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Shaking It Up: The 20 New Rules Changing Everything We Know About Wine


Backstory Gosling’s style statute


The Outsiders The most unpredictable, scene-stealing actors in the game, from Crispin Glover to Ben Foster

GQ Intelligence 18

The Punch List The January cultural agenda: from monsters to Marky Mark


The CTE Diaries One young footballer’s losing battle with his deteriorating mind


No Joke: We’re in Trump’s America Now


We asked S A M A N T H A B E E for a guide to surviving the next four years 26

Your Boss Is Gonna Love Your New Drug Habit In his quest to hack the productivity craze, J O S H D E A N tries micro-dosing LSD 30

I Surrendered My Wardrobe Fashion hoarder S E A N H O T C H K I S S throws out all his clothes and starts over 34

The Improbable Life and Stunning Death of a Child Warrior


Fighting the Taliban made him a legend, and a target



Cover: Ryan Gosling Hollywood’s handsomest, wittiest, song-and-danciest leading man



Craig McDean

< 52

On Ryan Gosling Polo shirt, $745, by Dolce & Gabbana. Tank top, $40 (for three), by Calvin Klein Underwear. Pants, $1,190, by Tom Ford. Watch by Rolex. Grooming by Donald Mowat. Produced by Brachfeld Paris.

The Season of Retro-Futurism

Lion star Dev Patel goes wild, midcentury-style


Worth Every Penny Penny loafers go from schoolboy staples to status symbols

Where to buy it Where are the items from this page to page 75 available? Go to -directories to find out. All prices quoted are approximate and subject to change.




Polo shirt, $750, by Fendi. Suit, $835, by J.Lindeberg. Necklace by George Frost. Watch by Shinola.



The Perfect Fit How to get in shape—and look good doing it—in 2017


> Get the GQ Look L I K E W H AT YO U S E E I N T H E PAG E S Prada coat and pants Page 57


the editors of GQ will select a series of items from our pages available through our online retail partner, Mr >TO LEARN

more—and see what we have chosen for you this month—go to

Just a few of our picks from this issue...

Neil Barrett backpack p. 17

Nike sneakers p. 71

Burberry coat p. 49

Junghans watch p. 10

C LO C KW I S E F R O M TO P : V I C TO R D E M A R C H E L I E R ; J O S E P H I N E S C H I E L E ; C R A I G M CD E A N ; TO M S C H I R M AC H E R ; J O S E P H I N E S C H I E L E


gentlemen’s quarterly ®

editor-in- chief





Jim Moore Catherine Gundersen EXECUTIVE EDITORS

Christopher Cox, Devin Gordon Mike Hofman Geoffrey Gagnon, Ross McCammon Nick Marino, Daniel Riley Dana Mathews Mark Anthony Green Zach Baron Anna Peele John Ortved Caity Weaver Benjy Hansen-Bundy Brennan Carley, Andrew Goble, Lauren Larson Mary Anderson


Madeline Weeks Ted Stafford Victoria Graham Lucy Armstrong, Garrett Munce, Jon Tietz Nanette Bruhn Alexander-Julian Gibbson Kerrie Cline


Andre Jointe John Muñoz Kristie Bailey, Griffin Funk, Martin Salazar Chelsea Lee Jeffrey Kurtz Jim Gomez Timothy J. Meneely Casey Jabbour


Krista Prestek Justin O’Neill Jolanta Alberty, Michael Allin Monica Siwiec Jared Schwartz



Jonathan Wilde Louise Hart Kevin Nguyen Matt Sebra NEWS EDITOR

Chris Gayomali Dorenna Newton Freddie Campion, John Lockett Joel Pavelski Alex Reside Max Berlinger Liza Corsillo, Jake Woolf Clay Skipper Doug Seidman Hugo Broche Malcolm Dia Fernando Alvarez, Isaac Torres Daniel Perko


Laura L. Vitale Rebecca O’Connor Lucas Zaleski Riley Blanton


Will Welch



Noah Johnson

Mobolaji Dawodu Samuel Hine














Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Robert Draper, Sean Flynn, Chris Heath, Jeanne Marie Laskas, Drew Magary, Brett Martin, Michael Paterniti, Nathaniel Penn, Wells Tower, Amy Wallace Jason Zengerle Sarah Ball, Jason Gay, Brendan Vaughan, Andy Ward Richard Burbridge, Pari Dukovic, Nathaniel Goldberg, Inez & Vinoodh, Sebastian Kim, Paola Kudacki, Martin Schoeller, Mark Seliger, Peggy Sirota, Michael Thompson, Ben Watts Brian Coats, Kelly McCabe, Michael Nash Carly Holden Emma Joss Jessie Mooney

artistic director H







Anna Wintour

Stefanie Rapp L. Paul Robertson Rory Stanton







publisher, chief revenue officer






Kimberly Buonassisi Jennifer Grace Terry Dwyer Greg Barnes Stephanie Schultz Rula Al Amad August Media Peter Zuckerman, Z - M E D I A Simpson Media, David Simpson Integrated Advertising Sales FZ LLC, Mia Cachero Susi Park Haein Yu Brita Bergh Dahlback Janelle Teng DIGITAL CAMPAIGN MANAGERS

Matthew Riccio, Caryn Wong Taylor Gefen Debra Konstadt Abramson, Alessia Bani, Casimir Black, Elyse Peterson, Jennifer Peterson, Mariam Rastegar, Andrea Sternheim


Pamela Kaupinen, Fuaud Yasin Patrick Lavergne Krista Boyd Gregory Hall Taylor Daly Nicole DeLaRosa Mike Assenza, Kristin Johnson, Tyler Stewart Jamie Stuart Elisabeth Bundschuh, Timothy O’Keefe Efi da Silva Brett Fahlgren Jordan Guskind Shannon Gruda Reilly O’Connor


S.I. Newhouse, Jr. Charles H. Townsend Robert A. Sauerberg, Jr. David E. Geithner James M. Norton



Fred Santarpia JoAnn Murray Cameron R. Blanchard Edward Cudahy Monica Ray David Orlin Josh Stinchcomb Lisa Valentino



Suzanne Reinhardt Padraig Connolly David Adams Cathy Hoffman Glosser Stephanie Fried Larry Baach Nicole Zussman Matthew Starker


Dawn Ostroff Joy Marcus Sahar Elhabashi Jeremy Steckler Joe LaBracio Al Edgington Teal Newland


Jonathan Newhouse Nicholas Coleridge

Condé Nast is a global media company producing premium content for more than 263 million consumers in 30 markets. Those submitting manuscripts, photographs, artwork, or other materials to Gentlemen’s Quarterly for consideration should not send originals unless specifically requested to do so by Gentlemen’s Quarterly in writing. Unsolicited manuscripts, photographs, and other submitted materials must be accompanied by a self-addressed overnight-delivery return envelope, postage prepaid. However, Gentlemen’s Quarterly is not responsible for any unsolicited submissions.



Even in uncertain times, there’s still fun to be had, clothes to be bought, money to be…maybe not blown, but spent less than responsibly. Here’s to making a thousand bucks—not too little, not too much—work harder for you










ØØ 1,



Depending on the look, holes are made with knives, lasers, or power tools.

The ThousandDollar Pair of Jeans

1 of 5 To fade your jeans, someone scrapes the indigo by hand, then sprays on a neutral tint.


GQ Endorses BY



• A grand is probably a little (or, okay, a lot) more than you’re used to paying for denim. But you’re also probably not used to customizing your jeans by choosing the fit, the wash, the


metal of the hardware, and the precise size and exact placement of any sanding, staining, or distressing. Not much in this world is absolutely perfect, but your 3x1 jeans will be just that. For the same level of craftsmanship that goes into a custom suit, it’s an extraordinary investment. —J I M M O O R E

3x1 made-to-measure jeans, up to $1,800 at 3x1, 15 Mercer St., SoHo, N.Y.C. |




Céline sunglasses,

The $1,000 Guide to 2017 2 of 5

$150 (originally $400)

Jil Sander suit,

$600 (originally $1,790)

Two Ways to Watch Your Money

$40 (originally $175)

Calvin Klein Underwear boxer briefs,


$20 3-Pack (originally $40)


—J O H N O R T V E D

APPLE $649 Ralph Lauren socks,


(originally $30) JUNGHANS

ACNE sneakers,




(originally $370)


A cool $2,805 outfit for a cool $992

> How the Style Guy Turns $1,000 into $3,000








My editor bet me that I couldn’t pull off a complete suited look for under a thousand bucks, without realizing that I had a secret weapon: There’s a Century 21 “off-price” department store full of overlooked gems only two blocks from GQ’s HQ. Century 21 is a temple of boss-level fashion at associate-level prices. I couldn’t have been more surprised

the first time I walked into one. I saw Ralph Lauren Purple Label suits at 75 percent off. There were actually affordable Margiela sweaters and Gucci bombers—things I saw with my own two eyes at Paris Fashion Week. Most important, they had my size. (And your size, too.) The final result of my shopping trip: a perfect-fitting slim-lapel black Jil Sander suit, a Gitman

button-down shirt, Céline sunglasses, ACNE sneakers, wool Ralph Lauren socks…and Calvin Klein underwear, just to show off. I walked back into the office holding the receipt above my head like a WWF championship belt, my editor’s defeat itemized in black and white. The hitch is that Century 21 exists in only a handful of cities. (But it’s worth




a trip—trust me! And trust the tourists.) If you’re shopping at other (less boss) discount stores like T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, or an outlet, just remember the one rule that I always follow at Century 21: Look at the clothes first, the tag second. Ninety percent off an item you’ll never wear is a 100 percent waste of money. —MARK ANTHONY GREEN


H A I R : T H O M P R I A N O F O R R + C O H A I R C A R E . G R O O M I N G : J O D I E B O L A N D U S I N G L A B S E R I E S S K I N C A R E F O R M E N . S E T D E S I G N : J U L I E T J E R N I G A N AT C L M . S T I L L L I F E S : J O S E P H I N E S C H I E L E ( 4 ) . P R O P S T Y L I S T : C L A I R E T E DA L D I AT H A L L E Y R E S O U R C E S ( 4 ) . W H E R E TO B U Y T H E WATC H E S ? G O TO G Q . C O M / S T Y L E / FA S H I O N - D I R E C TO R I E S .

Gitman Bros. button-down,

A grand might not buy you a Rolex, but it can get you a work of art. No joke: They sell this Junghans watch at MoMA. Its design harks back to Bauhaus-era modernism, and inside it’s got the Swiss-made guts of a contemporary masterwork. If you prefer variety, that same $1K will buy you a full watch arsenal: an everyday warhorse from Timex, a go-go gadget (with a sunny yellow strap) from Apple, and a dressy stainless-steel timepiece from Bulova. Armed with all three, you’ll be set for any conceivable scenario— always in the right place at the right time.

3 of 5 The $1,000 Guide to 2017





An Entire Shoe Closet for (About) a Grand Unless you get into tap dancing, this footwear wardrobe includes every shoe style you could need 12






1. Aldo $130 2. Vans $50 3. Hunter Original $185 4. Topman $70 5. Jack Erwin $220 6. New Republic by $78 Mark McNairy 7. Adidas Originals $140 8. Cole Haan $130 9. Brandblack $40


Where to buy it? Go to /fashion-directories









>Your $1,000 New York Weekend 3

Friday Night 5




8 2



• Arrive at JFK and skip the line for extortionate taxis. Instead, ride the subway ($7.75) to 42nd Street, where you’ll check into Yotel (1; $258 for two nights), a futuristic budget hotel with a robot for a bellhop. Now it’s dinnertime: Uber downtown for a wood-fired pie from Pasquale Jones and learn to pair white wine (from France!) with your pizza ($100). Then hit the beer-and-shot doubleheader at Botanica Bar ($6), where people you’d actually like sober go to get wild, and Milano’s ($7), one of the few old bars in N.Y.C. that haven’t become a tourist trap (because it’s so narrow it can only fit, like, four of them). Finish with Sand Tigers at Tropical 128 (2; $24), a campy club that feels like a degenerate Rainforest Café.

We live here and even we weren’t sure it was possible. So we sent our own Andrew Goble into the streets with a calculator TOT






*Including tax + tips (and $77 in UberX rides around town)

All Day Saturday • Walk the High Line (3) all the way down the West Side and pop in to High Street on Hudson (4) for its gut-busting, hangover-soothing egg sandwich, the Pastrami & Hash ($13). After that, swing through the new Whitney Museum (5; $22) for a culture fix (even if you’re really there for the roof-deck views). Now wander the

twisty, townhomelined streets of the West Village until you find the unmarked door for Chumley’s, a Prohibition-era speakeasy with Kale-era dinner options ($100). Close out the night at Up & Down (6; $100), which represents everything fun (and not fun!) about trying to go to a scene-y dance club in New York.





Sunday Morning • Uber down to Union Square to experience two shopping meccas that double as cultural theater. Your first stop is Flight Club (7), a sneaker wonderland stocked with all the rare kicks you can’t find back home ($110). A block away is The Strand, where the books New Yorkers have read to pieces go for as low as a buck. Then it’s brunch at Noreetuh (8; $29), the Hawaiian restaurant that dares to turn Spam into a gourmet dish— which is pretty much a culinary microcosm of your entire weekend. Now take a cab to the airport ($65). You’re worth it.




T H I S P A G E : 1 ) C O U R T E S Y O F Y O T E L . 2 ) C O U R T E S Y O F A A R O N D E A N / T R O P I C A L 1 2 8 . 3 ) A M Y C I C C O N I /A L A M Y. 4 ) C O U R T E S Y O F J A S O N VA R N E Y/ H I G H S T R E E T O N H U D S O N . 5 ) T E R E S E L O E B K R E U Z E R /A L A M Y. 6 ) M AT T E O P R A N D O N I / B FA . 7 ) C O U R T E S Y O F F L I G H T C L U B . 8 ) C O U R T E S Y O F N O R E E T U H . O P P O S I T E PA G E : S I M O N B R U T Y/ S P O R T S I L L U S T R AT E D / G E T T Y I M A G E S .


4 of 5 The $1,000 Guide to 2017

Stop Paying for the Gym!



Here’s an idea: Rather than sinking your $1,000 into a perpetual monthly fee, buy these wellness tools recommended by CrossFit Games champion Mat Fraser. (Or if you love your gym membership, get more out of it by following our 2017 fitness plan later in this issue)— C L AY S K I P P E R


If you decide to quit exercising, at least you got a new pair of shoes.




“It’s small and wireless and pumps music. I throw it in my gym bag and it’s good to go. The battery seems to last forever.”

You’ve invested in getting in shape. And now, with a race that holds your ass accountable, you actually have to do it.

Fraser’s smoothie: spinach, berries, and coconut water. “You’re getting all your greens, but it just tastes like berries.”

Our ! P ick





“When you’re woken up by sunlight, you don’t feel so groggy. Your body is just naturally waking you up.”

In 2014 and 2015, Fraser finished second at the Games. What changed in 2016? “I started eating rice at every meal.”

“A quality steel-cable jump rope gives you better momentum—and a better workout.” You’ll wear out before it does.

For planking, crunching, downward-dogging, meditating, and, if necessary, napping.

Give It to Someone Who Needs It More Than You Do

The nonprofit New Story builds hurricane-proof houses in Haiti for just $6,000 apiece

• “When someone gives to New Story, 100 percent goes to building a house,” says co-founder Brett Hagler. “We have our overhead covered by private donors. So when anybody from the public gives, our promise is that every single penny goes to the home. And a home actually has two benefits: The obvious one is that it’s helping get a homeless family into a house. And the second one is that it employs local workers. So your thousand dollars would be going straight to paying for local materials—and helping supply jobs, too.” The houses themselves (310 so far) run on solar-powered electricity. And when construction is finished, you receive a video of your very grateful family moving in.

OR Do as Olympic decathlon gold medalist Ashton Eaton suggests “Write down a mentally challenging fitness goal for yourself. Maybe it’s ‘work out three times a week for the quarter.’ Then give that note and the $1,000 to one of your best friends. If you don’t do what you said you’d do, they get to keep it. If you do, they give it back and you go buy yourself a present.” JANUARY




5 of 5 The $1,000 Guide to 2017


Seven Great Ways to Blow a Grand—Serious Enthusiasm Required 1



4. H I G H - E N D H I G H -T O P S


Use your phone to peep footage from the Mavic Pro portable drone’s 4K camera, which floats on a stabilizer, then watch as the thing sets itself down like a Mars rover. But it’s worth a grand, if only because it all folds up into the size of a brick. $999 | 2. I T ’ S E I T H E R T H I S O R

These Buscemi 150 MM Black/Whites stand out because of their minimal styling...and shiny gold padlocks on the heels. $995 | 5. THE TURNTABLE UPGRADE

With a carbon-fiber tonearm and rose-nut details, Pro-Ject’s The Classic is an audiophile’s device that doesn’t scream “audiophile.”

9,31 5 B I C S

$1,099 |

The palladium-coated Roadster pen by Cartier comes dotted with tiny (and probably laborintensive) rivets.


$930 |

It’s officially okay to bring a backpack to the office— especially if it’s this one from Neil Barrett.


$860 |

With Highland Park’s 30-year, you pay for the wait—and the richness liquor takes on when it’s aged this long.


$1,010 |

$945 |

The Boss Hutson/Gander is under $1,000 but looks like it costs over $2,000.



What I’d Do with It We pretended to hand each of these people a thousand bucks, and they pretended to be excited before telling us how they’d spend it


I’d buy a robot dog-walker named Charles. He’d carry unlimited disposable poop bags that he would pull out of his robot tuxedo. He’d play the Charles in Charge theme to announce my dog’s presence. Finally, he’d come back to my place and have a beer with me as we discussed all the fun things Charles and my dog did that day.” — J O S H G A D , W H O V O I C E S M U LT I P L E D O G S I N ‘A D O G ’ S P U R P O S E ’ (JANUARY 27)


I’d spend the day with my girlfriend, with a bottle of Pierre Péters Blanc de Blancs champagne, 60 grams of Reserve Ossetra caviar, and enough Kettle potato chips for the caviar.”


— R A J V A I D YA , H E A D S O M M E L I E R AT D A N I E L , D A N I E L B O U LU D ’ S F L A G S H I P R E S TA U R A N T



Put 90 percent in a total stock market index ETF, and with the other 10 percent buy a product you actually use, like Facebook or Nike, and follow the news on it every week. That’s how you learn about the market.” P R O P S T Y L I S T : C L A I R E T E DA L D I AT H A L L E Y R E S O U R C E S . I L L U S T R AT I O N S : K A G A N M CL E O D ( 4 ) .



I’d change it into dollar bills and go to the strip club. Duh!” —CHARLI XCX, WHO WILL REGALE U S W I T H H E R E X P LO I T S O N A N E W A L B U M D R O P P I N G I N M AY









Misunderstood Monsters of the Month Just how monstrous are these cinematic beasts?

The Patriot An abridged history of Mark Wahlbergâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most American moments

Ladies in Blazers

1971 Born in fahkinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Bostonâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;evah heard of it, chucklehead?

THE MONSTER IN THEATERS NOW  Forest monster lurks in the woods, â&#x20AC;&#x153;intent on never letting [a stranded mother and daughter] leave.â&#x20AC;?  Actually, this monster is just a dick.

A MONSTER CALLS 12/23  Tree monster possesses a child and vandalizes his grandmotherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s living room.  But also befriends the kid during his motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s illness and helps him confront a bully!

MONSTER TRUCKS 1/13  Dirt monster skulks around a high school picking up teenage boys.  But also helps a boy build monster trucks while his father is away at sea!

1999â&#x20AC;&#x201C;2010 Plays cops in The Corruptor, The Departed, We Own the Night, Max Payne, The Other Guys

2011 Opens restaurant that sells hamburgers to America. (Evah heard of it?)

2012 Vows in hindsight that he would have helped stop the hijacking of American Airlines Flight 11 on 9/11

2013 In Broken City, plays... an ex-cop

2014 Requests a pardon for a felony conviction (for beating two Vietnamese men in 1988), noting that his record precludes him from working with law enforcement

2017 Plays a cop in Peter Bergâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Boston Marathonâ&#x20AC;&#x201C; bombing film, Patriots Day (1/13)

America may have cheated itself out of Hillary Clinton, but at least the unbelievably overqualified female bureaucrat lives on on-screen





Teenage Mutant Transformers: Ninja Turtles: Out Dark of the Moon of the Shadows Director of national Chief of police, intelligence N.Y.P.D.



Suicide Squad Director of the Advanced Research Group Uniting Super-humans

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage (1/20) Director of nationalsecurity agency

The GQ Survey Keegan-Michael Key The comedian and Why Him? star answers our monthly questionnaire What fictional doctor do you most identify with?


What is your recurring nightmare?

Wes Anderson or Paul Thomas Anderson?

What pop song best embodies the spirit of America? What is your New Yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s resolution?





Key : A



â&#x20AC;˘ NBCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Dateline is a homespun affair, watched on Fridays at 9 p.m. by homebodies as it has been since 1992. The trend today is to take one story and dive deep into the nuance, examining every particular until the very nature of truth is distorted. (See: Making a Murderer, American Crime Story. ) Dateline, hosted by Lester Holt (above), does the opposite, condensing a murderâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s subtleties into an hour (including commercials!), presenting familiar motives (adultery, greed) against strip-mall-laden towns outside secondary markets. The crimes and their perpetrators lack finesseâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;one murderer Googled â&#x20AC;&#x153;gunshot wound to the right chest,â&#x20AC;? killed his wife, and shot himself on the right side of his chest to deflect suspicionâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;but thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s part of the showâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s menacing charm. Criminals (and their downfalls) feel familiarly hapless, the sweet-sinister mix that the Coen brothers expertly traffic in; you can almost imagine your mom callling to ask whether the Internet can n tell her how to obscure time off d death. Datelineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s creepy appeal is tthe warning that danger, like the obj bjects that appear in your carâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sid de-view mirror, may be closer than â&#x20AC;&#x201D;MAX BERLINGER it appears. a

P H O T O G R A P H S , C L O C K W I S E F R O M L E F T : C O U R T E S Y O F R O B E R T Z U C K E R M A N / PA R A M O U N T P I C T U R E S ; C O U R T E S Y O F J E S S I C A M I G L I O / PA R A M O U N T P I C T U R E S ; C O U R T E S Y O F C L AY E N O S / PA R A M O U N T P I C T U R E S ; C O U R T E S Y O F G E O R G E K R AY C H Y K / PA R A M O U N T P I C T U R E S ( 2 ) ; C O U R T E S Y O F N B C N E W S ; M AT T H E W E I S M A N / G E T T Y I M A G E S . M O N S T E R S : M U T I ( 3 ) . WA H L B E R G : K A G A N M C L E O D .



Start S ttart ar t a att the the top top tto o llearn earn about about bout the the things things you you wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t won b e able be abl a bl e tto b oe escape s c a p e this tthi his Ja January anuary. n u a r y. Read Read e a d lower l owe r to to d iiscover discover s c ove r the t h e we th we iird weird rd stuff s stt u uff ff ff you y o u can c canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t a n â&#x20AC;&#x2122; t afford a ff f fo rd to to m miss iss



> No Joke

We’re in Trump’s America Now

• Samantha Bee, bridging inter-partisan and inter-species divides.



