Fox & Friends Interview

Sports are supposed to be a healthy diversion, free of politics. They are designed to bring us all together – regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or political beliefs – not divide us. We admire and enjoy watching highly paid competitors because of their athletic skills – not their political beliefs.

The ancient Greeks used the Olympic Games to bring diverse city-states together. In 1896 the first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens to do this for the world.

But now we have athletes in the National Football League refusing to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” and we are supposed to applaud them for it? On Thanksgiving, of all days, they should be giving thanks for their ability to make more money in one season than many Americans make in a lifetime of work.

The NFL players who think they are doing a moral and courageous thing by taking a knee during the national anthem should be ashamed of what they are destroying. They are showing up to a peaceful celebration of American values and stepping all over it.

There is a place for athletes to protest on their own time. They can command media attention if they stage an event or hold a news conference on non-playing days. They can be interviewed on TV, radio or by publications. They can write op-eds. They make enough money to buy ads to run in any media organization they desire. And they can donate some of their big salaries to any advocacy group they want.

But players should not be protesting while they are being paid to work (even though we call their work “play”). How many of us would still have jobs if we held protest demonstrations at our workplaces, while we were being paid to do work?

More importantly, protests should not occur at a place where Americans of every background and a broad range of political beliefs come together to cheer or jeer at teams in contests of athletic skill.

Protesting the American flag at a game is an insult to the men and women in our armed forces who have risked their lives – and in some cases died – bravely fighting for our freedoms.

See my interview on Fox & Friends on Nov. 23, 2017.

My Newsmax TV Interview for Kill Big Brother

Newsmax TV’s sharp host Brett Winterble had me on to talk about my novel Kill Big Brother, a book that shows us how to keep our freedom in this digital age. Brett is one of those strong, insightful interviewers who knows how to bring the story out of guest, so it was a great please to speak with him.

Should the Government Be Able to Kill Online Anonymity?

Even if you didn’t commit a crime, and so no warrant has been issued (per your Fourth Amendment rights), the government can still take away your online anonymity, says a court. Even if all you did was use your First Amendment-protected right to speak about a private company online, the government can unmask you.

This is what occurred in a ruling against Glassdoor, an online job-review website. Judge Diane J. Humetewa of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona ruled that the U.S Department of Justice (DOJ) can compel a private company—say, Facebook, Yelp, Twitter…—to give up your private information just because you expressed an opinion online.

Glassdoor, which is a California-based company, has appealed the ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“[W]e launched an appeal of a U.S. District Court decision in Arizona to force us to unmask the identities of several Glassdoor members who anonymously shared their experiences and opinions about their workplaces and company leadership,” Brad Serwin, general counsel at Glassdoor, said in a blog post. “We believe the lower court applied the wrong standard in placing the interests of government ahead of Americans’ protected free speech rights under the First Amendment. We hope to persuade the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to require a higher standard for these requests.”

If it stands, this case could crack the foundation of online freedom. How could a labor union organize if its members’ views, through no fault of their own, might be made public by the government? How could any whistleblower act with this threat being a real possibility?

Click here for the rest of my article at Forbes.com.

An Unforgettable Endorsement

Here’s what H.R. Stoneback, president of The Ernest Hemingway Foundation & Society and author of Reading Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and Hemingway’s Paris: Our Paris? has to say about my soon-to-be-released book This Will Make a Man of You.

These days Hemingway is more popular than ever. As attested by an endless flood of books and movies, Hemingway is many things to many people. Yet, all too often, the very thing that writers on Hemingway try to say gets unsaid in the saying of it, maybe because the writer does not listen to the codified silence between and behind Hemingway’s words. In this remarkable book, Frank Miniter heeds that silence and the code that informs it. He loves his Hemingway, seeks to be instructed in the passion and precision that are the benchmarks of Hemingway’s work and world. Follow Miniter’s quest, his pilgrimage to wrest a code for living and a redefinition of such words—so vexed in the 21st century—as meaning and manhood. If you care about fresh views of Hemingway, our most popular and enduring writer; about manhood and womanhood (or personhood, humanhood); about honor and values and what William Faulkner called the eternal verities, what Hemingway called the real old things—you should be reading this book now. And be sure to check out the Appendix (entitled “Codes of Honor”), where Miniter includes statements of various Codes, from The Bible to Gene Autry’s Cowboy Code of Honor, from Buddhism’s Eight Precepts to the U. S. Marine Corps Creed. The appendix alone is worth the price of admission. The rest is not silence but life.

