“You know the story behind ‘David Watts’? You want my version? I hope the old boy doesn’t object. We played this concert up at Peterborough, Rutland, and he seemed like a regular old army type. “Look boys, bit of a shithouse out here, why don’t you change at my house?” I said, “Oh, thank you, Mr Watts.” But I did notice he had white socks on! Anyway, we did the gig and after the gig he said, “Would you like to come back for a little celebration?” We said, “Yeah. Why not, we’re not doing anything. Be home in a couple hours.” We had a few glasses of pink champagne and all these men kept arriving. The head of the local constabulary and detectives, all the noted people in Rutland, all men escorted by little boys! And Mick, of course, and Dave homed in on the situation. Mick and Dave were dancing and Mick’s trousers fell down, and I said to David Watts, “Don’t you fancy that big hunky drummer?” He said, “Get lost, sweetie, it’s your brother I’m after.”
“I thought, “This is the chance to get Dave set up.” We had bottles and bottles of champagne and I said, “Dave, lisen. I know you don’t write a lot of songs and you’re a bit worried about the future. Get clued into this, Dave. I think he’s in love with you.” Dave went out to the garden, they had swings in the garden, I said to David Watts, “Well, you might be all right. He’s my brother and I’m very protective of him. If there is a liason with you, friendship, or affair, I want you to ensure Dave gets half of the house!” They were sat on this swing together holding hands! Dave didn’t fancy him. Simple as that. And David Watts was a bit shattered by it. I think Dave should have taken the offer up. But he came to see us in Peterborough and he met us a few times afterwards. Whenever he heard the song he said, “You bums writing that song. You bums!”
(From Jon Savage interview with Ray Davies printed in Ugly Things #30)
Here’s where you get a hint of what kinky associations that band name may have offered those teens just discovering sanity napkins or refined older gents inclined toward dressing in white socks. There’s subtext in a number of Kinks tunes regarding the theme of the British chum that pushes the intimacy of that very male friendship: ‘Do You Remember Walter?’ is the heartache of being abandoned and forgotten by your chum, who’d straightened out and abandoned all commitments you’d made toward an adventurous life together. ‘Lola’ beat Lou Reed to the punch and made a pop hit out of a guy who is man enough to be a woman. ‘David Watts’ offers the tale of a tortured narrator who lies on his pillow at night dreaming of living the life of a successful school chum.
The song itself lacks the grit of malice that infects most of Ray’s best tunes until you’re aware of the story behind the name. In that respect, Ray is being malicious twice over.
David Watts, the name of an older gent Ray attempted to pimp his younger brother to in exchange for half of his house, certainly didn’t miss that when he called The Kinks “bums” for using his name. Dave wrote some of the best known and loved songs from the Something Else era – ‘Death Of A Clown’, ‘Funny Faces’ and ‘Love Me Til The Sun Shines’, and the single ‘Suzannah’s Still Alive’ – and yet Ray presents the insidious plot as some kind of benevolent act in his Dave’s interest, to provide financial security that wouldn’t come from his own song writing. In other words, Ray suggests to his brother: look, you’ll never write songs of the same caliber as me. Rather than try, why not just sit on the swings with Mr Watts here, and take it from there? And, then, creeping across the party like Iago, to whisper into the ear of Watts: look at that little piece of chicken, that ripe little buttercup, half of your house and he’s yours!
Not only that, but who is singing those beautiful harmonies? Dave himself! As if to punish him for not swinging with Watts, Ray now has him grinning like a gibbon, prancing around while Ray sings a song mocking him: “I wish I could have all he has got”.
And, again, the real David Watts hears that in ‘David Watts’, and feels like Withnail & I’s Uncle Monty. Dave didn’t fancy him in real life, he got to first base holding hands but didn’t get to watch Dave removed his white socks (those white socks kill me – I picture, of course, John Waters whenever I read that interview and that particular detail, and believe me, I’ve read it enough times), but now, here’s Dave and his older pimp brother singing a song about him, mocking him. Not good enough for a root, but good enough for a tune.
