Great Men

Great Men

What do you think of when you hear these two words? Personally, I consider all sorts of heroic and impressive deeds long ago. Great men are great because they do great things, and looking for great things, always sets my gaze to times of yore. When I consider current masculine role models in the contemporary setting, the prospects don’t look quite as golden as their golden age counterparts. Maybe the last few generations were just tough-as-nails hard-nosed bastards in relative generational terms, but in my eyes they make the modern badass look like a wet noodle. Not to say that there are no living heroic figures, just none that are famous and under forty years of age. Not in American popular culture anyway. Can you think of one? Jet Li doesn’t count. He’s Chinese, plus he speaks English with a somewhat effeminate accent. Now that I’ve explained mindset, perhaps you’ll be able to follow my line of thinking in this compilation of great men.

“An ambitious undertaking, trying to list the greatest men in history.” you’re no doubt thinking to yourself, and you are in many ways very correct. It is no small thing to simply throw together a hastily-made crapshoot list of long lived/dead losers. No, no. Instead, I find myself aghast with envy and awe at the shining heroes of yesteryear. Champions of dignity, sincerity, integrity, and let us not forget the aforementioned hard-nosed bastardly demeanor. No, to simply compile a compendium of men I admire and enumerate their stellar attributes would be a cheap and hazardous faux pas indeed, or rather it would be, if I did not treat the subject matter with the very highest degree of seriousness. So without further adieu, I present to you, in no particular order, the very first man on my list of great men.

Batman. First appearance: May 1939.

Batman is the very height of human achievement and the scariest S.O.B. to ever put on tights, take a running start off of a building, and kick a would-be rapist in the spine. Not only is Batman a snappy dresser, but he’s also wealthy beyond what reasonable circumstances should allow. You know where all of the money went in the recession? It’s in the Bat-cave.  You know why? Because Bruce Wayne is probably in the Illuminati. I’m not entirely sure of my sources on that one, but if you put two and two together you sometimes get a billionaire vigilante that punishes white-collar criminals for stealing purses too. “How does the industrialist/crime-fighter handle such a complicated transaction?” you might ask. Well, he’s been catching super-criminals for years so he probably picked up a few dirty tricks along the way.

What? You’re not buying it? Well, fine I’ll admit it’s a stretch, but the absence of evidence is not necessarily the evidence of innocence. Moving on… Batman is an Olympic-level athlete, a Holmes-level detective, and a Bond-level bachelor. Simply put, he is the total package of manhood. He does one-handed pushups on his knuckles to strengthen his chest, core, and forearm muscles. He does this on top of criminal faces. He can spot a fine wine, dance a waltz, cook an authentic Italian meal, perform basic field medical operations, train a dog to talk, and write a symphony before bedtime. But he won’t, because he’s too busy avenging his parents death, which is just one reason why he is way cooler than whomever your stupid nephew looks up to. Who is he into these days anyway? John Cena? Orlando Bloom? Speaking of professional wrestlers, my second entry on my list of great men has got to be a man that needs no introduction, but insists upon one regardless: “The Great,” “The Star,”  “The Mind,” “Sexy Tyrannosaurus Rex” that’s right folks.

Jesse “The (Governing) Body” Ventura. Date of Birth: July 15, 1951

(1951-07-15)The former governor of Minnesota will be the only politician on my list, as he is a rare exception among a breed of overly ambitions snake-people. My favorite character in Predator is also a long time proponent for the unionization of professional wrestlers, whose working conditions have improved in recent years but are still fairly deplorable. “The Body” is tough enough to open up a can of whoop-ass on spandex clad gladiator-showmen, or just as easy, a whole state congress. Not only is this man an uncompromising ringmaster/statesman, but he’s actually a well-spoken and intelligent proponent of personal freedoms.

His political views are a bi-partisan mixture of masterful political utility. A self-described fiscal conservative and social liberal, during his time in office he advanced the agendas of women’s and gay rights, the legalization of marijuana, property tax reform, surplus tax refunds, third (or fourth, or fifth) political parties, higher education, and religious freedoms. There has been some controversy made over his views on religious freedom. This controversy has come regarding some hastily made comments in an interview he did with Playboy. He was quoted as saying “Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers. It tells people to go out and stick their noses in other people’s business.” That’s right, no patience for little old ladies in their pews for this (still in shape) governator. Of course, this does make him sound like a big asshole to a lot of people, which is a good thing. You can’t be a true badass unless you offend a large section of the population. Later, he (like any man with integrity would) shed light on his words by writing in his personal memoir: I Ain’t Got Time to Bleed by publishing the following, lengthy but quote-worthy nonetheless, statement.

