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(Nov. 8, 2007)

          I was watching “Ugly Betty” recently---much the way one stares helplessly at the corpse in an open-casket funeral---and I got to thinking ugly thoughts. It’s easy, really. Most people do it all the time.
          Ugly, I realized, is as American as hindquarters the size of car doors, and McBurritotacofelafels, and Christmas. Nothing is much uglier than the Christmas, where kindness and fun have been gnarled into psychotic trillion-dollar greedslobber. Christmas is an avalanche of ugly, but that’s fitting because for Amerryguns, ugly is the norm, the starting point, the exalted goal. The American Dream is nothing but ugly, nothing but craven pursuit of fatuous self-adoration, gluttony, material wealth. I got mine. Whoever finishes with the most toys wins. Japan invented Zen, the French existentialism, the Brits the stiff upper lip, and the USA is the author of ugly.
          Ugly is in the shiny, shiny, aggressively polished and illegal alien-“detailed” $100,000 cars playing with your life on streets and freeways, with drivers on cell phones starring in their own private movies, peeing into their personal pee-devices as they drive, to save time. Ugly is in their arrogantly sucked cigarettes, their fuck-laden language, their insatiable wants, their consummate disregard.
          Ugly is in the artificially whitened smile of our mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, whom I like to call The Imperious Little Anthony. Which is an ugly pun on Little Anthony and the Imperials (who were not ugly.) It’s in Villaraigosa’s styrofoam rhetoric and glazed posturing and obscene lack of impact on anything. It’s in the graft that L.A. mayors and councilpersons have gaily engaged in, decade after decade, allowing corporations to destroy and overdevelop the city into its current vast ugliness.
            It’s in the gorgeous Pacific Ocean, in the river of cigarette butts and empty Bud cans and used condoms and to-go containers and plastic water bottles stretching from here to Hawaii. Plastic water bottles destroying the ocean. Now there’s an ugly irony.

The Ugly America

          Oprah. She’s really, really ugly---not physically, as I will not comment on that for fear of the politically correct uglies taking shots at me. Her ego, which will eventually produce a solar eclipse, is ugly, and her self-importance and deep-seated belief that she is doing good in the world. As opposed to pandering to dummies for money and self-aggrandisement. And the stupidity and naivete and haplessness of those who worship her is even uglier.
          All the presidential candidates are colossally ugly (though Giuliani tops the heap) and so is Frank Gehry, and those popular hairless Chihuahuas, and that brainless Chihuahua, Paris Hilton. Family relations are mostly ugly, and friendships seem to almost inevitably turn that way. The microscopic creatures that live exclusively in your eyelashes are magnificently ugly, but an improvement over Chris Wallace. “Have a nice day” is ugly, and “finding everything all right?” and “cool” and “I’m like” and "these ones," and "I seen," and euphemistic little niceties, and infomercials and telemarketing and Trump. Most high school students are just terribly ugly.
          I am ugly, getting uglier by the day. There is a harmless tumor in my back that is ugly, but I am thinking of getting Bela Lugosi’s face tattooed on it, because of the ugly fact that I can’t afford to pay some rich jackass doctor to cut it out. Cost of insurance is ugly. Birth is ugly, death is ugly, feet are ugly. When you get down to it, a hell of a lot of life is pretty ugly. Putting pretty and ugly together as modifiers is grammatically ugly, although I enjoy the implied commentary there, begging the question of aesthetic relativity. You know, all the Zen/Yin-Yang stuff about opposites, my citing of which is so clichéd and pretentious as to be ugly.
          Amputation. Vomit. Sex. The Rolling Stones. Putin. Murdoch. American fear of terrorism. Spoiled college girls yapping into cell phones, with their fatty fast-food-fed exposed bellies hanging over their belts. Parking cops. Magazines that exploit voyeuristic interest in the rich and famous. Corporate self-evaluations. A million dead in Iraq in the name of “democracy.” All morning TV newspeople, with their smiley-smiley bullshit and their automated inane quips. Yooooooogly!
          When you think about it, which is not a pretty thing to do, it becomes apparent that most things associated with the human race are about as ugly as intercourse with Larry King. Just read the news: mass rape and murder in Africa, extinction of great apes, obsession with the greatest ape, Britney. It will turn your insides to hopeless mush. It’s the earth and the forests and rivers and hummingbirds and daffodils, which people are pissing on with unhinged abandon, that give us any sense of things that are not ugly. Oh, and once in a while, a great work of art, or genuine moral courage.

