From the Archives: Rick Johnson (2002)

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October 8, 2013 by admin

Rick Johnson Is Alive and Well and Living in Macomb

By Andrew Lapointe (July 2002)

Former rock critic and Creem magazine writer, Rick Johnson, is alive and well. Many followers of rock criticism have wondered where on earth he’s been hiding all these years and what he’s been up to. Turns out he’s living quietly in Macomb, Illinois, where he manages a newspaper and cigar shop, wakes up at four or five every morning, watches a lot of TV, and still retains a skewed sense of humor that most professional music publications today wouldn’t have a clue what to do with.

Back in the early ’70s, prior to his long-running and highly regarded stint at “America’s Only” you-know-what, Johnson contributed to the likes of Phonograph Record Magazine,Fusion, and the popular men’s magazine, Oui. Still, his offbeat satire and his critical jabs at television, movies, music, and junk culture (in no particular order) truly found a home and a niche at Creem, where many considered him a worthy heir to Lester Bangs. Richard Riegel, in an interview on this site, called Johnson Bangs’s and Meltzer’s “equal as a rock writer, even though his style was very different (more ‘postmodern,’ for whatever that’s worth).” In fact, according to Jim DeRogatis in Let it Blurt [p. 216], Bangs himself singled out Johnson’s pithy review of Lester Bangs and the Delinquents’ Jook Savages on the Brazos as his personal favorite.

After several attempts to contact him at his shop in Macomb, Johnson was generous enough to talk to, not once, but twice. Many thanks to Richard Riegel for helping us track him down.

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Andrew:   I guess before we get into the Creem era, people want to know what you’ve been doing since then.

Rick:   Uhh…well, not that much. I’m the manager of a store where we sell print and tobacco–lots of magazines, and cigars…stuff like that. I’ve been doing that for the last twelve years, and before that just bouncing around. So that sums that all up pretty good, I think. [laughs]

Andrew:   Explain growing up and how you gained an interest in writing about rock music.

Rick:   Well, I was a big music fan from about 1962 onward, when I was introduced to Top 40 radio. I had my ear glued to the radio every year after that. I mean, I was a heavy-duty fan–it was like I was training to be a rock critic or something. I started seeing actual rock magazines with writing in them in the late ’60s and thought, “Hey, I’d like to do that!” And I started working on that kind of stuff, but I didn’t have any success with it until 72′ or 73′.

Andrew:   What other magazines did you write for? Did you write for anything before Creem?

Rick:   Yeah, quite a few, actually. The one that printed the first thing was Fusion out of Boston. And I don’t know, that was in the early ’70s. And the men’s magazine, Oui, I used to write little bits for them, because they paid really good, you could get fifty bucks for ten minutes work. And just a bunch of different music magazines–Phonograph Record Magazine. Oh, I could name a whole bunch of local music things too.

Andrew:   And did you grow up in Illinois?

Rick:   Yeah, I grew up in the Chicago area. I came to Macomb to go to college in 1969, and I’ve been here most of the last thirty years. It’s a pretty neat place to live.

Andrew:   How did you get your start at Creem magazine?

Rick:   Well, I just kept sending them stuff and they weren’t interested in the first several things I sent, but then, finally, I squeezed in…it was a Beach Boys review, I don’t remember what year. I’m thinking around ’74. And then after that, they would, every once in a while, assign me something, although mostly for the next several years I was just writing on spec and sending it in. They printed some of it; they didn’t print some of it.

Andrew:   And what was your relationship like with the staff at Creem, people like Richard Riegel, J. Kordosh, and Robot Hull? Did you work with Lester Bangs at all?

Rick:   Well, only over the phone. He was assigning reviews when I was writing some record reviews, so I talked to him over the phone two or three times, probably in 1975. Occasionally, he’d call me up really late at night ’cause he wanted to talk about world terrorism and I was the only other person besides him that was interested in terrorism. So, we’d have these really long talks about Bader-Meinhof gang and Carlos The Jackal. I was just extremely flattered that he would call me up, ’cause I was, you know, 24 or 25, and he was the Famous Lester Bangs. But after he left Creem, I didn’t really hear from him. People like Riegel and Robot Hull weren’t actually on the staff, they were just contributors. I’ve known Riegel since the early ’80s. We got to be friends, and we write and talk and stuff like that, and [the Riegels] have visited a couple times. I saw them in Detroit. Robot Hull I’ve only talked to on the phone, I didn’t really know him, but he said he liked something that I wrote in 1976 on the back of an envelope [laughs]. So I thought that was great.

