Weasels Ripped My Flesh
For readers of a certain age, the phrase "weasels ripped my flesh" may evoke the 1970 Frank Zappa album, or possibly the forgettable 1979 film in which a NASA rocket flying from Venus crashes on Earth, spilling its radioactive cargo, which transforms an already rabid weasel into a giant mutant killer. But how many knew it was an actual coverline on an old men's magazine? For this knowledge we are indebted to Sierra contributor Steve Casimiro, who, in addition to writing our regular gear reviews, also heads up the lively online magazine adventure journal. A recent post paid homage to the lusty world of men's adventure magazines from the 1950s and '60s, titles like Stag, Male, Men, Action, and (my favorite) American Manhood, where white men were constantly fending off marauding wildlife ("We Were Attacked by Devil Apes," "I Battled a Mad Wapiti") and women were constantly loosing control of their shirts:
It’s true that anyone not white was either someone to carry your base camp or savage, a headhunter, and most likely a cannibal. Women were licentious, loose, sex-crazed, most definitely buxom, and/or damsels at risk. Animal life either tore your soft pink flesh from your bones or served to be hunted, stuffed, and mounted on the walls. Nazis were an ever-present plague until Fidel Castro came along, and then the big threat was Cuban Communists (and watch out for Havana’s “go-go” jails!). It was a world distilled to its most caricature essentials, simplistic, errant, misogynistic, and sexy as hell (alternating between hetero desires and not-so-subtle gay subtexts).
I was further struck by the flesh-ripping weasels because I currently have the pleasure to be reading sometime-Sierra contributor Doug Chadwick's extraordinary new book, The Wolverine Way(Patagonia Books). Even more so than weasels, their larger mustelid cousins have a reputation for flesh-ripping savagery. Chadwick doesn't downplay wolverines' incredible toughness--he recounts a story of a wolverine trailing leg-hold traps on three of four legs still trying to drag a large carcass away--but makes clear that the reputation for viciousness is simply another iteration of the same libel we impute to any competitor carnivore. Here's Chadwick talking about his book--don't miss the incredible footage of wolverines gamboling in Glacier National Park:
Now that's a real adventure.