Classic or Dud: Chuck Klosterman

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I also liked his piece in Spin on Morrissey's Latino fanbase that was interesting...

M@tt He1geson (Matt Helgeson), Thursday, 11 March 2004 17:21 (10 years ago) Permalink

ah yeah, that was the line:

If you disagree with Atlas Shrugged, it basically means you disagree with the concept of “being great.”

what a douchebag.

hstencil, Thursday, 11 March 2004 17:33 (10 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, that just leaves a ridiculously bad taste in the mouth -- I don't and never have seen the logical leap from an enjoyable embrace of yourself as a person with happy idiosyncracies -- those elements that make you human in all facets and areas, without apology -- to kowtowing to Rand's humorless and self-righteous vision, all the more amusing precisely because it IS kowtowing, despite all the whining about 'individuality.'

The Franzen reference is worse, though, because I think about how someone coming up to be saying something similarly negative about Loveless would just get a 'hey, that's fine' statement from me. Is my love for that album not justified in his eyes because I don't see fit to go into that ridiculous kind of defense he demands for his love objects? Fuck it.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Thursday, 11 March 2004 17:43 (10 years ago) Permalink

I think his true calling is writing sitcom plot summaries for TV Guide:

Animal Farm by George Orwell (Signet, $8). No one has ever written something so brilliant, so concise, so insightful, and so charming all at the same time.

hstencil, Thursday, 11 March 2004 17:52 (10 years ago) Permalink

I loved Rand in high school cuz i was a kinda brainy loner who lacked self-confidence. And then i grew up. And when you grow up you-hopefully-realize that you really don't know that much, that everyone isn't stupid and that the world isn't black/white/good/evil and that humility and humbleness are qualities worth cultivating. Maybe C.K. hasn't grown up yet. He kinda sounds like a big kid who is still a little scared of the world.

scott seward (scott seward), Thursday, 11 March 2004 18:02 (10 years ago) Permalink

5 months pass...
I hate to revive this thread just because I finally got around to reading something by Klosterman, but hey..

"Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs" really feels like the thoughts of a guy who's spent a lot of time at the end of a couch watching too much tv, listening to the "cool rock" (and everything else) on the radio, and arguing with his roommate about ridiculous subjects that have no bearing on reality.

With that mindset, you end up ascribing a lot of personal importance to whatever's going on at the time, but you quickly end up realizing that it's going to be replaced by something else in short order. There's not really a strong sense of foundation or history, more about the here and now. Klosterman's sitting downstream from the guys who are idolizing the influential "greats" that stand the test of time, so he only ends up with the end product.

I'd imagine his writing has changed over the last few years, but that's my impression. Even the Rand thing fits in -- huge, romantic notions of greatness, without the thought that someone's probably already done all this and thought it through. It's all about the spectacle and the emotion.

mike h. (mike h.), Friday, 13 August 2004 15:34 (9 years ago) Permalink

his VANITY FAIR interview with britney spears - C
everything else - DDDDDDDDD

joseph cotten (joseph cotten), Friday, 13 August 2004 16:15 (9 years ago) Permalink

That "low culture" subtitle to his last book bugs me. I thought he was supposed to be against all those divisons like high/low or whatever.

Its ironic, yes?

I enjoyed SD&CCP overall, the Ayn Rand thing makes sense but that's part of his sort of juvenile appeal I suppose. I think ppl in this thread are really making a bigger deal out of him than need be, as if he's TRYING to change the world or something. His self-deprecation is appreciated, he's wrong a lot but whatever. Its an enjoyable read, trashy and entertaining.

djdee2005, Saturday, 14 August 2004 05:02 (9 years ago) Permalink

Comparing him to Ann Coulter is really out of control.

djdee2005, Saturday, 14 August 2004 05:06 (9 years ago) Permalink

His Ayn Rand appreciation just makes as much sense as his David Foster Wallace appreciation. They're both gifted yet flawed writers.
I enjoyed "Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs" quite a lot.

He managed to articulate my own fascination with "Saved By the Bell" very precisely. However I would say the worst essay in the collection is the piece toward the end about how Vanilla Sky is actually a "good" movie because well... actually it's not and in discussing cinematic discourse on the nature of reality Klosterman gets way off point. He doesn't seem to have a point in the essay other than not exactly sure why everyone hated the movie but him. If anyone else has read it, then they might possibly concur with me that Klosterman's enjoyment of the film is completely predicated on his own stated attraction to actress Penelope Cruz.

herbert hebert (herbert hebert), Saturday, 14 August 2004 05:32 (9 years ago) Permalink

He has a point; she's really hot.

