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Anatomy of a Magazine Editorial

Completely ignoring the ideal method for writing a monthly column.

Christian Hazel
Sep 2, 2020
I've been writing magazines for more than two decades. And in all those thousands of articles, my editorial columns are the ones I'm most proud of, but not necessarily the ones that take the most effort. The reason is they are generally nothing more than my stream of consciousness. I type darn fast, so as I think it, my hands punch it into the keyboard. However, while the actual mechanics of writing are somewhat unchallenging to me, sometimes coming up with a topic on which to pontificate doesn't come as easy. So for those rare months, I often scan my archive of photos and something usually hits me. Like the following:

Towing Junk With Junk

Ken Brubaker and I towed the Ultimate Adventure UACJ6D from the Orange County Fairground to my home down in San Diego after the 2020 Overland Expo. You might think towing 4,876 pounds of diesel-powered CJ-6 atop a 1,200-pound Carson trailer with a '78 Cherokee Chief would be a bad idea. It was. I know how to load a trailer, so it wasn't unstable. And the Chief has a vintage hydraulic-over-electric brake controller that helped stop the 11,000-pound combo well enough. The problem was the dilapidated 360 with a gimpy head gasket. After only a few highway miles, the temps pegged and the engine seized. We coasted off the highway and straight into a gas station, miraculously without crashing into anything or blocking any parked vehicles. After the engine cooled enough to spin, I refilled the water and oil and managed to fire it back up. We ultimately made it the rest of the way, but that tired engine was woefully inadequate for the job.

Not Enough Wheeling

Photo 2/5   |   02 Anatomy Magazine Editorial Hazel Flattie Old Deteriorated Rancho Bumpstop
The other day I was walking past my '53 DJ-3A in the garage and noticed one of the Rancho bumpstops I installed when I built the Jeep in 2003 had literally disintegrated. It only takes about five minutes to swap them out, and I've got spares, so it's no big deal. But seeing this made me wonder just how long those chunks had been sitting there and also made me realize that the last time I drove this Jeep on the trail was something like the 2015 Moab Easter Jeep Safari. I've been favoring the UACJ6D, Why-J, and some of my other rigs off-road. I guess take the flattie out 'wheeling more!

Mr. Fix-It

Photo 3/5   |   03 Anatomy Magazine Editorial Christian Hazel Working On Buddys Tractor
There's always that one guy in the neighborhood with all the cool tools who knows how to fix almost anything. As a result, everybody knows to go to his house when they need something repaired. That guy is me. But while I've helped my neighbors doing anything from restoring a vintage '59 Airstream camper to rebuilding RV generator carburetors, I have to admit failure in trying to remove the retaining collar of my buddy's brush cutter blade. I didn't have a socket big enough to get the seized threaded retainer off, and my little angle grinder couldn't get a bite on the whole thing. We had to throw in the towel and visit the tractor store.

Stupid Murphy and His Stupid Law

Photo 4/5   |   04 Anatomy Magazine Editorial Murphys Law Christian Hazel New Tires With Puncture
The law of averages does not apply to me and new tires. Without fail, every time I install a new set of tires on my '04 Durango I know with absolute certainty within the first 5,000 miles I will pick up some kind of puncturing debris. It's often a nail or a screw even though nobody around my neighborhood is doing any sort of construction. Most recently, I found a broken drill bit in a brand-new set of General Grabber APTs I installed on that vehicle, so at least I'm moving up in the debris field.

Overlanding Versus Adventurelanding

Photo 5/5   |   05 Anatomy Magazine Editorial What To Pack For Ultimate Adventure Versus Overlanding
A while back I shot a video and wrote a story about what to pack for Ultimate Adventure. For those who don't know, Ultimate Adventure is a weeklong hardcore wheeling trip during which we spend about three or four nights under the stars living out of our 4x4s. But unlike overlanding, Ultimate Adventure is bare bones, with just the essentials. That leads me to think I might just pick this topic up next month to expound upon the difference between overlanding and Adventurelanding. I think I just created a whole new event!