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Jun 19, 2006
Mixed Media - Forbes
WHERE MEN HIDE, by James B. Twitchell, photographs by Ken Ross;

Columbia University Press; $25

Who knew that reaching for another “tall boy” in the Barcalounger could be so fraught with ancient, ritualistic meaning? James Twitchell does, and after reading this provocative book, you will, too. A few years ago, Twitchell, a professor of English at the University of Florida and prolific author on American culture, settled down into his usual barber chair, picked up a back issue of Esquire and came across a photo series featuring a hot-rod garage, boxing ring, work shed and other traditional male hangouts. Twitchell contacted the photographer, Ken Ross, and out of their collaboration comes this collection of black-and-white photos juxtaposed with insightful, sometimes laugh-out-loud riffs on formerly sacrosanct male refuges in an increasingly unisex world. Along the way we learn about the origin of the ploughman’s lunch; the feminization of boxing; why baseball dugouts are below ground; how the Civil War doomed 20th-century barbershops; the ultimate function of SUVs—“caves on wheels”—and lots of other fascinating tidbits sure to liven up your next meeting at the Masonic Lodge or Elks Club. That is, if your traditional local male bastions haven’t already been supplanted by sports bars, megachurches and, above all, television. What Joseph Campbell did for mythology, Twitchell and Ross have done for garages, strip clubs and other masculine hideouts, decoding their fundamental purposes and revealing the timeless and heroic in the seemingly banal.

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