Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Why you should go see Chuck Klosterman at Boswell in Milwaukee on May 19. Or why you should feel bad if you missed it.

We are gearing up for our event with Chuck Klosterman on Friday, May 19. While there was a time where I might have said, "Who is this man and why do so many people like him?," I am now completely hooked, having read his last three books on publication. And yes, even when he wasn't visiting.

Both I Wear the Black Hat and But What if We're Wrong were fascinating pieces of cultural criticism, blending the high and low and everything in between in a way that I didn't think was possible. His new book, Chuck Klosterman X has a title that is an homage to an earlier collection, Chuck Klosterman IV, which itself is an homage to classic albums, probably most notably Led Zeppelin, but pop nerd that I was, I think of Chicago.

There's not as much philosophy or history or film stuff -- this collection is hardcore music and sports. As Klosterman notes, there was a time when music and sports journalist would have nothing to do with each other, but time has been good to Klosterman and that is no longer the case. And Klosterman is sort of a legend in both fields, having written extensively for Spin and Grantland, among other publications. If I loved sports, I would start weeping about Grantland now; it's missed that much. And ESPN is wondering why it's having money issues. It's bad juju from shuttering Grantland. Yeah, that's the ticket.

As a person who had a friend (not to be revealed), who once played a Nickelback album over and over, I'm going to tell you that any coolness I have ever had in my life was purely accidental. But that's one of the things I love about Klosterman. He can write very extensively about Kiss, know what that means, and keep on writing. Could I write this way about Barry Manilow, who I liked very, very, very much when I was a teenager? I could not. He lost me at "Copacabana," by the way, but up till then, I was putty in his hands. This pretty much explains me, sadly.

All Chuck Klosterman events are great, or well, the two we hosted were. Of course the first time he visited, was the day of Farrah Fawcett-Majors death. He would have had more to say about that, but then Michael Jackson died too. He has something interesting to say about just about everything, but well, Michael Jackson. You can only imagine.

But about Chuck Klosterman X. This may his best looking book ever. I love edge staining and this book is completely dressed in black, like it was going to a Talking Heads concert. Isn't it beautiful?

And yes, we have tour shirts. Tour shirts! We're going to be wearing ours, and yes, we'll have a couple to give away too. Don't ask me for one, as we're leaving that for Mr. Klosterman.

Want to know about the insides? The Associated Press review called Mr. Klosterman "brilliant." I think it's odd that I can't figure out who wrote it, at least from this Daily News item. Ah, the Joplin Globe notes that it's written by Ann Levin. I went back and looked, and yes, they really left the writer's name off the article.

And Jeff Simon in the Buffalo News calls Klosterman "one of the necessary sensibilities of our time." Here's something quotable: "This is a plump collection indeed -- no less than 444 pages. He calls it 'a highly specific, defiantly incomplete history of the 21st century.' It's difficult to resist a fellow who, despite all unavoidable apperances of megalomania, loves 'reading the index to any book I publish ... Exploring the index from a book you created is like having someone split your head open with an axe so that you can peruse the contents of your brain. It's the alphabetizing of your consciousness.'"

I read it cover to cover, and I really don't understand sports at all. But I like music stuff, even if my brain's music muscle got shut off. I am officially an old fogie. But conceptually I still like it. Young'uns, this could happen to you.

So you probably want to know the details. Tickets are $29 and include admission, all taxes and fees, and a copy of the book. I know you are shocked--you're supposed to be surprised by taxes and fees in your shopping cart, but we've also been told that our emails are too long. Different drummer and all that. Also, the night of the event only, you can get a $20 Boswell gift card in lieu of the book. But if I were dating another Chuck Klosterman fan, I'd get two books and use them as bookends.

But that's just me.

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