Andrew:   Did all these people leave the business altogether or did they just go to other places? What about some of the editors?

Rick:   Uhh, Sue Whitall went to the Detroit News, where I think she still writes for them today and has written some books and stuff like that. Dave DiMartino left to be something like West Coast Bureau Chief for Billboard magazine, and I think now he’s the editor of an internet only magazine called Launch–I’ve been told this, I’ve never seen it, though. Let’s see, Bill Holdship, who was a really great guy who would never hurt anybody’s feelings–he went to California when Creemmoved out there for about a year after they were sold. He left to work for another music publication. That’s pretty much all the editors I worked with there.

Andrew:   How do you think Creem was different when you worked there as opposed to the ’70s when it started?

Rick:   Well, in the ’70s, the editors still controlled the magazine. It was a huge difference. But as time went by, the editors had increasingly less to say about the magazine, while the publisher and advertising people and sometimes the art department started saying, “Well, the magazine is going to be this other thing instead.” The editors just gave up after a while, the writers started fading away, they’d go to other magazines and stuff because they didn’t want to try to fit into this goofy new Creem they were trying to come up with.


Andrew:   And what about your style of writing? Do you think that your humorous and quirky style of writing would have been readily accepted at any other magazine besides Creem?

Rick:   No! [laughs] That’s why, after Creem, I hardly did anything, ’cause the way I wrote–boy! It was not commercial, and believe me, nobody wanted it. But for me, what was so great about writing for Creem was that they let me do anything, absolutely anything. So, I had tons of fun writing like that. And it’s a good feeling to know that, you know, no matter how insane and off the wall the stuff you write is, these guys might actually publish it!

Andrew:    Describe your writing. Where did you get that kind of humorous style and all those ideas?

Rick:   Well, the main place I copied my writing style from was Catcher In The Rye. You read that?

Andrew:   No.

Rick:   It’s J.D. Salinger.

Andrew:   Yes.

Rick:   Most American kids read it in high school.

Andrew:   Yeah, it’s in our curriculum in high school.

Rick:   Oh is it? Yeah. And so as soon as I read that, I adopted that first person kind of style in high school in the ’60s.

Andrew:   And there’s also all kinds of swearing and language in that book too.

Rick:   Lots of strange stuff.

Andrew:   Yeah, yeah.

Rick:   And then, I read all the early rock magazines like Crawdaddy!Mojo-Navigator, the early Rolling Stone, and so that had a certain amount of influence on me, especially Crawdaddy! because that’s where Richard Meltzer wrote, and he’s kind of my hero.

Andrew:   And reading all these rock magazines–was this when you were, say, as young as me, like sixteen?

Rick:   Yeah, that’s about the right age. Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen.

Andrew:   ‘Cause that goes as far back, I guess, as ’66, when rock writing started to take off.

Rick:   Before that, a couple of the teen magazines got started that way too. Hit Parader, which I guess is still publishing and pretty successful, they started doing some serious writing about that time, and I don’t know, there was one called Teen Set, that did the same and a couple others but they came later. Those were the earliest serious rock [writing] things in America.

“Many pop sociologists and complete idiots alike think that the ’80s are going to be a chromium whazoo, mainly because that’s when 1984 will occur. Where would they be if George Orwell had entitled his book Rats Nibbled My Eyeballs instead?”
–Rick Johnson, “Mikey & Oinky, Breens & Beepers: What the ’80s Will Really Be Like,” Creem, January 1980

Andrew:   You also wrote a lot about junk culture, like TV, and you would review toys and candy and beer and stuff like that. How did you come up with writing about those kinds of things in a magazine?

Rick:   Well, I just thought they were funny subjects that I could write really good stuff about. And so I would call up–for most of this stuff–Sue Whitall, and it seemed like no matter what strange idea I’d have, she’d go, “Yeah! Sure.” Like, you know, a review on junk food, she’d say, “Yeah! Sure.” I loved to write about TV, so I did a lot of that, anything I saw on TV that I thought I could sell to Creem, I would, you know, immediately start taking notes and give Sue a call.

Andrew:   There’s also board game reviews.

Rick:   Board games reviews, yeah.

Andrew:   And I have a really hilarious review that you did for a movie that came out in 1980 called Little Darlings.

Rick:   Oh yeah! [laughs]

Andrew:   I came across that movie really late on TV; I guess it’s kind of a teen flick.

Rick:   Yeah, yeah it is.