This song is far from an exemplary exercise in Ray’s seething misanthropy, but it is one of The Kinks most enduring, catchy songs. The glorious back story does reveal yet another layer of Ray acting the cunt toward his bandmates and brother, the simple lesson that within the most touching tribute to friendship and the aspiration toward nobility, Ray can make mockery of intimacy and purity and beauty. Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa!
FROM LIFE STINKS I LIKE THE KINKS #1, WHICH INCLUDES A PIECE FROM DISTORT #37 AND A FEW ADDITIONAL SCRAPS. FREE TO SUBSCRIBERS. PRINTING SOON AS THOSE 7”S ARE OUT. IF YOU’D LIKE TO WRITE OR DRAW SOMETHING FOR #2, GET IN TOUCH.
Night Prowler is the solo recording project of Vacant State (Canada) guitarist Mark Palm. Similar to Vacant State in its debt to old Boston, with a very single minded lyric content. He’s about to release a new tape, Psychopath, recorded by David West (Perth).
Extract from interview in Distort #41.
There’s a fatalistic resignation to the reality of the human condition as being based on conflict and violence in the lyrics. Bleak question: to what extent does this define your world outlook? Have you ever read The Prince?
Violence and conflict is a part of life. I have a hard time imagining a world free of those things. I can’t see a way through life that is without occasional violence and conflict unless you allow yourself to be walked on. However, I wouldn’t say that defines my world outlook, it’s just a small part of it. The human condition is based on much more than violence and conflict, I just don’t explore those aspects of life in Night Prowler.
I have not read The Prince. Does it express a similar world outlook as the Night Prowler lyrics?
It does. General self-help question for troubled teens: what prevents this kind of nihilistic expression of violence from enveloping your entire world view?
I think you’d be a pretty stunted person if violence and conflict defined the entirety of your world view. I don’t want to give any advice though. I just see life as a really rich experience that includes the entire array of emotions. So of course violence and conflict is a part of life, but so is peace and happiness. I don’t see how you could have one without the other. In fact, I think a lot of violence is committed in the pursuit of happiness and peace. We struggle to get the things that make us happy and we fight to protect the happiness that we already have. Maybe some conflict is just a pure expression of hatred and animosity, but I think somehow it is usually actually an attempt to attain or maintain happiness or an expression of frustration at the inability to attain happiness.
This came to mind reading an interview with Indigesti in some old US hardcore mag where the interviewer seriously asked the band about the Iran Contra deal or some other politically relevant theme. From that to bands without the more left wing politics - like Agnostic Front with their “unite and strong” - made me consider the development of hardcore bands with an overt political platform, or even bands that saw hardcore as being a political force, for the right or left. I’m interested in what you think about this and how it applies to Night Prowler. It is interesting that you don’t see many fanzines attempting to engage with bands on that level anymore - I think the 1990’s did a lot to alienate people from these kinds of discussions.
Well, I’m a product of the 1990s myself. I was a teenager during that era and came of age in a very politicized, PC, punk scene. All that stuff made a huge impression on me at the time and introduced me to a lot of really challenging and progressive ideas. On the flipside, as time went on I also realized that a lot of the people preaching were hypocritical blowhards that were just towing the punk politics partyline and were incapable of thinking for themselves. So I can really relate to what you are saying about the 1990’s alienating a lot of people from political discussion. Some of my frustration about this sort of thing can be found in the song ‘No More’. I’m really grateful for all that I learned and all that I was exposed to during that time, but it also created a lot of homogenized thought and ideological conformity. That’s disgusting.
It’s taken me well into adulthood to start sorting out my own thoughts and feelings on certain subjects after feeling pressured to adopt certain ideals, ethics, and modes of thinking by the punk scene. It’s funny, when I first discovered punk it was such a liberating experience. I was finally able to start shedding some of the mental control that’s forced on all of us by the church, state, media, family, etc. But over time even a progressive political punk scene can become a mental jail of its own kind. It can go from being very liberating to being very confining. I spent a lot of years thinking that you could judge someone’s character and value as a person by their politics. Of course, life experience has taught me otherwise. But these are big, complicated ideas to be left in the hands of teenagers and early twenty-somethings, so it’s no surprise that things got a little misguided at times. And it’s a shame to see people become so bitter and alienated by the shortcomings of the ‘90’s era that they abandon all the ideas wholesale.