Beautiful Betty

          But I have to say that the ugliest thing I have seen in quite a long, long while is Ugly America, that is, America Ferrera, who plays “Ugly Betty.” Betty is not ugly, of course, but very cute, really, with the braces and glasses and plain, straight hair. Her character is intended to be an au courant imp fairly secreting self-doubt and glib comebacks to her gay and female fashion mag dawgs, for whom bitchiness is Nice 101. Everybody on “Ugly Betty” is kinetically, stuporously self-involved at all times, and the program is a flitting, flicking glorification of the ephemeral, trivial, vapid, nasty, snotty, empty. I recently made the following ugly remark to a friend who enjoys “Ugly Betty:” “Do you realize that nothing anyone does or says on that program is necessary or useful to humanity?” Yes, this is also true of most TV news, but that is another ugly column.
          “Ugly Betty” might well be the ugliest program I’ve ever seen, excluding “reality” TV, which has managed to pull of the remarkably ugly feat of making reality seem uglier than it actually is. Every “Ugly Betty” character is either overtly despicable or devoid of any sense of anything outside his or her immediate needs. Just like most American kids! Which brings up America The Beautiful. Being a sensitive girl and an ambitious Emmy-winning little actress who did not want the world (or at least casting agents) to think of her as ugly, America posed for a bunch of “glamour” shots in a rag called “Marie Claire.” The issue bore a pressing and important headline fairly indispensable to today’s citizenry: “Party On!” And there in its pages, partying on, was America---proving that she is not ugly.
          She accomplished this by removing the Ugly Betty glasses, scrambling her neatly brushed Ugly Betty hair so it looked as if she’d just done a couple days of fighting Santa Ana-wind-fed California fires, smearing her face with lots of sticky and powdery beauty aids, then allowing her monumental half-naked blubbery bazoom to cascade out of a black dress fit for Elvira, or any self-respecting transsexual hooker. Oh, then there was the beautiful look on her face, the sort coaxed by beauty professionals: a carefully wrought confit of disdain, contempt, mild psychosis, and maybe just a touch of constipation. The kind of face that would make a jury convict.
          This ugliness is what America, and America, are exporting to the world as an ideal of beauty. It’s been going on for a long, ugly time. Look like a woman who would grant a male access to any and all ports o’ call for a proper and dignified fee, and you’re Venus! Somewhere along the line, this ugly madness got all balled up with feminist claptrap about “empowerment” and “sexuality,” which is sort of assbackwards, isn’t it? Wasn’t feminism supposed to enable women to be assessed by their abilities and character, as opposed to their asses? Well, employing reason here is an ugly thing to do. The media and entertainment corporatocracy are the whores in this case, having shifted notions of sex appeal toward sluttiness for profit. I give you: Sharon Stone. Imagine a society where people think that a woman exposing her pubic hair to men is an exercise in “empowerment,” and you have a pretty good idea of the intellectual and moral depth of the entertainment industry, and the public. O beautiful for spacious minds, as I’m fond of saying.
          It’s all bad for America, and bad for America, but most people don’t understand this, or care, and that’s the ugly truth. Show America’s photo spread around and you’ll get a chorus of “cools” and “she looks sexy!” and explanations like, “Well, it’s a come-hither-type look.” Uh-uh. Lauren Bacall gave Bogart a come-hither-type look in “To Have and Have Not.” Her hair was neatly brushed, and she wore a lovely suit, well buttoned. America Ferrera’s is a “come hither and touch any of this you worthless pig and I’ll have Gloria Allred on your ass in a New York minute”-type look.  
          But now I’m getting too ugly. Time to put an end to this ugly column.

We get e-mail:
(Note: this column was also posted at

This was the most brilliantly and succinctly written, drive-it-home TRUTH I've stumbled onto in a long, long time. It made me cry for what this country has become. Every single person in America needs to read this. Thank you for having the guts to say it like it is and put it out there for all the world to see.

 I've read your stuff before, and have always been in alignment with your views, but this...was just brilliant beyond words.


I thought your "Ugly" article was well written & well worded. I'm glad there are people out there who can see through the phoniness of this world.

