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Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto

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Overview

From the author of the highly acclaimed heavy metal memoir, Fargo Rock City, comes another hilarious and discerning take on massively popular culture—set in Chuck Klosterman’s den and your own—covering everything from the effect of John Cusack flicks to the crucial role of breakfast cereal to the awesome power of the Dixie Chicks.

Countless writers and artists have spoken for a generation, but no one has done it quite like Chuck Klosterman. With an exhaustive knowledge of ...

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Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto

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Overview

From the author of the highly acclaimed heavy metal memoir, Fargo Rock City, comes another hilarious and discerning take on massively popular culture—set in Chuck Klosterman’s den and your own—covering everything from the effect of John Cusack flicks to the crucial role of breakfast cereal to the awesome power of the Dixie Chicks.

Countless writers and artists have spoken for a generation, but no one has done it quite like Chuck Klosterman. With an exhaustive knowledge of popular culture and an almost effortless ability to spin brilliant prose out of unlikely subject matter, Klosterman attacks the entire spectrum of postmodern America: reality TV, Internet porn, Pamela Anderson, literary Jesus freaks, and the real difference between apples and oranges (of which there is none). And don’t even get him started on his love life and the whole Harry-Met-Sally situation.

Whether deconstructing Saved by the Bell episodes or the artistic legacy of Billy Joel, the symbolic importance of The Empire Strikes Back or the Celtics/Lakers rivalry, Chuck will make you think, he’ll make you laugh, and he’ll drive you insane—usually all at once. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs is ostensibly about art, entertainment, infotainment, sports, politics, and kittens, but—really—it’s about us. All of us. As Klosterman realizes late at night, in the moment before he falls asleep, “In and of itself, nothing really matters. What matters is that nothing is ever ‘in and of itself.’” Read to believe.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The Onion a.v. club One of the brightest pieces of pop analysis to appear this century.

GQ Quintessential Klosterman — sometimes exasperating but almost always engaging.

San Francisco Chronicle The reigning Kasparov of pop culture wits-matching.

The Washington Post Maddeningly smart and funny...[Klosterman's] good humor, compassion, and raw associative powers put him in the same league as Nick Hornby and Douglas Coupland, though he's a more tenacious critic than either.

The Washington Post
The proper subject of smack talk is what's cool, what's not cool and why. But if intellectuals such as Thomas Frank or David Brooks cover this same turf like electric weed-whackers, Klosterman is a lawn-tractor with flames painted on the hood. He's the maddeningly smart and funny armchair critic from North Dakota who's right 90 percent of the time -- and the other 10 percent of the time, he's just so lunatic that the funny bone preempts the thinking bone. — Hans Eisenbeis
Publishers Weekly
There's a lot more cold cereal than sex or drugs in Klosterman's nostalgic, patchy collection of pop cultural essays, which, despite sparks of brilliance, fails to cohere. Having graduated from the University of North Dakota in 1994, Klosterman (Fargo Rock City) seems never to have left that time or place behind. He is an ironically self-aware, trivia-theorizing, unreconstructed slacker: "I'm a `Gen Xer,' okay? And I buy shit marketed to `Gen Xers.' And I use air quotes when I talk.... Get over it." The essay topics speak for themselves: the Sims, The Real World, Say Anything, Pamela Anderson, Billy Joel, the Lakers/Celtics rivalry, etc. The closest Klosterman gets to the 21st century is Internet porn and the Dixie Chicks. This is a shame, because he's is a skilled prose stylist with a witty, twisted brain, a photo-perfect memory for entertainment trivia and has real chops as a memoirist. The book's best moments arrive when he eschews argumentation for personal history. In "George Will vs. Nick Hornby," a tired screed against soccer suddenly comes to life when Klosterman tells the story of how he was fired from his high school summer job as a Little League baseball coach. The mothers wanted their sons to have equal playing time; Klosterman wanted "a run-manufacturing offensive philosophy modeled after Whitey Herzog's St. Louis Cardinals." In a chapter on relationships, Klosterman semi-jokes that he only has "three and a half dates worth of material." Remove all the dated pop culture analyses, and Klosterman's book has enough material for about half a really great memoir. Agent, Daniel Greenberg. (Aug. 26) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Cultural arguments for people fascinated by the implications of their sugar-cereal dependencies. Spin magazine senior writer Klosterman (Fargo Rock City, 2001) prefers to "figure out what it means to be alive," he explains, in the context of "Pamela Anderson and The Real World and Frosted Flakes." Generally speaking, his m.o. is to explore what a "trivial" or purportedly overlooked mass-cultural element tells us about the presumably insight-hobbled greater American populace (e.g., that racial or cultural differences as exploited in popular media can be clarified via the eternal Lakers-Celtics debate). It's a strategy reminiscent of Joe Queenan's superior Red Lobster, White Trash, and the Blue Lagoon (1998), although Klosterman's shrill advocacy of junk culture lies closer to Quentin Tarantino's. The author is certainly democratic in his obsessions, yet they all tend toward lowest common denominators: many of his long argumentative riffs, such as those regarding John Cusack's appeal, the Pamela Anderson-Tommy Lee video, the enduring celebrity cult around serial killers like J.W. Gacy, and the righteousness of Reality Bites and the Gen-X stereotype, seem dated and unprovocative. The occasional piece rises above this minor-key white noise: a sharp, affecting portrait of life on the road with a Guns 'n' Roses cover band (written for the New York Times Magazine); a provocative exploration of how the befuddling world of online porn actually serves as metaphor for the Internet's promise generally; and a genuinely cynical chapter on media realities that reads like Muckraker Lite. Klosterman's literary strength seemingly lies in an ability to salvage discussion of the genuinely trivial via anoften charming, ramshackle voice; yet elsewhere, he takes tedious, unconvincing swipes at the usual array of "elite" cultural tropes, including Seattle's Experience Music Project, punk rock, indie rock, rock journalists, Björk, "postmodern" writers like poet Robert Pinsky, Lucinda Williams, alt-country, and so forth. He seems unaware that Jim Goad, Donna Gaines, and Ian Christe have already beaten the ersatz-populism thing to death. Humorous, slick, aggressively forgettable. Agent: Daniel Greenberg/Levine Greenberg
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743236010
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 7/2/2004
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 73,438
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Chuck Klosterman

