Pieces of Meat - Tindersticks


I killed myself to this band. 

They made up the soundtrack to my London, the broken hearts, the deaths and the late night emergency calls.

On vile winter evenings, it was them playing in my headphones as I rushed around pharmacies picking up clean needles. When I suffered a mild overdose it was my mother's tears dripping over the Tindersticks that I came around to.

But this post cannot be about words... at least not mine. So all I will further say is that I discovered the Tindersticks during a storm, that Stuart Staples is an absolute poet, and along with The Smiths, they have played out my days for the past 15 years.


OK, without any more fuss, Mesdames et Messieurs, je vous donne Les Tindersticks.....
(May take 30 seconds or so to start.)

Stuart Staples and David Boulter

Stuart Staples

Tindersticks... It was worth all the dying just to have heard them.


Pieces of Meat - David Lynch

After numerous failed attempts at competently writing my love of Lynch's cinema, and getting across what he means to me and how his work has affected my life,  I did what I should have done from the start and interviewed myself...

How and where did you first become familiar with David Lynch's work?

I first discovered David Lynch through falling asleep to a screening of his debut  film 'Eraserhead' at London's Riverside Studios. I remember the opening scene, then some kind of furry-faced woman dancing on falling worm-like foetuses, and then the closing credits. He was just another in a long line of great directors who had sung me to sleep.

Over the following years I caught bits and pieces of his  films, but it was not until I came to France and had a junk free period that I really became familiar with him. In that period I fell in love with film. It acted as my escape and there was no better escape than David Lynch.

I think I saw Wild at heart, Lost Highway, Eraserhead, Elephant Man, Mulholland Drive, Twin peaks (series), Twin peaks (film), Blue Velvet, Dune, The Straight Story, Inland Empire – in that order.

Then of course I separated what I considered his great films and watched them multiple times over. At 2pm I'd pull the curtains down on the day, close out the world, and sink off into Lynch's universe -  a universe that became mine just as much as his.

Explain to us a little of what Lynch's art does, the process of understanding his films, and why they mean so much to you?

Firstly, I don't think you can understand a David Lynch film, at least not past it's very simple pretext: a man doesn't love his wife (Lost Highway); A woman loves another woman (Mulholland Drive). I think anyone who tries to make complete sense out of, or intellectualize Lynch's films are wasting their time. David Lynch is an artist that goes past intellect. His is an intuitive art; you feel it – often reciprocating the actors emotions, before they have even acted them out. It's an experience.

Lynch does that to me, he sucks me into his chamber.

In Wild at Heart there is a scene where Sailor finds Lulu in a hotel room and there is a lumpy yellow vomit on the floor... Just sitting there. You can smell it. A beautiful young girl, clean, and vomit on the floor – it kind of doesn't make sense. But in that moment something really strange takes place and all of a sudden you are in Lynch's world.

And it works like that. There are always entry points to Lynch's show. He brings you in intentionally. It is not by chance.

A camera crawls along a lawn, or zooms into an ear canal. The screen goes completely black. When the picture resumes someone is saying something normal in a really strange way, like they are acting badly or speaking words that do not quite fit their lips. And we're there. Music drifting in, and the world suddenly seems dreamlike and melancholic and terrifying and dangerous. It is not wonderland where Lynch takes us, but somewhere else. A place where we meet our own fears and complexes, a place where strong men break down and cry for absolutely no reason. And we never know why. All we know is we did. There really are no answers to great art.

Ok, you've kind of badly answered your own question, so here's one you can completely revel in: What is your favourite David Lynch scene, movie and episode of Twin Peaks? That's actually not one but three questions, please answer them all.

My favourite scene is Club Silencio/Llorando from Mulholland Drive. This scene is not only my favourite Lynch Scene, but my favourite scene of all time. It brings me to tears and leaves me bereft and paining for some reason I cannot explain. It feels like my past, present and tomorrow all merged into one. The hopelessness of the future sung out and echoed through time. But it's beautiful.

(Silencio/Llorando works much better in the context of the movie. Nevertheless, as a three minute clip on Youtube, it's still an hypnotic piece of film.)

My favourite David Lynch film is maybe Wild at Heart or Mulholland Drive. Or maybe it's Blue Velvet... I can't quite decide. One day it's one and the next it's another.

My favourite Twin Peaks episode: No.14: Lonely Souls. For me it is one of Lynch's great pieces. There are scenes in there that will break you in two.

Finally, and just to force you to end on a negative note (maybe), are there any David Lynch films which are not Masterpieces?

Oh, there are – three of them. And I'll go even further: of the three there is one that is absolute shit.
The shit film is Dune, which is not really worth watching. The other two are: Elephant Man and The Straight Story. Those two are both well worth watching, but would never have built him a legacy. i see them as his money films, commercial endeavours he took to fund his real projects.

Ok, well that's it I suppose. Unless you've anything else to add I'm afraid you're going to end on a minus sign. Can you change that?

Sure, I think so:


The End.

Lynch Imbd
Lynch Wikipedia
A lot of interesting Lynch stuff here. Collected interviews a treasure trove.

