The Soy Awards, 2007
Unlike most awards, the Soy Award isn't given out on a regular basis like the Nobel Prize or the Oscars. Instead, it's given out when some individual, institution, or business entity rises to unparalleled heights of cowardly, gutless, or pure weenie behavior.
Recipients are mocked in public and then awarded the Golden Soy Boy statuette, which depicts a small, scrawny, slack-jawed youth wearing nothing but a pair of Crocs while carrying a parasol to protect himself from the damaging rays of the sun.
The statue is exquisite and the attention to detail is extraordinary. Take for instance the disproportionately large, empty nutsack that looks like it's being buffeted by unseen winds. I hear the artist used the wind-stretched sails of an America's Cup sailboat as a model, so I guess it's true what they say about great art drawing inspiration from life.
Anyhow, this year's candidates for the Golden Soy Boy are a worthy lot, but the early favorite was of course, Southwest Airlines.
I'm sure you're familiar with the story. Two months ago, 22-year-old college student Kyla Ebbert boarded a Southwest Airlines flight from San Diego to Tucson.
She was just flying in for an afternoon doctor's appointment so she hadn't bothered to carry any luggage, and given that it was supposed to be 106 degrees in Tucson that afternoon, she dressed accordingly.
And that's apparently where the trouble started.
Kyla was informed by Keith, a service representative, that her clothing was inappropriate and that she needed to modest up a bit if she wanted to get back on the plane.
"I asked him what part of my outfit was offensive," explained Kyla. "The shirt? The skirt? And he said, 'The whole thing.'"
So what was the air slut wearing? Oh man, I bet it was juicy! There were two Pratt & Whitney sized nipples showing, right?
Oh, okay, you're talking maybe a camel toe and maybe too much ass hanging out of her beverage cart, right? Whoo-hoo!
Nope. Not even that. Kyla was wearing high-heeled sandals, a white denim miniskirt, and a turquoise summer sweater over a tank top over a bra, which, from what I can see, is pretty much standard wear for a 22-year-old girl.
The offending outfit.
Southwest hasn't apologized or said something along the lines of, "Our service representative needs a prescription for a pair of balls." Instead they issued some crock corporate statement about retaining the right to remove any passenger "whose clothing is lewd, obscene, or patently offensive to ensure the comfort of children and adults with heightened sensitivities."
Isn't that sweet.
And then, just this past week, news of another scantily-clad passenger came out. Twenty-one year old Setara Qassim had flown from Tucson to Burbank and been forced to wrap up her halter-dress clad body with a blanket for the duration of the flight.
Free the Burbank two! Free the Burbank two!
It's baffling. It's bewildering. It's downright soy-ish.
I could understand the concern if the cockpit was outfitted with an automobile-style rearview mirror and the male pilot kept on furtively glancing up at it to hopefully catch a peek of Kyla or Setara's cleavage back in coach and in doing so just narrowly missed clipping the Gateway Arch, but last time I looked, there's no rearview mirror on airplanes.
Southwest should be careful. From what I can tell, they make most of their money ferrying strippers and hookers back and forth from Las Vegas, so they're liable to alienate their cash cow if they suddenly go all John Ashcroft on them.
The next candidate considered by our awards panel was the group of four San Diego fireman who are bringing suit against the city for forcing them to drive a fire truck in a gay pride parade and having to endure "vile sexual taunts."
Here's a sampling from the complaints they filed:
While I was sitting there waiting for the parade to start, I felt forced against my will to see men in tight shorts dancing provocatively and other men kissing and hugging, wearing T-shirts with sexually suggestive material like GIRTH AND MIRTH or SUIT UP BEFORE YOU DIVE IN.
I was told multiple times to pull out my hose.
I saw a man gesture to his shirt, which read, HAVE YOU EVER RIDDEN A FAT MAN? I became so distraught that my knees began to shake.
This I don't get. You could surround me with a hundred naked gay men in a conga line — all bewitchingly trailing brightly colored feather boas across my chest as they congaed by — and I'm dead certain I wouldn't develop a sudden hankering for cock.
But not these stalwart heroes. They're so unsure of their sexual identity that merely sliding down the station fire pole is enough to make them shudder in a mixture of self-loathing and sexual excitement, let alone enduring the sexual stress of actually being in the company of gay men.
