Convinced that having a family might not be in the cards for him, Ed Houben (pronounced who-been) decided to become a sperm donor. He would show up twice a month at the clinic, “producing” in “the production room” to fill a cup for cash. The first time he went, they didn't even take his name. It couldn't have been more cold and impersonal. ... Ed Houben is now, at the age of 46, one of the preeminent makers of babies on the planet, father to 106 children of whom two-thirds were made the natural way (i.e., by sexual intercourse) and a third made via artificial insemination. In addition, there are 30 or so he estimates from his years at the clinic. Put another way: Ed Houben, who once had sex once every decade, has fathered roughly ten kids every year for the past 15 years. And he's still at it, thumping his way into history. So prodigious is his legacy that the BBC dubbed him “Europe's most virile man,” while he regularly gets billed by media as “the Sperminator.” ... he's quick to describe himself as a “truly ugly fat guy with glasses.” ... it's disorienting, for Ed lives in what might truly be considered a morally ambiguous space that he argues isn't ambiguous at all. “I really believe children should be conceived from an act of kindness and that they deserve to know their father as more than a number,” he says. “I forbid myself to feel proud of what I do. I don't have any children; other people have children because of a small contribution from me.”
The L.L. Bean Maine Hunting Boot has gone on expeditions to both Poles, and been commissioned by the U.S. military to go to war as well. They've popped up on the feet of Babe Ruth and Derek Jeter, Jake Gyllenhaal, Chloë Sevigny, and recently, as shown on Twitter, the feet of a woman dancing on stage during a Bruce Springsteen concert. They seem to wander college quads and main streets with equal ubiquity. And when the boots return to where they were made in Brunswick, Maine, to be repaired, each is tagged with its home port for resending ... last year alone: Roughly half a million Bean Hunting Boots were manufactured and sold, marking a 300 percent increase from a decade ago. Even the guys over in corporate can't explain it. They see it less as a fluke than as a question of longevity: If you stick around long enough, you become the trend again. ... All you really need to know is that the waiting list on back orders—from the sorority sisters of the SEC to old-school hunters—recently ran as high as a hundred thousand. Inside the company, where the boot is simply known as the Boot, they can't crank out product fast enough. ... The Boot was famously birthed in 1912 by one L.L. Bean, an orphan who came to love the Maine outdoors, and who swore, after a particularly miserable hunting trip involving cold, wet feet, that he'd never repeat the experience.