An intense first week as Broke, USA saw its official release on Tuesday.  It was a thrill to start the week talking about the book on "Fresh Air" with Terry Gross, who uttered some of the sweetest words an author can ever hear:  "We'll continue talking with our guest, author Gary Rivlin, in the second half of the show."   Also this week: I did a taping with Marketplace's Kai Ryssdal (tentatively scheduled to air Tuesday, June 15th) and also had a chance to talk about the book on a slew of radio shows, including Bloomberg Radio, "Money Matters" with Gary Goldberg, KERA-FM (the Dallas public radio station) , and an Internet-based show called "Dresser After Dark."  This weekend, CSPAN-2 will be airing an interview I taped a few weeks back with a conservative commentator intent on blaming the poor for the subprime meltdown, or at least those Democrats and activists who pushed lenders to make home loans to those of modest means.  Absurd--it was the advocates for the poor, for example, who were screaming the loudest about subprime abuses, dating back to the 1990s -- but hopefully it makes for good TV.  The episode airs Saturday June 12th from 10 to 11 pm and then June 13 (from  6:30 to 7:30pm and then again from 9 to 10 pm) and at 12 noon on June 20th.

The strangest  development of the week, though, was becoming semi-famous in Cleveland, Tenn.  I had spent the better part of a week in Cleveland at the start of 2009 for research on my book, including two days with Allan Jones, the founder of the modern-day payday industry.  I took some outtakes from the book and wrote a piece about Jones for The Huffington Post.  And then suddenly I'm hearing from all sorts of people living in the southeast corner of Tennessee, including a newspaper reporter in Chattanooga and a reader linking me to this piece from "News Channel 9."  The local NAACP president voiced his protest.  And Allan Jones made a public statement about me.

Actually, Jones released a written statement through a spokesman.   He didn't deny anything I quoted him as saying, only that I had "rearranged" some of his remarks.  But he also knew I had tape recorded our conversations.  He then went on to say, "I deeply regret if any comments attributed to me have offended anyone."

My favorite line from the Jones statement has him describing payday's customers as "middle-income working" people.   Studies show that the typical payday customer has a household income of about $30,000 a year.  Only a guy who spends money like Jones (read the HuffPo piece or click on this link to his home while it was still under construction)  would be so clueless as to sum up as "middle class" someone earning $30,000 a year and so desperate for quick cash they'd be willing to pay fees that work out to an annual interest rate of 390 percent.

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  • Mlwestfield01

    I live in Cleveland as well. I thought this story was interesting. I am glad, Gary, that you pointed out the fact that Allan Jones did not deny the statements that he was quoted on! I assumed that you had recorded the conversations as well. If you so-called rearranged anything he said, why hasn't he mentioned anything about legal action against you? Thank you for releasing his statements. Maybe this will teach people to keep their mouths shut and keep their thoughts to themselves.

  • jadedor

    they were taped had to be.still cant beleve he said those things awful

  • Zote63

    Watching you right now on After Words....good job...

  • The Terry Gross interview was great, and it was a good counterpoint to the After Words CSPAN-TV (available online through

    Interviewing is a skill and Terry Gross really has it, asking good questions, being interested and challenging without pushing a point. After Words is a program with volunteer interviewers who aren't professionals and it shows in this one. But Gary I thought you did a great job of always being positive and pleasant, calling her on her assumptions but not being overly argumentative. One of the best points you made is that you're a journalist and you picked this topic in part because of the interesting cast of characters like Allan Jones.

  • Dina Harris

    Mike, I agree with you completely. I also thought that Terry Gross's great skill at what she does, was that she knew the book, but rather than give away all the contents, she was sort of like a film preview. She touched on some of the book's most interesting characters, dramatic situations, and let Gary bring them to life with her questions. And she still made you "want to see the movie." The interview made you want to buy and read the book. It also gave Gary the chance to "hit the ground running with his knowledge and charm.

    I didn't know that the After Words interview was supposed to be from a conservative Point of view. I kept talking back to the screen like Archie Bunker. She sounded as though she never read the book, and didn't even think it was necessary! . She kept pushing her agenda which had nothing to do with why Gary was there.

    I also thought the Lopate radio interview was great. Relaxed, entertaining, infor4mative. Also made you want to go out and get the book.
    Dina Harris

  • Michael

    i want to fuck little bitches

  • Mr. Rivkin, I had the great misfortune to have been working with W. Allan Jones at Check Into Cash at the time of your visit.  It may surprise and amuse you to know that W. Allan Jones was deeply surprised that your portrayal of him was unflattering.  Hard to believe, I know.  You did a great job accurately depicting the culture at Check Into Cash in Cleveland, Tennessee and the bloated greed and extreme arrogance of W. Allan Jones.  Thanks for a great article!

  • Also, if you have any questions feel free to find me on Facebook and contact me.

  • Paythepiper

    Nice job, Gary Rivlin, for exposing these payday lenders for who they really are, especially W. Allan Jones and Check Into Cash.  Broke USA is a great read, by the way.

  • Jerry Mia

    Cleveland, TN is run by corrupt officials and slumlords, and they are nearly all related to each other through blood or marriage. Sometimes both. The law abiding residents and the college students who rent there are screwed.