This election was so contentious, so toxic, that it scrambled the norms of human behavior—on both sides. Even the things we thought we all agreed on—Hamilton, taco trucks—turned into red state–blue state battlefronts. But now weeks have passed, the wounds aren’t so raw, and President Trump is about to be inaugurated. So, it’s time to suck it up and learn how to get along with one another again. And if that sounds impossible, don’t worry, because we have help from some of the finest minds in America: comedians





A mostly funny, occasionally cathartic, somewhat helpful guide to keeping this country from going to the dogs

The New Rules of

Engaging with Women (Hint: They’re the Same as the Old Ones) BY SAMANTHA BEE

1. First things first. Why are you having trouble interacting with women? What’s so hard about us? Where have you gotten all your information about women in the past? And I swear to Jesus, don’t say, “This magazine.” I think you may have read somewhere that we are all very complicated and mysterious and require extra handling, like precious Fabergé eggs. The secret is: All we really want is to be treated with the respect that should be accorded all equal people. John Mayer explains all of this in “Daughters.” Maybe check in with him?

2. We love you, I promise. Sometimes people approach me and they want to talk about how “feminists” are ruining everything. It’s a fun conversation that makes me want to hop on an ice floe and send myself out to sea forever. I say from the bottom of my heart, from one woman to the tens of thousands of men reading this magazine they stole from their dentists’ o∞ces— we love you, I swear. We just want the same advantages for our sisters and daughters. (That includes the presidency.)

There was an article on the subject of “How do I approach a girl with her headphones on and force her to talk to me? How do I approach a girl who’s doing absolutely nothing and not seeking my attention at all, in any way, and force her to take her earphones off so that she’ll interact with me?” It’s not personal that she doesn’t want to talk to you—she doesn’t want to talk to anybody. Do not approach this as a challenge to warm her heart. And if, after she has reluctantly taken o≠ her headphones and engaged with you, despite all evidence that she was not interested in doing so, you then tell her to smile? Oops! Her blood just turned to ice.

5. We know we look great, but we don’t necessarily need to hear it from you. You have to take the temperature of your relationship. If I’ve dressed up for an event, people I work with will say, “Oh, your dress looks great on you” or “That’s a nice departure from the hideous one-piece pantsuit you were

wearing earlier.” But I doubt that anyone would come up to me at work and say, “My God, your tits look amazing in that T-shirt,” be they male or female. If someone said “teats,” that would be entirely fine, though. Comedy shows are complicated. Also, I have teats.

6. You should not just be randomly hugging women after casual meetings. Don’t automatically do that. Unless you have a concrete reason to believe that we want to press ourselves against you and form a Milano cookie with our bodies, maybe let’s don’t. One cool trick is: You could just ask if it’s a welcome gesture. Also, if our hand is outstretched in handshake formation, that’s all the information you need to know.

7. What are you doing on that panel? If you are invited to be on a panel discussing gender equality in your industry, and you find that there are no women on said panel, be that man who says, “Um, guys?”

3. That said…

4. If you see a stop sign, just, you know, stop. If you go and pick up a turtle that has its head and arms stuck inside its shell, it’s not going to hug you. It’s not gonna go on a date with you.





Kathy Griffin Is the Pickup Artist Even after you’ve gotten the go-ahead, there are still many ways you can go wrong when approaching a woman. Kathy Griffin helpfully gave GQ some pickup lines for men to avoid (even if they’re leading the free world)

• You’ve got a real runner-up quality. • I would rate you somewhere between Gwyneth Paltrow and Diane Sawyer, and I’d gladly nail either one of them.

• I’d like to deport my bedroom. • You’re almost as sexy as my daughter.

• You get any closer, and I’m going to build a wall in my pants. • Were those made in China?

KATHY GRIFFIN is a comedian and the author of Kathy Griffin’s Celebrity Run-ins.


“I’m a feminist” isn’t a pickup line. I mean—go for it—be a passionate feminist and all that, but think of it as more of a “way of life” than an 11th-hour pantydropper. Please don’t say those words as part of your hookup vocabulary. It literally makes our vaginas cringe. (BTW, did I just coin the term “11th-hour panty-dropper”? If so, #proud.)



• Hillary’s election-party disco ball, finding new life as a glittery Trump Boulder™, being pushed up the seemingly endless mountain of inequality!

Then go find a woman to also be on that panel. While we’re at it, if the panel is about diversity and you find yourself on a panel of all white people... need I say more?

8. Don’t interrupt. How many situations are there where you’re trying to top other people and wind up drowning them out? So be open to di≠erent ways of hearing things. Like, ideas don’t have to come at you audibly. They can be written down. Not to make this all about Madeleine Albright, but she was telling me about the first time she represented the United States somewhere, and she was like, “I think for the first day, I won’t speak.

I’ll just listen and hear what everybody else has to say.” But then she realized that she had a little placard on her that said united states, and if she didn’t speak that day, the perspective of the United States would not be heard on that day, and so she forced herself to talk. But for you: If you don’t close your mouth and listen at some point, you could be bulldozing Madeleine Albright.

10. Hire wisely.

9. Seriously, sometimes you need to shut the f#©% up.

11. Address the big pussy in the room.

Really, please don’t do that. See Pro Tip No. 8. It makes your workplace Madeleine Albright want to punch you in your workplace dick.

If you are in the position to hire people, don’t just hire a carbon copy of yourself. You might just find other types of people are really smart, too! (Or maybe the lone female in your o∞ce would like a friend.) Oh, and when you hire a woman and she rocks, pay her what you’d pay a man. I can’t believe I needed to say that. I never want to need to say that again.

If someone gets on your entertainment bus and brags about using women as human bowling balls, don’t be the person who eggs that guy on. I know it sucks.

But we really, really appreciate it when you shut down shitty conversations about us when we’re not there. Bonus: Ten years later, you won’t have to beg for a spot on Dancing with the Stars to repair your public image!

12. If all else fails… For those people who still find that they have something negative to say about a gender as a whole, I always advise them to release that tension by screaming it into a dirty sweat sock. Alternately, they can go deep into the forest and pound their head on a rock until they’re all sorted out. SAMANTHA BEE is the host of ‘Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.’


Deal with Trump-Loving Co-workers

Serenity Prayer


During this batshit election, CNN commentator Van Jones was an oasis of reason. The sanest man on TV explains the Zen of Jones

Use Sports When Joe expresses joy that Trump is backing out of the Paris Agreement, calmly let him know this will destroy the environment and plunge the world into chaos. Then pivot to how Jay Cutler killed your fantasy team and resume working without calling each other fascists or morons.

Try Talking Movies Same idea as the first one, but when Joe gloats about Trump blowing up the Iran deal, tell him that could permanently destabilize the Middle East. Then ask if he’s seen Will Ferrell’s new movie, laugh, and go back to your desks without calling each other assholes.

Whenever there’s a new medium, a master of that medium can take power. FDR understood radio. JFK understood television. Obama understood the Internet. We are now in the age of social media and reality television, and Donald Trump understood that being the villain on reality TV makes you the star. Nobody else did. And when was the last time a big celebrity ran for o∞ce and lost? Reagan, Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Bono…

had on your own. Like, Newt Gingrich is my 90 percent enemy on everything imaginable, but he’s my 10 percent friend on criminal justice and poverty and violence reduction and opioids. And even though Je≠rey Lord and I just really don’t agree, there’s respect there. I love Je≠rey Lord. If somebody came up to Je≠rey Lord and tried to start some stu≠ with Je≠rey Lord, they’d have to come through me twice. Because they’d knock me down, and I’d get back up. I wouldn’t get up three times for Je≠rey, but I’d get up twice.

Be the voice of reason, even when it’s hard. I am a dad of two boys, both of whom

Pundit like Trump’s not watching. (Even though he is.) The best thing I can

were apparently trained by Al Qaeda—they’re the most destructive forces in the universe. And I spend a lot of time talking to them exactly like [I do to Trump surrogates]. Like, “I know that you’re mad at your brother, but putting his iPhone in the toilet is not the kind of response that we expect from you.” But I can’t sit on TV thinking, “Are [Republicans] going to think I’m lecturing them?” All I can do is be my authentic self.

do for the country and the best thing I can do for Donald Trump and the best thing I can do for myself is to just stay human. And if you just stay human, it’s always messy. You can think, “I wish those poor inner-city kids could have a good life,” but you’re also scared as hell of ’em. And so my job is not to calculate or to think, “Oh, my God, Hillary Clinton may not give me a job if I say this,” or “Oh, my God, Donald Trump may put me on his ‘Negroes I Hate’ list.” Stay human, speak authentically, listen empathetically, and trust that that’s medicine. That if enough people start doing that, the fever breaks. If enough people start doing that, things start to mend.

Accept that Trump won for a reason.

Learn from your fights. In a democracy, the whole point is that you disagree— with constructive disagreement, you may come up with a better answer than you

Reach for the Bottle If Joe doesn’t like sports or Will Ferrell, when he explains it’s good they’re tearing up the ACA, tell him millions of children will lose health care and only Immortan Joe from Mad Max would be evil enough to do that. Then open your desk drawer and pull out a bottle of alcohol. Take a swig and let yourself go numb before quietly pretending to work. (You’re not going to be able to drive home from the office anymore.)

IKE BARINHOLTZ is a producer and star of The Mindy Project and will co-star opposite Amy Schumer in Mother/Daughter.





How to Train Your Trump Donald Trump may be a political anomaly, but cinephiles have seen his kind before. Below, some lessons in handling guys who are just a lot, courtesy of Trump’s big-screen forefathers

Ron Burgundy


Patrick Bateman


The Princess Bride

American Psycho

Trumpian Tendencies Bitter feuds, wide neckties, trouble with teleprompters Management technique Bait him into disgracing himself, then exploit his strengths for your own benefit.

Trumpian Tendencies Convoluted schemes, memorable catchphrases, friendships with pro wrestlers Management technique Don’t intervene when he drinks his own poison.

Trumpian Tendencies Obsession with material goods, presence in 1980s Manhattan social scene Management technique Stay out of his way—this guy is a fucking lunatic.

T H I S PA G E , P H O T O G R A P H S , C L O C K W I S E F R O M T O P L E F T : D AV I D L I V I N G S T O N / G E T T Y I M A G E S ; L I O N S G AT E / E V E R E T T C O L L E C T I O N ; 2 0 T H C E N T U R Y F O X F I L M C O R P. / E V E R E T T C O L L E C T I O N ; R I C K F R I E D M A N / C O R B I S V I A G E T T Y I M A G E S . O P P O S I T E PA G E , P H OTO G R A P H : M I K E C O P P O L A / G E T T Y I M A G E S F O R T H E N AT U R A L R E S O U R C E S D E F E N S E C O U N C I L . I L L U S T R AT I O N S T H R O U G H O U T : Z O H A R L A Z A R .

And Now, a Brief Pause for a Cable-News



10 Words and Phrases Let’s All Agree to Never Use Again

A Message of Hope (-ish) for 2020



Since our president has set the precedent that we vote for our leaders the way we vote for high school class presidents, let’s double down on popularity and emotion: I nominate Dwayne Johnson. I know Dwayne will be alive to read this in 2020 because he runs on nothing but chicken breast and sheer ambition. You’re a charming man with a jawline that can cut bread; therefore, you’re the guy who can defeat Emperor Trump. (He goes by “Emperor” now.) Now, here’s my advice: You’re going to have to become The Rock to defeat The Donald.

1. If anyone asks you what your experience is, tell them you’ve been in four Fast and Furious movies. You know how to commit to stuff.

2. When campaigning in the heartland, repeatedly flex your pecs to “God Bless America.” That’ll show ISIS and the alt-right (see left) what a patriot you are.



3. Trump will go for low blows, so have rebuttals ready. If he talks about the size of your hands, tell him he can measure your Johnson any day of the week. (You’re welcome.)

Good luck, Dwayne. The world is counting on you.



HASAN MINHAJ is a senior correspondent on The Daily Show.


Cuck 4

Alt-right* 5

E-mail server** 6

Calexit 7

Alternatively… “Fuck that, bruh! I will die for the art!… Y’all might be thinking right now, ‘Did he smoke something before he came out here?’ The answer is yes…and yes, as you could probably have guessed by this moment, I have decided in 2020 to run for president.”— K A N Y E W E S T

Orange (Adjective)


Cheeto (Adjective)


Microwaved whoopee cushion covered in Kraft mac-andcheese powder (Adjective)


Benghazi *The preferred term is “neo-Nazi.” **If you can describe exactly what an e-mail server is, you may still say this—but no one can.

And If That Fails... Dear Sentient Extraterrestrial Life, I know you’ve been watching us from your giant superstructure telescopes out in the Brykzorp Nebulae. And so I am calling to you now: HELP. Help us. You are our only hope. We need you to fly here in your lightships and save our planet with your galactic nobility and your mastery of quantum physics and your clean-burning POWER CRYSTALS. Perform all the anal probes you want. I don’t even mind if you enslave us, really. Round us up and send us into the Great Xathyan mines of the Plunggggg System, and we’ll be forever grateful to you for rescuing us from this doomed rock. Please, aliens. We need a miracle.


Drew Magary, GQ correspondent


P H O T O I L L U S T R A T I O N S T H R O U G H O U T : C H E L S I E C R A I G . T H I S P A G E : P H O T O G R A P H : H . A R M S T R O N G R O B E R T S /A L A M Y.

> Your Boss Is Gonna Love Your New Drug Habit M A Y B E T H E W E I R D E S T T H I N G about dropping acid at work, as I did one day just after breakfast, is the faith required. The small brown vial came to me via a chain of custody that shall not be discussed and with the assurance that the clear liquid therein was, according to some guy who told the guy who gave it to me, a precise dilution of LSD. If the stories I’d heard were true, taking a tiny bit of it, a micro-dose, had the potential to make my workday more productive than ever. At least that’s the pitch as delivered from a growing horde now using acid to boost creativity and cognitive function. I squeezed the dropper gently, putting a clear drop into a mug of water on my desk, and drank it all in a single gulp. Then I began to worry that I was about to trip balls.

The idea that illicit drugs may enhance my output at work is but one of the many tricks, counter-intuitive therapies, dietary modifications, and behavioral tweaks that have lately been seized upon by self-styled biohackers, human tinkerers eager to sharpen focus and attention, boost productivity, and improve wellness and longevity. These young, overwhelmingly male technologists are dabbling in, say, holotropic breathing or cryotherapy; they try fasting for days at a time; and increasingly they pop supplements that target brain chemistry— so-called nootropics, a category that includes everything from the o≠-label use of prescription drugs like the biohacker favorite modafinil to pills they make themselves by stu∞ng powdered bulk chemicals bought from Chinese websites into capsule cartridges. At the heart of it all, biohacking is being driven by one of Silicon Valley’s prevailing sentiments: that anything can be optimized to run better, so why should the human body be any di≠erent? How exactly LSD fits into such a regimen for self-betterment was a topic of great

curiosity one night not long ago in a San Francisco loft. George Burke, one of the Bay Area’s most fervent biohackers, had convened a presentation on the topic, entitled “Performance Psychedelics.” Up onstage, the legendary psychedelic psychologist Dr. James Fadiman told the crowded room that the key to unleashing the benefits of the drug was all in the dosage. The doctor explained that taking a smaller amount than usual—something on the order of one-tenth of a typical “party dose”—would stimulate the mind in all kinds of positive ways. Just how or why is yet unknown. Fadiman admitted that the research is scant. But his own informal study, relying on volunteers dabbling with LSD and other hallucinogens like psilocybin, shows that users feel less anxious, more at ease in social situations, more creative, and less prone to severe migraines. Such usage—which Fadiman recommends only once every three days— also seems to help reduce cravings for things like cigarettes and Adderall, the ADHD pill commonly abused by people hoping to work harder and longer.


What started as a body-tinkering, mindhacking, supplementtaking productivity craze in Silicon Valley is now spreading to more respectable workplaces, maybe even to your office, where the guy down the hall might already be popping a new breed of brain-boosting pills or micro-dosing LSD—all in the name of self-improvement. Can you afford not to keep up? ✒JOSH DEAN

Burke, the guy who organized the talk, told me that micro-dosing had made his thinking clearer, allowing him to make “better connections between his thoughts and words.” The di≠erence was manifest in the way he wrote. With a micro-dose of LSD, he felt abnormally productive, quick, and clever in e-mails. “There’s something going on here that doesn’t fit medical models,” Molly Maloof, a Bay Area physician who joined Fadiman onstage, told the crowd. “Our best guess is that it creates hyper-metabolism in the cerebral cortex,” as well as more “information flow” throughout the brain. “In other words,” Fadiman added, “we don’t have the faintest idea.” Everyone laughed. At an afterparty, I met Eric Matzner, a young entrepreneur who’s determined to get more out of his brain. But Matzner is more than a hobbyist in human perfection. He’s also an entrepreneur at the vanguard of a commercial boom in biohacking products. His company, Nootroo, sells a pair of proprietary pills that Matzner created after an extensive study of the existing literature— and no small bit of self-experimentation. (The potions contain, among other things, piracetam, which is thought to slow the onset of dementia.) He started the company, he told me, so that he could help those who might be curious but don’t have the time to study up or the know-how to get their hands on experimental compounds from, say, Russia. He himself takes up to 60 di≠erent supplements a day. “But I like to tell journalists it’s 30,” he said. “It makes me sound less crazy.” I T ’ S W O R T H N O T I N G H E R E that I don’t

find any of these people nuts. I’m sympathetic to their cause. I, too, struggle with focus and JANUARY








Bulletproof Co≠ee—his own blend of co≠ee, butter, and concentrated coconut oil that helps enable fasting and adherence to a low-sugar, low-carb ketogenic diet, which he follows and which multitudes of biohackers swear helps improve health and stimulate cognitive function. Asprey was also an early and very enthusiastic user of nootropics. He’s been using the web to hunt them down for so long that he remembers relying on Alta Vista, because Google hadn’t been invented. “I’ve ordered every smart drug that you could buy,” he told me, explaining that modafinil got him through business school at Penn, whereas a drug prescribed to people with Parkinson’s that might improve focus “made me depressed.” The drug he’s stuck with the longest is aniracetam, which seems to influence cognitive function without sedative or stimulant e≠ects. “It increases your memory I/O—your ability to get things in and out of your memory,” Asprey said, explaining brain function in the “input/output” parlance of a technologist. He’s also a fan of what he calls “nature’s two original smart drugs,” ca≠eine and nicotine. He’ll ingest the latter through the low-dose lozenges smokers use to break their habit, though other biohackers cut up transdermal patches and wear the smaller pieces like Band-Aids. Is the moment finally right for turning biohacking into big business? Maybe the most talked-about newcomer in the race to monetize the movement—and grab a piece of the roughly $21 billion spent annually on supplements in America—is Nootrobox, a start-up founded by Geo≠ Woo and Michael Brandt. The two Stanford grads began tinkering with supplements in college but quickly realized just how cumbersome and challenging the lifestyle could be for those who wanted to pursue it. Sure, some portion of the movement’s appeal may actually

derive from its di∞culty: There’s a certain type of person who enjoys the thrill of sourcing obscure chemicals from Chinese websites and creating his own pills. But Brandt and Woo are betting that there’s an even bigger market for people who want to enjoy the benefits of biohacking without having to plumb the web for obscure tips. “This could be mainstream,” Woo said the two decided. “It should be mainstream.” That’s what they’re trying to achieve. Having earned early-stage funding from the powerhouse venture firm Andreessen Horowitz—itself a legitimizing vote of confidence—they’re marketing a series of simple products that purport to boost clarity, focus, and energy. But it’s their Go Cubes that have generated the most hype, beginning in 2016, when they were a sensation at South by Southwest. They’re small gummies that contain L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, with a half cup of co≠ee’s worth of ca≠eine in every cube. Their products sound rudimentary for now and are a far cry from taking LSD in your cubicle. But that’s the point, Woo and Brandt say—all the better to make the notion of cognitive enhancement approachable. “You don’t have to seem like a freak biohacker,” Brandt said. Think about SXSW: “If we’d been running around handing out little pills, people would have been like, ‘What the fuck?’ ” Instead, everyone was fiending for Go Cubes—and making the case that chewable co≠ee is a kind of gateway drug to a future full of exotic brain pills. “In five years,” Woo told me, “nootropics will just be a part of everyone’s diet.” I W O U L D L I K E T O tell you that after I nervously downed that mug of acid-laced water, I wrote some of the best and most creative prose of my life. But I’m afraid that’s not true. The biggest di≠erence I noticed was a

P I L L : A R T PA R T N E R - I M AG E S /G E T T Y I M AG E S . P L A N E T S : A L B E R T K L E I N /G E T T Y I M AG E S ( 4 ) ; W O R L D P E R S P E C T I V E S / G E T T Y I M A G E S ; C H R I S C L O R / G E T T Y I M A G E S . P H O T O I L L U S T R A T I O N F O R E D I T O R I A L P U R P O S E S O N LY.

would like to find a way to work harder—and, when necessary, longer—at a high level. I’m a voracious consumer of co≠ee and have been relying on modafinil for years to get me through jet lag, not to mention the benefits it provides after a sleepless night thanks to my 2-year-old. I would take basically anything that made me feel better or sharper, provided the side e≠ects were minimal. Of course, biohacking’s true obsessives are far less casual. They study their bodies compulsively and trade performance secrets in the deep recesses of Reddit and other web hangouts where homage is paid to the high priests of the movement—to people like Dave Asprey, the self-proclaimed inventor of the term “biohacking,” who started his own experimental pursuit for perfection when he was fat and miserable. Asprey got rich as a young tech mogul in the late 1990s, but he got chronic sinus infections, a terrible skin condition, and an unshakable sense of fatigue. “All the doctors told me I was fine,” he explained. “But I’m a disruptive tech guy, and I was struggling to string sentences together. I realized I was going to have to fire my doctors.” As a programmer, Asprey was accustomed to hacking his way around trouble, so he decided to solve the problem of his life. He bought his first EEG in 1997 and acquired one of the first commercially available lighttherapy machines to, as he says quite seriously, “shine light into my skull and activate the mitochondria.” He studied biology and neurology at his desk every night until he fell asleep. The devotion changed his life, and in the years since, he’s become one of biohacking’s greatest hype men, spreading the gospel through a massive podcast, a best-selling how-to book, and an annual conference that increases in size every year. The centerpiece of the ever growing empire of biohacker products he sells is


significant increase in lucid dreams, and not only on the days when I micro-dosed. I rarely remember dreams, but in the month when I was experimenting with my own brain chemistry, I woke up nearly every day recalling them. In two cases, I remembered dreams in which I was working my way through problems with stories I was writing. When I actually got down to work, however, the results weren’t as obvious. I required less co≠ee and felt more alert, but that could have been a placebo e≠ect. When you’re experimenting with a psychedelic, it’s impossible not to constantly wonder. In fact, a common problem for new experimenters, according to Fadiman, is that people are used to feeling the e≠ects of drugs, and a micro-dose of LSD can sometimes be less perceptible than a cup of co≠ee. As a result, people increase their dosage until they can feel something—and then they’re actually tripping. One guy wrote Fadiman to say that 10 micrograms did nothing, so he tried 25. Then, he reported, “I realized at the sales meeting that I never cared about the stupid product we were selling, so I went home.” The trouble, of course, is that the point of a smart drug is to improve cognition, but that’s a largely immeasurable concept. “When I first went on smart drugs, I was like, ‘Ah, they don’t work!’ ” Dave Asprey told me when I asked about his early experimentation. So Asprey stopped taking them, and he noticed he wasn’t as sharp as he had been. What he realized was that he needed to change his expectations—that when the drugs are working, the e≠ect isn’t massive; rather, it’s “so natural that you feel more like yourself.”