As for Night Prowler, the lyrics touch on certain political events that are of interest to me like the Bay of Pigs invasion in ‘Pigs’, and the Vietnam war in ‘Crime Wave’. And in a more general way I mention the manipulation that we are all subject to in songs like ‘Control’ and ‘Society’s Poison’. Certainly these topics are political, but I’m not writing about them in the hopes of convincing anyone of anything. I’m not interested in making other people think the same thing as me. Perhaps that was one of the main failures of the 1990’s PC scene: it wasn’t simply about discussing ideas and exposing different viewpoints, there was an element of ideological coercion involved, an effort to promote standardized thought.
Newcastle Sydney Mayhem. Noble Savage Mayhem.
A new Australian hardcore band spread over two sleazy cities championing the taut majesty of the X-Claim! catalogue. Their cassette is a rough sounding document of a band capable of arranging stolen riffs into tunes with character.
Extract from an interview with Adam Donnely (vocalist, League fan) from Distort #41.
You use the term Noble Savage Mayhem in the Groin Gravy interview - any profundity in that piece of genius?
‘Noble Savage’ is a song by Taipan about the guys who would travel from Newcastle for every Taipan show up and down the country. Chained Heat, which had half of NS Mayhem in it, had a song called ‘March of the Noble Savages’, and a few lyrics from that have been reused in the NSM demo. So I guess there is a sense of continuation on these dead bands and a nod and a wink for the small group of mates I’ve been going to shows with up and down the eastern seaboard for the last five years. For some people in Australia, hardcore means social networking on the internet while for my friends from Swansea and Caves Beach hardcore means driving 12 hours down the highway to see Reckless Aggression and Life’s Fate, so kudos to those blokes.
In an email previously when I asked about the lyrics about being alone in a crowd, I used the terms “schizo hardcore” and you said that hardcore is the music of contradiction. Could you develop on that a little more?
Well I guess if you could boil down nearly all of hardcore it comes down to either isolation or unity. A band like Out Cold and a band like Youth of Today exist under the same blanket, and I like both just fine. I appreciate that I can be exposed to a variety of expression but still be close minded enough to dislike anything that is not punk. In the five and half songs we have, we deal roughly with both of these themes. At times, I feel very remote from other people and because of this I probably have a heightened feeling of being one and the same with my friends who I can relate to. I’m just a regular Joe Blow and not some hermit though, that’s just how I am, and I’ve always felt this reflected back at me in the tapes and records I play at home and in (some of) the bands I go and see.
Interviews with Annihilation Time / Formaldehyde Junkies / World Burns To Death / Pisschrist tour photo diary
From interview with Annihilation Time:
Could you share any decent live stories? Who are the better bands to check out these days?
CHRIS: I don’t remember anything from live stories. Cuz there’s too many and I’m drunk always. Jimmy usually hurts himself pretty good. In Connecticut he jumped on broken glass and bled everywhere and needed a bunch of stitches. Cleveland is always best for live shows though. Those people are insane. Fireworks and trash being thrown everywhere. Good Bands: Municipal Waste, Caustic Christ, White Guilt (aka Warkrime), Hellshock was good the other night. DeadFall rips too. Skitkids from Malmo, Sweden are awesome too. Tons others I’m forgetting. I saw Radio Birdman the other night and was completely stoked.
