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Interest and disinterest

January 9, 2009

Aside from realizing/remembering why I hate driving to/in/from Philadelphia, today went well.

I spent a few hours this afternoon with Elf Power and Folklore guitarist Jimmy Hughes. We got some coffee and walked around the South Street and Old City areas putting up posters for the Philly date of the upcoming Elf Power tour (a date that will also feature an appearance by the newly reformed Folklore). I got to know him a little bit and he got to know me.

It also brought up something I haven’t given enough consideration in regards to this book: conflicts of interest.

There were a few things that went down that, if I were writing for a newspaper or maybe even a magazine, would be breaches of ethics. He bought me a cup of coffee, I helped him brainstorm a bit about where to find work in Philadelphia, and I offered to let his band crash in my apartment when they come through State College.

That said, while I want to be a disinterested, objective reporter on this whole concept, I’m obviously a fan first. So that’s something I have to reconcile. Liking the bands I’m covering is one thing; feeling like I owe them anything or they owe me anything is something else entirely.

Then again, this isn’t just some superficial concert preview. For me to get to the depth I want to explore, I have to make a deeper connection than I would for a one-off interview for a 500-word article. I’m going to have to build a very strong rapport with some of these people if I want them to trust me and feel comfortable around to the extent that they’re willing to share with me their life stories and let me write a book about them.

It’s a lot to balance. On one hand, I have to have a deep enough relationship with at least a few of these people for us to be able to converse with some degree of depth, but on the other hand, I have to maintain enough distance and detachment to avoid the potential for conflict of interest and, as importantly, any perception of a conflict of interest.

Anyway, today was probably the last big thing for me for a while re: this book. I’ll try to still update with some frequency, but I’m taking a bit of a break over the next couple weeks to get back in the swing of things with school (classes, the Collegian, UWire, tutoring, etc.). I expect to pick things back up again on January 26 when Elf Power comes through State College, and then from there try to start making moves with some phone contacts, schedule permitting. More to come, I suppose.

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