Chuck Klosterman

  • We Will One Day Become That Which We Despise

    "Nevercriticize anything in public," a semi-wise man told me as we drankabsinthe in a Colorado ski lodge, "and never build the foundation ofyour career by attacking a specific idea. Because-if you live longenough-you will inevitably come to embody the very idea that you oncecriticized. And everyone will know." This is a half-truth.I've never been in a ski lodge, I've never consumed absinthe, and I'mnot sure if some semi-wise man gave me this advice or if I just nowmade it up. The truth lies in the message. Over time, every dogmaticindividual evolves into his or her ideological opposite: Anti-authorityfigures slowly enter the ruling class, socialists become capitalists,Fonzie grows a beard and becomes a high school shop teacher. But whathappens if someone can exist only by embodying their opposite? Nothing, I suppose. Or everything, possibly.

  • About a Man

    Forten years, people have asked, "Why did Kurt Cobain have to die?" Butthat question has been addressed by so many pundits that it no longerhas any meaning. At this point, it's time to ask something new: "Whatwould have happened if Kurt had lived?" Here's one theory. April 5, 1994: KurtCobain is admitted to the University of Washington Medical Center aftersuffering a massive heroin overdose. Discovered in a coma by privateinvestigator Tom Grant, Cobain's near-lifeless body lay alongside aloaded shotgun and (what appeared to be) a suicide note.

  • Out of Time

    Now, do not read that and think I am somehow suggesting thatnothing is new anymore or that everything has already been done or thatI am secretly applying for a job at Tracks magazine. There are still new things in this world. But they don't feel new to me. And I am placing much of the blame on R.E.M. Growing up, I hated R.E.M. In fact, my high school metalheadfriends and I compiled a "Bastard List" on the back of my life-sciencenotebook, and Michael Stipe was always No. 4 (preceded by BruceSpringsteen, our high school principal, and some kid from anotherschool named Gene, whom I'd never met). I didn't even own an R.E.M.album until I was a sophomore in college, when I bought a used copy oftheir early singles compilation, Eponymous, for $5.99.

  • Louisiana Hell Ride

    If werewolves controlled the House and vampires ruled the Senate,New Orleans would be our nation's capital. It is a citywithout conscience. The bars never close. You can drink on thestreet. Everything smells like a combination of puke, donkeys,shrimp scampi, Victoria's Secret, and lawlessness. Citizenswalk the alleys and boulevards with human skulls nestled undertheir arms. The air on Bourbon Street is 21 percent oxygen and 26percent sex. You can't swing a dead cat without hitting astripper who's also a prostitute (and I'm 99 percentcertain you can buy a dead cat here, if you're so inclined).There are people who move to New Orleans in order to die?

  • Irony Maidens

    Americans love to laugh. Americans also love to rock. There is onething, however, Americans don't love: They don't loveto laugh and rock at the same time. If laughter were made ofcocaine and rocking made of baking powder, there would be nodomestic market for crack. Americans have strict parameters forwhat they are willing to be amused by, and the records they buyjust don't make the cut. Ifyou are a semiregular reader of this magazine, you are probably awareof the Darkness, the British neo-cock-rock band who sing aboutbelieving in a thing called love, contracting genital warts, andplaying ping-pong on Wednesday nights. The group's excellent debutalbum, Permission to Land, has sold more than 600,000 copies inthe United Kingdom (in other words, one out of every 100 U.K. citizensowns a copy).

  • Mo' Future for You!

    I'm like Bob Dylan: I don't look back. I refuse toconsider anything that happened in 2003, because those days areover. Oh, I realize that there were fragments of noteworthy eventsover the past 12 months (tigers attacking magicians, tigers livingin Harlem apartments, the war, etc.), but as far as I'mconcerned, anything that occurred yesterday might as well havetaken place when dinosaurs ruled the earth. Those who ignorehistory are not doomed to repeat it; those who ignore history aredestined to dominate the future with extreme prejudice (almost asif they are cyborgs sent from the future, programmed to becomegovernor of California and possibly to kill the star of TV'sBeauty and the Beast). Tomorrow never knows, but I have afew suspicions. Here is everything important that will happen in2004.

  • 6,557 Miles To Nowhere

    Death is part of life. Generally, it's the shortest part oflife, usually occurring near the end. However, this is notnecessarily true for rock stars; sometimes rock stars don'tstart living until they die. I want to understand why thatis. I want to find out why the greatest career move any musiciancan make is to stop breathing. I want to find out why plane crashesand drug overdoses and shotgun suicides turn longhaired guitarplayers into messianic prophets. I want to walk the blood-soakedstreets of rock'n'roll and chat with the survivors asthey writhe in the gutter. This is my quest. Now, to do this, Iwill need a rental car. Deathrides a pale horse, but I shall merely ride a silver Ford Taurus. Iwill drive this beast 6,557 miles, guided by a mind-expanding globalpositioning system that speaks to me in a soothing female voice,vaguely reminiscent of Meredith Baxter.

  • A Perfect Circle, 'Thirteenth Step' (Virgin)

    Some hard-rock records sound like incorrigible monsters, stomping through city streets at random, tearing at the jugulars of unsuspecting tourists. A Perfect Circle's Thirteenth Step is not one of those records. This is more like music a diabolical Dr. Jekyll would enjoy during long nights in the bowels of his laboratory; this is what you listen to when mixing chemicals over a Bunsen burner and plotting a destruction to be named later. It's not inherently combustible, and it's more cerebral than aggressive. And if that sounds like a nice way of saying thatThirteenth Step doesn't rock, so be it. A Perfect Circle is Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan's platinum-selling side project, and it remains unclear why this project is necessary.

  • Audioslave, 'Audioslave' (Epic)

    Here's the problem with the new album from Audioslave, Chris Cornell's collaboration with three former members of Rage Against the Machine: It sounds like arithmetic. A + B = C. If you ignore the vocals, it could be a collection of scratch demos for Rage'sEvil Empire; if you're drunk, you might think that Kim Thayil finally persuaded the other guys in Soundgarden to make an experimental album about robots. There is no blending of styles,and there is no collision of aesthetics. It doesn't feel the least bit organic. Here, then, is the solution: Realize that this is not a problem.We've been conditioned to believe that good records are the product of artistic alchemy--musicians joining forces to produce something greater than themselves. This is not always true.

  • Libertines, 'Up the Bracket' (Rough Trade)

    The Libertines raise a question that comes up quite often in rock 'n' roll: Should we praise a band for seeming like they don't care? Clearly, the aesthetic that drives Up the Bracket is apathy (or the illusion of same), and that's problematic. If it's all an act--if they're merely constructing the aura of indifference--then they're the worst kind of charlatans. However, if they're not faking, then they're just lazy goofballs, and why should anybody get credit for that? So how do we answer such a query? I guess we don't. I guess we just pick a side and hope nobody calls us on it, because this is a great record. Up the Bracket drops off a little after track seven, but its first 20 minutes are like rum and Coke: sticky, sloppy, and totally palatable to the ladies.

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