Today, if you like a band, you can probably find out what they had for breakfast this morning without too much trouble, and you can spread the word on social networking sites. The internet then, however, was still really in its infancy (hell, it sort of STILL is). In order to get information, I had to start an fan page using AOL's "pagemaker." Tonight, I moved the site to a new home here.
Adopting the nom de plume of Mr. Meenee, I got in touch with several other Stiffs Inc fans, most of who lived in New York. I was a teenage hamburger salesman in Georgia who wandered around in a beret, and suddenly I had lots of friends in the New York goth scene. I couldn't get ahold of any members of the band, but I did hear from the boyfriend of one of the people who performed in their onstage performance art. Not everyone was online yet in those days. Odd to think of it now. It was a time before there was a blogosphere, before social networking (in any meaningful sense), before mp3s. When I had to send spies to gigs to get reports on what was going on.
They were kind enough to send me a free copy of their second album, which expanded to more of a goth sound and added references to Shakespeare, Chaucer, Fritz Lang, and others. It was awesome. It was released independently (in a pre-Itunes world, when this was much harder than now). Practically no one bought it - but Gerard, leader of My Chemical Romance (who wound up dating one of my main "spies" for a while before he was famous) cited it as the template for their "Black Parade" record.
So, yeah - I totally understand how excited the book bloggers get about arcs (advanced reader copies, for the uninitiated). I wish they'd stop using them like trading cards, and I wish publicists would stop sending arcs to kids who don't seem like they'd remotely be the type who would like the book in question, and I could do without all the blog drama (and kids who say they've read and loved my excerpts when begging for an arc, then read 3 pages before slamming it on goodreads), but I understand how intoxicating it is to have an artist you love take notice of you.
But it took a lot more work back in my day, ya whippersnappers!