So which one of these richly deserving candidates is the winner of this year's Soy Award? Well, neither Southwest Airlines nor the San Diego firemen. Instead, the winner is...
That's right. Me. And never was there a more deserving winner.
Over the last year, I've let myself be driven to stay-up-at-night distraction by listening to what people think the Testosterone site should be; what kind of content should be on the site; who we should "speak" to.
As such, I've tried to please everybody and in doing so, I've damn near lost my identity and probably was well on the way to losing Testosterone's identity. I've been this close to handing in my pencil and pursuing any one or all of my other interests, including being a suitcase model on Deal or No Deal, singing the National Anthem at cockfights, or being the best damn poodle groomer this side of the Mississippi. I'm also really, really good at doing The Jumble in the comics section of the newspaper.
So don't think for one minute I don't have any options. Hrummpph.
I sat by passively while people who've never been editors-in-chief lectured me on how I should do it.
No more. From now on, I listen to my gut and Tim Patterson. That's it. Yeah-yeah, I don't mind input from readers, but I'm talking about unsolicited input from colleagues, associates, interested 3rd parties, bystanders, bartenders, barbers, plumbers, and buttinskis.
Back in the 90's, while at the helm of an upstart, decidedly unprofessional looking magazine with the unlikely name of Muscle Media 2000, I beat Flex Magazine in sell-through rate with only one-tenth their budget and one-tenth their staff. Okay, ancient history. More recently, I've helped make this site pretty much an Internet phenomenon, despite our decision not to advertise the site in any media.
The number of readers, as well as its prestige, continues to grow month after month.
If I had to give an explanation for it, it's because, like the Waitresses, I know what boys want; I know what boys like.
What I like is irrelevant. I don't have that luxury of being able to impose my ego on the choices I make. I often run stuff that I totally disagree with. I sometimes run stuff that makes me want to hurl, but I'm lucky enough to have the capability to put personal beliefs back in my emotionally disturbed zombie-filled closet where they belong.
My main brain scrambling anxiety comes from this pointless argument about what constitutes bodybuilding and what doesn't.
I'm often told that bodybuilders don't care about getting strong; they only care about getting big. I hear there's no overlap between bodybuilding and performance. I often hear there's no place for articles about increasing performance because athletes don't read the site, and if they do, they don't buy supplements.
I hardly know where to start, so I'll just start pummeling the keys with my angry fingers.
Why wouldn't anyone want to get stronger as well as bigger? Without strength, you're just one of those foo-foo dogs in the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. You're a kit car with a Ferrari-like shell but a Volkswagen engine. You're a lamb at a Halloween party dressed as a wolf. You're a fraud.
Perfect conformation, pathetic functionality.
This entire sport or activity or whatever you want to call it was based on health and strength as well as esthetics. Sandow and his peers did feats of strength, including wrapping his chest with chains and popping them off using nothing but pectoral power. Charles Atlas started his physique empire based on the notion that 98-pound weaklings could develop strength and size and at the same time, self-esteem.
The early Weider mags were filled with articles about fighting and self-defense.
It was never just about looking good and I don't know when it changed. Well, maybe I do. It changed when slapping some extra chrome on a car put it in the luxury class or when putting a bidet in an otherwise ordinary bathroom made a hotel classy.
Say a girl you know wears a belted corset and thigh-high boots and carries a lariat; it doesn't make her Wonder Woman. More likely, it's just a hooker I know named Sadie whose magic utility belt contains rubbers.
I have a theory about guys who just want to look good and it's not pretty. I think they were always the last guys picked in sandlot baseball games or pick-up football games. They ate a lot of lunches by themselves, frequently got shoved into lockers, and their fashion-look was more often then not a pair of underwear — their own — stretched over their head. They had little athletic ability, grew up bitterly to realize it, and figured they'd start lifting weights so they could at least look athletic.
But forget all that. There's a tremendous overlap between performance based articles and bodybuilding articles. In fact, in my mind, they're virtually indistinguishable.
If I know a guy who needs to lose body fat, I'm sure as hell not going to put him on a traditional bodybuilding program. He can do all the curls he wants, but he's not going to get ripped.
Instead, I have them do combos, combos described in those "performance based" articles.
