Catching up with Chris Kluwe before he kicks off Wits' fall season
Chris Kluwe has stopped by Wits before for guest appearances, but on Thursday, the former Vikings punter will return to the Fitzgerald Theater, and to Minnesota, for a bigger role on the live radio show: He's helping kick off its fall season.
Even though Kluwe's now living with his family in California, he remains a kind of hometown hero in the Twin Cities. Thursday will mark his first time in town since June, when he headed up the annual Pride Parade.
Dressing Room caught up with Kluwe on a recent morning as he was wrapping up his workout, and talked about his next book (the first in a trilogy), how he plans to introduce his daughters to video games, and whether his upcoming turn at Wits will be different than past shows.
"I won't be the Vikings punter," Kluwe says, "but other than that, it won't be different. It's a very funny show."
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Dressing Room: What's the plan for Thursday?
Chris Kluwe: Originally when we planned this, we planned that I would still be with the Vikings, and be in Minnesota and just drive downtown on a Thursday night. Now, they're gracious enough to arrange the flight. I'm flying in the 17th, and flying out the next day.
When's the last time you were in the Twin Cities? What do you miss?
When I was the Grand Marshal in the Pride Parade. I lived there for eight years, so I miss all my friends and the people there. It's an adjustment, but I'm looking forward to being back.
You released your first book, the collection of essays Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies, in July. Now that you're a few months out, what has the response been?
It's been really good. I've had a lot of teachers saying, "We want to teach this to our students and have our students understand what's going on."
You use some excellently creative profanity in the book. When you coin a particularly good phrase, do you reuse it?
I try to make them one-offs. It challenges me to not get lazy with what I'm doing. One of the things is, if you feel like something merits the use of profanity, then don't be lazy. Make your point.
Your next writing project is a science-fiction trilogy.
Yeah, me and my buddy Andy Reiner, the guitarist from [his band] Tripping Icarus, we started it. I think we're about halfway through outlining the second book, and the first one's totally finished. We're looking around for a publisher.
You've already written the first book? How quickly do you write?
I think it took me probably five and a half, six months. It's about 98,000 words. I write pretty quickly. I'm very fortunate to be able to do that, and a lot of that is because I read a lot of different books, and so then I can look at a paragraph and see what works and what's not working.
Can you share any plot teasers?
One of the main premises of the universe is that there's this universal ban on biohacking, and that all came about because of a terrible episode in the past. Fast forward 400 years, and a political entity rose to power because they had this ban on biohacking. It's a statement on how power inevitably corrupts, and what people are willing to overlook as long as their lives proceed comfortably.
One of the things I like about science fiction is you can tell an interesting and engaging story but also relate to the real world, and examine what would be the outcome.
Do you have any other new writings in the works?
I might do another collection of essays, but probably a couple years down the line so I can gather new material, kind of rebuild that stock of stuff. I'll also write my football memoir at some point, after I'm done playing.
Right, you're a free agent right now, and recently had tryouts with both the Chicago Bears and the Buffalo Bills. How is that?
It's good. I felt like I punted well with both. The Bears was a general tryout, that one was more motivational. And the Bills, it was me and Brian Moorman competing for the job, and they went with Brian because he's punted there for years. Right now I'm just staying in shape, and if a team needs a veteran punter, I'll be there.
What have you been focusing on since you and the Raiders parted ways last month?
Really just hanging out with my family. The last couple years with football, my daughters have been in California and I've been in Minnesota, so that's been rough. Other than that, working out, reading, writing, playing video games, enjoying life.
You're a lover of video games, and I've heard that you've started playing them with your daughters, ages 5 and 3. What are the family games?
There's one called Lego City Undercover. It's almost Grand Theft Auto but with Lego pieces. It's an open world, and you're running around the city, you're trying to stop a bank robbery. They like a lot of iPad touch games, the graphics and stuff. My goal is once my older daughter starts reading, I'll introduce them to the old Super Nintendo role-playing games. Those are the foundation of great gaming. I want them to be able to experience it like I did.
IF YOU GO:
Chris Kluwe, Dave Hill, and musical guest Sara Watkins
$35 general, $45 reserved seats at witsradio.org
Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Thursday, October 17
The Fitzgerald Theater
10 E. Exchange Street, St. Paul
If you can't make the live show, tune in to MPR News on Saturday, October 26, at 8 p.m. or 89.3 The Current on Sunday, October 27, at 9 p.m.
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