Welcome to a new feature called "Curious Guy," in which I e-mail questions to somebody who is successful -- whether it's the GM of a baseball team, an author, a creator of a TV show, another writer or whomever -- and we just start trading e-mails for the rest of the week. In case you missed the last edition, we featured Josh Schwartz, the guy who created "The OC."
This week's exchange was with Chuck Klosterman, the best-selling author and pop culture guru who released his third book, "Killing Yourself To Live", earlier this summer. Chuck also writes monthly columns for Spin, Esquire and Honcho. All right, I made that last one up ... but he really does have columns in the other two. Somehow he found the time to exchange e-mails with me. Actually, who am I kidding? He's always online, just like me. Here's what transpired:
Simmons: All right, you're a much bigger sports fan than some people realize ... and yet you grew up in North Dakota. How does somebody fall in love with pro sports while living in a state without teams? Do you have a favorite team in every sport? How did you end up deciding on each one? Were you one of those kids who jumped on the bandwagon of every championship team when you were like, 7 years old? Please tell me you weren't one of those kids. I hate those kids.
Klosterman: This is one issue you and I will never agree upon. I absolutely do not understand why you believe geography should have any significance on which teams you are somehow "obligated" to support. That will always strike me as the most irrational reason for liking anything. There is no inherent regional quality to pro sports, beyond the imaginary relationship created by fans. I remember when I lived in Akron, Ohio, during the late 1990s, and it was suddenly announced that the Browns were returning to Cleveland. People in Northeast Ohio immediately began insisting that the Browns were their favorite team; this was before the expansion draft. People were buying Browns' jerseys before they had acquired any players. They didn't even have a coach or a GM. It was a wholly theoretical franchise. So -- essentially -- these people were rooting for (a) an incorporated municipality with a shared tax base, and (b) a color best-described as "burnt orange." These things have nothing to do with football, and you should never like any specific team more than you like the sport itself.
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"Killing Yourself to Live"
"Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs"
"Fargo Rock City"
When people ask me who my favorite NFL team is, I always say, "The 1978 Dallas Cowboys." I still have some interest in that particular franchise, but I don't feel any loyalty to the organization; I mean, it's not like I'm a stockholder. Nobody asked me about firing Tom Landry. Nobody consulted with me about the acquisition of Drew Bledsoe. I have always liked the Packers (especially during that brief James Lofton-J.J. Jefferson era), but mostly because I grew up surrounded by hordes of Viking fans, virtually all of whom I despise. No Packer victory has ever made me as happy as the Vikings' loss to the Falcons in the 1999 NFC championship game; that was among the greatest days of my life. I generally have a modicum of interest in the Broncos, which (I think) was spawned by my affinity for a 1979 Rick Upchurch football card that recognized him as the NFL's all-time leading punt returner. The photo was of Upchurch adjusting his face mask; it was relentlessly cool. But I was also 7.