The night before my brush with fame, I drunkenly told my roommate that if I had to cater one more frat-boy-Señor-Frogs-fake-tan wedding at the Nicollet Island Pavilion, I was going to plant a cake knife in the bride and groom. “How can people be so wealthy, yet so ridiculously unoriginal?” I complained. “I feel like I’m living the same night over and over again.” The music selection is by far the worst aspect of the monotony. Without fail, after “We Are a Family” comes “Sweet Caroline” then “Twist and Shout” followed by the version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” sung by that fat Hawaiian guy with the complicated last name.
It is hard being a hipster and working in the hospitality profession. I have to cover my tattoos, tone down my hair and worst of all, personally serve a bunch of uncultured mules. These mules think that “Veckatimest” (Grizzly Bear’s latest album) is what Aussies butter their toast with and Solid Gold is simply a cufflinks descriptor. It’s one of Minneapolis’ best new indie bands.
But then came the blessed union of Chuck Klosterman and Melissa Maerz on Sept. 20, 2009; my faith in humanity was restored. The minute I realized that I cared I was catering the wedding of Chuck Klosterman — music critic, sports journalist and writer best known for his book “Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs” and his quirky pop culture rants in Spin Magazine — I realized I was officially a member of the much-hated sub-culture: “hipsters.”
When I begged my boss to switch sections so that I could serve the bride and groom, she looked at me blankly and said, “Sure, I don’t care. I don’t even know who the hell Chuck Klosterman is.” When I sent out a mass text to my closest friends announcing Klosterman was in the building, I received responses such as: “I hope everyone’s drinking PBR and wearing chucks” and “I am not a hipster, therefore I do not care.” I was baffled by their disinterest and worried that during my four years of living in the Twin Cities, I had somehow lost track of reality and joined a cult.
Chuck Klosterman is not a particularly good writer by normal literary standards. His writing is somewhat nonsensical and periodically self-indulgent, and people love to discredit him by pointing out that he grew up in the culturally irrelevant zone of Wyndmere, N.D. He may even be most famous because so many people love to hate him. But lucky for Chuck, he has now acquired an exceptionally talented counterpart to back him up: Melissa Maerz, a former editor of Rolling Stone, Spin, New York magazine and even Minneapolis’ own City Pages.
What’s so cool about this match is that we in the Midwest can smugly play our trump card once again. Klosterman (and even Maerz since she was a resident for four years) are proof that people can and do rise from relative Midwestern obscurity to have successful careers. And they don’t all have to be politicians (Mondale) or musicians (Dylan, Prince). Furthermore, they can remain grounded amidst all of their achievement.
Admittedly, you have to either be a drug-dealer or carpet-bagger to have enough dough to rent out the Nicollet Island Pavilion, but beyond that, Klosterman and Maerz’ wedding was surprisingly modest. Surprising not because I harbored illusions of millionaire writers, but surprising that for two people who have spent a fair portion of their lives in close proximity to rock stars, they exhibited no overwhelming flair for the ostentatious (with the exception of Maerz’ uber-stylish feather boa that accessorized her wedding dress — loved it).
Even more endearing was the fact that Klosterman’s family was so obviously Midwestern. Upon finishing their meal, they proceeded to clean and stack their plates before I even had a chance to clear their table. More than once, I was pulled aside by a grinning grandmother or boisterous uncle to be praised for my housework. “You’re doing an excellent job,” one man said. “This is some of the best service I’ve had. Your parents must be so proud of you.” Oh yes, yes they are — because I clearly went to college for catering. Yet I did appreciate their kindness; at most weddings, I’m used to being ignored.
My moment of Zen with Klosterman was brief. I served him his meat and potatoes and said, “I know you don’t want to get this on your wedding day, but I’ve read all your books and I think you’re awesome.” He shook my hand and asked for my name. I blurted out that I disc jockyed for Radio K, as if to reaffirm my hipster-ness, and Melissa smiled and said, “Well, you should join us for a drink after your shift then.” They did not wait for my shift to get done; they rode off into the Minneapolis skyline in a horse-drawn carriage instead. I am not bitter; however, I am realistic: Klosterman would have to be a total idiot to hang out with a fan on his wedding night.
Afterwards, the DJ, who had been spinning anything but your regular wedding fare all night (thank God for Phoenix), came up to me and said, “So you’re the Chuck Klosterman fan? Me too. I used to DJ at Radio K back in the day.” And that’s when I knew where it all went wrong: Radio K is a hipster-breeding cult.
To wrap this up, in the style of my hero Klosterman, this column may or may not have a point. But if it did, it would probably look something like this: I’m proud to be Midwestern because we’re so covertly culturally relevant. The University of Minnesota’s Radio K is the greatest cult/radio station of all time. Melissa, can I borrow your feather boa? And Chuck, you owe me a drink.
Ashley Dresser welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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