Andrew:   And it’s just really funny the way you reviewed it. [“The story involves a contest between the potty-mouthed, chain-smoking Angel (Kristy McNichol) and the frankly Tatumlike rich kid, Ferris (Tatum O’Neal), to see who can lose their virginity first. The prize: a date with Ranger Rick? No such luck–the winner gets a certificate from director Ronald Maxwell that says she never has to be in a movie like this again.”]

Rick:   Well, I wanted to see the actresses nude! You know? That’s why I went to the movie, and I was extremely disappointed when that didn’t happen.

Andrew:   Well, a lot of movies are made for that so…

Rick:   Yeah, but I mean, I wanted to see Kristy McNichol nude, so, I was very disappointed. And I ate so much candy that I started falling asleep towards the end. It was an interesting night altogether.

Andrew:   Did you review a lot of movies, or was that left to someone else?

Rick:   Oh man, only a couple of theatrical ones, and maybe a few TV movies like the KISS movie, Beatles made-for-TV movies, things like that.

Andrew:   I also have a review here of The Richard Simmons Show and his book Never Say Diet.

Rick:   Yeah. [laughs] I mean you only have to watch that show once and you know it’s something you want to write about. It’s just so full of things you can make fun of that, you know, who can resist? You can say that about most TV shows anyway.

Andrew:   Was TV a lot quirkier in the ’80s, and a lot easier to make fun of, than something today?

Rick:   Well, that’s the way I was thinking. It seemed all the rock magazines were starting to become like corporate magazines, and still are. But some of these “for young men” magazines they have now, like Stuff and Maxim, I’ve seen writing in those that remind me of the Creem writing–pretty off the wall and profane. They’re almost having a revival [of that style] in those “for young men” mags. There’s a lot of Maxim up at my store, that’s where I get a chance to look at those. I have a lot of college students as clientele, so that goes right up.

Andrew:   Do you still keep up with rock and pop culture today, since you work at a magazine shop?

Rick:   Well, yeah, invariably I do. I watch a lot of television, so that’s the main way; I’m in touch with that stuff. But yeah, having hundreds of newspapers and magazines to look at all the time, it’s a big help.

Andrew:   What kinds of things do you watch and read today?

Rick:   Well, on TV I like the non-fiction stuff like the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, stuff like that. And then I watch stuff like reruns of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Anything with attractive young women in it, I’ll definitely check out. I was watching the Disney Channel quite a bit for a long time. And…Oh boy, not much in the way of network TV or sitcoms. True crime stuff–there’s a lot of that stuff on TV right now, on A&E and The Learning Channel, all kinds of those. I watch a lot of the crime shows. That’s the kind of stuff I read now, true crime, and I don’t really read any rock music magazines now.

Andrew:   What led you to get out of writing about rock music? Was it because Creem ended? What did you do after that?

Rick:   Well, after Creem folded, that and this other magazine I was writing for–it started out being called Rock Video, and then it ended up being called Hard Rock–I was writing for both of those, and they both went out of business within a few weeks of each other, so I kept sending a few things out to different people I thought would like them, but there was just no response at all. So I eventually started working on other things, I had a mail order business for quite a while, and even worked in a record store–you know, just stuff to make money. I’d sure like to write stuff now, but no one is exactly flocking to my door saying, “Oh Rick, Rick, please write stuff for us and we’ll give you money.”

Andrew:   Do you still listen to music today?

Rick:   Yeah, but I listen mainly to music from the ’60s. I’m really big on ’60s pop and soul. So, music between ’62 and ’67, really, is the main thing I listen to. There’s so much of it out of there, and there’s so much unreleased stuff they keep coming out with on CD, that there’s just an endless supply of “new” music, so I have a lot of fun with the ’60s stuff.

Andrew:   Were you ever concerned with your writing being controversial? Like, you did a review for a record by a group called The Runaways.

Rick:   Oh yeah.

Andrew:   And you completely smashed them. Like, “How do I hate The Runaways, let me count the ways.”

Rick:   “Let me count the ways.” Yeah.

Andrew:   Saying “These bitches suck” and all this stuff. Did you ever get flack for the kind of things that you wrote?


Rick:   Well, actually very little, except in the “Letters” column. I don’t know, somebody yelled at me in a bar once for giving Crosby, Still & Nash a bad review, but not much in person. Some of that stuff, like that Runaways one…God! Total pig writing, not “politically correct” I think is the term, and I have to admit some of those things embarrass me a little bit ’cause some of them sound so anti-female, but, you know, I was just a young lad going through one of those phases. What can I say?

