by Jeff Boison
"What is Pindeldyboz?"
Amusingly, that question has been posed countless times since we started. I suppose that it should be a foreseeable result when you completely fabricate a word for use as the name of your literary journal. That the concept of genesis is such an integral part of the name of the journal is honestly a bit of an inside joke, I'm afraid. Much of the mission of Pindeldyboz was to introduce the reader to something entirely foreign but essential and important -- which was part of the way in which we vetted the content for both web and print. My hidden agenda was to force the word "Pindeldyboz" onto people and have them embrace, accept, adore and further spread that word, and the concept and the magazine -- much in the way that we wanted that same end result to have been realized for each and every contributor who appeared on our web pages and within our printed covers.
The definition of Pindeldyboz
On the site, "Pindeldyboz" is given a definition - which tips to a number of hints at "the early days" and the PBoz origins. That definition is as follows:
Pin´del•dy•boz (Pin' dl dë bôz), n.
1. A feeling of confusion and/or anxiety,
when ingeniously anesthetized by obese amounts of levity.
2. A situation of confusion and/or anxiety,
when tampered with in the same manner as above.
..and although for the majority of the ten years we've been online, the website HTML Title has contained the unofficial reading line "Pindeldyboz: Stories that defy classification," I'll go against the grain and oxymoronically attempt classification...
Every single one of the stories that have appeared under our banner is intended to GIVE you, our dear reader, the primary definition of "pindeldyboz." After spending time with us either on the web or with one of our books, we want you to feel a little dizzy. We want you to feel a little "whatwasthat?" or "whatjusthappened?" The "was" and the "happenstance" is that secondary definition of "Pindeldyboz."
We want you to have been surprisingly amused at what you've read - or how you've read it. Whether it was something that the writer worked into their work, something that we did with the presentation of said work, or maybe it was something about that typeface (Janson is sooooo much better than Bell MT -- Janson sounds like a childhood friend; Bell MT sounds like protective headwear you'd don prior to mountaining your mountain bike). Whatever it was, we hope that it was, and that it moved you and gave you reason to take a second glance at that author's name to seek out more of their work; or to continue flipping through the book or to click back into the site and dig deeper into the archives instead of jumping off to your Gawker bookmark. After you've felt Pindeldyboz, we hope you liked it. We hoped you'd come back for more.
Pindeldyboz was first conceived during the summer of 1996. It was the creation of a young man who was happy with his English major and spent way too much time with his nose stuck inside books written by a humorous Irishman named James Joyce. Inspired by Joyce's tendency to have at play with the English language and his dabblings in Neologism (i.e. quark), the young man went "at play in the fields of the words." One result of this activity was the creation of the word: pindeldyboz. It is a word that is intended to look, sound and feel rather unique. Upon a first encounter, it is meant to arrive in a sharp manner (like a PIN), then it might linger for a while in mirthful fashion (think tiDDLYwinks), then it ends surprisingly, yet abruptly - almost shockingly - like a fart in an elevator or an exploding whoopee cushion (think BOZZZ). Slap those together, apply some mortar, some primer and some paint, and you've got yourself a good looking Pindeldyboz.
The first appearance of "Pindeldyboz" was in a painting that I had done sometime during the Fall of 1996. Amidst a mixture of mostly primary and some secondary colors (representative of foundations and their evolutions) a message (among other things) is not so much hidden as is mixed into the blend: "Order? No, no, no! Pindeldyboz? Yes!"
That message sheds some additional light onto the intentions of what I sought to do with a "pindeldyboz" and how I feel Pindeldyboz can be further defined. When one consider the status quo and that which is quote unquote orderly and familiar, Pindeldyboz is meant to come running up into the last length like an 80:1 long shot with a quirky name that will win the race, win your hearts and leave a lasting impression on the sport.
March 16, 2000
While the word, pindeldyboz, was created back in '96, the Pindeldyboz that we are gently laying to rest at this very moment was born the above date. More accurately it was born late at night on this day; arguably the early morning of March 17, 2000. On that evening, at Galapagos in Brooklyn, NY, McSweeney's was hosting an event that drew a most spirited and starry-eyed, wondrous crowd of people. Dave Eggers' A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius had just been released and he was tearing up the literary world. My memories of that night have always been clouded by about six too many Brooklyn Lagers but I recall a few things. I remember almost leaving at a respectable hour to head out for sushi with Matt Klam but decided to stay because I felt that the night was apparently just getting started. I remember meeting Neal Pollack. I remember then meeting Whitney Pastorek and getting into a very amazing discussion about the merits of McSweeneys and how it felt like the tip of an iceberg; how it felt like only the beginning of something much bigger that overflowed with promise and potential. I remember meeting Dave. I remember all of us taking a photo together in a very dark hallway using a disposable camera that lacked a flash. I also remember ending the evening by exchanging contact information with Whitney and each of us deciding that we were going to team up to bring further literary goodness to the aching, desperate world. Apart from other late evenings when the booze had a tendency to fuel bravado and big ideas, this was different. This was doable. Not only that - it needed to be done and we were going to do it. I only remember that this all happened on March 16th because at some point I invited Neal and others for corned beef and cabbage on the next night, St. Patrick's Day. I also remember feeling like bloody hell for much of the next day.