When I told Eric Matzner, the Nootroo like Adderall, Ritalin, and Klonopin. “GHB is founder, that so many of these things seem really big with a lot of tech executives who subjective, he disagreed. He replied with a don’t sleep well at night. It’s easy to think long argument via e-mail that included six they aren’t sleeping because they’re taking di≠erent research papers. One study showed uppers all day. And for what? To work more.” measurable increases in memory from the use of piracetam; another showed significant “The Bay Area has a drug problem,” alpha-wave changes caused by the doctor said, referring to things a single dose of L-theanine, as like Adderall, Ritalin, and Klonopin. registered by an EEG headset. “That said, I do believe there are objective e≠ects that are hard to measure that are beneficial,” he said—how Increasingly these days, Maloof finds herself recommending a wellness regimen quickly and e≠ectively a person reacts during an emergency, for example, or comes up with that is decidedly non-cutting-edge. There’s ideas during a brainstorming session. nothing about it that lurks deep in Reddit Because co≠ee is the performance enhancer or gets traded in hushed whispers throughwe all know best, there’s an inherent bias out Silicon Valley. It’s not that cool. And it’s toward its e≠ects—what Matzner calls “feelsomething you’ve probably heard a million ing jacked up.” But the point of these lesser times before: Sleep well, get exercise, eat known substances is that they have a di≠erhealthy, do some meditation or yoga. “Most ent mechanism. “The way a lot of people people are not doing all the basic stu≠, and describe it is that at the end of their day, they they’re taking pills to try to get there,” she realize how much more work they got done said. “Everyone wants a shortcut.” and how much longer they were able to stay Including me. I understand Maloof ’s point, and I think she’s right. But like most in the zone,” Matzner explained. I called Molly Maloof, the physician who people, I sleep too little—and often lack the spoke with Fadiman at the micro-dosing time for work and the more holistic things event, to see what she thought of all of this. that help me feel sharper. I don’t know that Many of her patients, she said, were avid it’s a shortcut I’m after as much as an occabiohackers. These are rich and powerful sional boost. On rough days, I’ll still pop a tech-business barons, and they’re all on a modafinil. And the LSD? I actually kept up quest to work harder, faster, longer. They the micro-dosing, using it at least once a will seemingly try anything to push perweek, until my vial ran out. I’m in no rush, formance, even things that we know to be but I plan to get some more. risky. “I think that the Bay Area has a drug problem,” she said, referring mostly to things josh dean is a writer living in Brooklyn.

How to Live Forever or Freeze Trying: New tricks and wild bets from the frontiers of human improvement

Light Therapy Biohackers are harnessing LED lights that can project in different spectrums. Red light is thought to stimulate skin-collagen growth and relieve pain and allergy symptoms. Blue light helps wake you up. Remember blue blockers? People are now wearing those indoors to combat the blue light from screens.

Electrical Brain Stimulation This therapy relies on a low current of electricity delivered to specific areas of the brain via electrodes. Biohackers argue it boosts cognitive performance. Military scientists think it could become an alternative to prescription drugs like Adderall and modafinil, which are currently used to aid alertness.

EEG-Based Neurofeedback By using a device that measures brain waves, biohackers see how their minds are stimulated and then, they claim, learn to retrain them for greater efficiency. Dave Asprey, who wore a headband EEG gadget, says it boosted IQ and was one of the most effective cognitive enhancements he’s ever tried.

Cryotherapy A neck-down deep freeze, a.k.a. the longest two to four minutes of your life, sprayed with nitrogen-iced air. We’re talking –200 and below. Said to reduce inflammation, stimulate weight loss, and improve sleep. The bargain version is a very cold morning shower or a quick dip into frigid water every day.

Parabiosis Human trials are in their earliest stages, but the theory being tested on mice involves transfusing the blood of younger organisms into older ones to slow aging. Venture capitalist Peter Thiel, who wants to live forever, has reportedly expressed interest in furthering research into the therapy’s “rejuvenating effect.”

> I Surrendered My Wardrobe 30





of recovery and redemption, mine begins with a moment of clarity. I had been set up on a date. She was smart, with cute freckles, but it was clear from the first margarita that we had little in common. She lived uptown and went for guys who worked at Goldman; I had tattoos and wrote for GQ. Still, enough tequila can persuade two horny people to put aside their di≠erences for a night.



In the morning, I awoke to find her standing over the bed, putting on her clothes in what appeared to be a race against time. “What’s up?” I rolled over and asked, not entirely shocked she was running for the hills but disappointed we wouldn’t at least have a morning canoodle. She fastened the hook on her bra, threw a blouse over her body, and kissed me on the forehead. I think there was pity in her voice when she told me she was leaving. “By the way,” she said, “how do you have more clothes than any girl I know—and no TV?” After the door slammed behind her, I looked around my studio apartment in the unforgiving morning light—at the hulking dresser stacked with folded dress shirts still in the plastic they came in; at the coat rack sagging under the weight of parkas, windbreakers, jean jackets, raincoats, and overcoats; at the ziggurat of boots, sneakers, and brogues stacked knee-high on the floor. Then there was my double-wide closet—stu≠ed with an auxiliary cache of shoes, plus more suits and sport coats than a Hollywood leading man could wear in a lifetime. Uptown Girl was right: I had a problem. But she couldn’t have known how deep it went, couldn’t have known what clothes had come to mean to me—or what, on every level, they were hiding.


I H A V E N O F A M I L Y history of sartorial

excess. I grew up in Maine, where “style” means Elmer Fudd hats with earflaps. My mother still dresses like she would have at Woodstock—flowing tunics and flared jeans. Dad? He kept to a strict uniform—L.L.Bean khakis, a blue blazer, and sockless Sperrys. My stepmother, like a Tenenbaum, never left her tennis warm-ups. In school, I simply chose from what I saw at the mall: Gap, Structure, and Abercrombie. And then on the morning of September 11, 2005, a few years after I’d left the nest, my recently divorced father walked onto the Piscataqua River Bridge and jumped. I didn’t consciously grieve his suicide through

After realizing that I’d become a clothes-hoarding fashion victim, I threw out everything and started over. This is the true story of how I became a menswear minimalist (and how you can, too) ✒ SEAN HOTCHKISS

fashion. But a death so sudden leaves a hole. And holes like that take so long to fill that you don’t always realize what you’re stu∞ng in there to fill the void. You’re not self-aware enough to even comprehend what you’re doing to soothe yourself. To distract yourself. To make you feel good about yourself. To project okay-ness to the world when what you feel is anything but okay. Shortly after the memorial service, I moved in with a girlfriend. Before landing in New York, we lived for a while in her parents’ house in Greenwich, Connecticut. Her father was a prominent executive, poised and dashing. I’d sometimes find myself wandering through the closets in their home, admiring his collection of custom wool suits, trousers tailored to brush the tops of his polished Berluti shoes, his dress shirts sewn with a simple monogram: ptg. I had my Daisy Buchanan moment, sobbing among the shirts in that house. How could they all be so beautiful? One sunny morning, the day after Thanksgiving, he drove me from Greenwich into Manhattan until we alighted on Paul Stuart, the Waspy enclave on Madison Avenue. This was to be the day he bought me some proper clothes. In the mahogany dressing room, when a tailor slipped a perfectly cut jacket onto my shoulders and I stepped up to the mirror, the confusion of the past few months melted away. I didn’t have a father, but I had a father figure. And I had a suit of armor made from the purest cashmere. Clothes soon became my fixation. I spent hours on Scott Schuman’s newly launched street-style blog, The Sartorialist, studying lo-res images of peacocking men in Milan. I wanted to be one of them—or all of them. I took a corporate real estate job that I despised, but that enabled my habit, a≠ording me entire paychecks’ worth of suits, ties, and shoes, allowing me to masquerade as a Master of the Universe. In 2007, I spent no less than $25,000 at Paul Stuart. Every salesperson knew me by name. In time the hangovers from these sprees began to hurt; the shame leaked in. I began hiding my purchases, leaving them in my car, running garment bags into our apartment under cover of darkness or while my girlfriend walked the dog. When she’d catch me, I’d feel foolish. “Didn’t you just buy a new suit?” she’d ask. I had. One with lavender pinstripes. When had I become Oscar Wilde?

I needed help. I quit the corporate job, the girlfriend quit me, and I left New York for a while. But I still had all those clothes and a strong sense of denial. And it would get worse. In 2011, I landed any menswear junkie’s dream gig here at GQ, covering the style beat for our then fledgling website. A real-life menswear blogger. I could talk pick stitches and raw hems and cutaway collars, reference looks from the Dior Homme runway, name-check the best places to score vintage in Tokyo. For me, clothes were a drug, and I was getting high on my own supply. If Marie Kondo had seen my monthly haul of size mediums, she’d have stroked out. Not to mention the reissued sunglasses. Rare selvage sneakers. Watches. White jeans, blue jeans, brown jeans, black jeans. And then I had that date. I spent the morning in bed awed by my revelation: Clothes had become totems of my pain, and it took a meaningless hookup for me to see that they were su≠ocating me. I quickly realized that any solution would require drastic measures. So I undertook a project I referred to as The Purge, a complete fashion transfusion—everything must go—designed to rebuild my wardrobe, and by extension myself, from scratch. Preparing for The Purge required genuine soul-searching. I had to admit that I wasn’t Steve McQueen, Lou Reed, Miles Davis, or any of the other menswear heroes I blogged about. I’d never be PTG or the Milanese men in their tortoiseshell specs and peak lapels. I was me. Still wounded, but healing. Still interested in style, but growing out of the need to flaunt. If I was honest with myself, I didn’t even want these clothes anymore. What I really wanted to wear, 99 out of 100 days, was jeans, T-shirts, and sneakers. On the 100th, I’d wear a suit. Usually to a wedding. I owned, at the time, maybe 40 suits. Red flag! Another example: New York weather dictated that I wear a jacket roughly six months a year. Which meant I needed maybe two or three in varying styles, right? I owned at least 60. And yet, by comparison, I had hardly any jeans. I’d been doing it all backward. T H E D A N D Y S U I T S went first—pastel scars

from my former life. I never knew it could feel so good to give something away. I bequeathed half of them to an old roommate who happened to be my size and dumped the other


• The Slim Aarons photo that helped inspire The Purge. I now have fewer clothes than this guy.

half in a Goodwill bin uptown. The empty space in my closet was a ray of sunshine. Another buddy, a similarly minded menswear-head, told me he’d sell anything I didn’t want for a cut of the profits. It seemed like a more than fair proposition, and I didn’t ask questions. By the following day, he’d worked up a digitized flyer. #menswear yard sale it read. He posted it online. I wasn’t sure whether to be flattered or mortified. But it worked: Three weeks later, after friends and Internet strangers had dropped by this dude’s apartment to pick through my pocket squares, tweed trousers, and silk knit ties, he sent me a check for just over $3,000. I suddenly had half as many clothes. And some cash to boot. 32




As time went by, I continued to unburden myself. I donated to the coat drive, gave flannels to my building’s superintendent to send home to Peru, sent sport coats to a friend’s cash-strapped art-student brother. Away went the $7,000 watch I’d been too concerned with scratching to wear. I found inspiration in Once Upon a Time, a book of Slim Aarons photographs that I’d excavated from my closet. Inside the book, amidst portraits of jet-set royals, tycoons, and socialites in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s, was a shot of Patrick O’Higgins, a snappy former captain in the Irish Guards, standing with his complete all-season wardrobe, the contents of which fit easily on a bed. This was visual confirmation that it could be done. Never

again would I own more clothes than I could easily pull out and pose with. My entire wardrobe would fit into an Instagram. Luckily, the options for purging men’s clothes these days are plentiful. At the high end, you can do old-school designer consignment through snooty shops like INA (with five locations in Manhattan), though they don’t even want to see you unless you’re packing Prada. You can also sell on eBay, of course. My seven-year-old Berluti Andy loafers went almost instantaneously to a gentleman in Arizona. Ditto some Guccis from my Greenwich days. I sold my hippest stu≠ on Grailed, a menswear marketplace stocked with Visvim indigo and Rick Owens leathers. My overcoat

T H I S PAG E : S L I M A A R O N S /G E T T Y I M AG E S . O P P O S I T E PAG E : CO U R T E SY O F S E A N H OTC H K I S S ( 2 ) .



by Our Legacy went for $400, my Ovadia & Sons bomber jacket for $350, my A.P.C. corduroy trucker for $120. But then the buyers dried up, and I knew why: Most of my clothes weren’t trendy enough anymore. Virgil Abloh hadn’t designed them. Nobody had camped overnight at Supreme for them. This is fashion’s dirty little secret. There’s always something newer and cooler to buy—and the closer you follow what’s new and cool, the more the itch becomes unscratchable. Toward the end, I fell back on Beacon’s Closet, a secondhand chain where you schlep your stu≠ up to the front counter and then snag about 35 percent of the (already low) price tag the store will place on your garments. The Beacon’s people feasted on my scraps. Halfway through one marathon sorting session, the young woman who’d started in on my gargantuan haul was

relieved by another employee. I had activated the Beacon’s bull pen. When the store turned down two massive pieces of perfectly patinaed Bric’s luggage, I gave up and left them on the curb. Which actually illustrates my biggest takeaway from this grueling process: It is much harder to get rid of shit, even nice shit, than it is to accumulate it in the first place. Tyler Durden was onto something when he said: The things you own end up owning you. I kept chipping away, though, and got down to a few jackets, sweaters, tees, jeans, and a tuxedo. Pretty soon I’d actually need to go shopping again. I F O U N D S O L A C E in simplicity. As I sold

those few remaining pieces and began replacing them, I decided I would wear only four colors: black, white, gray, and blue. From

How Much Is Your Wardrobe Really Worth? On top of being a soul-cleansing experience, selling all your clothes can be potentially lucrative. In the end, The Purge netted me nearly ten grand (with more than half of it coming from the watch). As far as the lifetime P&L goes, though, I’m still probably $40K in the red. And that doesn’t include all the therapy. — S . H . E V E RY T H I N G I S O L D


G R A I L E D I made $1,560 selling eight jackets (one leather jacket, three bomber jackets, one overcoat, three denim jackets). E B A Y $695 for two pairs of loafers and one pair of sneakers

cashmere sweater

M AT T H E W BA I N I N C . $5,900 for my

ten T-shirts

fancy Swiss watch FRIENDS AND AC Q UA I N TA N C E S $4,175 for one

tuxedo, seven sport coats, 15 suits, 16 shirts, 13 sweaters, 19 pairs of shoes, 20 ties, eight pocket squares, and two bags BEACON’S CLOSET $1,837.66 for the rest

(31 T-shirts, 19 sweaters, 21 trousers, eight pairs of jeans, six hoodies, 14 button-down shirts, 15 dress shirts, 18 pairs of shoes, 22 jackets, ten suits, four shorts, nine polo shirts, seven baseball caps, ten bags)

A . P . C . $420 for two pairs

of jeans COMMON PROJECTS $811 for two pairs of sneakers S A I N T L A U R E N T $990 for one J U N G M A V E N $380 for ACNE STUDIOS $350 for one

denim jacket P. J O H N S O N TA I LO R S $1,725 for

one suit R.M. WILLIAMS $495 for one pair of boots OUR LEGACY $599 for one parka U N I Q L O $30 for 15 pairs

of socks






now on, my clothes would feature no logos. No bullshit. Everything would be elemental. Streamlined. Stripped. Adopting a set of rules like this saved time and energy, and idiot-proofed packing. It also made my grotesque levels of accumulation almost impossible. If something didn’t work with the rest of my closet, it’d never slip past the front gates. Because I still loved fashion, and knew (to a fault) all the subtle distinctions of all the di≠erent labels, I thought carefully about the clothes that best represented my own true self. I decided I wanted two new pairs of plain jeans—black and blue. Two pairs of understated sneakers, some black boots, a cashmere crewneck sweater, a parka, a handful of white cotton tees, and a perfectly faded denim jacket. Plus one lone suit—black cotton, garment-washed—from the SoHo outpost of Aussie tailor Patrick Johnson. This assortment of 20 or so pieces could get me through eight months of the year. Since I’d have only a small pile of clothes, everything could be great quality. And I’d get to wear my favorite things all the time. No more standing in front of my closet guessing; I’d just get up, put something on, and go. There’d be no more costuming. No more pretending. Ostentatious clothes couldn’t protect me anymore, a fact that actually gave me strength. Maybe I didn’t need them to. All the editing became a full-on audit of my life. I felt lighter. And the lighter you feel, the more you realize how much something has been weighing you down. A few months into The Purge, I went to my barber and had him buzz o≠ my hair. I also tweaked my diet: I cut out crap like dairy and wheat, which had been making me sick for years. I fine-tuned my spirituality, dabbling in Buddhism (fewer attachments, naturally), and entered a psychodrama-therapy group to hash out the lingering unresolved issues from my past. It was in the psychodrama group that I got to face my father. Well, a chair where he was supposed to be sitting, anyway. I started o≠ by explaining to him how much his death had hurt me. How it had left me looking for answers in places they’d never turn up. How I’d hidden from the world behind stu≠ I didn’t need, and how I’d su≠ered for it. I told him he’d be proud of the person I’d become. That I didn’t feel like hiding anymore. That I wasn’t scared. Of course I said he’d been selfish, too. That he’d robbed us of time we could’ve spent together. He’d missed out. And then I yelled. I told him to fuck o≠. I told him I loved him. And when it was over, I felt an entirely foreign feeling: blissful, beautiful emptiness. A few months later, I signed the lease on a Brooklyn loft with exactly zero closets. sean hotchkiss is a freelance writer.







WARR IOR When his father was murdered, WA S I L A H M A D vowed revenge. He was barely old enough to hoist a rifle, but still he trained to fight the Taliban. Finally, when the insurgents returned, Wasil found his chance. What he did next made him a legend. And then, of course, it made him a target

JAN. 2017

by Joshua Hammer 34






They girded themselves for battle, which came that morning in the summer of 2012, as the Taliban swept down from the hills of the Uruzgan province and attacked the new checkpoint of the Afghan Local Police. Soon, the crack and pop of gunfire rattled through the valley of Nawa Sultan Mohammad, and the fighting spilled into the surrounding fields. The police, commanded by Wasil’s uncle Samad, fought the insurgents throughout the afternoon and into the evening, managing to kill ten Taliban fighters before the attackers were subdued. But three of their own had been gunned down, too—including Wasil’s father, Hamidullah. That night, as darkness enveloped the family’s three-story mud-brick compound, Wasil’s uncles shu±ed Hamidullah’s bloodied corpse inside. The boy drew close, his cheeks wet with tears. In the low light, he could see the blood that stained his father’s clothes. He was a child, yes, but he knew enough of his world to realize, without even asking, who had killed his father. And he knew what it meant for him. In the weeks that followed, Wasil’s anger hardened into a grim and brutal ambition— one that would launch him toward fame and then toward tragedy. “Teach me how to shoot,” Wasil said to his uncle Samad when he had resolved himself to retribution. “I want to kill my father’s killer.”


T FIRST, Wasil’s family man-

aged to steer the boy away from his quest for revenge. “We convinced him to keep going to school,” Merwais Ahmad, one of Wasil’s other uncles, told me. But as he grew, Wasil refused to forget. Like very few things in Afghanistan, the boy’s hatred for the Taliban was simple. It was also 36




unwavering—which was another rarity in a part of the country where the Taliban aren’t always the enemy. His family’s own complicated relationship with the Taliban went back years, to the days before 9/11, when the group first came to power and Wasil’s uncle Samad became an eager climber in the local power structure. It wasn’t religious devotion that drove Samad but, rather, expediency. Like many, he wanted what the Taliban could o≠er. “At that time, I didn’t know what was good or what was bad,” Samad told me. “Everybody likes to have vehicles, a little power, to be on the government’s side. The Taliban provided us with fuel, with a better life.” When the Americans arrived, three years before Wasil was born, Samad fought


HEN WASIL wasn’ t at school, he and his uncle— sometimes accompanied by other policemen from the unit—would grab guns and hike into the hills. “We started with pistols, and then I gave him an AK-47,” Samad recalled. “He became very good at hitting targets a great distance.” Samad’s men were impressed—the boy was a natural marksman, and as he graduated to more powerful weapons, he seemed surprisingly una≠ected by the recoil of the guns. Before long, Wasil was firing rocket-propelled grenade launchers. “That got him excited,” Samad said. “He was shouting, laughing, and having fun.” Then came mortars, shot from a three-legged stand. Wasil asked his mother to stitch him a police uniform, which he proudly wore nearly everywhere. “He was not on a salary, he was not a legal policeman, but he trained with us,” Samad said.

P R E V I O U S P A G E , B A C K G R O U N D : S V E N T O R F I N N / P A N O S . F R A M E : 1 2 3 R F. W A S I L : C O U R T E S Y O F T H E F A M I LY. T H I S P A G E : C O U R T E S Y O F T H E F A M I LY. O P P O S I T E P A G E : A H M A D M A S O O D / R E U T E R S .

All wars breed heroes, but some come in unexpected form. Wasil Ahmad was one of the unlikeliest. He was only 8 years old when the war in Afghanistan, already a family a≠air, set him on a path for vengeance. One morning, about an hour’s walk from the family compound where Wasil slept, his father and three uncles stood guard at a newly built police checkpoint. For years, as the Taliban and the Afghan government had traded control of this stretch of southern Afghanistan, Wasil’s family seesawed between both sides. Now, with the Americans pulling out, the men in Wasil’s family glimpsed new opportunity—and new jobs—as leaders of a U.S.-backed police force. They pledged to fight the Taliban, to defend their valley from the insurgents.

to repel them. He had battled invaders before—fighting the Soviets as a mujahideen warrior in the 1980s. Now, toiling for the Taliban, Samad buried IEDs in roads and under bridges and fashioned explosive vests for suicide attacks. Samad was a Taliban commander when Wasil was born— and as the boy grew, he became entranced with his uncle’s stories of courage and valor. But by the time Wasil was 8, Samad was having doubts. In early 2012, as American and Afghan authorities were working hard to win the loyalties of fighters like him— o≠ering them jobs and other incentives— Samad broke ranks with the Taliban. Along with 13 of his men, he pledged allegiance to the U.S.-backed Afghan government. Whether or not Wasil could grasp the complexities of shifting allegiances, his family’s fortunes were changing. Samad, now a sworn enemy of the Taliban, was promptly appointed to run a unit of the Afghan Local Police, the region’s lone security force. He hired Wasil’s father, Hamidullah, a farmer and taxi driver, and his two other brothers—along with 30 ex–Taliban fighters and 40 other locals. They set up five fortified checkpoints and began keeping watch. It was only a matter of time before the Taliban, eager to repay Samad and his men for their defection, roared down from the highland one morning and put a newly fatherless child on a mission for retribution. In the months that followed, Wasil pleaded to join his uncle’s police unit. And by the time he turned 10, his nagging became too much. As Merwais told me, Samad finally relented. “He had to keep him happy. He was saying, ‘Okay, this is a pistol. Just shoot it like this.’ And he started teaching him.” Thus began the training of a uniquely gifted child soldier.



to Samad’s three-story compound, where Wasil and his family were already ensconced. From there, they’d wait for rescue—or make their final stand. Primed for what could come, Wasil was wearing the tiny gray police uniform his mother had stitched. He was 11 years old. He’d gotten pretty good with a rifle, but he had never fired a shot in battle, had never experienced the adrenaline rush and the terror of combat. But this was what he’d been training for.


• As the U.S. pulled out of Afghanistan, police units—like Wasil’s—took up the fight against the Taliban.