Still, it's a shitty movie.

djdee2005, Saturday, 14 August 2004 05:34 (9 years ago) Permalink

yeah but he thinks cruz is so hot that he can see why cruise chooses her over cameron diaz in the film's love triangle storyline.

Myself, I'd go for Diaz since she's livelier and exhibits far more 3 dimensional sexiness in personality than Cruz does in her wooden performance. Though, in her defense, Cruz doesn't really speak english and her getting cast in Hollywood films has more to do with the spread in maxim than because of her good performances in spanish-language films. Regardless of the geeky debate I'd like to have with Klosterman on the subject of diaz vs. cruz and their respective on screen hotness...it's a shitty movie.

herbert hebert (herbert hebert), Saturday, 14 August 2004 05:50 (9 years ago) Permalink

I picked up that Cocoa Puffs book in a bookstore the other month and flipped it open randomly to see how long it would take to annoy me. Three sentences. Flipped randomly to another page. Three sentences. I put the book down.

I haven't read "Fargo Rock City," which is what made his name, but I can appreciate that he gave voice to some kind of Midwestern its-only-rocknroll-buddilikeit populism. Fine. But the things of his I have read, magazine pieces here and there, just aren't interesting. That's his biggest problem. He introduces no new ideas, he traffics in watery received wisdom, and there's a prickly defensiveness underneath the golly-gee regular guyisms that makes him less likable than he thinks he is. I guess he shouldn't annoy me so much -- who really cares, right? More power to him for making a living at it.

Except that I can't help seeing some connection between his bogus, resentful anti-"elitism" and the bogus, resentful anti-"elitism" peddled by the Bush administration. Both seem calculated to appeal to people who want to be assured that it's OK not to know very much about anything, and to cast aspersions on knowledge itself. Which is maybe a heavy seabird to hang around the neck of Chuck fucking Klosterman, who's probably a Kerry Democrat for all I know and is certainly whole solar systems of magnitudes of malignance removed from Dick Cheney. But still, he annoys me.

spittle (spittle), Saturday, 14 August 2004 05:53 (9 years ago) Permalink

I don't think Klosterman proposes that it's alright to "not know much about anything." His essay on Pamela Anderson's appeal, I think, would make someone who's attracted to her consider why that is and what she represents. It's definitely watered down cultural media theory but also made more accessible. At its best the essays ask you to consider why pop culture affects you in the way it does, as opposed to blindly accepting that things are entertaining. The content makers of low culture would likely be unhappy with observations he makes about their programs.
Klosterman is self depricating whereas Bush-Cheney et al defensively oppose the questioning of their authority in any form, which is what makes them dangerous. The NY Press review mentioned up thread made somewhat hysterical connections between Klosterman and American conservatism.
Although because of the uncomofrtable self revelations and strong sense of personality that come across in some of Klosterman's writings, I can understand why people could be turned off by him. That's a chance he takes, I think, in order to achieve notariety and become a celebrity journalist.

herbert hebert (herbert hebert), Saturday, 14 August 2004 06:14 (9 years ago) Permalink

Right, Klosterman's self-deprecation is his most endearing quality. It would be more endearing if it weren't so clearly deserved.

spittle (spittle), Saturday, 14 August 2004 06:20 (9 years ago) Permalink

Except that I can't help seeing some connection between his bogus, resentful anti-"elitism" and the bogus, resentful anti-"elitism" peddled by the Bush administration. Both seem calculated to appeal to people who want to be assured that it's OK not to know very much about anything, and to cast aspersions on knowledge itself. - otmfm

cinniblount (James Blount), Saturday, 14 August 2004 16:19 (9 years ago) Permalink

Classic for writing "Fargo Rock City," which had me laughing.
Dud for not getting back to me when I recently sent him clips.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Saturday, 14 August 2004 16:55 (9 years ago) Permalink

Chuck Klosterman is the Kevin Smith of music.

(This is the same sort of quick claim that either would debate endlessly, too.)

mike h. (mike h.), Saturday, 14 August 2004 17:26 (9 years ago) Permalink

Sounds good to me, though.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 14 August 2004 17:28 (9 years ago) Permalink

this is the only funny thing he's ever done (and truthfully, bill simmons carries him):

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/faceoff/040817/part1

Yanc3y (ystrickler), Tuesday, 17 August 2004 15:45 (9 years ago) Permalink

I saw Klosterman on the EMP panel down at the New School a few months back, and he was surprisingly unstupid. I mean, he was less articulate than any of the other panelists, but he wasn't, like, a statistical outlier or anything. As for his writing, which I've only read in periodical form, I find it sporadically competent.

