You are Definitely
Not Making a Movie
for HBO in
Riverside, Iowa

You were born in a cross-fire hurricane, and so therefore you can manage that kind of sad fact of life in the Disoriented Dysturbia of Disneyland, America. But if you go into a modern-day community casino, may the hair of the dog have mercy on you. You are now among the heathen, so the devil is your friend, and God is, well, an astronaut. You are in the Riverside, Iowa casino, and you are about to avoid, to the best of your abilities, dying young, dying old, and especially kicking off too soon before your number finely comes in.

You are a wannabe filmmaker, and so you are also definitely not here to make a movie for HBO about the future birthplace of Captain James. T. Kirk, which, according to the Star Trek film lore, in Riverside, Iowa. You most certainly are not William Shatner trying to film a phony movie, which turned out to be a real funny mock-u-mentary, mocking the poor people of Riverside. Not all of them are “poor,” quite likely, but some may be, unfortunately, due to the casino, built for just such fools. Fortunately, the bathrooms in the casino offer a little stand with a brochure on gambling addiction.

You find this highly ironic. Downright hilarious. You can easily go gonzo on this crap table of fodder for your little story. You might as well be in Las Vegas, loathing, fearing for not completely violating the copyrights for all you know about Hunter S. Thompson, the drug-crazed journo who made that place infamous with the book, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. But you are better than that. The drug years, even for the prescription pills, are over for you. Except for cigarettes and nicotine, which you are now sucking in at an incredible rate in the center of the gambling facility, which allows for such things, allows for the last legal intoxicants, other than alcohol (but you are definitely not here to not drink while definitely not making a movie for HBO) in Riverside, Iowa.

Disorientation is everything in a casino. It’s almost as bad as your regular local shopping mall. But Riverside residents, who were angry and embarrassed about what was revealed about themselves in the Shatner mock-u-mentary, have to go somewhere else to shop. Their town is dying, like most small town centers are dying, due to the big box culture of the larger communities and towns and cities, due to the Walmartification of America. But that’s a long story. Told all of the time. People seek out disorientation to shake themselves awake. To get some noise. Some excitement. You can never tell them the cities of gold aren’t bad, that they shouldn’t actually move toward the light, the phony light.

But malls rarely pay you back. They just take and take and take. However, casinos don’t. They give you hope. Insane, raging, completely irrational hope. They give you, for just that one rare momentary bit of living flame, a real sense for what it’s like to be alive. Rather than creature comfort, in a casino, the music is never as cool in the mall, it’s far cooler.

In fact, from one end of America to next, a casino offers the most serene and pleasing music ever made. That music doesn’t come from one sound, mind you, but the whole collaboration of sounds: the jingles, the bells, the whistles, the unholy cosmic blasts signifying nothing, but, perhaps, just maybe every now and then, big winners. It’s the music the very sun must here as it soaks up all of the sounds of the planets, and Pluto, too.

No sports betting at this casino mind you, but this cosmic music combines in your head, ebbing and flowing, and that’s all the God in you really needs to trust. In football, you trust. Because it’s spontaneous. Violent. Emotional from end to spinning spheroid. And coffee, too, and smokes, nine dollars a pack here. Unlike in many places in Vegas, the alcohol is not free when you gamble. So trust in that, too. But you only have one cigarette, and you are writing in frantic pirate text now, and the effect of having a cig hanging from your lip is so Hunter S. Thompson you don’t want to let go of that prop. The cig, a prop. Trust in that.

You are definitely not making a movie for HBO here in Riverside, Iowa. So you stay in the middle of the building, to keep from getting dizzy and you set your cell phone on maximum, in case you need a rescue. You stay in the center of the place, to keep from spinning out of orbit, but out of orbit is where you really need to go. To talk to the marketing manager: You are definitely not here to make a movie for HBO. Her name is Haselhoff.

Other than that weird coincidence, the Haselhoff connection, since she is not, however, related to David Haselhoff, the terrible actor who somehow made it big in Germany, according to the ongoing Saturday Night Live gag during the 1980s and early 1990s. No, this casino, other than the music of the spheres, is a pretty standard unit because all casinos are standard units. The Corvette is available for the occasional big winner, and so on …

So you are definitely are not here to make a movie about the future birthplace of Captain Kirk, who isn’t real, not anymore than anything else in the false world. You are not here to make a movie for HBO. The good and bad people of Riverside have suffered enough, and the future fake Captain James T. Kirk is still slouching to a slot machine, yet to be born.

~ Douglas McDaniel,
Riverside, Iowa

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