prompt: main, title: after the gold rush in "the next big thing" flash fiction

  • May 16, 2024, 4:12 p.m.
  • |
  • Public

Iowa existed, once. It really did. There were places in America, on the Earth, where you couldn’t be part of the celebrity-industrial complex, no matter how hard you tried. You were too far away, you were a farmer, a family doctor at best. At the end of the day, culture was a one-way street. It came through to you on slightly-nicer or slightly-worse tv sets in slightly-nicer or slightly-worse homes but, mayors or street-sweepers, media was externally-generated. Distant. Mystic. Mythic.

There used to be roads that couldn’t lead to Hollywood, from any direction. People who plowed corn for all the hours of daylight, until Johnny Carson told them what the current culture was, as they feel asleep before the next plowing tomorrow. Then just rinsed and repeated until they died.

There really was an Iowa. There’s technically still a place called Iowa, of course, that’ll be called Iowa as a legal fiction for generations hence, but that isn’t Iowa anymore. Not really. We all have social media apps now, so we all reside in Hollywood. Your local signage might say Herkimer or Moscow or Moosejaw, but anywhere with the infrastructure for working-class kids to have wi-fi, it’s all Hollywood now. Everywhere is Hollywood. Everyone is the main character, everyone just two clicks away from being discovered at the soda fountain of a viral Tik-Tok. Shaking what our mommas gave us while lip-synching stolen tunes, so the Standard Rich-and-Famous contract can swoop in as our salvation, as inoculation against actually being human. All we needed to win the lotto was a dollar and a dream, and even though we never won we bought the tickets, just in case. All we need now are mobile-phones with tiny cameras, but somehow the song remains the same, those pipedreams are more or less unchanged. We can stream live from Hollywood anywhere we can bounce an iPhone off of a cell-tower. We’re all just temporarily-embarrassed celebrities now. We’re suckers and rubes, simply awaiting our close-ups from Mister DeMille’s drones overhead.

We’re all in conversation with culture, now. At least we believe we are. At least we all believe we could be if we dropped those last thirty pounds. We carry our certificates of entitlement to global fame in our pockets and most of the time they are just message texters or alarm clocks, but we all secretly believe they could pop for us off at any old time. We know all the names of the facsimile streets on the soundstages and the so-called neighborhoods around them better than we know the streets in our own cities, now, but swear to God, Iowa was a real place once. These days, it’s just a cornfield waiting in line to get cast as A Cornfield in some film or another. Their governor says that it’s Iowa, but that’s only until it gets discovered and changes its name legally. Coast to coast, firmament to sky, it may as well have never existed. It’s just Hollywood now always and forever.


Last updated May 17, 2024


Skeletor May 16, 2024

This writing was one of the most poignant and inspiring things I think I’ve read in a very, very long time. Thank you for sharing it with us. Wow.

littlefallsmets Skeletor ⋅ May 16, 2024

Ah hell, thank you so much, Mister Tor, I do appreciate it!

woman in the moon May 17, 2024

My Iowa is an unfinished sentence.
I'm either proud or ashamed, depending on the sign of the moon.

Squidobarnez May 21, 2024

you're so good with the words, Mike.

high-fives-like-whoa

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