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Editor's Note: This is part 3 of Bill Simmons' running email exchange with pop-culture writer Chuck Klosterman of Esquire and Spin magazines. If you missed part 1, part 2, part 4 or part 5, click here to see their other email exchanges.
To: Chuck Klosterman
Subject: RE: Face Off
Time: 12:45 p.m. ET Chazz, Did you ever think about going the "Chaz/Chazz" route? Were you afraid of being compared to Zabka in "Back to School?" My friend Sheck has a Chazz Fetish. He refers to everyone in the sports world named Charles as "Chazz" (like Barkley, Noll and Woodson). For whatever reason, it always cracks us up. He even called Prince Charles "Prince Chazz" once. Of course, this is the same guy who (just last week) spent 10 minutes debating over the following question: "If you were single and completely unattached, would you rather have consecutive Super Bowl titles for the Pittsburgh Steelers (his favorite team), or one night with Josie Maran?"
OK, we know you were wondering: This is actress Josie Maran, star of "Van Helsing" and "Little Black Book."
But here's the thing with Ricky: He made enough money. He banked something like $15 million. Now he gets to travel the world, watch bad movies and smoke his brains out. He's still the Unambitious Stoner Guy, only he has a state-of-the-art DVD/HD/sound system, a nice house and enough money to pay for everyone at Mel's Diner at 3 a.m. Other than the overpowering B.O, he sounds like a dream friend. But the MAWSM (the acronym for "middle-aged white sports media") went crazy when he retired, mainly because most of us write about sports because we couldn't hack it as an athlete, and we still have unresolved bitterness about this. So, Ricky walking away stirred all that stuff up. How can he walk away? What a loser! Anyone would kill for the opportunity to be one of the best running backs in the league!Well, not anyone. Some of us would kill for the opportunity to make 15 million, then spend the next 15 years traipsing the earth like a stoned Kung Fu. More importantly, why would anyone direct his wrath at someone like Ricky when there are juicier targets out there -- like Bonds and Giambi, for example. Or Erick Dampier, who basically took all six seasons of a $48 million contract off, then played hard for the Warriors last season only because he was about to become a free agent. Or Leonard Little, who killed an innocent mother in a drunk-driving accident, served far too little jail time, then was arrested again on DWI earlier this year. Why would we write/discuss/argue about Ricky for three straight weeks, and yet a selfish, dangerous putz like Little gets somewhat of a free pass? That's what I don't understand. And why am I supposed to feel sorry for the Dolphins because Ricky "screwed them over" before training camp, when in fact, NFL teams routinely cut guys before training camp and the start of the season? I also think there's something inherently racist about this whole thing. For instance, "Entourage" is becoming a hot show right now. Everyone I know watches it ... well, except for Chuck Klosterman, who would rather spend his time watching old Dokken videos on VH1 Classic. Anyway, the show is allegedly about a star actor and his three buddies. In reality, it's about four white guys who live in Hollywood and spend their time A.) getting high, B.) getting laid, and C.) busting on each other. Not that there's anything wrong about that. In fact, I look forward to the show every week -- it always leaves me disappointed, but I'm always disappointed when it's over, if that makes sense. Here's the point: What's different between these four white guys and your stereotypical NBA player who hangs out with his buddies, sleeps with groupies and gets baked all the time? Isn't this the same thing? Why do many of us make snide jokes about the black guys and embrace the white guys? Actually, don't answer that. Five questions for you to consider: 1. What's the defining '80s movie? 2. Tom Cruise ... yes or no? 3. Why does today's music suck so much? Are we just getting old, or does it actually suck? 4. Is there anything more elusive and confusing than the writing process? 5. What made you go with "Chuck" over "Chazz," "Charles" or "Charlie"? I have nothing else to add . . . (Other than Vijay Singh could be saving helpless babies from a burning four-story building and still leave me bored beyond belief.)
