Who is Chuck Klosterman?
March 9, 2007 6:18 PM   Subscribe

Who is Chuck Klosterman? in case you've never heard of the author of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs (among others - discussed here and here), you have now. [More Inside]
posted by grapefruitmoon (29 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
While Klosterman is certainly enjoying a fair share of popularity, he also has his detractors.

The blog doesn't feature the following gems from Esquire, so I'll point you to them myself: Klosterman explains the problem with Snakes on A Plane, also sheds some light on Britney Spears' meltdown. (And there's Bending Spoons with Britney Spears, while we're at it.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:19 PM on March 9, 2007

I've only read one article by Chuck Klosterman, but his piece on Barry Bonds is pretty much the only interesting, insightful thing that's ever been written about the man.

It's a must read for anyone who wants to understand what the deal is with baseball and steroids. If he's half as perceptive about other subjects, he's probably a hell of a writer, overexposed or not.
posted by Simon! at 6:34 PM on March 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Feh. He's got lousy taste in music, which might be bearable except that he fails to defend it adequately. I think he's basically Dave Marsh with a post-baby-boomer's musical interests. (Not a compliment.) And the beard just has to go, I don't care if he is from Nebraska.
posted by scratch at 6:50 PM on March 9, 2007

I will chime in the reiterate that Mr. Klosterman is essentially not as interesting as you'd think he would be, as far as his eloquence and analysis of his subjects. In other words, if you have a sincere interest in his choice subjects, you will constantly find yourself knowing a bit more than he does, and wishing he would just shut the hell up.
posted by gcbv at 6:55 PM on March 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Bracingly icky. Refreshing.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 7:03 PM on March 9, 2007

I don't care if he is from Nebraska.

North Dakota, but yes, big plains state that starts with "N."
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:06 PM on March 9, 2007

North Dakota, not Nebraska. Sort of Po-tay-toe, Po-tah-toe, but still worth noting.
posted by fancypants at 7:08 PM on March 9, 2007

If he'd been doing the gonzo thing before blogs existed, I could see him having some career traction. Send him out to a Republican convention, make him go on tour with the Rolling Stones or something.

But I just find him really boring. I don't think he's a bad writer, but he's essentially uninteresting. And as others have mentioned, I actually like him more when he's not writing about music. Not that his taste is poor, just just really predictable. "Zepplin and Sabbath set the template for all metal that came after it." Really, he said that. And we're supposed to think he's insightful when it comes to music?
posted by bardic at 7:15 PM on March 9, 2007

The metaphorical meaning of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears? bleh. I read the bonds article linked by Simon! and while it was interesting, ultimately, who cares? It's so tiring that people would look to celebrities or athletics as some kind of role models and expect them to be paragons or ideals of virtue or whatever silly feelings they imbued in "the game." If people played as well as them, they wouldn't care either.
posted by delmoi at 7:15 PM on March 9, 2007

Essential Klosterman bashing. Cruel but funny.

The thing about Klosterman that bugs me is that you'll read an essay, and it will be interesting and full of wit and then you'll finish it and say, "wow, he's totally wrong." His Snakes on a Plane essay is a good example.
posted by Bookhouse at 7:18 PM on March 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

From the NY Press piece:His tiny, red mouth is a sphincter twisting to a pained close 40 seconds after taking a brutal pounding from Peter North.

Totally over the line. But funny.
posted by bardic at 7:20 PM on March 9, 2007

I kind of like Klosterman, even when I disagree with him. (I also like Dave Marsh, FWIW, and for a lot of the same reasons). I don't always agree with his conclusions, but he's usual fun to read, and I get the sense that they're both actual fans of music, not guys who'd rather be writing about politics or literature. Plus he's an antidote to the Pitchfork indier-than-thou echo chamber or Christgauian half-baked sophistry.

Also, I've met both Marsh and Klosterman a few times (they were nice guys) and consider them both (along with Lester Bangs, Nelson George and Legs McNeil) to be big influences on my own music writing. And Marsh has forgotten more about rock music than most of us here will ever know.
posted by jonmc at 7:26 PM on March 9, 2007

Any man who can start an essay by relating the story of how he burned that exact same CD for two different women, then segue into a serious discussion of the lamentable sitcom Saved By Bell deserves respect.

The qualifications for being deserving of respect aren't very stringent these days.
posted by inconsequentialist at 7:26 PM on March 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

bardic, I met Klosterman when he did a reading at KGB Bar in the City. I was the only person in the room who was an unironic metal fan (I was wearing my Kiss Destroyer jersey), he signed my book 'Jon, go home and listen to 'The Elder,' Chuck' I also told him that Fargo Rock City didn't talk about Twisted Sister enough and he told me that Dee Snider told him the same thing when he interviewed him for House Of Hair. I mentioned that article too him and he was cool about it and shrugged it off. You'd actually like the guy.
posted by jonmc at 7:36 PM on March 9, 2007

I can see that. Over-exposure is good for no man.
posted by bardic at 7:54 PM on March 9, 2007