SHAUN: Man. There’s a lot of good show stories. My favourite was at Burnt Ramen, Richmond, in January when Chris’s ride flaked and he had to ride the
train to the show. He was still on his way when they made us get up there and play. We tried lagging as hard as we could until he would show up, but the soundman was screaming at us to play after about a half hour. It was really frustrating. Then right as we were about to jam out deep purple tunes and bum everyone out, Chris rolls in, grabs his bass and we busted out everything without stopping and the place exploded! I guess all of us shitting ourselves and the crowd being antsy as fuck just blew up when we played. A few people told me that was the most intense show they’d ever seen. As for newer bands, some of my favourites worth checking out would be Direct Control, Warkrime, Cropduster, Strung Up, 86 Mentality, Formaldahyde Junkies… there’s alot of good stuff coming out now.
JIMMY: Live shows, basements are the best or small DIY places fuck rock clubs seriously if we never played a rock club again id be so happy. We hate soundmen! I hate stages over 1 foot tall, I hate spotlights! The only modern bands I like are Witchcraft, Inepsy, Gouka, and Landed.
This is an extract from an extended interview with author S T Lore, conducted just prior to the publication of dual-novella Institute Zagreb 1986 & The Air Of Conquerors. The rest appears in Distort #43, printing soon.
Do you accept that your writing has a surreal quality?
Yeah sure. To me, having a piece of text that people enter, it’s literally a space in the mind. I am approaching it as a space that a person can occupy. The space that I want people to occupy is a reality apart from the everyday world. A space that has space if that makes sense. When I’m occupying it, when I’m writing it, I really forget about the everyday. But soon I need to return to the everyday world in a way that I can function, so I can support the act of actually doing it. Writing is a physical act, getting up, writing or typing. You are in a physical world. I had to negotiate that in my mind, and when I did that, things got much better. I’m really interested in something I’d call “disembodied voices”. These landscapes of disembodied voices. I think that is the landscape of the mind and yet it relates to the contemporary in a very direct way. Communication occurring between hundreds of people who are not physically in the same place.
Is this an idea that drew you to psychology? Or did you get this out of studying psychology?
No not really. I don’t think psychology relates directly to the writing of fiction in a certain sense. It is more of an academic investigation. Yet I agree it could be used as a catalyst for ideas and content. That definately has been mined very richly in literature. Going through academia though and finding that it’s just a beaurocratic plaything, it doesn’t have an organic expression of the mind, that to me, was a demoralizing experience.
Well, you are attracted to the idea that you could understand the mind through language.
That is true, but that is not the only way to access the mind. Music, drugs, psychosis, torture, dreams are all states that might not rely on language but allow access to the “mind”. I think I literally fell into psychology without thinking about it. It was a space I felt comfortable in. But as far as being drawn to study psychology, it was just one of a series of subjects I was studying in a Bachelor of Science degree. I also studied Histology at the Medical school and Botany and Mathematics as well. I just seemed to have a natural affinity for Psychology which turned out to be mostly an essay based assessment. A discipline of thinking and writing in a certain way.
I can’t think of that many writers that have come out of a background in psychology.
Maybe not but an insane amount of writers have been interested in psychology as a discipline even in an amateur sense - from Herman Hesse and Arthur Koestler through to George Orwell and Aldous Huxley onto people like Colin Wilson and Hunter S Thompson. These are not necessarily my favourite writers but any situation in which a form of expression relies on the interaction of characters and dialogue, action and reaction of human behaviour, transcendence, transformation and mystery and consequence has a connection to the study of psychology. In fact I just realised that the author of one of favourite books Mysteries was a pioneer of psychological literature – Knut Hamsun. He was a pioneer of these interior monologues. He was utterly interested in the form of the mind. Yet I am not advocating a return to these kind of books.
How many of these authors studied the subject, and actually continued to work in that field while they were writing?
I wouldn’t know. I know J G Ballard began studying medicine. He also used to work in laboratories for the Chemistry Industry as a developing writer and he actually wrote reviews of experimental studies for several years for their journals. Very psychological and scientific texts ranging from the effects of drug toxicity and poisoning, to the Science of Dreams and the use of paints and plastics in Modern Cosmetics. I don’t think these activities are that different to what I studied in my degree. I undertook the study of truth serums, to writing a thesis on Memory for Human Faces, the role of Sleep and Arousal disorders and the interaction of Bufotenin (Cane Toad Poison) on Human Biology. I used cadavers and looked at the anatomy of the brain for Neuroscience. I currently work as a Sleep Technician. Lots of writers have come out of scientific fields. I would just put Psychology, even though it is a bit more of a fractured pseudo science, into that kind of role. Ballard’s coming out of the medical thing, you can quite easily see the body in things like Crash, this quite visceral sense of the body.
