Chuck Klosterman interviews Stephen Malkmus and talks about the upcoming Pavement reunion shows this year…eventually.
“I SUPPOSE YOU DON’T like sports, do you?” This is what Stephen Malkmus—the enigmatic architect of Pavement—asks me as he sits in a Thai-sandwich restaurant, waiting for his bacon. He is casually pawing at a local Portland alternative newspaper that features Trail Blazer Greg Oden on the cover; it’s the day before Thanksgiving, so Oden’s patella is still unexploded. Malkmus seems slightly (but unspecifically) annoyed—his wife’s parents are in town for the holidays, he’s just spent the last ninety minutes at a school party for his 6-year-old daughter, and now he has to waste two hours with some bozo who probably doesn’t know why Greg Oden is interesting. He keeps his head down as he speaks. At this moment, Stephen Malkmus looks so much like Stephen Malkmus that it seems like sarcasm. In fact, he looks like someone playing Stephen Malkmus in an ill-conceived Cameron Crowe movie: He’s unshaven, he’s wearing Pony high-tops that no longer exist on the open market, and his baseball cap promotes the Silver Jews. His T-shirt features the logo of the Joggers, a Portland band whose greatest claim to fame is being mentioned in a GQ story about Stephen Malkmus eating at a Thai-sandwich shop. The restaurant is loud, so I initially mishear his question. He asks it again.
“I said, I suppose you don’t like sports.” I tell him that I do like sports. I tell him that—honestly—I’m probably more qualified to talk with him about sports than I am to talk with him about Pavement. Immediately, everything changes. He’s no longer irritated, except when I suggest that Greg Olden might be no better than Erick Dampier. For the next forty-five minutes, we discuss our respective fantasy teams, pretty much nonstop. I cannot exaggerate the degree to which Malkmus enjoys fantasy sports; he almost seems to like them more than music. His fantasy football team was devastated by the loss of Ronnie Brown to injury, but he’s stayed in the playoff hunt by picking up Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice. (“You could just immediately tell he was going to be Favre’s guy.”) The most productive player on his NBA team is under-publicized Pacers forward Danny Granger, but he’s more satisfied about stealing the Nets’ Chris Douglas-Roberts off the waiver wire. Malkmus does not watch the NHL, yet he still participates in a fantasy hockey league. He’s that kind of guy. I don’t even try to talk with him about rotisserie baseball.
I like Eller‘s idea to review every book he reads this year and am going to steal it, if only to keep track of what I’m reading with the copious amounts of free time I’ve had lately.
1. Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman (2008, 288pp) – Klosterman’s first novel, and he largely sticks to writing what he knows – namely growing up in a small town in South Dakota. He alternates and weaves the narratives of three main characters – a backup football quarterback, a new teacher at the high school fresh out of college, a 73-year old man who spends his days drinking coffee and gossiping – whose lives are intertwined simply by living in a small town of less than 1000. I still enjoy Klosterman’s style of writing and found it to be a pretty quick read, albeit with a somewhat unsatisfying ending.
2. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (2002, 336pp) – I only knew of this book because of the forthcoming Peter Jackson film later this year. The book starts off in a gripping fashion, detailing the murder of Susie Salmon, the protaganist, but lulls a little in spots as Susie observes her friends and family from heaven. While there are other gripping moments sprinkled throughout the book, one fantastical moment towards the end lost me. Otherwise, not a bad read if a little long.
3. How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization by Franklin Foer (2005, 272 pp) – A book of stories which “examines soccer’s role in various cultures as a means of examining the reach of globalization.” Each chapter focuses on a specific country and topic, such as the racism behind the Rangers-Celtic rivalry, the role of the Red Star Belgrade’s hooligans in Slobodan Milosevic’s regime and AC Milan’s president who eventually became prime minister of Italy. I read this quite quickly during my plane ride to Ireland, partly because of my interest in the subject matter and partly because the pages have large margins. Recommended for soccer fans.
Currently reading: Blink by Malcom Gladwell
1. Jon Stewart to Dick Cheney: “Why are you such a dick?” (link)
2. Cool Hand Luke (link)
I’ve been interested in this movie for years now, but finally decided to bump it to the top of my Netflix queue because I was finished trying to watch 2008 movies. Paul Newman was a badass, and there were some great performances by George Kennedy (who won Oscar in 1968 for Best Actor in a Supporting Role) and Strother Martin. Now possibly one of my favorite movies of all time.
3. Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman (link)
Klosterman writes what he knows in his first novel, but I continue to enjoy his style of writing.
4. Portal – Xbox 360 (link)
Really the entire Orange Box, but I’ve only finished Portal and am just a few hours into Half Life 2. It wasn’t until I got the Orange Box at a Circuit City closeout sale that I actually purchased the game, though its been on my radar for the past year-and-a-half. Similar to Braid, the mind-bending physics puzzles take some getting used to but if you are able to get through the game without using a walkthrough then they are also very rewarding. I can’t recommend this game enough.
5. Blood Simple. (link)
The Coen Brothers’ first film. It seems a little dated, but I do find it interesting to see where the Coens came from. You can see touches they would later explore further in Miller’s Crossing or No Country for Old Men. Now on to The Ladykillers and then I believe I will have seen all Coen features.