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33 1/3: Digital Mumbo Jumbo

[Editor's Note: In honor of our 33 1/3 salebuy two new (not used or sale) books from Continuum Books' 33 1/3 series, featuring critical writing on seminal albums, and get a third free — we're pleased to feature blog posts from some of the people behind the 33 1/3 series.]

The other night William Gibson was in town reading from his book Spook Country. About ten years ago, he and I interviewed each other for a magazine in Canada called Dolomite. The guy who set up the interview was named Chuckie the Skunk. The Skunk had heard William on CBC Radio talking about how he was a fan of my old band Scud Mountain Boys; the record Pine Box in particular. It struck me as a little odd that William would be into that album because it's about as spare as three people playing instruments can get. Like a boob, I assumed he'd be into nothing but Faust and Eno's weirder stuff. I asked a buddy of mine if he thought it was odd, and he said, "Necromancer is a messed-up movie, but I can see why he's into you."

I was flattered, but pretty nervous to go through with the interview. To say it had every chance of stalling like a blind date engineered by the piss-poorest of yentas is accurate. William Gibson is, well, William Gibson, and I was terrified by change in general. I had yet to own a computer at the time of the interview. I wasn't trying to be cool, just trying to be not broke. (My third cd was at the pressing plant when I bought my first cd player. Welcome to the '80s.)

In the end, the interview was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Honestly. Wil-liam was gracious and insightful, the latter of which should come as no surprise to anyone who has read anything by him. I remember us agreeing that if this digital mumbo-jumbo (my term, not his) takes off as predicted, he (professional writer) and I (questionably professional musician) might find ourselves fucked (also my term, not his).

I'll spare you the rest of the topics covered in the interview because I can't remember any of them. I have a son who just turned one. I'm exhausted. The other morning I soaped-up a sponge at the kitchen sink and washed a peeled banana instead of the intended paring knife. Last week I almost dropped a large glass mixing bowl at 6 a.m.

"Don't be clumsy. Don't be clumsy. Don't be clumsy," I said, whispering so as not to wake the kid. Then I started singing the Duran Duran tune "Clumsy Like the Wolf" in my head. That's not the funny part. While I emptied the rest of the dishwasher, I could not fathom how Duran Duran had such a huge smash hit with a hook as stupid as clumsy like the wolf. Were wolves known for being unusually clumsy?

A couple years after the Gibson interview, a tune of mine called "Pipe Bomb" was used in No Maps to These Territories, a documentary film about William.

So we've interviewed each other, corresponded by email here and there (though we lost touch), and one of my tunes was used in a film about him. There's legitimate connection there. So when I heard he was in town reading, I figured it was time to finally meet him in person.

I have a buddy (not the Necromancer guy) who calls me "Jewish," or just "J" (short for "Jewish" not "Joe," as one might expect). I'm not even Jewish. He is. I'm Italian — and Roman Catholic, to boot. My buddy's wife was connected to the reading organizers, so she kindly got word to William that I was hoping to attend, and could he float me a ticket?

On the evening of the reading, I sat in my living-room, waiting for This Week in Baseball to start. My buddy biked up to my window.

"C'mon, Jewish. We're going to be late," he said.

"Wait. Check this out." I said. He stuck his face to the screen. On the TV, two silver-haired retirees hawking erectile dysfunction medicine were slow dancing in a secluded copse of tropical fruit trees. They were in no rush to get back to their hut, though it was clear they would end up there in their own sufficiently-romanced time.

"Why should they rush? Stuff lasts all day," my buddy said.

"You took it?" I asked.

"Half of one. Once."

"Any good?"

"It works, if that's what you mean." The happy couple was drinking deeply from two coconuts.

"I bet you five bucks they end up in his and her outdoor bathtubs overlooking a coffee plantation."

"C'mon. Get off your ass."

"You think Gibson would want us to miss this?"

÷ ÷ ÷

Joe Pernice is a musician and writer, whose first novel, It Feels So Good When I Stop, is to be released August 6, 2009. Pernice also recorded a soundtrack for the novel, called, cleverly, It Feels So Good When I Stop (Novel Soundtrack), on his own Ashmont Records label. (It's his 11th or 12th full-length record, depending on who's counting.) He has recorded as Pernice Brothers, Joe Pernice, Scud Mountain Boys, and Chappaquiddick Skyline. His novella for Continuum's 33 1/3 series, Meat Is Murder, was published in 2003. He grew up in the Boston area, and currently lives in Toronto. Click here for tour information.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. It Feels So Good When I Stop Used Hardcover $4.95
  2. The Smiths: Meat Is Murder (33 1/3...
    Used Trade Paper $10.50
  3. Spook Country
    Used Hardcover $6.95

Joe Pernice is the author of It Feels So Good When I Stop

2 Responses to "33 1/3: Digital Mumbo Jumbo"

    ChrisB. October 26th, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    The early morning adventures don't end there my friend. I made a big deal about getting up extra early this morning so I could go for a bike ride before everyone else got up - and by everyone else, I really just mean my four year old daughter. Usually she sleeps until at least 7:30, but not on this morning. Instead, as I ambitiously pull myself out of bed at 6:15, desperate to wake up as to not squander my precious hour, I hear the sound of a WIDE awake four year old voice asking if I want to go downstairs and watch "Piglet's Big Movie" with her. And so there I was at 6:30 sharing a cup of rice milk and a bagel, enjoying what turns out to be a pretty good film (within its genre anyway).

    A few minutes in, she asks, "Daddy, why is all your bike stuff on top of my chair."

    "No reason," I tell her, "do you want to share another bagel?"


    Lady J October 31st, 2007 at 9:55 pm

    Oh, those things don't work.

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