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 Author: Chuck Klosterman

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PostSubject: Author: Chuck Klosterman   Thu Apr 26, 2018 8:12 pm

The Eric Spitznagel book I read recently ("Old Records Never Die") was reviewed on the back cover as being "a cross between Nick Hornby and Chuck Klosterman." Since I'd read Hornby and Spitznagel, I decided I should familiarize myself with Klosterman.

He's a lightweight writer, a commenter on pop culture, a guy who spews opinions for a living and understands the futility of doing so. His subjects have included movies, books, poetry, sports, music, journalism, fashion, television and all manner of modern obsessions. He's an entertaining writer, not TOO full of himself, perfect for summer reading on the deck. I bought five of his books and am on the third one after three days. Each is slightly different.

"Killing Yourself to Live" was about a cross-country trip visiting the death-scenes of famous musicians. Although it was mostly about the music industry and how dying is usually a great career move.

"Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs" was a series of essays on a variety of topics, possibly magazine pieces although that was never spelled out.

"But What If We're Wrong?" is a book about trying to predict what "common knowledge" today will be proven to be erroneous in the future.
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PostSubject: Re: Author: Chuck Klosterman   Fri Apr 27, 2018 1:44 pm

Amongst a bunch of pretty stupid examples — which rock bands will be remembered in 500 years, which writers will still be read when the book is obsolete — Klosterman DOES make an interesting point about science. Some of the REALLY BIG concepts that everybody accepts today are likely to fall as science advances.

Gravity. Nobody understands yet how gravity works. Is it a fundamental force or a byproduct of the curvature of space or something as yet unimagined?

Time. Nobody understands the arrow of time and why it only points one direction. Is it a fundamental building block of the universe or a perceptual illusion?

Maybe I need to find a book on this by a scientist.
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PostSubject: Re: Author: Chuck Klosterman   Sat Apr 28, 2018 10:22 am

Time isn't a real thing - it is just a tool conceived by humans.

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PostSubject: Re: Author: Chuck Klosterman   Sun Apr 29, 2018 6:49 pm

This last Klosterman book I’m reading, “But What If We’re Wrong?” is a bit more serious, less jokey, less fluffy than the first two I read.  He tackles some large subjects, and has done some heavy thinking on them.

But he still devolves into asides and off-subjects that take the book out of intellectual territory.  Will football survive the present concussion controversy?  Are there any sitcoms that deserve to represent us 500 years in the future?  (His answer: Roseanne). Has history been falsified by the Catholic Church to make themselves more important?

But he also hits some high points.  Is the US Constitution up to another 250 years of guidance?  Will science displace mankind as the center of the universe?  Is fame based on merit or popularity?  How about LASTING fame?  Does freedom from tyranny make men more happy, or less?  Is there such a thing as a benevolent dictator?  If we could upload our personalities into a computer would we be in The Matrix? If the cost of reversing global warming is the collapse of industrialized society, would it be worth it?

Time to jump off the Klosterman wagon and dig into the next book on the table — a new one by Sean Carroll whose ”Endless Forms Most Beautiful” blew my mind.
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PostSubject: Re: Author: Chuck Klosterman   Tue May 08, 2018 3:41 pm

First of all, thank you for these posts. You have saved me from ever wasting a cent on one of Klosterman's books.

Some of what you call the "high points":

** Is fame based on merit or popularity?
Takes about a tenth of a second to know that it is both.

** If we could upload our personalities into a computer would we be in The Matrix?
That's a silly damn question, depending on the impossible, and meaningful only to fanboys of The Matrix.

**  If the cost of reversing global warming is the collapse of industrialized society, would it be worth it?
That question can only be answered, or even pondered, when the consequences of the alternative are given.
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PostSubject: Re: Author: Chuck Klosterman   Sat Jun 16, 2018 3:48 pm

Back into Klosterman, "IV" (2006) his fourth book, to finish off the series I bought. It's a big collection (400+ pages) of pieces he wrote mostly for Spin Magazine about pop stars of the day. He interviews the people who are heroes to his generation: U2, White Stripes, Pixies, Smiths, Radiohead, Wilco, Metallica, many others. As I'm reading I need to dip into these bands on iTunes, because I've never paid any attention to them and find myself totally lost with a lot of Klosterman's references.

I find myself feeling sad for his generation.

All these bands are extremely derivative. Totally unoriginal. Massive blenders of influences that went before them. They are second- or third- or fifth-rate imitations of music I grew up with -- and I don't say that to be mean. It is demonstrably true that rock has not progressed an inch since 1974.

