Day 98: Newsletter No. 8 ships tomorrow

The spiffy latest edition of The 10,000 Days Newsletter ships early tomorrow morning. Here is the lead piece from the previous issue. Want to subscribe? Sure you do. Just look to grey bar atop this page and follow the instructions.

Parallel Universe

I have been on the road for the last nine days, which is why this issue of the newsletter is a tad late. Yesterday, I was perusing the magazine rack in a Cincinnati bookstore when I happened on what appeared to be its Male Anxiety section. Lots of titles about guns and the rugged outdoor life and combat readiness and home security. Such as the one shown below, Skillset—Redefining the Alpha Lifestyle. More alarming was Recoil, which appeared to be dedicated to reaching an audience of white men who are convinced they must be armed to the teeth to repel, I don't know, hordes of Guatemalan children or ISIS in Chicago or the US government when it finally obeys its New World Order overlords and comes for all the guns. Recoil was a thick—like a half-inch of heavy stock—expensive journal fat with advertising for companies shilling products that could have only one purpose—equipping you to kill people, and kill them in clusters.

What these magazines play on is the (apparently) rampant fear among uncounted American men that not only their status as king of the mountain but their masculine identities are in mortal peril. Unless they are vigilant, prepared, and equipped with enough ammunition to gun down the Macy's Thanksgiving parade, at any moment they mighty lose everything that matters to them—their guns, their women, their country, their balls. Lose them to the government, to black people, to East Coast elitists like me, I don't know, the enemy is not well defined.

That publishers and advertisers will cynically exploit this anxiety should be no surprise. But that so many American men, many of whom surely had upbringings similar to mine, see life through this prism of paranoia and fundamental insecurity? That sets me back. There's a parallel universe out there, and that's a problem. What's a problem is that I have to come across magazines like these to realize it's out there. Nobody I know, not one person, would have anything in common with a subscriber to Recoil or Skillset, any contact with that level of alienation and that way of measuring what makes a man a man. I might as well be reading field notes on another species of hominid. And that creeps me out in so many ways.