GQ: Do We Need It?

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 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. (Anyway, we mostly use Tom’s of Maine.)

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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Brian Kevin

Brian Kevin is Down East's editor in chief.


  • February 27, 2016

    Susan March

    Regarding Mr. Magary’s disdain for Maine, you might also point out that thousands of people “from away” flock there each summer to spend vacation time or if fortunate enough, as my husband and I are, to spend an entire season there in a summer home. And we do it gleefully, starting to count down the days in January until we pack up the car to go! We love Maine and consider it our second home. Perhaps Mr Magary should visit and spend some time cruising Rt 1. If he can’t find beauty and meaning there he won’t anywhere. We’ll even offer our guest room on Deer Isle!

    • March 7, 2016

      Nancy Tucker

      I love Maine! My husband and I live in Kentucky, which is a beautiful state, but when I arrive in Maine I feel as if I have come home. I wish I could live there. This summer I plan on bringing one of our Chinese students a trip to Maine to travel along the coastline to Lubek, Maine. We will go to Arcadia National Park. I have never been to Deer Isle, but now would like to add it to our trip. Could you tell me a little more about your area? I am so darn jealous you get to spend the whole summer there.

      • March 8, 2016

        Susan March

        Hi Nancy! It is, indeed, a small world! I’m from WV so we’re neighbors. I’m in the Huntington area so KY is just across the border. Where are you? My sister lives in Lexington & 2 cousins live in Union.
        Deer Isle is about mid coast on Rt 15. There are several tiny towns on it, the main one being Stonington which is where most of the state’s lobsters are caught. There are quite a few artists living on the island & the award winning Haystack Mountain School of Crafts which holds workshops all summer. There’s a neat place called Nervous Nellie’s Jams & Jellies run by a husband & wife. She runs the jelly shop & he makes metal sculptures that he incorporates into a village he’s designed in their yard & it’s quite charming! You should try to Google their site. All of her jellies (10-12 flavors?) are homemade & yummy! She sends them all over the world.
        One of my favorite things about Deer Isle is that it gives me the feeling of having stepped back in time. Not that it isn’t up to date but it just has a peaceful, relaxed atmosphere & the people are so nice it reminds me of how life was when I was a kid in simpler times.
        I hope you make it to Deer Isle & enjoy it as much as my husband & I do!

        • March 10, 2016

          Nancy Tucker

          Hi Susan,

          We live in Lexington, KY. Thanks so much for the information. It sounds perfect! You are so blessed to be able to spend three months there.