Do Not Enter

Outside the gates of the Forbidden City

It's like Mr. Blackwell and his worst-dressed lists: utter obscurity 11 months of the year, and then people get into a dither about them because of some gimmicky, subjective publicity grab. Men's Fitness is the Punxsutawney Phil of magazines, both in terms of year-round relevance and scientifically based research (see "Ground Zero," November 18).

But as everyone knows by now, Houston has reclaimed its title as the nation's fattest city. And Houston City Council did its part by being outraged and devoting plenty of time to getting the vapors over the issue.

"We could have a contest for silliest magazine," Councilman Michael Berry said at the January 5 council meeting.

Mayor Pro Tem Carol Alvarado had a more nuanced take, questioning the bona fides of the study. "I don't think they actually came down and weighed anybody," she said, apparently envisioning the Simpsons episode where the population of Springfield gets on a truck scale.

Mayor Bill White went on one of the network morning news shows to defend our fair city. And Councilman Adrian Garcia proposed that the city record every hour that municipal employees work out and then submit the numbers to Men's Fitness. Snow them under with paperwork! That'll teach 'em!

Having finished their hard work plugging the magazine, White and the councilmembers presumably turned their attention to other things.

And Men's Fitness returned to its regular place in the universe, right next to Scale Aircraft Modeler in magazine superstores. Until next year, when Houston city officials stand ready to do their part again to boost circulation.

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