Fiction/Selection/Dan Shea






The Monolith Cocktail has coaxed a number of guest spot contributions from the impassioned and adroit musician/writer Dan Shea. Roped into his family’s lo fi cult music business, The Bordellos, from a young age, the candid but humble maverick has gone onto instigate the chthonian Vukovar (currently working through a trio of ‘greatest hits’ packages here) and, with one part of that ever-shambling post-punk troupe, musical foil Buddy Preston, the seedy bedsit synth romantics Beauty Stab (who’ve just this week released their second single ‘French Film Embrace’, here)

An exceptional talent (steady…this is becoming increasingly gushing) both in composing and songwriting, the multi-instrumentalist and singer is also a dab hand at writing. For his debut, Dan shared a grand personal ‘fangirl’ purview of major crush, the late Rowland S. Howard (which can be found here), on the eve of Mute Records appraisal style celebration reissue of his highly influential cult albums ‘Teenage Snuff Film’ and ‘Pop Crimes’. This was followed by an often difficult, unsettling, potted with dark comedy, read on Dan’s friend and foil Simon Morris (of the Ceramic Hobs infamy; the piece can be read here), who took his own life last year.

Now, from his lockdown quarantine, Dan has been providing us with a weekly series of ‘imaginary film screening jukebox’ selections come loose horror and increasingly unfathomable Lynchian, cloaked autobiographical, fictions.



#5

Xiu Xiu – The Wrong Thing

 

Ronnie was dead to begin with.

I dunno if it was years or days or weeks between the resurrection and her disappearing into the plug hole. Truth be told I remember it being a bath and I may have had one for a while but I don’t know. I just know that me and Gretchen always look into the drain in case she catches us at it. That’s also why I stand G over the drain: so R could peer straight up and maybe consider that I was right and that heterosexuality is just a lie.

“It’s just a lie she tells to her friends”

I move then she moves. An electric purple shuffle stains my eyes and fingers. I told her the Back To The Future nonce joke. She told me the only crowd I’d ever attract was flies.

I told her about the yellow dog then we discussed whether or not dogs could be blonde. This woman will make me a better human being even if I’m not sure that she exists and the feeling is mutual. I don’t want to chance putting Lynch films on around her. Xiu Xiu is close to the bone enough given the connections.

“(My name redacted)”

“Yeah Gerst?”

“Do you remember the princess who lived on the hill? Who loved you even when she knew you were wrong?”

I take her hand and look into her eyes but they’ve gone and she is looking back at me with my eyes. I hate it when this happen. I attempt to stick my fingers through my eyes into my brain to change the channel. She prevents me from doing so with an offhand murmur of “fuck’s sake”.

Performative support aside no one is “always there for you”. It’s a truth that should be more widely spoken. Sleep, death and things more important than my whining will always take precedence. I get it. And it’s a two way street, obviously. I can’t possibly always be there for you. I can try but it’s unlikely in the extreme. Even if I could, would you actually want that?



Tindersticks – A Night In

“I know you’re hurting, and I can’t be there for you”.

She lies her almost translucent head on my lap and asks me about the parts of that film she can’t see that keep sluicing into my brain. The kindness of her smile makes me feel less sick than usual. I feel instant nostalgia for this moment knowing that it will rush through our minds when one devours the other that final time while still admiring the Other’s beauty.

I tell her it as it unfolds with no forethought. How the film troubled me when he found a tape in a fridge abandoned behind his flat. Well, he’s American (albeit of Polish extraction) so he said apartment. But whatever the point was it stands. The girlfriend was then insistent that he transcribe what was on the tape.

He did in this long florid monologue that contained a lot of songs that meant a lot to him and his girlfriend. Then turned over the content of the words between the songs to Ellroy Steers. The guy who did himself in in the movie and bled on my fucking carpet. Lucky it’s a red carpet.

“Hey Tom this is just a voicemail I’m leaving so I can ask for your number so I can phone you. It’s important. It’s about the factory, and what’s left.”

That was the first entry on the tape and it’s the same in the Pulaski movie strangely. It’s the same voice: maybe it’s a prank call using a soundboard. Maybe whoever made it on the tape liked the film so used it as an intro. Maybe they related to this film as much as I do. Who can say?

I despair at the fact I can’t get Riesling from the corner shop anymore.



Cindytalk – Circle of Shit

 

“So many people are too loud. Needlessly so. Over enthusiastic about the fact they’ve remained unmurdered another day. Servile, simpering, unthinking and incapable of thinking beyond that which is in the interests of their “betters” who make in a week what we do in ten years. Every workplace I’ve had the misfortune of exchanging my precious time for money in its been the same. People who create nothing, produce nothing, and consume a steady diet of nothing. Surrounded with them. Substitute one for another and who would even know or care?”

I’m listening to goth records and drinking in the shower again as I spew this pointless angry screed into the plug hole. I’ve not even turned the water on: why pretend it’s about cleanliness? If you’ve been the places I’ve been you know you’ll never be clean again. Trust me, I’ve been places you wouldn’t shit.

Dylan had been locked in that bathroom for a long time but time has ceased to have any meaning. It was a strange thing. He had no need to eat or drink. Not that there was anything to drink: you turn the tap and all you’d get is shadows. Outside the window BLACKSHEETSOFNIGHT BLACKSHEETSOFNIGHT BLACKSHEETSOFNIGHT BLACKSHEETSOFNIGHT. I break the glass til I bleed shadow. The darkness seeps into the bathroom and I am drowned in black milk, briefly comforting me with its reminders of her velvet void.

Tried to drown himself in the bath and woke up again on the floor, as if it matters anymore. Tried to drown himself in the toilet and woke up back in place. Tried to hang himself with his belt and woke up in the same place. Downstairs the mask on the wall kept screaming and he screamed along with it. Smashed his face through the window bleeding shadow into BLACKSHEETSOFNIGHT BLACKSHEETSOFNIGHT BLACKSHEETSOFNIGHT BLACKSHEETSOFNIGHT.

The mask was a gift from Farrow for the work he’d done on Thomas Communication. Strange gnarled smile that out of the corner of his eye he noticed twitched when he didn’t think it was looking. How long need I wait for my angel? Every second yawns open for her prize. The apple I stole rotted before my eyes. I blink and I see a dignified old man with his hands folded. I smell disinfectant and the familiar stabbing pain returns in my very core.

The only way to soothe this pain is to use a vibrator: I never put it in fully just let the pulse soothe and numb til I no longer feel him inside me. But as I do this, lay on my mattress with my eyes closed I can’t but help think of Dylan stuck there. And I’m ashamed of the physical response the thought of him produces.

“If I cum thinking of a dead boy is it necrophilia?”

My art is bleeding into my surroundings again. Muttered obscenities under my breath. Thinking of that smug balding prematurely midlife faggot and his simpering entreaties to open my legs. Of the coke fuelled unpleasantness with the mole woman. Of that evening I lost my favourite jacket. I lost two notebooks, my favourite jacket and a sleeveless t shirt. Cunt.



Ceramic Hello – Binary

 

How about this one? You’ve not heard it before. I’m so jealous that you get to experience this for the first time! Such a beautiful song. My romantic ideal to both listen to minimal wave records with a headphone splitter. In a stupor in a hotel room somewhere. Eating pastrami sandwiches, naked in bed as a mute TV shows the end of a documentary on railways. We will put the sound on when the Bowie doc comes on and I’ll bore you, G, when I won’t stop going on about his cheekbones.

L showed up and was magnetic as usual. One of the few people who just the appearance of makes me a bit happier. I keep having dreams where I’m pregnant somehow and she’s delivering my baby. Well I say it’s a baby. She is kind enough to always look amused by my prematurely senile rambling but I get the feeling she’s worried I may try to kidnap her at some point. Lunch with her and the swastika girl.

I brought up the ritual to her and she ushered me out into the smoking area where we sat nursing pints of Cwtch. Inside the bar a live Van Halen drum solo played: the place was really going downhill since it changed management. The bar staff were sartorially disappointing. We talked about this for a bit and I again mentioned my enjoyment of her Jessica Fletcher t shirt then we returned to discussing the ritual.

“So Dan what did you do in this ritual? This is all very vague. Reminds me of the story about you drinking two bottles of white wine, staring into a scrying mirror and the woman from some 80s goth band showing up in your living room.”

“You know full well that happened you came round to check I wasn’t lying”

“It sounds like you got pissed and took the wrong dosage of your meds, which you shouldn’t be drinking anywhere near the amount you do with, then started having hallucinations again. It’s like when you shaved all your hair off, kept it in a box and then covered every reflective surface.”

I described what happened, the bloated foetal figure that raped my mind forcing me to submit to the ritual. The floor of flesh criss-crossed with veins. And other things around the same time. The hairless inside-out dogs that prowled outside in my back yard when they thought no one was looking. The swollen faced children that I saw washing Carter’s car. And how I had no choice but to lose her again down the plug hole.

She sat watching me explain this with a curious expression. Sphinx like. Then she calmly unbuttoned my shirt, put her cigarette out on my chest and kissed me harsh as barbed wire. Told me I’d kill for her and I agreed. A kiss that drew blood. She forced me to kneel under the table, twisted her fingers round my hair and then right then and there I ate her out in the cold sea air.

That didn’t happen. I wish it did. A crazed public sexual encounter would have been far less troubling. The curious expression part was true. She leaned in close:

“When did we first meet?”

“When I moved here two years ago. I walked into this bar because Lou Reed was playing.”

“No. It was in the snow. You lay your head in my lap and you bled to death. When you mentioned Carter then”

A pause.

“It took me back to that classroom. 2008. Do you remember?”

“You tell me, Ariel”

“In that reality the holes opened wider than ever in the sky. You lay with what was left of your head in my lap, bleeding. I kissed what was left of your face then blackness. We began again.”

I draw a line under the rest of that evening. Even as naked as I leave myself writing this there are some secrets need to be kept.

That Ceramic Hello track isn’t on the CD reissue copy I’ve got, annoyingly.



Psychic TV – The Orchids

 

Her winter kiss won’t leave my skin.

4

1

5

Don’t come home with that smell on your breath. Don’t beat your head over and over into walls out of self loathing. Don’t blame me for your sickness. I’m ill too. I’ll always be there for you as the unbearable closeness becomes a prison limbo as desire is gone.

Her winter kiss imprinted bruise. Monochrome preferably a room almost empty. We turn the volume up. Double knot, double cross. I’ll show you loss.

The smell of incense in the air the smell of her on my finger tips. I pull back the curtain and I see him there. Carter. A swollen, red faced man. In beige slacks and a blue shirt, buttons strained by his fat hairy stomach. Look I need you to see him in your mind’s eye. Slip ons. Grey thinning hair, strands falling onto that baboon face. He “speaks” in bestial groans, grunts splatter the world. The bruise faced kids in their underwear cleaning his car, til he smacks one of them and they all file back into his house.

I think of what he was in the Other World and what he is in this one two and know what I need to do. This is an important decision I do not make lightly. Please don’t understand me too quickly.

I confided my intentions in her but I did it silently and I cannot be sure she knows what I mean. This is a common issue.

3

4

3

 

30

-24

4

L/G slides into view. Her winter kiss won’t leave my breath.

“Dan?”

“Yeah.”

“The world is growing louder”

She saw the holes widen in the sky. She knew all that had happened. Once I broke the barrier of her resistance she believed me about the ritual. Something is happening here. Something new. Her name meanders through the echoes of mine. She’s seen the movie, you know? She’s seen it.



Fleetwood Mac – Gypsy

 

“SHOUTING. I was. In the street. I had no idea what was going on. I went to the Conti for a beer and it was shut. At 2 in the afternoon on a Saturday, I ask you. I mean last time I went there I did get my dick out and have a widdle on Hugh Cornwell but my shoddy behaviour is no reason to punish everyone else”

G/L laughed.

“Is that a woman laughing? You could’ve told me. I shouldn’t be on speaker phone with a young lady present. I’ve no trousers on! It’s not right!”

She laughed so much that if I really studied her I could see individual muscles contract. I did and I did yeah She is saving my life.

“So I checked at the Ferret as well. Beer Snob Billy told me they had Cwtch on and the jukebox is pretty good. It’s a digital bitch, you can have Nina Simone or Skullflower on. All sorts of loud penis music like your band. That was shut as well so I went home. Then I looked at my neighbours doorstep paper. There’s this disease that makes people act like poofs and not leave their house.”