Pieces of Meat - Notes from Underground: Dostoevsky

I first discovered Dostoevsky just as I was getting into junk. His book Crime and Punishment, with its anti-hero Raskolnikov wandering the slums of St Petersburg, I transferred to the streets of London where I was trudging around looking for dope in a coat that no longer worked.

Whilst waiting for dealers at bus stops or down alleys, I would think of murder and morals and ethics and warmth. I was unshaven and distracted – preoccupied with thoughts of what would become of me.

Two years later, in the midst of addiction, on the needle but stable in my habit, I found Notes from Underground. I picked it up for 50p or something in a Cancer Research charity shop. I was looking for pin-striped jackets.

I am a sick man... I am a spiteful man. An unattractive man. I think that my liver hurts. But actually, I don't know a damn thing about my illness. I am not even sure what it is that hurts.¹*

And in just that opening paragraph the world seemed to make a little more sense. I somehow felt that my existence had been validated. It was the key which unlocked a certain part of me, permitted me to be able to externalize an internal dialogue I had struggled with all my life. It also set in motion a feeling of rhythm... rhythm for words and how they should be arranged and strung together. That the book was only a translation of the original didn't matter. I had never read such poetical prose before. Without one swear word, or shocking event, it felt edgy and subversive and dangerous.

I travelled centuries with Notes from Underground. Discovered a poetry within it which I had been searching out for a long time. A chain of thought that was solitary and severed from any political or social ideas that were out on offer. With Dostoevsky I lost politics and found philosophy, a more personal kind of politics with no social agenda, just ones understanding of the world and ones place within it.

Come now, can a man who has presumed to seek out enjoyment even in the very sense of his own degradation have any amount of self-respect?¹

Notes from Underground, aside from any other facet of its brilliance, is a book that constantly poses questions – important, petty, sometimes nonsensicle, often unanswerable questions. With each paragraph there is a universe of stuff to think about: an accusation, a dilemma, a lie. This book forces one to think, to delve into oneself and others. To question motives, philosophies, structures, codes. In 153 pages (a long short story by today's standards) it is an enormous work. It is a work condensed to bursting point. It is a work that can force some to pick the pen up and others to throw theirs away.

I don't profess to understand Notes from Underground, well, not as it was probably intended anyhow. But I don't think I've ever understood any artist or work of art, not really. All I understand is what the book meant and continues to mean to me, what it taught me and what it inadvertently showed me. And that was....

Well, I don't know.... I never quite figured that one out.

Read Notes from Underground here

Free e-book download: Notes from Underground

Reviews of Ginsberg's Notes from Underground

¹ Translation copyright © 1974, Mirra Ginsburg. Bantam Books.
* Ginsburg's translation is the best I have come across. In terms of the original, I can't say, but certainly as a book in English it is by far superieur to the free download.

Another change of plan...

I'm sick of this Hopping the Wagon shit, really. I can't even bear typing that out anymore and I really hate this nonsense of diaries of withdrawal. Actually when I started this blog I promised myself I would never do daily posts like that, for no other reason that it's just boring junkie addict crap. It makes me cringe! I really don't care about getting clean, not to that extent anyway.

So I'm stopping these posts and stopping thinking about how many days, hours and minutes since i last used. It only brings it closer to mind and only makes using even more attractive.

I've more interesting things to talk about than that... I'd rather tell you about  the woman on the 5th floor of the apartment building across the road and how at 3am each morning we raise cigarettes to one another and blow smoke rings to the heavens.  You'll learn more about life through little stories like that than crappy journals about quitting which really just repeat themselves every day.  I just can't continue writing that kind of garbage.

All My Love & Thoughts Shane. X

ps: If anyone is wondering where today's earlier post went, I deleted it. It wasn't even worth the virtual space it was written on.

Hopping the Wagon: Day 5

Tomorrow arrives so slowly when you want the world to end. I think that dying must be like time torture. But I don't want the world to end, just this brief part of it to pass. Though I suppose picking and choosing what I like best and what I want to ignore got me here in the first place.

I'm sweating. For the second time in four days heroin is coming out my body. It's too much. It's too exhausting. Heroin cannot be a halfway house. One must either do it all the time or not at all. Trying to straddle some middle road is eternal damnation. No junkie can be happy having to economise like that, it's the worst thing in the world.

My friend Katy once told her imaginary drug counsellor that the thing that would make her better was two £20 baggies a day. If the system could give her that she'd be fine. Her reasoning was correct but two bags would only have helped her for a time and then she'd have needed three. But what she was saying was that she wanted some kind of predictability, some insurance policy that allowed her to plan and regain her proper self and emotions. Living for the giro cheque and begging to maybe get a bag every two or three days was tearing her apart.

A week later, she was tracked down and bashed up by some embittered ex-lover, her face smashed open on the sink in her bedsit. I found her wandering down Uxbridge Road with glazed black eyes and a split lip. People were veering and staggering out her way. It was like she was war and famine and disease and was there for the kids. She told me that she wanted to die, that she needed a fix. I said "I'll put you in for a fix." She hugged me and cried and then she was the happiest girl in town.

