To: Chuck Klosterman
Subject: RE: Face Off
Time: 3:45 p.m. ET
All right, I'm entering the "My head hurts, and I can only write in bullet points" stage of Face-Off. I feel like Nick Nolte in the beginning of "North Dallas Forty" right now. This was grueling. OK, that's a complete lie. I just need coffee. Which reminds me, you might be the first writer I've ever met who doesn't drink coffee. I was floored by that revelation earlier today, which seems like about six years ago. Please tell me you smoke cigs or do copious amounts of drugs.
To the bullet points ...
I'm with you on the tangential information from the old ESPN Classic games. During Game 6 of the Blazers-Sixers series frrom '77, Musburger keeps breathlessly promising to send us to the Kemper Open as soon as the game ends. He's more excited about the Kemper Open than the deciding game of an NBA Finals. It's unbelievable. But my favorites are the Fox baseball games from the late-'90s, when they would plant the lead actors from their Crappy New Show Du'Jour, then pretend the cameras just happened upon them in the fifth inning, as Joe Buck says, "Hey, look, it's the cast of the new hit Fox drama, 'Firefly!' "
For Kelly Taylor, you wrote that "This is a woman who joined a cult, got amnesia, was almost burned alive (and then almost became a lesbian), dated a heroin addict, dated a gambling addict, became addicted to cocaine, and (I think) was trapped at the bottom of a Midland, Texas, well for 58 hours in 1987." Somehow you managed to leave out the drive-by shooting that led to her amnesia; her dangerously unhealthy addiction to diet pills which led to her fainting in the women's bathroom at the Peach Pit; the time she was raped and then subsequently gunned down that same rapist; the time she was kidnapped by a lesbian stalker; and the multiple times she pretended to enjoyed Brian Austin Green's music. This could be a longer book that Richard Ben Cramer's opus on DiMaggio.
I agree with your takes on poker and the Pumpkins. As much as it hurts. Although I still believe that their best 10 songs are better than Nirvana's best 10 songs, the fact remains, Nirvana came first and paved the way. It's like comparing David Thompson to Doctor J. The stats might back you up, but you still can't do it.
I disagree with your take on Red Sox fans. The great thing about Sox fans is that, much like you described Vikings fans, we're always convincing yourselves that this is the year. It's just that, when it doesn't happen, we react as poorly as possible and question the meaning of life for about two months. Then we're right back at it again. I've written about this roughly 500 times.
On "Rocky:" I always thought his defining fight was against Spider Rico in "Rocky," when he survived a vicious head-butt and nasty smoking habit and somehow rallied back for the inspiring win. He didn't even have a trainer at the time. And he was 20 pounds overweight. It's a yeoman's performance. Although I disaree with your dismissal of Clubber Lang as just another Biuster Douglas. If anything, Clubber was like Mike Tyson, the menacing bully who couldn't be beaten, then fell apart as soon as someone started punching him back. They should have a deleted scene on the "Rocky III" DVD where Clubber judges a Miss Teen Black USA contest.
I'm leaving you with two questions/requests:
What would be the most shocking sports scandal of all-time? I mean, if you had to make one up from scratch? And they have to be realistic -- it can't be something like "Kobe is accused of raping Luke Walton in the team shower." I'm talking about something along the lines of the running back in the "Last Boy Scout" pulling out a gun and shooting people on his way to the end zone -- unrealistic, but not improbable (especially if you garnered enough gambling debts and took enough painkillers). Anyway, I would go with the Simpson-Goldman murders ... even 10 years later, I can't imagine how anything would top that one. We can't be surprised by anything after that happened. Short of Kobe raping Luke Walton in the shower.
What was your favorite "Real World" season? Mine was San Fran, and here's why -- it was the last season that actually felt like "the real world," since all of the roommates (except for the pathetic, inexplicable Cory) had jobs and/or at least a semblance of personal ambition. Even Puck had a job (bike messenger) and an ambition (to make himself famous from being a total jerk on the show). So when Puck started stirring things up, there was still something real about it. He was the roommate from hell that everyone's had before.
Now the show exists solely to glamorize one-dimensional personalities who have no real basis in reality, as you wrote in your book. I still watch it -- don't get me wrong -- but I can never shake the feeling that everyone (repeat: EVERYONE) uses the platform so they can appear on those lame VH1 list shows and and maybe even get picked for the "Real World/Road Rules Challenge," all to avoid filling out a W-2 form for one more year (the old Mizz Scholarship). This show exists for the same reason the Paris Hilton-Rick Solomon porn tape exists, or Lindsay Lohan's implants, or Wilmer Valderrama doing his Duritz impersonation, or the Olsen Twins' inevitable "We're eating again" comeback movie, or even the fact that Jen Scheft has appeared on the cover of US Weekly five times already. This is the celebrity climate we've created: people who are famous for no real reason. And the Real World helped as much as anything else to start it.
Again, you touched on this in your book, but I felt left out and needed to chime in. I'm beginning to truly despise the show ... and yet I watch it every week when it's on. Please explain. Please help me.
And on that note... it's been a pleasure. I just can't believe we never found time to discuss the Basketball Jesus. Maybe next time.
Your friend in absurdity,
|Like Dr. J in the 1970s, Nirvana defined the early 1990s.|