Chuck Klosterman is the New York Times bestselling author of seven previous books, including Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs; Eating the Dinosaur; Killing Yourself to Live; and The Visible Man. His debut book, Fargo Rock City, was the winner of the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award. He has written for GQ, Esquire, Spin, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Believer, and The Onion A.V. Club. He currently serves as “The Ethicist” for the New York Times Magazine and writes about sports and popular culture for ESPN.

Good To Know

In our interview, Klosterman shared some fun and fascinating facts about himself:

"I think I love onion rings, but I actually don't. Very often, I will purchase onion rings and throw them in the oven, and I'll be very excited about the premise of consuming them. However, when I finally start to eat supper, I realize they're only okay. Somehow, this situation has happened to me at least five times in my lifetime: For some reason, I keep unconsciously convincing myself that onion rings are delicious."

"The original title for Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs was American Minotaur, but everybody turned against me."

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 5, 1972
    2. Place of Birth:
      Wyndmere, North Dakota
    1. Education:
      Degree in Journalism, University of North Dakota, 1994

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1:This Is Emo0:01

No woman will ever satisfy me. I know that now, and I would never try to deny it. But this is actually okay, because I will never satisfy a woman, either.

Should I be writing such thoughts? Perhaps not. Perhaps it's a bad idea. I can definitely foresee a scenario where that first paragraph could come back to haunt me, especially if I somehow became marginally famous. If I become marginally famous, I will undoubtedly be interviewed by someone in the media, and the interviewer will inevitably ask, "Fifteen years ago, you wrote that no woman could ever satisfy you. Now that you've been married for almost five years, are those words still true?" And I will have to say, "Oh, God no. Those were the words of an entirely different person -- a person whom I can't even relate to anymore. Honestly, I can't image an existence without _____. She satisfies me in ways that I never even considered. She saved my life, really."

Now, I will be lying. I won't really feel that way. But I'll certainly say those words, and I'll deliver them with the utmost sincerity, even though those sentiments will not be there. So then the interviewer will undoubtedly quote lines from this particular paragraph, thereby reminding me that I swore I would publicly deny my true feelings, and I'll chuckle and say, "Come on, Mr. Rose. That was a literary device. You know I never really believed that."

But here's the thing: I do believe that. It's the truth now, and it will be in the future. And while I'm not exactly happy about that truth, it doesn't make me sad, either. I know it's not my fault.

It's no one's fault, really. Or maybe it's everyone's fault. It should be everyone's fault, because it's everyone's problem. Well, okay...not everyone. Not boring people, and not the profoundly retarded. But whenever I meet dynamic, nonretarded Americans, I notice that they all seem to share a single unifying characteristic: the inability to experience the kind of mind-blowing, transcendent romantic relationship they perceive to be a normal part of living. And someone needs to take the fall for this. So instead of blaming no one for this (which is kind of cowardly) or blaming everyone (which is kind of meaningless), I'm going to blame John Cusack.

