Chuck Klosterman Rides The Amtrak With Jonathan Franzen

"Franzen is so utterly cautious about his image that he never says exactly what he thinks, which is why certain critics read his tone as detached and condescending. Yet when he speaks in person, you can immediately tell his unedited thoughts are both hyperpresent in his consciousness and embedded in the subtext of his delivery. At one point, he declines to answer the only question I ask that he classifies as “astute.” In order to satisfy my own curiosity (and against my better judgment), I allow him to give his answer off the record. During the three minutes my recorder is off, he provides one of the most straightforward, irrefutable, and downright depressing answers I’ve ever experienced in an interview. His posture relaxes. His language simplifies. Nothing is unclear. But once the red light returns, he rematerializes into the same truthful but withholding person I met at the train station. It’s easy to understand why Franzen’s literary characters are so rich and fully realized; he understands himself better than most people I’ve encountered, which is always the first step toward understanding people who aren’t you.”

From Klosterman’s Dec 2010 GQ profile of Franzen. Photograph by Chris Buck

In Defense of Tom Brady’s Ridiculous Hair

If we’re gonna talk about Tom Brady’s hairdo (and let’s be clear, that’s a ‘do, not a cut), let’s first consider how long it’s been since we talked about any quarterback’s hair. Which was when, exactly? Back when Kenny Stabler was handling lead-guitar duties for Skynyrd? When Bradshaw was rocking his Jack Welch power doughnut? So, yeah, while the Bieber—excuse us, the Brady—might not exactly be our preferred style of do, we respect that the dude is going for it. When beardo Randy Moss was flaming out in New England and reportedly told Brady that he looked like a girl, Brady (who insists the incident never happened) let Moss know that he wasn’t his bitch—that, damn it, he’s Gisele’s bitch! And what man wouldn’t want to be able to say that?


Before he left us, our dear, departed style editor Adam Rapoport (he’s not dead, just off to Bon Appetit) filed this brief, spirited argument on behalf of Mr. Gisele Bundchen. Agree? Disagree?

What would the sequels to some of your other films be like? The Big Lebowski?
Gosh, well, there’s a baby. “There’s a little Lebowski on the way,” as the Stranger says. Could be that Maude and the Dude have the baby. Maybe they have an open marriage because they both want the baby to be as cool as possible. And maybe it’s their love story. How they fall in love late in their marriage. Does that kind of sound interesting? The kid would probably be very square.

I think it’s widely perceived that there’s a fair amount of overlap between you and the Dude.
Yeah, certainly. I think I’m probably a little more ambitious than the Dude.

Are you a pot smoker?
I never turn down… Well, I suppose there are a few times I turn down a hit. But rarely.

[Interview by Brett Martin; Photo by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin]

Dancing Near the Stars: GQ’s Alex Pappademas Explains The Situation

Up until five days before DWTS premiered, he was in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, taping the third season of Jersey Shore, the MTV reality show that made him and his laser-chiseled abdominal muscles—which, in a masterstroke of personal-brand integration, are also called “the Situation”—sort of famous. But the Situation would not be the Situation today if he were willing to settle for being “sort of” anything. Reality got him this far, but DWTS is his chance to level up. To reach the kind of people who watch Desperate Housewives. People who know him, if they know him at all, know him as some kind of vague mediascape pest, lurking Tila Tequila-like on the fringe of their awareness. People who would ordinarily be unwilling to have foisted upon them as a household name the guy from a reality show about self-proclaimed “guidos” and “guidettes” whose principal interests include drinking, tanning, sport-fucking, ultratrashy violence, and house music. In other words, the Situation wants to introduce himself to your mom, and maybe your grandmother, too. And he wants them to see him as a good guy—sweet and humble, and grateful for the opportunities he’s been presented, and totally dedicated to the job of being a famous person.

We Went Out Last Night, Vol. 1
From the desk (and camera) of GQ’s Will Welch:

GQ’s 2010 Best New Designer in America, Billy Reid, had a hell of a week, and I went by an informal party at his store just off the Bowery in NYC last night for fried chicken, Budweiser tall boys, bourbon, twenty-five percent off all the clothes—and a set of tunes by one of my favorite  songwriters, Justin Townes Earle. If you haven’t already, go buy Jut’s new album Harlem River Blues. Who else has perfect two minute jams with lines like, "I got a pocket full of money, shopping I wanna do/ I got my sights set on a pair of white buck shoes?” That’s some GQ shit right there.
  • Camera: Canon PowerShot G11
  • Aperture: f/2.8
  • Exposure: 1/20th
  • Focal Length: 28mm

We Went Out Last Night, Vol. 1

From the desk (and camera) of GQ’s Will Welch:

GQ’s 2010 Best New Designer in America, Billy Reid, had a hell of a week, and I went by an informal party at his store just off the Bowery in NYC last night for fried chicken, Budweiser tall boys, bourbon, twenty-five percent off all the clothes—and a set of tunes by one of my favorite  songwriters, Justin Townes Earle. If you haven’t already, go buy Jut’s new album Harlem River Blues. Who else has perfect two minute jams with lines like, "I got a pocket full of money, shopping I wanna do/ I got my sights set on a pair of white buck shoes?” That’s some GQ shit right there.

Yes, Drake’s Maybach Has A Drink Menu

"When Jay-Z flew to Toronto for the OVO Festival, I sent the ‘Bach to go pick him up. So when I see him he’s like, ‘Yo, you made me look bad.’ I was nervous as shit, I thought I’d done something wrong. Then he was like, ‘Nah. The car’s got drink menus in it’.” 

—GQ Man of the Year (and cover subject) Drake—full name: Aubrey Drake Graham—while riding with our music editor Will Welch in the back of his black Maybach, which he affectionately refers to as “Johann Sebastian.” (Apparently Hov’s Maybach driver hadn’t thought of an “In Vehicle Beverage List.”)
  • Camera: iPod touch
  • Aperture: f/2.4
  • Exposure: 1/15th
  • Focal Length: 3mm

Yes, Drake’s Maybach Has A Drink Menu

"When Jay-Z flew to Toronto for the OVO Festival, I sent the ‘Bach to go pick him up. So when I see him he’s like, ‘Yo, you made me look bad.’ I was nervous as shit, I thought I’d done something wrong. Then he was like, ‘Nah. The car’s got drink menus in it’.”

—GQ Man of the Year (and cover subject) Drake—full name: Aubrey Drake Graham—while riding with our music editor Will Welch in the back of his black Maybach, which he affectionately refers to as “Johann Sebastian.” (Apparently Hov’s Maybach driver hadn’t thought of an “In Vehicle Beverage List.”)

The Anti-Leno: Jimmy Kimmel, Man of the Year

Okay, so Jay’s about to push Conan off the air. And you decide to go on your show dressed up as Jay Leno. How’d you come up with that?

It came to me at about two o’clock in the morning. I was in bed and I thought, Oh, this would be funny. So I sent an e-mail to everyone saying “Tomorrow night I’m doing the show as Leno. We have to get a chin and all that stuff.”

Did Leno call?
Oh yeah. The next day—and I knew Jay was going to call—and I was like, “Oh God. Should I tell him I’m not here and call later? No—then I’m going to suffer all day.” So I took the call.

And?
He said it was funny.

Do you think he meant it?
No. I don’t think he means anything he says.

From GQ senior editor Dan Fierman’s electric interview with the only man who came out of this year’s late night debacle smelling like roses.