Downtown Owl

downtown owlI know I’m late to the Chuck Klosterman scene. I’m late to almost every scene, though, so I don’t care. My husband’s been a fan of his for years, and he recently read Eating the Dinosaur, totally dug it, and then acquired the audiobook* for me, because my husband is rad like that. Although I haven’t had the chance to listen to it yet, it’s been bumped up to being next on my queue after sinking my teeth into Downtown Owl this week.

I happened to stumble upon Downtown Owl at Powell’s a few weeks ago, and read the first two chapters while my little family browsed and read books like we always do on our weekly trips to Portland’s famous used book store. All it took was a few laughs to reel me in. I went home and put the audiobook on hold at the library.

We’re lucky to have such a great library system in Portland. I had the set of eight CDs in my hands only a few days later, and for about a week it just sat untouched on my floor. When I finally went to give it a listen, a name jumped out at me from the cover: READ BY PHILIP BAKER HALL, LILY RABE AND WILEY WIGGINS, WITH THE AUTHOR AND KEITH NOBBS.

Wow. Wiley Wiggins? Really?! What an unexpected blast from the past. The best way for me to explain how I recognized this obscure Austin actor’s name, is to share an excerpt from a short essay I wrote a few years ago about my experiences as an awkward teenager:

Tasia and I spent the previous summer watching Richard Linklater’s Dazed ad Confused, and had become slightly obsessed with 1970s culture. Sure, I wore oversized t-shirts baring the logos of my favorite contemporary rock bands (mostly Smashing Pumpkins and Metallica), but I also wore vintage men’s dress shirts made from psychedelic polyester prints. Yes, the kind with the butterfly collars. I owned a lot of corduroy pants.

It was kind of comical, actually. Tasia and I got really into pot culture for a brief period, but we never smoked pot. We were too geeky. We didn’t have any friends that smoked. I’m not even sure we had any real friends besides each other.

While watching Dazed and Confused every weekend for three months, I developed a severe crush on Wiley Wiggins, the actor that played young, handsome Mitch, who happened to have shoulder-length brown hair. Shoulder-length brown hair became my weakness in high school, and any boy sporting that haircut was added to my list of crushes.

I also recall writing an embarrassing poem about my celebrity crush that same summer, which was during the height of my emo-teenager-bad-poet stage. We were all bad poets at some point in our youth, right? Or is that just a chick thing? All I know is that phase of my life ran approximately between 1996 and 1998. It was a rough three years.

And I feel like I can share this with you—in this blog post that’s supposed to be about a book, and not about my youth—because this is the kind of shit Chuck Klosterman nails in his writing. He has this talent for writing about things like youth and culture in a meaningful, thoughtful, and hilarious way.

I dig it.

*As you may or may not know, I have a deep love for audiobooks that sprang from my need to listen to something awesome and non-musical while I sew.
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