I once loved a girl who almost loved me, but not as much as she loved John Cusack. Under certain circumstances, this would have been fine; Cusack is relatively good-looking, he seems like a pretty cool guy (he likes the Clash and the Who, at least), and he undoubtedly has millions of bones in the bank. If Cusack and I were competing for the same woman, I could easily accept losing. However, I don't really feel like John and I were "competing" for the girl I'm referring to, inasmuch as her relationship to Cusack was confined to watching him as a two-dimensional projection, pretending to be characters who don't actually exist. Now, there was a time when I would have thought that detachment would have given me a huge advantage over Johnny C., inasmuch as my relationship with this woman included things like "talking on the phone" and "nuzzling under umbrellas" and "eating pancakes." However, I have come to realize that I perceived this competition completely backward; it was definitely an unfair battle, but not in my favor. It was unfair in Cusack's favor. I never had a chance.

It appears that countless women born between the years of 1965 and 1978 are in love with John Cusack. I cannot fathom how he isn't the number-one box-office star in America, because every straight girl I know would sell her soul to share a milkshake with that motherfucker. For upwardly mobile women in their...

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Table of Contents

Contents

1 This Is Emo

(carnivore interlude)

2 Billy Sim

(reality interlude)

3 What Happens When People Stop Being Polite

(Pat Benatar interlude)

4 Every Dog Must Have His Every Day, Every Drunk Must Have His Drink

(Monkees = Monkees interlude)

5 Appetite for Replication

(an interlude to be named later)

6 Ten Seconds to Love

(metaphorical fruit interlude)

7 George Will vs. Nick Hornby

(Ralph Nader interlude)

8 33

(Fonzie recalibration interlude)

9 Porn

("kitty cat as terrorist" interlude)

10 The Lady or the Tiger

(hypothetical interlude)

11 Being Zack Morris

(50-50 interlude)

12 Sulking with Lisa Loeb on the Ice Planet Hoth

(anti-homeless interlude)

13 The Awe-Inspiring Beauty of Tom Cruise's Shattered, Troll-like Face

(punk interlude)

14 Toby over Moby

(Johnny Cash interlude)

15 This Is Zodiac Speaking

(Timothy McVeigh interlude)

16 All I Know Is What I Read in the Papers

(boom!)

17 I, Rock Chump

(waiting to die interlude)

18 How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 229 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(109)

4 Star

(68)

3 Star

(30)

2 Star

(11)

1 Star

(11)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 231 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2012

    Meh.

    I thought this book would make me think differently about things and maybe laugh at pop culture, but it is just the ramblings of a man who was bullied in school. A former outcast made famous by being an annoying a**hole. I couldn't make myself finish it.

    Only read this if you have nothing better to do.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Sex, Drugs, Coco Puffs and Almost everything Else

    Have you ever eaten Coco Puffs? I bet you didn't realize the sugary cereal you were ingesting was original conceived by the ideal to help prevent ailments or that there commercial maybe unintentionally teaching you how to be cool. If you did realize it is likely you are either: A. Chuck Klosterman B. Simultaneously a sociologist focusing on media and a breakfast historian or C. person that has already read the book Sex, Drugs and Coco Puffs.

    Chuck Klosterman Is a writer for Spin and Esquire magazine. He is most prominently known for his work about classic rock bands but also has an almost infinite amount of cultural knowledge that makes SD&CP a very enjoyable collection of essays. Because of the fact that it is essays and not s story SD&CP should be a very easy book to pick up and put down, but I actually found it was not. His insights make him seem genius and the different perspectives he offers are as addictive as Cinnamon Toast Crutch.

    Despite my plethora of cereal related references SD&CP is about far more then breakfast with themes that cover everything including The Real World, The Sims, Say Anything, and Vanilla Sky and few others that it is unlikely you could think of in your wildest dreams.

    Usually The stories lack focus on the thing itself and look at a broader theme represented by the item, and while these are all only Mr. Klosterman's opinions even if you disagree they are very entertaining. The most common criticism of his work is his writing style that at sometimes seems intentionally overly wordy. I had no problem with it at, but I could defiantly see the potential for it to become annoying.