To: Bill Simmons
Subject: RE: Face Off
Time: 2 p.m. ET Bilbo, I think the fact that you prefer "Singles" over "Reality Bites" destroys your credibility, both as a "sports guy" and as a "guy." Here is what I mean: The Matt Dillon character in "Singles" and the Ethan Hawke character in "Reality Bites" are -- as one-dimensional caricatures -- the same person. It's just that in "Singles," that persona is painted as pathetic and stupid; in "Reality Bites," it's expressed as brilliant but troubled. This is why "Singles" is not -- in any context -- a youth movie. It's about old people (one of whom is a city planner!) who just happen to listen to Soundgarden. It's a film for people who bought Heart records when they were first released. Meanwhile, "Reality Bites" is about what happens when the counter culture becomes the mainstream culture, which defines it as socially progressive. Which is why I support Ricky Williams in totality. First of all, I don't think Ricky Williams is an unambitious stoner. I think he just hates football, and I don't think there was ever a time when that wasn't true. But -- like so many people -- he was socialized to assume that he had to play football simply because he was good at it. He had this natural gift for running off tackle, so he tried to convince himself that this was his identity. And this is how people who live within the "Singles" paradigm think about life. Individuals living inside the "Singles" paradigm argue that Ricky is making a mistake; these are the same kind of people who think Winona Ryder should have ended up marrying the Ben Stiller's character because he had a better job. Ricky Williams represents intellectual freedom. Prior to this season, I never really cared about Ricky Williams, and I generally assumed he was going to have a Herschel Walker-like pro career (i.e., he would evolve into a one-dimensional north-south runner who'd have a few big statistical years without achieving anything close to greatness). As it turns out, he's now my favorite NFL athlete since Nolan Cromwell. (Also . . . I think part of the reason so many aging sportswriters attacked Williams is because they couldn't deconstruct his logic. Athletes usually express retarded platitudes whenever they try to explain their behavior, such as, "I'm just doing what's best for my family." A sentence like that could mean anything, so it ultimately means nothing. However, how does one respond to a guy who overtly admits he wants to go to Asia in order to be high all the time? It's like trying to deconstruct the lyrics to the song "Peaches.") As for your questions: 1. What's the defining '80s movie?
Robert Laberge/Getty Images
Tom Cruise's intense fire isn't going out anytime soon.
A: Probably "The Breakfast Club" or "Wall Street."2. Tom Cruise . . . yes or no? A: This is an interesting query. I saw "Magnolia" for the third time two nights ago, and I'm always struck by how intense Cruise comes across in this film. I feel the same way whenever I see "All the Right Moves" or "A Few Good Men" or "The Color of Money." However -- in my mind -- I hate Tom Cruise. He seems like the least sincere, most robotic, weirdest Scientologist on earth (and that is a very strong genre for weirdness). What I've come to realize is that Cruise only exists as an actor; he has no personality whatsoever, outside of the thespian shell he hides in exclusively. So I guess my answer to your question is "maybe." 3. Why does today's music suck so much? Are we just getting old, or does it actually suck? A: I think you're crazy. I mean, weren't you just telling me that you think Dave Matthews and Counting Crows were underrated? What do you consider "good"? There have already been lots of better-than-decent albums released this year (my favorite being the debut from the Secret Machines). In fact, the last three years have all been good -- certainly better than the last half of the 1990s. The song I'm currently enjoying is "Redneck Woman" by Gretchen Wilson. VH1 Country is the new "Night Tracks." 4. Is there anything more elusive and confusing than the writing process? A: The mongoose is definitely more elusive. And Mike Martz is probably more confusing. 5. What made you go with "Chuck" over "Chazz," "Charles" or "Charlie"? A: Is this the kind of thing you're able to self-select? That's just what people called me when I woke up. What do I care? OK, three questions for you: 1. As I type this message, I am half-watching "Carl Lewis: Beyond the Glory." Now that a few years have passed, would you rank Lewis among the top five athletes of our generation? Because I feel like he's either a lock for No. 2 (behind MJ), or he doesn't make the cut at all. 2. Since the volume of the TV is off, I'm playing Neil Young's On the Beach album, and we're on track No. 3, which is "Revolution Blues." While driving around Los Angeles, do you ever fear some cult member will shoot you in your car? 3. Why haven't you written a book? Also: The only great Dokken song is "Unchain the Night." And -- upon further review -- the Counting Crows are actually OK; that song "Rain King" was pretty likeable, although it made me lose interest in "Friends."