He really puts off the creepiest vibe.
Everybody says so. I used to say he’s like the Grinch who stole Christmas. The Grinch lived out at the edge of town where everybody could see his house but it was where no one would go. Finally we find out the Grinch is not so bad, just damaged. That’s what Rippie was like.
I’ve always been an artist and always will be no matter how difficult–I will never stop making art–it’s in my blood. I saw that same spirit in Rippie too. He was burying these cars and that was that. No one could stop him. I saw the romance in this small town outlaw’s vision immediately.
Rippie came from a Southern state, Tennessee I think, and used to be a nice looking guy at one time. But now he was 68 looking as if he were 78–he’s a dedicated chain smoker, plus he’s fat now. He’s got very sweet crystal blue eyes. He’s soft spoken and uses simple words. He WAS soft spoken. Sorry, I had said I’d write about him as if he were already dead.
I believe I also have the kind of eyes that look sweet so me & Rippie, we both have sweet blue eyes.
In the movie As Good As it Gets, Helen Hunt’s character says to Jack Nicholson’s character (who is a world class asshole) “When I first saw you I thought you had sweet eyes: SO MUCH FOR EYES!” Maybe that goes for me too, I dunno, but it definitely goes for Rippie. So much for eyes!
He always wanted me to write about him, so here I am. Michael Mark Rippie, you were such an asshole but this Car Forest you made was a good thing.
Some people in town thought I was his son. I met his son once. Thank God I’m not him. But I guess this explains the resistance I got from alot of people there. Virginia is the little old lady who acts as caretaker of the Goldfield Hotel and she lets the ghost hunters in on their expeditions at that famous property. You may have seen her on TV. I don’t know, I don’t watch ghost hunter shows. Virginia wouldn’t even shake my hand when I extended it the day we met. She said to me “I’m not with you.” I was the President of the Chamber of Commerce so being connected to Rippie I guess she thought I had bad intentions for the town.
Rippie had a book started that he wanted me to finish for him ghost writer style, but see, not my kind of subject matter. There was something in his story about fucking a horse and that’s just not my direction. Some real insight can be gained by looking at what a man writes. I think there was a black guy in the story too. It was a cowboy story and the black cowboy had to fight for his right to survive. Rippie was not a racist, a dabbler in bestiality, perhaps, but not a racist. Life had hardened him.
One time Zak and I came back from Reno and the old man was the talk of the town (again). It seems Rippie had tied a couple jackasses to the bumper of his one ton and was going to tow them down the main street, Highway 95, to his side of town. Jackasses are notoriously stubborn and I guess to cross the corner of the highway he had to speed them up on their leashes to avoid oncoming traffic. Instead of coming along nicely, they dropped to the ground and left bloody skid marks as they were dragged across the asphalt. I was not there, but in his defense, he’s stupid as he is stubborn. This is why he loves jackasses–he told me as much. Plus we had already agreed that the animal is the official mascot of Goldfield. Anyway, he didn’t seem to foresee this bloody outcome. His intention was to help these animals and not to hurt them. To say that the jackass drug some jackasses across the highway would not be an understatement. He didn’t choose a side street for this adventure. I guess that would have been too low key. I actually think Rippie was intelligent it’s just his egoic displays got in the way for him sometimes.
In my short time as a resident I experienced a most unusual existence in Goldfield. MichaelMark Rippie had always lived unusually but I’d say our time together was probably the best topper for the second to last chapter of a man’s life. His final chapter of life won’t shine more brightly than this one but he’ll be able to bask in his own glory through his remaining years; he had finally built something. We made a substantial thing thanks to the belief we had in his vision.
The Ghouls were these grave diggers in Goldfield over one hundred years ago that had to move the graveyard. Over the course of a couple weeks of late night sessions they were able to move all the bodies to a new location, a final resting place of final resting places. The graveyard was originally located at the spot where people stepped off the train upon arrival at the station. A graveyard to greet you when stepping off the train is not good planning and the ghouls had volunteered to correct this blunder.
I’d be too unskilled to appropriately express the beautiful moments I felt in that place and the unique feeling of burying cars overlooking this crumbly brick & trailer town at the edge of nowhere in the middle of the night when the wind is nil and the temperature is right. There’s that certain temperature where it matches your body’s perfectly. The air outside my skin feels the same as inside and the stars shine so brightly. Everything feels vibrant and I know I’m doing unique things. We were Goldfield’s new Ghouls. Not a savory job but someone’s gotta’ do it.
After our midnight backhoe sessions, everybody slept good.
This was part 2 in the Who Was MichaelMark Rippie series. Subscribe to this page to be alerted of the rest of this series.