Behind me somewhere, tucked between back issues of Sharp and cologne samples, is the first copy of Esquire I ever bought. It’s the June 2001 issue. Jon Stewart is on the cover. This was before The Daily Show became essential viewing for lefty millenials, but things were obviously looking up for him (although, things are always looking up for Stewart; he’s not a tall man). I had started flipping through it in a friend’s kitchen. It was her father’s copy, so I bought my own on the way home. I still think about the cover story in that issue — a clever bit of fluff written by A.J. Jacobs, and cleverly annotated by Stewart himself. It was more than clever, actually. It was the first time I realized magazines could be funny. Like, make-a-self-conscious-teenager-laugh-out-loud funny. I was 17, just about to graduate high school, but I still own it. I still refer to it, even.
If that same article had been in any other medium, I’d have discarded it by now. The power of magazines — including, and especially, this magazine you’re holding now — is that when you find the exact title, the precise issue, at the right time, that speaks to you in the exact right way, they can change your life. Before that issue, I wanted to be a social studies teacher.
Sharp is part of a grand tradition. We welcome men into manhood, with all its attendant pleasures and complexities, and we tell them how to behave once they are there. We give them advice on how to dress, what to drive, and where to shop. We make them think about fatherhood, happiness, and everything else that’s wrapped up with being a man. In this issue, for example, Jacob Richler, son of Mordecai, writes beautifully about his father, and what it means to feed his family; and Jeremy Freed, Sharp’s former Editor-in-Chief, begins his incredibly honest column about finding authenticity in life.
We’ve had some changes around here, but our purpose — our role — hasn’t changed. It won’t. You will continue to find superb advice, thoughtful features, and world-class photography in Sharp. Truth is, I’ve been thinking about men’s magazines for half my life. So, whether you’re new at this adulthood thing or you have decades of experience with all its attendant pleasures and complexities, whether you’re a faithful reader of Sharp or whether you’re flipping through this issue in your friend’s kitchen: welcome to manhood. It’s a good place to be.
Oh, and if you’re just flipping through, and you’re anything like me as a teenager, you’ll want to know that there are some very tasteful pictures of Linda Cardellini.