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:

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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.


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