Andrew:   Do you have any interesting stories to share from working at Creem? Like interacting with the people there when you were writing in the day?

Rick:   Hmmm…they had all the editors in one room, that was me and Dave and Bill and an editorial assistant. So there was a lot of interplay in that office, of course. I was the only one who did much writing at the office; Dave and Bill would usually go home and do it. I think ’83 and 84′ were the years. As far as writing goes, I don’t think you’d use the word “interplay,” no.

Andrew:   Because I read Let It Blurt, the Lester Bangs story.

Rick:   Yeah, I wished I’d read that whole thing; I just sort of skimmed it.

Andrew:   This is earlier years I’m talking about, I guess, but it seemed like there was a lot of interaction between everyone, and there were a lot of crazy stories.

Rick:   Yeah, yeah. It was really wild and crazy. But unfortunately I had missed out on that era. [laughs] When I got up there, the crazy days were really pretty much over. We were often described as the most boring group of editors Creem magazine ever had.

Andrew:   But did the writing change at all?

Rick:   Well, you can see it getting more…well, I don’t know what word to use…less completely insane as time goes by–there was a lot less of totally making fun of everything and a lot more taking things seriously. Not nearly as much fun, I think. So, I’m very low on stories, I really am. People would call at Creem when I worked up there, that was kind of fun. They expected us all to be really mean and hateful, but they’d find out that we were just regular people and we’d get a really, really big kick out of hate mail–you know how writers love hate mail.

Andrew:   My friend has a little independent film group with a website up and he’s gotten a few hateful e-mails, really mean things, and what he’d do is write back and be really sarcastic.

Rick:   Yeah, that sounds like fun.

Andrew:   He’d be like, you know, “You really need help.” “Calm down,” you know, “see a therapist” and all that stuff, and it’s quite hilarious.

Rick:   Yeah, at Creem I got to be the “Letters” columnist for about year and that was a riot. I would write back to some of the people and we would call each other. It was funny–to get to see all those letters in their original form was great. Most people had amazing ways of using the language that a professional writer wouldn’t even think of and that was a lot of fun. But the corporate interest didn’t like my column, so I got kicked off.

“The one item I’m most curious about though is Twenty Ugly Lifelike Creatures for only $1.69. Sounds like a real bargain, but what I want to know is how they can fit Nick Lowe, Tom Petty, the Stones Devo, Bob Welch, the B-52’s, and ZZ Top into one tiny package?”
–Rick Johnson, “Fun, Fun, Fun (‘Til Daddy Takes the Motorized Shark Fin Away!),” Creem, May 1980

Andrew:   When we first spoke, you told me when you worked at Creem–you mentioned a money issue. Were a lot of people screwed out of money or something like that?

Rick:   Well, they folded twice and both times when people had written things, they weren’t getting paid for it. I think I’m the only one, even though I had material in both folded magazines, I managed to get paid for every one. I had a feeling I was the only one–I thought that was kind of funny. I bailed out towards the end and I didn’t do anything for them in the last six months or so they were in existence and I thought that was a laugh riot.

Andrew:   Do you still want to write things like this today?

Rick:   Oh yeah, I’d love to write about TV and stuff like that. That would be a lot of fun, ’cause I watch a lot of TV. I don’t know if I have any commercial potential these days, though, I really don’t. Maybe I’ll get all kinds of cards and letters now saying, “Hey Rick! We will give you money! Call us up now!”

Andrew:   There’s like a community of rock critic fans on this site–one person said he wanted to see a Rick Johnson interview, so that’s one of the reasons I got assigned to do it. And in the interview with–it might be Richard Riegel or John Mendelssohn, he says something like, “What the hell happened to Rick Johnson?”

Rick:   [laughs]

Andrew:   “Where did he go?” A lot of people think you’re a recluse, living up in the hills or something.

Rick:   Oh, no such luck. I’m in retail, man, that’s much worse…But I didn’t go anywhere. Nobody wanted to print my writing, so that’s the reason.

Andrew:   Well, that’s too bad because it was really different, original, and a lot of fun, and there’s not a lot of writing like that, it’s really good stuff.

Rick:   Oh really?

Andrew:   When I’m reading your stuff, I sometimes get lost.

Rick:   Yeah, me too!

Andrew:   Like, “What the hell are you talking about?”

Rick:   Yeah. I would do anything to get a good line into the piece.

Andrew:   Yeah.

