
If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line carbon
cyclocross frame at a midrange price, hop on the
SuperX. It comes with big tires, wide rims, and a
broad range of gears. It hammered lightning-fast
through miles of rumble-strip road and trail, but
still felt rock solid at a race pace. Want to amble?
Try another bike. cannondale.com
4
For commuting and day tripping, the Grade
lets you take in the sights in comfort. Relaxed
geometry and plenty of gears make any terrain
manageable, even if you’re carrying a load.
But it’s no entry-level adventure bike — SRAM
Force components were rugged and reliable.
gtbicycles.com
5
A versatile drop-bar touring machine, the Comp
Carbon is like a mountain bike on a diet. Relaxed
geometry, 40c tires, thru-axles, and mechanical
disc brakes powered by a 2x11-speed drivetrain
let us day trip back roads and go bikepacking
fully loaded — rear mounts support racks and
panniers. diamondback.com
Fuji Jari 1.1
$2,950
GT Grade Carbon Pro
$3,500
76
MEN’S JOURNAL
SEPTEMBER 2017
Cannondale SuperX
Force 1 SE $4,000
Diamondback Haanjo
Comp Carbon $2,200
PREVIOUS PAGE COURTESY OF GIANT
2
Looking for a well-specced and well-priced gravel
grinder? Fuji’s Jari series (starting at $1,197) is
built on a stable and confidence-inspiring aluminum frame. And the model we rode has topnotch components, including the dependable
SRAM Force 1x11-speed drivetrain. Plus, the wide
handlebars felt great on long rides. fujibikes.com
EPIC RIDES
ON GRAVEL
These organized rides are perfect for rough
road-ready bikes.
Crusher in
the Tushar
UTAH
Experience high-alpine
Utah on this July ride.
The aptly named
Crusher leaves from
Beaver, birthplace of
Butch Cassidy, and
goes 70 miles with
10,000 feet of climbing
through the Tushar
Mountains and Fishlake National Forest.
tusharcrusher.com
Rasputitsa
Spring Classic
VERMONT
Russian for “mud
season,” the 45-mile,
90-percent-gravel
Rasputitsa dishes out
the best of April in
East Burke, Vermont
— slush, snow, and
mud. Many racers run
on foot a 5k stretch
called Cyberia because
the mud is too deep to
ride. Did we mention
the 17 percent climbs?
rasputitsagravel.com
Mavic Haute
Route Rockies
COLORADO
A weeklong ride from
Boulder to Colorado
Springs — including
multiple stretches of
dirt and gravel roads
— this is billed as
the most prestigious
amateur cycling event
in the world. Timed
and ranked stages,
mechanical support,
luggage transfer, film
crews, post-stage massage, and European
sister rides give Haute
Route a pro peloton
feel. hauteroute.org
Dirty Kanza
KANSAS
This windy, muddy,
hot, 200-mile June
gravel ride started
in 2006, before gravel
racing and riding
were a thing. Now,
2,200 people sign up
each year and report
that Kansas isn’t as
flat as Dorothy and
Toto led us to believe.
Unless you’re elite,
prepare to ride into
the night and then
party till dawn.
dirtykanza.com
6
For maximum comfort on long rides, the new
Diverge not only has relaxed, stable, easy-riding
geometry, but — in the top-of-the-line model we
rode — there’s also a suspension shock built into
the stem and a dropper post that smooths out
washboard dirt. Ceramic bearings in the wheels
made us feel superhero-fast. specialized.com
7
This bike is allergic to the road: Thanks to an
oversize fork that makes the front end stiff
and steering precise, as well as shortened
chainstays for added stability, it plowed over
singletrack as if it were a mountain bike. You
can even swap in a 48c tire in the front — the
fattest here. pivotcycles.com
Specialized S-Works
Diverge Carbon $9,000
New Belgium
Ramble Rides
COLORADO, OREGON,
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For a taste of the
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Pivot Vault
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SEPTEMBER 2017
MEN’S JOURNAL
77
SUNGLASSES
High-Tech Shades
Sunglass companies are not just focusing on the
cooler frame styles — they’re also developing lenses
that do much more than block UV rays. These are
the standouts. by CLINT CARTER
BEST FOR
EVERYDAY WEAR
BEST FOR
HIGH ALTITUDE
Dragon Alliance Lumalens
Oakley Prizm Sapphire Fade
FRAME SHOWN: LATCH
FRAME SHOWN: PROFLECT
$190
$140
These are great shades for parts of the country
with harsh sunlight. They exceeded at intensifying
the sense of depth without significantly distorting
natural color. dragonalliance.com
BEST FOR
BEACH DAYS
BEST FOR
HIKING
