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In Honor of the American Guy

June 20, 1997|D. JAMES ROMERO

It's strange how our culture rolls over waves of sentiment. Immigrants are good. Immigrants are bad. Affirmative action becomes equal opportunity. And political correctness is a bad memory.

That last bit is clear as reptile-hunting brothers Todd and Brant von Hoffmann bring us their "Big Damn Book of Sheer Manliness" (General Publishing Group). It is an encyclopedic coffee-table tome of everything from the history of basketball to the last word on "the mud flap girl" (a.k.a. "sitting ladies"). It's a read that would make even Tim "The Toolman" Taylor proud.

It is a celebration of American guy culture that is not all tongue in cheek. Entries on "The World's Strongest Man," "The Philadelphia Cheese Steak" and "Mack Trucks" are well researched and written with wit.

"The Swiss army knife regularly travels into space as part of the standard equipment of the space shuttle crew," the Von Hoffmanns write. "It's in the Museum of Modern Art in a permanent design exhibit. It has a reputation for design and technical excellence recognized throughout the world. And plenty of guys love to carry this cool lookin' gadget around, open stuff up and cut with it, tighten people's doorknob screws with it, pop battery panels open with it and show it to people who need help opening wine bottles but forgot a corkscrew and are too dumb to have a Swiss army knife of their own."

Ohhg, ohhg, ohhg.

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