Kurt and Joel's Excellent Adventure
Friday, June 15, 2012
A couple years ago, when the writer Joel Stein found out he and his wife were expecting a son, he worried that he lacked the manliness to properly raise a boy. Just worrying about such a thing indicates that there’s a problem, and Joel admits that he prefers listening to show tunes to watching sports. He never learned to fish, hunt, or fist fight. So Joel set out to fix that: he rode with firefighters, survived three days of Army boot camp, and even got punched by an Ultimate Fighting champion. He wrote about these experiences in his new book, Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity. Kurt Andersen invited him on one more manly adventure: an afternoon at the rifle range.
Westside Pistol and Rifle Range in Manhattan is a no-frills outfit in the grungy basement of an office building. After instruction on technique and safety, Kurt and Joel shoot .22 caliber rifles at a paper target with a distinct resemblance to Jimmy Cagney in gangster mode. "That guy’s no good," says Joel, taking aim. "If you got robbed in the 1950s this is the man who would be robbing you." Unfortunately, Joel finds after reeling in his target, "I hit him in the gelled hair, instead of the heart." Kurt attempts not to brag about his, which features a dense cluster of lethal shots.
Kurt sees a generation gap at play here. “There’s a certain unintentional time-travel aspect to this whole thing,” he suggests. “Because I’m older, I went through the normal '60s Boy Scout camping thing that you didn’t do.”
“Was your dad much manlier than you?” Joel asks.
“He fought in World War II, he was a big jock, he grew up in a small town — yeah.”
Is all this manliness impacting how Joel raises the little Stein? "Definitely," he tells Kurt. "I don't think my parents could've made me do things I hated, but at least I want to expose him to more."
Video: Manning Up at the Rifle Range
Under the GunArtist: Electric GuestAlbum: MondoLabel: DowntownPurchase: Amazon