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.



4

1

5

 

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

Preview: Ayfer Simms




An integral part of the Monolith Cocktail team for the last six or more years, cosmopolitan writer Ayfer Simms has contributed countless music/film reviews (Ouzo Bazooka, Pale Honey, Gaye Su Akyol, Murder On The Orient Express, The Hateful Eight) and interviews (Sea + Air, The Magic Lantern) – and even appeared in the video of one of our featured artists (Blue Rose Code).

Taking time away from the blog to focus on her debut novel, Ayfer has spent the last 18 months busily working away at a story that encompasses not only the personal (including the death of her father) but the wider psychogeography and geopolitics of her native home of Istanbul.

Born in the outlier pastoral regions of Paris to Turkish parents, Ayfer spent her formative years in France dreaming about following in the travelling footsteps of her great literature love, Agatha Christie. After studying for a degree in literature (writing music reviews on the side), Ayfer moved to Ireland for six years before travelling aboard the famous Trans Siberian railway and settling in Japan. Initially visiting her sister, Ayfer not only stayed indefinitely but got married and had a daughter. Deciding to attempt a life in Turkey, where the family is originally from, they moved into Ayfer’s great-grandmother’s house in the Üsküdar district, on the Asian banks of the sprawling Istanbul metropolis.

 

A Rumor In Üsküdar is in some ways autobiographical, the first chapter, which we are excited to be previewing today, inspired by the death of Ayfer’s father a few years back. A familiar setting is given a slightly dystopian mystique and ominous threat by Ayfer who reimagines the Üsküdar neighbourhood of that title being isolated and quarantined by the government, as they test out a piece of (propaganda orchestrated) news on the population.

That’s just the umbrella story though, within that setting we have the main character confronted by the country where she originated from imprisoned but ready to face it all and hoping for a wind of change.

Translated into English from the original French and Turkish language versions, an extract from chapter one, ‘When Going Üsküdar’, awaits.


CHAPTER 1 

When going to Üsküdar


It is two years after the death of my father that the very first dream of mourning appeared, leaving me startled. Reality caught up with the other world. Or rather I did. For these last two years, my dad could clearly not get up, but he was alive, in a good mood, in fine health in his bed. We laughed together. My unconscious did not wish to alarm me and even spared me for all this time.

At the beginning of the week, everything changed.

In that dream, my father’s name was Depardieu and I saw myself crying for him without knowing why. In the morning, I wondered about this fusion of characters. Were the protuberant bellies of the two men the common denominator perhaps? Dreams never rely on one single clue however. They conjure deeper meanings. And then I got it: so simple. The French actor’s name, of course, indicated to me the sad reality of his absence for “de par Dieu” means “ by God”.

Now, dreams, thus my subconscious, are warning me: “He’s dead. You see, he’s dead”. “Why do you think it is a good time to stop sparing me?” I say out loud. When I wake up, I am not happy and feel outraged. 

“I will rebel! I say. He died once; I do not want to be deprived of these short, nocturnal encounters.

Dreams are my meager, but cherished consolation. Reality is aiming far this time, all the way to the sunken heart of intimacy. This phenomenon leaves me aghast. The same evening, I put on my warrior armor. Nobody should touch my father in the pith of my kingdom. I decide to enter this universe consciously, to resurrect my dead.

The night splits in two. In my first dream, he appears in a bad mood. He does not even glimpse at me. He blames my mother of being naive. My mother nods without emotion. SHE knows and she agrees. He says with his eyes “What are you trying to do?”

When I wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning, I realize my semi-success. Semi, because despite appearing alive, he is anxious whilst warnings us. His attraction for the cold land is obvious. Where else would a dead man want to belong? I consider the encounter a failed one.

Before going back to sleep, I repeat several times: “No, not like that, that’s not how I want to see him”.  On I go back with my battle attire, perfectly prepared. Indeed as soon as heavy sand sacks falls on my eyes, I manage to see him smiling. He is lying in a large comfortable bed. In the background, I see a television set. He is relaxed. He says to me, “Yes it’s alright, but I do not know what to do with my days, bedridden that I am”.

There, I realize the measure of the problem. It is all very well to make him come back but isn’t he bored there in the cluster of my mind? After this conversation, I find myself eating sweet cakes with my mother in our old village apartment. The light is dim in the narrow kitchen but the room is filled with warmth.

When I wake up again, I feel like this is a small victory. I see that upon summoning I can meet him again, to fill the void of his absolute silence.

Yet what am I really to do? Listen to the messages of my subconscious and make peace or prepare for battle and mutiny every day?

I know the truth without wanting to admit it. My inner self will win because it is always a step ahead of me in its frantic rationality. For 2 years, the subtle message has been the same: My father will never rise again.

Drunk, he used to sing:

When going to Uskudar, there is rain

The coat of my clerk is long; his basques are covered with mud

The clerk belongs to me and I belong to him, why would anyone care?

The boats passing from Uskudar to Istanbul

My clerk sits, he peels hazelnuts

In his dream, the clerk speaks to me aloud

The clerk belongs to me and I belong to him, why would anyone care?

 

Now, here I am in Üsküdar, in the house where he was born and where he died. I was not in a hurry to leave the country but the recent events have forced me to stay.


Words: Ayfer Simms

Illustration: Volkan Albayrak

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