Please, don't encourage him.
posted by clockzero at 8:03 PM on March 9, 2007

I like his writing, which is more than I can say for nearly every blog, so I think he's still got an edge there.
posted by smackfu at 8:21 PM on March 9, 2007

That was some totally forgettable writing.
posted by jouke at 8:30 PM on March 9, 2007

what's on his ipod?
posted by vronsky at 10:01 PM on March 9, 2007

Man, have we got a bunch of writers in the hizzouse or what? I love Chuck Klosterman. He's funny and perceptive and pretentiously unpretentious in a very endearing way. What more could you guys want? So he's rocking some low- to mid-brow music -- we can't all be Klangklangston.
posted by Methylviolet at 11:33 PM on March 9, 2007

Hacky-hack hack.
Stanley Bing for the pony-tailed, latte-sipping basement-dwellers who won't stay offa my lawn.
posted by Dizzy at 7:41 AM on March 10, 2007

I love Chuck Klosterman. He's funny and perceptive and pretentiously unpretentious in a very endearing way.

Funny? Maybe occasionally. Perceptive? Compared to who? As for your last point, Methyl, I have to say I find his unpretentiousness pretentious in the same way Tom Waits's is. A pose is a pose is a pose. He's milking the Nebraska--oops, North Dakota--thing for all its worth.


And Marsh has forgotten more about rock music than most of us here will ever know.

If Marsh knows what's good for him, I hope he's forgotten the laughable bullshit he wrote in the first edition of the Rolling Stone Record Guide. See, in particular, his pan of X for something to ridicule at great length.

I was the only person in the room who was an unironic metal fan (I was wearing my Kiss Destroyer jersey),

Kiss isn't metal, they're pop. I love 'em too but they're a long way from those template-setting darlings Zeppelin and Sabbath. Me, I'd put them into the power-pop category.

posted by scratch at 8:29 AM on March 10, 2007

scratch: nit-picking taxonomy aside, I think you know what I meant. from the looks of things I was the only person in attendance who unironically cranks up Destroyer or Stay Hungry on occasion, is the point I was making.

I differ with Marsh on X (and I hate several bands he likes and like several bands he hates). You need not agree with everything a critic says to be a fan.

(and FWIW, Zep were an influence on Metal but they weren't metal per se, so much as the the apotheosis of the atomic blooze created by the likes of the Yardbirds and Cream. Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, and to a lesser extent the heavy psyche of Blue Cheer and Mountain were the real template setters of metal)
posted by jonmc at 9:28 AM on March 10, 2007

Now who's nitpicking? I just like to argue about music.
posted by scratch at 11:06 AM on March 10, 2007

I have gone full circle on liking/hating Klosterman several times over. At times he seems like a complete ass, and other times he can hit the nail on the head and/or bring new insight to something I hadn't thought of. And his last few Esquire articles have been pretty good, so I'm back into "like him" swing of the pendulum at the moment. But I have had several great conversations about music because of his articles, so that's always a plus.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 11:25 AM on March 10, 2007

Vomit. Klosterman perpetuates the worst stupid pop-culture assumptions of identity.
posted by dame at 12:10 PM on March 10, 2007

The Fan Boy in me thinks Klosterman covered much of what's wrong in this thread quite nicely in Killing Yourself to Live, i.e., people are so frightened to genuinely love something because someone else might say it's not cool that no one ever owns up to being gaga for anything and the world's a bit dimmer and muted for it.

Which is to say I like Klosterman unless this thread comes out more than 50% against.
posted by yerfatma at 11:17 AM on March 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Klosterman's main value to me came towards the end of Fargo Rock City; there was a section on how awesome he and his alcoholic lifestyle was that just made me cringe with embarassment for the guy-- he was just so proud of how often he blacked out. Then I realized that I also bored the shit out of people with stories about how much I could drink and how superfuckin cool that made me. So I knocked it off. Yep, I learned an Important Life Lesson from Chuck Klosterman.

I thought Killing Yourself to Live would've been a great rock book if some editor would have had the stones to cut out every last fucking bit about Klosterman's love life. Imaginary conversations with ex-girlfriends in the car? Not what I'm here for, Jack.
posted by COBRA! at 11:31 AM on March 12, 2007

Klosterman's a guy who's absorbed what he's been given fairly well and writes funny, or occasionally insightful, things about his take on culture. Unfortunately, judging by what I've read, what he has been given was classic rock radio, too much time on a couch in the late 80s of MTV, and a bunch of music writing that he absorbed some of the writing style from but not much of the history. jonmc's traced and cited more history in one post than Klosterman will in an article.

yerfatma's right, in a way, in echoing that people are frightened to love things. But the thing about Klosterman is that even when he does like what I do, I can only relate on the most primal level -- saying to each other, "this stuff is really great, man." Beyond that, he comes up with these weird character assumptions and a historical context that seems to have a basis only in his imagination. I tend to read about music or assorted culture to gain further insight, not to get affirmation that hey, Klosterman thought what I did! Wowee.
posted by mikeh at 9:43 PM on March 13, 2007

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