BEST FOR
EYEGL ASS WEARERS
Electric OHM
Smith ChromaPop
Spy Happy Lens
FRAME SHOWN: KNOXVILLE
$120
Melanin (the pigment that protects skin from burning) is the main compound in these, which means
the OHM will slow the spread of crow’s feet from sun
damage, while also creating the most true-to-life
color of any lens we tested. electriccalifornia.com
78
MEN’S JOURNAL
SEPTEMBER 2017
FRAME SHOWN: LOWDOWN
$139
ChromaPop selectively filters out confusing parts
of the light-wave spectrum. The result: Fuzzy backlit leaves became crisp and neon green, and rocks
and dips on the trail are more pronounced, so you
don’t stumble. smithoptics.com
FRAME SHOWN: HAYES
$190
Happy lenses block short-wave blue light while
allowing longer waves that have been shown to
promote mood-boosting serotonin. We didn’t get
happy, but we were thrilled by the exceptionally
crisp visuals. Available in prescription. spyoptic.com
photograph by JARREN VINK
STYLING BY PETER TRAN FOR ART DEPARTMENT
Prizm sport-specific lenses come in a variety of shades that are tuned to accentuate the colors you’re likely
to encounter when you use them. (For example, Prizm Road helps cyclists differentiate textures in the
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you’ll get in a pair of sunglasses, making the world look like it just got a fresh coat of paint. oakley.com
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BAC K PAC K I N G
Adventure
for One
For a next-level outdoor experience, try a solo backpacking trip. Just you, the woods, and your thoughts —
and not a lot of extraneous gear. by CLINT CARTER
1
4
2
3
SIERRA DESIGNS
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Plenty of room for one, plus a long
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morning coffee. sierradesigns.com
80
MEN’S JOURNAL
2. The Versatile Sleeping Bag
3. The Portable Bed
KELTY SINE 35
THERM-A-REST
$240
Less than 2 pounds, the Sine has a
cross-body zipper that makes it feel
like a comforter; and with a zip-open
toe box, you can walk around the
campsite wearing the bag. kelty.com
SEPTEMBER 2017
ULTRALITE COT
4. The Easy-Access Pack
THULE CAPSTONE 50L
$220
Go ahead, get comfortable: This cot
packs to the size of a pad, but the
legs ensure a great night’s sleep up
off the ground. thermarest.com
$200
Well engineered without inessential
weight, the Capstone has zippered
access from the side and bottom
so you’ll never have to rummage for
gear. thule.com
photographs by JARREN VINK
STYLING BY PETER TRAN FOR ART DEPARTMENT
1. The One-Man Shelter
Less Is More
Backpacking gear is getting lighter
and more compact — ideal for
a hiker who can’t share the load.
SOLO GE AR
SINGLE-SERVING
SHELTERS
1
SIERRA DESIGNS FLEX
CAPACITOR
They’re compact and
lightweight, but with plenty
of room to stretch out.
$200
Use this bag for a trip of any
length: A system of cinch straps
allows you to quickly convert
from a 40-liter minimalist pack to
one that holds 60 liters of gear for
a longer haul. sierradesigns.com
2
OPTIMUS CRUX
LITE SOLO
Quarter Dome 1
REI CO-OP
$279
Most ultralight tents rely on staked-out guylines
for structural support. The Quarter Dome is a true
freestanding shelter that sets up in about a minute,
weighs just under 2.5 pounds, and has 19 square
feet of floor space. rei.com
$60
The backpack-friendly kit fits
an entire camp kitchen into a
three-piece system (burner,
pot, and mug/lid) that weighs less
than 10 ounces. The whole thing,
plus a separately sold 4-ounce
fuel canister, packs neatly into
a mesh case. optimusstoves.com
3
MSR TRAILSHOT
POCKET-SIZE
WATER FILTER
$50
We’ve yet to find a filter easier to
use: The TrailShot is small enough
to fit inside a pocket, but it’s
capable of cleaning a full liter of
water in a minute. msrgear.com
Hornet Elite 1P
NEMO
$450
Thin ripstop nylon and a simple, single-pole design
don’t make Nemo’s tent the sturdiest, but they
do bring down its weight to an amazing 1 pound,
7 ounces without sacrificing livability (including more
than 3 feet of headroom). nemoequipment.com
SAFETY IN
SOLITUDE
WHAT’S THE MOST
IMPORTANT THING A
PERSON CAN DO TO
PROTECT HIMSELF?
Moment DW
TARPTENT
$295
The Moment DW provides true four-season comfort:
Large vents on both ends allow air to pass through,
but when the temperature drops, the mesh interior
can be replaced with a heavier silicone-nylon winter
layer ($140 extra). tarptent.com
Make a plan, and
stick to it.