 

LIGHTNING STRIKES MAYBE ONCE MAYBE TWICE.

I told Mad ‘Mad’ Tony about the ritual and he told me about his latest imaginary girlfriend. He said he was going to have an imaginary affair with Gersten. He told me he’d have an imaginary threesome with us then I could hear him raising his eyebrows as he dropped his burner phone in the bath.

“One day we need to meet Mad Tony then go to Lonely People. You can do your Gordon Cole voice and yell at people pretending to be a tourist.”

She did that “expectant canine” expression American women do at you and then smiled, half her face first then the other half warming up when I laughed and told her how cute it was. Bless her she always looks confused. I wish I was an American. An American woman in particular. Everything’s new to them. Showing a Yorkshire pudding to an American woman is the most fun you can have legally.

A middle class family sat in their dining room talking in hushed tones of the horrific injuries the survivors had sustained. Talk of fissures and gaping, horrific injuries. Fog is slowly filling the dining room. A Duke Ellington record plays but the needle is stuck so it sounds like NON. They don’t seem to notice the noise or fog. They prattle on in stilted RP tones about how awful the whole thing was but they can’t stop talking about it, cunts.

G wakes me up.

“Carter. You know what you have to do don’t you?”

I have to pause as it’s a big decision. But if this is what is necessary to keep Louise/Ronnie/Gersten then I’ll do it. Fuck it. I’ll do it twice. While she watches. Then we’ll go home, still a bit bloodied, and watch a rerun of a mid 80s Top of the Pops in her bed. Just another hit and run.

“Do you want to be there when it happens?”

Her eyes go full circle and her grip on me tightens. Every breath a silent movie heroine. Trust me enough to deem me translucid. Your eyes widen and I’m snagged in your leopard print and wide eyed enthusiasm. I can’t face watching you disappear.



Tom Waits – Alice

 

I told her about the dreams where I’m pregnant and she asked was it with her genius or what? Reality moves faster than experimental fiction. Sometimes slower but if you know you know.

Suddenly I feel the pain pulsing in my head as I lay my head in Ariel’s lap. The blood gushing rushyrushrushyrush from my wound as the CRISP CLEAR snow falls. She strokes my remains before the moment of calcification. She tells me I did the right thing and I’ll do it again. I flash forward to her drinking a gin sour in leopard print before Ritual Night.

Addiction is the anus of art.

Death is the absence of work.

L pegs me in my living room. Whispering in my ear “he has to go”. She puts cigarettes out on my nipples when the moon talks. She refills my glass. When we’re out of booze she pisses on me, as delightful as ever. I yawn for her prize.

Shambling unshaven neurotic wreck. But she sees something in me.

Burn me again and again.

The sun spills over her in all her eye popping enthusiasm. I normally hate this but I’m being suckered in. Has she seen what I have? I believe she has. I believe she has. The dogs pace rotting back and forth. She’ll stroke them. Til Carter is gone and, presumably, they disappear. Then we will harness the frozen moon til delirium kills me.

I crawl through the passages under Dylan’s home. I bleed shadows into insignificant interior. No one and nothing is unforgettable.

Sometimes in my mind’s eye she is cowering and shivering at the sounds I pull from her. Inciting silence, compassionate construction. Nothing is granted my Mermaid but my submission. Crash in and take over my life. Let’s do this.

Previously 

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Fictions/Selection/Dan Shea





The Monolith Cocktail has coaxed a number of guest spot contributions from the impassioned and adroit musician/writer Dan Shea during the year. Roped into his family’s lo fi cult music business, The Bordellos, from a young age, the candid but humble maverick has gone onto instigate the chthonian Vukovar (currently working through a trio of ‘greatest hits’ packages here) and, with one part of that ever-shambling post-punk troupe, musical foil Buddy Preston, the seedy bedsit synth romantics Beauty Stab (who’ve just this week released their second single ‘French Film Embrace’, here)

An exceptional talent (steady…this is becoming increasingly gushing) both in composing and songwriting, the multi-instrumentalist and singer is also a dab hand at writing. For his debut, Dan shared a grand personal ‘fangirl’ purview of major crush, the late Rowland S. Howard (which can be found here), on the eve of Mute Records appraisal style celebration reissue of his highly influential cult albums ‘Teenage Snuff Film’ and ‘Pop Crimes’. This was followed by an often difficult, unsettling, potted with dark comedy, read on Dan’s friend and foil Simon Morris (of the Ceramic Hobs infamy; the piece can be read here), who took his own life last year.

Now, from his lockdown quarantine, Dan has been providing us with a weekly series of ‘imaginary film screening jukebox’ selections come loose horror and increasingly unfathomable Lynchian, cloaked autobiographical, fictions.



PJ Harvey – To Bring You My Love

 

I often wish I was PJ Harvey. Less now than when I was a teenager but every time I play this album I find myself wondering what it must be like to exist as that androgynous thug femme fatale archetype. Could any man, woman or anyone else resist me if I could step into that role? This Southern Gothic fog clotted with lust that spills out of my speakers. 

 

I played it to Ronnie and she looked back at me blankly, a dog being taught a card trick. This was the first time she was alive. That mask of canine indifference infuriated me. This was the beginning of the cracks forming in our relationship.

 

I played it to Gretchen, sorry, Gersten. We danced in monochrome around the living room. Very slowly. I remembered just now. She’s not been in touch so I have to put matches out on myself. It’s not as satisfying a burn as cigarettes but I’m not buying cigarettes just to put out on myself. That’s a step too far.

 

“You know he’s gonna be here”

 

The voice cracks and strains. I close my eyes and imagine a mountain range. She atop it, undulating. She could cause an avalanche.

 

Selfish, Little folds her hands and the world disappears. She yawns in slow motion and lullaby chimes hang all around us. I bat away the weaponised nostalgia the monkey in my back clawing at my veins. 

 

Endless futile arguments, drunkenness on trains.

 

The holes in the sky and the holes in my arms bleed out imagined futures but our bodies always lie.

 

The world was growing too loud for us. We had to escape into our record collections and the books we swapped between each other like holy texts. On a rainy afternoon, March 7PM, the world was ours.

 

Bring you my love”

 

I dreamt of Simon last night. I was on my way to a fetish shoot in Brighton. I stopped in a pub in London and sat down with a pint of something dark and fruity (like me, hohoho) when he came over and nudged me, getting in my face in that way of his.

 

“Fancy seeing you here”

 

Tears pricked Dan’s eyes in the dream as he pointed out that Simon was dead. Simon offered a characteristically long winded and nonsensical explanation before bringing us over another drink. We had a few, chatting about the future of some band he’d been working with called Vukovar.

 

Oh yeah I know the singer too Simon

 

We also talked about Kate McCann’s book among other things. He gave one of his reading lists then said “I’ve got a short cut to where you’re going follow me!”. So we walked out the back of the pub down an alleyway and stepped into the back garden of the woman I’d intended to meet. I turned around to thank him and he was gone.

 

It’s another one of those dreams I prefer to my waking life. 

 

6

2

1



HTRK – Rent Boy

 

An overhead shot of us, a rotating ceiling fan pan. My hallway, you should see it.

 

She’s next to me, head slumped on my shoulder. She sees only static but I’m watching the movie I told you about it even with my eyes open. She encourages me to dream with my eyes open. Saviour. Supplanter. Your film noir heroine, cock sucking seraphim. 

 

Ellroy Steers was a good man. He’d worked for the Farrow corporation since school and had worked his way up in this Kafka-esque organisation to be head of pencil sharpening.

 

Pulaski told him about the incident. He’d found a cassette tape in a fridge in the alley behind his flat. He would transcribe the contents for Ellroy to feed back to Farrow.

 

A strange look of fear came over the older man’s face. He expressed an interest in having the contents delivered as soon as possible. He knew what was on the mixtape but he never let on. I couldn’t place the actor playing him but he looked an awful lot like Harry Dean Stanton. The same soulful crags in his hangdog face.

 

As soon as Pulaski left, Steers placed a pencil up each nostril and head butted the desk. It was to send a signal to Pulaski not to mess with forces he didn’t understand. The holes in the sky grew wider above a canine population and no one stirred at all.

 

Even though she couldn’t see the action onscreen G was enthralled. Damn, I’m a lucky man. I swear I REDACTED SUPPLANTER could give the whole thing up for her.

 

pause the film and kiss her, the blood rushing in my veins. Like our lips were molten. My hands in hers. I want there to be tenderness in this. Not like it is with our clients or when we have an audience. My lips and tongue trace a map of desire over her milk white skin. I whisper my name into the depths of her. This is golden, this is molten. I want to melt into her.

 

It’s always going to be a little sordid. Do I want to be her or do I want to fuck her? It’s both as it is, for me, with most women. I want to purge myself of some of my toxic masculinity, but I feel every time we collide I sap some of their beauty from them. Their minds contain many rooms and I paint as many of them as I can. As Ellroy’s blood spills out of my TV and pools on the carpet I am whole.

 

I was telling you about the ritual last week, wasn’t I? Well to be exact that I don’t remember it. Just the whole incident when I was walking walking walking naked through a nightmare. Well I awoke in an invisible pool outside the HACK DOOR. Muddy fingerprints on the handle and a peculiar ashen scent. I turned and stepped in and there she was, sat in the living room. The prized forsaken angelangel returns.



Brian Eno – Sparrowfall

 

R was sat peacefully gazing at the switched off TV with a blank expression I read as a smile. No definition I can find

 

“But you’re dead. I’d dreamed of this. Are my dreams becoming my life? Did I succeed when I last tried? There must be more to that than this.”

 

She looked back at me. That same blank look that used to drive me nuts. I missed it. I gathered her up in my arms and held her to my somehow still beating heart and begged her never to die again. At least not until I had. I cried and cried a whole ghost. I missed her more than I understood and now she was back. I didn’t see the sense in her leaving the first time around and for her to return was more than any mortal mind could bear. 

 

But then I looked at her and took in the dim light in her eyes like the light from distant ships. She smelled of ash, coagulant phlegm from eyes that may be my own, and stank of the second hand regret seeping from her pores. Towards the end how I’d resented her weakness.

 

She was my super hero. She had saved my life many times over. Held my hair when I was throwing up, soothed the knife point pain and helped remove the sting of the abuse I’d suffered. I hated her for needing help when she was the one I always turned to. I had nowhere else to turn.

 

“I can’t control these feelings if I tried”

 

My hand formed a fist in her hair. Her voice pure blurred sound. I think she said it yeah yeah yeah but how could you even tell the fucking difference? She just looked back at me not fully comprehending. But how I’d missed that body. No flesh but hers. No flesh but hers. Viva la muerte. 

 

She could never respond properly, the dumb pony soldier. When she was alive it was apathy. Now it was a mute acquiescence but I’d made a vow. When I said til death do us part I’d meant mine not hers. Why else after she went a second time do you think I went after another woman who looked exactly like her?

 

The lullaby chimes spill from my unvarnished marble heart, out of the holes ever widening. They pulsate convey fluid through the infant city. Blood will wash blood away. Gemma, baby, how did we fall so far? The lack revealed is what gets me going. The humiliation of the aggressor, splayed open, begetting the dull rhythmic thud of masturbation. 

 

“She would do something like this”

 

A colonialist simper. One finger in his mouth the other finger circling his nipple. Halting middle class closet case tones as he tells his beard wife all about the new breakthrough in the next quarter, that’s, like, rilly rilly good as I fantasise about garrotting him and sending a picture of his corpse to the idiot kids he spawned. I picture a piss stain spreading across his expensive beige slacks. Blood money. 

 

“She would do something like this”

 

Where being rich and white is a license to go and fuck kids overseas. In the evening you all bathed each other’s kids. Your letter was only the start of it. One letter and now you’re a part of it. To the pure all things are pure. Images scroll through your head of the perfect little paper stitch twat torn apart.

 

You would say that about your own daughter you pig you waste you whore yawning for your price.  

