Skip to main content

Review: The Body Shop by Paul Solotaroff

I've had a free subscription to Muscle & Fitness magazine for two years - a professional courtesy. It's stuffed with pictures of hugely muscular guys screaming, yelling, their muscles veiny and overwrought. A guy dressed as a spartan is on the cover. It's about as muscle worshiping a magazine as I've ever seen.

Everything in the publication is about how to build muscle and get lean naturally or with the help of supplements (and those ads are pretty scary). But in the back, in the classifieds, are text only ads about what look to be illegal ways of getting that same muscle mass. No matter how much Mark McGuire cries for forgiveness about using steroids, he still stacked millions upon millions of dollars for doing so, and guys still want to get big.

Paul Solotroff's The Body Shop is about the same thing: steroids, but in a far cruder form. He started juicing in 1976 as a college student, using something that was probably mixed up in a guy's basement sink. As a skinny Jewish guy desperate for girls to pay attention, getting big was a way to get them to look.

"The dockworker arms, with their bell-curve lines and vascular, shrink-wrapped skin; the rounded corners where the pectorals met and stood a little taller by the day--I had to keep checking my own reflection, touching and poking, rejoicing," he writes. "Even my face broadened, filled its own hollows, looked hand-carved, confident, ready."

But that's only the beginning. Throw in a dysfunctional father/son relationship AND mother/son relationship, and Solotroff was an easy mark to get hooked, first on steroids, then on drugs as he took his pumped up self back to New York and started stripping for cash with a shady band who kept sending him down the wrong coke-laced road.

Solotroff is a magazine journalist - unlike me, the the hard hitting kind (I lean toward features, something of which I'm not ashamed). Even though the book seems absurd, the writing is brilliant, vibrant. I can see him trapeezing through crime-rank New York, hitting the Jersey Shore to shake it for society women, losing it s the back alley stuff he's been shooting into his ass starts to uncoil him. Even though it's an engaging story, it turns tragic as Solotroff writes about what two years of stupidity did to him, and how it damaged him for life.

I knew a few guys in college who juiced. A roommate dated one of them, and one night after they got into a fight, our door was the victim of his friend's roid rage. I have never seen someone so completely unhinged. If he had managed to kick down the door, I fear what he would have done to her. It's scary.

So is The Body Shop, but it's well worth reading. As long as those shady adds continue to appear in fitness magazines, and kids are still offered the chance to get big fast, it's a must read.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Book 5 of 52: Stormy Weather by Carl Hiaasen

I don't always try to match my reading to what I'm doing, but when I go to Florida, I try to pack at least one Florida weird book. There was no better novel to bring with me to read on a ferry from Key West to Dry Tortugas National Park , than Carl Hiaasen's Stormy Weather . Hiaasen was writing about #floridaman before #floridaman was a thing (and when this - # - was the pound sign).  Stormy Weather is set in 1992 in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, which is still the most destructive hurricane to have ever hit Florida, and only one of four hurricanes to make landfall in the U.S. still at Category 5 strength. According to the Miami Herald , Hurricane Andrew destroyed 63,000 homes and damaged another 101,241. Such disasters bring out the best in humanity but also the worst. F raud flowed into South Florida in Andrew's wake . That's where  Stormy Weather comes in. From an advertising executive who yanks his new wife away from their Walt Disney World honeymoon to r

Book 11 of 52: The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

In my travels, I've accumulated photos in what I call the "Plants Where They Shouldn't Be" series. They're of weeds, flowers and trees growing in places that look uncomfortable: poking out of lava that's OK to walk on but warm enough to generate steam, growing around a mile marker on the road, sprouting on the back of a parking sign - that kind of thing. On the cheesy side, they're reminders that we can flourish in the most unlikely circumstances. On a more realistic end, they show that humans are constantly battling back nature, and that someday we'll probably lose the fight. I thought about those photos when I read  book 8 of 52 Station Eleven  (and watched  the HBO Max adaptation ), which show a world without 99.99 percent of our current human population. The story focuses on people, of course, but set them in a world where the things humans have created - electricity, internet, buildings, bridges, roads - are being taken back by nature. A Jersey Sh

Welcome Back to Book a Week with Jen!

Hello hello! Yes, the rumors (that I started) are true. On New Year's Day, I fired up the old Book a Week with Jen blog, gave it a new domain, and I'm going to be writing about my reading habits once again. If you don't know me, my name is Jen A. Miller , and I'm a freelance writer and author. I've been freelancing now for 17 years, and in that time, have written hundreds of articles, three books ( two about the Jersey Shore and one about running ), and two ebooks ( both about freelance writing ). If you're not new around here, wow a lot has changed. I wrote a memoir , picked up a regular running column for the New York Times , and put that back down again. I ran a lot of marathons, and got into ultra marathoning, which lead me to run my first 24 hour race on New Year's Eve/New Year's Day 2020/2021 . My first dog, Emily, died in 2017 . I sold my first home, lived out of my car for a year traveling the country , scooped up a scruffy cattle dog mix in Ida