Jesse Fuchs (Jesse Fuchs), Tuesday, 17 August 2004 16:20 (9 years ago) Permalink

dear chuck klosterman: i knew ralph wiley. i loved ralph wiley. you my friend are no ralph wiley. should we ever meet i will destroy you. best regards, james blount

cinniblount (James Blount), Tuesday, 17 August 2004 17:06 (9 years ago) Permalink

Kloserman's primary calling card is that he has a fairly distinct writing voice, and that his choice of topics is often clever. That his content is fairly vacuous doesn't seem to bother quite a few esteemed editors.

don carville weiner, Tuesday, 17 August 2004 17:07 (9 years ago) Permalink

Another reason to hate:

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 17 August 2004 17:08 (9 years ago) Permalink

What does that mean?

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Tuesday, 17 August 2004 18:34 (9 years ago) Permalink

Click on Yanc3y's link.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 17 August 2004 18:45 (9 years ago) Permalink

No, I know. You have something against Bill Simmons?

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Tuesday, 17 August 2004 18:51 (9 years ago) Permalink

I have something against that graphic in general!

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 17 August 2004 18:52 (9 years ago) Permalink

10 months pass...
I bought Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs the other day but I lost it in my car, and am deciding if I should read it.

I bought it after reading an excerpt on The Real World that I loved, but in this thread a lot of people who's opinions I trust are really going to town with the Klosterman hate and I'm wondering if I shouldn't even waste my time with it.

Though this line of thinking:

I suppose my problem is that not only can't I understand why anyone would waste their time watching Saved by the Bell, I feel a degree of contempt for the way it seems Klosterman is determined to make this into a badge of honor.
Probably also I do this sort of thing myself, and it seem there's a pretty strong element of defensiveness in his stance; criticism is instantaneously diverted because he already KNOWS it's "low culture."

-- daria g (daria_gra...), August 28th, 2003.

does not appeal to me at all.

David Allen (David Allen), Sunday, 10 July 2005 15:17 (8 years ago) Permalink

I bought Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs the other day but I lost it in my car

How large is your car?

joseph cotten (joseph cotten), Sunday, 10 July 2005 15:27 (8 years ago) Permalink

my 15 year old nephew, a recent convert to ROCK, was reading CK's latest tome at the beach last week. didn't have the heart to rip the book from his hands and set him on a higher path to knowledge. kids have to make their own mistakes, etc. but oh boy I was bummed out.

m coleman (lovebug starski), Sunday, 10 July 2005 15:31 (8 years ago) Permalink

I like him, in that I think he's funny and clever, and that's good enough for me. The smugness doesn't bother me, nor the fact that he doesn't address legitimate aesthetic issues in his reviews, nor that his ego may be out of control, nor that he gets paid too much for what he does. Not even that he kind of likes alot of bad music. He's a skillful humorist, and a semi-insightful thinker. He's no Derogatis, that's for sure. But if hes still going on the frequent solo drinking binges he mentions so casually in Fargo Rock City, he may end up as over-rated as Lester Bangs.
Though would it be rockist of me to say he was better before he got popular?

Mike Dixn (Mike Dixon), Sunday, 10 July 2005 15:45 (8 years ago) Permalink

for some reason i read sex, drugs, and cocoa puffs. at the time, i thought, eh, it's ok i guess. but now, looking back on it, i think it was awful! i don't even remember what it was about.

caitlin oh no (caitxa1), Sunday, 10 July 2005 16:06 (8 years ago) Permalink

He is often full of shit, but Klosterman can be a very entertaining writer. I really enjoyed his last book.

-- latebloomer (posercore24...), March 11th, 2004.

I STAND BY THAT STATEMENT.

latebloomer: the Clonus Horror (latebloomer), Sunday, 10 July 2005 16:15 (8 years ago) Permalink

GODDDAMN I NEED TO LEAVE THE CAPS LOCK BUTTON AL0NE

latebloomer: the Clonus Horror (latebloomer), Sunday, 10 July 2005 16:30 (8 years ago) Permalink

No one has ever written something so brilliant, so concise, so insightful, and so charming all at the same time.

hstencil (hstencil), Sunday, 10 July 2005 20:29 (8 years ago) Permalink

Not even Jack Handey?

miccio (miccio), Sunday, 10 July 2005 20:31 (8 years ago) Permalink

If you replace "Saved by the Bell" with comic books and references to hair metal with "Star Wars," Klosterman morphs into Kevin Smith.

