News / Blog

June 16, 2010

Q & A re: P2M

This is the complete correspondence between Boston Phoenix writer Eugenia Williamson and me on June 13, which was done for a nice piece she wrote about Pernice To Me.

EW: How often do you use Twitter? When do tweet most often? Why did you decide to include the date and time of each tweet?

JL: I’ve been tweeting pretty much every day, multiple times, since the spring of ’08. But I tweet a lot more than Pernice To Me. I am a publicist by trade, so I tweet about my clients, and I am politically active, so there’s a lot of that. It never dawned on me NOT to include the timestamp, because the timestamp is part of the tweet in twitter culture.

EW: Who does a tweet belong to? Is it the writer’s, the intended recipient’s, the followers’ or all of the above? How does that set it apart from plain old conversation?

JL: Legally? I have no idea. Twitter’s Terms of Service aren’t on my top 10 list. But I guess it belongs to me and everyone who sees it or participates in it. It has a larger audience than a conversation. I really like twitter. There are many interesting people using it, with provocative things to say. Those who say it’s just narcissistic nonsense aren’t following the right people.

EW: Why did you decide to include other media in the book?

JL: Pernice To Me kind of grew out of a lot of the blogging I’d been doing and email newsletters we send to fans. It seemed appropriate to establish that. We’ve been sending these email newsletters semi-regularly to Joe’s fans for about 10 years. We have a 6000-person mailing list, and the many people who write to me or order music and other stuff from us seem to like it. We’ve been dispelling myths about the glamorous life of critically-acclaimed, commercially-disappointing indie rockers for quite a while.

EW: As far as I can tell, this is the second book you’ve released through Ashmont Media. Is that right?

JL: Yes. We released a book of poetry by Joe several years back. It’s essentially his Master’s Thesis. It was just something we wanted to be able to sell on the road and by mail order. But I think it led to him being asked to write his 33 1/3 book, which in turn led to his being asked to write his novel for Riverhead. Everything is connected. The poetry book, Two Blind Pigeons is in its second printing, has sold about 3000 copies. Not bad for a poetry chapbook.

EW: You’ve dedicated the book to the fans. What do you think a random person might make of this book if they picked it up?

JL: I was worried about that, but Joe wasn’t. He thinks it will be funny to anyone with our sense of humor. And it really doesn’t matter anyway. It was initially envisioned as something for the fans, which is why it’s dedicated to them. They’re part of the Pernice narrative too. We’ve made it that way.

EW: What made you decide to release a book of tweets in the first place? To my understanding, it’s a testament to your friendship with Joe and, as you put it, the pseudo-insulting nature of the way you express affection. Why else?

JL: There was no great strategy meeting about this one. Joe doesn’t like or use social media, but for me, it’s another way of expressing my very strong (some may say obnoxious) opinions about a whole range of things, and a way to keep in touch with fans of Pernice’s work. The Pernice stuff is funny, and when I started to tweet it, I got a lot of encouragement from the fans, as well as from writer and editor friends, like Bill Barol, Joel Brown and others. I also had a fair amount of contact from people who didn’t even know Pernice, but sought out his music based on this silly correspondence. We have ALWAYS offered some sort of special gift to fans who pre-order Pernice records, and this started as one of those things. The 1400 people who pre-ordered the record that comes out this week get the book too. Because people seemed to like it, we made it available for sale on its own, and we sent out a few review copies to people who have written nice things about Pernice in the past.

EW: I’ve been thinking about how a book of Twitter conversation is like an epistolary memoir. Have you ever read a published collection of someone’s letters? If you’ve read a lot of them, whose have you liked especially?

JL: I’m a big fan of the letters of John and Abigail Adams, which is why every Pernice newsletter begins “my dearest friend,” but I haven’t read a lot of letters collections. But these aren’t really letters. They’re me repeating what he says. He’d say interpreting, but I say repeating.

EW: What’s your favorite tweet in the book?

JL: My favorite is from the next book, as it happened after we published.

Pernice to me 1/2: What do I need to do to sell records? Me: You need some street cred. Work on that.
4:06 PM May 3rd via web

Pernice to me 2/2: P: OK, how about next time I come to Dorchester, I pop a cap in your ass. Will that work? M: It might.
4:06 PM May 3rd via web

Joyce @ 6:36 am