 

I hope come the revolution someone eats your stupid fucking useless eyes out of your “living” face while you’re still defending white supremacists and transphobes “valid concerns”. I hope your husband chokes on the dick of the next Grindr hookup behind your back and is deposited neatly on a dark street, just another hit and run. A punch in the face that smashed through to the other side, sculpting the play dough form into another vignette of my toxic masculinity. I’m ashamed of being ashamed. 

 

Sha la la la man. Why don’t you slip away?



Rosie & The Originals – Angel Baby

 

30 years old her first hangover. I introduce her to the concept of the hair of the dog over a fancy veggie breakfast in Manchester. For once she’s drinking and I’m not. I’m a bad influence on this girl as she is to me: but she only got me into different strands of BDSM and ambient music and I’ve got her into something that rots your liver. I feel like I don’t deserve her but I feel that way about women most of the time. Men on the other hand – scum. I’m such a homophobe that I have in the past subjected gay men to the torment of being in a relationship with me.

 

Note – bisexual erasure is not just a neat phrase to describe the way bi people are treated but to describe the band Erasure. 

 

Angel Baby is one of those solid gold pop records you can play on a loop and weep to with what is neither joy nor sorrow. It takes me to that diner on Ronnie’s 30th. The quiet booth in the corner where she’d tenderly take my hand and reassure me as the world kept growing louder. The concept of having fries with breakfast seeming impossibly decadent to my provincial Northern mind. The record wasn’t playing in the memory but as I write it it was. I dunno what was really playing I prefer to remember things my way.

 

There’s something romantic to me about impersonal concrete structures, the kind of rain you only really get in the North and the unpleasant humidity that subsides when you step into her bedroom and slide into her bed. You’ve earned the solace of her arms now. There’s no nobility in it but you can dream. You can even imagine yourself to be the Oscar Wilde of Fetlife.

 

When the vinyl warps and cracks through that ancient system I’m in Gonesville. The dreaminess of Rick singing Lonesome Town, Elvis singing Blue Moon or Barney singing Dream Attack. These are the songs that saved my life.



Kanye West – FML

 

First of all this is one of the biggest pop stars in the world sampling Section 25. That’s something.

 

Second of all, it’s one of the biggest popstars in the world discussing being bipolar. “You ain’t seen nothing crazier than this n***a when he off his LexaPro”.

 

This has nothing to do with Lynch just given my reference to him last episode I wanted to continue my support. Of this multi millionaire. Sickening. Nothing dates like sincerity.



Fad Gadget – Ideal World

 

Oh yeah. The blood spilling out of my TV wasn’t so much of a worry. Worse things happen. I mean I’ve seen the much resented woman of my dreams disappear down a plug hole. The first time she left I knew she must have hated me.

 

You know I just found her. She didn’t even leave a note. Used to be she left a note if she just was going to the shop. So I know at that late stage she despised me. I don’t blame her. I was a waste of skin and teeth. She was in a better place so why did she return just to SPIDERCRAWL leave me again?

 

Me and her second incarnation watched Blue by Derek Jarman and ripple echoes of the old her I felt them. She always loved Jarman. She identified a lot with gay men. She loved queers like me. Her gaze at the ceaseless blue became less spectral. I looked into her eyes and l saw my own reflected in hers. Eyes. It’s always about eyes.

 

Sat in a field before I resigned from that job. I was very handsome. A grinning dog disappeared into a summer haze. A yellow dog with huge, ostentatious teeth. I don’t believe I hallucinated that disappearance into undergrowth. The yellow dog trailing the black dog. I finished my veggie burger and went back to the call centre I worked in that resembled a prison complex. 

 

Back to the afternoon with the Mute book. Some very attractive Irish girls sat with me. I saw myself, handsome but childlike and non threatening, the way I did. Truth be told I envied the bench the blonde one was sat on. Then I went home and pissed Rotten sorry Ronett off.

 

I enjoy the hallways of buildings like that at night. The suicides they sweep under the rug echo back at me. I feel the whisper of the axe and the voices of dead I have loved. I smile at you, vacant. Ingratiating. Watch me jackknife the moon as I smile shaking into your breast. No one is unforgettable. But in a piss stinking basement in June 2018 we overturned the world. 



Mr Bungle – Pink Cigarette

 

I’m going to see this woman in Blackpool and I don’t know why. I’m sat next to a very pretty red haired twink and thinking “I’d rather be hooking up with him”. Looking across the carriage there’s a guy who looks like a low rent low res Francis Bacon Pope, and as he gets off at Poulton le Fylde all those connections are made and I realise why. 

 

I’m nodding off, day drunk on day dreams but he’s here. He’s the man behind the screen pulling the strings. If only he could offer me a shortcut out of my nightmares into someone else’s. Me and Dan the boyband singer met up again. I think he’s in love with me. How embarrassing for at least one of us. Handsome guy but he smells weird.

 

Imagine a version of Back To The Future where Marty McFly went back in time and molested himself as a teenager. Is that just masturbation? How do you punish the crime without blaming the victim?

 

If all Mike Patton’s back catalogue sounded like Pink Cigarette he’d be my favourite person. He does the Double R diner atmos really well. I slow danced with Gersten to this as well. Then a client showed up and my soul died a little more. I’m in negative equity as regards my soul at this point. 

 

So I can’t help but see the parallels: Pulaski discovered a cassette in a fridge behind his flat and I did as well. It’s almost as if someone is watching me. Man, I need to block the windows and cover the mirrors again clearly. Wrap up the knives as well. Nothing reflective can be trusted.

 

“She would do something like this”

 

I’m. Not. A. Misogynist. 

 

“Can you tell what it is yet?”

 

I’m just fashionably late. 

 

“Your letter was only the start of it”

 

5

4.48

0.52

 

It ends when three reduce to one. 

 

Pulaski and Sam walk off in the direction of a warehouse. Sam, prone to hand dance gestures and the chimes the chimes the chimes has no idea what’s in store for her. They walk past a disused Christian book shop. The continent is burning. The witnesses are burning. The world sighs, steeple red and blood dark.Precious Selfish Little yawns and me I’m in this dream place. 

 

Imagine her spider crawl along YOUR ceiling. Would you be happy? Or would you lose your mind as I have? 

 

Lingering in the Tragic Life Stories section of WH Smiths. The newspapers releasing artfully cropped photos of true depravity. They leave the rest to “their” imaginations. The sickest pornography you can buy in a petrol station or pick up for free on a bus. To the pure all things are pure. They are aware of the audience they garner, never forget these sick fucks run the country.

 

I‘m not tranquil. I am tranquilised. This rage will never cease. Let the animals tear themselves to death. 

 

Blood oozing softly with a sub-bass pulsated from the bullet hole in Pulaski’s head after the shooting in the school. The snow fell, covering the nightmare. His head lay in the beloved lap of the man who would one day go looking for him.

 

I’ll let her speak with my voice. I’ll let her see through my eyes. I’ll devote the remains of me to ensuring I prevent as much harm against the innocent as possible. I would give it all up for her. Even if I have to die for it. 

Previous Episodes


Part One

Part Two

Part Three


Selection/Writings/Fiction/Dan Shea





The Monolith Cocktail has coaxed a number of guest spot contributions from the impassioned and adroit musician/writer Dan Shea. Roped into his family’s lo fi cult music business, The Bordellos, from a young age, the candid but humble maverick has gone onto instigate the chthonian Vukovar (currently working through a trio of ‘greatest hits’ packages here) and, with one part of that ever-shambling post-punk troupe, musical foil Buddy Preston, the seedy bedsit synth romantics Beauty Stab (who’ve just this week released their second single ‘French Film Embrace’, here)

An exceptional talent (steady…this is becoming increasingly gushing) both in composing and songwriting, the multi-instrumentalist and singer is also a dab hand at writing. For his debut, Dan shared a grand personal ‘fangirl’ purview of major crush, the late Rowland S. Howard (which can be found here), on the eve of Mute Records appraisal style celebration reissue of his highly influential cult albums ‘Teenage Snuff Film’ and ‘Pop Crimes’. This was followed by an often difficult, unsettling, potted with dark comedy, read on Dan’s friend and foil Simon Morris (of the Ceramic Hobs infamy; the piece can be read here), who took his own life last year.

Now, from his lockdown quarantine, Dan furnishes us with his new series of ‘imaginary film screening jukebox’ selections come loose horror and increasingly unfathomable, intangible fictions.



John Foxx – Blurred Girl

 

Glosso la la la la la lalia

What a beautiful word. What a beautiful world. What a beautiful girl. Birds are blue and sky is singing.

Christmas trees covet British DAYTIME and turn to warn mum but continuing from love, because, I was hunting. Talking (!).. was I furry from the covenant and hating the lithium charityyyyslide. But really I am merely soft and disappointing. I will either become an institution or institutionalised. I cannot sleep i am merely erratic and depressing, it’s fun and then it’s not and then I sleep no more. 

When I sleep for too long it feels like sex magick. I fall from one dream into another and you’re mine all of the time. Maybe my dreams are the most significant part of my life and reality is a distraction? Do you ever feel that way?

Gersten doesn’t have a key but she was suddenly with me in the shower. She shaved me, fully clothed all soaking wet and making sure to “accidentally” cut me in the right places. She put cigarettes out on my nipples as the sun came up. When the moon fell she was gone again. I don’t know where. She doesn’t ask me questions so I try not to be nosey. Nostalgia carved a glow ghost into me.



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Syd Barrett – Late Night

 

I remember playing this and drinking gin and orange while Ronnie fucked the guy from the arts council. The orange ran out as I was drinking the juice straight so eventually I was just necking gin. I passed out face down in a copy of House of Leaves.

My nan gave my dad that record player when he was a teenager as she thought he was dying. I’m 28 so it’s nearly 40 years old. Maybe he did die. Maybe none of this is real.

I fucking hope so or I’ll have to go to my mum and ask her to have an extremely late term abortion. “But REDACTED it’s been nearly 30 years!”, “This is best for everyone.”

The grey eyeless world sighs blood red and steeple dark. The rune cloud shows your name meandering into mine. I can’t remember my name but names aren’t important. There’s nothing in a name. When someone asks me my name I wonder what they think it means and why they believe I’m being honest with them. 

The party is over and we watch the nightlife crop itself shorter still through a haze of smoke. A mute TV shows static, like pictures in the fire I just about make out the image of a screaming woman being forced down a plug hole by a man who is nothing more than dead air. He stares into the camera.

You’d like to think he was looking at you thinking about getting pregnant with my genius but you realise only you think that way and I only ever did in the most mixed of company. 



Leonard Cohen – First We Take Manhattan

 

Lynch or Badalamenti must have played this before they scored Twin Peaks. The horn motif from I’m Your Man happening in the intro to this, foreshadowing almost, makes me view the album like a movie: as endings go Tower of Song is up there with Vertigo or the undecayed angelangelangel in Fire Walk With Me.

am not tranquil I am merely tranquilised

put his girlfriend’s dress on and honour his memory with my hands over my reflection for the second time in as many hours. Imagining my voice is her bratty whine and her hands are mine and he is watching.

Dark mutterings about a car so big you can lose a kid in it and the text messages we swapped after Michael Jackson died. If Kanye was white would you still be mocking him for having a manic episode or would you adopt the standard lib standpoint of making noises about “removing the stigma around mental health issues” while hoping we die soon?

Guilty fantasies about a specific guy caught on To Catch A Predator and what I’d do to make him think he could be released. Cum and come to senses. Gin + rap battles.

You loved me as a loser now you’re worried that I just might win” – L Cohen

Gersten/Rotten is insistent that I transcribe the contents of the tape I found so I will.

It begins with a voice, perhaps your own, asking for your number so they can phone you. It is followed by Surrender by Suicide; Coney Island Baby by Lou Reed; Blue Jeans by Lana Del Rey; Hospital Hurts the Girl by Lemon Kittens; a recording of gurgling water and a man screaming;

Dead Radio by Rowland S Howard; First We Take Manhattan by Leonard Cohen; Voices Seers Voices by Vukovar; Taking Life In Your Hands by John Cale; Blurred Girl by John Foxx; a man screaming about whores; a dignified old man with his hands folded; a man finding a cassette in a fridge.



