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Wretchedtown
by Rick Cipes
Status: online

“This town rips the bones from your
back, it’s a death trap, a suicide rap...”
-The Boss

Dear Whomever:

The fucking loneliness and despair. Lost. Destitute. In dire need of a spiritual intervention. Forget the clowns, send in the fucking Chopra’s.

Madness descends in all kinds of bizarre images: Past, present, and future ricochet around my brain making me feel like I’m being played by that deaf, dumb, and blind kid and I don’t play mean pinball. I did, however, play a insignificant grunion (not a Prince, mind you) in my third grade pageant.

Grunion – n. A slimy little fish that beaches itself, along with about a million other sardine look-a-likes, once in a blue moon to mate and plant.

Talk about ruining a kids self-esteem. That, and being the only Jew on a block of persecuting goym—“You stepped out of bounds you kike, no touchdown”—could do wonders for it, not to mention destroy any sense of belonging. But the point being: I was a grunion and I’m thinking that the early exposure to oily situations will serve me, along with my persistence (read: stupidity), and help keep me afloat in a town that seems destined for a return engagement to the Pacific Ocean. Get the cameras rolling because this is the mega-blockbuster, sludge of talent less runoff that devours every ounce of originality in its path, and, it just might play in Peoria.

Alas, what would become of poor little Peoria and all the media seduced dreamers of the world if the big Dream Factory itself should plunge to its death and be swallowed whole by Neptune’s net? And would the grunions that slithered and clawed their way to importance have any place left to run when they are surrounded on every side by many, many other grunions that look, surprisingly enough, just like themselves when they are stripped bare? Back burner, because as for now, all us slithering folk, the important and not-so-important, are still driving around in circles, scouring Wretchedtown for an elusive, surefire recipe for success.

I surely have not found the Holy Grail and as I attempt to, the fucking-never-ceasing traffic spins around my brain like a double shot of Draino. But nothing is getting unclogged here. Completely chaotic. It makes me think I am teetering on the brink of either a major breakthrough or a sinkhole. Caltrans is encouraging the madness by forming a blockade around my driveway. Again. With these orange dunce caps, which I never had to wear in grade school because I was a smart kid, smart enough to keep my mouth shut and not let my teacher on to the fact that he was inferior to me. Because isn’t everyone inferior to me? And you. Isn’t that the fuel that propels us into the cauldron of Fantasyland over and over again? EGO. Or is the fuel really just brain smog that wraps a thin veil around our delusional minds and leads us down the rocky path toward the impossible dream? And if we don’t attain the impossible dream do we reach the unreachable sorrow, or do we finally graduate with a degree in wisdom and a seat next to Siddhartha under the Bodhi tree?

How I long for that divine moment of letting go, the accepting of the flow: When I can stop exerting so much effort to a hopeless cause—Hollywood. But like you, I’m addicted. The air. Thick. I’m coughing up phlegm that could’ve come from Chernobyl. Actually, it most likely came from smoking that rank weed I was coerced into buying by the testy neighborhood pizza-slash-weed delivery guy. His authoritarian voice reverbs through my upper story like a broken record: “Stop paging me. You paged me five times yesterday and two times today. I’ll get to you as soon as I can!” He’s exaggerating greatly and will not allow me to utter a word in my defense. Sick when the dealers have all the power and they know it. Shit, they make me feel more insignificant than the D-girls and boys. But it is either rank weed or go without. Yeah, right, around here? Reality is the last thing I need sista, bruddha, mother, cousin, lover, get off my back! This is the life I’ve chosen for myself and I will wallow in it until I’m good and ready to join the real world.

But who has the definitive say on what constitutes the real world? Definitely not a subjective soul like myself. Although, I do know what’s real for me, and isn’t that the only absolute that we can ever hope to master—the human condition through the exploration of our psyche? Currently mine is going off like a Millennium fireworks show. The cavalcade of images and thoughts do not cease. The plug has been pulled on Pandora’s box and a mind enema is in full throttle:

The homeless hit me up on every street corner, rendering me penniless once again. The robotic bouncer hides behind his red vine, play-acting importance. He lets the hot babe in the low-cut-fuck me dress snake in front of the rest of the hapless-posers, thinking she might want to do him like the tramp that she is. I got news for you Günter of Gold’s Gym: The lady may be a tramp but she’s not doing you. Same thing, every one—they hate you! You’re being toyed with like a slinky. For chrissakes, can’t Andro help you find a spine within all that muscle? And speaking of muscle, what little of it the wannabe-agent trainee has when I see him off to the side, promising some day-old fresh meat from the Midwest that he can make her somebody. Hooker. None to be found in Westwood, which has been overthrown by the Persians, who sit at the outdoor cafes smoking—god knows what—in those enormous water pipes. At any time, I half expect a python to coil out of one. But the snakes in this town have a hard time of navigating past the unapproachable bleached-blonde-blanket bimbo who frolics innocently in the polluted Santa Monica Bay. (You think she’d get a clue from all the dead seals that lie washed upon the shore.) To me the procession of snakes resembles the obnoxiously-never-ending-chorus line-of-cool that wait for their fixes outside Coffee Bean. What is up with that? Brand name Starbucks too “establishment” for you? You must know that Coffee Bean is merely a shadow clamoring for the exact same thing as the ‘bucks: global domination. But for now, you feel like you’re sticking it to the big guy when you enter the bean scene. Speaking of bucks, I have nada to give to the homeless hep cat that is trying to wash my car window for the umpteenth time. Go away! Let me get my pack of smokes in peace so I can choke to death and be gone from here. I cannot allow my conscience to feel guilty every time I see you.

Guilt. Fear. Far too much. Trapped inside my psyche, clamoring for any kind of magic that will assist my passage to the other side of the dark forest, which I have chosen to enter alone, without a compass. But I need no stinking compass as I watch in horror as a swarm of atrociously dressed tourists are about to demolish me at the Santa Monica Promenade. A cab seems to want to be my rescuer, but the odor that wafts out of it makes me take off sprinting in the other direction. Do these cabbies from B.F.E. ever wash? Hint to them: smelliness is not godliness, which the lecherous producer thinks he is approaching because his film did play well in Peoria. But fuck Peoria, I only worry about the here and now and the insincere acquaintances that call me “friend” to my face on a regular basis. On a regular basis, these Beverly Hill’s brats are growing up way too fast. Fast as the slivers that find light speed in my cranium.
Dysfunctional, insecure women. Dysfunctional, horny men. Lifestyles of the dysfunctional and famous. Plastic stars that we have anointed the chosen ones: Britney Spears, American Idolettes, The Osbourne Clan, Ice T or D or whatever initial happens to be hot at the moment...Way too many divas who need to step down from their Range Rover thrones, and take your fucking poodle with you...And too many goddamn parking tickets. Who is the one getting rich here? Surely not the hopeful creatives—myself sometimes one of them—who pound the pavement endlessly, as they, you, me dig for the key to worldwide adoration and acceptance that our families never gave to us.

In short: having a great time in the city, wish you were here. Whomever you are.

P.S. Tilt

Rick Cipes is a magazine writer and just completed his first novel The Horny Men’s Club. He’s a former filmmaker whose films haven’t seen the light of day at Sundance…However, they have made a big splash in super power countries like Albania and Latvia.
More of his work can be found at www.comedyave.com/portfolio


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