I’m not sure I would have started reading “The Definitive, One-Size-Fits- All, Accept-No Substitutes, Massively Comprehensive Guide to the Life and Times of KISS” if I’d know it was over 10K words. Who am I kidding, I would have started it and then left the tab open for half a year. In any case, I read the whole thing in 2 sittings, and it’s quite enjoyable. Klosterman is at his best writing about metal he loves more than most people. This wouldn’t be nearly as long if it didn’t include a review of each of the albums, but how are you going to skip them when they’re right there? (Also, this marks the second KISS article I read this year, which I can’t really explain. I never liked the band at all, but they’ve got a different ethos to most bands (basically $$$), making them more interesting to read about.)
Kiss do not make it easy for Kiss fans. There’s never been a rock group so easy to appreciate in the abstract and so hard to love in the specific. They inoculate themselves from every avenue of revisionism, forever undercutting anything that could be reimagined as charming. They economically punish the people who care about them most: In the course of my lifetime, I’ve purchased commercial recordings of the song “Rock and Roll All Nite” at least 15 times2 (18 if you count the 13-second excerpt used in the introduction to “Detroit Rock City” on Destroyer). Considered alone, this is not unusual; there are lots of bands who capitalize on the myopic allegiance of their craziest disciples. In 2009, Pavement announced a reunion tour and asked their most dogged fans (myself included) to purchase tickets a whopping 53 weeks in advance. Every decision was premeditated for maximum fiscal impact. “Instead of one announcement mapping out the entire tour itinerary,” noted the Washington Post, “concerts have been announced one by one, in a fine-tuned sequence seemingly designed to maximize profits in every possible way.” It was savvy business (and almost no one complained). Yet Pavement would never brag about this level of calculation. They would rationalize their actions, or they’d remind the media that they never explicitly said they wouldn’t add extra shows, or they’d chuckle about the swindle only when no one else was around. Pavement would always take the money, but they’d simply (a) say nothing, (b) feel bad about it, or (c) pretend to feel bad about it.
One thing I’ve learned in my life is that — creatively — it’s better to have one person love you than to have 10 people like you. It’s very easy to like someone’s work, and it doesn’t mean that much; you can like something for a year and just as easily forget it even existed. But people remember the things they love. They psychologically invest in those things, and they use them to define their lives (and even if the love fades, its memory imprints on the mind). It creates an immersive kind of relationship that bleeds into the outside world, regardless of the motivating detail. In pop music, the most self-evident example is the Grateful Dead, although Rush and the Smiths fall into the same class. Another example is Fugazi. Two others are Bikini Kill and the Insane Clown Posse. These are artists who diametrically impact how substantial factions of people choose to think about the universe. The social footprint they leave is far deeper than their catalogue.
I like reading Chuck Klosterman’s writing, books included. His last novel, Dowtown Owl, was his first stab at a novel, and I liked it well enough. Klosterman’s latest book The Visible Man came out recently. Here are two excerpts.
I’m looking forward to reading the book.
Like much of the east coast, Chuck Klosterman’s travel plans appear to have been impacted by yesterday’s weather. He documented his path through the several stages of traveler grief on Twitter, and then he stopped. Either his flight left, he ran out of batteries, or something more nefarious happened. In any case, enjoy.
-If I am allowed on this flight, I will become a better person. I will change. I will do whatever it takes. 6 hours ago
-Nothing is off the table. 6 hours ago
-I feel like I have entered a new level of desire. Things are clear now. I will give up everything for one thing. 4 hours ago
-If you (a.) need a kidney and (b.) control runway traffic at JFK, I’m ready to negotiate. #NotAHighQualityKidneyToBeHonest 3 hours ago
-How many people in this airport would kill a stranger with a hammer in exchange for air travel? #EveryoneExceptMaybeMyWife 3 hours ago
-A woman in the terminal is trying to stretch her legs by goose-stepping. The guy next to me is talking about Douglas Adams like he’s alive. 3 hours ago
-“My mother is optimistic about this flight,” says the goose-stepper. “That’s better than nothing.” #ActuallyIt’sTheSame 3 hours ago
-Maybe I should start wearing a sweater around my shoulders. I’ve probably been living wrong. This is my fault. 2 hours ago
-None of these people with sweaters around their shoulders seem upset. It’s like they understand the big picture, you know? They get it. 2 hours ago
-FYI: They don’t sell SARS masks in Huson News. 2 hours ago
-Whatever happened to SARS? That used to be so hot. 2 hours ago
-“My brother went to Simon’s Rock,” says the redhead sitting across from me. “He said, ‘Never go there. It’s a fishbowl.’ That was his take.” 2 hours ago
-Oh my God. The guy at the gate just got a phone call. Oh my God. What does this mean? What does this mean? Why isn’t he reacting? 2 hours ago
-WHY IS HE NOT REACTING? This dude is the Robert Parrish of Delta employees. React! React! YOU ARE ALIVE, MAN. 1 hour ago
This seems like as good a place as any to continue the Chuck Klosterman blog project Chuck Klosterman Chuck Klosterman Blog Project.
-Klosterman recently started selling his essays for $0.99 a pop. People keep predicting this is the future of essay writing/magazine articles, but I think it’s going to take a second to catch on. If there’s a good delivery system, though, all bets are off.
-Back in September, he had 5 ideas to make the NFL better. I agree with all of them.
Lastly, How Modern Life Is Like a Zombie Onslaught, which makes some good points about the Twilight series.
In continuing my near breathless documentation of Chuck Klosterman’s online presence, here he is interviewing Stephen Malkmus from Pavement in GQ. Pavement is reuniting this year, which Zach Baron in Slate says marks “the end of baby boomer cultural hegemony“. This might not mark the end, and it might not even mark the middle of the end, but it might, perhaps, mark the beginning of the end, which I’m all for. Back to Klosterman on Malkmus:
In fact, he looks like someone playing Stephen Malkmus in an ill-conceived Cameron Crowe movie: He’s unshaven, he’s wearing Pony high-tops that no longer exist on the open market, and his baseball cap promotes the Silver Jews. His T-shirt features the logo of the Joggers, a Portland band whose greatest claim to fame is being mentioned in a GQ story about Stephen Malkmus eating at a Thai-sandwich shop.
It occurs to me that Klosterman is the best rock writer going right now, by which I mean he’s my favorite and I don’t read any others. Are there any others I should look in to? In any case, enjoy.
Hearing how Chuck Klosterman’s voice sounds on Bill Simmons’ podcasts makes it a little more awesome to read this book. I thought the premise tying this book together was unnecessary, as Spin could have just sent Klosterman on a road trip. It’s worth reading even if I don’t know whether to pronounce Klosterman as Close-terman or Claws-terman.
Chuck Klosterman has a new book coming out today, Eating the Dinosaur. Here are a couple interviews, from the Wall St Journal and the Washington Post. As a bonus, here’s a review he did about a baseball book.
This may be the best music review I’ve ever read. A sample:
1967 proved to be a turning point for the Beatlesâ€”the overwhelming lack of public interest made touring a fiscal impossibility, subsequently forcing them to focus exclusively on studio recordings. Spearheaded by the increasingly mustachioed Fake Paul, the four Beatles donned comedic Technicolor dreamcoats, consumed 700 sheets of mediocre acid on the roof of the studio, and proceeded to make Sgt. Pepperâ€™s Lonely Hearts Club Band, a groundbreaking album no one actually likes. A concept album about finding a halfway decent song for Ringo, Sgt. Pepper has a few satisfactory moments (â€œLovely Ritaâ€ totally nails the experience of almost having sex with a city employee), but this is only B+ work.