I’ll speak of him as if he were dead. I got this idea from the opening of Mark Twain’s autobiography. The author opened his story with talk about how he’d need to write as if he were already dead. Exposing such intimate “privacies”, he’d have to write as if he were already gone.
Now with talking about another person in writing one has to be careful. So no, he’s not dead, but being incapacitated as I’m told he is, I don’t think he’ll be reading my words–though he might. For the sake of my writings, I’m going to just assume Mark Rippie is dead.
You’d have to be inside of the relationship that he and I had to understand the man’s views at all. His ex-wife seems to understand him and I know that she can’t stand being around him. I can’t stand being around him either and I don’t think there are many people at all that do know him and can stand being around him. Quite simply, he’s not a nice guy. But knowing him as I do, I know that this is not a fact that he’d mind me relaying to you–in fact he’d love it!
Having said that I’ve gotta’ mention the huge amount of gratitude I have for Michael “Mark” Rippie’s vision. We did end up doing just exactly as he had in mind to do. He said he’d make me famous. It was his land and his cars–at least I think they were his–and I just worked for him, so yeah, out of this I’m getting some fame. Maybe wealth will follow.
If you’ve ever been around a sociopath you might understand that certain people see the world in a way that only suits their own needs. If you suit their needs then you will be used to facilitate things. I did that. I’m an artist with an interest in outsider artists and environments. Mark Rippie was a determined visionary and certainly an outsider. “Artist” is an arguable label so let’s make it simple: yes.
Is a desert rat unskilled and burying cars with a backhoe an artist? If he’s got someone to publicize him then I guess he is, yes. Besides, I was always the artist. He was the visionary.
My friend Zak moved out to Rippie Ranch too because Zak’s the strongest guy I know. I knew he’d be useful to our endeavor. Zak’s got a little girl (6 years old right now) and Goldfield was a great place to raiser her for awhile. She saw a different kind of life than from that in the city. He’s also pretty creative himself, Zak, so it was an effort between the three of us building this car forest.
I met Rippie one day driving thru Goldfield. I let him know how much I appreciated his erect car I spied off the road a bit. Quickly I saw his vision for a whole “forest” of these cars and that very day we met he invited me to come and help him make this happen. He needed an artist to make art out of them once they were standing and in return he’d pay me in room and board. This was around 2004 or 5. I had a driving job installing art shows across the state of Nevada working for the state of Nevada and the stars aligned when Rippie and I met that day.
He pushed the shotgun scabbard aside and I hopped on the back of his four wheeler. His beard is long & frizzled grey and a dingy rolled cigarette stump never leaves the corner of his mouth. He has a revolver on his hip at all times. Even though he talks exactly like the dirty redneck from those movies who”ll blast a hole in ya’ and then rape your corpse, I was game for an adventure.
He said he intended to break the Guinness Book Record; “Carhenge up in Nebaraska has 27 cars stickin’ outta’ the ground”. It wasn’t until the fall of 2011 that I moved to Goldfield full time to live in a dingy trailer beside him and his 7 dogs, but before then I was able to stop and paint a few cars en route through Goldfield for him through the years. He had about 10 in the ground when I got there.
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A video from the car forest, 2005 or so:
MichaelMark Plays by nadasorg subscribe to this page to be alerted of the rest of this series.