Monday, September 24, 2007

i spend too much time considering chuck klosterman ...

i always have to remind myself that i don't actually know chuck klosterman, the scraggly furred pop culturist whose most-recent book IV i am pulling out of my purse every time i have 14 seconds to spare. chuck klosterman IV is a collection of his meaty, hubris-marinated, prose which has run in spin, esquire, etc.

and it is fantastic.

i read fargo rock city, in both hardcover and one sitting

i sent klosterman a very dense e-mail (1) with a word-count that surpassed steve martin's shopgirl. klosterman responded in a timely fashion and with the great breadth(2) one would expect from someone who included his then-phone number in the introduction to his own book. this may be because i likened him to douglas coupland, while not necessarily a compliment, i thought it was at the time.

i read sex, drugs and cocoa puffs and agreed with every sentence he wrote about lloyd dobler

i subscribed to spin magazine, but was really subscribing to klosterman's voice in my head

after issue-upon-issue, i became bored with klosterman's voice in my head. his first-person accounts (3) of chilling with bands were quaint at first, but became grueling when the word "i" appeared in abundance in an interview with thom yorke. in those days i was experimenting with having an opinion. my opinion was that i didn't care what klosterman ate for lunch, if yorke was in the room. he was like the guy with a good personality ruining my view of someone hot.

i read killing myself to live and thought it was a stupid excuse for someone to pay klosterman to drive around the country listening to "janie's got a gun" and waxing about his exgirlfriends, then getting stoned in warwick, n.j., site of the great white explosion of 2003.

yet, when seth cohen (4)twice referenced klosterman during season two of the oc, i felt strangely proud of klosterman's growing iconography. i would eventually see him on VH1 and his byline appear in esquire and various new york times publications.

i see chuck klosterman IV on a display table at urban outfitters and wonder how i missed his latest and i wonder if i care and i decide "why, yes! i do" and buy it. along with this hat that i haven't removed in weeks.

it took me until page 17 of the trade paperback to decide it is game on again with my klosterman fandom.

i have about one degree of separation from klosterman about 10 times over. between friends, acquaintances and people i pretend i actually know, many have probably sucked down kettle one vodka with klosterman. i have met former roommates, college friends, people who know someone who has made out with him or even dated him. once i did not attend a party he attended less than a mile from my then-apartment (5).

then there is the whole minnesota pride factor, where you celebrate a local who has gone on to a VH1 and seth cohen status of celebrity (6). i understand that klosterman did not grow up in minnesota. he isn't like josh hartnett or the movie untamed heart, starring christian slater and marisa tomei. but north dakota has always seemed like sort of an appendix to my home state: they don't have baseball or football teams -- so they adopt ours -- and i reciprocate by not being opposed to the fighting sioux if the gophers have already been knocked out of the frozen four.

then there is the first-person writing vehicle. klosterman does it exclusively. it is exhausting until you realize that this is how he delivers some of the most insightful moments in a feature: klosterman and val kilmer pour through kilmer's dictionary collection; meg white yawning on a couch and only laughing at jack's jokes; bono giving a ride to four U2 fans and letting them hear unreleased tracks; steve nash sprinting across the street in the rain to pick up diapers. maybe it seems like he doesn't need to be involved in every plotline, but eventually, bound together in one collection, you start to see klosterman as the quirky main character, surrounded by quirky celebrities and it is not unlike some sort of harry potter who-do voodo, where a guy with funny hair suddenly pisses off billy joel.

and, since it's in first-person, you feel like you know him. (7)
maybe its not enough that i saw tony danza sitting at the bar in lost vegas. maybe, even though i'm hardly a celebrity gawker, i just want one to call my own.

chuck klosterman purposely lived on chicken mcnuggets for a week long before the movie "super size me" was invented.

this book has inspired some great conversations this week about the difference between a nemesis and archrival; how more options give us less common ground; how barry bonds will be a metaphor for this era.

whatever. i just wrote this so klosterman would find this next time he googles himself. (8)

(1) he probably shouldn't be flattered: during this same era i sent thank you notes to coke-cola, doritos and easy cheese. i also sent a poem to my then-favorite poet lynn emmanuel, based upon the introduction to her book "the dig and hotel fiesta"
(2) he asked me if i knew hank, whom he had met at a party while he was in duluth. i can only assume that the conversation between these two minds quickly cleared the room and resulted in dobermans yelping in horror
(3) i realize this is a character contradiction from a blogger who writes about herself on a daily basis
(4) seth cohen did, afterall, introduce the general population to deathcab, bright eyes, the shins, christmukkah, comic books and the geeky cuteness of tousled hair.
(5) the very-same row house where i first read fargo rock city and composed my email to klosterman.
(6) currently celebrating diablo cody.
(7) i once received an email from a blog reader telling me that i needed to be more demure, or my boyfriend was going to dump me. i'm assuming he felt obligated to tell me that because of the comfort level i'd provided by writing in first person.

(8) whatever. you do it, too, and no one has ever said your name on the OC


amy a. said...

yeah when he was editor at spin i thought our old colleague at BN, anne s., could help me get a hold of him. she never got back to me. probably because she was cheating on her husband with crazy bargain guy james who had a stand off with the police in rochester and her husband was bff with klosterman. shiiit.

christina said...

amy a., that's the funniest sentence i've ever read. that standoff never ceases to crack me up.

Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm said...

He writes in 1st person and they pay him? I'm insanely jealous.

Okay, I'll pick up one of his books.

Flenker said...

I actually just picked up IV the other day, and added it to my collection of books I'm reading right now. So far, so good!