Richard Fredrick “Rick” Lange Jr. is usually seen hunched over the counter of his North Front Street store, Rhino Records, peering into his laptop’s screen and dropping thinly sliced, paper-dry wit on customers. The shelves of the Uptown Kingston shop are lined with more than the expected vintage albums and CDs. A respectable book collection ranges from tomes on 19th century Danish poetry to rock ’n’ roll journalism to how to start an anarchist movement on a budget. Rhino in Kingston is Lange’s second storefront, as the New Paltz flagship store just moved from its longtime Church Street spot to the Water Street Market. He asked us to let you know that.
What’s your sign?
Where are you from?
Born on Long Island, but I got out in the third grade, raised upstate, which is really mid-state, Utica, New Hartford.
New Hartford high school, Mohawk Valley Community College and then SUNY New Paltz. I studied advertising, English and film. I left college to take this job, and it turned into a career — one detour was to sell antiques — the job being the record store in New Paltz. I took it over in 2005.
What’s the difference between your two store locations?
The Kingston shop is like the Zapruder film [of John F. Kennedy’s assassination] and the New Paltz shop is the grassy knoll.
In what three instances is the use of the word “hate” totally kosher with you?
Nazis, patchouli and Crocs.
Mescal with lots of lime, or pastis. My cocktail of choice is a rye Manhattan. My favorite beer is Hoegaarden because I don’t consider Guinness beer, it’s just Guinness.
Burning wood, spring rain, coffee, bacon and pulp paper from old comic books
Paul Scofield, at the moment.
What are you reading right now?
A Shirley Jackson novel called We Have Always Lived in the Castle, it is a1962 mystery.
Are you a tennis shark?
No, but I am an avid tennis player. I play all over; my game is more suited to a hard court.
What will your autobiography one day be entitled?
Loitering With Intent.
Thomas Hardy, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Vladimir Nabokov. The prose in Lolita is outstanding; I read it out loud all the time, usually when I am alone. Also Aldous Huxley.
Favorite literary genres?
Quality fiction. I spent all of my 20s and 30s not reading living modern authors, with the exception being Milan Kundera. High school was Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut and John Irving.
I don’t have that kind of time. Andrei Rublev directed by Tarkovsky, it’s visual poetry. There is not a scene in it that is not visually stunning. Beauty and the Beast by Jean Cocteau, Laura by Otto Preminger, The Philadelphia Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, La Jetée.
What are your three best impressions?
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jimmy Stewart [an impressive impression ensued] … and then, when I smoke a little grass, I can do Jack Nicholson. My parents reminded me recently that my first impression was Nixon [impression followed]. I hung out with Kevin Spacey in a hotel room in 1999 at the Toronto Film Festival, and did Jimmy Stewart impressions with Kevin Spacey and ate a sandwich on the floor with Helen Hunt. She looks better in person.
What does Rhino mean?
It was the store’s name when I took it over. We are the same Rhino that was the famous record store in Los Angeles in the ’70s, and the label. I get that question at least once a day, and then I speculate then that I should have cards made up with that story to hand people.
Estlin, named after e e cummings.
How did you get into selling music and books?
I was working at the video store next door, and the owner kept coming in to rent videos. I kept asking if he would hire me. He was a big influence in my life; he gave me a lot of information. The day it opened, I had a huge selection of CDs and music in my hands, and the owner was impressed with my selection, so he hired me. They needed security to walk around eight hours a day. I was the indie buyer; I bought alternative and punk. Eventually they gave me some money to start a section. I was a total jerk back then, like the Jack Black character [in High Fidelity].
How did you wind up in with your second shop in Kingston?
I was dating a wonderful woman who lived Uptown and I had friends here, I kept my eyes open for a few years. I am friends with Maria Phillipis (owner of Boitson’s and Kovo restaurants), Paul and Jenny from Stockade Tavern, and Ric Dragon [former owner of] DragonSearch.
Where have you traveled?
I do not really want to answer that question. I have an odd relationship with Interpol.
What fictitious character do you most relate to?
Bartelby from the “Scrivener.” I relate a lot to Don Draper in Mad Men, minus the impossibly good looks, of course. Oddly, I relate to Jude and Tess from [Thomas Hardy], but ultimately I just wish I could live up to my Facebook profile.
Favorite TV show?
The West Wing.
What is your special gift?
The ability to pick up a check.
Favorite punk band?
Favorite jazz album?
Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage.
A tossup between Lollapalooza 199-something or, Michael Hurley at the Half Moon because the bar crowd would not shut the truck up.
Rick Lange, please, you can trust me and all our readers. Would you please share your greatest fear?
That I may never live up to my Facebook profile.