I’ve long enjoyed Chuck Klosterman’s essays when I’ve encountered them, but I hadn’t read any of the several book length collections of his work. BGB correspondent and legal adviser, Shaft, handed Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs off to me one day at lunch. I had officially run out of excuses, so I took it out for a spin.
This collection of pop-culture essays are a mixed bag. Some are brilliant. For example, there is an outsanding piece on the MTV show The Real World. It argues that as the show goes on, the “roles” played by the cast members become more restrictive, and this is reflected in the youth culture at large. It makes sense when he says it.
Another essay that I particularly enjoyed explains the inner workings of newspapers. Klosterman convincingly argues that newspaper journalism is shaped more by who answers the phone first than by corporate agendas. An essay on the marketing of breakfast cereals is genius.
Then there are some essays that fall a little short. Chuck went to a Dixie Chick concert that was filled with gay guys and teenage girls. The article argues that the Dixie Chicks are huge because teenage girls are the new teenage boys. This same article also argues against the band Uncle Tupelo as inauthentically “authentic.” Parts of this one seemed a stretch.
What Klosterman does in these essays is tie bits of arcane but readily available nuggets of pop culture together to create new ideas. There is no support for some of these tenuous logical jumps other than Klosterman’s suggestion that the connection is there. Either you make the leap with him or you don’t. You take the red pill, or you take the blue pill. Most of the time, I was right there with him.
On the provenance of this book: We agreed yesterday that this is unnecessary, but the history of this particular copy of this book is interesting – to me, anyway. As I noted, this book was loaned to by Shaft. It was loaned to him by Swizzle D. I took the book with me on vacation, wherein it was mangled pretty badly in my luggage – but it remains readable. I passed it along to a friend of mine who is a newspaper journalist to get his take on the journalism article (he doesn’t have a snappy nickname). I’ll have to check on its current whereabouts. If this was a CD, the RIAA would make sure that we’d all be doing hard time.
Anyway, time for a book etiquette question: It would appear that I owe Swizzle D a new copy (or another book as a replacement) for being its destroyer. Or does the blame/responsibility lie with Shaft, the original borrower? Does the replacement need to be new? Or can it be used?
- Klosteroo writes about Muhamad Ali and Rap on ESPN.
- The Onion A/V Club interviews Chuckie.
- The K-man wonders where all the barefoot kickers in the NFL have gone.
- Chaz-meister on Bonds and Ruth and what it all means.
- Chuck-a-roni on the problem of Snakes on a Plane.
- Shaft’s BGB review of SD&CP is here.