The Atrocity Exhibition, of course.
Yes, which is one of his many experiments in the art scene. He tried sculpture and installations and all this sort of stuff. There is that lineage that you can see.
From an interview with Aaron Aspinwall (extract from imminent publication of Distort #42)
Aspinwall’s stories revolve around action as opposed to introspection and reflection, and they’re written with terse, minimal phrasing. His compassion for failure is tempered by a cold-hearted sardonic glee in ruin and reveals a strong and complex narrative voice perfectly suited for the short story. Too much warmth and you’d think he’d never worked a day in his life. Too much cruelty and you’d think he’d never fucked up. You get a story that feels like you’re in the company of a trusted mate and they’re leveling with you about something you might wish in a couple hours you never heard., but you need to know it.
Could you give a brief overview of your published work to date, including anything to be published imminently?
Ok, so I’ve done two small collections of short stories so far. CONTENTION and EXTRACTIONS was released in 2010 by Youth Attack. PEOPLE AT WAR WITH THEMSELVES came out in 2012 on Calico Grounds. I’m working right now on a new collection called DEPARTURES. I imagine it will be done in a few months.
When writing about your fiction, I came across the startling realisation that I’d never come across anyone within American literature who could quote Ray Cappo in an interview. Do you feel you have any contemporaries within modern American fiction?
I don’t have the depth of literary knowledge to quote writers so I fall back on the shit Rollins said between songs on “Who’s Got the 10 and a Half” or Youth of Today lyrics. I’m a sucker for all that shit and, you know, they really cover just about any topic worth talking about. My contemporaries are the burnout poets and half-wits who make photocopied photography ‘zines about drinking High Life under bridges.
EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING - RUSH TO RELAX
I have very few photographs of my life over the last two decades. I never had an interest in taking photos, and the preponderance of dilettantes with telephones capturing every detail of their existence provokes a more hearty disinterest. There’s something undignified about such obsessive documentation. The ease in which development techniques can be bypassed has provided the world with a ceaseless glut of images that mimic the painstaking labour of photographers of ye olden days, and it is rare that a photograph can be described as arresting in the way that a carefully considered photograph from the pre-digital era does, speaking of a process that lacked immediacy.
The cover image for Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s 3rd LP, Rush To Relax, is an arresting image. On first inspection, the image of the band standing in the surf holding a sign with the name of the record, wearing pervert masks and bath robes. The band’s name is written across the sky; only upon opening the gatefold is it revealed that the band’s name is written on a sign being flown by a plane. Most people I point this out to have not noticed it. The band went to such lengths to create an image that most people would dismiss as the product of graphic design competence. I asked Mikey some questions about it.
If ECSR had any kind of consistency in the aesthetic, it would be that there was absolutely NO consistency between singles, but the first two LPs had a mutually abstract quality. Could you talk a little about the covers of the first couple of LPs?
Could be a little be of laziness but mainly I just wanted our records to say nothing about us. I didn’t want any kind of image to be present when people first heard the records. Certain artwork and press shots always seem to formulate an idea you have of bands whether you want it to or not and with our band, at that stage especially, I wanted our actions and people’s reactions to be as untainted as possible
Opting for a posed band photo for the new LP is an interesting decision - most band photos I’ve seen were pretty spontatenous. The dressing gowns are an obvious nod to the record title, but the masks?
I think we just wanted it to be creepy. The idea evolved from the ‘Rush to Relax’ film clip idea which was meant to be kind of a bummer spin on the ‘Which Way to Go’ film clip. I imagined like a vacation version of those early devo Super 8 clips like ‘Secret Agent Man’. Kinda eerie and depressing. So the masks are probably half stolen from Devo. The second reason would have been to allow ourselves a cover shot but not succumb fully to the band photo thing
(Extract of piece from Distort #37
What do the members of Billy Bao do outside of the band in order to eat?
