"Hey, remember the '80s? Man, our [expletive] shared fondness for [some bit of esoteric pop-culture reference] sure seems funny in retrospect now doesn't it? It's not unlike some [embarrassing sexual encounter, or lack thereof]. Also [some undeniably awful band, probably KISS] was [either the greatest/worst thing ever, depending on whichever sounds more argumentative in this context]." OK, I've now saved you the trouble of ever having to read another word by "humorous" music journalist Chuck Klosterman. Consider that a favor. For the poor souls reading magazines like Spin, Esquire, and GQ for the past six or seven years, he's been an unavoidably pernicious influence on music writing - the literary embodiment of VH1-style nostalgia irony. Infuriating to sensible readers like myself. Readers who, you know, still, um, read everything he writes. Granted, his books pay off at a rate of about one thought-provoking observation per dozen banal, purposefully provocative ones, but somehow they always end up making me embarrassed for all of us, and not in the way he intends. So why am I reading his book "Fargo Rock City" right now? Masochism? For the first time in my life I literally threw down a book in disgust during one of his vaguely-intellectual chapters on hair-metal videos. But then a few minutes later I picked it back up. Probably because Klosterman's career is the holy grail for smart-aleck music writers like myself, and I'm just jealous he got there first.
Originally published in the Boston Globe.