Rikki Press

I agree with everything you wrote. I'm a woman and I think I'm the only woman who does not worship Oprah. In fact I think she is scary as all hell. Plus the fact of  millions of women who cannot think for themselves is also very scary.


Dear Rip,

I'm in my terraced house in the middle of nowhere in the Pennine hill country, lancashire, uk and I'm reading your latest missive 'The Ugly Truth.'

I've read a few of your postings but this one had me rolling round the floor. It's a brilliant piece of writing. I wish I could vent my spleen with such Rabelaisian insouciance as you do, nice one mate.
Hilarious, you cheered me up no end and I don't even know who or what Ugly Betty is other than some myopic bint-show Stateside.

Keep that dark sardonic wit sharpened like a sushi chefs' cleaver please.

The same thing's happening over here btw. Whenever I casually observe TV (rarely, as I don't have one) I see the same BS.

Really had to send you an email in the spirit of solidarity. Going to re-read your piece and brush up on my invective.

Jon T.

Dear Rip
I have just finished reading your post entitled The Ugly Truth, and I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it. You have described perfectly the view I hold, not just of American society, but others too.

It is so sad that this is what America has allowed itself to become. But the Puppet Masters know exactly what they are doing: it is just very unfortunate that the people who are their targets are so unaware of how they are being manipulated to behave as they do. It is an onslaught so powerful that your youth and general population can be forgiven for not seeing the bigger picture.

People like myself who are awake to the ugly truth taking place in the world today have compassion for the average American and pray that they will wake up in time to stop the rot from completely destroying their country; and eventually mine too.

I hope to see other postings of yours as you you tell it as you see it and you do it so well. Thank you.

Jill Grant
Perth Australia


I just finished reading your article and agree (at least outwardly) with most of what you say. Things are getting pretty rough "out there."

However, I would ask you to just "hang in there" and keep yourself in good shape "inside." All the ugliness in all of creation cannot touch you inside and when you find that 'REAL SELF" (if you have not already) that lives inside of you, THEN you will know what I am writing here.

Rip, a few months ago, I read a book AGAIN from front to back that I purchased in 1998. For NINE YEARS that book lay around. Occasionally I would read some of it and go to the letter in the back which contains "THE KEY" and would mumble to myself "it can''t be that simple."

Well, IT IS THAT SIMPLE!s and it is difficult - at first. IT GETS EASIER AS YOU PRACTICE IT MORE! I have been allowed to see a few things and just those temporary glimpses have changed my life. Here is a poem I wrote as a result:

Awareness: Third Level

I live in peace cause I'm in synch
The reason: I don't have to think
I watch those thoughts as they go through
They are not me they are not you

You have no thoughts you have no mind
They're from outside a source unkind
They've fooled us for eons gone by
But "Now" is truth and cannot lie

Mind tries to keep us in the past
Or whip up to the future fast
Mind cannot stand if you but try
to "BE HERE NOW" - not bye and bye

There's something that we all must see
Before we ever learn to be
YOU WATCH THOSE THOUGHTS as they go through

Rip, I take it you are a relatively young man. (I will be 82 my next birthday) If you pay much attention to the outer world you will probably wind up "loony tunes and merry melodies" in some spin bin. The world has been running on ignorance, greed and stupidity for a long time but I believe the cycle is about to end.

If you are by any chance interested, the book that contains the "key" which gave me a new way of looking at things is: A RICH MAN'S SECRET, by Ken Roberts. You can find it on

My very best to you and thank you again for your article.

Thomas Truelove - Homestead, Florida

U. G. L. Y.

you don't have an alibi.

you ugly.

the ugly truth is that you are so damn right on!



Hi Rip,
I love how you're telling it like it is. However, did you know that Japan already invented UGLY? After recovering from WW2, they have been at it all this time and the citizens there fall for it continuously.  Not just UGLY TV but their constant crave for something new, rendering what you just bought outdated in a week. The bad thing about Japanese UGLY is they are sending it here and Americans are being bombarded by it. Yes, we have exported American UGLY like McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, 7-11, AM-PM and they are getting fat and UGLY over there. In retaliation, they sent us video games and new gizmos afflicting the future generation. Heck, as long as the USA and Japan keep inventing new UGLY and the rest of the planet just eats it, its a no-brainer to see what the future is bringing. But I won't be around by then. I am too busy with the UGLY of today.

Your pal,

Los Angeles

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