Today, December 21st, marks not only the Winter Solstice, but what would have been the 60th birthday of my Creem colleague and dear friend Richard Eric “Rick”/”Reek” Johnson, who died in 2006. Leave it to Rick to be born on the longest night of the year, in a circadian nod to his Swedish ancestry. Rick observed a strict rule that he wouldn’t write for publication except for money, so his byline appeared only occasionally after Creem folded in 1988. Those of us who continued to receive regular letters (usually handwritten) from Rick, recounting his hermit-like existence in Macomb, Illinois, in those same drolly surreal metaphors that had distinguished his Creem pieces, were very blessed.
To celebrate Rick Johnson on his birthday, I’d like to share the letter below, written in his inimitable style. Man, I miss you most of all! — yer “Reech”
Duuuuuuude – -
Sunday My favorite 4-day weekend of the year is here! 4 days of nothing but bed > couch > bed interrupted by mass eating. That’s about it. Currently, I’m copying “Cruel Intentions” for a friend, with Buffy and Reese Witherspoon in the same movie! Man, if Winona Ryder was in it, I could throw out the rest of my movies!
MAJOR 2 bird/1 stone news here on Mechanic St. #1 — the Chief of Police moved out of the house next door #2 > I moved into it! It’s like a mansion compared to the beauty parlor, tho I’ll miss the understated aroma of hair chemicals in the panelling. It’s got, like, rooms!
Better yet, I dumped cable & got me the Dish Net!!! I’ve decided to pretty much give up my entire life to diddle my remote all day — would quit my job if I could still pay the bill. Macomb has the worst cable system west of Jalalabad, even Tikrit. I can’t believe I lived without it. What’s funny, tho, is I’ve got 2 billion channels & I’m spending most of the time playing a fucking video game I’ve become addicted to. Really — they took it off for a week and I was so bummed!
Monday ‘Course, the DVR is the real star of the system, and it came free w/my package. It can do pretty much everything except run out & grab me a Red Bull Sugar-Free, please. Super-EZ programming to record anything w/ near-perfect pic + sound w/2 or 3 buttons pushed. So tonite, I can record MTV Inferno & “Mallrats” + watch ‘em whenever. Been piling up Dark Angels on the SI Network. I’m pretty sure that — once I convince her mutants are OK w/ me, Jessica Alba will have my baby!
Many events this year. In the getting-old dept., I had my first colonoscopy a couple weeks ago. I went to my Dr. w/ sores on my tongue & he decided to start the investigation at the other end. When the colon Doc was 2 hours late, I almost bailed but I wanted to try that sedative. Turned out, they took a good-sized polyp out + even gave me a color picture of it. Looks like it has eyes, very creepy.
Hey, no pills! Back to just my favorite smoking material + the aforementioned caffeine jacuzzi.
Oh great, here we go. Somebody doing their twice-weekly weed wacking, just l-u-v that sound. It’s mucho quieter w/o the Chief, who mowed his lawn like four times a day + drove a truck that sounded like an Apache helicopter w/ baseball cards pinned on the rotors. I’m slowly discovering that it’s safe for me to go outside (stoned even) and not wind up on the business-end of a lawn care speech every time.
Outdoor-wise, did I tell you I’ve had a fantasy about building a treehouse the last couple years? There’s a very suitable tree in the back yard which I attempted to get up w/o a ladder & fell twice! I don’t remember it being so hard when I was a Kid, but now I’ve got mutilated legs and a purple ear + never did get up the first branch! I had such a great time in my various treehouses, listening to WLS up there in the summer dark + later having sex w/ Ms._______.
One time we were naked & fucking up there & a fire broke out in the garage next door, the Fire Dept. comes roaring down the alley scaring us to death. Now I get aroused when I hear fire sirens, I wonder why?
OK, I’m almost done moving “blue Velvet” from DVR to DVD and it’s a bit long + I wanna be ready to Pause if necessary. Do U guys have a DVD player? I could send U some cool movies. Anyhoo, I’m very flattered that guy [Steve Kilpatrick] wants me to write his liner notes [cf. http://www.steve-kilpatrick.com/rick.html ], so e-mail him my address when you have a chance. And tell him I love the idea of “those old folkie liner notes on Vanguard albums.” I’m not sure if I have any old Van. LPs, tell him to send me a Xerox if he has one. I remember reading ‘em tho. Hey! I do have Electric Music For The Mind & Body (Ctry. Joe & Fish) somewhere, maybe that has liner notes.
Gee, I could go on & on, can U tell I’m on my 4th Sugar-Free Red Bull? Let me tell ya 1 more thing — My ex-neighbor’s an animal lover (‘cept for Deer) and he had 2 feeders for birds, squirrels & even bunnies that he filled every day. Tho he took the feeders w/ him, I’m keeping the tradition going, so I’ve got all kinds of animals (mostly birds) on the lawn eating every day. They come up on the porch & everything & I love to just watch ‘em, especially from my secret Peeking places. Just this AM I had doves & squirrels up here pigging out. Squirrels will go anywhere for sunflower seeds & don’t seem too afraid of me. The doves fly screaming everytime they see me, it’s like my role in the ecosystem is to horrify doves.
Advance warning: I found my old folder of songs while moving, and am thinking about getting a new guitar!!! Just imagine, me unleashing “Gunn,” “Look Out Suzanne” and “Baby Lie” on the world again!! Or my Civil War protest song, “Shiloh”!!! “I don’t know why/but I know this boy is gonna die”!!!! That’s something I can really terrify doves with!
Go (Away) Quakers –