Independence Day in LA

This was written about a dozen years ago, but I found it and felt like sharing…

It’s another Independence Day and I’m at work. Decide what you will about what that says about the state of my patriotism. I’ve managed to attain employment as a Production Assistant on a new reality show crap-fest currently running on Fox called “Paradise Hotel.” Though I am apt to take a negative stance on the question of whether or not the surge of reality television is disintegrating our society’s moral and mental fiber, it has become a case of me feeding the beast so the beast can feed me. The symbiosis of Hollywood.


The basis of the show involves eleven nubile twenty- and thirty-somethings alternating between superior gender numbers as week-by-week, the inhabitants of the Acapulco resort, kick off whichever member is not shacking up and vote on another stranger in hopes that they are more willing to have casual sex. The show is a little different from the others in its vein. There is no money to be won or prize to be claimed other than the chance to be on television and have lots and lots of sex. All that matters is what is going on. I think is has a very Zen quality to it. Alan Watts would be proud.


Nevertheless, if any of you are so inclined and care enough about the outcome of the weekly decisions to ask me to betray my solemn of vow of confidentiality to my employers and reveal what the rest of America must wait two weeks to see, I shall decry you in public as a nitwit and mock your name eternally for your involvement in this most nefarious ruses of artistic expression which is the Fox Summer Lineup.


My job is basically making coffee, taking out trash, and running errands. The errands are my specialty. Using my second and third greatest assets – Attention Deficit Disorder and a motorcycle – I find it a great way to make a few bucks.


I’ve been trying to do that much more lately – use whatever I’m given as a strength. I still have weaknesses. They are often rampant and harsh. But I don’t really have catastrophe anymore. And believe me, to the wary onlooker, my life has often looked that way. But personally, I have yet to really fall on hard times. I haven’t even fallen on very difficult times. But that’s not to say they haven’t fallen on me. They just didn’t take me down with them.


After my motorcycle accident – a minor spill on a new bike – I used my broken collarbone and library card to learn more about this trade of screenwriting. The language of the screenplay is a dialect I have never been quite fluent in. It involves using words succinctly and steadily with as few letters as possible. Whereas, when I usually write, the words can drip on for days and spread a single idea of a grassy meadow to the length of a paragraph – one of gigantic proportions that makes a gregarious reader dance through the sound of the wind bending grass and images of dandelions in bloom, of jackrabbits playing in noble deer paths and a girl dressed in white with a bow in her long, blonde hair – but can be summed up in a screenplay with EXT. So learning this art form has been long and tenuous. But I learned how to do what I wanted to do, and then I did it. I used my second month of unemployment, when no jobs were available anywhere, to finish the first three drafts. The week my motorcycle was in the shop was used for draft four. And my day off last Tuesday was used for draft five. Drafts two and four were written on a manual typewriter, exactly as I dreamed it would be.


Life is good.

Steve McAllister is the author of The Rucksack Letters and How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. He posts regularly at, and sometimes posts at Anything Arts, Sarasota Music Scene, and Elephant Journal, and is currently the Director of Operational Development for the Common Wealth Time Bank in Sarasota, Florida. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.


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