    On the whole I found the book to be a very entertain and thought provoking, but would not recommended it to someone who wants a story but rather for someone who is interested in both reading random facts and learning to think differently.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2012

    Bored

    I just read the chapter all about that horrible show, the real world. Agonizing. I was hoping it would get better, but i was wrong. This guy just rambles on about crap. I will finish this book, but only because i paid for it. I would not recommend this to anyone.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2012

    Terrible

    Felt like a homework assignment to read this book. Non-stop pointless dribble. Some funny comments, but not enough to compensate for the rest. Waste of time and money.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2009

    Klosterman ROCKS!

    So far this has been my favorite of all Klosterman's books. His views on life are comically wonderful. The only time I'm remotely bored by his stories are the in depth sports analysis. The short fillers between stories are hysterical. I'm giving this as a gift this Christmas to introduce his writing to a friend.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Funny and Enlightening

    This book is a collection of short essays in which Klosterman amalyzes how sports, tv, music, and food influence the way we think and act . At the same time, he incorporates humor and makes you think.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2012

    not worth time

    I had to stop reading this about 1/3 of the way through. The author comes across as very self-centered and obnoxious. A friend of mine recommended it because it was "hysterical and made you think". It made me think "how long until this is over". I had to call it quits and give up.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 31, 2011

    Excellent!!

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Posted May 15, 2011

    STUPID IDIOTIC AND BORING

    Really just a collection of rambling thoughts. If you like to read an entire chapter of the Real World being disected...well spend your money. I DO recommend it if you cant sleep..This should have you snoring in 10 minutes

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Thought provoking

    I like Chuck Klosterman's writing. He takes pop culture and writes about it in such a way that it really makes you think and starts conversations with others. Often, I end up reading passages from the book to my family members and we have a discussion about the topics. I recommend this book for anyone that has an interest in pop culture and music.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 31, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Terrific writing, awesome pop-culture observations

    There are two reasons to read this book and two reasons to not read this book. Firstly, the style of writing. The writing is wonderful. I enjoy the style. You really get the feeling that a highly intelligent Gen X journalist is sitting there in your living room in his jeans ant T-shirt and telling you his observations. If that style drives you crazy (in a bad way), you will know it from the sample and can save your money. If that styles drives you crazy (in a good way), you will know it from the sample and safely give B&N your money. Secondly, the wise observations of our modern world. His observations of the absurdity and ridiculousness of current culture is astute. Yes, he over-analyzes, but he does so in an entertaining way. If you think modern mainstream media and culture is awesome, then avoid this like a zombie plague. If you think modern mainstream media and culture are absurd, then this will be a very entertaining and enlightening read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    Good Read

    Sex, Drugs, and Coco Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto written by one of the more astute minds in pop culture Chuck Klosterman, now I won't bore you with my favorite quotes from the book, or a long winded description of who Chuck Klosterman is as a person, an author, or what his career has looked like. Rather I will point out the fact that I tremendously respect and almost envy (if that's an appropriate use of the word) his writing style. Klosterman has an uncanny ability to take seemingly obscure pop culture information, or phenomena and turn them into very thought provoking essays. Whether it was the discussion of how Pam Anderson is not our generation's Marilyn Monroe, Or how Saved by the Bell shaped and help to define popular culture for the generation that grew up watching it in syndication, or even how the MTV hit show The Real World destroyed the social norms of functioning relationships among twenty and thrity-somethings, Klosterman no doubt is far more brilliant in the way he writes about culture and art and tells stories.

    Now, don't get me wrong, this isn't the BEST book ever written, that is obviously reserved for Perks of Being a Wallflower, that is not true, it's a lie. However, it does take a non traditional approach to looking at culture as a functioning system. How the stuff we consume as a culture regurgitates itself into shaping culture. This is akin to the idea of how a girl can read a magazine with an article about a supermodel (consumption) and then all of the sudden think she is fat, and worthless as a result (regurgitation).

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 12, 2009

    Not that interesting

    This is one of the few books that I've thrown out. I thought it was dull and plodding, and I regretted ever buying it.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2014

    Flashwing

    Ok then goes to res two to sleep

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2014

    Tigerstar

    Lays down to sleep

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2014

    Oceansong

    Oceansong curls around Aquakit and Tigerkit and the other kit...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2013

    Queenpaw to the kit

    Puts marigold on the wounds then a juniper berry to eat to stop the pain.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent book.

    Excellent book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    My feelings towards this book are VERY ambivalent. A high and lo

    My feelings towards this book are VERY ambivalent. A high and low rollercoaster ride is my analogy.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 14, 2012

    Funny, talented and oh so relevant to those of us who like to th

    Funny, talented and oh so relevant to those of us who like to think things out from a comical perspective with satire. Chuck does that for us and it's fun to read and you'll think all kinds of thoughts because of his insight.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 231 Customer Reviews

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