Chuck Klosterman hates to be edited. "That's why writing books is so fun," he told a Mediabistro.com interviewer: no one messes with your prose. Indeed, they don't. Klosterman, author of the acclaimed metal-fanboy memoir Fargo Rock City and the essay collection Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, has produced a third book with enough stylistic beasties to frighten a hundred high-school English teachers into early retirement. For example, the Head-Slapping Redundancy ("She can only express her worry through uncreative clichés"), the Mock Adjective ("I realize this is a pretty cliché thing to love"), and the Dreadful Etymology ("It's difficult to be epic on command," he frets, "especially when you have no idea what constitutes epochal behavior"). As if it matters. Klosterman won his hordes of fans and his jobs at Spin and Esquire by using his own voice -- that of a Midwestern pop-culture omnivore with big ideas and quick-draw opinions on everyone from Billy Joel ("great") to Audioslave ("shitty") to Coldplay ("absolutely the shittiest fucking band I've ever heard in my entire fucking life"). At his best, he sounds like a cross between I Love the '80s, Circus magazine, and a Jean Baudrillard course reader. It's also how he sounds at his worst. Opinionated, narcissistic, and self-consciously clever, he may not be the cultural critic Generation X deserves, but -- no, actually, he probably is.
Klosterman visits Berkeley's Cody's Books (2454 Telegraph Ave., 510-845-7852) tonight (Wednesday) at 7:30 p.m. to read from his latest work, Killing Yourself to Live. In it, he goes on assignment for Spin, driving 6,557 miles cross-country to visit scenes of rock stars' demises and ponder the relationship between fame and untimely death. Like any road trip, it makes a good compatibility test. If you can bear with him as he ruminates over his woman troubles; if you can avoid wincing at his description of the Mississippi River ("calm as a cookie sheet"); if you can forgive his lapses into complete bogosity ("Musical structures define the process of motion"), you'll know you've got Klostermania. CodysBooks.com -- Chris Ulbrich
Join the media-industrial complex while you're still young and impressionable. At a student publications informational fair on the seventh floor of UC Berkeley's Eshleman Library, meet staffers from a range of campus papers and magazines, and learn how to get involved. For details, call 510-643-2981 (Wed., noon). ... Sneaking around the world searching for social-justice disasters -- sometimes in disguise -- self-described "human-rights pirate" Edith Mirante had many narrow escapes. Hear about guerrillas, traffickers, ecological ruin and more as she reads from Down the Rat Hole at Black Oak (Wed., 7:30 p.m. ). ... Syllables are in short supply at a dress rehearsal for the new haiku-based performance piece by poetry and dance duo Alan Bern and Lucinda Weaver at Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St. (Fri., 7:30 p.m.). ... Starting with a rare historical document indeed, Stanford law prof William B. Gould IV transformed a journal kept by his great-grandfather into a book, Diary of a Contraband: The Civil War Passage of a Black Sailor. Celebrate the salt air with Gould at Oakland's African American Museum and Library (Sat., 2 p.m.). ... But which was better? Join the Berkeley Public Library's teen program "See the Movie, Read the Book"; this month's screening is in the Central Branch's Community Room (Sat., 3 p.m.). ... There once was an island with soldiers. ... An open-mic for original poems about Alameda is part of the town's Art in the Park Festival in Jackson Park (Sun., 2 p.m.). ... The lit hits the fan at Pegasus Downtown, as Maureen Alsop, Julia Cole, Claire Drucker, David Koehn, Katherine Hastings and Jennifer Sweeney -- local contributors to the poetry journal Diner -- read from their work (Sun., 7 p.m.). ... What part of goodbye don't you understand? The theme at this week's Poetry Express, at Berkeley's Priya Indian Cuisine, is "exes" (Mon., 7 p.m.). ... Remembering late lamented UC Berkeley prof Thom Gunn, his longtime friend the poet and translator Clive Wilmer reads at Mrs. Dalloway's (Tue., 7 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus
Calling smooth-jazz superstar Najee "the black Kenny G" is a cheap shot. And it kind of misses the point. Najee fills an empty space in your musical life between urban R&B and contemporary jazz. While not especially edgy, he is an accessible and engaging instrumentalist with a well-defined sense of groove that goes well with cosmopolitans or Manhattans. Continuing in the vein of Grover Washington Jr. and George Duke, he has collaborated with Quincy Jones and Patti LaBelle, recently toured with Prince, and has two platinum and four gold albums to his credit. The slick, sophisticated, and soulful saxman, currently promoting his new album Point of View, comes to Yoshi's Monday night, adding considerable marquee value to a benefit show for Khalil Shaheed's Oaktown Jazz Workshops -- whose mission it is to further America's indigenous jazz tradition through youth education programs. 8 and 10 p.m. $35. Yoshis.com -- Eric K. Arnold
Proud sistahs on the march
It's not just your average, everyday, been-there-done-that dyke march. No, ma'am. It's a funkafied, sho-nuff-fo'-real, smack it up, rub it, and flip it on the black hand side lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered rally on the shores of Lake Merritt -- just what you'd expect from Oakland, ya dig? It's Sistahs Steppin' in Pride, a chance to dance, prance, glance, and make romance -- just don't split your pants, perchance. Begun in 2002, in the past three years, what started as an informal conversation has become a full-fledged event with a capital E, whose purpose (according to the Sistahs' Web site) is to "nurture intergenerational and multicultural bridges and create a safe, sacred space to honor our herstory." Meet Saturday at the Lake Merritt pillars at 11 a.m. The steppin' commences at noon, with a dance party and festival to follow at nearby Snow Park. For more info, let your fingers do the double-clicking at SistahsSteppin.org -- Eric K. Arnold
Culture Spy - April 20, 9:52 AM
Culture Spy - April 13, 12:18 PM