Monday, January 02, 2006


"But I still think my interpretation is more interesting than his truth."

The above referenced line comes from the book Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, by Chuck Klosterman. As is my usual habit, I dove into this book while reading several others: Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them (Franken), and The Book of Imaginary Beings (Borges).

The Borges book is quite interesting, but not quite what I would ever have expected. It's basically (as the name implies), a bestiary of mythological characters. When I was younger, I colored nearly every page of a very similar book.

But not to be glib, this is the book that Joseph Campbell might have written were he more interested in the existing than of the of existing.

Not that this is fair, either. Let's just say that if you're familiar with Borges, you may be surprised at the brevity of cultural significance imparted by this book. If you've never heard of Borges, this particular piece will likely pass you by. Still, like all of his work that I've spent time studying, I'm sure that there are many surprises missed the first time around.

"Like life," I feel completely unqualified to say, Borges may have stated.

The Franken book is pretty damn funny, but a bit short on the details. I know that Bill O'Reilly is the henchman of the antichrist. Most of us know that. Even those who live and die by his show. But as a political piece, I imagine that it's about as entertaining and accurate as Anne Coulter with dysentery: we love to watch her squirm, but we also know that the shit coming out of her is just that - watered down shit. For the 99% of us that don't believe everything that comes from either Ari Fleisher or Michael Moore, it's a bit pedantic.

On the other hand, I would rather read an encyclopedia by Franken than a by-line by Sean Hannity. I actually respect Franken. I personally think that he's pretty darn funny (despite the whole Stuart Smalley thing), and I can tell that he thinks that he cares about politics. I'm a blue-state through and through, but I also have the ability (lacking in both the left and the right) to think for myself. But I can't abide by his choice to attack the talk-show radio right on their own ground. People like O'Reilly, Hannity and Limbaugh are bad for America. They profess to be good for America, all the while viciously attacking 50% of the country. Sadly, Al Franken has decided to fight fire with fire. It makes me sick to my stomach that most liberals believe that the best way to fight the Right is on their (the Right's) own terms.

You know, in conversation I always seem to come out as a relativist. I hate that. I usually consider myself liberal, but I find myself agreeing with several conservative points. I don't know if this is the chipping-away of youth, in which my ideology is slowly transmuted into concern for Me and Mine, or if I've actually always been of two minds. I bet people in other countries mock America for lining up in two simple queues.

Still, social relativism leads to things like the LA race riots. And a little thing that just happened in France. Unfortunately, the flip-side of relativism leads to Dachau. Except that we would never let that happen here. Because we're smarter, more informed, and dog gon'it, people like us.

Especially interred Japanese Americans.

But I've totally digressed, and probably already lost a lot of the people that the first half of this post was aimed at. "A lot" of people is relative, of course, because very few people read this. And I'm starting to understand why!

But it all leads well into Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs. This book drove me crazy, the least of which was because I was thinking simultaneously about winged horses and lying conservatives. Actually, the reason that it nearly killed me is that I kept flopping between: "I would love to be able to write like this", and "What a fucking hack."

What bothers me the most is that this is exactly the response the fucker wanted me to have.

In one essay, Klosterman details every reason why I love (and this a big thing for me to admit, so please sit down if you haven't already done so) Billy Joel. Point for frickin' point, I said to myself "Yeah, those are all things that I should have told my friends!", instead of changing the subject to Metallica and trying to remember the words to Master Of Puppets while Goodnight Saigon played in my mental background.

But then Klosterman quickly makes me his worst type of loser for only owning a best-of album, and judging my love of his music for anything less than the most obsucre B-sides. And at the same time, he makes fun of people that only listen to obscure tracks. This motherfucker covers all of his bases.

Or, as I'm honestly surprised he didn't himself state, All Your Base Belong to Klosterman. If you don't get it, it's probably best that you don't read this book. If you do, it's probably best that you don't read this book.

I found myself going round after round with this guy, but it wasn't fair because I couldn't argue. And if I could have argued, I wouldn't be half as articulate.

Smart people who think they're always right... suck. That's right, I don't have anything else, and I admit it. Fuck you, Klosterbag douche McVulvalips.

At the same time, I was compelled to read every word, line, paragraph and chapter of the damnable book.

You all know what kind of person Klosterman is. He's that guy that you've always hated. But one time he put his arm around you and took you in. He showed you your first porno, smoked you your first joint, introduced you to your first girlfriend. Then one day he sucker punched you and stole all of your money.

You still hate him, but if you ever saw him again, say, getting beat up in an alley behind a seedy bar, you'd help. And when you'd finally driven off the assailants, your ribs bruised and your breath thick, you'd help him up. He'd buy you a beer inside, tell you about his amazing life, perhaps even introduce you to your future wife.

Then he'd sneak out and stiff you with the tab.

Thank you, Carter. It was great.


At 1/03/2006 10:23:00 AM , Anonymous TSW said...

Klosterman is too cool for school, which I usually hate; but somehow he's also cool enough that one wants to associate with him.

I may not always agree with him, but I always enjoy reading his views on pop culture.

Glad you enjoyed the book. And I'll need to check out the Borges books, sounds pretty interesting.

At 1/03/2006 11:22:00 AM , Blogger Kingfisher said...

Wow, you am more smarter den me.

(drags knuckles back to pounding rocks together)

At 1/03/2006 03:56:00 PM , Blogger KOM said...

TSW - Definately enjoyed it. And some great quotes in there! I kept trying to tell Robyn about this or that, but it must lose something without the context. I'd bray like an ass, choking on my own laughter, and she'd just look at me.

KF - No comprende. Did that post come across like bragging in some way? Or did I appear to have accused someone of being stupid?

At 1/03/2006 09:13:00 PM , Blogger The Commentator said...

Small role notwithstanding, Franken was funny in 'Trading Places'. 'Gosh darn it, people love me' or something like that. Under used at SNL. Like Mark McKinney. As for his politics, throw him in the .88 cents bin. I studied American history and sometimes I wonder if Americans on TV did at all; they say such stupid things. 'You eat with that mouth?' I always say. Anyway, I think you're right. Conseravtism has become a bad word in contemporary times. Especially in North America. Yet, everyone has some conservatism in them. We're just afraid to express it. It's usually associated with the extreme right when in fact it is much deeper than that. Classical conservatism and classical liberalism have shared values. That's why cons. sometimes agree with libs. and vice-versa. Liberatarians, so they claim, are in the same spirit as classical liberalism. Ironically - and humans are nothing but a study in contradictions - conservatives are preserving institutions created by liberals and liberals for their part have decided to take up arms with socialism. Everyone is ideologically confused and fucked up....I think. I'm tired. Brown sugar mini-wheats await...


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