I read anything I can get my grubby hands on. Books, newspapers, magazines, the endlessness of internet sources. I’m a big supporter of the anti-television movement not sweeping America… but I think we’re gaining ground. Certainly with folks like Aaron Johnson of Lawn Gnome Publishing, there’s hope for us yet. Reading makes you smarter and better looking. Everyone should do it.
|Aaron Johnson and Gnombre
1. Who are you and what do you do?
When I was in grade school, I was the kid that was constantly filling every cubic inch of ruled paper with doodles. One time I drew a very descriptive and obscene cartoon of the principal’s son doing some descriptive and obscene things. I got in a lot of trouble. So, realizing that the majority of the population does not like to read, I switched from doodling to writing poetry.
2. How did you get your start?
In 2004, I was a student at Northern Arizona University on a speech & debate scholarship. I was reading, cutting, and interpreting fiction and poetry for 10 minute performances. It was during this time that I first was exposed to slam poetry and the work of Saul Williams, Buddy Wakefield, Andrea Gibson, and Derrick Brown. About the same time, I also discovered ROBOTHOUSE and house shows, photocopy zines, silkscreen flyer designs. So, I was reading hundreds of slam poems while rocking out to burnt discs of Jetomi, BARK BARK BARK, I Hate You When You’re Pregnant and The Ponies. I realized the power of social media and DIY touring and took advantage of my ability to drive long distances and wanderlust. Within two years, I wrote and published four zines of poetry and comics, shared the stage with all of my slam poetry heroes, and performed with the most eclectic group of mentors and creatives I could imagine – Lemony Snickett, Billy Collins, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Henry Rollins, CX Kidtronik, Diana Gabaldon, Michael C Ford and Jello Biafra. I moved back to Phoenix and started working at Jobot Coffee Shop and producing shows at The Firehouse Gallery until I had an opportunity to launch Lawn Gnome Publishing, an independent bookseller and zine publishing house located inside a re-purposed 1930’s house in downtown Phoenix.
3. What inspires you?
I always have had a knack for surrounding myself with talented people. I really dig the artwork of my fellow Phoenicians Casebeer, Randal Wilson, JJ Horner, Colton Brock, Luster Kaboom and Brandon Hugiens – but these days I am mostly inspired by my love, Casey. We’re getting married in March, and all I have to say is that planning the Bill Murray Crashpad was childsplay compared to this. It’s a lot easier for me to create things that no one has done before than it is for me to do something that a lot of people have perfected, deconstructed, and reconstructed a thousand times over.
4. What do you like about AZ?
I love the lack of hurricanes, the scarcity of clothing layers, the absence of rain gutters. Is having spreadout-cookiecutter-stripmalls, golf courses, AuH20’s ghost, and really hot summers make us forget that we have some pretty cool art and music here? No way.
5. Where can we see you(r) work?
One of my haiku’s will be up on 7th Ave and Glennrosa Public Art Streetscape for another month. If you can’t make it, the haiku is “Dumpsterdiving, she / climbed into me and kept what / others threw away.” I suppose after that is dismantled, you’ll have to come to the bookstore at 905 N 5th St and read my work in a zine, or steal one of my sharpie marker flyers from a telephone pole.
6. What would you like to accomplish before you die?
I already outlived my college roommate, my AA sponsor, and Jim Morrison. I try not to make lofty bucket lists and live one day at a time, so I created a list of people I want to outlive and try to read up on how they lived their life and compare it to mine. I want to outlive, in this order, the following: Jesus, Hunter S Thompson, William S Burroughs and R Crumb. If I can be as completely insane as I feel and live as long as they have, I will have accomplished something before I die.
7. What is your weapon of choice for the inevitable zombie apocalypse?
A sharpie marker.