Robert Rental – Double Heart

 

Side 2 begins with Double Heart by Robert Rental; a man listing songs on a cassette; Jesse by Scott Walker; a man in a shower weeping and screaming into a plug hole; Rothko’s kitchen sink; Voices Seers Voices by Vukovar; ectoplasm; Subterraneans by David Bowie; more ectoplasm; a girl in a black velvet dress; static; JG Ballard JG Ballard JG BALLARD; a megaphone swan song; Rook from Black Dresses describing you; an eternal loop of Gersten pissing.

Me I’m fine. The Swastika Girls dropped around and silently put beer in my fridge. I have been renamed Thomas Communication.

SHIT taming a hoover feel your gratitude and do my own part by some shouting. I want not know not feela thing same the and same the outside your mum arrives and 2 rings in2 hovering ion.

You were my music box dancer and you tried to be everything to everyone. I think endlessly of you in humiliating situations. I draw sigils on paper and use this to mop up drops of dhaal. 

Double Heart by Robert Rental drips the grey romance of a woozy early morning in Glasgow. It makes me shiver. It’s so fragile, unadorned angelangelixx. The drums are by the guy from DAF I believe. It’s a truly beautiful record. Like if Arthur Russell was Scottish.

In my memory it was playing when me and Ronnie sat down in that bubble tea place at what felt like the latest hour possible but was in fact March 8PM. In reality some terrible Disney sounding Asian pop music was playing. I remember buying a book of all the artwork from Mute Records releases and sitting in the sun getting gradually less and less sensible in some terrible hipster bar’s beer garden reading it. That was a great solitary afternoon. I prefer it when it’s by choice, though.



Tom Waits – Sea of Love

 

“Do you think Waits and Lynch working together would be too on the nose? To straightforwardly look at these old American weirdos fan service?”

An old man in a shop mobility scooter is slumped dead to the world behind the wheel. He is careening down a hill holding a can of cider which remains unspilled. 

“Nah. You overthink. The preponderance of midgets and people missing limbs in both their work aside.”



Transcript from Scene from Pulaski: The Disappeared

Sam is sat outside a cafe smoking a cigarette. She is drinking a cup of coffee. She is dressed in terrible early 00s cyber goth clothes including huge sunglasses. Pulaski approaches and sits down opposite her. 

 

Sam

Are you not going to have anything?

 

Pulaski

There’s time for that later. We can have all we want when we get there.

 

Sam

Where?

 

Pulaski

Remember that dream, where you were sat where I am now? Your sunglasses were just as big.

 

Sam

You kept telling me I looked like a goth owl.

 

Pulaski

Andrew Owldritch, yes.

 

Sam

Who?

 

Pulaski

And now you sound like an owl.

 

Sam

Who’s Andrew Owldritch?

 

Pulaski

It’s a play on Andrew Eldritch.

 

Sam

Who’s Andrew Eldritch?

 

Pulaski

Sisters of Mercy.

 

Beat.

 

Pulaski

You’re a shit goth. Let’s go.

 

Sam walks off with Pulaski still holding her cup and saucer. 

 

That’s how I remember it. I don’t think Lynch directed it as everyone had Northern accents and the dialogue definitely isn’t Lynchian. I’d upload a link to it but it’s only sometimes on my hard drive and whenever I upload the video my bathroom ceiling collapses.

Fragments of it keep bleeding through, distorted other dream languages. I’ll keep you updated as I remember it.



Galaxie 500 – Snowstorm

 

Several times I find myself soundtracking my life like its a film. Like the way I deliberately put Technique on when Ronn was arriving; or when I played Celluloid Heroes by The Kinks walking through a downpour knowing it’d make me feel like I was in a Wes Anderson film.

This was accidental and I’m aware I’m stretching the limits of plausible deniability here but I hope up to this point in my rolling news for Monolith Cocktail I have given you no reason to doubt the veracity of anything you have read.

didn’t originally plan to perform the ritual that briefly brought Ronnie back. I’d had a heavy night okay. 

One calm crisp evening I had finished work for the week. I went home, had a shower and as is my custom dressed up nicely to go out and see friends.

wore a blue and black polka dot shirt, some new black jeans, my brown leather Chelsea boots and my battered leather jacket. I put on a bit of eye shadow and back combed my hair a bit so I’d look full Mary Chain. Checking my pockets for my phone, wallet, keys and personal alarm I set out into a calm crisp winter evening. 

The holes in the sky were for once conspicuous by their absence although en route I did nearly get into a fight with a tree. A perfect moment – as Snowstorm by Galaxie 500 played it began to snow. A moment of beauty that compelled me to sit in the park by the bar til it was over.

I drank too much this I know but I’m told I did nothing embarrassing and no one even knew there was an issue. Walking home however was a fucking nightmare. Not just because of the snow and hail getting in my eyes but because as I approached the stretch of road to the HACK DOOR my surroundings began to shift.

The lightings were all a lot brighter now but flicker. The ground now throbbed criss-crossed with network veins that pulsated sickeningly conveying the blood through the infant city. I dragged on, trying to avoid the veins as you would cracks in the pavement. A sudden sense something was watching me as the path home elongated. Every step the word Ritual. Step. Ritual. Step. Ritual.

I looked to his left to see the source of the voice. The voice I think with sounds like my own so I knew it wasn’t me. Nothing. Buildings unchanged. To the right there was a thing dragging itself along. A bloated foetal figure gurgling and puking, an umbilicus ever extending with my every step. The malformed lips mouth ritual but the sound arrives fully formed in my head.

This continued for hours and somehow along the way I found myself naked and bloodied. Ritual. Step. Ritual. Step. Finally my head voice spoke yes and I found myself again fully dressed and deposited on the back step. I looked up at the HACK DOOR and saw it form in smoke. Ritual. Your bind rune meanders into mine forming ours. Tattooed on the tin foil mirror of my synapse the first time she came home from death.

I realise I drew this sigil the night we met. That’s the night I first knew I was your pet. I want to tell you how much I love you but I’m drowning in a sea of love where everyone would love to drown. 



Ramones – Pet Sematery

 

Farrow sits in his office staring blankly at a block red painting with a black life rune drawn on it. Smoke spools outside the window. A cup of coffee on his desk, a cigarette in his hand. An assistant walks in and, trying not to make eye contact with him, hangs a black painting with a red death rune on next to it. He then scurries out. Farrow stands. 

Farrow

How blind I have been!

He then sits down again and resumes staring.

The display turns to static. Maybe your own refleReflected in the TV is a worried looking man sat next to a catatonic woman. The head resting on his shoulder: is it for comfort or to keep her upright?

 

Dan Shea


Previous Episodes:

#1

#2

Selection/Horror-Lit/Dan Shea





The Monolith Cocktail is grateful to have coaxed a number of guest spot contributions from the impassioned and adroit musician/writer Dan Shea. Roped into his family’s lo fi cult music business, The Bordellos, from a young age, the candid but humble maverick has gone onto instigate the chthonian Vukovar (currently working through a trio of ‘greatest hits’ packages here) and, with one part of that ever-shambling post-punk troupe, musical foil Buddy Preston, the seedy bedsit synth romantics Beauty Stab (who’ve just this month released their second single ‘French Film Embrace’, here)

An exceptional talent (steady…this is becoming increasingly gushing) both in composing and songwriting, the multi-instrumentalist and singer is also a dab hand at writing. For his debut, Dan shared a grand personal ‘fangirl’ purview of major crush, the late Rowland S. Howard (which can be found here), on the eve of Mute Records appraisal style celebration reissue of his highly influential cult albums ‘Teenage Snuff Film’ and ‘Pop Crimes’. This was followed by an often difficult, unsettling, potted with dark comedy, read on Dan’s friend and foil Simon Morris (of the Ceramic Hobs infamy; the piece can be read here), who took his own life last year.

Now, from his lockdown quarantine, Dan furnishes us with his new series of ‘imaginary film screening jukebox’ selections come loose horror fictions. Part Two awaits….



Lemon Kittens – The Hospital Hurts The Girl

“Not all lives matter. Not the lives of the people who make people like us into people like us. Not at all”

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5

“Some fires have to be put out. No one cares for the sentience of the flame. I invite you closer, with that, to a darker fire.”

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5

“What’re you cunting on about you drunk cunt?”

Listening to music in the shower is a pointless exercise as the water drowns it out. Drinking in silence in the shower is pure desolation. Listening to music in the shower while drinking, baby, that’s where it’s at. O the cruelty of duty. Memory shards hath made me a glow ghost.

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1

I closely inspect the plughole. She’s not down there. Ronette, baby, how could we fall so far? Karl Blake’s stentorian voice washes over me as I drain the rest of this can of Perla. It seems she only appears in the drain when I’m blinking so I stop blinking. The water is hot, but not that hot. Not as hot as it was when

“Well, you know”

988rtdCdf4e3

A series of still images:

A small child falling down the stairs. The doll body photographed mid air. 

A bird falling from the sky. The bird is photographed mid air. 

A dignified old man, clasping his hands in front of him. His granddaughter is playing with a toy monkey. 

An echo, maybe your echo.


John Cale – Taking Life In Your Hands

 

Gersten called. It was the strangest thing. I didn’t even need to switch my phone on to hear her speaking. When we last spoke I’d called her drunk out of my mind because I’d deluded myself that she’d committed suicide. She said she was worried about me and wanted to check I was okay. I reassured her that I wasn’t.

“Sampling is such an integral part of the process for many that sample clearance isn’t a worry unless you sell a million records anyway. Incidentally I am quite pissed and thinking about weird fetishes I have developed. Like attractive women coughing, dunno what that’s about. Gerst, I frequently imagine you in humiliating situations but ones where your beauty is fully showcased.”

Our favourite client called around as well. He wanted to check I was okay. I reassured him I wasn’t then I sucked his dick. I wish people would stop pitying me and checking on me.

‘magine et main line the scene – he’s pissed on supermarket spirits that he’s drinking out of a Pepsi bottle in the snow and you’re doing exactly the same. He’s sat outside a pub smoking the lonely remnants of a fag. And then i come along, also the lonely remnants of a fag.

The echo resounds, maybe even your own echo. 

Gersten angel angelangelangelangel.

It’s at this point it becomes clear that there is either more than one narrator or that the narrator has lost his fucking mind. 

A bird falling from the sky. The bird is photographed mid air. Fish are flopping gasping and rotting on the dried up riverbed. The dog kids have arrived. The grey pin prick holes are opening wider to close again when you look away. The moon stands still on the day I am finally calcified.



David Bowie – Subterraneans

Low is a great album about depression. It really captures that feeling perfectly. I read a section in a recent Bowie biography recently about him totally losing his shit when John Lennon died. Otherwise he came off as quite cold and calculating.

Low was finishing on the afternoon Gersten came into my life. I was sat, hungover, in my living room listening to Low when a mist descended upon me. Not a metaphorical mist either. The air was electric blue and sugar. My senses were not all that was fogged. As Subterraneans wound to a close, Bowie’s lonely sax honks amid the churning proto Coil electronics, there was a knock at the door.

I waded through the fog to the hack door. I had presumed it was someone who knew me, as it’s common knowledge I only really answer the front door to get a pizza. An attractive woman in her late 30s was stood there. G.

“Dan I need to hide out somewhere for a while. Things just aren’t making sense.”

She kissed me and I didn’t care that I didn’t know who she was but she somehow knew who I was. When a film noir beauty shows up, as soon as you’ve felt her up enough to be clear she’s not packing heat you let the dame in and pour her a drink. 

The first time a client came around was a bit of a shock I’ll admit but I just busied myself in the living room. The first time a client asked me to join in was even more of a shock but now we work only as a pair. It’s cool. I get to live out my Dennis Cooper fantasies even as my late 20s takes me from twink to otter.

The broad certainly had a hold on me, a vice like grip on the verge of splitting my balls like an egg. 

I envision us now. The party is over and I’m on the verge of disappearing into the couch. I’ve put Roy Orbison’s bizarre attempt at disco Laminar Flow on to gently encourage people to fuck in the off direction. Our mute TV shows only static. You step in front of me in your black velvet dress. I unzip it to find you have nothing on underneath. You climb into my lap, Gersten/Ronette/Naomi and this comes on.



Rowland S Howard – Dead Radio

 

I’ve always found pale skinny boys who look like they take too many drugs smoking to be a turn on. Now it turns out, thanks to you, I’m turned on by women doing it. 