“I’d like to clarify [my comments published in Playboy] about religious people being weak-minded. I didn’t mean all religious people. I don’t have any problem with the vast majority of religious folks. I count myself among them, more or less. But I believe because it makes sense to me, not because I think it can be proven. There are lots of people out there who think they know the truth about God and religion, but does anybody really know for sure? That’s why the founding fathers built freedom of religious belief into the structure of this nation, so that everybody could make up their minds for themselves. But I do have a problem with the people who think they have some right to try to impose their beliefs on others. I hate what the fundamentalist fanatics are doing to our country. It seems as though, if everybody doesn’t accept their version of reality that somehow invalidates it for them. Everybody must believe the same things they do. That’s what I find weak and destructive.”

See? He’s only being a douche to other douches. Well said Mr. Ventura, well said.

Oh, and I would certainly be amiss if I didn’t mention his most stellar attribute: his overall bat-shit insanity. The former navy S.E.A.L. is a full-fledged, freewheeling, and fractious fruitcake. Did you hear me? This eloquent and capable captivator of hearts and minds thinks that the government is developing weapons that use earthquakes against third-world countries. In fact, he’s convinced of all sorts of conspiracy theories that make the average sphincter go tight and cold as soon as they’re mentioned. He had a poorly produced show about it on TruTV, and God bless him for it. There’s just something admirable about a man so simultaneously balsy and loony as to unapologetically attack conventional wisdom on the 9/11 attacks on a cable TV station. It makes my ears bleed and my eyes water, but you can’t fault a wayward wacko his witless fancies. If you do, he’ll hit you with a steel chair, or sue the TSA. Whatever works. On to the third, final, and arguably most illustrious member of my compilation:

Ernest (the Importance of Being) Hemingway. Date of birth: July 21, 1899 Date of immortalization: July 2, 1961 (aged 61.)

One of the most highly regarded writers of the 20th century; Hemingway had style that only comes about every few decades. This style was defined by understatement, stoic grit, and a love of all things manly. He wrote about hunting, fishing, war, and convincing your girlfriend to get an abortion. What more could a “lost generation” reader ask for? How about a secret hideout on an unseemly Caribbean island? Match point. He had a summer home in Cuba. Don’t worry, this was before the embargo (like you care, you socialist bastards).

So you probably knew Hemingway was a soldier, (if you didn’t then you are an uncultured dullard) but did you know he was awarded an Italian silver medal of bravery in WWI? He saved an injured Italian soldier after sustaining shrapnel wounds to both legs. In WWII, he got a Bronze star for bravery as a correspondent. He was at the D-day landing, the liberation of Paris, and heavy fighting in a battle in Hürtgenwald. Oh, and before that he refitted his PERSONAL boat to hunt down GERMAN SUBMARINES. If that doesn’t scream brass balls, I don’t know what does.

In addition to being a literary and military badass, Hemingway was also a legendary drunk. He has many well- documented alchee-exploits with fellow literary giants such as James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ezra Pound. He was so manly, he wouldn’t even let death take him. Instead, he loaded up his rifle and met the Grim Reaper on his own terms. I should also mention that he was so tough he needed two tries to kill himself. If you are still reading, you should be disappointed in yourself for not living up to the ultimate alpha male: Ernest Hemingway.

I can’t think of anything more incredible to end my (abridged) list than that. So I’ll leave you loyal readers with some of my thoughts as to why these bastards are on this list while you are on your ass eating Cheetos(1899-07-21)’ Puffs. Well, yes the Puffs are delicious, but let’s not get off on a tangent, okay? All of these men were uncompromising, intense, and tough-as-nails characters. However, what really sets them apart is they were all working for the betterment of their respective societies.

Batman cleans up street scum; Ventura brings monetary responsibility and personal freedom to his constituency; Hemingway fought Nazis and improved the collective intelligence of a generation. Too often in our society are the useless, vain, petty, irritating, and pestilent twits elevated to celebrity. What has Alec Baldwin ever done for anyone? Who the hell cares about the jerk-off chef on Hell’s Kitchen, Or Kim Kardashian for that matter? He’s famous for being a prick to his employees, and she’s famous for being a bigger whore than Paris Hiltion! That’s retarded! So I urge you, implore you, appeal to your better nature, please, don’t buy into a cookie-cutter consumer culture that blinds you with pinstripes and expects you to pay up like a good little sheep. Teach your children to admire the people worth admiring. And if you’re too far gone to do that, at least give them a history book,(or possibly a comic book) before you hand them a remote control.