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GQ: Do We Need It?

Down East Magazine, GQ Magazine

Because one good satire deserves another.

[Editor’s note: Yes, this item from our March 2016 issue is a retort to a GQ post that is several weeks old, which we realize is roughly a century in Internet time. But seeing as the Internet in Maine runs on a series of cranks and pulleys, or whatever came before dial-up, we hope we can be forgiven our delayed response.]

Down East Magazine, GQ Magazine
Illustration by Christine Mitchell Adams
[I]n January, whipped into a snarky froth by a set of racially cringe-worthy comments out of Governor Paul LePage, GQ magazine correspondent and Colby College grad Drew Magary published a post on gq.com entitled “Maine: Do We Need It?” In just shy of 600 words, Magary — whose previous efforts include the 2008 sporting treatise Men With Balls and that interview where the Duck Dynasty guy said all that crazy stuff a few years back — presents “a short list of reasons for and against keeping our most disturbing state.” Magary, to put it mildly, comes down against.

“Maine is a terrifying wasteland with little to offer us in the way of economic or intellectual resources,” he writes, “and we should sell it to Denmark for a tidy profit.”

Well, hard-nosed pragmatists that we Mainers are, we find it hard to dicker with Magary’s ultimate conclusion. If selling Maine to Denmark makes sound financial sense, well then yessuh, we oughtta do it. Besides, we would get on well with our new Danish overlords, fond as we both are of commercial fisheries, woodstoves, being forbiddingly taciturn, etc.

But we are not made of stone, and we did chafe a bit at what struck us as several mischaracterizations. To wit:

  Magary describes Maine as a “vast territorial wilderness of hill people, completely isolated from traditional American laws and customs.” But listen, some of us are really more ocean people. It’s funny because, like, me? I’m a hill guy, all the way. But my wife is a total ocean person. I don’t know how we get on!

 “Portland,” Magary writes, “is Boston for people too broke to live in Boston.” This reveals a significant cultural lag on Magary’s part, since no one can afford to live in Portland anymore. Skowhegan has been the new Portland since at least 2014.

 One of Magary’s six “pro” arguments for keeping Maine in the Union? “That one photo of Ali knocking out Liston.” But this gives short shrift to several other proud moments in Maine’s sporting history, like when Patrick Dempsey took second place at Le Mans last year, or when Arno Fowler became the first person to carry a dead fish in his teeth during the 1982 running of the Milbridge Days Cod Fish Relay.

 “It’s too goddamn big,” writes Magary. “I don’t know if Maine even has an end to it. You just follow 95 North forever and then fall into a goddamn black hole.” Hey, that “black hole” has a name, sir — we call it New Brunswick.

 Finally: “Earthy-crunchy types who live there because it’s so authentic. These are people who sit in Crazy Creek chairs and brush their teeth with pure baking soda.” WE WILL HAVE YOU KNOW THAT THE ORAL HYGIENE BENEFITS OF BAKING SODA ARE WELL DOCUMENTED.

Given the abundance of flubs in such a short piece, it’s fair to ask: do we really need GQ? Cons: it made Tom Brady share Man of the Year honors with like 20 other guys; you can’t wrap a fish in it or it will come out tasting like cologne. Pros: terrific Maine author Michael Paterniti is also a correspondent; tear out those cologne ads and, hey, free cologne! Verdict: We’ll give Magary and company a few more issues before we call the Danes.

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