Walk into just about any West Coast gym and you'll see about two traditional bodybuilders — still dressed in their obligatory torn-off sleeve World Gym T-shirt and weightlifting belt — and about 50 guys doing workouts that are an amalgam of bodybuilding methods and "performance" methods.
Deadlifts are considered an athletic-based or performance movement, but no single movement has ever done so much to improve my physique. Before deadlifts I was, as a sissy Norsdstrom's salesman told me, "two-dimensional."
"You look like a cardboard cut out, sweetie: height and width but no depth..."
Deadlifts gave me some depth. Oh yeah. Deadlifts gave me some strength, too.
Then there's the notion that coaches or athletes, elite or otherwise, don't read Testosterone and don't use Biotest supplements.
Consider that we get well over a million unique visitors to the site every month. Consider too, that there are probably about seven or eight hundred professional bodybuilders in the country, and maybe a few thousand non-professionals who compete. Granted, there are thousands more who don't compete, but the math just doesn't add up.
There just aren't that many true bodybuilders left anymore. The logic says, the math says, that a sizeable percentage of that million-plus readership is here for other reasons, like increasing strength or increasing performance, whether it's for baseball, track, or MMA fighting.
The San Diego Padres are, in the words of one of the star players, "all over T-Nation." Likewise, I've sent supplements to players from the Detroit Lions, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Detroit Red Wings, and the Chicago Black Hawks who've contacted me through Testosterone.
There are strength coaches from Nebraska, Oregon, Murray State, Louisville, the Indiana Pacers, the Miami Heat, and the Chicago White Sox who read Testosterone.
The pro hockey players that Christian Thibaudeau is training use Surge, Biotest BCAAs, Flameout, and Beta-7.
Dan John won the Pleasanton Highland Games two weekends ago and said that next to technique, their main topic of discussion was supplements. Dan's gotten more of them on HOT-ROX that I can count.
Tony Gentilcore and Eric Cressey train a small army of high school athletes and the majority of them buy Biotest products.
With products like Metabolic Drive, Flameout, Spike, Alpha Male, Carbolin-19, Beta-7, Power Drive, and Biotest Creatine, how can they possibly ignore them? How can there not be an overlap between bodybuilding and athletic performance?
Tony Gentilcore tells me that every Olympic or up and coming athlete he trains came to him from Testosterone.
Chad Waterbury has accepted roughly 100 clients that came to him straight from Testosterone, and that 50% of them want to increase performance without regard for building their bodies in an esthetic sense.
Eric Cressey has several athletes going to Vancouver in 2010 and they all read T-Nation regularly. The two professional tennis players that came to train with him after the US Open found out about him through T-Nation.
I hear from readers all the time that they first found out about the site because it was on the screen in the trainers' office at their gym.
I've known guys who've gotten jobs, either at gyms or coaching staffs, simply by saying they readTestosterone.
So don't tell me that regular athletes — elite or otherwise — don't care about T-Nation and don't buy Biotest supplements.
Besides, what are LeBron James or Reggie Bush but bodybuilders of a type? They don't look like Ronnie Coleman or Dorian Yates, but their look is definitely formidable, so why on earth dismiss them?
And yes, it's great to look good for the girls, but who are we kidding? The vast majority of women like a nice face and maybe a body that looks like Beckham's. Of course, those naked men in a Conga line like our look.
But guys who don't care about performance or strength at all? It doesn't cut it. You want to look formidable without being formidable. You're a human starter's pistol. You look like a gun, feel like a gun, but you're not good for anything except making a loud noise.
Granted, the esthetic component is important. It's definitely cool to look like you dropped out of the pages of a Marvel comic book.
But even so, wouldn't it be cool to not only look like Thor, but also have a smidgeon of Thor's power? It's definitely cooler to fly into a crime in progress rather than take a cab, or worse yet, have your mom drop you off.
Even if you don't care about anything other than the esthetic component of lifting, the articles about anatomy and performance and rehab contain the secrets to the bodybuilding universe. Every bit of info you assimilate about anatomy, the relationship of joints and muscles, and the problems of muscular imbalances will help you, help you put on muscle, help you get stronger, help you get.... better.
So lay that Golden Soy Boy statue on me. Whenever I feel another weak spell coming on, I'll perform testicular CPR, which consists of spreading my nuts on a granite countertop and thumping them a few times with the metal base of the Soy Boy statue.
You know, just so the Testosterone starts percolating again.
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