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.


BOOK REVIEW
Words: Dominic Valvona


Monolith Cocktail - The Secret History of Twin Peaks Novel


Mark Frost   ‘The Secret History Of  Twin Peaks’

Bridging the 25-year gap and obviously drumming up suspense and anticipation for the third series of Twin Peaks in 2017, Mark Frost’s unconventional “novel” seems to suggest the writer secretly hankered for a job on The X-Files during the fallow years in which the story lay dormant. Expanding the original show’s remit, which he co-wrote and conceptualized with David Lynch, Frost has elaborated on the history of the town, its characters and their backstories. But most notably he’s weaved an ever-larger cobweb of intrigue and conspiracy; all threads leading to the cover up of what might or might not be extraterrestrial activity.

Speculation has run riot, as it inevitably does; cast members announced, plotlines and narratives drip-fed over the Internet. We do know this for certain. The story will revolve around an unearthed mysterious purpose-built container and its archival contents; handed over to female FBI agent Tamara Preston along with all of agent Dale Cooper’s notes on the murder – that sparked the whole sorry tale – of Laura Palmer. Sanctioned by “Coop” and Preston’s superior Chief Gordon Cole (played by Lynch himself in the series), our investigator must pour over the rich display of concatenate notes, scribbling her own footnotes in the margin; authenticating, alluding to more information or admitting they’re plain stumped as to what the hell is going on. All the time we the reader must wait until the final reveal; kept guessing as to both the author’s identity and the person who added their own narrative and stored these files in the first place. The reader then, is a mere observer, a voyeur; this report on a report only ever meant for a selective few.


Monolith Cocktail - The Secret History Of Twin Peaks


Transcripts, cuttings, reports, letters and various clues all pieced together in a chronological timeframe feature a loose plotline by this mysterious guiding hand. Written as a quasi alternative history, Frost manages to embrace every one of the central tenants of the conspiracy theorem: the obligatory assassination of JFK, the Roswell UFO crash and, in this case, the centuries old struggle between an altruistic Freemasonry and its malcontent counterpart the Illuminati (incidentally symbolized by the owl) all make guest appearances. Tracing a psychogeography style story that stretches right back to the birth of America and pulls in the legendary explorers of the country’s undiscovered West, Lewis and Clark, real events are weaved into an intriguing tapestry; all of which originate from the unassuming Washington State pine wood hideaway of Twin Peaks.

Events of the last century however are more or less tied to the shady fortunes of Colonel Douglas Milford, one half of the incorrigible Twin Peaks Milford brothers. Fans of the series will have last seen poor Douglas sprawled out with a smile on his face after suffering a fatal heart attack on his wedding night. His betrothed, the extremely young intoxicative temptress Lana Budding (the “Milford widow”) if you remember kept the town’s menfolk in jaw-dropping awe, yet her backstory was never really explored; other than the fact this southern belle was probably on the make, her motives remained obscure, but after reading this novel may have been a lot darker. From a brush with a strange owl-like figure in the woods as a scoutmaster in the 1920s to placing him at the scene of near enough every recorded and unrecorded “close encounter” and alien abduction, Douglas Milford crosses paths with the Aleister Crowley apprentice and important rocket fuel scientist Jack Parsons and the Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. A sort of investigator, prober and as it would turn out chronicler of these meetings, the outsider role that Douglas took on propelled him into the confidence of Richard Nixon, which opens up even more clandestine portals into the mind-blowing chasm of secrets. Without spoiling the novel’s outcome, let’s just say Douglas is tasked with a deep cover assignment that eventually brings him back to his hometown: where it all began. The baton is passed on and destiny seems to anoint a successor, who will in turn take on the duties of manning the mysterious alluded to “listening post Alpha”.


Monolith Cocktail - The Secret history of Twin Peaks


As you’d expect, Frost builds an even greater expansive conspiracy; answering a range of longstanding queries and questions but posing a whole set of new “what the fucks?” Fans however will discover just why the log lady, Margaret Lanterman, is so attached to her miniature pine chum; just what the hell did happen, back in the woods, with Major Briggs; the entire sorry saga of the PackardMartellEckhart intrigues; Dr. Jacoby’s penchant for Hawaii and the purpose of those ridiculous red and blue tinted glasses he sports; and the fate of femme fatale Audrey Horne – last seen handcuffed to a bank vault door in protest as Andrew Packard, the aged eccentric bank-teller and Pete Martell unlock a safe deposit box only to find out it contains a bomb; the resulting explosion may or may not have leaving survivors. Which brings us back to the events that triggered all this, the brutal murder of Laura Palmer, killed in the end but molested throughout her life by her father Leland Palmer’s evil malevolent spirit “Bob”. Here it is a mere sideshow, the original supernatural, fight between good and evil forces, driven plot moving on to even bigger and far-fetched conspiracies. Agent Cooper, previously leaving the second series on a cliffhanger after his doppelganger escapes the “black lodge”, leaving the real Coop in perpetual limbo, is mentioned only briefly, his whereabouts remaining an enigma. To be fair, Frost is leaving this strand until the third series itself airs in 2017, as it was confirmed early on that Kyle MacLachlan who plays the beleaguered FBI agent is making a welcome return.


Monolith Cocktail - The Secret History of Twin Peaks


In amongst the “Bookhouse Boys” reading list, the Double R laminate menus and Dr. Jacoby’s credentials (which stack up most impressively), Frost taps into the conspiracy theory phenomenon. Fact and fiction entwine, the lines blurred to regale a good yarn. Misdirection is of course key: for instance, being led down the garden path with another elaborate cover story for an even more disturbing secret. Suffice to say the author has further muddied the waters.

Extremely clever and adroit, Frost’s changing prose and style fits a myriad of character’s voices. Ambitious, intriguing, it promises a whole lot of hokum, but enthralling hokum nonetheless.


Monolith Cocktail - The Secret History of Twin Peaks


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