Classic or Dud: Chuck Klosterman

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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

Ha, the "Kevin Smith of music" thing upthread is pretty spot-on, too, concerning cultural sensibilities and all -- this is why I'm glad he's kind of dropped the "of music" and just become a chin-scratchy pop-culture funny-column guy.

nabisco (nabisco), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 21:26 (7 years ago) Permalink

Oh great. So the next Andy Rooney in twenty years.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 21:31 (7 years ago) Permalink

he serves that audience decently -- his big forte isn't being "clever" so much as being conversational and engaging and digestible.

that's the most sympathetic take on him that i can basically agree with. sometimes i feel bad for how much he irritates me because i sort of think he's probably not a bad guy. and you're right about his audience -- which is still a niche audience, but it's a lot bigger niche than someone like, say, kogan or your-favorite-critic-here appeals to. i have met klosterman fans, the kind of people who would stand in line for 40 minutes at a booksigning for him, and they're totally fine. i tell them i can't stand klosterman and they just kind of laugh, they don't get mad about it or anything. which just makes me feel worse for badmouthing him.

as a member of his generation, though, i would like to file a complaint with cnn.

xpost: his 'snakes on a plane' column made him sound like the andy rooney of this year.

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 21:32 (7 years ago) Permalink

every country needs its own lex

gear (gear), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 21:34 (7 years ago) Permalink

!

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 21:37 (7 years ago) Permalink

"My view has always been there are lots of people in America that want to think critically about the art that engages their life," he says. "Now, there are places that definitely do that, like the New Yorker, NPR, Atlantic Monthly, Harper's.

"The problem is that a lot of the subjects those publications cover, a lot of society has no relationship to. They've never listened to Yo La Tengo records. They haven't seen the films that are supposed to be important."

Or perhaps the problem is that Klosterman, a man who claims to be a writer about culture, has obviously never actually read the New Yorker or listened to NPR?

A-ron Hubbard (Hurting), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 21:46 (7 years ago) Permalink

Or perhaps the problem is this:

The problem is that a lot of the subjects those publications cover, a lot of society has no relationship to. They've never listened to Yo La Tengo records.
The problem is that a lot of the subjects those publications cover, a lot of society has no relationship to. They've never listened to Yo La Tengo records.
The problem is that a lot of the subjects those publications cover, a lot of society has no relationship to. They've never listened to Yo La Tengo records.
The problem is that a lot of the subjects those publications cover, a lot of society has no relationship to. They've never listened to Yo La Tengo records.
The problem is that a lot of the subjects those publications cover, a lot of society has no relationship to. They've never listened to Yo La Tengo records.
The problem is that a lot of the subjects those publications cover, a lot of society has no relationship to. They've never listened to Yo La Tengo records.
The problem is that a lot of the subjects those publications cover, a lot of society has no relationship to. They've never listened to Yo La Tengo records.

A-ron Hubbard (Hurting), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 21:47 (7 years ago) Permalink

Uh, oh wait, I think I might be getting confused by Klosterman's ambiguous syntax there. Who's "they" - NPR and The New Yorker, or "society"?

A-ron Hubbard (Hurting), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 21:48 (7 years ago) Permalink

No Ira, no credibility.

Marmot (marmotwolof), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 21:51 (7 years ago) Permalink

I'm guessing that he means most people ("society") haven't listened to Yo La Tengo and would rather read criticism of music they actually listen to instead of indie bands that NPR etc deem important. The grammar's shaky.

Sundar (sundar), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 21:53 (7 years ago) Permalink

Is the Saved By the Bell essay online somewhere? I'm curious because I found that show totally worthless as a kid and was baffled by its popularity.

Sundar (sundar), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 21:59 (7 years ago) Permalink

On Steve Nash, the Phoenix Suns point guard, he writes: "Nash plays basketball in a deftly metaphoric manner."

"He's a small white man in a world of tall black men. He has no choice but to run around in circles trying to not get pounded. That's the only way he can possibly survive out there. He represents white, middle-class America being introduced to the dangers of the ghetto kids; you have no other choice but to run away from them. Now don't even get me started on why Ichiro represents the overachieving Asian kid in math class!"

Cunga (Cunga), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 22:01 (7 years ago) Permalink

The Saved by the Bell thing is part of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, if I remember correctly.

darin (darin), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 22:02 (7 years ago) Permalink

Ha, I would like to read the Saved by the Bell thing.

Jordan (Jordan), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 22:03 (7 years ago) Permalink

"He's a small white man in a world of tall black men. He has no choice but to run around in circles trying to not get pounded. That's the only way he can possibly survive out there. He represents white, middle-class America being introduced to the dangers of the ghetto kids; you have no other choice but to run away from them. Now don't even get me started on why Ichiro represents the overachieving Asian kid in math class!"

this paragraph is fucking gross.