“Tell someone where
you’re going and
when you’ll be back.
People who do this
are generally found
within 72 hours of
going missing.”
With nobody to run for help if you injure
yourself, solo hikes come with risks
that group trips don’t. Steve Dessinger,
program director at the Boulder Outdoor
Survival School, explains how to stay
safe on your own.
WHAT EXTRA GEAR
SHOULD I PACK?
Old-fashioned
navigation tools.
“Your phone can fail.
Your GPS can fail.
You don’t want to
rely too heavily on
those things. So be
sure you have a map
and a compass —
and that you know
how to use them.”
SEPTEMBER 2017
WHAT IF I GET LOST?
Take it easy.
“You know what’s
important? Sleep.
You’ll make terrible
decisions without it.
Stay calm while you
make a plan, and
when you get tired,
lie down. But tie
something bright —
like a red bandanna
— to your shelter.”
MEN’S JOURNAL
81
GYM CLOTHES
1
Bulldog Tank
2
RHONE
$39
Neither dead lifts nor sweaty beach volleyball left
their odorous mark on this tank. It’s made from
a moisture-wicking poly woven with silver threads
that prevent bacteria from reproducing. We liked the
relaxed fit and the off-shoulder seams, which meant
no rubbing when we carried a gym bag. rhone.com
1
2 Coolmax Vertex
Ultra-Light Socks
DARN TOUGH
$16
Coolmax polyester and nylon pull moisture away
from your feet, preventing the moist environment
that breeds stink-causing bacteria. A light layer of
cushioning helped absorb shock during our highintensity workouts. darntough.com
3
Cool-Lite Windbreaker
ICEBREAKER
3
$160
This slim-fit, ultralight jacket is lined with naturally
anti-stink merino, and after a season of workouts
(and not washing), a sniff of the armpits was still
inoffensive. The durable, water-repellent shell sheds
wind and rain, and laser-cut underarm holes helped
with venting. icebreaker.com
Get Fit,
Stay Fresh
The perfect kit for working out is
comfortable, cool — and stink-free.
We found high-tech gym clothes that
actually fight the funk. by BERNE BROUDY
4
4 Metal Vent Tech
Short-Sleeved T-Shirt
5
LULULEMON
$68
5
SAXX
Kinetic Train Shorts
$78
The Kinetic Train has Saxx’s supportive 3D-fit
BallPark pouch semicompression underwear sewn
in — and are specially treated to keep everything
smelling fresh. saxxunderwear.com
82
MEN’S JOURNAL
SEPTEMBER 2017
p h o t o g r a p h b y S H A N A N O VA K
STYLING BY ALEX SILVA FOR BERNSTEIN & ANDRIULLI
In the name of science, we wore this silky-light tee
during a particularly hard workout and then kept it
on under a dress shirt for dinner. Thanks to the silver
strands in the fabric, we did not reek. Our companions confirmed it. lululemon.com
The Complete Issue.
Every Word. Every Photo.
Now Available on Mobile
P O RTA B LE G R I LL S
Parking Lot Gourmet
Smarter, more powerful portable grills will push you beyond
hot dogs and burgers. Chef Jeff Mahin tests the best of these tailgate tools.
by JESSE WILL
7 OUT OF 10
1
Coleman RoadTrip
X-cursion $200
6 OUT OF 10
Big wheels, scissor legs, and a built-in side table
turn the X-cursion into an all-in-one tailgate or
camp kitchen — though it demands space in your
trunk. Our tester, Mahin, got a good sear using
the 20,000-Btu unit, but fought flare-ups along
the way. Luckily, the big 285-square-inch surface
makes moving meat around easy. coleman.com
2
Char-Broil Portable
Grill2Go X200 $150
8 OUT OF 10
3
Cuisinart Dual Blaze
$170
84
MEN’S JOURNAL
With just a single burner, smaller cooking area
(200 square inches), and a fuel regulator Mahin
describes as “touchy,” the Grill2Go was outclassed in our test. Chops stuck to its stainless
steel cooking grate. Says Chef Jeff: “Let’s just
say that if you forgot it at the campground, you
wouldn’t turn around.” charbroil.com
9 OUT OF 10
The Blaze connects to a standard 20-pound
propane tank, so it easily switches from tailgate
to terrace. Mahin gives the 20,000-Btu grill props
for its burly build (“You cook without feeling you’ll
break it”) and the most readable thermometer in
the test — helpful when you’re cooking a more
delicate protein. cuisinart.com
SEPTEMBER 2017
4
Napoleon TravelQ
285 $249
The Napoleon comes to life via an electronic ignition and heats up to 525° in just eight minutes.