I was SCREAAAAAMING into a microphone between your legs as you dumped the ashes into a can of Red Stripe. We were both naked. This was streamed across the world and we both got ourselves off to the video after the fact. 

This tension in glances, this French film embrace this lustful tarantella. I carve my initials into you with my tongue. You’re the most beautiful woman of my nightmares. Your voice is lullaby soft and ethereal chimes sound in your wake. I press my face between your thighs and whisper your name into the depths of you.

I refuse to watch this one disappear. I call her up, I’ve fallen off the wagon and I’m making no sense. I’ve not eaten for days because I’m conscious of people wondering who the fat guy she’s with is. Maybe he’s a community pet she looks after. Maybe the council make her drive him around.

I was having one of my nightmares about past abuse and I woke up sweating in her arms. She calmed me down until I closed my eyes and saw her ceiling spider crawling. He reopened the eyes and you said softly to him “Supplanter?”



Vukovar – Voices / Seers / Voices

One of my clients was Dan from Vukovar. Apparently his then girlfriend had paid for him to hook up with me and G, she was a stern faced American lady who sat and watched. Anabella her name was. What he lacked in confidence he made up for with a strange, hand flapping autistic charm.

One SNOWY CALM CRISP FUCK morning I awoke to find someone had dumped a fridge behind my house. IN THERE I FOUND A CASSETTE. I WILL TRANSCRIBE THE TRACK LIST FOR YOU WHEN I AM AT LIBERTY. AT PRESENT THAT DAME IS MONOPOLISING MY TIME LIKE CYNDI LAUPER. 

Dan wouldn’t stop going on about this guy called Simon, stank of booze and insisted on us playing Rowland S Howard while this was all happening which suited me. Everything was amazing and cool to him, like he was American or something. He was strangely insistent on blowing me on the shower and he kept inspecting the plug hole as if I he could see her peeking out.

What gets me isn’t the lurid neon atrocity but the revelation of the lack revealed. Gemma Barker. I’m like Sotos but I fetishise the aggressor not the victim. My art will bleed into your world and you will question even traffic lights. Show me what you are and I’ll show you what I’ve already taken. Relax, baby. It’s done. 



New Order – Dream Attack

 

I remember the first time I met Ronette. We’d been talking online for a long time and she flew over from Germany for us to both stay in an Air B’n’B (bed and breakfast) in Hulme. I wanted to go there but my passport had expired and I was skint. She looked a lot like Gersten come to think of it.

I was greeted at the door by a dishevelled Welsh man in a bathrobe called Ralph who gave me the key to the flat and we sat and had a cup of tea and bemoaned the fortunes of Blackburn Rovers. My mate Cam had a trial for them. Good guy, Cam. We met in a dream.

I was listening to Technique by New Order and then I got a text. “Sweetie I’m outside”. Me and Ronnie met for the first time with Dream Attack playing, and Ralph was there. We kissed like our lips were molten.

Part of the reason I love Dream Attack is that despite Bernard’s obvious lyrical shortcomings, “I can’t see the sense in you leaving” is such a great line. Such a practical Northern way of looking at it. “Do you have to go? It’s a bit pointless.”. I couldn’t see the sense in Ronnie going that time. Or when she went down the plug hole. That was really fucking weird.


Dan Shea

Written by Rick Clarke/Illustrations by Andrzej Klimowski





Expanding the Monolith Cocktail’s remit to include more in the way of new literature and poetic musings of a kind, we are pleased to announce the serialization of burgeoning author and rallying beacon of the band Vukovar Rick Clarke’s new novel The Great Immurement. The first three chapters, kindly and perceptively illustrated by the much-respected Andrzej Klimowski, can be found below with an introduction from Monolith Cocktail contributor, budding author in his own right and Vukovar bandmate, Dan Shea.



INTRODUCTION UNDER NO DURESS

It’s not about our friendship or his influence on my own writing – not at all. What you are about to read is the process of years of reduction. It’s easy to vomit a stream of consciousness onto a blank page; far harder to chip the block away into something meaningful.

Rick has written something that, in my view, is beautifully emotive without ever being obvious. I feel he’s a great talent and I’m privileged to call him a friend and have the invitation to write this. Under no duress whatsoever. (Dan Shea)



THE GREAT IMMUREMENT

This is the first and last time there will be grounding in real-life, real-earth. All that flows forth from now is descension, are fever dreams; are misremembered and dismembered recollections of the disordered mind; are actual encounters of the im/possible death of The Great Immured. The six year span of this entrance into the Otherlands is where eternity ends, where the Abdication Of The Body begins.

Let me then create you.

This is the end. This is the start.

Let me then begin this eternal six years. Today is the oldest I will ever be again. I lock ourselves away, I construct no exit and I instruct a way out to those outside, those negligible energies. My name means first and last.

The walls are concrete, the doors are concrete, the windows are concrete. There was a concrete fantasy. I stare straight into the greyness.

There is no-thing here, no descriptions. All that is needed is no-thing; there should never be a need.

When we are immured, when we see it from the inside, we see that all light is absent and all light is present; this retinal pessimism dictates that there is nothing to see, but it’s all that we can see. And then all times are in the mind’s eye.



THE CONCRETE FANTASY




There’s a town. The town in which we lived, actually. At the moment it sickens this irrelevant little God with the halfway devotions to our own aesthetic ideals. It wants/wanted to be a brutalist wasteland, but is as yet, as is now, uncommitted. A place as a partial seizure.

The people are inbred (which is fine) and offer nothing except hedonism (which is fine) which we can get anywhere. We want something less, we want less than nothing.

Of this town, I am thine only saint; the Patron Saint Of The Archaic, and I need my own continuous monument.

We keep looking into the every-greying grey, my stare travels through eight interlocking circles. We decide it can’t be broken, and so, for now, it can’t.

I dream of razing the town in a similar circles, a radius of 13 miles in fact. And I want the garden to be perfectly flat concrete. A Concretopia. A blinding greyness.

In the V V V centre is a building. It’s an imposing concrete cube. There are no windows except one tiny one on each of the four faces. Every one of the four is near the top, right in the middle, so that I can look upon my Winter, my own purgatory. But we never will. There are mirrors in the windows, designed in a miracle way to only have a view as though I were looking from the outside. We only want to look upon my creation.

We hear us think of the inside, but we cut this from our mind. Some of us prefer an illusion, some of us prefer the mystery. Once the unknown becomes known, it can be the Death of Desire. I’d rather suffer from my love of all this because at least this malady has a melody, rather than the emptiness of content. Or maybe all these things all other ways around.

Dim the vision and stop the tape – and now it didn’t happen. The secrets of the secrets are still hidden.



THE VISIBLE MAN




Knock knock? You are all the guest we need.

Knock knock. Okay.

An invisible fist upon my invisible door.

I reach up and out of my invisible chair, turn to the invisible lamp and reluctantly switch it on.

The invisible rays strike my eyes, strike my face and light up my invisible room. It’s unforgivingly vast.

Nothing is real, we offhandedly tell myself. It’s easily forgotten.

My invisible window allows me to peer into the invisible unknown.

I can see the invisible man, flooded by his invisible coat and holding in his invisible hand, an invisible letter.

I take the invisible envelope which contains an invisible message, which should enthral me or at least catch my attention, but I find that it doesnt.

Not much does, not least invisible objects of invisible non-desire.

I sink back into my invisible chair.

In silence, I take up my invisible pen and so begin to scrawl across invisible paper a lackluster response.

Not quite invisible, but not far off. I smile – somewhat – into my invisible mirror and thank an invisible God that I may still see myself.


Author Rick Clarke/Illustrations by Andrzej Klimowski

FEATURE/SELECTION/Dan Shea





The Monolith Cocktail is ecstatic and grateful to have coaxed a guest spot contribution from the impassioned and adroit musician/writer Dan Shea. Roped into his family’s lo fi cult music business, The Bordellos, from a young age, the candid but humble maverick has gone onto instigate the chthonian Vukovar (currently working through a trio of ‘greatest hits’ packages here) and, with one part of that ever-shambling post-punk troupe, musical foil Buddy Preston, the seedy bedsit synth romantics Beauty Stab (who’ve just this week released their second single ‘French Film Embrace’, here)

An exceptional talent (steady…this is becoming increasingly gushing) both in composing and songwriting, the multi-instrumentalist and singer is also a dab hand at writing. For his debut, Dan shared a grand personal ‘fangirl’ purview of major crush, the late Rowland S. Howard (which can be found here), on the eve of Mute Records appraisal style celebration reissue of his highly influential cult albums ‘Teenage Snuff Film’ and ‘Pop Crimes’. This was followed by an often difficult, unsettling, potted with dark comedy, read on Dan’s friend and foil Simon Morris (of the Ceramic Hobs infamy; the piece can be read here), who took his own life last year.

Now, from his lockdown quarantine, Dan furnishes us with the first of his ‘imaginary film screening jukebox’ selections come loose horror fictions.



Surrender – Suicide

 

A Kenneth Anger motorbike gang, gay greasers checking their hair in the switchblade reflection. Using semen as Brylcreem. The homecoming queen dumped like so many empty bottles and cans.

Vega as Vegas.

The backing vocals drift in from a malt shop that was burned down by some queer bashers pre Stonewall and no one flinched. In a world where high school sweethearts go to a drive in to sneakily and fumblingly attempt autoerotic asphyxiation together as they watch Jayne Mansfield crash in slow motion.

When Vega sings, “I surrender to you”, it could be sex or God or just the voices shrieking through the tinfoil mirror of our synapses but aren’t all those things the same? Lynch would play this behind beehived girls in tight red sweaters first lesbian tryst behind a doughnut shop ran by Anton LaVey and Ricki Lake.

 

Which Way To Turn – Bryan Ferry

One of weird uncle David’s mystery blondes in trouble smiles from a smashed picture frame, a Stepford femme fatale. All the memory I can dredge up is here. Artfully hung and shot drapes blow in a late summer breeze. A heatwave desire and hungover regret. Blood on your lips, lipstick oozing out of your wounds. The plastic rum cups Mike gave us in the bar are overturned.

“I can’t control my feelings if I tried” sung with all the hauteur this high society Frankenstein can muster. Ferry is often spoken about as some style icon, ignoring how goofy he has frequently looked. See the Manifesto red leather suit, the Top of the Pops Jealous Guy Alan Partridge outfit or his giant shirt in The High Road. For ages I thought something was lost when he became the figure he started out parodying yet yearning to be on the first Roxy albums but that’s a lazy cliché.

This period is one of straw etching your initials in coke on a mixing desk, high-class session musicians playing three notes then disappearing. Some of my favourite stuff he did. The powder lasts an hour but the regret lingers eternal.

 

Lou Reed – Coney Island Baby

 

Lana Del Rey – Blue Jeans

 

The personal connections are all but overwhelming here. I band these two together as Lynch used Lou on a soundtrack and Lana IS Dorothy Vallens and Frank Booth and Sandy and Jeffrey. She’s not just the mystery woman in trouble but the architect of your demise. Lou, he’s the man behind the curtain. Whispering these tracheotomy hymns through a straw, through a hole in your wall into your sleeping mind.

I’d put these back to back to dehydrate myself: Lou’s choked murmur of “I could give the whole thing up for you” will never not crumple me. Send this one out to Lou and Rachel, the romantic ideal of my nightmares.

 

Lydia Lunch – I Fell In Love With A Ghost

 

should’ve learned the lesson from Pet Sematary and Vertigo. I’d done all I could but she came back wrong. 

She didn’t reply to anything I said, other than as a series of strangled groans. I heard “yes” where I wanted to hear yes. The first time I caught her crawling spider like along my ceiling, mournfully unaware how she got there should’ve been the tip off. Or the way there was nothing behind her eyes. But even though she’d died and she was now just a beautiful empty vessel, she looked the same. I imagined her side of our conversation the way I did when she was still dead. 

Then she was in the bath. This was progress. She was able to wash herself. I supervised, to keep her safe and because I wanted to. She kept turning the hot tap. The bath water was boiling, smoke was rising and she was crying out pathetically. Water spilling over the edge of the bath. The screams got louder. I tried to turn the hot tap off and she lunged forward and head butted me with a force that sent me unconscious SPRAWLED. 

I came around in a pool of bloody water in time to watch the love of my life disappear down the plughole.

