This piece was originally commissioned by Scottish writer Cara Ellison to appear as a 500-word blurb in Paste Magazine. It did not end up appearing in Paste Magazine—mostly because the author was an absolute God damn mess as a result of being submerged in the psychedelic fever dream called “Los Angeles” for way too long. Deadlines were missed, calls went unanswered, and absolutely no one cared.
The following words, all twenty-five thousand of them, were written in dark places and at late hours with a sort of manic desperation not previously thought possible. In all likelihood this is probably the worst thing anyone has ever written. We present to you now a coffin filled with spider parts—a rotted ugly mindscape where no good thing grows. Its existence, though awkward, is pure and unedited. Please enjoy.
PART ZERO: GOIN DOWN TO SKELETON TOWN
The Doomsmobile rolled onto Sunset Boulevard at exactly midnight, the two of us strapped inside, my partner and me, feeling like hell and looking it too. For six hours and three hundred seventy miles we had rocketed down that dark empty California highway, guzzling black coffee from mason jars and smoking dozens of cigarettes and popping little pink pills till our nerves were useless. And finally, by God, we had arrived in the city of Los Angeles, scarcely understanding why we had come in the first place. . . .
I was slumped over the wheel, mindlessly steering that fat bitch up and down the street as tears of exhaustion collected under my drooping eye sockets. My brain was slushed to hell and I was vibrating past reality big time. I absorbed external stimuli as it came to me—the palm trees, the stupid billboards, the lights in the hills—and then, like a radio transmission from the moon, I endured the few seconds of dead air before the noise and the lights were received at mission control.
Only I knew there was no one at the switchboard . . . just a frightening room full of blown circuitry and sparking wires dangling from the ceiling. Flickering fluorescent lights and static on every monitor. Maybe a distant scream from down the hall followed by an eternity of silence.
The Doomsmobile’s headlights carved through the stillness of Silver Lake as I swerved erratically in the dark, thinking that maybe we would be dead soon enough. There was no doubt about it: we were food for the Reaper. Yes, it really was only a matter of time. . . .
I didn’t say anything about this to my partner. He was silent in the passenger seat, his eyes hidden behind cheap sunglasses and layers of caffeine and speed. The poor bastard was blissfully alone inside himself just then. No sense telling him he wasn’t long for this world.
I turned down a side street and parked next to an overflowing dumpster. I killed the engine and sat there for a moment, fooling around with the FM tuner. “Don’t Stop Believin’” was playing on three separate stations, each of them about thirty seconds apart. There was bug shit all over the windshield.
“I get this town,” I said finally. “I get these people. Holy lord, I like it here. What a strange thing for an animal to build.”
Hearing my voice, Jack was ejected from some nightmare inside his head. He opened his eyes and stared blankly at the one outside of it. “You talking about Los Angeles?”
“Yeah. Hell, I just like it here. You know? You can be the biggest fucking wasteoid on the planet and no one cares. That’s beautiful.” (more…)
I will admit the last reboot didn’t exactly go as planned. While the idea was solid, and we were initially enthusiastic, we petered out pretty fast after those first few months, and most of us didn’t post many articles thereafter. We had a few great ones! But in the end it kind of fizzled.
So then came the podcast – we’ve done it for two years, now. It wound up becoming the focus of insert credit for some time, and people quite liked it! Recently though, we’ve been thinking about what we want from this. If we’re going to invest time in it, the audience needs to build, so we thought about a few ways we might do that without changing things too drastically, or making it too much work for ourselves (because if it becomes a lot of work, we just won’t do it – that’s what happened last time). Here’s what we’ve come up with – we will roll this all out slowly, and it may change somewhat, but here’s the current plan.
1) Scaling down. insert credit will just be brandon, tim, and frank. There will be guests, but in the way that Idle Thumbs is just those guys, insert credit will just be us guys, content-wise. This is more of a conceptual change than a structural one, but since we all live near each other, this also opens up the kinds of things we can do.
2) The insert credit audio show. This replaces the podcast, and will eventually have a better visual component, while still having an audio-only version. Since we’ll now all be able to be in the same location, we can slowly make the livestream and video component more interesting – watching talking heads is not very engaging. We will also not talk over each other or have lag anymore, because we’re in the same room! That’s nice. The format will also change – it will be looser than the initial 10 question/6-minute format, with the intention of building some articles out of the audio content over the period of months, kind of integrating the whole thing.
3) The insert credit video show. Though all the names are subject to change, this will be a livestream in which we play through games we think are interesting. We’ll play all the way through them, in installments, and the only rule we’ll have is that one person in the group knows the game well, and that person is not playing. They’re more of a coach for the player(s).
4) Article content. Articles will remain! Tim and I both have articles we’re ready to put up, and just haven’t yet. But much more interesting than that will be our formspring (or spring.me) integration. We plan to have a field people can fill out to ask us game-oriented questions. We will go through these, pick the best ones, and write responses to them in article form. As mentioned, the audio show will also influence some article content – building lists of best games over time, or weaving together narratives.
That’s pretty much the plan, overall. A new version of the site is currently being worked on to reflect these changes, and we’re pretty confident this will generate a lot more interesting content than we had before. This should also more closely integrate the audience with the whole experience. Many of you have known or interacted with us for years, and we’re hoping this will bring everyone closer to the experience.
There will be some growing pains, to be sure, but please bear with us as we gradually turn this into a bigger and better thing!