As a fan of mid-century popcult oddness, I’m often amused by the “men’s adventure” mags of the era. I caught the very tail end of it in the 70s, reading the last-gasp issues of Argosy that somehow found their way into my grandparents’ home in the Nashville burbs. Perhaps my grandfather brought them home from the fire hall, but they weren’t really what he was into, so I’m not sure where they came from. And on a summer night in Nashville, reading about a group’s “Roulette System that Broke the Casinos!” had a certain appeal to a bookish pre-teen… at least to this one. (I also seem to remember one issue including a savage review of Neil Young’s Zuma album, so it probably interested me on that level as well.)
Of course, el Jefe Maximo of this sort of thing is James Lileks, who has a lovely (and by lovely, I mean creepy and sleazy) collection of old covers in his vast website of pop culture coolness. But even I have developed an appreciation for a certain… motif from these mags. There seemed to be an audience for sub-Hemingway (indeed, sub-Ruark) tales of a guy (typically depicted as third runner-up in the Bob Mitchum lookalike contest) who is beset by a bunch of savage critters. But what makes it interesting for me is that many of the stories aren’t about lions, tigers, or even Leiningen‘s Army Ants, but animals that could mess you up, but that you wouldn’t expect to attack at all, much less in throngs. But pictures speak louder than introductions like this, so I hope you enjoy these.
The third in this little display was of course the inspiration for a Frank Zappa album, the cover of which has itself become somewhat iconic.
The title cut, a blast of hellnoise, actually makes the cover seem tame. Possibly an ideal room-clearer.
You can’t say I didn’t warn you — and it’s far more frightening than anything I read in those magazines in the 70s.