 

Cocteau Twins – Musette and Drums

 

Dylan and Patrick meet in a side street. The snow is still falling lightly, flakes landing on their black leather jackets. They embrace knowing this is truly the last time. The sound of traffic is all but overwhelming but there is not a car to be seen. 

They kiss and blood oozes from Dylan’s lips. He turns, walks away and disappears entirely into thin air. He is dragged out of the sea by trawlers, his arms tied behind his back and his eyes pierced by emeralds: “natural causes”.

Smoke enshrouds us as we reach the clearing. I take your hand and we kiss. The world is ending, the tiny grey pinpricks in the sky are opening up. Remember when I first told you I saw them? Be quiet, the ice is melting. 

 

Xiu Xiu – Botanica de Los Angeles

 

Gersten Hayward is turning tricks now and I want her for her mind as much as her body. That’s okay. I’m turning tricks as well. You get a discount for hiring us as a couple. If you look like a young David Lynch then I don’t charge. 

Her love is free to me and as for the whoring it keeps us in whiskey and hash browns. We watch Mulholland Drive together. She freezes, but not at the scene in the diner. Something suddenly clicks in her. 

“Dan?”

“Yes darling?”

“I’ve got the incredible feeling that I’m not real”

“Gersten I’ve been dreading this conversation. It is true that you are fictional. I am unsure if I am also fictional.”

“How did my mother birth a fiction?”

I show her the clip from The Return where she is cradling her ODing boyfriend and gently tell her that because he was never born he can never die. This is why I am largely anti natalist. Then a client comes by.

 

SSQ – Anonymous

 

The party is over and we watch the nightlife crop itself shorter still through a haze of smoke. A mute TV shows static, like pictures in the fire I just about make out the image of a screaming man watching an emaciated woman disappearing down a plughole. He is entirely naked and smearing his genitals with lipstick. 

Thankfully you / she steps in my way. A cigarette dangles from your drunken lips. You don’t even smoke. You in that black velvet dress. You turn around and bid me to unzip it, smiling at me. 

Then I wake up in their living room. Where I first heard this record. I thought it was a synth pop revivalist record. Something like the Chromatics where it’s so fetishistically close to that mid 80s sound you think it could only have been made in the last ten years. No. It’s actually from the mid 80s and prefaces her hi NRG records.

The girl is real but she wants nothing to do with me. She probably doesn’t even own a black velvet dress. Gersten hasn’t been returning my calls. Maybe I should try ringing her number.

 

Scott Walker – Jesse

 

It’s a shame Lynch and Walker never worked together as this always makes me think of Episode 8. The slow motion Jailhouse Rock chords make me imagine the earth opening itself up to weep. The Penderecki strings that have ran through Scott’s work since as early as Plastic Palace People or It’s Raining Today.

The 50s he dreams of never happened. They are an autistic reflection in a fish bowl. Elvis was weirder than anything you could ever dream up. We don’t deserve rock’n’roll.

I dreamt you were crawling through a tunnel looking for me. My stuck needle entreaties and iconoclast drag. I watch her crawl across the ceiling. I, your supplanter. 

Now I’m day drunk on daydreams on a train and an Indian man is shaking me. “We’ve terminated mate. The train is over”. My psychic next of kin I’d know you in my sleep. I, Supplanter.


TRIBUTE
Words: Dan Shea





Probably the most candid and personal post the Monolith Cocktail has ever posted, Dan Shea pays a special tribute to the late co-founder of the Blackpool punk and miscreant diy experimentalists The Ceramic Hobs, Simon Morris, who went missing on the 7th December 2019. His body was later found in the River Wyre on 20th December.

Leaving an indelible mark not just musically on Shea (the St. Helens musical polymath plays in a myriad of cult, influential bands, from The Bordellos to Vukovar and Beauty Stab) Morris helped him, in his own fashion, deal with the trauma of being raped. It’s an often difficult, unsettling read, potted with dark comedy, insights and anecdotes. An essential read I’d say.


NOTES FROM THE PSYCHIATRIC UNDERGROUND, or Why I Miss Simon Morris

It all began with a smirk edging across that kind fuck’s face as it dawned on him I wasn’t taking the piss with this patter.

“I’ve been into Ceramic Hobs quite a lot recently. I listen to Psychiatric Underground by them almost as much as I listen to Teenage Snuff Film by Rowland S Howard.”

Preston eccentric twenty years before you were born Mad “Mad” Tony wasn’t there to save me from my faux pas and stop me dribbling on about Ceramic Hobs to the guy whose band it was. He was busy chatting to Rose MacDowall about something mad people talk about. Simon didn’t correct me and I met him a further three times before he admitted that he WAS Ceramic Hobs, disappearing to Kate Fears car to give us some copies of a single he’d been aggressively handing to people.

You know, I didn’t know what he looked like. He’s not a Popstar or a pop tart (he definitely was a bit of a tart though – that’s a quaint way of saying he was a slut for anyone unaware, I know pot kettle etc.). I’m glad I didn’t because if I’d known who he was I would have had to wait for Rick to approach him or bully me into doing so – he’s good like that. He’s been the making of me, that guy.

Our unholy union was cemented with a round of “Whitehouse karaoke” over the sound of a malfunctioning white reggae bands malfunctioning sound behind a tent at a beer festival in Preston that Vukovar had been playing. As enquiring minds need to know I should specify the Whitehouse song was A Cunt Like You. This was the sound of being alive, cunt.





I know that this sounds ridiculous but I was incredibly nervous the first time he invited me to come to his house. I remember leaving Marilyn’s flat in Manchester and talking to him on the phone, nervously, about Kanye West. I remember every moment of that day, remarkable considering how much was drank. I won’t kiss and tell you can buy his book Sea of Love for the sordid details.

When we were sat in his living room finishing the wine the following morning, all nervousness had faded. He held me while I had a quick nap stroking my hair. Then when I awoke resumed his customary “conversation as blood sport” of scurrilous gossip; references to Oi! bands, dead porn stars and obscure high proof liquor you can only get from fucking squeezing a squids bell end dunno; genuine affection through insults and mockery through compliment. Walked me to the station in one of his fucking awful sleeveless t shirts and neither one regretted a thing.

I left Vukovar for a while and Simon, taking time off from pretending to be winding down Ceramic Hobs, good as replaced me. It was his presence was a major factor in bringing me back into the fold. I fondly recall a lot of silliness and moments of utter wonder.





I think of him bellowing his way through deranged country songs he may have invented as the lovely Gea Philes tried to sleep. I think of the camp, haughty way he’d begin a sentence “you know….” pushing his glasses up his nose and pursing his lips. I think of him winding Rick up by going on and on about his dad making a book for him when he was a kid called The Retarded Faggot’s Bumper Book of Willes.

I think of him referring to me for a whole day only as “the twink”. I think of us being sat in a pub in Preston talking about how his dad met Sleazy from Coil, and him suddenly deciding that I should be interested in a man across the bar and trying to introduce me to this poor timid guy (who was actually quite cute to be fair but I wasn’t in the frame of mind). 

He showed me Salo for the first time with a terrible American accented dub that turned it into a John Waters esque black comedy. He introduced me to Ramleh, Skullflower and lots of bands of that ilk. When I was in the pain of torments real and imagined he’d calm me down. He also introduced me to the idea of fish sticks.

The last time we spoke, after accusing my best friend of being a cop and having arranged for me to be raped at knifepoint, he went on to enthuse about Shane MacGowan’s solo records and the lesbian cult film Times Square that Marilyn, staying over with their now husband, had shown me. His last words: “you’re a gorgeous kid and I love you but you smell funny.”.

Does it hurt, Simon, turning luminous?

 

Mad Pride Worldwide

When someone gives you that hackneyed “it’s okay to not be okay” speech look at them with the pity they deserve and treat it the way you would the dribbling of a beloved senile relative.

It’s not okay. Some of us would give anything to feel clean again. It’s all fine til the illness starts manifesting itself in real, visceral ways like when I’m calling you at 5 in the morning all my windows and mirrors covered to stop them watching and asking you if you know when They started to conspire against me or when She or He sleeps with a knife next to her bed because of what They did to them. When all that we are dying to try conceals ways we are trying to die. 

It’s the scars and grotesque weight loss you look away from. It’s not socially acceptable. It’d probably scare your boss and your neighbours. And they should be scared but not for the reasons they think.

You know, when I was waiting on HIV tests following the worst knife point pain of my life we made a black comedy playlist for an AIDS reveal party. Lots of Queen, Infected by The The, Another Invented Disease by the Manics etc. I found out I was Negative and we were very happy. 

You still view schizophrenics as cackling caricatures from the Victorian asylum. You romanticise the diseases who take my friends and leave me a shambling drunken paranoid wreck. You who fetishise quirk and abhor weird. The words which describe our condition you use as insults.

You say I shouldn’t be ashamed just often enough for me to realise you don’t mean it. I’m a good whore who goes where he’s kicked – you’re ashamed of me but I’m fucking not. 

Hear the beauty of our Notes from the Psychiatric Underground (Dostoyevsky knew what he was talking about the old perv). This is why Mad Pride is so important: we all come into this world naked bloody and screaming and on occasion spend the odd weekend that way but it doesn’t have to be that we leave that way. We must not do this alone!

I think of him onstage with Smell & Quim naked but for an apron with a swastika on and looking like a Northern Leland Palmer. His onstage shout stolen from Consumer Electronics of “if you don’t behave Daddy won’t perform”. How he could have upped the tastelessness stakes by alternating it daddy for Maddy and wearing a Madeleine McCann mask. It’d fit perfectly with the Smell and Quim style I reckon. You should do it, Si!

Sleaze Daddy was a maddy but not a baddy. Sadly and madly went away.  It’s one hell of a sad long shadow to inhabit but I clutch at the void of his absence for warmth. Take comfort in the arms of women who knew you. It’s me, your little Venice bitch.

 

The Show Must Go On

It used to be I hated Queen. But through Simons love of them, and all manner of other stodgy classic rock it doesn’t behoove an art fag of my stature to even acknowledge, I’ve come to tolerate them.

I like that they are one of the bands UKIPPYBREXITCUNTS like but were fronted by an Asian queer who died of AIDS for one. For that reason alone they’re more subversive than a lot of people even if they did straight wash Freddie in the film about him.

I know I’ve not written about Simon’s music but I’m still not ready to hear his voice again. His voice was a sonic weapon, sculpted in Blackpool by years of booze, fags, screaming along to Whitehouse and drinking his coffee instantly without ever bloody waiting for it to cool down which used to go through me.

He loved it when I told him that Explosion in A Dustbin Factory ruined an amorous moment between me and a cute Korean guy.

Simon pointed out to me how much I Want To Break Free sounds like a coming out song and, now you mention it, there’s a yearning in that and Someone to Love of the hits that I do find very poignant. I don’t mind admitting that the first time I heard The Show Must Go On after his death I began to sob.

I’ve been doing a lot of crying since December, in varying states of sobriety. The day I found out I cried like I’ve never cried in my life. I miss that fucking incredible brain so much. I can’t believe I’m never going to think “Si, you daft bastard what have you done now”. I’m writing this at the stage of grief where I feel like part of me died with him. But another part was born, as every cradle is a grave.

 

Playlist 

 

My relationship with Simon Morris in chronology of song:

Love Letters Like Suicide Notes – Ceramic Hobs

Deep Water – Strawberry Switchblade

Absolute Beginners – David Bowie

Just Like a Cunt – Whitehouse

Explosion in a Dust Bin Factory – Ceramic Hobs

Final Solution – Lydia Lunch

Keep Yourself Alive – Queen

The Sound – Swans

Victoria Station Massacre – The Fall

Station to Station – David Bowie

Mr Brownstone – Flowers and Firearms

Too Drunk To Fuck – Dead Kennedys

Don’t Get AIDS – The Worried Well

Never Surrender – Blitz

Voices Seers Voices – Vukovar

The Wind Cries Mary – Jimi Hendrix

Mysteries of Love – Julee Cruise

Those First Impressions – Associates

Valentine – Sisters of Mercy

The Boxer – Simon and Garfunkel

Teardrops – Womack and Womack

Romeos Distress – Christian Death

Musette and Drums – Cocteau Twins

The Hanging Man – The Blue Orchids

Leave Me Alone – The Oppressed

Hope Is A Dangerous Thing For A Woman Like Me To Have – Lana Del Rey

Judas as Black Moth – Current 93

Heartworms – Coil

Double Heart – Robert Rental

Cement and Cerement – Vukovar

Summer in Siam – The Pogues

The Push – Consumer Electronics

Safe From Heaven – Ceramic Hobs





I, Supplanter

You can’t just emulate, Dan. You must fully replace. 