In some ways, Wasil wasn’t unusual. In Afghanistan, a stew of factors—the intractable poverty, the primacy of family honor, and the high desertion and casualty rates within fighting forces—conspire to press children into war in large numbers, especially as foreign forces have pulled out. Last year, half the police checkpoints surveyed in Uruzgan were sta≠ed by o∞cers under 18, according to researchers from the organization Child Soldiers International. The Taliban, which have stormed back to power in recent years all over the country, have been using child soldiers in even larger numbers than the government. In the north, in the Kunduz province, where the Taliban briefly captured the capital last year, insurgents used the schools to train children to fight on the front lines—instructing them in making and planting IEDs and detonating suicide vests at checkpoints. “The Taliban’s apparent strategy to throw increasing numbers of children into battle is as cynical and cruel as it is unlawful,” said Patricia Gossman, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. Between September 2010 and December 2014, suicide attacks were carried out by 20 boys under the age of 18, according to a report from the U.N. In one incident, an IED was attached to a bicycle that a boy was made to push toward an Afghan National Army vehicle. The blast killed eight civilians as well as the child. Still, as he joined the growing army of kids being called to fight, Wasil was di≠erent. Deeply committed and poised beyond

his years, he was eager to fight. And unlike the rest of the child soldiers of the war, Wasil would soon be asked to lead.


Y EARLY 2015, Samad had a new

reason to let his young nephew inch his way toward the fight: He needed the men. Across Afghanistan, the resurgent Taliban were a gathering threat. It hadn’t helped Samad that some of his own policemen—newly powerful and suddenly unruly—were making the prospect of a return to Taliban rule a bit more enticing to the locals in the valley. Several of his men had been implicated in assaults and robberies. And in a bid to amp up security, his cops increasingly resorted to harsh tactics: They rounded up elders and cut their beards to punish them for cooperating with the Taliban; they ordered the villagers to leave their doors open at night, in case the police wanted to search their homes. Just 20 miles from the family compound, a force of roughly 2,000 newly emboldened insurgents had ventured from the mountains to besiege the Afghan Local Police’s district headquarters in Khas Uruzgan. From here, the Taliban set their sights on Samad’s unit and the valley from which he’d evicted them three years earlier. By late May, the Taliban had begun their assault, targeting police checkpoints and forcing Samad’s fighters to withdraw farther and farther. In July, the police gathered their loved ones and planned one last retreat: They’d fall back

S THE POLICE and the fami-

lies made their way to the compound, Taliban snipers opened fire on them—killing two policemen and cutting down Samad, who took a pair of bullets, one in the leg. From the roof of the compound, Wasil could see beyond the walls to where his uncle lay in the dirt, possibly dying; the Taliban were bearing down. Wasil’s uncle Merwais remembers vividly what happened next. He watched Wasil, crouching behind sandbags, take careful aim with a Russianmade machine gun. The boy squeezed the trigger and began working to pin the Taliban in place, buying enough time for the men inside the compound to reach the dead and injured and to haul them in. A wounded Samad was hustled to a second-floor bedroom, where he named his nephew the surrogate commander. The police unit contained 26 men at that point—and putting a boy in charge as the battle began, Samad told me, made perfect sense. “He was intelligent, brave, and calm under fire, and well trained.” The child leapt to duty, now commanding a makeshift fortress of last resort. Outside, the Taliban soon had the place surrounded, hundreds of them firing from the mountains above and the valley below. Day and night— across what would eventually become a three-week siege—Wasil kept watch from the roof, pointing out Taliban positions to his fellow marksmen. “Wasil was telling the soldiers to go to this position, that position, and giving them ammunition, and shooting the heavy machine gun,” said Merwais. He may have been only a boy, but Wasil cut the figure of the military leader he had now become. In early August, as Wasil worked from the rooftop, a Taliban gunner sent a rocket-propelled grenade into the thick mudbrick wall on the compound’s second floor. From a corner bedroom rose the smoke and flames of burning mattresses and wooden furniture, as two terrified children trapped inside cried out for help. Throughout the compound, there was confusion, but Wasil was calm. He grabbed a radio receiver and shouted to a Taliban o∞cer on the other end. “We want a cease-fire,” he screamed, his voice high-pitched and crackling over the

radio. “There are two kids in that room, and we need to get them out.” More shots rang out. “You guys are not men,” Wasil screamed over the radio. “Just give us time to take the children out.” There was something about Wasil’s insistent tone, his confidence in the face of danger, that the Taliban commander admired. He gave the order that silenced the Taliban’s guns. Wasil had the children pulled from the burning room. But the truce was short-lived. The hardships stacked up. Food ran low, and Wasil’s men were reduced to eating grass boiled into a kind of porridge. Throughout August, as the siege dragged on, Wasil and Samad pleaded with army commanders and government o∞cials to get them out. But the Taliban held the roads. Unbeknownst to those trapped in the compound, Taliban engineers had been digging a tunnel toward them. And on August 21, they used it to place about 3.3 tons of explosives beneath the rampart. A deafening explosion blew a hole in one of the mud walls, killing two of the policemen. Amid the confusion, Wasil got on the radio to the chief of police in Tirin Kot. “They’ve broken down the wall. They’re coming to get us. We need a helicopter rescue,” he begged. Twenty-four hours later, four Russian Mi-17 helicopters filled with Afghan special forces flew out of Tirin Kot toward the compound. A U.S. gunship accompanied them, raining fire on the Taliban and sending them scurrying for cover. The four Mi-17’s touched down in front of the mud fortress, and Afghan soldiers raced inside. Samad, Merwais, 15 more fighters, Samad’s two wives, Wasil, his three brothers, three cousins, and his mother dashed out, ducking low beneath the swirling rotor blades and rising dust, and climbed aboard. A short time afterward, according to the district governor, the Taliban swarmed the compound and burned it to the ground.

negotiated the rescue of those children— and of how, finally, he had arranged that daring evacuation by helicopter. “He fought with the courage of 100 men,” the district governor would say. He was hailed as a “lion”; even the Taliban would speak of him with a measure of respect. But it was too soon to know what that growing fame would eventually inspire.


ASIL STARED out of the

helicopter as it sailed over green valleys, barreling toward Tirin Kot. “We’re out of danger, we can relax now,” he told his 9-year-old brother, Rabbani. Then, having comforted the boy, he turned back to the disbelieving men who’d just rescued him, the troops from the Afghan special forces who wanted to know how this boy had defended the compound for three harrowing weeks. Just beyond the gates of Tirin Kot, the chopper zipped over the blast walls of the heavily fortified Afghan National Army base and came to rest on the ground. Rahimullah Khan, then the deputy police chief of the Uruzgan province, was waiting for them at the airfield. The boy, his uniform covered in dust, a sidearm on his waist, shook Khan’s hand and then jumped into the front seat of a police car. “He was tired, and happy to be out of the war,” Khan told me. Tirin Kot, a sprawl of mud-walled houses, was, then as now, a city under siege. The Afghan government’s control extended for just a few miles beyond the walls. Checkpoints and sandbagged posts ringed the city of 70,000, but Taliban infiltrators had still managed to slip into town and strike periodically, planting IEDs on the streets. To help ease Wasil back toward normalcy, deputy police chief Khan put the family up in his guarded guesthouse, gave them a monthly stipend, and arranged for Wasil to attend a nearby school. Khan also removed the boy’s sidearm. “The pistol is our enemy,”

“They’re coming to get us. We need a helicopter rescue,” Wasil begged. The Taliban had taken the compound and the entirety of the valley, but stories were already spreading, tales that would captivate the country. Reports of how Wasil had fired 120 mortar rounds in a single day’s fighting; how he’d manned a Kalashnikov long enough and well enough to take out six Taliban fighters, how he’d coordinated food and ammo drops that saved his soldiers’ lives. Stories spread of how he had 38




he told me. “When you have a pistol, you are a target, you are in the fight.” It wasn’t easy for Wasil to accept that his fight was over. Family members and others who had survived the siege treated him like a legendary warrior. Samad, in particular, was proud of his nephew’s celebrity and wanted to honor him as a hero. He resented anyone who downplayed the boy’s achievements. “We fought with the Taliban for many, many

days, fighting 500 people,” he said. “They should have given us medals.” This sort of hagiography worried Khan, who was stunned to see Wasil’s family play up his heroic exploits on social media. “They said, ‘Wasil did this.’ ‘Wasil did that,’ bragging about the kid, how he killed this person and that person,” he told me. The deputy police chief urged the family to lower the boy’s profile. He was afraid that Wasil’s growing status as a folk hero was likely to put him in the Taliban’s sights. He pleaded with Samad to protect his nephew. But Samad, always ambitious, brushed o≠ the warnings. “The family didn’t accept my help,” Khan told me. “They went the wrong way.”


FTER A COUPLE of months, Wasil’s family moved out of Khan’s guesthouse, saying that they needed more space. Samad was eager to keep stoking the mythology growing around his nephew and cultivated in the boy a sense that he wasn’t beholden to the same rules that governed other people: He allowed the 11-year-old to drive around town in a police-issue Ford Ranger pickup truck. Khan thought the truck was a bad idea: Giving a boy a police vehicle was hardly going to encourage him to behave like a kid. “I was trying to get Wasil into a school in Kabul to get him more educated,” Khan told me. “But his mind was being changed again.” Wasil was being pulled in conflicting directions. “He played soccer and cricket, but he was not like a child,” a schoolmate told the press. “He was more like a grown man—always serious.” Most mornings, after breakfast, Wasil, along with his brothers and cousins, worked for three hours with a tutor who taught English, Persian, and chemistry. And by all accounts, Wasil was making progress— despite a frequent preoccupation with his past life as a soldier. “He was an intelligent guy, with an open mind; he was grasping things quickly,” Wasil’s teacher, Mahmoud Khan, told me. “But he was thinking about guns, he was talking about guns. I told him, ‘You should leave these things behind. You should focus on learning.’ ” In early February 2016, six months after the siege, Wasil and two of his cousins finished their midday prayers and strolled outside their compound, hoping to buy some fruit. Normally, the family discouraged them from venturing into the streets without police guards, but there was a fruit-and-vegetable stall just across the wide road, a 30-second walk away. Wasil crossed the road while his two cousins peeled o≠ and headed for another shop. As he inspected the oranges, bananas, and apples and chatted with the grocer, two men on a motorbike pulled up behind Wasil.



• After news spread of Wasil’s feats in battle, his family was urged to downplay the heroics—lest the growing mythology inspire the Taliban to kill the boy.


Then two pistol shots rang out, and Wasil staggered back. “After the first shot, he was just saying, ‘I’ve been hit.’ Then the second bullet hit him in the head, and he fell,” a witness recounted. “The apples he bought were covered in blood.” The assailants raced o≠ on their bike and disappeared. At home, Samad had been napping but was roused suddenly by his shouting nephews. “Wasil’s been shot,” they cried. Wasil’s uncle ran outside and saw the boy lying in a pool of blood, unconscious. An ambulance rushed Wasil to the local hospital, and then he was airlifted to Kandahar. Wasil died en route. The next day, Wasil’s family wrapped his body in a white cloth shroud and bore him in his Ford Ranger to the cemetery. Six hundred people attended his burial. The sight of the small boy’s body moved many to tears. “This was a small child,” the journalist Najeed Lattif, who attended the funeral, told me. Samad was also crying. “He was saying, ‘They killed my right-hand man,’ ” Lattif said.


IX WEEKS AFTER Wasil’s assassi-

nation, I joined his younger brother Rabbani and his uncle Merwais on a visit to Wasil’s grave. (Samad had relocated to Khas Uruzgan to begin a three-month trial as the district police

chief. “He is a good fighter,” Uruzgan’s new governor, Wazeer Khararoti, told me. “He knows how to fight the Taliban, but you have to rein him in like a horse and not let him go so far.”) We crammed into an armored four-byfour and joined a convoy between a black Land Cruiser and a Humvee filled with a dozen policemen. We reached a barren hillside covered with grave markers—spindly branches strung with decorative flags. The police took up positions, and I followed the uncle and brother to Wasil’s grave, crudely marked with stones, chunks of cement, and two willow branches adorned with colored cloths. It was only temporary, Merwais told me. “We will take him home,” he said, “as soon as Nawa Sultan Mohammed is no longer in the Taliban’s hands.” In the days just after Wasil was shot, as paeans to his bravery flooded social media, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the assassination, according to The Independent. But when I reached the insurgents’ spokesman on the phone, he backed o≠, saying only that it “was possible” that the Taliban had killed him. He rebuked the Afghan police for encouraging the boy to fight and for then celebrating him as a hero. That sentiment—that the breathless tales of Wasil’s exploits had contributed to his death—is shared by the region’s

governor, Wazeer Khararoti. “He was a child, and we don’t have a right to make him a hero,” he told me. “If some kids are seeing this, what will they think? They will just leave the school and tell themselves, ‘I am going to become a hero.’ ” But among the hard men who fight and die in Afghanistan’s violent backcountry, the governor’s perspective is not widely shared. There’s a grudging acceptance of the grim cycles that war perpetuates. When I was in Kabul, I met with an old mujahideen fighter—a loyal friend of Samad’s—who now serves in parliament. His name is Haji Obaidullah Barakzai, and five years ago a Taliban fighter assassinated his 27-year-old son, as his son—Barakzai’s grandson—watched from a nearby car. The incident was eerily similar to the one that had put Wasil on his path for revenge, and it inspired in this boy the same response. He’s 8 now, and he’s been consumed by one thought. “I want to kill the Taliban who killed my father,” he told me shyly. Barakzai hadn’t yet taken him to the firing range, but that day, he said, was not far o≠. “I’m buying plastic guns for the boy,” he told me, “so that he will be ready.” joshua hammer wrote about the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the March 2016 issue of gq.



01-2 017 • GQ • 40

RYAN GOSLING is already timeless. He can go away for a while, do some art-movie adventuring and some enthusiastic kid-having with Eva Mendes, then waltz right back into his gig as Hollywood’s leading leading man. He’ll probably do it all again in five years—waltz off, waltz back, slay, repeat. But he was at the Oscars last year, he’ll be back this year, and next year he’s inheriting Blade Runner from Harrison Ford. Right here, right now—this is Ryan Gosling’s next peak. GQ’s Chris Heath travels to BUDAPEST to witness it up close


EEP BENEATH the old castle fortifications in Budapest, on a hill just west of the Danube, is a subterranean labyrinth that winds for several miles. At the very end of one twisting tunnel, a long walk from the surface, there is a chamber, and in its center, barely visible through the smoke that fills the room, is a small crouching statue of a grotesque, winged demon perched above a flat rectangular tombstone. The tombâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s purported occupant is identified by a single chiseled word: DRACULA. This is where Ryan Gosling has chosen to meet.



A N D S O W H Y WO U L D Ryan Gosling choose


to meet at Dracula’s underground tomb? Did he choose somewhere as far and di≠erent as possible from the magical star-filled Los Angeles skies of his new movie, the musical La La Land? Or is he looking to suggest something profound about time and mortality and notoriety that is better demonstrated than explained? Or is it just that, when you’re Ryan Gosling, arranging a spooky rendezvous deep below the surface of the earth might be a way of at least staving o≠ the questions he knows are coming? In marked contrast to the thrilling and eclectic parade of characters he’s portrayed on-screen ( just to pick a few career highlights: The Believer; Half Nelson; Lars and the Real Girl; Blue Valentine; Crazy, Stupid, Love; Drive; and The Big Short), Gosling has generally preferred to play his cards close to his chest o≠screen. Fittingly, when he strolls into Dracula’s purported final resting place, Gosling o≠ers little clarification about this choice of location, except to note, “If we start with a torture chamber, everything’s uphill from here,” which sort of makes sense and sort of doesn’t. (For the record, there is little serious pretense that Dracula is really buried in this tomb, though supposedly Vlad the Impaler was imprisoned somewhere in these catacombs in the 15th century.) We linger for a few minutes, making small talk, but it’s clear pretty quickly that we’ve already done just about all there is to do here. As we wind our way to the exit, though, he does acknowledge an ingrained a∞nity for such places. “My mom used to hang out in graveyards when I was a kid, so…,” he says. “She used to like to read the headstones. So they weren’t sort of scary places.” We emerge into a wet, dark Saturday afternoon. On the street, Gosling tells a man in a parked car that we’re going to walk, and we head o≠, looking for somewhere to sit and talk. Maybe a hundred yards later, a di≠erent man approaches Ryan and gives him a briefing about which cafés and restaurants nearby are open, and which are full. It’s funny, the way these people associated with Gosling keep appearing out of the rain and darkness; I begin to imagine that there might be dozens of them. I tell Gosling that I like the way he seems to have someone on every block. He nods. “Someone on every block,” he repeats.

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the way it felt, and he wanted it to be over. “I just felt this sense of: I have a limited amount of time and, you know, I’ve got to get started. I also didn’t like the arbitrariness of control that people seemed to have over me.” I think most kids don’t know to question that. They just accept it. “I think my mother encouraged that. I had one teacher, because I was dancing, he thought that was funny and he would make jokes about it in class, and my mother said,

‘You know, if ever you feel like he’s being disrespectful, you can just leave.’ And I did one day. I called her and said, ‘Hey, I left.’ Also, when I was homeschooled for a year, I saw my curriculum come in the mail, and I saw that it was just this tangible stack of books—I guess I realized that there were other ways to do it. The fact that I could stay home and watch Planet of the Apes in the morning and then go downstairs and draw while I learned about some historical battle— draw these maps and scenarios and connect to it in a way that was personal to me—I just felt like: Oh well, then there must be another way to do everything.”

NOTES ON THE EARLY LIFE OF RYAN GOSLING #2 O N E E V E N I N G when he was in first grade—

he was raised in Cornwall, Ontario, where his father and (text continued on page 46) 01-17 • G Q • 43


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01-17 • G Q • 45


most of his male relatives worked for the local paper mill—young Ryan Gosling saw Sylvester Stallone’s primal and brutal revenge drama First Blood, the original Rambo film, on videocassette. The next day, he packed his Fisher-Price magic kit with the Gosling family steak knives. Suitably armed, he headed to school, ready to put into action the new lessons he had just learned. “I think I saw it too young,” he says. “I wasn’t able to separate those realities. I don’t blame it on the film. Part of being a kid in the ’80s was that these movies, we didn’t have the experience necessarily of going to the theater, of this thing outside your life. You would watch it while you were falling asleep on the couch, or you could re-watch it, and they were tangible things, these VHS tapes, and they were like friends of mine. And so I connected with them in a very, you know, personal way.” Even so, you might assume that taking a set of knives to school was just some inappropriate, but ultimately harmless, playacting. But when I ask Gosling about what was going through his mind that morning, his reply makes clear that the boundaries between reality and fiction were still precarious, even dangerously shaky, at that point in his life. “I just remember there being, like, some injustices on the playground, you know. That there was bullying going on, or something. And I felt like”—he laughs—“that’s the feeling I remember. There was something unjust going on.” So you weren’t just going to school and playing Rambo—you were going to sort shit out? “I didn’t think it through, you know. I just thought, in my mind: This is not right, what is happening, and something has to be done. Thank God, you know, I was suspended. I should have been. My mother was mortified. And it was like reality came in. I had to get control of my imagination.” Did that feel like a good lesson learned? Or like you’d had your imagination reined in? “No, it felt like a lesson learned. I think I felt pretty guilty about that. I think. Although, I don’t know. I was so young, I don’t know what the fuck was going through my head.” In all these things, did you feel as though you were di≠erent from most of the kids you were around? “Not in a good way. I was doing very badly in school, and I just couldn’t remember what the teachers were talking about. I felt like it looked easier for everyone else and it was harder for me. It a≠ected my self-worth.” Did people tell you that you weren’t smart? “I mean, they started feathering me into some special-education classes and things like that. I mean, I remember playing chess with a kid who was eating his queen, you know.” 46 • GQ • 0 1 -1 7

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meet your heroes, but I would say the addendum to that is ‘…unless they’re Harrison Ford.’ ’Cause he’s a cool motherfucker.”

NOTES ON THE EARLY LIFE OF RYAN GOSLING #3 O N E O F T H E G R E AT bait and switches with

G O S L I N G H A S B E E N in Hungary for most of the past four months, filming the Blade Runner sequel, Blade Runner 2049. “It’s like three movies that I usually make in one,” he says. “Just in terms of the length and just the whole scope and experience.” I ask how it’s going, and he quotes something his co-star Harrison Ford said the other day: “cautiously optimistic.” But he knows that people have high expectations, and how treacherous those can be. “The snipers,” he says, “are in the bell tower, waiting.” But, that aside, he says that he can’t tell me much: “I’ve never done something so shrouded in secrecy or where there’s so much anticipation.” Did I hear that Harrison Ford punched you in the face? He looks surprised. “How did you hear that?” I’ve got people on every corner, too. “Yeah, he did. It was kind of, you know, a rite of passage.” How did it happen? “We were just doing a fight scene and, you know, it just happened. But what was funny was, when it was over, they brought ice for my face, and Harrison pushed me out of the way and stuck his fist in the ice.” He laughs. “I asked him the other day where he got his sense of humor from—was it from his mother or his father? He said, ‘Sears.’ And he didn’t have much time to shop around so he just had to grab one and get out.” So did it hurt when he hit you? “You know…he’s tough. He’s been an inspiration to everyone—everyone is doing push-ups now and taking an interest in their fitness. As soon as it happened, the director came up to me and said, ‘Look at it this way— you just got hit by Indiana Jones.’ ” Was he suitably apologetic? “He came by afterward with this bottle of scotch, and I thought, ‘Oh, I knew this was coming.’ And he pulled out a glass from his pocket, poured me a glass, and walked away with the rest of the bottle. So I guess he felt like he didn’t connect enough to earn a whole bottle.” He smiles. “You know, they say don’t

Ryan Gosling is that his face and demeanor send the signals of a regular guy, even while it’s clear there’s just as much deep and dark and strange stu≠ sloshing inside of him as in just about any other weird-guy actor. Here’s one characteristic example—an insight into how movies helped shape his young mind, and how over time they beckoned him toward them: “Like, when I saw Dumbo and The Elephant Man—I felt like those films were smashing down some wall inside of me and creating a room called empathy. And being very grateful for having seen those films even though they were painful, and the idea of watching them again was scary, because I didn’t know that I wanted to feel those things again, but it did feel di≠erent after seeing them. Like they had exposed some part of myself to me that I didn’t know was there.” As he says this to me, I realize he’s being utterly sincere, but I’m also confused: Is he saying he saw these two very di≠erent movies at the same stage of his life? And surely he’s aware of the surreal elephant theme here? But he sort of ignores me when I ask these questions, as though they’re the kinds of things you’d only bring up if you hadn’t really been paying attention to what he was trying to say. “I don’t know why I put them together,” he says. “But I guess I remember feeling for both of those characters.” WE ESCAPE FROM the rain into a restaurant

whose name translates as the Black Raven. He orders co≠ee and talks about what he found in acting, and at first it sounds like the kind of earnest but boilerplate spiel that hides what it o≠ers to reveal, but then what he says shifts into something more personal and heartfelt. “I didn’t grow up watching independent films or art films,” he says. “I just generally watched whatever blockbusters came to our theater. But the people I grew up with weren’t reflected in the movies I was watching growing up.” What was invigorating and inspiring was the discovery that there were movies— and, later, that he could be in movies—that felt like they were filled with the real people he knew. “Because I was always so fascinated by my uncles, my family, how complicated they were, the light and dark sides of them.