The period 1966 to 1974 (give or take) was they heyday of massive innovation, chance-taking, expansion of the art form, birth of every genre that subsequently took over the music industry. Since then -- with very very few exceptions, and certainly none in popular music -- everybody has simple recycled old memes. The music of the '80s and '90s is bathwater, with absolutely nothing new or interesting.

Oh, there was (c)rap and hip-hop but those aren't even music, in my book. Even THOSE were pale imitations of The Last Poets.

I guess I'm just a crusty old dinosaur.
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PostSubject: Re: Author: Chuck Klosterman   Sat Jun 16, 2018 4:02 pm

I certainly agree with you about the music that has been dumped on us since the eighties. But I believe you are a bit off when you say, "The period 1966 to 1974 (give or take) was they heyday...". You have to go back to the the early fifties when Bill Haley, Little Richard, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, and many others were giving the kids music they had never before heard the like of.
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PostSubject: Re: Author: Chuck Klosterman   Sat Jun 16, 2018 4:08 pm

To a very large degree, Bill Haley, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, and similar artists didn't invent anything, they just took the black 'race music' and played it for white audiences.
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PostSubject: Re: Author: Chuck Klosterman   Sat Jun 16, 2018 5:05 pm

I was afraid you would say that. It's a trait of your generation.
I notice you didn't mention Little Richard, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry.....
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PostSubject: Re: Author: Chuck Klosterman   Sat Jun 16, 2018 5:19 pm

They too played watered-down race music to white audiences... but with a little more integrity Smile

I don't dispute that the originators of Rock and Roll music created a huge innovation.  It just wasn't Elvis.


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PostSubject: Re: Author: Chuck Klosterman   Sat Jun 16, 2018 5:22 pm

There was no such thing as race music (except in the south).
The change was not in the music, but in the business - when radio realized that they could make a lot of money playing the music that the kids wanted.
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PostSubject: Re: Author: Chuck Klosterman   Sat Jun 16, 2018 5:28 pm



I'll concede that the term "race music" is freighted with huge political overtones, and does little to define itself. Everything from ragtime to delta blues to early rhythm & blues.
Wikipedia wrote:
Following the Civil War, Black Americans, through employment as musicians playing European music in military bands, developed a new style of music called ragtime which gradually evolved into jazz. In developing this latter musical form, African Americans contributed knowledge of the sophisticated polyrhythmic structure of the dance and folk music of peoples across western and sub-Saharan Africa. These musical forms had a wide-ranging influence on the development of music within the United States and around the world during the 20th century.

The earliest jazz and blues recordings were made in the 1920s. African-American musicians developed related styles such as Rhythm and Blues in the 1940s.
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PostSubject: Re: Author: Chuck Klosterman   Sun Jun 17, 2018 8:07 am

Music is not racial - it is cultural.
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PostSubject: Re: Author: Chuck Klosterman   Sun Jun 17, 2018 8:14 am

Yes but the term "race music" was a euphemism.
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PostSubject: Re: Author: Chuck Klosterman   Sun Jun 17, 2018 8:44 am

_Howard wrote:
The change was not in the music, but in the business - when radio realized that they could make a lot of money playing the music that the kids wanted.
Don't you remember all the controversy when rock 'n roll first started being played on the radio? In the days of Pat Boone and Andy Williams, the arrival of something altogether 'darker' (in both senses of the term) was frightening to some people. And of course, it would be YEARS before the black originators got their share of radio play, as "white-washed" versions were the only kind allowed. Look at the early Led Zeppelin albums. Every song on there is a direct rip-off of some legitimate blues artist, but Page & Plant made them acceptable for a white audience. Elvis's swivel hips? Stolen. Jerry Lee Lewis's standup histrionics? Stolen. Fleetwood Mac's or Chicken Shack's or Climax Blues Band's early blues records? Stolen.

Richie Havens at Woodstock and Fleetwood Mac's "In Chicago" and Chuck Berry touring America with Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers in 1957 were acknowledgements by musicians of conscience that the originators were being shut out of commercialization of their music. The power of Southern conservatives was vast however so it took decades.
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PostSubject: Re: Author: Chuck Klosterman   Sun Jun 17, 2018 12:40 pm

Yes, I do remember it. It was at about the time you were born.
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PostSubject: Re: Author: Chuck Klosterman   Sun Jun 17, 2018 1:01 pm

Hey, I was gestating since July 1953.
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