I read a chapter or so of his new book at the bookstore, I think it's a lot better than his previous efforts. Other than that, I stand by about everything I've said.

mike h. (mike h.), Sunday, 10 July 2005 21:08 (8 years ago) Permalink

awww,c'mon!
he's alright...i mean, he's not turning anyone's world on ear, but he's entertaining enough, well, to me.

i'll readily (and i'm sure he will too) admit he's no master writer, and i think that's 1/2 his appeal is to say up front- i'm not very good at this, but i'll try. and it works, for the most part.

i don't get all 'teh h@t3' on him...

now, if someone can tell me where Mark Leyner is, i'd be much appreciative.

eedd, Sunday, 10 July 2005 21:13 (8 years ago) Permalink

"and i think that's 1/2 his appeal is to say up front- i'm not very good at this"

yikes! you really think so? or that he thinks this? i never got that from him. i only read his esquire column (or is it gq?), but i never got that vibe. he knows how to write for one thing. he has journalistic skills up the wazoo. i actually liked his val kilmer piece in the last gq (or was it esquire?) i could never write that kinda thing in a million years.

scott seward (scott seward), Sunday, 10 July 2005 21:19 (8 years ago) Permalink

i guess i just don't like his half-baked sociological "insights". and some of his stunted notions about music. which i probably noted on this thread. and i'll stand by it!

scott seward (scott seward), Sunday, 10 July 2005 21:22 (8 years ago) Permalink

i dunno, all that i've read from the man seems to go with that notion of 'i'm not that good'. but, maybe i'm reading it wrong in me noggin.
not impossible, i assure you.

i think he CAN write but, like scott said, gets bogged down in the 'insights' category. but, said 'insights' can be pretty funny, too!

i guess my thing is i don't get why so many dislike him SO much.
hell, i'm shocked that this many people even cared he writes!

boy, that eggers boy can write!!

eedd, Sunday, 10 July 2005 21:36 (8 years ago) Permalink

1 year passes...
did we ever learn how big that guy's car was?

hank (hank s), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 19:52 (7 years ago) Permalink

That slate piece they link to is really stupid.

deej.. (deej..), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 19:55 (7 years ago) Permalink

i was just going to post this - lol "voice of his generation"

timmy tannin (pompous), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 19:57 (7 years ago) Permalink

I also learned from that CNN splash page that Gwen Stefani is a doll (duh) and that Emilio Estevez is engaged (huzzah!...now there's a voice of a generation)...

hank (hank s), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 20:17 (7 years ago) Permalink

The spare Manhattan space, highlighted by a big screen TV tuned to ESPN Classic and a large, framed poster of Radiohead's "Kid A,"

i rest my case against both klosterman and kid a. (i'll let espn classic slide.)

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 20:24 (7 years ago) Permalink

Huh, I totally thought he was older than that.

Sundar (sundar), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 21:14 (7 years ago) Permalink

The trick is that Klosterman's not a critic, and never really was one. He's a popular columnist and a decent features guy. He is basically the Richard Roeper of ten years from now. And the endpoint of his project really does seem to be an arts-page column for a major newspaper through his late 40s and early 50s. This is okay.

It's just that he's gotten there by -- at first -- playing a sort of critic, the culture critic for people who aren't super-engaged with culture or criticism. (That is populist, I guess; it's how Roepers are born.) And he has a lock on a core audience, and a lucrative one -- guys who read Maxim at their friends' houses but Details at home, these sort of regular-guy young professionals who watch sports and enjoy New Pornographers and are shopping for good plasma-screen TVs because they're buying condos with their girlfriends, and they play video games and genuinely like to think about stuff (just not all the time) and spend lots of time on Metacritic and ESPN.com and buy lots and lots of DVDs and liked The Matrix because of its "interesting philosophical underpinnings." The more highbrow among them will see Klosterman as a regular dude, like them; the less highbrow among them will see him as a kind of intellectual type, but palatable and down to earth about it.

And he serves that audience decently -- his big forte isn't being "clever" so much as being conversational and engaging and digestible. (He's also really good at magazine features, just in terms of craft -- entertaining, readable, vivid, etc.) But of course this means that those of us who pay attention to culture in what we think of as "serious" ways will have to be slightly offended by him, this guy who's taking fairly uninteresting culture-views and packaging them for people who aren't necessarily in our circle. It's hard to complain, though, especially as he travels away from being seen as any sort of "critic" and becomes basically just a columnist, which is the honest vision of what he's up to.

Seriously, though: the Roeper of ten years from now, basically.

nabisco (nabisco), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 21:22 (7 years ago) Permalink


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