It wasn’t something that was part of the dialogue in our family, or in school, or in life. It was just something that I was just kind of privately clocking, and being compelled and repelled by. When I saw there were people out there trying to capture that on film, and reflect that and celebrate that, the messiness of it all, it felt very exciting.” And then he adds this: “I think there’s an idea out there that you become an actor because you like to be at the center of attention, or because you’re a natural performer. Which in some cases I’m sure is true. But I feel more often than not that what drives you to become an actor is an instinct to disappear. To become someone else. Not yourself.” I guess the obvious question is: How much is wanting to be someone else not wanting to be yourself ? “Two things can be true and co-exist at the same time. To me, it wasn’t about not wanting to be myself, it was about wanting to not only have to be myself. Because I don’t have to. And so why would I?”


his childhood that he credits with setting him on the road to becoming a performer of some kind—“the clearest moment I can think of,” he says, “when things were di≠erent.” Though a very di≠erent kind of moment than, say, seeing your first Cassavetes movie. What happened was that an uncle, who was also an Elvis impersonator, came to stay with the Gosling family. “I remember things being very mundane until he came around,” says Gosling, “and suddenly he was wearing a jumpsuit around the house and talking like Elvis, putting together a show and putting my mom as a backup singer and my father as head of security. And all our family was coming around, making costumes…family members that didn’t necessarily talk before. It just brought everyone together. I was in the act—I handed out teddy bears and scarves.” His uncle would perform under the name of Elvis Perry, often at the mall. It wasn’t this general sudden infusion of show business into daily life that so a≠ected young Ryan, but one very specific aspect of it. “When he sang ‘Suspicious Minds,’ ” Gosling recalls, “he got emotional. I remember sitting and watching him, and he’d have tears in his eyes while he sang, you know. Really singing that song. I mean, I was so young, but I remember understanding that it was a dialogue between a woman who was leaving her man, and you get the understanding

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of the physicality of him kind of standing in a doorway, begging her not to go. And it’s like a scene. It’s a very powerful song, and I remember him not only just singing that song but becoming the guy who was pleading for his woman not to leave him, and getting moved every night. Every night he did it. And then we would all go home and have dinner, and everything was back to normal. But in that moment he was in that moment, and everybody was moved by it.” He laughs a little self-consciously. “It sounds so silly. Because it felt so serious at the time—but he was Elvis Perry and we were in a mall. But it’s true.” When you look back now, as an adult, was your uncle showing real emotion, or showbiz emotion? “I think it was real. You know, other than him, most of the men in my family were at a paper mill. It’s just hard work. And I think there was this artistic part of him that kept him out of that. Maybe I read it wrong—I was just a kid—but it resonated to me as something that he was accessing in a real way.” Then, says Gosling, his uncle got the cancer diagnosis, began chemotherapy, and became very introverted. A curtain had been briefly opened; now it closed. “Everything stopped,” Gosling remembers. “People stopped coming around. And I just

thought, you know: ‘Can we do…maybe not exactly that, but something like that…again?’ ” And in one version of Ryan Gosling’s story, everything since can be seen as his emphatic answer to that question. G O S L I N G S AY S T H AT one of the attractions

of his new movie, La La Land, was that he would be able to spend three months not only working with a jazz pianist—so that he could “really try and understand and embody a Thelonious Monk piece”—but also learning how to “do some of the styles of dance I wish I had spent time on when I was a kid.” Back then he would “shake it like a showgirl,” as he puts it—the boy star in a dance company of girls whose precocious and gleeful hip-thrusting would help bring in the trophies, and would ultimately lead to his famously unlikely teenage career diversion as a member of the Mickey Mouse Club, alongside Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, and Britney Spears. For a while in his mid-20s, he took dance classes again, in private. “I missed it,” he explains. That time he did tap, and some ballet—stu≠ he’d wanted to focus more on as a kid but never got the chance. “I liked being in the studio, and being in a class. And I like dancers—I like their energy, I like the way they approach what they do. I really liked 01-17 • G Q • 49


them as a kid—I loved hanging out with them. I just think dancers are an interesting breed. They’re like athletes but they’re not competitive. I love to watch them. I love to see the way that they embody the music and communicate themselves physically. I think it’s so beautiful. I wish that I had that.” And you like the feeling of yourself when you’re doing it? “I do. It was harder as an adult, because I was more self-conscious.” When La La Land’s writer and director, Damien Chazelle, first approached him, Gosling says he was enticed by the way Chazelle talked of creating an immersive and transportive experience for the audience. “I think I’ve made a lot of films where I wasn’t really conscious of the audience,” Gosling reflects, “because I didn’t know what they wanted, and I didn’t know how to connect with them.” But he also knew that there were far more ways a movie like this—a movie that switched between drama and sweeping musical numbers—could go wrong than go right. “There was a small room for success here,” he says. What worried you? “You know…just that it would be ridiculous. You know, people are breaking into song and dancing and flying in the stars, and [the audience is] also having to accept them as real people in the world. That was the challenge. More what it is is that it’s not cynical. There’s nothing cynical about this movie, and there’s no out for us to say, ‘Just kidding!’ We can’t be ironic about it. There’s no avenue for that in this. It wears its heart on its sleeve, this film.” You were personally scared you’d look ridiculous? “I knew it was a strong possibility.” And that would have been awful? “I mean, that’s not the target I’m aiming for. But if you’re going to take yourself out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself,

‹ you risk looking ridiculous for doing that. But it also felt worth it.” It’s been exuberantly praised at film festivals. Why do you think it’s connecting? “I think it’s a cynical time and this movie has nothing to do with that.”

NOTES ON THE EARLY LIFE OF RYAN GOSLING #5 G O S L I N G ’S PA R E N T S split up as his child-

hood career was beginning to build. He remains close to his mother—she is here in Hungary—and he has talked at length about her role in who he has become. But when he first became famous, he wryly commented about how his father had seemed too into his son’s success (for instance: “So when I finally got out of the grips of my father, I said, ‘I’m not going to do anything you can brag about anymore’ ”) and it was implied that they had no ongoing relationship. If so, this is no longer true. “There was a long period of time where, you know, things were complicated,” he says, “but things are di≠erent now.” How are you most like your mother? “She’s funny. My mom used to wake me up to watch Johnny Carson, to watch his monologues. Abbott and Costello, she used to make me watch them. She knew that that was special, and she really wanted me to get that, and I still love those things. My mother’s more of an academic—she went back to school five years ago and became a teacher. She’s here and she’s learned 500 words. I’m not an academic in the way that she is, but I do have her kind of curiosity.” Is it really true that she had a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger on the fridge when you were growing up? “She did, yeah.” That’s really disturbing. “Yeah.”


About This Shoot We knew we’d get some amazing pictures against the Art Nouveau tiles of Budapest’s famous Gellért baths. And for a pajamas-in-bed photo, we couldn’t beat the Ritz. But we wanted our last shot to be on the street. So with the light fading, we slipped outside the busy Central Café and snapped this image just before everyone realized that the guy walking by was Ryan freaking Gosling. suit $2,995 Ermenegildo Zegna + polo shirt $440 David Hart loafers $565 Church’s grooming by donald mowat. produced by brachfeld paris. where to buy it? go to /fashion-directories

What was the photo? “He was on a horse with a cigar with his shirt o≠.” What was that about? “My parents got into bodybuilding for a little while. My father was a Ferrigno fan. He liked Lou Ferrigno. My mom liked Arnold.”

So they were bodybuilding Mormons? “My father was really more into it. She wasn’t herself a bodybuilder but I think, in the ’80s, everybody tampered with that a little bit, or at least the idea of it. Maybe I’m wrong. No?” That’s not how I remember the ’80s. “That’s true. I didn’t see an issue of Muscle & Fitness at any of my friends’ houses.” G O S L I N G H A S T WO DA U G H T E R S with the

actress Eva Mendes, the eldest 2 years old, the youngest born last April, and the whole family is here with him in Hungary. “Your whole life,” he says, “you hear what it’s like to have kids, and all the clichés are true. I felt I knew that everything would be di≠erent, but until you experience that, there’s no way to really know what people mean.” Which is…? (continued on page 98)

In part two of our fashion forecast for spring, actor DEV PATEL shows you how to pull off the wilder colors and paerns out there—clothes that both conjure the past and point the way forward V I C TO R D E M A R C H E L I E R

01 - 201 7 • GQ • 52


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54 • GQ • 0 1 -1 7


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Drinkers of the world, we are living in a full-blown bubbles bubble, with unprecedented quality, variety, and accessibility fizzing in our coupes. From England to New Mexico, everybody’s making sparklers— and everybody’s drinking them, to the point where Ariel Arce here can focus an entire bar, the rambunctious “underground champagne parlor” Riddling Widow in Manhattan, just on popping bottles.






Drink at That Hot-Dog Joint Master Sommelier Christopher Bates worked at world-class restaurants before opening F.L.X. Wienery in the Finger Lakes, where he serves his favorite wines with burgers and dogs.

Drink in a Stable Out on the North Fork of Long Island, McCall Winery and Ranch has turned a horse barn into a tasting room. Its glorious lawn is strewn with picnic tables ideal for nursing that Cab Franc. Drink at a Ball Game Perhaps to dull the pain of the Padres’ woeful pitching, San Diego’s Petco Park lets you bring entire bottles straight to your seat via re-usable carafes and cups. Drink at Disney World The quality of South African wines has skyrocketed—and Jiko restaurant at Animal Kingdom Lodge in Orlando has the biggest list in the United States. Drink in Midair Your in-flight order is no longer (inexplicably) a Bloody Mary. Emirates airlines pours more than 70 labels on any given day and has 3 million bottles aging in France.



É If you need a 94-minute

crash course on how to taste and appreciate wine, queue up Somm, the surprisingly intense 2012 documentary about a group of wine obsessives cramming for their Master Sommelier exam. You’ll cringe at their fails along the way, but you’ll also learn as they learn. When it’s over, start buying wine on Verve, the new e-commerce site from Somm star Dustin Wilson. From then on, you’re no longer a heavy drinker— you’re a “serious taster.”

rule no.





A sensation of freshness and crispness (as opposed to richness). “A few years ago, if you said ‘acid’ at the table, everyone thought the wine was gonna be sour. Now people think it’ll be a minerally high-acid white, like a Riesling, as opposed to an oaky Chardonnay.”

Once considered a flaw, exposure to oxygen can sometimes change wine for the better, creating an invitingly toasty, hazelnutty aroma. “Old Chenin Blanc always tastes to me like Pepperidge Farm Pirouette cookies, the French Vanilla ones. In old Burgundies, it’s more almondy.”

It’s when your red wine tastes funky. A lot of wines from France’s trendy Jura region have this characteristic. “I hate to compare the smell to manure, but it can be a little bit like a stable. Or rust. It’s iron-y, like blood. That combination of sharpness and damp-soil smell.” But tasty!

O P E N I N G PA G E S : G A R Y H E . 2 , 4 & 7 ) J O E M CK E N D R Y ( 5 ) . 3 ) T E D C AVA N A U G H . 6 ) F R O M TO P : P E T E R F R A N K E D WA R D S / R E D U X ; E R I N L I T T L E .

Marie-Louise Friedland, a wine director at two of San Francisco’s most ambitious restaurants, The Progress and State Bird Provisions

“A lot of people find talking about money uncomfortable, but there’s no way around it. So just come in and say how much you feel comfortable spending. Never, ever, ever have any of us scoffed at a number. It actually makes the situation way less intimidating, because knowing your number means we’re not up-selling you. When I hear a number, I’m like: Awesome. I’m gonna find you the best bang for the buck, and you’re gonna freak out and want this wine all the time.”


rule no.

Peter Hale with his wife and business partner, Orenda.

ROBERT PARKER CAN S.T.F.U. NOW Love ya, Bobby, but your reign as the Only Wine Writer Who Matters is over—and so are the days when a 0-to-100-point scale (which always felt more like a 90-to-93 scale, anyway) dictated what we drank. There are now a thousand sources to help us find, understand, order, and enjoy more wine. Here are three we trust.




Snap a photo of any wine label with your phone. Boom: The Vivino app gives you crowdsourced tasting notes, the average retail price, and suggested food pairings. Somehow it works on restaurant wine lists, too. Twenty million users can’t be wrong.


Alongside pics of her chugging from the bottle, Marissa A. Ross’s blog (Wine. All the Time.) bursts with irreverent reviews. One recent white was described as having “all the quintessential Sauv-Blanc shit in there—the citrus, the greenery, the subtle air of cat piss.”


The superb Hudson Valley shop Suburban Wines sells discounted bottles via newsletter. Many of the wines—like a $12 Moroccan red from Ouled Thaleb—are total surprises, and (though your FedEx guy will loathe you) Suburban ships to your front door.


É For a while, natural wine was what we heard every hipster in

France was into. Now it’s thoroughly integrated into the drinking culture of places like Brooklyn, where LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy has opened a natural-wine bar (The Four Horsemen), and Portland, Maine, where Here We Go Magic drummer Peter Hale now runs a natural-wine shop (Maine & Loire). Though the term “natural” means different things to different people, in general it’s made without all the junk— industrial fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, enzymes, sugar, and the dreaded additive known as Mega Purple—that turns wine into a homogenized product, the viticultural equivalent of Nickelback. “You can expect a whole lot more from a wine that’s made naturally,” Hale says, “because there’s more potential for idiosyncratic flavors or textures—a greater sense of wine being unique.” Enjoying it means understanding that a given wine’s quirks aren’t imperfections. They’re conscious aesthetic choices. JANUARY






This is the producer, a.k.a. the winemaker.

This is the grape. Clairette Blanche is white, with origins in France and a musky apple flavor.

ALC 11.5% BY VOL

Most massmarket wine hovers around 13 percent alcohol, which means this one goes down easier.


Yeah, they’re preservatives. And yeah, some asthmatics can react to them. But most people don’t.



Love a wine? Note the importer, then search for other bottles it brings in. Two names to look for: Percy Selections (for Spanish and French natural wines) and Kermit Lynch (for French and Italian).


Fining is a process for clarifying wine. Declining to filter or fine is considered noninterventionist winemaking and suggests the wine will be on the wild side.





Thanks to the Blaxploitation-style artwork for his take-no-prisoners red, Machete, Orin Swift winemaker Dave Phinney has developed a reputation not only for the wine he makes but for the way he labels it. More and more producers are like that these days. They’ll commission original artwork or put their own eighth-grade yearbook photo on the label. Anything to wipe away the pretension and predictability of yet another vineyard sketch.

RIDGE GEYSERVILLE ($40) So you’re running late for a dinner party and you know nothing about wine and you can’t remember anything else you read in these pages. Don’t panic: You can find this instantly recognizable Zinfandel blend in many of the same strip-mall shops that sell Yellow Tail, and its flavor blows the kangaroo away. Your host will thank you.




Many of the world’s emerging wine regions have actually been fermenting grapes for thousands of years. Most respectable stores now have a small section devoted to these countries’ wines—and since they’re not yet famous here, you can afford them even if you can’t pronounce them. 1. AUSTRIA IS THE NEW FRANCE

Okay, it’s technically not Eastern Europe (until Putin gets there), but if you’re looking for cheap and delicate Pinot Noirs, you can’t do better.


2 . C R O A T I A I S T H E N E W I T A LY

It’s not just that the craggy coastline looks like Italy. Croatia’s whites are also perfectly light, Italian-style food wines. Try the Pošip grape.

3 2

3 . G E O R G I A I S T H E N E W S PA I N

A decade ago, Spain was where you looked for intriguing new values. Georgia has been making wine longer than Spain has—and yet its distinctive orange Rkatsiteli wines are still somehow affordable. 4 . G R E E C E I S T H E N E W. . . G R E E C E

The Greeks are O.G.s of both Western civilization and wine, which as far as we’re concerned are one and the same. Their zippy Assyrtiko grape remains a world-class bargain. For now.


8 ) C O U R T E S Y O F A N D R E W G O B L E . 9 ) C O U R T E S Y O F C A I T L I N M I T C H E L L . 1 0 ) C O U R T E S Y O F R I D G E V I N E YA R D S . 1 1 ) J U N G Y E O N R O H . 1 2 ) C O U R T E S Y O F L O U W I N E S H O P. 1 3 ) J O E M C K E N D R Y. O P P O S I T E P A G E , T O P L E F T : C O U R T E S Y O F J A M I E T H R O W E R .




rule no.


THE BEST WINE SHOPS ARE VERY, VERY PICKY We don’t mind a giant wine warehouse, but the best wine shops are hyper-focused. Ask the somm at the wine-iest restaurant in town where he buys his personal bottles. It’ll be a place like one of these.

Bonus rule: Buy anything this man makes. He’s vine whisperer Hardy Wallace, one half of irreverent California winemaking duo Dirty and Rowdy, which embodies all the intense flavors and cheeky attitude of the new-wine movement.

rule no.











Nathan Adams’s dimly lit shop serves as the clubhouse for Chicago’s naturalwine crowd, particularly on Thursdays and Saturdays, when the store hosts free tastings. On the shelves: a whole lotta Loire.

Because this shop lies just off Buford Highway, ATL’s international boulevard of eats, you can count on owner Eric Brown to recommend the right bottles for Shaanxi noodles or Cantonese roast duck. He also stocks a local delicacy: extravirgin pecan oil.

Even in a winesaturated yuppie burg like Brooklyn, Chris Leon’s little Clinton Hill shop stands out for its deep catalog of small, ambitious American producers (plus plenty from France and Italy) at fair prices. Buy a case and the 13th bottle is on him.

Lou Amdur, the wine king of Los Feliz, guides you to your bottle with helpful, quietly hilarious tasting notes such as “Crisp and crackly maritimeinfluenced Albariño, good for dry mouth and/or a driedout soul, or shellfish.”

É That’s right, one of

the world’s biggest wine emporiums is the pricebusting wholesaler where you buy your monthly gallon of Nutella. Costco stores stock, on average, 170 labels and have “wine stewards” working the floor. Volume buying and minimal markup mean you’ll save a ton on higherend bottles. And the house-label Kirkland Signature wines are made on the sly by reputable producers around the world, so even their champagne and tenyear tawny port are legit. Little-known fact: Costcos in many states sell wine to non-members as well— just tell the doorperson you’re buying alcohol only.

rule no.


AND IF THIS IS ALL TOO CONFUSING, LEARN TO SHOP BY COLOR Whether you’re too tired to think or you’re in the boondocks and can’t be too picky, try this: Buy Italian for red, Spanish for white, and French for rosé. It’s a gross generalization, but these countries drink wine with every meal, so nothing they produce will be swill. The Italian will likely be a Sangiovese, their most widely planted grape by far. Spanish whites—which will probably be a refreshing, fruity Verdejo or a bright, fragrant Albariño—offer great value. Most French rosés are from Provence and are light, fresh, and dry, often with a lovely salmon hue. They’re easy to find and excellent with food.











1 oz. Campari 1 oz. sweet vermouth 3 oz. prosecco

Build the ingredients in a rocks glass over ice and garnish with an orange slice. FROM THE 2016 BOOK SPRITZ, BY TALIA BAIOCCHI &


FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, AND FOR THE LAST TIME, RED WINE SHOULD BE SERVED CHILLED Not cold, but chilled. Like around 60 degrees. Either ask your somm to do it or put your bottle in the freezer for 15 minutes. We promise it’ll improve.


rule no.


INVEST IN A GLASS É It wasn’t wine that got me into wine. It was a wineglass. At a café I was served a red in a glass so thin, so delicate, so lightweight that it seemed like the stem would snap as I swirled it. (For the record, I had no idea why I was swirling it.) With a really thin glass, you can sense the weight of the wine because the glass weighs so little. The wine also tastes more intense because there’s less of a barrier between you and the liquid. Most important: It feels good in your hands, like a brass pen or a wad of money. I started buying wine just to have something to put in the glass. Of course, nice glasses are pricey. Just one from Riedel’s new Superleggero series costs $139. (The popular, crazy-thin Universal glass by Zalto is $60.) But it’s worth it. Especially if you’re not yet a wino. —R O S S M C A M M O N C








Until recently, wine’s biggest drawback was that you couldn’t take it to the beach or sneak it into the movies without causing a scene. Now even that’s changing, thanks to convenient, portable, and dangerously poundable canned wines from premium producers. If you’re into Oregon Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, seek out the Underwood label. For California whites and reds, you’re after Alloy Wine Works. And if you’re ready for a real shocker, Jordan Salcito, who spends her life around the world’s greatest vino as wine director for Momofuku Group, has just created Ramona, a line of not-too-sweet artisanal wine coolers, redeeming the most maligned intoxicant this side of Zima.

Do like an Italian and make this Negroni alternative, which was invented at Bar Basso in aperitivocrazed Milan.



É The next time


you’re indulging in lowbrow comfort food, leave the beer in the fridge. (It’s too filling, anyway.) Lately when we order Thai takeout, we’re pouring a bottle of Gamay. And we’re downing white wine—or even champagne— with fried chicken. With a pulledpork barbecue sandwich, we might even break out a ritzy Châteauneufdu-Pape. Try it and you’ll find that great wine elevates even the humblest meals. And since a bottle at home costs a third of what you’d pay at a restaurant after markups, you can justify the extravagance.

Thai pork goes perfectly with a glass of high-acid, low-tannin red.



Remember when craft beer became cool maybe a decade ago, introducing us to a whole genre of beer-forward gastropubs? Now a similar revolution is turning wine bars from predictable meat-and-cheese-board joints into ambitious, full-on kitchens. And there’s one near you, wherever you are. GYST






From their house kombucha and beet kvass to their sauerkraut and kimchi, the fermentation fans behind Gyst follow only one formula: sugar + yeast = kapow. Get the peanut-butterand-kimchi sandwich. Trust.

In their sidekick to block-rocking prix fixe spot Contra, Fabian von Hauske and Jeremiah Stone serve head-on shrimp stewed with garlic and smoked paprika, and fried squid with spring onion and basil.

A restaurant focusing on what partner Dana Frank calls “unusual grape varieties and unknown regions,” such as Hungary and Slovenia. For dinner: sunchoke soup and oilpoached halibut.



Kevin Wardell’s combo wine bar and retail shop has the balls to sell mostly oldworld wine in Sonoma County. Grab a grilled cheese and a handful of the spicy bar mix called D’s Nutz.

A KoreanAmerican restaurant that acts like a wine bar, Parachute careens from porky rice cakes to sirloin with Roquefort— always with an equally racy beverage riding shotgun.





Decked out in flamboyant colors and punk-rock studs, penny loafers have gone from schoolboy staples to decadent, totally un-preppy status symbols

If you wear these with a matching green jacket, you’ll look like an Augusta National member. So don’t. The whole idea here is to clash.