One works polishing metals, other giving lessons in the music conservatory, the other in the prostitution industry, and other as delivery.
In the MRR interview, you suggest people take to the
streets on two separate occasions… what do you mean by this?
What is happening right now in Greece, that should be our daily life, passion, action, constant negation of authorities, molotovs cocktails as your musical instruments, the alarms of shopping windows, and police cars as beautiful noise.
To what extent is Billy Bao sympathetic with abrasive noise specialists like Throbbing Gristle or Whitehouse? My first exposure to your music made me think of Brainbombs, but you confounded expectations with your lyrics.
I know that Brainbombs are fan of Whitehouse, in fact Philip Best told me that they rip a lot of the lyric content from Peter Soto’s magazine Pure. I do think that Whitehouse were fucking brutal and dangerous (I saw them with Peter Sotos a couple of times and they were probably the most violent shows that I have been). As for Brainbombs, I think they got it right in terms of sound but after a while their lyrical content becomes a pastiche of themselves and of Whitehouse, and when you deal with such a delicate issues (misogyny, misanthropy, psychological pathology) you either are subtle and concise or it can just become just parody. Not that I know how to be subtle!
(From Distort #36 - full text here)
RED RED KROVVY 2012 TAPE
Red Red Krovvy were a Redd Redd Kross / murder punk inspired band outta Cairns, which for any geographically retarded types, is a very isolated piece of real estate in North East Australia, the kind of Australia that still digs apartheid. I’ve spent a day there, and it was much like most rural areas of the country, scenic and terrifying once the street lights come on.
A great area for a punk band to come out of, and Red Red Krovvy sound so much like Suicide Squad you’ll be waiting for ‘I Hate School’ to come on the moment the tape starts. What you’ll get is a great butchering of ‘Television Addict’, vocal delivery sounds like the lyrics are being read off the back of a pizza box. Members of this band play in Pop Singles, who just released an LP redolent of the most superior flyin’ nuns, and the Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, who are about to release an LP redolent of the cheapest tricks.
I threw a couple of questions at singer Ash and guitarist Ben.
Could you give a brief history of the band? How did the recording come about?
Ash: We started at the beginning of year 12 (2007). Adam, Ben and I were the only people we knew who liked punk bands from before the 90’s. Who played what was easy to pick - Ben owned a guitar, Adams mum just bought a drum kit, and I couldn’t play either so I naturally was the singer. Our first shows were totally unlistenable sets at the high school battle of the bands, and then we set up house shows in garages, horse stables, lounge rooms and basements. We were really productive too, and made sure we rehearsed once a week. And we’d try and cover songs (Big Black, Stooges, Redd Kross) but if it took more than 5 minutes to learn we’d just move on..We released one recording - a split CD-R with Axel Rosie O’donnel. The tape that has just been released was recorded by Tom Hardisty, and I’m not sure how that came about actually.
Ben: Ash, Adam and I met in class at school. There weren’t many people who played instruments in Cairns, and even fewer bands. I bought a guitar the day I heard Johnny Ramone died and then Adam’s Mum bought a drum kit (mid life crisis) a couple of years later so then we started a band. Our first practice was trying to play I Wanna Be Your Dog over and over because I only knew a few songs on guitar that Ash knew the words. We practiced every Friday after school. Wrote a new song every week. Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, End. I moved to Sydney after school so it ended, until Adam moved to Melbourne (Ash already there) and we thought, Two Out of Three Aint Bad, and I came down for a week, played a couple of shows and quickly recorded some old songs and some new songs with the great Tom Hardisty.
