WHEN SCOTT HEFFLON strolls into Davis Squareís Joshua Tree at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon, he hasnít slept in 36 hours. Clutching a can of Rockstar Energy Drink ó a fitting prop for the editor and publisher of a rock íní roll magazine ó he takes a seat at the bar, the only spot in the joint where he can smoke. He orders a shot of Jim Beam, but quickly changes his mind. "Can you make that a double?" he mutters to the bartender. "Itíll save you a trip."
Hefflon, 34, is the head honcho of Lollipop magazine, a feisty little rag he runs out of the front room of his Somerville apartment. Right now, though, dressed in a sweaty black T-shirt and rumpled black pants, he resembles the sort of grimy grease ball youíd imagine loitering around a highway truck stop or shooting rats at the dump. His long mane is unkempt, his black boots are cracked, and puffy crescents underscore his beady eyes. A slighter version of Silent Bob with Jayís paint-peeling gutter mouth and Andrew WKís hygiene habits, the hirsute Hefflon hasnít showered today ó or maybe even yesterday; he canít seem to remember ó and he smells like it.
The immediate reason for the stink and sleeplessness is that Hefflon has spent the last day and a half ingesting three pots of coffee, inhaling countless cigarettes, and proofreading Lollipopís 10th-anniversary issue so he can deliver the finalized files to the New Hampshire printer today, two or three weeks behind schedule. Hefflon is always running late with Lollipop ó itís supposed to be a bimonthly, but usually falls so far behind that it ends up being more like a quarterly. No matter; deadlines are relatively pliable for Hefflon, since there are no names higher on Lollipopís masthead than his own. And, to put it mildly, thatís how he likes it.
"Dictatorships are very functional," he opines, sucking on a Camel. "Democracies really donít work fuckiní well. Meetings and shit like that? They take too long." This is Hefflonís delicate way of saying that heís not only the brute force behind Lollipop, but the only reason that the piss-and-vinegar publication is still kicking and screaming after 10 years. Itís also his way of acknowledging that heís alienated a lot of people with his managerial megalomania, but thatís the approach he feels is necessary to keep a small music mag with a national circulation of 15,000 chugging along in an era of media consolidation, print decline, and a slumping music industry.
Otherwise, Hefflon canít articulate whatís kept his "crappy little magazine" alive. "I have no fuckiní idea," he says when asked how Lollipop has managed to survive a decade. "I make it up as it goes along."
TO THE CASUAL observer, Lollipop is cocksure about raucous rock and its many splintered subgenres: from Cannibal Corpseís death metal to Skeleton Keyís indie rock to Millions of Dead Copsí early-í80s hardcore punk. Its collective voice is casual, resolute, and profane ó the kind of sloppy, esoteric bickering you might overhear late night at a rock club among besotted music snobs. Itís also about the "underground," and it prides itself on riding the cusp of things that are gritty and cool ó a tricky task for a glossy that comes out four times a year, but not an entirely impossible one. Lollipop gushed about blood-spitting guitar shredder Great Kat before she went nuts on a cub reporter from Spin magazine, and interviewed alt-porn entrepreneurs before the likes of Punk Planet and the Stranger caught on to these Internet peepshows. And Lollipop expects its readers to be nearly as conversant with the counterculture. Q&A-style interviews arenít always prefaced by introductory background information, on the theory that if youíre too lame to recognize funny-bone-tickling transvestite Eddie Izzard or the fine foursome the Donnas, donít bother reading.
But, really, Lollipop is about Scott Hefflon. "Lollipop doesnít exist without me," he announces. "My fingerprint is on everything ó every single fuckiní aspect of the magazine."
"Itís a one-man show," agrees copy editor Laura Joyce, whoís been cleaning up other writersí messes at Lollipop for the last 10 years. "Itís his thing."
Lollipop is all Hefflon does. Every day, he wakes up and starts working. He stays up until 4 or 5 a.m. working. He wakes up the next day and works some more. Typically, he puts in between 60 and 80 hours a week working on the magazine. And even though he has a couple of assistants and a handful of freelance writers, thereís always plenty to do, since heís not only Lollipopís chief money man and idea guy, but also the publicationís production staff, ad-sales team, and most prevalent contributor. In issue 61, there were 46 editorial pages; Hefflonís credited writings appeared on 16. "Iíve written 30,000 words in one issue when other people write like 1000," he says. "But itís not quite to the point that I write as much as everyone else put together."
Even the press release for Lollipopís 10th-anniversary celebration, slated for this Saturday at T.T. the Bearís Place, is a Hefflon showcase, complete with portraits of him paired with his favorite indulgences: cigarettes, liquor, and girls. In one, heís posed menacingly in front of a row of whiskey bottles, lips clenching a smoke. In another, heís seated in his Somerville office, flanked by fish-netted "assistants" fawning over their blotchy-faced, burnt-out-looking boss: one, a tattooed tart in a spaghetti-strap tank top, tilts a coffee pot toward Hefflonís empty cup; another, an ashen, pigtailed vamp with kohl eyes, a pierced lip, and a Zippo lighter, leans over to spark Hefflonís unlit smoke. Her shirtís slogan, which is also Lollipopís tag line, is an appropriate caption for both photos: FUCK SUBTLETY.
"People need a hero," Hefflon spits, rubbing out his fourth cigarette in an hour at the Joshua Tree. "They need a fuckiní scapegoat and thatís me. Iím the one people buy drinks for, and Iím also the one who gets my fuckiní ass kicked. People need to pass the buck, and the buck stops with me. And that is clearly okay."
Hefflon, whose friends call him Hugh Hefflon, knows that his heavy-metal-hesher exterior tends to repel people. But he doesnít care. "I hate normal people," he scoffs. "They get in my fuckiní way." He doesnít seem to like his peers either. "Hereís a story for you. When I used to go to the Middle East [nightclub], people would always be like, ĎHey dude, hereís my demo. Hey dude, good to see you,í" he says. "I went to the first Redneck Fest [at the Middle East] with this girl I was dating. I was like, ĎI donít want to fuckiní talk to anybody.í... So we stacked all the tables and chairs in front of us and sat up on a nice high perch and got a great view of the show. And a dozen people climbed over those tables to come over and say hi. I was like, ĎWhat the fuck donít you get about leave me alone?í"
So itís no surprise that when Hefflonís asked about his vision for Lollipopís future, his "canned response," as he calls his stock answers, has little to do with the actual magazine. "I have no vision of the future," he says smugly. "A lot of people can plot out their life and plot out their courses, but Iím really not kidding when I say that people said Iíd be dead at 18. They said Iíd be dead by 21. They said Iíd be dead at 30." Now heís 34. "Iíve been in a lot of trouble ó and Iím really fuckiní surprised Iím still alive, daily. So really, I canít predict the future."