right, so here's my problem. I was going to write an essay, and it was going to
be awesome. I know it sounds a little bombastic to say that, but it was. It was
supposed to be this totally sweet essay about the blurring of reality and cinema
in the minds of the current youth generations. Twenty-somethings are the johns
to the whoredom of media, and we love every minute of it. So here's me; I
recently broke up with my girlfriend and found myself homeless. If I were a
script this would be called my inciting event- you know, setting the stage for
all of the dramatic tension that would follow for the next two hours. Because I
fancy myself a funny guy with good morals that never wants to hurt peoples
feelings, my movie would, of course, be a romantic comedy. This concept was
cemented in my fractured media ridden mind when my mom said, "You're just like a
movie." My mom; not even one of my boneheaded friends who not seven years
ago tried to assign the characters of Friends to their peers in order to
make their identities easily definable. The thing that made my mom say this was
my twitter-pated actions that followed a meeting with an old ex with whom I
broke up because I was older and lived in another state after graduating
college, something that I originally thought was a noble action. She is now the
coolest flight attendant in the sky and lives in Newark, New Jersey, and she had
a day off, so she came to Minnesota to do lunch. This is where I switch into my
Lloyd Dobler mode (although I would probably be more of a Rob Gordon considering
I work at a record store and there I was getting neurotic about feelings
concerning a former love). The bottom line is that I am John Cusack in the
fractured, potholed highway of my head. So my essay was supposed to be about how
fucked up my generation is in regards to how they use consumable entertainment
to define themselves, all the while pointing out that I am just as fucked up as
anyone else, because if it weren't for pop culture, I could probably not
participate in any form of conversation. It was to be a humorous love/hate thing
that stressed my internal turmoil regarding the effects of the most trite and
cliché things about my generation and how I succumb to these pitfalls
everyday—and of course I was going to address the slippery slope that is When
Harry met Sally.
Ugh...I think this is the point where I take a breath.
Anyway, I was going to write about that- was. Two nights ago I was
talking at length on the phone with the aforementioned flight attendant of
awesome- let's just call her XT- and I was telling her about the things I've
been working on, and the subject of said essay came up.
Her response: It sounds like that one by Chuck Klosterman.
My response: Huh?
XT: Yeah, it's in that book you told me about, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs.
Me: I have a very tenuous relationship with that book.
I have recommended this book to far too many people, always with the tagline,
"It's really good, but I kind of hate it, but it's good—well, when it's good,
it's really good, but man I really hate it sometimes, and in the first half the
word 'postmodern' is way too present...and then the second half it's the word
'inasmuch,' one word not three [I am well aware that this is a word, but it kind
of chaps my hide, you know]. Yeah, it kind of made me want to kill myself...no,
but it's good, you should read it."
Me: I fucking hate Chuck Klosterman!!! But he's good at stuff...
Me: I am not Chuck Klosterman.
XT: Well, you do kind of write alike.
Me: But my good stuff is just as good as his good stuff, but he's successful,
and I'm...well, I don't try hard enough. And, goddamn it, I wanted to write that
essay, but he beat me to it and I don't even remember reading it, and god damn
it, mine would have been totally different but now I can't write it—well I could
and it would be fine because, of course, we're different people...WE'RE
DIFFERENT PEOPLE! Damn it! I can't write that essay.
Holy shit, I make myself sad, I don't know how I became such a spaz...I just
hope it's endearing in a "cute" kind of way—please, someone pat my head and say
"that's sweet." The thing is, I hate Chuck Klosterman. I hate him and his stupid
glasses. They are way too similar to my glasses. Fuck! Damn it, I just re-read
the back cover of his book and it even mentions the whole When Harry met
Sally thing. AAARRRGGGHH!!!
Chuck Klosterman is the embodiment of the "Urban Hipster." He is pretentious, he
uses a wealth of knowledge about Popular Culture and a keen wit to make friends
and influence people. He uses his knowledge of music and ability to recognize
kitsch as a means of looking down his nose at people and define himself publicly
as a cool kid. He writes for Spin. I want to write for Spin.
Goddamn, I am Chuck Klosterman (only, like I said, not successful). Always two
steps ahead of me aren't you, Chuck.
The thing about it is that Chuck Klosterman causes me a severe case of
self-loathing. He possesses all of the attributes that I use to tell myself I'm
an individual who is witty, interesting, unique, and most—most—importantly,
cool. But if he possesses all of these things, how can that make me an
individual or unique? I worry that aside from triggering way too many neurotic
tics in my head, he has inadvertently made me a rip-off artist, even though I
have been doing all of this and writing in this vein for years before I even
heard of Chuck Klosterman.
Maybe I choose to hate Chuck Klosterman because I'm trying to posit myself as
having DIY punk-rock ideals, while he is a sell-out and I am not. The truth is,
given the opportunity, I would probably sell out too. I think the truth is that
I love Chuck Klosterman because I am a self-indulgent pompous fuck who loves
himself way too much, but I say I hate him because he has, like, a ten-year head
start and has totally beaten me to the punch and I am soooo totally jealous of
Do you think if I moved in with Chuck Klosterman it would turn into a remake of
Single White Female?
When talking about Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, I sight several things I
find as flaws. I claim that it's too pretentious and that he gets
over-analytical at times. In some ways I think that this may in some way present
me as a writer who is more well-rounded and capable of writing without pushing
away a certain segment of a potential audience. But you know what? I'm
pretentious, and I hate it...but I love it. I really don't think I'm too
analytical about ridiculous aspects of pop culture. I really don't. I am wrong.
During the course of that several hour conversation with XT, she brought up the
film Xanadu, starring Olivia Newton-John. Oh, it's such a rich diamond
mine of kitsch, and I don't mean regular diamonds- I mean platinum-coated
diamonds that were squeezed out of God's butt. It's incredible. Anyway, I
started talking about the inadvertent metaphorical value of ON-J's character in
the film and the comparisons that can be drawn between her real-life relation to
the making of the film and the way that her character serves as a muse for a
nightclub owner who is trying to create the greatest dancehall ever, but in
actuality creates the worst thing ever conceived (well, that is just an
inference on my part, not actually what happens in the film). It's like ON-J
plays a muse for the creation of crap, but was actually a muse for the creation
of crap in that she was instrumental in the making of the movie which is crap.
After my ten-minute exploration of this metaphor, I was snapped back to reality
(oh, there goes gravity).
What a fickle mistress truth is. Like a slap across the face, I realized that I
am just as overly analytical as Mr. K. I almost want to go around claiming that
he is my arch-nemesis. It's like the dichotomy of the superhero/supervillain
mythos; there is such a fine line that separates them, but one is good and the
other evil. If that's true, I don't know which side of that line I position
myself. I like to think I'm good, but wouldn't any villain? I find it easy to
vilify Chuck Klosterman, but the fact of the matter is, he's good. Maybe we're
both good, but we're like cross-town rivals. This is ridiculous, because we're
only rivals in my world, because there is no way of him knowing my existence or
my plight that he is responsible for.
Am I Chuck Klosterman? Is Chuck Klosterman me?
The truth is that we are both entirely different people; if we met, worlds
wouldn't collide. We might try and out-reference each other, but the laws of
conservation of matter would not cause the universe to explode. I am John Henry.
Chuck Klosterman is Chuck Klosterman. I hate Chuck Klosterman. I love John
Henry. I love Chuck Klosterman. I hate John Henry.
Perhaps now my demons are exorcised and I can sleep at night...oh, who am I
kidding, I'm just being overdramatic, and this essay has been a hell of a lot of
fun to write.