His body is dead but his influence is multiplying. Just as his books were all for poor sweet Calum Terras then everything I do from this point on, creatively at least, is for Simon.

want so much to impress you. It’s you it’s you it’s all for you. Notice me, Sleaze Daddy. I’ll even call you that for real without retching this time. It’s me your little Venice bitch.  

The thing is that I know everything you’d say anyway, the things you’d spew vitriol about but secretly enjoy and the things you’d say you loved to keep the image of the great contrarian (emphasis on cunt). I keep running into you in dreams and maybe that’s where our real lives are.

I think about recording your vocal to the Vukovar song Cement and Cerement. You crouching and howling with all your beautiful intensity, singing that painfully prophetic chorus over and over, then quietly asking “can I go back upstairs and watch my nonce hunter videos now”.

You’re safe and warm and home in heaven now: heaven for you a cheap hotel room with a constantly refilling fridge full of red wine and Morrisons garlic breads, and Jesus is showing you how to use incognito tabs cos he’s sick of getting recommendations based on the pervy shite you’re watching. It got a bit awkward when he read the phrase “stigmata handjob”.

Or are you walking among us? Eternally wandering, exploring. Are you watching me, like in Wings of Desire? You could be over my shoulder watching me write this as I sit in a bar: I struggle to write in my flat, I need the ambient sound of strangers conversation and music I wouldn’t listen to by choice. Several times people have come over to check on me because they can see the tears in my eyes. John, the barman, is telling them “he’s fine he comes here to write and he’s an emotional guy.”.

The grey eyeless world sighs, blood red and steeple dark. A shroud of rune cloud embeds his name in mine, in ours. I wish he was here with me. I wish he could help me write this. They say never meet your heroes and I disagree but with a qualifier: make heroes of those you know. Love them in their complicated, messy, infuriating ways. See their beauty when it’s there and please I entreat you to let them know. I just hope he knew how much I love him. Not past tense. He whistles through the defective circuitry of my soul.

Sometimes I forget you’re gone. Sometimes I send you messages or emails of things I know you’d have an opinion of. Is it that you read them in heaven, you’re just not allowed to respond? I’m forever grateful that I did actually get to tell you how much I love you before you go. 

I miss you every day, Simon.

 

Blackpool Pleasure Avalanche

 

Neglected in our own time

We leave on our own terms

This our final disagreement

Mentalist mentor

Artistic tormentor

Time will prove us equally wrong

What happens when the symbols matter?

What happens when the analogue signal fades?

Our culture likes its head cases

Safely beneath headstone

Reality the monkey on my back

Tearing at my eyes and veins

Endless red eyed arguments

And drunkenness on trains

Here comes the Blackpool

Pleasure

Avalanche

Another warm jet

Across your pages

Grimoires of dead desire

Grimoires of dead friends

You forced me to write the sequel

Rather than allow our inclusion

By extension prolonging my suffering

“Endless

Endless

Endless

Endless”

Twat

Blackpool. Pleasure. Avalanche

Dream on Texas lady

Of a future that sputtered out

An American red head girl

Who as a child taught her friends

How to masturbate

And some pissed up

Rape survivor twink

Looking out on the burning sands

You’re a long way from Kansas now

Twitched the man behind the curtain

Bringing them together

Closing some circles

Shattering others

Once rampant now estranged

Drowning in language

Your footprints will drown me

Before I am calcified

Blackpool

Pleasure

Avalanche

 

Does it hurt, when you turn luminous?




Related post from the Archive 

Dan Shea Rowland S Howard Article 

Vukovar Cremator Review

Beauty Stab Interview


Help support the Monolith Cocktail through Ko-fi (micro-donation hub)

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

ICON SPECIAL
Dan Shea





The Monolith Cocktail is ecstatic and grateful to have coaxed a guest spot contribution from the impassioned and adroit musician/writer Dan Shea. Roped into his family’s lo fi cult music business, The Bordellos, from a young age, the candid but humble maverick has gone onto instigate the chthonian Vukovar and, with one part of that ever-shambling post-punk troupe, musical foil Buddy Preston, the seedy bedsit synth romantics Beauty Stab. An exceptional talent (steady…this is becoming increasingly gushing) both in composing and songwriting, the multi-instrumentalist and singer is also a dab hand at writing. His first time ever for the MC, Dan shares a grand personal ‘fangirl’ purview of major crush, the late Rowland S. Howard, on the eve of Mute Records appraisal style celebration reissue of his highly influential cult albums ‘Teenage Snuff Film’ and ‘Pop Crimes’.


Rowland S. Howard   ‘Teenage Snuff Film/Pop Crimes’
(Mute)   Remasterd Reissue Albums /27th March 2020



Teenage Snuff Film

“You’re bad for me like cigarettes, but I haven’t sucked enough of you yet”.

Curls of Morricone guitars, the ‘Be My Baby’ beat slowed to a kerb crawl as it is on every song on Teenage Snuff Film and a voice so soft it smashes stars.

Then in the middle, a spiraling surf guitar run; subtle organ chords in the background and the sort of strings I am contractually obliged to describe as sweeping. Teenage Snuff Film is an immensely important record to me, so important that I kicked a perfectly attractive possible suitor out of my flat when he described it as “boring”. Cute as he was you’ve got to draw a line somewhere and we have never spoke again.

The first time I heard Teenage Snuff Film I was sixteen and I think that’s the perfect time to hear a record like this. It all comes back to the beginning, conjuring up a world I was yet to experience. Now I have been there, watching the party end through a haze of smoke slumped insensible with my head on the shoulder of a femme fatale (of several genders), I can’t help but prefer what I had imagined.

Following ‘Breakdown (and Then)’ in which he writes his own epitaph (“Crown Prince of the Crying Jag”) there is ‘She Cried’. One thing he does a lot on this record is admit to his own cruelty and use this admission to gain your sympathy – it’s a lowdown, filthy trick and one I frequently find myself doing. ‘She Cried’ again uses a bastardised Hal Blaine beat and with his customary rusted, pealing bell guitar sound he lays waste to a perfectly pleasant 60’s girl group song. From amidst this wreckage The Horrors are conceived in unholy means.





‘I Burnt Your Clothes’ does the same thing as ‘Breakdown’ but more unpleasantly and lyrically, more violently and with the addition of frenetic horror movie organ vamping.

‘Exit Everything’ pivots around a propulsive bassline from the similarly dearly departed Brian Hooper that threatens to steal the show from Rowland S Howard: also listening to this record and in particular the sizzling hi hat patterns on this track, you can’t help but wish Mick Harvey would play drums more. There must have been some reason he took the drum stool in The Birthday Party besides Phill Calvert just being tired of everyone’s shit.

It’s at this point I have to revert to cliché and describe this album as cinematic: it’s a cliché Rowland clearly endorsed as the liners state ‘Written and Directed by Rowland S Howard’. With that in mind, I apologise for how flooded with spoilers this review / hagiography / fangirl diary is.

‘Silver Chain’, as co-written with Genevieve McGuckin who contributed the fantastically understated and slightly mad keyboards to These Immortal Souls records, is a thing of real beauty. I struggle to do things like this justice with my words because I am very aware as a musician myself that throwing a mixture of technically accurate adjectives and superlatives at something this heartfelt is just entirely risible. What I will say is that when it all builds to a crescendo, screeching violins and hymnal organ, as Rowland sings “I tattooed your name in a ring round my heart”, that invisibly in the act of singing this he tattooed his own on mine.

Then ‘White Wedding’. It’s got to the point now that whenever I hear the original, usually on the radio at work, I find myself wondering “Why are they playing that shit cover of a song off Teenage Snuff Film?”. Somehow he discovers a deep and primal longing in this song, recasting it as if it were an ancient folk song he found under a rock or in Nick Cave’s basement.





The final three tracks of the record are, for me, where the record’s heart is: any noir director worth their salt knows that it’s the climax you’re talking about on the way home. ‘Undone’ is the kiss-off of all kiss-offs: that trademark shower of splinters rhythm guitar approach most obviously spotted on the title track from The Birthday Party’s Junkyard is back but so are Bernard Herrman strings and the fastest drums on this record. He accentuates his filthy Valentines with scything one note atonal guitar fills until the carnival organ escapes from Cave’s ‘Your Funeral, My Trial’ and propels him to greater heights of loathing. The cruelty of the earlier songs on the record is still there but undercut with an obvious vulnerability, particularly in the ‘Coy Mistress’ quoting midsection.

‘Autoluminescent’ is just achingly sad: there is a reason they named the biopic after it. Another truly beautiful vocal performance: Rowland’s voice is not discussed enough. The focus is always, obviously, on his guitar playing but when I hear Rowland’s voice I hear one of the saddest instruments in the world. The only voice as sad and as beautiful as his for me is Billy McKenzie but obviously they sound nothing alike. While Billy masked his vulnerability (or tried unconvincingly to do so) through his technical expertise, Rowland takes strength from his. The result is the slurring, croak of a grievous androgynous angel. It’s the kind of sadness you experience when you’ve cried as much as you possibly can and you’re starting to smirk at your own ridiculousness.

What makes this song as heartbreaking as it is? It’s the way his voice cracks and frays as he slips into desperate, insane self-aggrandisement: “I’m bigger than Jesus Christ….I am dangerous, I cut like the sharpest knife” then settles again. Again I can’t do it justice and you’re just going to have to listen to the thing.

If you’ve heard of and enjoy Nick Cave, Swans, The Fall, The Gun Club, etc. and you haven’t already then why? Why not? For me Rowland S Howard is every bit Nick Cave’s equal, asides from in work ethic: Rowland penned and fronted four albums across three decades where Cave does that in three years plus umpteen soundtracks. Most of them haven’t been as good as this album but that’s alright because for me personally not much is.

Cooking Vinyl‘s track list of this record originally also included a version of ‘Shut Me Down’ after this, which I’ll be discussing in the Pop Crimes section. I see no reason whatsoever why this alternate edition should be absent from this record: The new deluxe edition with less material?

‘Sleep Alone’ brings this record to a tumultuous close with another utterly filthy Brian Hooper bassline and the most deranged guitar playing on this record. “This is my journey to the edge of the night, I’ve got no companions Louis Celine’s by my side”.

It builds, and builds until it ends with just that voice again sounding incredibly damaged and vulnerable but defiant and then there’s an outro of feedback skree and noise that could easily fit onto a Whitehouse record.

Making these things more accessible to more people can never be a bad thing: maybe next Mute can reissue the These Immortal Souls back catalogue so I can own a physical copy of Never Gonna Die Again without having to resort to prostitution. Given that Mute already issued these records in the first place there would be no reason to issue deluxe editions minus several tracks.

It is however disappointing that on neither of these reissues has there been made room for the original version of ‘Shut Me Down’ which makes the lachrymosity of the version on Pop Crimes sound like K-Pop in comparison; or Rowland’s heartbreaking cover of the Velvet Underground’s ‘Ocean’ which for my money (not enough for a deluxe double red vinyl edition) is an improvement on the original, this obviously not faint praise.

 





Pop Crimes

“My life plays like Grand Guignol, blood and portents everywhere”

 

Years of silence followed: make no mistake, in terms of gaps between records Rowland made Scott Walker look like Edward Ka-Spel or Mark E Smith. Then he produces a great album that is again annoyingly out of print, HTRK’s Marry Me Tonight. A wonderful album but I’m not going to write about it here.

A word of warning here: obviously the tenor of this piece has made it clear I am not writing objectively and these two records are very much a part of me at this point in time, so you may ignore this and I don’t blame you. Disclaimer aside, this album will break your heart and there’s no two ways about it.

