Chapter Two: You Know, For the Kids and Stuff
Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again & Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation
By Brett Beach
January 28, 2010
An aside to start with: This past weekend, my mood has been colored by reading Chuck Klosterman's latest non-fiction musing, a collection of tangentially tied together essays captured under the title Eating the Dinosaur. While his insights (into topics as far-flung as football, time travel, the Unabomber and the character trait that unites Rivers Cuomo, Ralph Nader and Werner Herzog) are as sharp and compelling as in his past anthologies, there is a distinct sadness that pervades most of the chapters. The manic zaniness that underpinned Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs has been replaced with a more rueful humor; the kind that I would suggest comes with being alive longer on this planet. At times, there is almost a Kubrickian bent to the material as Klosterman's discussion of laugh tracks or the Internet comes to the conclusion that technology is perhaps making us less human, less able to relate to one another and more susceptible to a life where the images we have acquired through the "media" are more real to us than the experiences we have actually encountered in our own lives.
Klosterman is too smart a writer to rant and rave or to drown in gloom. The aura of melancholy I sense may simply be my unease at how much of what he says hits home for me. I commented in one of my earliest columns that finding an artist in any medium that strikes a chord with you is a wonderful thing. For that relationship to continue and deepen as you both individually age and mature is as striking and rare and wonderful a thing as finding a man or woman to want to share your life with or raise a child with, and growing old with him or her. With the six books (including his wonderful fiction debut Downtown Owl in 2008) he has released, and how they have impacted me, it may be that Klosterman and I are on the road to growing old together. I highly recommend picking up one of his books and deciding for yourself.
And now, the rest of the story: Two weeks ago, I became a dad for the first time and in between the well wishes from friends and family and the posting of numerous pictures on Facebook, the question began to form in my mind: how much privacy do I accord my son (who as I type this with one hand lays nestled in the crook of my other arm, waging a valiant effort on his part to avoid falling asleep)? I take this query rather seriously. One of my favorite new authors, Chelsea Cain (who I also mention with pride is a fellow Portlander) had a long-running column in The Oregonian which in the years after Cain became a mother frequently talked about her young daughter Eliza and mined the vein of "kids say/do the darndest things" to great effect. When her daughter turned four last year, Cain felt the time had come to let those childhood experiences remain uncaptured by the written word and so ended the column. It is a lovely gesture - although certainly more than just that - and I have been considering it in light of both being a parent and of having my own public forum.