Katy died the next day - heroin overdose. That's what the street corner said anyway. I didn't really mourn her, I didn't know how to mourn someone like that. I suppose you do it with a tourniquet and a spoon and an extra strong hit. I don't know. Anyway, as usual,  when street corners speak they speak a load of bollocks. A year later I found Katy sitting outside a courthouse rolling a cigarette and making little sketches. She was up on heroin possession and supply charges. That's how she took what she needed from the system. And then they took it back. She got two years and I never saw her again.

All these people that pass by are history. I remember them like that, like their faces represent a certain amount of time or a season or a sky. Their words and clothes and actions define a time. We're all history, that's for sure.

Tomorrow is Day 6. Not really but for us it is. I must catch up on my emails and mop the floor. Nothing too exciting there, but once when I was mopping the floor I found a small chunk of heroin. It must have shot off from a larger rock and sat there for god knows how long. Since then I don't mind soaping the tiles... the dishes, though, forget it... there's absolutely no future in washing dishes.


Hopping the Wagon: Day 4

Day 4 followed in pretty much the same manner as the second half of Day 3. It's nothing serious. I have got a black-eye though. I nodded out in the bathroom and slipped and caught my eye on the corner of the little shelf which holds the shower products. I'll put up a photo tomorow.

No poetry today, so if you need a daily dose of that go here:

Chemical Addictions & Revelations

Heftman boasts that his words aren't brilliant. Heftman is a liar.

Until tomorrow (even though it's tomorrow already!), Love & Thoughts, Shane. x

Hopping the Wagon, Day 3: I think this means I've relapsed

Still, it wasn't bad and and two days is better than no days...


Hopping the Wagon: Day 3

Imagine skies of pink candy floss stretching out into forever. The city is bathed in a strange warm light, which feels like some peculiar weather pattern is on its way. Over there, great industrial chimneys bellow smoke, and down there, men are hosing down the streets and sweeping cola tins and empty packets of Gauloises cigarettes into the gutter. That's what Lyon was like this morning as I sat looking out the window at the bar owner on the corner as he set out his tables for another day of business. I know the old saying, that we'll reap havoc for the beauty of a pink morning, but as of now the day has remained unspoiled by nature or desire.

I actually feel surprisingly well. I only slept three hours because I kept having these vivid nightmarish dreams, and rather than close my eyes on visions of my body dying I sat typing random words into Google and seeing what it came up with. Mostly it was just porn, then I disabled 'safe search' and it was all porn. Then I took care of the hard on that had been irritating me all day. It felt like the greatest wank of my life... certainly of the last two weeks.

It's strange, but I always masturbate when I'm ill or in pain. It's nothing to do with pleasure and pain, but more about creating a sensation greater than the one I am suffering from. It's a kind of momentary and pleasurable escape. When I'm depressed my dick is very rarely out my hand, and when I've got toothache, well, I'm just a public nuisance.

Right now I'm off to buy some methadone. As it's from the same girl I score smack from I think there's probably a 90% chance that I end the evening tying my wrist off with a tourniquet. What even more makes me think that is today while I was out shopping I mysteriously decided to check my bank balance. When I do that, there is only one reason behind it: I'm thinking of scoring. I kid myself it's not... but it is. It's like when I draw out money I don't need. I tell myself Oh, it's just to be safe... just in case there's a n unexpected problem with the card or something. Before I've even finished the transaction, my dealers phone is ringing and I'm willing her to answer. Addicts may lie to others, but it's nothing compared to the bullshit they tell themselves. I'm no different. Constantly having internal dialogues with myself convincing the junkie in me that this will happen and I can do that, and if I use it like this and save on that  it'll be fine - that I can afford another 5 grams. But it's all bollocks. Once you even begin to think like that it means you cannot afford it, that something or someone else is going to suffer for your excess.

Hopping the Wagon, Day 2: 13h21

Just woke up.

Someone once lovingly referred to me as the "hunchback of eternal pain" and that's what I feel like.

Swallowed  40ml of methadone. No coffee so had heavily sugared tea. Checked my emails and letter box. No death threats or court orders.

Outside still looks like winter skies. The season is definately on the turn.

Rubbish piled up near the door and fruit flies in the bathroom. I feel like I did the first time love gave me a low blow and disappeared down the road with her things: nostalgic, sad and happy. Two futures going off in different directions, and for the better or worse, things will never be the same again.

France is not a romantic place to be - it's not even a nice place to be. People say it is, but the daily details are the same and the lonliness is the same and the people are the same only they make no sense. I'd much rather be back in some West London ghetto, watching the rain extinguish burning cars and people punching phone booths because their dole cheque never arrived. That's beauty to me. Not really, but from a safe distance it is.

The last time I heard an accordian was in London. A gypsy wedding reception that spilled over into violence once the bar tab ran dry. The bride got glassed and the men stripped down to their vests and headed over to the park for some bare knuckle bonding. Gypsy weddings always end like that, it's half their fun. Divorces are even better.

I'm getting divorced, did I tell you? My wife of three days (Mythical Darts & Broken Darts), after ten years of quiet,  surprises me with an email (a divorce petition). But that's another story...