Steaks took on perfect grill marks and looked and
tasted, Mahin says, “like they were cooked on a
full-size grill.” An optional cast-iron griddle allows
for flare-up-free cooking of greasier fare like
bacon. napoleongrills.com
Ken Burns
The master documentarian on
Vietnam, everyday heroes, and the
simple power of country music.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
It’s come in different forms and different
words, but if I were to distill it, it was to
always be yourself. The thing I respond
to and that I hope I’m able to bring to
the table is a kind of authenticity and
honesty. And that only comes from that
essential Socratic question, “Who am I?”
It’s never really fully answered, but the
deepening of the question is the arc of our
lives. I don’t know a time when it hasn’t
been important to me. It came from my
dad, from my mother’s bravery before she
died [of cancer], from teachers. And also
as a father of four girls. They are mighty
BS meters.
Your films never fail to convey the role of
regular Americans amid these epic historical moments and towering figures.
There’s been a bottom-up approach that
has probably def ined my f ilms more
than anything. Whether it’s a f ighter
pilot whose first day of work was D-day,
or some of the soldiers we interviewed
from South and North Vietnam — or
people whose bravery might not be taking place on the battlef ield but somewhere else, maybe back home — you
begin to realize there are no ordinary
people. That’s one of the great lessons of
40 years of doing this history business.
There’s always somebody new you’re
about to meet.
Why did you choose Vietnam now?
It had to be done. It’s the most important event in American history in the
second half of the 20th century. It is
hugely defining. And a good deal of the
divisions we experience today come
from divisions of Vietnam that have
never healed, in large part because we’ve
refused to examine them. As one of our
Army guys says, Vietnam drove a stake
through the heart of America and we’ve
never recovered. I’m not as pessimistic
as he is, but I think Vietnam offers some
stunning ways of understanding our
present situation. What if I told you that
I’ve been working for 10 years on a story
about mass demonstrations across the
United States, about a White House paralyzed by leaks and investigations, about
a political campaign reaching out to a
foreign government during an election
cycle? Just about everything concerning
the Vietnam War resonates in this particular moment.
What do you think about the way this country wages war?
Well, it’s less this country than it is human
beings. I find war the most insightful way
to study human behavior. It clearly brings
out the worst of us. But it also brings out
the best of us in very unexpected ways.
Unfortunately, there is no danger that
we’re going to get rid of wars, I’m sorry to
say. As one of our Marines says, we didn’t
get to be the dominant species on the
planet because we’re nice. And he went
on to say, “People always said, ‘Oh, you
know, the military turns kids into killing
machines.’ ” And then he said, “Nope. It’s
only finishing school.”
In light of the history you’ve explored, are
you optimistic about America now?
I am always optimistic about it. People
are fond of saying “History repeats itself.”
Right? You hear it all the time, and it’s
crazy. Mark Twain is supposed to have
said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but
it rhymes.” Then I guess I’ve spent my
entire professional life trying to hear
those rhymes.
—INTERVIEW BY SEAN WOODS
Ken Burns has directed and/or produced more than
30 films. His 10-part documentary The Vietnam War
will air on PBS in September.
MEN’S JOURNAL (ISSN 1063-4651) is published monthly (except for the January and July issues, when two issues are combined and published as double issues) by Men’s Journal LLC, 1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104-0298. The entire contents of MEN’S
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86
MEN’S JOURNAL
SEPTEMBER 2017
COURTESY TIM LLEWELLYN
You seem to go from a serious topic, say the
Civil War, to a fun one, like baseball.
Yeah, I just spent the entire day in the editing room on an eight-part, 16½-hour history of country music. Country music has
been fun in a way that Vietnam was never
fun. It also has emotions that are as powerful, because they are so elemental. Harlan Howard, the songwriter, said country
music was three chords and the truth. And
there’s lots of execrable country music, just
as there’s lots of execrable everything, but
when you distill the essence of the story,
you get socked in the gut by the power of
the simple stuff that happens.
How hard was it to be a filmmaker early on?
[One of the] great platitudes, especially
in documentary filmmaking, is perseverance, because there are many more
talented filmmakers than there is money
to make the f ilms. That means disappointment will be an important character
builder. I used to have on my desk two
gigantic three-ring binders, four or five
inches thick, each filled with hundreds
of rejections for letters I had sent trying
to raise money on my first film, on the
Brooklyn Bridge. I saved them all. It took
me as long to make a one-hour film on
the Brooklyn Bridge as it took to make
the Civil War series, five and a half years.
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