How Hemingway Became Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway in WWI

This is Ernest Hemingway in WWI, when he was an ambulance driver for the Red Cross. In a few years he would be in Paris trying to become all he became.

Paris in the 1920s, with its fashionable cafés and a then very favorable, to Americans, dollar-to-franc exchange rate, drew authors and artists such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Dos Pasos, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Sherwood Anderson … and, of course, Ernest Hemingway to its storied streets. But how did it happen that a Midwesterner of modest means made it to Paris and learned a new, boiled-down style of writing that would change fiction forever by publishing The Sun Also Rises when he was just 27 years old?

Lesley M. M. Blume’s Everybody Behaves Badly swims deep in the wine, champagne, absinthe and egos of the time, and takes particular delight in diving to the bottom of the many affairs and scandals, to bring us a view of how Hemingway, well, became Hemingway.

I had a hard time putting the book down, but then I am very interested in the topic. (Full disclosure, my next book, out this fall, chases Hemingway from those Paris cafés to the streets of Pamplona during the San Fermin fiesta, the running of the bulls.) Everybody Behaves Badly reads easily, not because it puts you there—she actually gets some key things wrong because she obviously didn’t walk in his footsteps—but because she investigates the relationships, both public and private, Hemingway made and what they all did to one another along the way.

Blume’s retelling of how Pauline Pfeiffer, Hemingway’s second wife, tactic by dirty deed, moved aside Hemingway’s first wife, Hadely, would be hard to believe in a soap opera, but it happened. Sure, it has all been told before, but not as succinctly and fluidly as Blume does here. You see Pfeiffer finding ways to secure invitations to vacation with the Hemingways. Even after Hadely is well aware of what Pfeiffer is up to, you see the photos in Pamplona where she is seated beside Hemingway. You see Pfeiffer being the sophisticated and fashionable Paris-based Vogue writer as she husband hunts in another woman’s bedroom. Meanwhile, you see Hadely being the Midwestern housewife in Paris trying to find the cheapest potatoes as she suffers for her husband’s art by wearing tattered clothes that were literally falling off her. And then you see him leave her.

You also see Hemingway working so hard others mocked him for it. You see him viciously and very publicly turn on some who helped him. You see him take a group of real people, some well known, to Spain for the fiesta and then write a novel so close to the truth that some who were there simply called it journalism. You find how the real people, especially Harold Loeb (Robert Cohn in the novel), arguably never recovered from how they were cast—honestly portrayed or not.

All of this has been written about before—Loeb and others were even very public about their versions of the accounts. But Blume brings it all seamlessly together.

A few mistakes did bother me. She refers to the cows that Hemingway and company got into the arena in Pamplona to “fight” (in what Hemingway called “the amateurs”) as “bulls.” They are not bulls. They are what the Spanish call vaquillas, cows with leather on their horns. After the fighting bulls run up the streets in Pamplona and into the arena, the bulls and the steers with them are herded out of the bullfighting arena in view of a packed stadium. The fighting bulls will be held in the dark by themselves until they’ll run back into the arena in the afternoon to fight and die. But when the bulls leave it’s not over for the runners who have run into the arena. The door at the entrance to the Plaza de Toros is closed and vaquillas, cows with leather on their horns, are released into arena with the runners. These cows are not new to this fun, as the fighting bulls are. These cows have learned how to aim for the person, not the cape.

Hemingway, and some of his companions, did get into the arena to play with the vaquillas. Hemingway even boasted they became crowd favorites. But these vaquillas are much smaller and less dangerous than fighting bulls. I’ve gotten into the arena with vaquillas after running with the bulls in Pamplona. It is an exciting and somewhat dangerous event that is actually common in many Spanish fiestas, but if they let fighting bulls into this arena instead there would be many dead people every day.

For more, see my column at Forbes.com.

The Story of a Big Bass

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 11.24.18 AMLast December I fished Brazil’s Rio Negro for peacock bass with Billy Chapman of Angler’s Inn. (You can see a video of it here). This is adventure tourism and I found it to be a great and very green benefit to the indigenous people who live in villages up that glorious river. (I wrote about that for Forbes.)

On one particular day we decided to go deep down side channels to find the really big peacock bass.