$775 Jimmy Choo

$690 Gucci

$675 Tod’s

01- 2017 • GQ • 67

$750 Louis Leeman

$350 To Boot New York

$750 J.M. Weston

$350 Coach 1941

styled by noemi bonazzi at art department | where to buy it? go to

You’ve already resolved that 2017 will be the year you finally get in biceps-pumping, squat-thrusting, seam-splitting shape. e only question is: Uh, how? Here with the answers—and with su estions on what to wear while you’re at it—is ridiculously handsome mathprofessor-turnedfashion-model PIETRO BOSELLI


01 - 201 7 • GQ • 68

GQâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Body & Style Workout Plan

• Pietro Boselli has had a crazy couple of years. While finishing his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at University College London and, you know, “working on the computational design of large steam turbines,” Boselli found himself the subject of a viral Internet story. He’d been lecturing for an undergrad math course, just your average math professor with the body of a Roman god, when a few of his students realized their hunky prof was a bona fide model and took to Facebook. E! News made it a story, and then everyone from Elle to The Guardian picked it up. Boselli, 28, was dubbed “the World’s Hottest Math Teacher.” “I was just living my life,” he says today. “This is something that can only happen with the Internet, obviously.” Since then he’s become one of the most in-demand models, shooting campaigns for Dsquared2, Moschino, and Armani’s sportswear label, EA7. “I couldn’t be just a model,” he says. “I don’t see myself as one thing. I’d like to have my own engineering firm.” He plans to start his own activewear label, too. Simple stuff like tank tops and shorts. Down the line, maybe he can expand into wearable technology: “Clothing you can plug in and have the electricity clean it,” he says. “Or fragranceencapsulation technology. It could be done. But you need much bigger capital.” We’re not worried about him finding work. “I’m a very confident person,” Boselli says. “I’m very confident in my abilities.” You would be, too, if you had his body. So here's exactly how to get it—and the clothes you’ll need to show it off. — B E N J Y H A N S E N - B U N DY

«« shorts $45 (for similar style) Adidas Originals « tank top $52 Rufskin swim shorts Michael Bastian

Killer Gym Style Starts in the Streets

Activewear has infiltrated the fashion Zeitgeist so thoroughly that Prada, paragon of sartorial refinement, is now unveiling its own version of athleisure. (ese technical joers and this ice-cold jacket marched down the runway, replacing all those suits.) ere are two reasons for this sportification—and it’s a chicken-and-eggtype deal: Guys are wearing performance gear in more and more situations, and the gear is getting more and more stylish. Which means you can dress like an athlete, even if you think deltoids are a Florida State fraternity.

jacket $1,400 vest (beneath) $840 pants $550 backpack $1,590 Prada + headphones $230 Buttons water bottle $42 S’well

01- 2017 • GQ • 71

Your Core Is the Core of Your Workout • “Most people do crunches at the end of their workout, but I dedicate a whole session to my core,” Boselli says. “Control is very important: Squeeze until you feel the burn and can’t continue any longer. Start with crunches from the floor and vary it up with a twist.”

Real locker-room talk: You’ve got to keep your junk in place and make sure it’s well-aerated. So pull on a fabric that can do both, like this spandex-cotton blend by the first name in drawers: Calvin Klein. trunks $24 Calvin Klein Underwear

The DayGlo-Tights Era Is Officially Over

The Incredible Quad-Blasting, Heart-Racing Box Jump • The quickest way to increase your explosiveness is the old-fashioned box jump. Start standing with your feet at hip width. Bend your knees, without getting too low, and explode up with both legs at the same time, landing on the box in a squat position. Step down one leg at a time, like Boselli does here. “Dynamic motion in space is way better than being static, like on a leg-press machine,” he says. “Your body’s not just made of muscle; it’s a nervous system that responds to stimulation.”

Neon gym gear went out of style faster than dubstep. Today’s thinking: Strive for the same taste and restraint at the gym as you would anywhere else. at means a more sophisticated, less workout-y palette. Think grays, blues, and blacks. Just, please, no white tights.

If you're working out, you don't have to wear shorts over your tights. If you're not working out, why are you wearing tights at all?

t-shirt $28 Adidas + tights $35 sneakers $160 Nike watch $399 Apple Watch Nike+

The First Step to the Chest You Want Why do all superheroes have big block graphics on their chests? It’s a simple lesson in optics: Chest graphics add a few orders of magnitude to your pecs’ appearance. If you decide to borrow this sartorial sleight of hand, stick to darker colors and skip the primaries— you don’t want to look like an actual superhero.

Dumbbells: Way Smarter Than Barbells • “People are asymmetrical,” Boselli reminds us. “We all have a stronger side, and dumbbells help compensate for this imbalance and build stability. The bent-over row, for example, is essential for adding back and core strength.” To do it: Stabilize your legs, then row up and back toward your hip, like you're starting a lawn mower.

pullover $178 Kit and Ace + shorts $40 Nike

Push 'em up on your calves for extra mobility and style points.

You Can’t Wear Out the Classics On arm day, it's hard to beat the freewheeling, mobilitymaximizing tank top, a throwback to the old days of bodybuilding. Just make sure it’s in a technical fabric made for exercise and not its inbred cousin, the coon wife-beater. (Man, that term is ready for retirement.) en pair your tank with another classic: fitted gym sweatpants.

How to Wield a Kettlebell Without Destroying Your Back • “Kettlebell swings are very technical,” Boselli says. “I see a lot of people doing them wrong: bending their knees too much and throwing their chest too far forward, almost to a squat position. The movement and momentum should really start from the hips, thrusting forward as the kettlebell swings up to shoulder height.

Keep your arms and back straight.” Work your way up to sets of 15 reps, but do yourself a favor and stop early if your form starts to deteriorate.

tank top $40 (for three) Calvin Klein Underwear + sweatpants $280 Gypsy Sport sneakers $120 Diadora wristband $17 Gosha Rubchinskiy x Fila

01- 2017 • GQ • 73

5 Things to Do with a (Small) Medicine Ball • Giant medicine balls should come with a free referral to a chiropractor. Use them sparingly and get acquainted with the smaller ones, which are less for heaving massive weight and more for generating explosive power. 1. Crunches: Lying on your back with your legs in the air, do a crunch with the ball at arm’s length, lifting it toward your toes. 2. Sit-up Throw: Lying on your back with your feet on the ground, do a crunch while holding the ball above your head. As you sit up, throw the ball with both hands overhead to a partner standing several feet in front of you.

3. Squat + Wall Toss: From a deep squat, hold a larger ball below your chin, explode up, and push the ball with both hands (like a basketball chest pass) to a spot several feet above your head on the wall. Soften the impact by catching it as you return to a squat. 4. When you need a break, sit on the ball while you serenely meditate with the Headspace app. 5. Duckpin bowling. jacket $495 Z Zegna + tights $150 Nike

These days, warm no longer means heavy.

Pietro’s Principles • If you wanna get as ripped as this guy, there’s more to it than pumping iron. A few tips from the man himself: 1. Bring your gym clothes everywhere. You’ll be more likely to have a spontaneous workout than a spontaneous nacho platter. 2. Put your phone in your locker and stop hitting on all the girls in yoga class. “I don’t go to the gym to socialize,” Boselli says, “so I can usually be out in 45 minutes.” 3. Don’t do cardio at the gym: Run outside, play sports, hike. Nothing’s more absurd than driving to the gym to hop on a StairMaster. 4. If you really want to take your body to the next level, build up to two-a-day workouts. Yes, really. 5. Pasta. Eat a lot of pasta. Then chase it with some pasta. The carb truthers are worse than the climate-change truthers.

Train for a Triathlon, Even If You’re Not Racing • The benefits of daily exercise are easy enough to understand: health, energy, eucalyptusscented towels. But in the long run—facing human mortality— there’s another, deeper reason to push yourself: endurance. “Your body needs to be stimulated beyond what the one-dimensional gym machines can offer,” Boselli says. “In Italy, I grew up near the Alps, and trail running was always very important to me. When I moved to London, I started commuting on a bicycle. Then I got into cold-weather swimming. Exposure to the elements is a powerful physical challenge.”

‹ tank top $120 Lacoste

swim briefs $65 EA7

vest $85 New Balance

+ tights $130 sneakers $75 New Balance

hair by thom priano for r+co haircare. grooming by jodie boland using lab series skincare for men. set design by juliet jernigan at clm.

+ shorts $64 Speedo USA

jacket (at waist) $90 Nike watch $399 Apple Watch Nike+

sneakers $140 APL

where to buy it? go to

01- 2017 • GQ • 75

Always Wear Clothes That Will Get You Spotted This handsome shirt right here is from our favorite new apparel brand, Fourlaps. Based in New York, the line is all about understated style, which is why it's not covered in tac logos. It's also sweatwicking and odorresistant, which your bench partner will appreciate. t-shirt $50 Fourlaps


Peter Hapak

They steal scenes from stars. They’re dangerous even when they don’t play bad guys. And they definitely aren’t doing this for an invite to the Oscars. (Although you’ll probably see some of them there.) These charismatic Hollywood misfits are the most unpredictable actors in the game


Gentlemen’s Quarterly

01. 2017


B Wong

THE ESSENTIAL Crispin Glover question: Where exactly does the character he’s playing end and the human being begin? Like, that monomaniacal guy with the piercing stare (see: Charlie’s Angels, the upcoming Starz series American Gods)—how much overlap is there between that guy and the actor who showed up on Letterman in the ’80s and almost kicked Dave in the head? It’s the question we hope he’ll never really answer. (We asked anyway.)— D E V I N F R I E D M A N

WHITEROSE, the most villainous villain on Mr. Robot, is a hacker who seals business deals in English wearing a suit and tie but is more at home speaking Mandarin in a fetching skirt set. She is not a character whose quietly terrifying heels just any actor could fill. So the show’s creators enlisted BD Wong, who’s made a career out of popping up in unexpected places (from Broadway to Disney movies to those weekend-long Law & Order: SVU marathons), to embody the woman, the myth, the legend.— CA I T Y W E AV E R

What about you appeals to casting directors? There is a persona that was etched out pretty firmly in the ’80s. An unusual quality. But I actually have to be pretty businesslike in the things that I do.


suit, shirt, and tie Dolce & Gabbana

Like buying a castle in the Czech Republic? It’s an old château that was built in the 1600s. I hear that you have peacocks there. They are loud animals. Particularly in the mating season. About that eccentricity: How much of the public perception of you is true?

There are certain things which, if not discussed in the proper fashion, would be maligned. People don’t know the actuality of many things about me.

Tell me one actuality. People think I’m psychotic. Does that bother you? I know that’s what I’m going to have written about me, most likely. But as you can see, sitting here: I’m not.

Mahershala Ali MAHERSHALA ALI KNEW he was a leading man before anyone else did. He’s portrayed a nursing-home employee (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), a lobbyist turned chief of sta≠ (House of Cards), and Jennifer Lawrence’s bodyguard (The Hunger Games)—every fourth lead you can play, and always with the power of a man at the top of the call sheet. Now, with the Netflix series Luke Cage and the transcendent Moonlight, he’s finally getting a chance to show what he can do with the camera on him for more than five minutes at a time.—Z ACH BA RON

You’ve been acting for nearly two decades—it’s been such a slow burn. It’s like holding in a sneeze for 16 years. What took so long? African-Americans have to bring something to the table, like already being famous in some other arena. Kid you not, for 78

The A-Team, it was me, 50 Cent, and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. I felt like I had a great audition. They went with the wrestler dude.

What kept you from being discouraged during the many years before you

Gentlemen’s Quarterly

01. 2017

started getting cast in things like Moonlight? Fear. Fear of what? Mediocrity. I was poor, and you just get so many messages that encourage you to accept that your destiny is mediocrity. I never wanted to. I’m a stubborn person—but I’m patient, too.

How do you perform a scene in Mandarin if you don’t speak Mandarin? You painstakingly learn the lines phonetically, then learn what each word means, then understand how the word order is all di≠erent. At the end of the season, I said to [Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail], “I’m very close to taking a Chinese class.” He said, “That would be a really good idea.” But my performance in Mandarin is going to be most enjoyable to people who don’t speak Mandarin. Besides basic Mandarin, what skills have you honed as a perennial guest star? You have less opportunity to mess up. If there is a problem on set, let it be the weather or the lead actor being temperamental. You want to be asked back. And four episodes into your eight-episode arc, they can go, “Let’s just kill this person right now.”

W O N G , H A I R : F R A N C I S C A T A N E S E F O R R + C O H A I R C A R E . O T H E R S , H A I R : T H O M P R I A N O F O R R + C O H A I R C A R E . A L I A N D P L E M O N S , G R O O M I N G : D AV I D C O X F O R K E V I N M U R P H Y. O T H E R S , G R O O M I N G : K U M I C R A I G U S I N G L A M E R . A L I A N D P L E M O N S , S T Y L I S T : M I C H A E L C I O F F O L E T T I AT A R T D E PA R T M E N T.

Crispin Glover

suit Hugo shirt Burberry tie Paul Smith

MAHERSHALA ALI suit Dior Homme turtleneck Club Monaco


Gentlemenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Quarterly

01. 2017

JESSE PLEMONS suit, shirt, and tie Louis Vuitton pocket square Paul Stuart

suit Emporio Armani henley Armani Exchange necklaces, from top Miansai Pyrrha

Jon Bernthal WHEN JON BERNTHAL walks into a café, heads turn. It’s that face: the bashed-in nose, the eyes full of pain. Before he orders his Americano, his bruised knuckles catch your eye. Makeup? Nope. (Although he does have a few made-for-TV scars—he’s filming the Netflix series The Punisher.) In every role—The Wolf of Wall Street, Sicario, The Accountant— Bernthal brings a sensitivity rarely seen in tough-guy characters.—A M Y WA L L AC E

JESSE PLEMONS looks so sweet, so amiable, that it’s surprising when one of his characters kills somebody. In Friday Night Lights, when the beloved Landry committed murder, you could pass it o≠ as a joke, a glitch in the plan. But by Breaking Bad and Black Mass, it was clear that menace comes just as easily to Plemons as innocence. Which is probably why directors keep casting him, in roles that veer from cult apostate (The Master) to grieving comedy writer (Other People).—Z . B.

Is it true that you auditioned for a Star Wars movie? My agent said, “You need to meet J. J. Abrams,” and I said, “I probably should meet J. J. Abrams.” Abrams was so nice, and I was just bombing so, so terribly hard.

Actors are usually a little more comfortable talking about themselves. Last year I finally watched The Sopranos and became obsessed with James Gandolfini. I felt like, okay, I’m not the only one who’s unsettled by the attention.

You were funny on Late Night with Seth Meyers, but I could tell you were uncomfortable. He was so nice. I was so nervous, but once it was over, I was like, “What was I so worried about?”

Is there anything you haven’t done yet that you want to try? I guess... [long, languidly anxious pause] I guess I would like to play some more extroverts.

Do you think you’re good-looking? I was born with these ginormous earlobes, and the doctor suggested to my parents that we get plastic surgery. Obviously my parents were like, “Fuck o≠.” But they were definitely worried that I was going to be plagued. Were you? Yes, my looks have always been a source of real embarrassment. Just feel my earlobe, if you don’t mind. It’s not small. Absurdly big. In India, I guess, it’s a sign of wisdom—that’s what my mom used to tell me. But then I was getting shit grades and getting kicked out of every school I went to, so I was like, “Ma, I don’t think that’s what it means.”

01. 2017

Gentlemen’s Quarterly


Ben Foster Bil y Crudup BEN FOSTER IS a Method actor. A very, very methodical Method actor. His committed preparation for certain roles— like taking performance enhancers o≠screen to play Lance Armstrong in The Program—makes you wonder if there’s a line between acting and genuinely losing it. But it works: The glee with which he watches someone burn alive in 3:10 to Yuma was haunting enough to earn his character a cult following, and when he starts murdering cops in Hell or High Water, you feel like you’re seeing someone snap. This year, watch Foster nearly drown in ethically murky waters as a cavalry o∞cer/possible war criminal in Hostiles.

What’s it like to go through life as an adult man named Billy? Ever think about chopping off the “y”? I’m not much of a Bill. I’ve considered William. There’s recently been some Billys that have painted unflattering portraits of what grown men named Billy can do.

BILLY CRUDUP’S BREAKTHROUGH performance was in Almost Famous, playing the lead guitarist of Cameron Crowe’s fictional (but-so-perfectly-realized-you-maybeGoogled-it-to-make-sure-it-was-fictional) favorite band. In 20th Century Women, he dominates scenes as a gowith-the-flow handyman sucked into the riptides of the women around him. In Jackie, he swaps loafing for provoking, as a journalist opposite another formidable woman: the president’s widow.— C.W.

Who are we talking about? I won’t name names. Well…they’re all named Billy. One of my agents, when I was 25 or 26, called me into her o∞ce and said, “I want to talk to you about your name. I just can’t help but think of Billy Carter,”

the brother of Jimmy Carter. He was most renowned during the Carter presidency for coming up with his own beer, called Billy Beer. I said, “I can understand your reservations.”


Do you have some hellraiser in you? I was born like a rattlesnake. It’s nice that work has facilitated an outlet; otherwise I’d be in prison or dead. Some people are just born with teeth. You gotta chew on something. Is there anything you do between roles to refresh? Drink a lot. Have a lot of sex. Pull myself up the next day, go to the gym. I’ve been meditating since I was a kid. That always helps to clean some of the racket, quiet it down at least. You’re engaged now [to actress Laura Prepon]. Are you thinking about starting a family? I hope so. Kids are more interesting than most adults. They’re just as vindictive. They’re just as loving. It’s a little dirtier, more present. I’d rather sit at the kids’ table. 84

Gentlemen’s Quarterly

Aaron Taylor-Johnson AARON TAYLOR-JOHNSON BEGAN his acting career specializing in cerebral teens with rich inner lives (Nowhere Boy) before expanding into the roles of handsome superheroes and members of the armed forces with rich inner lives (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Godzilla). This fall, he gave an unsettling performance as an easily a≠ronted lunatic hillbilly (the scariest kind of lunatic hillbilly) in Nocturnal Animals. In the film, he wears a small plasticheart pinkie ring, which is only the ninth creepiest thing about his performance.— C.W.

Were there any specific serial killers you tried to channel through your character in Nocturnal Animals? At one point, I had these Coke-bottle glasses on—they looked very much like Jeffrey Dahmer’s glasses—because I wanted to get that look behind the eyes. They made my eyes look bigger and skewed. But I couldn’t see.

Because the prescription was wrong for you? Yeah. I had to go to an optician to get contact lenses to make my eyes worse. Did you notice any recurring patterns in the serial killers you studied for the part? Charisma. Like an enthusiastic, magnetic pull, but with unpredictability.


01. 2017


Do you think you have enough charisma to be a serial killer in real life? No. I found it really hard to relate. So [Nocturnal Animals director Tom Ford] wanted me to grow out my hair and my nails, which were really long and thick—I was embarrassed to shake people’s hands.

suit Paul Smith polo shirt David Hart

BEN FOSTER suit, shirt, tie, and pocket square Brunello Cucinelli


Gentlemenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Quarterly

01. 2017

AARON TAYLOR-JOHNSON suit and denim shirt Tom Ford

Jan. 2017 -GQ 88




CTE Diaries Z A C E A S T E R knew what was happening to him. He knew why. And he knew that it was only going to get worse.

So he decided to write it all downâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;to let the world know what football had done to him, what heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d done to his body and his brain for the game he loved. And then he shot himself O

by Reid Forgrave

Jan. 2017 The CTE Diaries GQ 90




IT’s taken me about 5 months to write all of this. Sorry for the bad grammar in a lot of spots. I WANT MY BRAIN DONATED TO THE BRAIN BANK!! I WANT MY BRAIN DONATED TO THE SPORTS LEGACY INSTITUE A.K.A THE CONCUSSION FOUNDATION. If you go to the concussion foundation website you can see where there is a spot for donatation. I want my brain donated because I don’t know what happened to me and I know the concussions had something to do with it.

class, and he was slurring his words. Ali was scared. She wanted him o≠ the road. She talked him down and into a gas-station parking lot, and I don’t want anything expensive at my funeral or what ever it is. Please then he hung up. please please I beg you to choose the cheapest route and not even buy me “Do not leave,” she texted back at a burial plot at a cemetary.... I also do not want a military funeral. If 11:27 a.m. there are color guardsmen or anyone else at my funerial or whatever you Ali Epperson was nearly 700 miles have I will haunt you forever. away, at her contract-law class at the Case Western Reserve University I want levi to keep playing clash of clans on my account. I am close to max School of Law in Cleveland. In foothave spent a lot of time playing that game. Though you think its stupid, ball terms, Zac had outkicked his I ask you keep playing it for me when you can and let my fellow clan mates coverage: Ali was an ex-cheerleader know what happened. My phones passcode is 111111, so that’s six 1’s.... but no vacant princess. She had a diamond stud in her left nostril and Levi gets my car, it will need a oil change and breaks/tires done her a knifing wit. They were a pair of shortly. Please take care of old red. It will need cleaned out as well scrappers whose jagged edges fit. because I am a slob. Zac loved Trump; he kept a copy of Trump: The Art of the Deal in his Thank you for being the best family in the world. I will watch over you bedroom. Ali was a budding progresall and please take my last wishes into consideration. Do not do something sive: a first-year student at a good I do no want. Just remember, I don’t want a military funeral like law school who’d interned at Senator grandpas. It is my last wishes and last rights. Tom Harkin’s D.C. o∞ce. They were just friends in high school; she used I am with the lord now. to cut fourth-period music class to hang with Zac. After they graduated, -Look, Im sorry every one for the choice I made. they became more than friends. Its wrong and we all know it. Sometimes he called her Winslow, her middle name, and only Winslow knew the full extent of Zac’s struggles in the five and a half years since high school: the brain tremors that felt like thunderclaps inside his skull, NOVEMBER 13, 2 0 1 5 the sudden memory lapses in which ZAC EASTER TEXTED HIS GIRLFRIEND SHORTLY BEFORE 10 A.M. he’d forget where he was driving or why he was walking around the “Can you call me when you get out of class? I’m in hot water right hardware store, the doctors who told him his mind might be torn to now and idk what to do” pieces from all the concussions from football. She knew about the drugs and the drinking he was doing to cope. She knew about the He typed as he drove, weaving Old Red, his cherry red 2008 Mazda3, down the wide suburban boulevards of West Des Moines. mood swings, huge and pulverizing, the slow leaching of his hope. “I’m not leaving,” he texted back. He’d already been awake for hours, since well before sunrise. At 5:40 a.m., he texted Ali an apology: “Sorry about last night.” Then he started drinking. By now he was shitfaced and driv^ LIFELINE Zac’s girlfriend, Ali (above), was the only ing around the suburbs. She called as soon as she got out of person he trusted with the truth of his struggles.

P H O T O G R A P H S T H R O U G H O U T : C O U R T E S Y O F T H E E A S T E R F A M I LY

Please please please give me the cheapest burial possible. I don’t want anything fancy and I want to be cremated. Once cremated, I want my ashes spread in the timber on the side hill where I shot my 10 point buck. That is where I was happiest and that I where I want to lay. Feel free to spread my ashes around the timber if you’d like, but just remember on the side hill is where I would like most of my remains. I am truly sorry if I put you in a financial burden. I just cant live with this pain any more.