‘I Know A Girl Called Jonny’ refers to Jonine Standish from HTRK and she sings on it in a voice that sounds almost exactly like his. Another languid, androgynous croon that makes you wish he’d reprised the Lydia Lunch ‘Shotgun Wedding’ record with her. It’s all pleasant and correct: Mick Harvey is playing a variation on the Be My Baby beat, strings are scraping, guitars are slashing and it feels like a warped girl group record. ‘Shut Me Down’ follows, and in this setting also has a 60’s pop drama: a French film embrace, black turtleneck clad lovers departing at fountains in the snow and knowing they’ll never see each other again. This time the chime of a vibraphone underscores what sounds like a Billy Fury record playing at half-speed. Then something interesting happens. Your heart just breaks. I won’t reproduce any lyrics because the ones that look the best on paper aren’t the ones that sound the best but it is another fantastic vocal performance.

Then comes his cover of Talk Talk’s ‘Life’s What You Make It’ and throughout this I have tried manfully to avoid dwelling on the biographical details behind these records: a great record should stand alone without them and I firmly believe this does. However, for a dying man to re-record ‘Life’s What You Make It’ bitterly recasts it.

When I first heard this record he was still with us: I had no idea that the man was dying. I bought a copy in Liverpool’s Probe Records, spotting the name and that incredibly distinctive face looking back off the cover. Birdlike, broken boxer’s nose, otherworldly and androgynous swathed in red light. “At long last, the lazy fucker”.

Maybe the hints were there, but Rowland was singing and writing about death since he was a teenager. On Pop Crimes, which reprises the previous track’s angular, extended lope with regular lead guitar breaks and a descended bassline akin to ‘Exit Everything’ on the previous record there are several turns of phrase that catch my breath: “open heart surgery kiss” and the phrase Pop Crime itself. Several friends of mine, some collaborators, have latched onto this phrase and shamelessly half-inched it. I in particular have stolen a lot from Rowland.





‘Nothin’’ is another cover version this time of a Townes Van Zandt song. This one isn’t such a stark transformation but it’s a fantastic song well suited to his voice and turned me onto the artist’s work: which I guess is another useful function of the cover version. Inviting you into the artist’s living room rather than throwing you out of it because you were disparaging of a genius.

‘Wayward Man’ compels me to use the word swagger and I don’t like that, I absolutely hate that word. It’s the only one that fits: there’s something sexy about it. It struts about all over the place in spite of itself. There’s a particularly nasty descending guitar riff Rowland plays at several points which takes me aback almost every time.

Again it’s the record’s climax where I really have to wax lyrical. ‘Ave Maria’ is another fantastic lyric: it’s all in the delivery but when he sings the phrase “History led her to me” it carries with it the grim inevitability of what happened next. I’m finding myself welling up simply imagining the instrumental bridge towards the end, which sounds simply like the ascension of a soul. Distant vibraphone again, a gentle surge with JP Shilo‘s violin pulling us all skyward. An overhead shot of the moment of rejection as it happens then we’re back to ‘Be My Baby’ drums slowed to a drunken heartbeat crawl. The final verse takes us into the final track on the album, and the final song we heard from the great man.

The Golden Age of Bloodshed’ from which my header quote to this section was drawn is, again, shorn of biography incredibly moving but with full context it’s just…fucking hell. A walk to the gallows rhythm serves as a backdrop to some of Rowland’s best guitar playing: all the shower-of-splinters chainsaw noises, pealing bell single notes and fuzz tantrums you can fit into the song’s short runtime. There’s a mordant black comedy to these lyrics, with their Schopenhauer references, “Catholic girls with Uzis” and a “harsh new brand of aftershave that gives you a thousand yard stare”. There’s even a “take my wife” joke any Northern standup would be proud of:

“I’m suspicious of my wife, I suspect she left long ago

I recall my finger on the button of the ejector seat

But I can’t recall letting her go”

This sounds intensely alive and vital in the shadow of death. Then it all comes to a climax with a final burst of noise trailing off into nowhere: a fade-out, a ticking rhythm disappearing off into the fog of the world. The credits roll. I am not merely dragging this cinematic metaphor to its brutal end I am again paraphrasing the liner notes that list Rowland as the director.





Cherish these records: it’s a shame he’s not around to enjoy the plaudits or the financial reward with which he may not have died skint and we may have had more to enjoy by him. I am a fervent believer that we should cherish the angels that walk among us before death beatifies them, ironing out the creases and possible unpleasantness that did not allow us to properly revere their beauty while they were alive. But sometimes it’s not possible, so allow these records into your heart and home; hope, a dangerous thing, but hope that it continues to inspire and enflame.


Related posts from the Archives

(Author) Beauty Stab Interview

(Author) Vukovar ‘Cremator’ Review

(Author) Vukovar ‘Puritan’ Review

Mick Harvey ‘Four (Acts Of Love)’ Review

Mick Harvey Live Report


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Interview: Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea




Beauty Stab are Dan Shea and Buddy Preston, two former members of the, highly tipped at one time, Goth rock industrial folk band Vukovar, who left to share their love of post punk, disco and 60s/70s/80s pop to the world. Their current three track EP has been one of this year’s musical highlights a stunning release bringing back the much missed and much needed glamour, heartbreak and bedsit seediness to the pop world.


Why did you leave Vukovar? 

Buddy: For the love of music and art, we needed a change of scenery. For a while, I fell out of love with producing music and was finding myself feeling so emotionally detached from it. Upon leaving Vukovar, I initially didn’t want to do music anymore and concentrated instead on other artistic ventures for a while. But music is where the heart is.

Dan: I’ve no desire to dwell on that or air dirty laundry. All that needs to be said is that I did.

 

What made you form Beauty Stab? 

B: The need to carry on pursuing making art and music with a close friend. I know that anything Dan writes is genius and I hope he thinks that my contributions do them some justice. Whilst in Vukovar, I wanted to record Dan’s rejected songs because I always saw something in them in a way I knew I could make them work.

D: The current landscape musically is devoid of sex and danger. Our society is moving backwards at a frightening rate. Even though we are at present operating on a very small scale, I really want to one day be to some confused queer kid living in the middle of nowhere what Marc Almond or David Bowie was in years past (or John Balance from Coil was to me). I am queer in both senses – I am gay but more crucially I am fucking Weird. Our homos should not be homogenised. We are not milk, although Harvey was. Queer is not just about sexuality – I’ve been lucky enough to know straight people with very queer sensibilities and cursed enough to know gay people who are cripplingly pedestrian. There are others doing this at the moment – SOPHIE would be one that’d spring to mind, she made my favourite singles of 2018 (It’s ‘Okay to Cry’ which is a beautiful song and ‘Ponyboy’ which is just sheer filth).

But no one is doing it in the field we operate in. It’s full of hopelessly glamour-less people with beards who make the right noises and have the right political opinions but they’re making sexless facsimiles of records made by people who, shock horror, listened to stuff by people who didn’t look and sound exactly like them. Or maybe they are but I’m not meeting them. If you’re out there please get in touch with me through the obligatory Beauty Stab social media because lord knows I need a friend. If you’re not already doing it, put some makeup on however badly, wear some nice patterns and poke at a synth ineptly and I would love to share a bill with you. I’m into the idea that left-wing politics doesn’t have to be austere and devoid of joy. Bronski Beat strike a chord with me far more than some dullard with an acoustic guitar telling me what I already know in a way I don’t want to hear.

I know it’s also an ABC reference but Beauty Stab is a powerful combination of words. A shard of luxury you don’t actually have to be able to afford because we’re there, you’re here, it’s now and this is the only time we have. In my current crop headed state, Buddy’s the Beauty and I’m the Stab. Bad news from a pretty mouth.

 

 

What are your influences?

B: Life experiences, tales of old, people we appreciate. Musically, whatever we’re listening to at that moment. We’re creating mixtape style playlists for various streaming media to let people know what we love right now, and maybe we can enlighten some people.

 

Dan: Quote Clothes – “girl group hymns and jackboot disco”.

Different movements really. Musically, all the people listed in England’s Hidden Reverse with Coil being the best. We like lots of Italo disco and Chicago house and Soft Cell, Depeche Mode, Prince, etc. Those people were emulating. We’re also massive, massive fans of Rowland S Howard and pretty much anything he touched. Then there’s all the obvious Bowie, Iggy, Roxy, Lou Reed. Then there’s girl group records and by default anyone who has the sense to plagiarise them.

Then we’re also influenced by how shit everything is, and also the ethos that riot grrrl bands and people like Crass had even if the artwork and the ideas are invariably more interesting than the music which is a bit sonically conservative and paint by numbers.

 

 

You worked with many established artists with Vukovar, have you any plans to collaborate with any with Beauty Stab? Or are going to rely on your own talent?

B: We’ve played with some people that have really inspired us as artists; so to call those friends now is incredible. I wouldn’t want to rely on those with an already established fan base, we wouldn’t say no to the right people, of course.

D: That’s a bit of a pointed question isn’t it? We’ll see what happens. There are people I’d love to work with but whether it was as Beauty Stab or part of their project or something else entirely is another consideration. We’ve both got a very definite vision and aesthetic for what we’re doing and that may morph over time but anyone who we did work with would have to fulfil two criteria.

 

  1. If we can do it, we do it. If we can’t then we’ll bring them in.

 

  1. This ship has no passengers. I only want to work with people who have ideas of their own and can contribute to the creative process: not a glorified plug in we’re scripting or trading on the value of the name of. An example of someone I’d love to work with would be Karl Blake. I keep asking him. He’s not released a record in decades. Mick Harvey plays on about half of my record collection but that’s never going to happen. We’re obviously going to collaborate with the Mekano Set because they’re our friends.

 

 

Are you going to stay as a two-piece or have you any plans to expand the line up?

B: We plan on having quite an interchangeable line up depending on what type of gigs we’re attending. For now, we’re using all sorts of machines, synths and tapes to help us get the live sound we want. But in the future, we would love to play our songs with a full band.

D: I’m open to ideas.

 

 Any gigs planned? Plans for the near future?

D: Our live setup is mostly composed of broken equipment, also utilising drums and sequenced bass tracks played off a tape recorder a la OMD. As such there are no dates to announce – we are in talks with several different venues and I’m looking forward to making everyone of any gender in the audience pregnant solely through the means of my voice and dancing. If that doesn’t work Buddy is categorically the best looking man in the world so there’s always that. I can only imagine that even blind and deaf people could develop a crush on him.





The recently released Beauty Stab EP, O Eden, can be downloaded from all usual outlets or from Metal Postcard Records bandcamp.


Words: Brian Shea


Single Review: Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea




Beauty Stab ‘O Eden’
(Metal Postcard Records) 8th March 2019

 

So this is the debut single from the new pop duo Beauty Stab; a duo that has the talent to bring some excitement, sleaze and glamour into what the staid machine of the music industry has become. Words cannot do justice to just how good this single and two B- sides are, well actually I will call it triple A-sides as the two extras are equally as special as the triumph that is the lead off track, ‘O Eden’.

So I will start with ‘O Eden’ a song that is the closest we will get to the Walker Brothers this year or any other year. Dan Shea is probably the finest pop singer in pop today, he has the melodrama the heart and bedsit seediness that has not been heard in pop since the golden days of Soft Cell, he has the same qualities as the early 70s Bowie: The “I am a pop master you are just pretenders; sit back and see how it really should be done”.

‘O Eden’ is plainly just a beautifully written pop swoon of a ballad, if when the chorus sweeps in, if it doesn’t bring a tear to your eye and a lump to your throat you should get someone to check your pulse to see if you are still in the land of the living. Majestic is the word.

The second track ‘Need You Around’, sang by another member of Beauty Stab, the pop pinup in waiting Buddy Miller, is a song again blessed with a otherworldly beauty that you just do not sadly, very often, hear in pop today; part Blur’s ‘To The End’ sang by a young Morrissey in his Smiths days, bathed in echo, it is a drop dead beaut of a song, and when a new duo has two such fine singers, haunting is the word.

The third track ‘Clothes’ shows the other side to the mighty Beauty Stab, the sleazy sordid side. This is all Bowie Scary Monsters guitars Walker Brothers Nite Flights darkness: “Your girlfriends clothes looks better on me, your skin looks better on my skin”. A song with so much cut dead gutter sex it is dangerous. Raunchy in a word.

So the words majestic, haunting, and raunchy have all been used in describing this three-track single perfectly. I would also like to add, Major record labels get your cheque books out, I think there might be a bit of a bidding war on.





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