Sandbars threatened to ground us and we couldn’t get out to push—not because of the crocodiles or piranhas, but because of the freshwater rays that look like the sandy bottom and will impale you with a poisonous barb that’ll swell your foot into cartoon-sized proportions if you step on them.

We reached the water we wanted to fish and tossed choppers, foot-long plugs with treble hooks, and yanked them back so they made a choom-choom-choom sound on the surface. These lures almost seem over-the-top until a peacock bass engulfs them.

Then a big peacock smashed my lure. It looked like a small depth charge went off. Suddenly I was attached to a very determined bass colored like some wild tropical bird. The line tightened and I set the hook not once, but twice for insurance. Then the big fish took line and I saw water flying off the line and the fish jumping clear out of the stained water. People were shouting but I don’t hear them. The fish jumped and ran some more and I was well aware it had a sporting chance of getting off without having its picture taken.

Billy was filming when I fought and finally brought the 15-pound peacock in. My shoulders were numb and my hands hurt. Many of the guys literally lost feeling in their right hands after days of working choppers on the surface for peacock bass.

We did that again and again. We let each fish go and knew our visit there was employing local people and helping them to save a wild part of a beautiful river.

A Manly Book

41zlAHmZQEL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_The most profound things, the philosophical underpinnings having to do with right and wrong, good and evil, are best put simply, at least at first. They have too many layers for complex explanations in the beginning. When people really try to understand them they must relate themselves to questions about what honor is and more. This is a personal quest. If someone tries to do this for another person, at least too much, they’ll muddle the deeper points, as they must express their own points of view, experiences, and biases to explain. Soon the person being taught will misunderstand or even rebel as they correctly realize that this person isn’t the living embodiment of all this do-as-I-say advice. This is why a good guide shows the way, but also lets a person think and learn for themselves.

Good books, or speeches, on character walk this line. There are very few good books that do this well. Rules for a Knight is one of the few. It begins with the simple premise: feed the good parts of yourself and you’ll grow better, healthier; feed the bad parts and you’ll grow worse, unhealthier. This is old advice from people like Aristotle, Cicero, and Mencius. This timeless advice needs to be remembered is this age of moral relativism.

This little, but profound book, is then structured with rules—parts of the ideal. Ethan Hawke has said he wrote this for his children. Once upon a time the Roman orator and politician Cicero wrote On Duties for this son. I wrote The Ultimate Man’s Survival Guide for mine and have a narrative-driven story on this topic coming out later this year. Rules for a Knight from Ethan Hawke is another book I will read to my son.

Finally, A Real Definition Of Manliness?

Manliness finally has a modern definition. A meaning we can all measures ourselves by thanks to an academic description pulled from the chronicles of decades of Hollywood parody.

Somewhere, up there, maybe James Dean is applauding.

It was Dean’s most-memorable role in the 1955 classic “Rebel Without a Cause” who asked his father: “What do you do when you have to be a man?” But his father didn’t know. Dean’s character was trying to prove himself, to grow up, but there were no guides or even real answers for him. They were all gone. That was the point of the movie. But the thing is that’s where manliness has been left, at least as far as pop-culture is concerned, ever since. And the feminists, the academics, and even the screenwriters, seem happy to leave it right there.

But now The Daily Beast has run a story, “How Machisomo is Keeping Bros Up at Night” by Samantha Allen, that’s about a study that found that men with “traditional views of masculinity” tend to believe more than other types of men—whomever or whatever they might be—that high-octane energy drinks can make them into the heroes of their stories, or something.

The thing is, in her reporting, Allen doesn’t question the big premise, the stupendous sociological underpinning: How did the four Texas psychologists who published this study in the November issue of Health Psychology define “traditional masculinity”?

As the author of The Ultimate Man’s Survival Guide—Recovering the Lost Art of Manliness I had to unearth how they defined traditional masculinity, as it could finally be the answer to Dean’s question.

This led me to an online questionnaire designed to determine if participants in this study have “traditional masculinity ideology.” The psychologists had to determine this before they could find out how these old-school men feel about energy drinks as compared to other types of men.

There are 21 simple questions.

Each question uses a scale from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.”

The first is: “Homosexuals should never marry.”

The next is: “The president of the U.S. should always be a man.”

The fourth is: “All homosexual bars should be closed down.”

I paused. Hmm, so a man with traditional values is a sexist homophobe?

Click here for the rest of my article at Forbes.com.