“Promise?” He pulled into a Jimmy John’s and ate something to sober up, sending Ali Snapchats every so often to prove he wasn’t driving. Then, a couple of hours later, he texted her again:

I’m home now. Don’t worry about it Zac. You promised you weren’t gonna drive. Ok sorry Alison. For everything. Idk what’s happening to me, but I’m sorry I brought you into it Don’t be sorry you brought me into it. I told you I’d always be there for you. I just want you to get better. Idk if there is better for ppl like me. Like I said before. If anything happens to be just by a chance of luck. Tell my family everything

Zac Easter went inside his parents’ house, past the five mounted deer heads on the living room wall, past the Muhammad Ali poster at the top of the stairs (“Impossible Is Nothing”), and into his room: Green Bay Packers gear, bodybuilding supplements, military books bursting from the shelves, a T-shirt he got from his high school football coach with the words big hammer. His laptop was open to a 39-page document titled “Concussions: My Silent Struggle.” “MY LAST WISHES,” it began. He’d created the document five months ago, and the final revision was made today. Zac Easter grabbed some ammunition, packed up the .40-caliber pistol he’d given his dad as a Father’s Day gift, and drove a few miles down the road to Lake Ahquabi State Park. It was a place where he’d gone swimming throughout his childhood; he and Ali liked to go there and lie on the beach and look at the clouds. “Ahquabi” is from an ancient Algonquian language. It means “resting place.” Around sunset, Zac took a picture of the lake, then he posted a status update on Facebook:

Dear friends and family, If your reading this than God bless the times we’ve had together. Please forgive me. I’m taking the selfish road out. Only God understands what I’ve been through. No good times will be forgotten and I will always watch over you. Please if anything remember me by the person I am not by my actions. I will always watch over you! Please, please, don’t take the easy way out like me. Fist pumps for Jesus and fist pumps for me. Party on wayne!! ;)

He was a sweet, curious kid, and seemingly programmed to destroy. He went through four of those unbreakable steel Tonka dump trucks— broke the first three and disassembled the fourth, trying to figure out how it worked. He was 7. One winter, the family couldn’t figure out why the lightbulbs on the Christmas tree kept bursting. Faulty wiring? It turned out Zac was taking swings at the bulbs with a baseball bat. As he got older, the blast radius got bigger. He was Tom Sawyer reborn: unleashed, unbound midwestern middle-class American boy. The Easter family’s acreage was o≠ a dirt road, surrounded by cornfields, just east of where The Bridges of Madison County was filmed, and Zac and his brothers would go on hikes to the creek, bringing along an artillery of Black Cat fireworks to blow up minnows and bullfrogs. As a teenager he graduated to the family’s Honda Recon ATV, his first taste of real adrenaline and real recklessness. He’d fly through the woods, build jumps and hurdle over them. “GODDAMMIT!” his dad, Myles Sr., would yell from the porch as he shot by. Zac was fearless, certain of his invincibility, confident he could push his limits to the very edge yet always stay in control. He was perfect for the one thing that mattered most in the Easter family: football. When Myles Easter Sr. talks about his own football career, there’s a joyful worship of the sport’s violent side: “I just wanted to knock the fuck out of somebody.” He was a safety at Drake University, a small school in Des Moines. He and Brenda got together in 1982, soon after his football career ended, and they married two years later, which meant she was now married to football, too. Before Zac was born, Myles took a job as defensive coordinator at Simpson College, a Division III school in Indianola, Iowa, a town of 11,000 known for an annual hot-air-balloon festival. He never made his boys play football—it was more like it was just assumed. “I loved football,” he says. “I was getting to the point where I loved it more than the kids did back in high school.” Not that the boys didn’t love it, too. They’d come to practice every day and hang o≠ to the side with the kickers. On Saturday afternoons in the fall, they’d sneak up to the overhead track at Simpson College’s century-old gym and listen to their dad’s halftime pep talks. The Easters were a Minnesota Vikings family, but early on Zac defected and chose the Green Bay Packers. Zac loved Brett Favre—he had the same swagger. Zac’s elder brother, Myles Jr., was taller, faster, talented enough to earn a college football scholarship and a spot in his high school’s sports hall of fame. Zac was shorter and slower, but he was the toughest son of a bitch on the field. “He was out there to fuck people up,” says Myles Jr. “He was there to do some damage.” He had a lot to live up to, and he wasn’t born with what he needed, so in high school he secretly began taking prohormones, a steroid-like supplement banned in many sports. It worked. “Zac was a thumper,” his father says, standing in the family kitchen. “Of all the boys, he was the one who wouldn’t show pain, who’d be fearless.… He’d throw his head into anything. He was the kind of guy I like on defense.” Myles Sr. pauses, takes a heavy breath, and shrugs. On the mantel behind him is a picture of Zac sitting in the back of a pickup, cradling the ten-point buck. When he speaks again, his voice is a stew of pride and guilt: “He was my type of guy.” FR O M “ C O N C USSIO N S: MY SILEN T ST R UGGLE”


GROWING UP, HIS NICKNAME WAS HOAD. ON SATURDAY MORNINGS, the three Easter boys—Myles Jr. was the eldest, then Zac, then Levi— would crowd around the TV to watch Garfield and Friends. Odie was the mutt—impossibly energetic, tongue wagging, ears flopping. Friends with everyone. That was Zac. “Zac never stopped running. Everything he did was at full charge,” says his mother, Brenda. Over time the name evolved, the way nicknames do—Odie morphing into Hodie, Hodie shrinking to Hoad.

I started playing youth football a year early in 3rd grade because my older brother was on the team and my dad was the coach. I started off playing the two positions that I played throughout my career, linebacker and full back. I remember being one of the hardest hitting linebackers ever since I started. You could even go back and ask some of the old players on the 49ers if you don’t believe me because I’m sure they only remember me leading with my head. I even remember Austin Shrek’s dad offering to buy him a PS2 if Austin would learn to hit as hard as me on game days....

Jan. 2017 The CTE Diaries GQ 92

linebacker’s every time I got the ball. I’m sure my parents still have the game tapes to prove it.... I won’t lie I look back now and always felt like I had something to prove to my dad and trying to fill my older brothers football shoes.... I was tired of teachers and even Principal Monroe comparing me to my brother and asking me why I wasn’t as good of a student as my older brother. I guess I got to the point then where I just didn’t care and realized the only way to fill adequate to fill the Easter family shoes was to play football.... There was also the “Easter Mentality” stereo type that I had to live up to. This “Easter Mentality” is the name that all the other coaches and kids in sports called us because the Easter family was such a tough nosed football family and the reputation was that football was our lives and we would play through any pain. My dad was an intimidating hard ass football coach and the Easter mentality meant that we were supposed to always be tough as nails, show no weakness, and never get taken out of game for being hurt.... [From another journal around the same time] I've never really felt good enough for him. I know the remarks he will say. Im sure he loves me but he's always had a hard time showing it. I feel like all my concussions were for him in the first place because I just wanted to impress him and feel tough. I regret all that now and wish I never even played sports.


I learned around this age that if I used my head as a weapon and literally put my head down on every play up until the last play I ever played. I was always shorter than a lot of other players and learned to put my head down so I could have the edge and win every battle. Not only that, but I liked the attention I got from the coaches and other players. I can look back and remember getting headaches during practice. Of course by now, I had gained the reputation from my coaches and classmates about being a tough nosed kid and a hard hitter so I took this social identity with pride and never wanted to tell anyone about the headaches I got from practices and games. In 6th grade, I really became a road grater as a fullback and running back. I was short and chubby, but I would try to run over the ^ IN THE BLOOD Football was—and still is, even now—a cornerstone of the Easters’ identity as a family.

year. The team at Indianola High School was a perfect fit for Zac: They were always smaller, always scrappier, and always played like the chips were stacked against them. Indianola had the lowest enrollment in a conference filled with schools from Des Moines’s suburbs, but they took pride in not playing like it. When their head coach, Eric Kluver, had arrived years before, he quickly realized there was a gem in his own backyard: Myles Easter Sr., a veteran college coach who had three sons coming up in the Indianola youth football system and was eager to help. Myles was tough. So were his players. Kluver hired him. At first Kluver tried to innovate with a speedy spread o≠ense, but he quickly realized that wouldn’t fly here; he simply couldn’t get the type of athletes to make it work. So instead he went old-school: a smashmouth I-formation o≠ense. Pound the ball and wear out bigger, faster, stronger—but softer—teams. It was catnip to Iowa country boys like Myles Easter Sr. Soon, things began to change for Indianola. Local fans would come to games just to watch the special teams tee o≠ on opponents during kick returns. Kluver handed out a big hammer T-shirt for the most crushing hit in that week’s game; Zac earned one his junior year and another his senior year. The Easter Mentality had become the Indianola football mentality. By his senior year, Zac had become an anchor of the team’s defense. On this chilly Friday night, the seventh game of the 2009 season, Zac was taking the field for the first time in a month. A concussion had knocked him out in the season’s fourth game, but Zac was determined to be back for the game against league rival Ankeny High School. Ankeny was much bigger than Zac’s school, one of the largest in the state, more a±uent, and most obnoxiously, they were good. “We just thought they were kind of rich pricks,” says Nick Haworth, Zac’s best friend since preschool and an o≠ensive lineman on the team. Zac was fired up. Indianola’s athletic trainer, Sue Wilson, was not. She’d been hired in 2005, and her focus was concussions; this was the same year that Bennet Omalu, a neuropathologist in Pittsburgh who studied the brain of deceased Pittsburgh Steelers star Mike Webster, had published his groundbreaking paper “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in a National Football League Player.” Even now, in 2009, she was a mostly unwelcome presence on the sidelines. Parents yelled at her when she took away their sons’ helmets in the middle of a game; they wanted them to play. So did the coaches.

One psychologist even told Zac that he would—not could, would —end up penniless, homeless, and in a mental institution. On this Friday night, Wilson was already focused on Zac. He’d always played through pain. He’d already su≠ered two concussions in as many months: one in August, before games started, during a tackling drill at a full-contact football camp, and then another during a game in early September—the one that sidelined him for a month. By now, Myles Sr. had grown concerned enough about the repeated head injuries that he’d ordered a special Xenith helmet. The helmet was supposed to reduce the risk of concussion, but it kept falling o≠ Zac’s head during games. He was also wearing a cowboy collar to protect his neck. He was armored up, like a soldier heading into battle. Prior to the game, Zac had passed Wilson’s concussion protocol, but if she’d known what was really going on inside his brain, there’s no way she would have let him near the field. After the concussion during the game in September, a teammate told Zac that he was looking at him cross-eyed. Later that night, he would write in his journal, “I saw a doctor and lied about all my concussion symptoms.” Of course he lied. It was his senior year. He wanted to play. F ROM “C ONCUSSI ONS: MY SI LENT STRUGGLE”

The truth was I had severe headaches every day and constantly felt sick or dizzy, but the tough guy in me told them I was still totally fine. I remember leaving some of my classes because I would be feeling sick and sitting there soaking myself in sweat. Around this time is when I started feeling depressed. I felt ashamed that I was hurt and had to sit out.... I finally got to play in the next game against Ankeny.... Even my friends noticed that week that I wasn’t as willing to hit as hard and I would actually shy away from contact. During the Ankeny game I remember the first play of the game is when I got my bell seriously rung.... I went head to head with the running back at full speed on the first play during a quarter back rollout to try and run him over. I could of ripped through the running back and made a sack, instead I wanted to punish this running back on the first play and get inside his head. Instead he got inside of mine, I never pulled myself out of the game though and Chia told me that during halftime he remembered me trying to take a knee in the locker room and I fell over because I was so disorientated and I couldn’t get back up without a friend helping. Ofcourse I told him I was fine and showed no weakness. It wasn’t long during the 3rd quarter when my helmet came off during a play and I guess I hit a guy without a helmet on, head to head. The next play I shit canned a pulling guard and that’s about all I remember. From what I was told I could barely get up and wasn’t able to walk off the field on my own.

IT HAPPENED AWAY FROM THE BALL, SO THE COLLISION THAT ended Zac Easter’s football career can’t be seen on the game tape. But on a third-quarter drive, you can tell that No. 44 is suddenly missing from Indianola’s defense. And later in the game, at the bottom of the screen, Zac can be seen on the sidelines, arguing heatedly with someone: Wilson, the trainer. She is clutching his helmet. He wants to go back in. No way, she says. What happened in the moments just after Zac’s final play remains burned into Wilson’s memory: Two teammates pulled a player o≠ the ground and dragged him toward her. She couldn’t tell who it was

until she saw the jersey number, 44, and her heart dropped into her stomach. Zac’s feet were barely under him. “Sue, he’s not right,” one teammate told her. “I looked at him, and he looked at me, and he just didn’t say a word,” Wilson says now. “I took his helmet. And he just put his head down. He started crying on the bench. I walked away to give him his space. I came back and asked him if there’s anything I could do. He just said, ‘No. I just don’t feel good.’ I said, ‘Are you going to get sick?’ He said, ‘I don’t know.’ ” She kept an eye on him the rest of the game. He could still speak. He could still stick his tongue out. He wasn’t vomiting. His head was pounding, but he didn’t seem to be in need of urgent medical attention. In the locker room after the game, Haworth says, Zac’s blue eyes had drifted into a haze—“a thousand-yard stare.” Wilson ordered Zac to rest for the next week. No football, no exercise, nothing. But Zac ignored her. By this point, he’d figured out that exercise was the only way to ease the pounding in his brain, so he’d run on a treadmill—sometimes an hour, sometimes two. He knew his football career was over. No one had told him yet, but he knew it. Still, he needed to stay in shape for wrestling season. About a month later, though, he was still exhibiting symptoms. When he saw Wilson to get cleared for wrestling, she wouldn’t sign o≠. “I’ll never forget the look in Zac’s eyes when I told him he wasn’t going to wrestle his senior year,” she says now. “I think his exact words were ‘Fuck you.’ ” FR O M “ C O N C USSIO N S: MY SILEN T ST R UGGLE”

Something changed in me after that last concussion against Ankeny. My depression kicked into full gear and I started having symptoms of anxiety. My emotions have never been the same after the last football concussion either.... I love my family to death, but I felt like I was snapping on them for no reason some days and I could see that somethings I said were hurting them. It just seemed like anything and everything would want to set me off.... [At college] I kept going out on the weekends and drinking my ass off though and using any drug I could find.... I started drinking and getting so shitfaced I often started pissing the bed and started to have my drinking problem come back. Some nights I would tell my friends and roommate I’m busy and sit in my room and drink alone. Before my senior year [of college] started I also got a prescription of Adderall because I thought I had adhd. All I did was start abusing the Adderall right away. When I picked up my first prescription I went home and snorted several lines.... It seemed the only I could get myself to seem smart and outgoing was to be high on amphetamines from the Adderall. I feel like I’ve started to become delusional or I’ve been kind of hearing and seeing things. A few times I’ve gone down stairs and have asked the guys what they wanted because I sware I heard someone calling my name. A lot of this freaked me out because I’m not sure if I was going schitzo or not. I’ve felt like some days I’ve just been out of it. Over the years I’ve been starting to forget peoples names and just forget daily things. My roommates even joked about an alzhiemers commercial about an old lady losing her shit because I’ve felt like I’ve lost mine slowly.

Jan. 2017 The CTE Diaries GQ 94

My impulse control problems have been killing me a lot lately to. I can’t seem to get a grip with my money spending habits. I used to be a tight ass and all about money, but now I just find myself spending all my money and money that I don’t even have. I think I’ve spent about 10k in the past three months and nothing to show for it. I cant seem to stop binge eating unless im on Adderall. I don’t know if I have that brain decise that people talk about or if I really am crazy.

ON THE NIGHT OF HIS 24TH BIRTHDAY, ZAC EASTER AND HIS cousin met at the Sports Page Grill in Indianola, ordered Coors Lights, and waited for Zac’s parents to arrive. Zac was nervous. His cousin could hear it in his voice. By this point, June 2015, not quite six years since his final football game, he’d become convinced that his five diagnosed concussions (plus countless more that weren’t) across a decade of using his head as a weapon had triggered his downward spiral. “I’ve noticed I’m relying on drugs to try and be who I want to be,” he wrote in his journal around this time. “I need to stop, but at the same time I’m like Fuck it. I won’t lie, I feel kind of scared and depressed bout my future. I found some info online about CTE and got scared. I’m not looking at that stu≠ again.” Meanwhile, Zac’s parents believed their son was on top of the world. He’d just graduated from college with honors. He was a star in the Iowa National Guard—he won a Soldier of the Year award for his unit and was short-listed for Army Ranger school. He turned it down because the war in Afghanistan had become so dangerous. Inspired by The Wolf of Wall Street, he’d made a get-rich-soon pact with his elder brother, Myles Jr. They’d pound their fists on their chests, like Matthew McConaughey in the film. He’d grown closer with Ali, their on-again-o≠-again relationship inching toward something real and special. A full life awaited him. But what his parents saw—the degree, the girlfriend, the job, the stability—was a mirage. Yes, he had just graduated from college, ^ “EASTER MENTALITY” Zac inherited from his father (far right, with Brenda) a willingness to play through pain.

but he'd also just told his first employer, an annuity-and-insurance marketing company, that he needed time away from work. When he was making sales calls, he would forget what he was talking about mid-sentence. It got so bad that he even wrote himself a two-page script to get through a call. When his parents arrived for his birthday dinner, Zac took an anxious swig from his Coors Light, gathered himself, then told them he needed to talk. “Something’s been going on with my head,” he began. From there, he laid it all out: He was quitting his job because he needed to focus on his health. He was often tired and dizzy and nauseated. During college he used to set his alarm for 3:30 a.m. to work out and run for hours; now he would go for a jog, feel sick, and only make it 1.4 miles in 20 minutes. He got headaches all the time. Sometimes while driving, he’d go into these trances; he’d snap out of it when he drove his car into a curb. Panic attacks came without warning. He had started writing down a long list of questions for his doctor; one of them was “Do you think I’m showing signs of CTE or dementia?” In fact, he already knew the answer to that one. He had just visited a doctor who specialized in concussions and who told him that, yes, he very well might have CTE. He had started seeing a speech pathologist to help him manage his cognitive struggles and improve his memory, attention span, language-processing abilities, and problem-solving skills. His parents were stunned. They knew some things were o≠. Sometimes on the phone it sounded like Zac was talking with marbles in his mouth. And they’d noticed that his bank account was suddenly hemorrhaging money. But mostly they just assumed their son was a young man grappling with adulthood and independence. But now he was telling them that he might have a mysterious brain disease that a±icted NFL players, haunting them for decades after their careers had ended. One psychologist even told Zac that he would—not could, would—end up penniless, homeless, and in a mental institution. Zac had walked out of that guy’s o∞ce terrified. Myles Easter Sr. had seen the news reports of ex–NFL stars whose lives unraveled post-retirement and ended in suicide. Mike Webster, Andre Waters, Dave Duerson, Junior Seau—the Sunday gladiators who once were the apotheosis of all that he worshipped about the

game of football. But Myles never really believed the disease existed. To be honest, even the mention of it kind of disgusted him. CTE was an excuse, he had always thought: a bunch of millionaire athletes who had it made, blew through all their money, fell out of the limelight, got depressed, then killed themselves. But now, hearing his own son—still just a kid, no jaded pro, someone who had never played a day of football above the high school level—say that he might have CTE? “It just caught me so o≠ guard,” Myles Sr. says. “I was honestly dumbfounded.” The dinner table went quiet. Then Brenda, Zac’s mom, broke the silence. “Well,” she said, “let’s fix it.” Z AC EASTER’S JOURNAL, JUNE 2015

Even with two 30 mg Adderall in me about another 10 mgs I poored out and snorted, I still got lost all around Menards and the dollar store.… IDK what it was but I felt like I kept walking all around the store and passed what I was looking for several times. I straight up felt confused on what I was looking and kept forgetting even right after I looked at my list.… I only went for like 3 things to. I guess [my speech pathologist] is right, I only have about a 3 minute memory after that I’m fucked. I even took three wrong turns on the way home. Shit happens I guess. JULY 2 0 1 5

I wish I could put a finger on what is wrong with me. Its either from the concussions or Im just bat shit crazy. Im tired of feeling emotionless or too many emotions. Im trying to find a new hobby but nothing really quite makes me want to do it. Tomorrow I meet w/ Spooner [the concussion specialist] about everything to me, theres just NO way those concussions didn’t change me. I think I might just donate my brain and let them figure it out. AUGUST 2 0 1 5

I still havent been working or looking for work. I got put on Zoloft and my new psychiatrist seems to know his meds. I’m still fighting the side e≠ects. Sleep has been dismal and I’ve still been going to speech therapy and PT. It sounds like they really arent on my side anymore and they want me to be focusing on my mood disorder. I cant really blame them. I have been fucked up with depression the past few weeks. I’ve been going out more but using more drugs. Smoked pot a few times, rolled on Molly and now I got some coke. All that plus Adderall fuck it! Its the only way I feel normal SEPTEMBER 2015

Im scared if I can’t get help or feel better I may want to just end it all. As in suicide. Im just so tired of feeling so shitty and anxious. I had a job interview, two of them and its hard for me to not have panic attacks. It seems like I still cant get over my anxiety. IDK lifes just a bitch. Im try to forget about that fact that Im mentally ill and that I might have a traumatic brain disorder. I plan on going home tonight so hopefully I’ll be able to talk to my rents a little more. I might even move home next month if I cant get some income coming in.…

I just got my Adderall script and started snorting it right away! Im going to try and leave it home when I go home so I don’t use it all. Physically my heart rate is still always nuts whether I’m Adderall or not. I’m trying to work out but its just getting harder each day. FR ID AY, N O V EMBER 1 3 , 2 0 1 5 . 1 : 3 4 P. M. T EXT EXCH ANGE BET W EEN ZAC AND AL I.

I’m sorry you fell in love with a guy with a ducked up brain. You can’t choose who you fall in love with. You just fall in love. True. Sorry you chose me when I’m scitzo lol Like I said before. If anything happens to be just by a chance of luck. Tell my family everything You’re gonna be ok. And of couse I’ll tell them but nothing is gonna happen

F R I D AY, N O V E M B E R 1 3 , 2 0 1 5 . 5 : 3 0 P. M .

ZAC EASTER STOOD ON THE DOCK LEADING OUT ONTO LAKE Ahquabi, pistol in hand, ignoring the calls that had started pouring into his cell phone a few minutes after his Facebook post. Instead, he opened Snapchat and posted a photo of the lake: “God bless America,” he typed. The third time Ali called, he picked up. She heard terror in his voice. “I can’t do this,” he told her. “It’s never going to get better.” A friend recognized the lake from the Snapchat photo. Deputies from the county sheri≠ ’s department rushed to the state park while Ali tried to keep Zac on the phone. “Listen to the sound of my voice,” she told him. “I’m losing my mind,” he replied. “This is it for me.” Then a pause, a shift in tone: “Ali, did you send these cops here?” His phone died. Ali sent him a frantic text at 6:12 p.m.: Baby its my Winslow jist talk to me. I need to know you’re okay. Out on the dock, Zac pointed the gun at the sky and fired: a warning shot to tell the police to keep away. Zac’s father, alerted by friends, sped his pickup truck into the park, down the hill toward the lake. The first sheri≠ ’s deputy he saw recognized him. More squad cars raced into the parking lot. Another deputy—a former all-conference linebacker for Easter Sr. a few years back—pointed an assault rifle at his son. Lasers from police rifles danced on Zac’s body. It was past dark and getting cold. Myles Sr. peered inside Zac’s car. He saw an empty six-pack of Coors Light, an empty bottle of Captain Morgan, and a pill bottle. Floodlights illuminated Zac. The sun had set on the far side of the lake, dropping a black curtain on the water behind him. He stood up from a picnic table and walked wordlessly down the pier toward a wooden fishing hut at its edge. A few more steps and he’d be inside, alone on the water, out of sight. “Put your gun down!” the deputies shouted. “Nope!” Zac yelled with an anguished laugh. “Not gonna do that!” His father realized with a flash: Zac wants the police to shoot him. I can’t let this happen. He sprinted down the wooden pier. “Zac!” he shouted. If he shoots me, he thought, he shoots me. “Dad, stop!” “Nope, I’m coming. Put your gun down.” Zac laid the gun down, then disappeared inside the hut.

