A Slice of Fried Gold

Sex, Drugs, and Chuck Klosterman

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman

I think because every part of my life is influenced by pop culture, I feel like it's necessary that the things I love to read are deeply influenced by pop culture as well. Whether it's Reverend Jesse Custer meeting Bill Hicks in Preacher, Yorick Brown talking with one of the billions of abandoned women about how one of the things they'll miss the most are the male musicians who perished in Y the Last Man, or Joe Kavalier and Sam Clay crafting legendary comic book characters in the Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, they're all directly infused with pop culture and heavily influenced by it as well.

Of my favorite written works though, nothing is more directly influenced by pop culture than Bill Simmons' columns for ESPN.com. The guy analyzes sports through the microcosm of movies, music, television, and everything else. Whether he's breaking down the Red Sox season by comparing it to a multitude of Godfather quotes, analyzing the Wrestler, or comparing anything and everything to Teen Wolf, Karate Kid, and Rocky, it makes the writing more hilarious and easier to relate to.

While using pop culture in such a fashion is not exactly innovative, Simmons does it better than anyone else and the fact he uses it to write about sports makes it all the better. I really didn't think I'd find another writer that makes me laugh like that and does it about something I really care about.

Enter Chuck Klosterman. I'd heard a lot about him, kept seeing his name everywhere, etc. etc. Then last Friday, I read that he was coming up to speak at UAA (University of Alaska Anchorage for the uninitiated) in late March, and I decided it was time to check out his writing. Sure enough, he was exactly like Bill Simmons, which is unsurprising given the fact that Simmons and he have a bit of a mutual admiration thing going on.

No less, Klosterman does the same thing as Simmons, except he uses pop culture to look at life, love, and rock and roll. His book Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs is a collection of essays about any number of things, from understanding modern day love and how it is influenced by Lloyd Dobler and When Harry Met Sally, to the Real World and the way it has created archetypes for the current generation of young people to fit in to. It's hilarious, it's occasionally quite insightful, and really odd (to read a study on America's modern sexual identity by talking about the Pamela Anderson/Tommy Lee sex tape, well, you just never expect things like that).

The guy has the potential to join Simmons as one of my favorite writers, and I just can't recommend him enough. He writes like I dream to write, and has a conversational tone that is superb at conveying a point without making the reader feel like it's being hammered home (to put it simply, it's like you're hanging out with a really well spoken and hilarious friend who has a great point of view on life). Sure, he may look like an extra nerdy version of Corey Feldman, but that's okay. He's still absolutely hilarious, and highly recommended by yours truly.


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