 

Playboy Is Giving Up Its Porn—Here’s Why Men Should Say Hooray!

scan1__80571.1439432331.386.513Almost 15 years ago the Manhattan barbershop I then went to took the Playboy magazines off the tables in its waiting area. The old Midtown barbershop was going unisex and Vinnie, its veteran barber, was apoplectic. After hearing Vinnie rant I looked at the table with the magazines and realized that I never saw anyone read them. They just lay there like a dare: Are you man enough to open this here, in public? This prompted me to pick one up. After looking and looking, I found didn’t want to stop reading. The old maxim that men buy the magazine for the pictures but subscribe for the articles isn’t just a joke. What was alluring, though, was an old-school gentleman’s point of view that was all over its prose and photos.

Now Playboy says it’s going to drop the nudity.

“You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passe at this juncture,” said Playboy’s chief executive Scott Flanders.

The thing is, even as we can click away on the Internet, Playboy’s totally nude photos have long required that the magazine be sold where children can’t get their hands on it for a looksee. In many places this means men have to ask for it—men don’t even want to ask for directions, let alone ask some 16-year-old cashier to hand them a mature men’s magazine. For this and other reasons Playboy’s circulation has dropped from over 5 million in the 1970s to about 800,000 today.

Given this, it makes sense that Playboy would drop full nudity to compete for magazine rack space and audience share with titles like Stuff, Esquire, and Maxim. Like those titles, Playboy says it will still feature beautiful women showing a lot of skin.

In fact, Playboy’s website has already dropped the nudity. This has given Playboy access to social-media mouthpieces like Twitter and Facebook, which reportedly has already greatly expanded its reach.

All that has been reported. Here’s why, as the author of a book on manliness, I’m applauding this change.

For the rest of this article at Forbes.com click here.

There were Monsters and Some were Sharks

shark42Something monstrous was about to happen. You could feel it coming. Boats were out trying to drag the biggest monster shark from the deep. A crowd was waiting, eager to see the apex predators that still swim in the deep of the Atlantic hung up for them to see. The scene was so retro it was like a black-and-white documentary on shark fishing was playing right there in 3D color on this pier in the now swanky, yacht-infested town of Newport, Rhode Island.

If you don’t know Newport, picture a Hollywood set of an idealized New England town running along the edge of the Atlantic. The main drag is all seafood restaurants with gaudy ship’s anchors and wheels as trimmings, and boutiques with glamor in their storefronts and pubs with dark wood bars and brass taps. Each cross street ends in a pier. A few have real fish markets on them. Most have yachts bobbing off them.

People were saying Celine Dion was on one of the big white yachts with those one-way windows and spacious sun decks—one of the boats without outriggers. Everyone nodded when they heard this, as if it must be true. How can you have a real American scene without a celebrity endorsement?

All around the extras were strictly upper class. You could tell from the brands of their vacation clothes. The men were wearing docksiders without socks, Sketchers or Lanvin sneakers and bright Abercrombie shirts and Patagonia shorts. The women were in Lands’ End skirts, Indigo designer jeans, Ann Taylor blouses and Laura Jean shoes and had Prada and Gouche bags. A few of the older men wore blue sport jackets and vintage white oxford shirts. Some of the men actually had sweaters tied around their necks. They were all coming off the chic street along the blue bay in hopes of seeing monsters.

shark32Of course, hundreds of shark fishermen were in town, too. But few would make you think of the character Quint in “Jaws.” They were mostly men from New York and Boston who have the spare change to run a boat that can motor 50 miles off the coast for sharks or tuna for a day’s fishing with pals or family. Some fancy themselves as throwback, iconic playboys in an age when such men were cultural manifestations of class and manly appeal, to an era when Errol Flynn, Jack London and Humphrey Bogart took their big boats out to the blue water for giant fish.

Still, this is a kill tournament. Its captains might be mostly well heeled, but they’re not afraid of getting shark blood on their office-smooth hands. Well, I found that a few hired first mates with shark-fishing skills to make up for their lack of shark-fishing prowess. These types might pick up a rod after a shark is hooked, but then they might just as likely watch with a martini in their gold-ringed fingers. But, that said, most of these guys fish.

To add spice to the already flavorful scene there had been threats from PETA to show up and do who knows what. The year before—when the tournament was still in Martha’s Vineyard—20 “animal-rights” protestors picked a fight. It seems that some of the spectators started yelling things back. There was no fence separating them. Parents where putting their hands over their children’s ears.