And Then We Did
Coming out of that night, we got together. We schemed. We plotted. We planned. We assembled. We pitched. We proselytized. We went live. We recruited. We worked so incredibly hard. We put a schedule together. We secretly strove towards a print edition. We persevered. We held events. We stayed up really late. We published a print edition. We sold out. We went to some Yankee games. We published another print edition. We made t-shirts. We continued to publish amazing pieces on the website. We made another print edition. We grew. We growthed. We built meaningful relationships with writers and readers and others with a similar goal. We won accolades. We watched writers and their careers evolve and mature. We were (and are) so incredibly happy for them. Hopefully I speak for everyone - past and present who had a hand at one time or another in the back of this pindeldypuppet - when I say that we loved what we were doing. We won. We did.
It's Hard To Write Goodbye
While I feel like we achieved success on each and every one of the targets we set out to strike, I am most pleased by the unforeseen accomplishment & byproduct that came out of Pindeldyboz - the friendships, relationships and opportunities to meet, work with, work for and just plain old, get to know so many amazing, interesting, talented and remarkable people throughout the entire endeavor. God damn, it was all so very and incredibly worth it. Whitney said it even though she didn't completely say it when she wrote in the last update: "I have been trying to write this email for over a month." This is hard. Having to put all of this down means that for once and for all this is over; that we went out, worked hard, conquered and had a lot of laughs -- but the safari is over. We probably won't be coming back again. I have little right to feel this emotional about pulling the plug at this point, because I'm the parent who disappeared years ago to devote all of my time to other babies when I walked away from Pindeldyboz in 2003 (or was it 2004? - it was a lifetime ago...) -- but since my departure, it's taken me all of this time to ironically realize that I never left. I checked in regularly to read the updates; I eagerly looked forward to the release of every print issue; and I rejoiced when we finally came out with a poetry issue (God Bless you, John, Mark & Jim).
What it all boils down to, is that we started out in March of 2000 with the aim to put together a website offering of very, very good writing. We wanted to get started online; build a following; and then graduate to a printed edition and spread the word even further. We wanted readers to connect with very, very good writing; we wanted the people who appreciated such writing to connect with the people who were capable of producing such writing; we wanted those writers to find themselves connected to a readership; and both of us - Whitney & myself - wanted to give the people what they wanted. We wanted people who were capable of very, very good writing to have a place in which to publish; we wanted those writers to connect with and find a readership; we wanted people who wanted to discover new, relevant, current, amusing and important writing to have a place at which to do so. We wanted all of you to be happy -- and I think we nailed it. Those of you we published, we did so with great care and love. Those of you we didn't publish, I like to think that we presented our decision not to publish you in a manner that was lovingly and filled with admiration and respect for you and your work.
Thank you notes
Whitney Pastorek - Pindeldyboz would not have lasted ten years, much less ten days, without you. For all that you've done, I wish I had the resources to pay tribute by erecting a four hundred foot statue of you on the steps of the New York Public Library. You'd be standing with a foot on the back of each of the literary, library lions aptly named Patience and Fortitude. In one arm you'd be clutching a copy of each of our print editions (including the poetry edition and a nice, color printout of our e-edition, of course) and in your free hand you'd wield a flaming sword. And laser beams would fire from your eyes whenever anyone would suggest paid advertising.
My wife, Allison - thank you for your support of my work with Pindeldyboz over the years and not minding that I invested a few thousand dollars of our savings into my dream of producing the print edition. Thanks for enduring the byproduct of that dream: those dozens of boxes of buyproduct that filled our apartment for a short while.
Ben Balcomb - You are the Webmaster-at-arms, a guru at HTMLegant design. We threw so much at you on such short notice and in every instance you ensured that it was cared for and beautifully presented. The website is your Sistine Chapel, Benonardo.
Sarah Balcomb, Lee Klein, Shauna McKenna, Claire Zulkey, Jeff Ross, Sean Carman, Scott Korb, M. Ryan Purdy, Bob Beier, Kristin McGonigle, Ed Page, Juan Martinez, Gabriel Delahaye, Bryson Newhart - You guys were the thirteen colonies. Your contributions, your support, your concern, your feedback, your interest, your ideas, your example and your enthusiasm were instrumental in the development, growth and ongoing development of Pindeldyboz. On top of that, your company throughout this all was a win. Thank you.
