Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tucker Max Redux

[Editor's Note: This was my original Tucker Max post, but when I clicked "Post," the computer crashed, and I thought it was lost forever. I wrote a new one, which I posted a couple of months ago. Yesterday, I found this original stashed away in hidden folder, and I like it a lot more than what I published earlier.]

I'm relatively comfortable with people more fashionable than myself telling me what to wear. I have a long, proud history of wardrobe dependency, beginning with my mother and continuing through classmates, friends, girlfriends, drugs, and the media. In essence, I've never truly "dressed myself," although these days I do a better job of mechanically dressing myself, as in "I pick out and put on clothing without the physical assistance of others." Which isn't to imply that general dress psychology and peer pressure don't factor into my choices--it's just that, to the naked eye, I appear autonomous around my dresser.

I am not comfortable, however, with people more fashionable than myself telling me what to read. Which brings me to Tucker Max.

According to the back cover of his tome, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, Max is a University of Chicago and Duke Law School graduate who drinks and womanizes in New York. Of less consequence, apparently, is his writing, which seems to chronicle those two behaviors. My apprehension of Max's modus operandi was confirmed by a visit to his website,, which is an aggrandized testament to those same base elements: fucking and boozing. His work is at least half-engaging, if not excellently written, and I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell is Max's grand volume of short shit-show vignettes, the culmination of what appears to be months and years of blogging and debasement.

But here's my problem with I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell: I read it in Urban Outfitters. I spied it to the left of the counter, squeezed on the popular book rack along with other trendy literature (including, I'm ashamed to say, Chuck Klosterman's Killing Yourself to Live). Drawn by its provocatively banal title and bored with clothing, I sped through the first chapter, a suspiciously coherent minute-by-minute account of a vomitous night of failed Breathalyzer tests and pantless sushi consumption. Max's methodology is obvious, and is also overt--he co-opt's readers' obsessions with drunken revelry and sexuality, and aims to produce two types of critics. One type bashes his insensitivity and coarseness, and the other praises his honesty. Both, however, are quoted on the back of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. Max's faux-sensationalist take on contemporary sinning is, much like a pop song designed to be a radio hit, shaped for public consumption.

Unfortunately, by the time I realized all this, it was too late. I had already pick Max's book off the shelf, read a chapter, and thought about it for more than 15 seconds. As far as Max and Urban Outfitters were concerned, mission accomplished. And what's worse, I'm writing about it afterwards and linking (twice) to his webpage.

I hope they serve beer in hell.

Stay Suspicious, Tucker Max
DJ Dressing Himself

1 comment:

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