Shakey Mo Collier (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 22:06 (7 years ago) Permalink

"My view has always been there are lots of people in America that want to think critically about the art that engages their life," he says. "Now, there are places that definitely do that, like the New Yorker, NPR, Atlantic Monthly, Harper's.

"The problem is that a lot of the subjects those publications cover, a lot of society has no relationship to. They've never listened to Yo La Tengo records. They haven't seen the films that are supposed to be important."

isn't this basically Chuck Eddy's schtick? To engage middle-American culture head-on and take it seriously (no matter how fucking trite or offensive or downright bad it is?)

Shakey Mo Collier (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 22:08 (7 years ago) Permalink

Wait, that was parody not a real quote, right?

Re SBTB: I didn't even think the cast was attractive! And I was 14!

xpost

Sundar (sundar), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 22:10 (7 years ago) Permalink

poor yo la tengo ; (

gear (gear), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 22:12 (7 years ago) Permalink

Re SBTB: I didn't even think the cast was attractive! And I was 14!

Dude, Kelly was hot and I copped my first drum beat from A.C. Slater.

Jordan (Jordan), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 22:14 (7 years ago) Permalink

that nash thing is not a real ck graf though, right? i think it's cunga parodying him. don't indict him for crimes uncommitted.

and yeah, chuck k's shtick is related to chuck e's (and chuck e has expressed some appreciation of chuck k), but chuck k's is sort of a cheap knock-off. chuck e has actually gone to the trouble of thinking about stuff, while chuck k mostly goes to the trouble of appearing to think about stuff -- which is enough to impress cnn.

(xposts)

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 22:16 (7 years ago) Permalink

likewise I was just the right age for Saved by the Bell but it never appealed to me - too cheap looking, not actually funny, nobody attractive on it, snorezville.

Shakey Mo Collier (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 22:17 (7 years ago) Permalink

battle of the chucks

Shakey Mo Collier (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 22:17 (7 years ago) Permalink

You don't know me, you're too old, let go
It's over, nobody listens to Tengo

Marmot (marmotwolof), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 22:20 (7 years ago) Permalink

what saved by the bell needed was a dylan klebold

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

what it needed was a dylan mckay!

Zwan (miccio), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 22:29 (7 years ago) Permalink

Don't want to speak for xhuxk too much but I think he just writes about whatever interests him, some of which does happen to be mainstream. I think his rock music taste is only really populist when it comes to the 70s and 80s. (He has more time for Loverboy and Sleater-Kinney than he does for Pearl Jam or Smashing Pumpkins or Fall Out Boy.)

Sundar (sundar), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 22:35 (7 years ago) Permalink

The thing that works for Klosterman so well is his distinct writing voice. It sticks out in a crowd, just like any great columnist. People who think he's a critic have long missed the point. He's not even a great features writer in asmuch as his analysis is always paralyzed by his overly self-aware prose; his insight and reportage are always his weak, telling link. He works at Esquire for the same reason Junod does, and it's plenty fair to point out that a lot of well-regarded critics and writers have long coasted on the merits of their writing voice (and yeah, I'm talking to you Lester Bangs.) What remains amusing to me are the people who refuse to accept this, and why Klosterman continues to succeed at it.

To me, Chuck is sort of the original blogger with all the weight and depth that title deserves. In other words, I probably wouldn't ever print out a blog posting by Chuck, but I might save the link somewhere on my hard drive.

don weiner (don weiner), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 22:57 (7 years ago) Permalink

a lot of well-regarded critics and writers have long coasted on the merits of their writing voice (and yeah, I'm talking to you Lester Bangs.)

"I SEE DEAD CRITICS! AND THEY WON'T SHUT UP!"

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 22:59 (7 years ago) Permalink

OG Bloggah!

grady (grady), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 22:59 (7 years ago) Permalink

Fargo Blog City

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 23:01 (7 years ago) Permalink

I just read Killing Yourself to Live and noticed he says "supper" instead of dinner and also uses the word "ectomorph" more than once. Just saying.

pinder (pinder), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 23:05 (7 years ago) Permalink

Maybe he's actually HP Lovecraft.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 23:06 (7 years ago) Permalink

the mention of ylt reminded me of this classic

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/27870

timmy tannin (pompous), Wednesday, 6 September 2006 23:39 (7 years ago) Permalink

I think Don's analysis is basically OTM. As much as I'm loath to admit it, Klosterman does have a distinctive, immediate and instantly-inviting authorial voice. He sidles up to you and puts his arm around you and starts whispering his kooky ideas in your ear before you have time to register what's happened. It may take a while before you realize that he's wasting your time.

o. nate (onate), Thursday, 7 September 2006 00:17 (7 years ago) Permalink

It is so ILM to focus on Yo La Tengo being used as an example and exhausting that point.

billstevejim (billstevejim), Thursday, 7 September 2006 00:36 (7 years ago) Permalink

most of the people i know who've read any klosterman let alone know who he is are on ILX!

latebloomer (latebloomer), Thursday, 7 September 2006 01:07 (7 years ago) Permalink


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