My younger brother sent me an e-mail a week or so ago telling me I was “famous” in the north Kansas City bike scene. A rider there had picked up the new Dirt Rag and saw my Pugsley photo in “The Rider’s Eye,” recognized the last name and then posted a copy on their local forum. Now everyone there knows I'm Matt's bro. Yeah, baby! Fame!
I finally found a copy on the newsstand in Anchorage, so I read it today at lunchtime and was annoyed by a couple of letters to the editor. It seems someone is always whining about some picture in a magazine.
In bike mags, it’s usually along the lines of, “You showed someone riding without a helmet!” or “That picture of a woman in shorts is degrading to women.”
The newest whiners complained about this recent subscription ad: “Subscribe, or we shoot the dog.” This is a joke, folks. It’s funny. And not just because I like seeing canines portrayed as hostages (and I do). It’s funny because of its history. It has comedic roots. It pays homage to what came before it.
I was 10 years old and doing menial jobs in my father’s drugstore when National Lampoon published the historic cover showing a dog with a gun to its head, and text telling readers to buy the magazine or the dog would get killed. This was a parody. Nobody at the Lampoon intended to cap Rover, and they didn’t expect anyone with half a brain to think they would. (And they were irreverent enough that they didn’t really want their magazine to be read by anyone too stupid to understand.)
The cover was funny, it jumped off the newsstand and it got attention. I still remember standing there in Dad’s store, staring at the cover and laughing at the joke. It has been copied by many magazines in the 35 years since it first appeared, and probably every one of them endured complaints, with the possible exception of Texas Monthly, which ran this great cover last year and explained it in an editor’s note at the front of the magazine.
Buy this magazine or Dick Cheney will shoot you in the face? Now that’s funny shit! It’s probably the all-time best knock-off cover inspired by National Lampoon’s original from 1973.
Sadly, not all Dirt Rag readers are as hip as the editors would like them to be. One guy called it “an incredibly insensitive ad.”
The next letter writer went even further, blasting the magazine for ... (read this twice, because it’s really good) ... “threatening to kill an animal over an inconceivably minor financial transaction.”
Who would write that? Ned Flanders?
Dirt Rag’s editors replied with a note saying the joke isn’t funny anymore. Screw that. They should run the ad again in their next issue.
Stand up for humor with an edge, Dirt Rag. Don’t surrender to the same patsies who think Wile E. Coyote turns kids into serial killers.