I walked down the pier and passed cops waiting like bouncers for those jokers. But, oh hum, there weren’t any of those let’s-ban-reality types around. This pier had been rented for the “Monster Shark Tournament” so this was private property. Any protestors would be escorted off like Code Pink activists at a Republican convention.

shark22An announcer on this little boom-box loudspeaker was telling everyone the monster sharks were coming. Fishing boats would soon pull up, one by one, with big dead sharks on them. These sharks would be hoisted up, blood dripping, by this crane with a long steel cable and hook. The sharks would be weighed on a scale that that was officially calibrated to satisfy International Game and Fish Association (IGFA) standards—records, after all, might be broken. The biggest mako, thresher or porbeagle would win the day, but not necessarily the event. There was still another day of monster shark fishing to be done in the waters that inspired “Jaws” and the weights would be added together.

Meanwhile, there was this deep, heartfelt undercurrent. A family from upstate New York was running the tournament. None of them are shark fishermen. None of them planned on doing this just six months before. They had this relative, Steve James, who was as famous as Frank Mundus (the guy “Quint” in “Jaws” was based on) in shark-tournament circles. James had been president of the Boston Big Game Fishing Club and ran this monster shark tournament for the past 27 years, but James died in a duck-hunting accident the previous January. He’d gone out into the mouth of the Westport River in a 16-foot aluminum skiff with two others. The boat tipped over on the back of a wave. Steve and Robert Becher drowned in the white-capped water on that 8-degree morning. Gregg Angell, a doctor, survived by miraculously swimming to an island. A Coast Guard helicopter rescued him. At the time of the rescue the water temperature was 35 degrees and the wind was blowing at 30 knots, creating a 3-foot chop.

Now Steve’s family—his mother, uncle, aunt, niece and nephew and cousins—had come to put on this tournament as a dedication to a man who’d always been larger than life. You could feel their love for him emanating from the scene. All the shark fishermen were telling stories about Steve’s safaris and shark tournaments and the times he went to state capital buildings to tell lawmakers why they should vote this way or that for the sake of the sharks and the world we are a part of.

“He was man’s man,” said one.

“There aren’t supposed to be men like Steve anymore. A total Hemingway type,” said another.

“Steve was an adventurer,” said his mother, Doreen James, as we looked out at a boat coming in with a shark. Her eyes were proud and moist with a mother’s loss as she said, “He’d hunted all over the world. He loved catching huge sharks on rod and reel. He was a gentleman. He was all that a man should be. He was my son.”

Steve had his moment of fame. In 2004 ESPN started televising this tournament. That year it attracted 245 entrants. The next year a boat in the tournament landed a 1,191-pound tiger shark. That got the attention of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). They began a national campaign to pressure Martha’s Vineyard to end the contest. Through all this Steve pointed out that the tournament was good for Martha’s Vineyard, that they operated within state and federal fishery laws and that they maintained limits that resulted in few sharks being brought dead to the dock.

Still, all the trouble convinced James to move the tournament to Newport and that’s just what his relatives did.

The shark in the first boat in was a disappointment—just a 100-pound mako. “I had to kill it,” said the captain in an apologetic tone. “It couldn’t be revived.”

Several biologists there waiting weighed and measured the shark and took samples. “I go to shark tournaments up and down the East Coast,” said Lisa Natanson, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as she pulled on arm-length rubber gloves, slit open the shark’s stomach and reached in to see what it had been devouring. “Without these tournaments we couldn’t learn all we do about sharks. And the anglers don’t kill many sharks. These tournaments are good for sharks.” She pulled out a fish head. “Well, this one was hungry.”
More boats showed with threshers and makos. None were huge. Little kids pushed through the legs of the ogling adults. So many climbed onto the base of a nearby crane to see over the crowd that the dock’s owner begged people to get back, but then gave up as the tide of people washed over him.

This next boat in wasn’t like all the pretty white yachts in the harbor. It is had an open deck and a cabin without the plush bars and couches in many of the other boats. There were suntanned men in rubber fisherman boots on the boat’s deck. You could tell these men fish for a living. They came in slowly as the announcer threw suspense into a microphone and people pushed forward to see.

This boat was the Magellan captained by Frank Greiner Jr. They tied up and the crane hummed and dropped its hook. Up came a 429-pound porbeagle, a big-headed shark that likes the cold, deep waters of the North Atlantic.

Mouths were agape.

Click here to read the rest of my article at Outdoor Life.