Rick:   You can tell that after a while, like how desperate is this guy to get that one stupid line in there? You know? Like just write a whole big long paragraph about all kinds of unknown things just to get the phrase “Rodeo Blooper Tape” in there somewhere. That sums up a lot of that stuff actually.

Andrew:   Are there any pieces that you did for Creem that you’re particularly fond of that you can remember?

Rick:   Well, yeah, that’s an easy one. My favorite was an article was about Loverboy–that would have been 83′ or ’84.

Andrew:   A Canadian band.

Rick:   Yeah, yeah, a Canadian band. It was one where, when I was testing my tape recorder in the office, I was going like, “Testing, testing, testes…”, and then I said “HOG BALLS” and that all went on the tape. Okay, and on the interview when it was time to turn the tape on, instead of pressing record, I pressed play and heard my voice go “HOG BALLS!” Now, I don’t think anybody noticed besides me, but it was unnerving. In the article I lied and said it was real loud. I shouldn’t have done that; it’s just that it wasn’t funny without it. And “The Secret History Of Queen”–that was one where I was able to write all kinds of crazy stuff, just crazy, crazy nonsense. That’s one I always remember. And the things I wrote about junk food I was real fond of, those came out pretty good, there’s two of those. After that, I don’t know, maybe one other thing called “I Call On Hoot ‘n’ Annie” about a local hippie party…

Andrew:   Yeah, I have that one.

Rick:   Do you? That’s one I really like. When I look at it now, it’s got some major problems, but it’s still got a lot of good stuff.


Andrew:   Creem magazine, in many ways, was very “un-’60s”–unlike, Rolling Stone, which had a real ’60s sensibility. Did you write knowingly from that perspective from a position of irreverence for the values and music of the ’60s?

Rick:   Yeah, because I read Creem for two or three years before I wrote anything. And especially in the beginning, I was trying to copy the Creem style, trying to make it look like Lester Bangs or somebody else. So, that was pretty calculated. And finally, Lester said, “You know, you’d be better off if you’d stop trying to imitate our style and do your own.” So I said, “Hey! If he’s telling me that, then that must be a good idea.” So, I stopped imitating and started trying to go down my own sick path.

Andrew:   What do you think Lester thought about everyone copying his style and emulating him?

Rick:   I don’t know. He had a pretty big ego, but he did not strike me as any kind of a show off, at all. I know he was really nice to certain people like, Jim DeRogatis, the Sun-Times guy…

[I pause the recording, so Rick can sell some cigars.]

Rick:   Yeah, he was extremely helpful to DeRogatis, even though he was just in high school at the time. Have you talked to DeRogatis?

Andrew:   Yeah, I’ve spoken to him several times.

Rick:   Oh, okay. Yeah, like I said, he said, “Don’t try and imitate this style, do your own thing.”

Andrew:   Well, was he the one who got you on board at Creem? Or was there someone else?

Rick:   I just started sending stuff, just dropping it in the mail, ’cause I liked it so much when I first started reading it and…oh boy, Lester was the Record Reviews Editor then, so I dealt with him on some record reviews. I’m trying to remember who the editors were then…oh god, I can’t remember. Oh, one was named Gary something, I think, and oh, Wayne Robins…

Andrew:   Gary Kenton. I think it’s Gary Kenton you’re thinking of.

Rick:   Gary Kenton. That sounds right, with a “k”. But I didn’t really work with anybody, I was just sending stuff in like another person throwing stuff in the mail. It was two or three years later that I was able to be in their study. And I only worked with Lester for less than a year, right at the end of his Creem visit. So, Sue Whitall was the editor I worked with the most, she’s the one who really brought me on.

Andrew:   What’s your impression of writers who aren’t as associated with Creem, like Greil Marcus and [Robert] Christgau?

Rick:   Well, I really like both of them. I’ve been reading Greil Marcus forever, like all the way back to the ’60s, and he wrote a couple of really good articles forCreem that had a great influence on me. One was called “Rock-a-hula”–they had these really silly titles, but they talked about how rock ‘n’ roll is fun, and to not take this stuff too seriously. It would make some serious points occasionally, just don’t get carried away with that stuff. [Remembering the exact title] That’s “Rock-a-hula Clarified.” Yeah, that was a great story. And Christgau…I don’t know, I really enjoyed his stuff, too. I didn’t agree with a lot of things that he said, but he was very consistent, so when I would be reading his reviews I would know what he was saying anyway. There were a lot of writers–like me, for example–they would change from month to month; he was very consistent and just really good at putting things into words. I admire his language skills a lot.

