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Your life begins in earnest when you veer away from the script that has been prepared for you and light out for untrammeled territory. This issue of M is filled with people who did just that. The man who appears on our cover, 30-year-old actor Adam Driver, had a rather aimless childhood in Indiana. He tells writer George Gurley that, in those days, he passed the time by setting things on fire, getting in fights, and diving into Dumpsters for laughs. But then 9/11 shocked him out of a routine that might have led to a life more in keeping with his “Cherry Bomb” boyhood. Driver joined the Marines at age 18, and the experience of military life gave him the confidence and skill to move onward.
We couldn’t be happier, by the way, to have him in our magazine, photographed in the Everglades by Brian Bowen Smith, at this particular moment in his career, when he is about to break away from HBO’s Girls, the show that made him a cult star, and step closer to his possible destiny as a twenty-first-century answer to Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, and Al Pacino. Those are big names to throw around, but he is that good.
You take a risk every time you step off the smooth path and into the weeds, and that is also exactly what the writer Roger Angell has done, at the age of 93. Most people are content, once they achieve a place of distinction in the world, to take it easy. But with his recent New Yorker essay “This Old Man,” Angell showed he is not content to play on the senior circuit; he still has the stuff that allows him to enter the cultural fray. “I don’t go for nostalgia,” he tells Sridhar Pappu, who profiles Angell in these pages.
Like Angell and Driver, Alec Luhn also has little interest in the easy or expected thing. He is a Wisconsin-born rookie foreign correspondent who has lately been covering the unrest in Ukraine—unrest that was moving close to war as this magazine went to press. A few years ago, before the hostilities, Luhn was a college kid hitchhiking through Ukraine for fun. He drank with farmers and shot at bottles with the same types of people whom he now sees taking part in the conflict against mysteriously affiliated soldiers in city squares close to the Russian border. The story he tells in this issue is something of a coming-of-age tale that chronicles the guilt and confusion a sensitive reporter may experience when he is on the ground for the first time.
This issue gets under way with the Must List, our opening section, which has been revamped for this issue. In it, you’ll meet others who refuse to settle for the mundane, such as Louis Vuitton designer Kim Jones, a world traveler who looks for inspiration while tracking elephants and snow leopards, and Chitose Abe, who, as founder of the Sacai label, is the rare woman who is a force in the world of menswear design.
This optimistic mood of risk-taking and adventure, a welcome change from the tightness that has characterized the recent years of recession and heightened security, is also apparent in our main fashion spread, featuring model Henrik in a bohemian blend of materials and styles that suggests a shift away from the straitjacketed looks that have held sway for too long.
Let’s end this note with Mark Twain’s final lines from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which sum it all up for anyone who would forge an identity beyond the influence of those who would keep them down: “But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before.”