Andy Friedman - thank you for your contributions, for your support, and for selling me a few isbns so that we could publish our print editions. Thank you, too, for the piece at top which commemorates this moment of closure.
Rob "Moonlight" Maitra - Thank you for everything, my friend. Your support from the earliest point in the process was passionate, productive, promotional, pleasant and a hell of a lot of other words beginning with 'P." Above all else, you were an inspiration.
Dave Eggers - thank you for shining such a bright and blinding light into the then-darkened world of the literary. Using that light we identified a true situation where supply was insufficient to keep up with demand and were able to set up shop to work diligently to meet said demand.
George Plimpton - thank you for setting the gold standard and for inspiring Pindeldyboz with all of your achievements. Thank you, too, for the invitation to come to the townhouse to eat burgers and play pool.
The Paris Review and especially Brigid Hughes - thank you for the early support and for the free advertising. It helped.
Neal Pollack - thank you for your early support; thank you for introducing our first print issue; and thank you for not taking me up on my offer of having you over for corned beef & cabbage.
John Hodgman - thank you for your early support and I can't tell you how much I enjoyed the introduction to our second print issue, even though this sentence has meagerly attempted just that.
The Cedar Tavern - thank you for hosting so very many of our working meetings - in addition to the many non-working meetings - which were always better with beer. I miss you.
Challenger, the bald eagle - your soaring flight took our breaths away. We wanted to know what it was like to be so awesome and regal. We still do.
Random House - thank you for the day job. Without it, I would not have made many of the contacts within the supply chain, nor learned much of what I ultimately applied during my time at the wheel. Without those contacts and that expertise, our distribution would have been a laughingstock. Instead, it was admirable. Also, sorry I took a sick day on March 17th, 2000 - but hopefully you'll agree that it was all worth it in the long run.
Red Rooster - thank you for headlining so many of our events. We're thankful that so many people came to see you and as a result came to see us.
The American Journal of Print, Crowd, Drunken Boat, Eleven Bulls, Elimae, Eyeshot, Failbetter, Hobart, The Land-Grant College Review, McSweeneys, Monkeybicycle, Opium, Small Spiral Notebook, Taint, 3rd Bed, Word Riot and everyone within and without the Vinculum - we rocked. We were small, we were resilient, we were fierce, we were organized, we were feisty and we made a difference.
To everyone who I have neglected to thank but who was supportive of this endeavor - thank you and please forgive me. I would love to individually thank each and every contributor but there really is not enough room to do so. Amazingly, the website archive contains 1,250 individual works. Jesus, that's a whole lotta awesome.
To the Pindeldystaff, both pindeldypast and pindeldypresent - I'm happy to have worked with many of you and the others whom I have not had the pleasure to have met, I hope to have that opportunity in the future - especially now that you've got some free time on your hands.
Second to Lastly - thank you to everyone who ever learned to type www.pindeldyboz.com correctly into a browser...from memory.
And finally... While drafting this, I obviously listed her first and foremost but need to put this here to truly embody the essence of "saving the best for last." Whitney Pastorek. To truly spell out how incredible and amazing and brilliant and hardworking and savvy and resourceful is an admirable yet impossible undertaking. The years we worked together during Pindeldyboz's infancy were exhilarating. We had a mission and Whitney was truly Promethean. I'm really happy that the fates sent the both of us to Galapagos in March of 2000. That night, the literary gods handed us one hell of a fucking football and we ran with it at a breakneck speed. Together and with the help of everyone else, we created something remarkably special together. We did something that mattered. I wouldn't have done anything differently, nor would I want to have done with anyone else. Thanks, Whit.
Until Next Time?
So that's it. C'est finis. C'est tout. Enjoy the silence. Irregardless of how cliché it may be (or that irregardless is not a word and I should probably have just used "regardless"), I would never have guessed in a WarrenBuffazillion years that a decade later, we would have made such a mark and a hopefully lasting impression. I can't overemphasize the pride I feel in the work that we have done, or how proud it makes me to see an author who is similarly proud to list their appearance on the site or in the books in their bios and biblios. I also take great pride that there are a few thousand copies of our books in physical circulation out there in the great wide open. I like to think that many of them are cherished pieces of a number of collections out there and that there are other copies still lying in wait to be found by someone who will love the hell out of them.
To sum it all up in someone else's words, I'll leave with a quote from Hunter S. Thompson's The Curse of Lono: "Dear Ralph, We killed like champions."
We really did.
That said, all that remains to be said is 'goodbye.' That, or drop me a line if anyone out there wants to start anew. I still have a few other totally sweet, manufactured words in my bag and it looks like the next decade is pretty wide open.
Rockville Centre, NY
June 8, 2010
About the author:
Jeff Boison is a Founding Publisher of Pindeldyboz, and served as Editor in Chief from 2000 through 2002.