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I'D BOUGHT a subscription
This, I thought, will be easy column fodder.
I joked about my purchase with a Facebook friend. I laughed about it with my editor. And when the magazine landed in my mailbox, I gleefully brandished it for my co-workers.
Garden & Gun--ha! I pictured bumpkins toting their shotguns out to the back 40 to keep the varmints out of the corn patch. This magazine would be a trove of humor material, I was certain.
Peeling open the front cover, I wasn't disappointed. A two-page advertising spread showed a woman aiming a rifle at an exploding poof that I assumed was once a bird.
"Some pigeons die more dignified deaths than others," the accompanying slogan said.
Turns out she was shooting at clay pigeons, and the ad was for Georgia's tony Sea Island resort. But, hey, the red shards flying out of that exploding clay disk were still disconcerting.
Wittily condescending observations were already forming in my brain. Note to self: Make a crack about Southern belles and skeet shooting.
This was going to be a piece of cake.
Then I turned to the contents page, where I was stopped cold.
There was a photo of Julian Van Winkle, a rock star of the rarefied world of bourbon connoisseurs and the subject of a profile in the magazine.
I recognized him because I had toured Kentucky's bourbon country and attended a tasting of his bourbons just a few weeks earlier.
People at the tasting lined up for his autograph and bemoaned how difficult it is to find his elusive hooch--even at prices that approached a week of my take-home pay.
I started to realize this magazine wasn't quite the backwoods gazette I'd expected.
I flipped another page, and there was a Rolex ad. Hunch confirmed.
It turns out Garden & Gun is, in the words of a more erudite friend, more like a cross between Southern Living and Vanity Fair.
And you know what? I liked it. A lot.
It's slickly sophisticated, but with a bit of devilment. Its back-page columnist is, after all, humorist and curmudgeon Roy Blount Jr.