Andrew:   You also mentioned Richard Meltzer as being an idol. What was it about his writing that you liked a lot?

Rick:   The idea that I got from him was that you don’t take anything seriously and you make fun of everything, including the stuff that you really, really like. Once I adopted that point of view, that changed everything. So, that was very crucial for me. And when I was teenager, I had read all his stuff in the old Crawdaddy!magazines, and it was really kind of intellectual and stuff, but then he changed dramatically. His humor is great; I think he’s one of the finest rock writers ever.

Andrew:   Have you ever met him?

Rick:   No, never talked to him or anything.

Andrew:   Who else influenced you?

Rick:   Well, Lester Bangs of course. I was a blatant imitation of him my first couple of years. But…boy a lot of people and stuff, say Mad Magazine, too–oh god…the rock magazines that were popular then like the old Hit Parader, and I’m sure I mentioned Catcher In the Rye. But let’s see, besides Lester and Meltzer, a lot of John Mendelssohn. Oh, you know something that I talked about with Lester once was a couple of influences that we shared which were Beatnik writers like Allen Ginsberg and Ed Sanders. Those were other big influences on me. See, I was already writing in a style not totally dissimilar from Lester’s before I was even published. And he and I had these same influences, so that affected us both in the same way to churn out these three and four word phrases that just bounce off each other and try to stand alone without punctuation. That’s what Lester in particular got from Ginsberg. But boy, if I were to sit down and really think about it, I think I could name about 20 influences.

Andrew:   There’s a great quote about you from Richard Riegel in his interview.

Rick:   Oh really? Can you tell me?

Andrew:   Roughly, he’s saying you were kind of equal to Lester and Meltzer.

Rick:   Oh, no way! [laughs] We’re pretty good friends, I think that would explain that. No, I would never compare myself to either one of them. They were the masters.

Andrew:   It think it was something like, you should be writing TV commercials today.

Rick:   [laughs]

Andrew:   Because, he was watching a TV commercial and it had the slogan, “When Dentures Dream”…

Rick:   Yeah–he put that in one of his letters!

Andrew:   And he thought, man, that’s a concept not unlike one of yours.

Rick:   Yeah, you know, I wished I had gotten into something like that many, many years ago. I’m extremely rusty now. I don’t think I could write that way, I don’t think I could produce too much material that would be worthwhile for something like that.

Andrew:   But would you see yourself as a writer of commercials and infomercials and stuff like that?

Rick:   Well, actually I’m influenced by commercials. I’m somebody who has the TV on all the time, even if I’m not watching it. And things are just constantly jumping off the TV to me, just you know, POW! I have to run and write them down, I got a billions of post-its with quotes from TV commercials, like the Tums commercial, “Something Your Body Needs Anyway.” That is just so heavy, I could hardly describe it. There’s a new one…what is it?…it’s a credit card that pays you money when you spend at certain stores and the phrase is, “Get Paid For The Stuff You Buy Anyway.” That’s another one I just loved. I wish I could have gone into something like that, ’cause I think there was a time when I could have been good at that. I’m afraid the time has passed.

Andrew:   At the store you run, do you have regular customers that know you and know about your writing?

Rick:   Oh yeah. This is a pretty small town and you invariably get to know lots and lots of people by working here. I work behind the counter here five days a week. I’ve gotten to where I know everybody in Macomb.

Andrew:   You’ve lived in Macomb since the ’60s?

Rick:   Since 1969, I’ve only missed three years. There was the two years in Detroit and one year where I lived in another local town. So, that’s most of the last 32 years. It’s a funny kind of college town, where the college doesn’t really dominate that much. So, you have the university types on one side and the locals–I don’t know what to call them, I’m a local now too–on the other. And it’s a funny place, everyone gets along real well. Unfortunately, no one goes to summer school, so at this time of year, I don’t make any money at all.

Andrew:   Who are your customers, demographically speaking? Do you get a lot of young kids in or older people?

Rick:   It really varies from, mainly I would say, from college age up through the elderly. We sell a lot of porno, so that brings in the younger ones–the college kids. We sell a lot of newspapers, so I’ve gotten to know people that are 70 and 80 years old and they’re really wonderful to talk to, real interesting people.

“The big whitehead’s blatant manipulation of the studio herd is as patronizing as it is boring. On one recent show (hot topic: should agrisexuals be allowed near the winter wheat?), [Donahue] asked his victim, ‘Why is it alright for pigs to sleep with their parents, and not humans?'”
–Rick Johnson, Review of Donahue: My StoryCreem, 1980

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