If this were a serious blog, I would have brought a pen with me last night.
Last night, you see, my long-lost friend Bryn and I met at her place in Madison and, after a quick dinner at Qdoba, went to see Chuck Klosterman speak at UW. And he was awesome. However, I can't remember hardly any of the reasons why he was awesome. What I do remember is a number of times when I thought, Man, I should totally include that on my blog tomorrow. I mean, this is the sort of event that really lends itself to a blog entry. But I'm having a very difficult time recalling any details. That won't surprise anyone who knows me well--that is, anyone who's had to grab my wallet for me as we walked out of a restaurant, anyone who's decided it would be funny to hide my keys when I left them in the computer lab (I'm looking at you, Beckford), anyone who shares a household income with me and has to constantly remind me to deposit my paycheck. In some ways, I have an excellent memory. In many, many more ways, I do not. I'll do my best, though. Here are 11 things I remember about last night's event:
1. CK is pretty tall. Like maybe 6'2 or 6'3.
2. If you've seen a picture of him, you know he has a floppy haircut. I don't understand guys who do that. He was constantly brushing it away from his face. Isn't that a hassle?
3. He was wearing a Doors (I think) t-shirt; a black, zip-up, hooded sweatshirt; and blue jeans. However, whenever he stepped behind the podium, I imagined that he was wearing red pants. It wasn't a conscious thought. I was just surprised whenever he stepped out and his pants weren't red.
4. His voice is very unique. I've listened to him reading Chuck Klosterman IV on CD, so I knew that, but it bears mentioning. I suppose that nasally is the best word to describe it, but that's a negative description, and his voice isn't really annoying. Actually, it's sort of engaging. But in a nasally way.
5. Sometimes, when I have time to kill in class, I have the kids play a public speaking game where they have to talk about some random topic (Sneakers! Chinese food! Pencil sharpeners!) for a full minute without pausing, umming, ahing, saying like, etc. Chuck Klosterman would be horrible at that game. Further, he starts a lot--a lot--of sentences that he never finishes. For example, I'm pretty sure this is a direct quote:
The record companies realized they could sell six-year-old kids records. Like Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake...and, like, I mean, right? You know? So anyway...
Again, I'm not criticizing. I could have listened to him all night. But Barack Obama he is not. (More on that later.)
6. He is a very animated speaker. The image that's in my head right now is of him sort of tilting his left shoulder forward and down a little bit, with his hands extended, palms up. It's kind of like he's saying, Ta da!, but in a matter-of-fact kind of way. He would stand that way whenenver he was making a point about something that seemed really ludicrous to him. Like how strange it seemed to him that people always ask what Britney Spears/Val Kilmer/etc. are "really" like, as though his two hours with them would make him privy to that sort of circumspection. He made that point roughly 10 minutes before someone asked him what Britney Spears was really like.
7. Hillary Clinton was also speaking in Madison last night, and he wished that they could have somehow combined their events so they could have a debate. He conceded that she would probably win when it came to topics like government spending and national defense, but if the topic were Wilco B-sides, he was confident that he would "crush her."
8. He thinks that Hillary is probably the more qualified Democratic candidate right now, but he is going to vote for Obama. He's not sure why.
9. His knowledge of music is scary. In fact, it's so broad that I dreaded music questions because I knew I wouldn't be able to follow along. He mentioned so many bands that I had never heard of that I found myself getting excited when he talked about Guns 'n Roses because even though I have almost never actively listened to GNR, I know who they are.
9b. I had a professor in college named William Woolley, and I remember a number of times in class when he would talk about a book, and he would run his finger back and forth through the air as he tried to remember something from it. It was a mystery to me until a senior history major explained to me that he was recreating the pages in his head and going through them until he found what he was trying to remember. That always amazed me. Chuck Klosterman is like that when it comes to the Kurt Cobain suicide. A kid asked if he thought Cobain was murdered (he does not), and it was like CK wrote his masters thesis about it. Very impressive.
10. He has an in-depth knowledge of sports that some people might not be aware of. He did an awesome blog on last year's Final Four.
11. To use what he once called "the least incendiary of all modifiers," he seems genuinely "nice." He also seems genuinely genuine. Some celebrities give you the impression that if you approached them in a bar, they'd give a nod to some guy in the corner and you'd be out on the street in about three seconds. And maybe that's true of Klosterman (although he doesn't seem like he spends much time with guys who would be capable of throwing you out of a bar), but I don't think so. I think he'd buy you a Sierra Nevada and ask what you thought of the Jason Kidd trade. I think so, anyway.