Reviewing Chinese Democracy is not like reviewing music. It's more like reviewing a unicorn. Should I primarily be blown away that it exists at all? Am I supposed to compare it to conventional horses? To a rhinoceros? Does its pre-existing mythology impact its actual value, or must it be examined inside a cultural vacuum, as if this creature is no more (or less) special than the remainder of the animal kingdom? I've been thinking about this record for 15 years; during that span, I've thought about this record more than I've thought about China, and maybe as much as I've thought about the principles of democracy. This is a little like when that grizzly bear finally ate Timothy Treadwell: Intellectually, he always knew it was coming. He had to. His very existence was built around that conclusion. But you still can't psychologically prepare for the bear who eats you alive, particularly if the bear wears cornrows.The AV Club is the perfect venue for Klosterman's review. A venue for snark. Not quite as hipster-snooty as Pitchfork (which AV Club scoops with its review of Chinese Democracy!). A place wear Klosterman can stretch out and say what he wants to say about the record, himself, the whole Axl spectacle. The release of "Democracy" represents a real head-exploding, end-of-an-era, kind of pop culture moment. Nixon and Elvis shaking hands at the White House. A member of Public Enemy getting a reality tv show. But it's also inevitably disappointing. Kind of like if the Beatles would have accepted Lorne Michaels' invitation to reunite on Saturday Night Live in the 70s.
I don't have much interest in listening to "Chinese Democracy." But the review interests me very much. Klosterman's review also has a head-exploding kind of quality to it. It's like if David Sedaris' family released exhaustive, hidden camera footage of Sedaris' youth. Or if O.J. Simpson and the Goldman family all became buddies. All of a sudden, everything changes. I'm using hyperbole here. I mean, Klosterman has other obsessions--KISS comes to mind, not to mention his interest in why Billy Joel doesn't have more critical acclaim, etc. And I genuinely admire the way Klosterman reveres his subject matter and points to its absurdity all at once. He really is one of my favorite writers.