Jan. 2017 The CTE Diaries GQ 96

Seconds later his father reached the door. Inside, he saw a sad, sick look on his son’s face. His vibrant boy was gone. Zac looked worn-out. Beaten. “Dad, I’m in trouble,” Zac said quietly. Myles Easter Sr. spoke gently to his son. “I don’t know what’s going on, but we’ll get this figured out. But we gotta get through this part right now. We’re in deep shit. We can’t make it any worse.” Back on land, the deputies surrounded Zac and eased his wrists into handcu≠s. They put him in the back of an ambulance, drove him to Des Moines, and checked him into Iowa Lutheran Hospital. Seven hundred miles away in Cleveland, Ali was still in limbo, panicked, convinced Zac had hurt himself. Before he hung up the phone, his voice had gone flat. For 62 minutes, she had no idea if he was dead or alive. Finally, a text popped up on her phone. Zac’s elder brother: “They got him.”

then he’d wake up in the middle of the night after a bad dream and start drinking from a whiskey bottle he’d hidden in his room. Something had shifted inside of him. No longer did he worry that he might be going crazy; now he was certain of it. Fatalism swept over him. He told his mother he’d made a bucket list: Things to Do Before CTE Takes Away My Mind. Travel overseas. Camp in the timber in winter. Hike across the country, or at least through Colorado. Go rattlesnake hunting on the family’s land. On the sixth anniversary of the day Zac bagged his ten-point buck, Myles Sr. decided to take his son hunting. Perhaps they could recapture some of the tranquillity of those days. They got up before sunrise, ate bacon and eggs, and got in the truck. It’s a 40-minute drive from their house to the family’s timber, a good time to talk. They sipped co≠ee. Myles told his son that he was proud of him, that Zac was smart and talented and successful. He said they would fight through this as a family. “I’m sorry about the concussions from football,” he told his son. “I didn’t understand it earlier.” Zac didn’t want his dad feeling guilty. He told him that he loved football. He told him he even missed football. They got out of the truck. Zac watched his dad pull the shotguns out from behind the seat, where he’d stashed them away. Myles Jr. met them and they hiked into the woods. From the tree stand Myles Sr. was heartened by the sight of his boys together, walking down the hill, laughing. Today, at least, Zac seemed like his old self. “I thought maybe we were getting better,” Myles Sr. says. They hunted till after sunset. On the ride back home, Myles Sr. picked up a six-pack of Coors Light tallboys for them to split. Zac’s mom wouldn’t have liked this—alcohol, she knew, only made his problems worse—but hell, Myles just wanted things to go back to the way they used to be with his son. As they rumbled home on the gravel country roads, Zac turned to his father. “This was one of the best days I’ve had,” he said. They fell asleep next to each other in the living room, watching Iowa play Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game. It was a tough, ugly defensive battle, the exact kind of football game they loved. DECEMBER 7, 2015

BRENDA EASTER CAME HOME TO FIND ZAC’S CAR GONE FROM THE driveway. She called Ali, catching her in the middle of an exam, and Ali texted Zac.

Where are you babe? I’m ok and I’m in Oklahoma ;)

DECEMBER 5, 2015

THEY TOOK ALL THE GUNS OUT OF THE HOUSE. THEY TOOK ALL the alcohol out of the house. They were constantly on edge. Myles Sr. and Brenda encouraged Zac to go to his therapy appointments, and he would—but then he’d sit in the parking lot and have a panic attack and never leave his car. He went to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, but WOUNDED WARRIOR The note Zac wrote directing his family to his journal (above); his ten-point buck (opposite).

He told her he’d been feeling cooped up at his parents’ house, thinking about losing his mind, and he needed to get away. So a few hours earlier he’d gotten in the car and just started driving. He was headed for Oklahoma, then turned around and started making his way back; after a wrong turn he wound up in Kansas City and got a hotel room for the night. He joked to Ali that he was going to hit a strip club, but all he did was sit in his hotel room and order pizza. The next morning, he made the three-hour drive back home.

Something had shifted inside of him. Fatalism swept over him. He told his mother he’d made a bucket list: Things to Do Before CTE Takes Away My Mind. F R I D AY, D E C E M B E R 1 8 , 2 0 1 5 . 8 P. M .

MYLES SR. WAS IN THE UPSTAIRS BATHROOM, COVERED IN BLOOD. He’d taken their two dogs hunting in the woods behind the house, and Tito, the fat white rat terrier, had killed a possum. Tito was squirming in the tub when Zac walked in. He’d just gotten a haircut for family pictures the next day. “Boy, you sure look good,” his dad said, grinning. “You’re in deep shit if Mom sees that,” Zac said, looking at the blood-soaked dog. Myles asked him for a hand, so Zac held the dog in place while he finished washing o≠ the blood. Then Zac disappeared into his bedroom. Ali was home for winter break and she’d invited him out with friends that night, but Zac declined. He was feeling down and didn’t want to be around people. Myles turned the dog loose, then went downstairs and fell asleep on the couch. Five weeks had passed since Zac’s suicide attempt. Next week—the day after Christmas—Zac was heading to California for a facility that treated both alcohol addiction and mental illness. But Zac wasn’t sure he wanted to go. He didn’t see the point. S AT U R D AY, D E C E M B E R 1 9 , 2 0 1 5 . 1 2 : 2 4 A . M .

ALI WAS STILL OUT WITH HER FRIENDS AT A BAR IN DOWNTOWN Des Moines when a text arrived from Zac. “Thank you for everything,” he wrote. “You’ve helped me through so much and never ever blame yourself for anything. I love you and will always be over your shoulder looking after you no matter what. Always keep having fun. Always remember me. Always keep striving for greatness or shall I say first female president. Never quit fighting for what you believe for ;) I love you Winslow” Ali wrote back immediately: “I love you, too babe but that sounds so past tense and is making me worried. I don’t want you to talk that way.… Are you okay. Please be honest. I can call you” No reply. She called him, but he didn’t answer. Called again. No answer. “Seriously zac,” she texted. “I’m worried now. I know you’re having an o≠ day but it will be okay—I know you have the fight in you, Please talk to me” No reply. “Zac. Please talk to me” Back at the house, Myles Sr.’s ringing phone woke him up. It was his eldest son, asking if Zac was upstairs. Myles Sr. went up to Zac’s room, but it was empty. He noticed a frayed piece of notebook paper on Zac’s bed and went back downstairs to get his glasses. Ali texted Zac again: “Baby. It’s winslow. Please think of me please talk to me. I believe in you. I know you’re upset but please talk to me” No reply. “I need you to text me back” Myles Easter put on his glasses and read what his son had scrawled on the sheet of paper. “Please!” it began. “Look on my computer and print o≠ my story and last wishes to everyone. PLEASE FULLFILL MY last wishes! My comp pass zacman (all lowercase)” The 20-gauge shotgun that Myles had given Zac for his 12th birthday was missing from the backseat of his truck. One hollow-point 20-gauge Winchester slug was missing from Myles’s ammunition cache in the basement. Brenda’s keys weren’t in the kitchen, and her car wasn’t in the driveway. By the time Myles got to Lake Ahquabi, a patrol car was already there. “I’m sorry,” the deputy told him. His son’s body was in the parking lot, the 20-gauge slug torn through his chest.


ERIC KLUVER STOOD OVER HIS FORMER PLAYER’S CASKET AT THE cavernous Catholic church in Indianola. Kluver loved all his players, but this wasn’t just one of his players. This was Zac Easter. His top assistant’s son. Every summer, Kluver picks hardworking students in need of extra cash to help him with his landscaping business. Two summers in a row, Kluver picked Zac. It wasn’t even that long ago. Now Zac was in a casket. Is this my fault? Kluver kept wondering. He and his sta≠ had always taught Zac proper tackling technique, of course…but they never discouraged his aggression. If anything, they’d encouraged it. Zac was the model—the type of hard-nosed player every football coach dreams of. And yet Kluver knew that football had played a role in Zac’s destruction. Football, and football culture. When Kluver played high school football, one of his best friends su≠ered a brain injury after a big hit. He wound up in a wheelchair and later died. During a practice in 2008, when Kluver was already well into his career at Indianola, a sophomore linebacker named Joey Goodale absorbed what seemed like a normal hit on a kick return and smacked the back of his head on the turf. A few minutes later, he collapsed. He was unconscious, his body rigid. Zac Easter was there on the field that day, watching his childhood pal get loaded into an ambulance. Goodale was in a coma for three weeks. He spent months in a rehab facility. He never really recovered. He’s 23 now, lives with his parents, works at UPS and unloads trucks at a local grocery store, and has struggled with addiction. Kluver could always set those two memories aside and keep going. Those were accidents. But with Zac, this was no accident. This was football. “To see him lying in that casket,” he says now, “you would think that would be enough to make you say that enough is enough.” And yet. Months later, Kluver would lead his team onto the field for their first game of the 2016 season. After the game, he would retreat to his windowless o∞ce in the bowels of Indianola High School, the redbrick walls covered with posters of all the teams he’s coached, the three Easter boys and their father pictured in nearly all of them. In the hallways of the school, he’ll (continued on next page)



C O N T I N U E D F R O M PAG E 9 7

still see an occasional big hammer T-shirt. He stopped giving them out a few years ago, when it started to feel wrong. Kluver still believes in football. He believes there is more good that comes from the sport than bad. He believes life is full of risks, and that we should not pad our children with bubble wrap. But his faith is rattled. When he hears of what Zac wrote in his journal—that he wished he’d never played football—Kluver squeezes his eyes shut and puts a hand to his forehead. “I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum,” he says. “All the great times and the big wins, but I’ve also been attending funerals. There’s definitely been times where I’ve said, ‘Is this worth it?’ ” • • •

Two Weeks Later I N T H E K I T C H E N , Brenda Easter’s aunts sit at the table writing thank-you letters to people who attended Zac’s funeral. In the living room, under Zac’s mounted ten-point buck, his father, his mother, his elder brother, and Ali sit in a semicircle. There aren’t many tears now; they are trying to move from mourning into doing something. Start a foundation in his honor, speak to football players about the risk of concussions, push the NFL to take the risks more seriously. But in the living room, the television is on mute, tuned to Vikings-Packers. January football. Huge game. Hated rivals, the NFC North title on the line. The men in the house, including this reporter, peek at their phones checking fantasy-football scores. Brenda and Myles Sr. and Myles Jr. are talking about how Zac’s suicide must not be in vain, about how they must use his name to push for awareness and research into concussions and CTE. They plan to send Zac’s brain tissue to Omalu, the pioneering neurologist and inspiration for the Will Smith movie Concussion (which itself was based on an article in GQ). They’ve found the diaries, and they’ve read as much as they could bear. They’re going to do what Zac asked. He left instructions. • • •

Four Months Later “ H E R E ’ S W H A T I D O , and this is terrible,”

Myles Easter Sr. says, standing in his kitchen, his voice low so his wife in the next room can’t hear. “I’ll drink like 18 beers maybe on a Tuesday night. I make sure I don’t drive. I’ll drink a fifth of vodka or something.” It’s a breezy spring afternoon. Myles is wearing a chain around his neck with a metal pendant—a reproduction of Zac’s thumbprint. Zac’s ashes are in an urn on the mantel. In a few weeks, the Easters will get the medical report back from Omalu’s lab, confirming what 98




Zac already knew: CTE. The o∞cial diagnosis brings with it a peculiar kind of relief. But now what? Zac left instructions: Print his story o≠ his laptop, post it to Facebook, use the pain of his life and too-early death to warn the world about CTE. Get people like us—football fans, football players, football lifers—to face the truth about people like him. And now we have. Those were his instructions, so that’s what his family did. So now what? We could ban football. (But we love football.) We could allow people to play football only once they turn 18, which is what Omalu has proposed. (And what happens when 18-year-old athletic phenoms—freight trains who have never learned to tackle properly— are suddenly turned loose on one another? Is that better?) We could take away tackling. (Sorry, no one’s watching the National Flag Football League.) We could build a safer helmet. (Which will only encourage players to use their heads as weapons.) We could have a consistent concussion protocol through all levels of football. (We already do in the NFL. Ask Cam Newton how well it’s working.) Every solution ends up not solving enough of the problem. And for most of us, this is perfectly okay. The paradox of CTE’s discovery is that it’s given most of us a sneaky ethical out, hasn’t it? No professional football player can claim now to be unaware of the risks. It’s a free country. We’re all adults here. Unless we’re not adults. Unless we’re kids, like Zac was. Can we really let kids keep doing this? If so, how? Now what? After Zac’s suicide, Brenda wanted the entire family to get counseling, but Myles Sr. declined. “Fuck, I don’t need no counseling,” he said. He doesn’t cry for his son. He wants to do something for his son, so he can be able to say, “Zac died for this.” But in the meantime, he drinks a few beers. He takes the dogs on walks. And then after his wife goes to sleep, he stands alone in the kitchen, and he drinks some more. “That’s how I deal with it.” • • • To my family, I just want everyone in my family to know that I love them dearly and to not dwell on my death. I have been thinking about this for years now and there is truly nothing anyone could have done to prevent this. I ask that you do not feel guilty or blame each other! Do not blame football or specifically anything that had to do with me. Just know that I enjoyed playing through it and after fighting through it all, I still consider myself to be one of the toughest people I know. IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. I love all of you and hold no grudges. If only you all knew how guilty and ashamed I feel for taking the easy way out. Mom and Dad, I love you both dearly and I am truly sorry that one of your sons has passed before his time. I loved both of you dearly and there is nothing you could of done parenting wise to prevent this. I know that both of you will mourn naturally over the loss of your son, but just know that I am in a place where I am free of the pain. reid forgrave is a writer in Minneapolis. This is his first article for gq.

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“I only know what it’s like to have my kids. And in my situation, Eva’s the dream mother, and they’re dream babies, and it’s like a dream that I’m having right now. I’m dreaming it all. So I feel so lucky.” You didn’t think it would feel like this? “It’s not something I really thought about, or even thought I wanted. I didn’t have a romanticized idea of it.… It came about in a very surprising and kind of organic way. There was nothing kind of premeditated about it, you know. It just suddenly was: My life had changed. And thank God it did.” How does it a≠ect everything else? “There’s a kind of chaos in it that I love. Maybe in my life I sort of put myself in situations that were chaotic, outside of my life. And now I have it at home, and I don’t have to go looking for it.” A sweeter kind of chaos, I would hope. “Yeah. I mean, maybe not that. It’s a beautiful chaos that’s…surreal and serene.” I think it’s pretty common for parents who come from broken homes to worry about whether they’re going to do it right. Do you have that? “Sure, yeah. I mean, not leading up to it, but now. When you meet your kids you realize that they deserve great parents. And then you have your marching orders and you have to try and become the person that they deserve.” I also think something that freaks a lot of new parents out is that they expect their kids to be some kind of fusion of the two parents—and suddenly these di≠erent, completely independent people turn up. “I mean, it’s a relief when you realize that they are who they are. You’re nervous that they’ll get all the qualities of yourself that you have been struggling with, and then you realize that they’re not you. And it’s a relief. Then— and again, I don’t mean to talk like I’m anything but new to this—as I start to get to know who they are, again you have your marching orders, which is to try to provide them with the things that they need to fulfill that.” How has having them all here changed the experience of making the movie? “Well, it made it possible. I know I couldn’t be away this long. They come to [the set], too. So it’s nice to share that. Especially with my oldest. All these sets have been made, and there’s incredible craftsmen involved, all of the seamstresses making all these costumes, and the love and attention that’s going into every detail—I really wanted her to see that.” Does she understand what Daddy does? “I don’t know. She was on set the other day and I was doing a fight scene with Harrison and she just yelled out in the middle of the take, ‘You’re winning!’ Well, first she said, ‘You’re doing great,’ and then Harrison stopped in the middle of the take and said, ‘What about me?’ ”


Notes on the Early Life of Ryan Gosling #6 F R O M A Y O U N G A G E , he says, there was always a part of him that was outside what was going on. “Watching myself. Watching the people around me. There was some part of me that was there as a kid and growing up and living my life, but there was also some part of me that was watching it all happen from the nosebleeds.” • • • I N A N I D E A L W O R L D , how would you like

people to think of you? “Um…without contempt? Without a deep sense of regret?” So how would you worry that they might think of you? “Boy. Well, you know, in the age of the Internet, I know the worst-case scenario. There’s no mystery anymore.” He laughs. “You know, there’s no secrets. The comments section of anything, you can’t go into. That’s the new bathroom wall.” Yes. But even by the normal standards of the Internet, Ryan Gosling’s other life—the shadow persona created for him by others online—seems a particularly unusual one. This persona is most famously expressed via the “hey girl” memes, in which Gosling is presented as masculine but sensitive, kind of the world’s most perfect boyfriend. But the phenomenon extends far beyond that. Among the

“The Internet is just an abstract place. Sure, I’ve become part of that in some way, but it’s hard for me to wrap my head around a lot of it. I prefer just to kind of stay out of it.” (uno∞cial) books you can buy about Gosling are 100 Reasons to Love Ryan Gosling, a Ryan Gosling–themed coloring book, and the landmark Feminist Ryan Gosling: Feminist Theory (as Imagined) from Your Favorite Sensitive Movie Dude. What’s fascinating is why all of this should have accrued around Gosling in

particular, and why it makes a kind of intuitive sense to so many people. After all, Gosling tends to come across o≠screen as a reticent under-sharer, while on-screen he has generally (with one notable exception) played complex and often fairly dark roles—roles that o≠ered very little to fuel this notion of who he is. That exception is the fiercely romantic and melodramatic The Notebook, but surely that one role more than a decade ago couldn’t be responsible for all…this? “I think it’s part of…um…America just finally realizing that there’s a place called Canada. That it’s nearby. And the people there are, you know, di≠erent but the same. And not just America’s hat. We have free health care, education.” So you’re saying that what people see as perfect boyfriend material is actually…? “My Canadianness.” I don’t think that’s right, though I kind of love the idea. “Well”—he laughs—“it’s the only thing that makes any goddamn sense. I mean, look at Trudeau. He’s doing a lot of things, but things that are kind of natural parts of being Canadian. I don’t think Canada is as shocked by what Trudeau is doing as the rest of the world is.” Though, to fold that thought back on itself, you can go on YouTube and find Trudeau discussing Ryan Gosling “hey girl” memes. “Because he’s taken the mantle. They’re trying to get him to accept it, and I think he deserves it way more than I do.” It does set up a standard of being someone that no real person could live up to. In those things, you are the most sensitive and patient and thoughtful and empathic man who has ever existed. “Right. That’s fucked-up.” So should we clarify that you’re not exactly that? Or do you want to claim it? “I think it’s just, again, my Canadianness. It is what it is.” Does it trouble you, or is it funny, or…? “It’s just a thing that is a constant point of conversation, just a thing that I don’t understand. It’s everywhere. People yell it on the street. I mean, there was a period of time when one kid made up a Vine that I wouldn’t eat my cereal and people were angry at me for that.” Yeah, I’m not sure I ever quite understood the cereal thing.

“Honestly, it’s actually a funny idea. This kid was watching a movie—Drive, I think— and he was eating cereal and trying to hold the spoon up and filming these moments where it looked like I was refusing to eat it. And Vine, it just repeated, so it got funnier and funnier. He made a lot of them, and it just became a thing people were asking me about. It’s such an absurd… The Internet is just an abstract place. Sure, I’ve become part of that in some way, but it’s hard for me to wrap my head around a lot of it. I prefer just to kind of stay out of it. It’s weird to have no control over something that you’re involved in. A lot of these things feel like quotes that you’ve said, but you haven’t said them. That’s a strange thing to get used to, because I do care about what I say, and how I say it. Even if they’re positive things, it’s an odd thing to be quoted, to be credited for something that you don’t deserve and haven’t earned. It’s like being set up for a fall. But at the same time, I also think they’re funny.” So what’s your favorite? “There was one of, like, me with cats at Disneyland which was pretty fun. Someone sent a few of them to me.” But all this doesn’t happen to everyone who’s famous. Which still screams the question: Why? “I really don’t know. I used to say it was like the moment when Fabio got hit in the face with a pigeon on the roller coaster. I don’t know. Sometimes I didn’t know if I was Fabio or the pigeon. It depended on the day.” • • • H E H A S T O G O . There is a farewell dinner

for Harrison Ford, who has finished his stint on the film, and Gosling is late. We have each drunk two cups of co≠ee. Gosling wants to pay, but the waiter, who hasn’t previously acknowledged that he knows who his customer is, prefers to barter. “Nothing,” he says. “Just do picture.” Whether or not it’s the deal Gosling would have chosen, it’s easier to accept than to refuse. No matter how much care you take in this world, there’s only so much you can control. So he accedes, then walks out into the darkness where, presumably, his various people still await him. chris heath is a gq correspondent.

gq is a registered trademark of advance magazine publishers inc. copyright © 2017 condé nast. all rights reserved. printed in the u.s.a. VOLUME 87, NO. 1. GQ (ISSN 0016-6979) is published monthly by Condé Nast, which is a division of Advance Magazine Publishers Inc. PRINCIPAL OFFICE: Condé Nast, One World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007. S. I. Newhouse, Jr., Chairman Emeritus; Charles H. Townsend, Chairman; Robert A. Sauerberg, Jr., President & Chief Executive O∞cer; David E. Geithner, Chief Financial O∞cer; James M. Norton, Chief Business Officer & President of Revenue. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY, and at additional mailing o∞ces. Canada Post Publications Mail Agreement No. 40644503. Canadian Goods and Services Tax Registration No. 123242885-RT0001. POSTMASTER: SEND ALL UAA TO CFS (SEE DMM 507.1.5.2); NON-POSTAL AND MILITARY FACILITIES: Send address corrections to GQ, P.O. Box 37617, Boone, IA 500370617. FOR SUBSCRIPTIONS, ADDRESS CHANGES, ADJUSTMENTS, OR BACK ISSUE INQUIRIES: Please write to GQ, P.O. Box 37617, Boone, IA 50037-0617, call 800-2899330, or e-mail Please give both new and old addresses as printed on most recent label. First copy of new subscription will be mailed within four weeks after receipt of order. Address all editorial, business, and production correspondence to GQ Magazine, One World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007. For reprints, please e-mail or call Wright’s Media 877-652-5295. For re-use permissions, please e-mail or call 800-897-8666. Visit us online at To subscribe to other Condé Nast magazines on the World Wide Web, visit Occasionally, we make our subscriber list available to carefully screened companies that o≠er products and services that we believe would interest our readers. If you do not want to receive these o≠ers and/or information, please advise us at P.O. Box 37617, Boone, IA 50037-0617 or call 800-289-9330. GQ IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE RETURN OR LOSS OF, OR FOR DAMAGE OR ANY OTHER INJURY TO, UNSOLICITED MANUSCRIPTS, UNSOLICITED ARTWORK (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, DRAWINGS, PHOTOGRAPHS, AND TRANSPARENCIES), OR ANY OTHER UNSOLICITED MATERIALS. THOSE SUBMITTING MANUSCRIPTS, PHOTOGRAPHS, ARTWORK, OR OTHER MATERIALS FOR CONSIDERATION SHOULD NOT SEND ORIGINALS, UNLESS SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED TO DO SO BY GQ IN WRITING. MANUSCRIPTS, PHOTOGRAPHS, AND OTHER MATERIALS SUBMITTED MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY A SELF-ADDRESSED STAMPED ENVELOPE. JANUARY





• Leave it to the most subtly stylish actor in Hollywood to hand us an epigraph on the transformative power of shirts, shoes, and suits: “I think, as an actor, I feel the effect that clothes have on a character. You know, seeing the way my uncle [an Elvis impersonator] changed when he put on that white jumpsuit or seeing the way that the men in my family who normally 100


just wore Dickies every day changed when they wore a suit or a sports jacket—whether it was to a wedding or a funeral, it changed their behavior. It just has a transformative effect. Obviously they’re just clothes, but…”





Which is pretty much what we at GQ are always saying: You don’t have to be an actor to go pro in shapeshifting—you just might want to pick out a new jacket. CRAIG MCDEAN

GQ USA – January 2017