Shops; Melb- Wooly Bully, Syd- Repressed Records/Blackwire Records, other- No Patience Distro
(From Distort #41)
PHOTO STOLEN FROM POLAROIDS OF ANDROIDS WEBSITE DOT
“The Ropes Demo II 7””
He expressed the satisfaction of having finished his latest poem with a howl of triumph, and threw his laptop across the room, where it skittered across the tiled floor into the kitchen. “Baby, where are you?” He yelled. “I’m ready for it!”
His triumphant call was met with a timid silence, to which he turned his head around, as if to sniff the air for a sound. Then he realized he was home alone. She’d left. Comprehension of this fact caused him to stare about him like a rat surrounded by ripe corpses: walls full of holes, the floor covered in clothes and food, the television on the floor with a mannequins leg shoved through the screen. His hands were covered in dry, black blood and he was wearing nothing but a t-shirt.
It was as if someone had just spit in his face on his first day of school. No survival mechanism kicked in, to clean the walls and himself, but self pity provoked him to self parody, shrieking “what’s wrong with me!” He noticed a small bottle of pills on the floor next to the bed and felt instantly relieved, until he noticed that the lid was next to bottle and the bottle was empty.
He staggered into the bathroom moaning a name, “Nina”, and pulled the top drawer out from under the sink at a speed entirely inappropriate for its size and depth. The drawer came flinging out from and dropped on his foot, spraying across the floor nail polish, clippers, band aids, old toothpaste tubes, used earbuds, blood soaked tissues, hair clips, a small jar of toenails with the name JIM 2012 on a label on the side, and finally, pills. Ignoring his rapidly swelling foot and the patchwork of toiletries he’d spread around the room, he swiped the pills and hopped out of the room, breaking a bottle of perfume under his heel, blobs of perfume surfing shards of delicate thin glass through the gash in his foot and up his veins. He screeched and dropped to his knees, rolled over onto his back and swiped at his heel like it was on fire, and then lay back, exhausted, breathing deeply the aroma of perfume as it spread through the room. It was almost a physical form to the grief stricken Jim, and he imaging a bright pink luminescent Disney genie surrounding him and presenting a lascivious grin with a promise of exciting and illuminating experiences.
Instead of a spiritual awakening, Jim vomited a small mouthful of gruel, some meal he’d eaten a couple days ago and a bottle of red. The stench of vomit and perfume was unbearable and he crawled across the room like a commando with his pills in his hand and his foot trailing a racing stripe across his carpet. He spat the vomit out as he dragged himself along, oblivious that he was spitting it right at the spot on the ground that he was dragging his chest through. Finally at a safe distance from the perfume, but overcome by the smell of the vomit that was all over his chest, stomach, withered penis and hairy thighs, he vomited again and spat it across the floor, where it decorated the laptop screen that he noticed was missing a keyboard. Then he noticed the keyboard part, half wedged under the sink.
He broke the bottle open at long last and dry swallowed a couple of pills, exploding into volcanic coughs midway through the second, spluttering like an Indonesian car and clawing at the air. When he realized he wasn’t choking he composed himself and, grabbing at a bottle of coke nearby, and drained the spit out of the bottom of the bottle to lubricate the pills holy journey.
Resting on his side, his eyes fell upon a book. It was called White Cunt. It was published in the name of Derek Pilman, his best friend. Jim was convinced that Derek was at that moment exchanging herpes with Jim’s girlfriend, Nina. Jim was a trusting guy, generally, and he’d trusted Derek to read a novel he’d written a few months ago, at the behest of Nina, who’d convinced Jim that she thought he’d benefit from Derek’s critical judgement. That novel was also called White Cunt.
Jim thought he could trace a neat path between the publication of the book and Nina leaving and him laying on his side on the greasy tiles of his flat, one food bleeding, the other bloated and bruised, covered in vomit, and the thought of this path was so brilliantly composed that he felt certain that he’d introduced it the moment he’d finished writing the novel.
He’d started a simple story of a naïve teenager in order to attract attention from literary awards: teen moves from rural Australian town to a Western Sydney suburb, goes to highschool, personal identity crisis occurs. The theme was growing tedious for the younger judges, and his subsequent failure to attract attention resulted in the most profound sense of rejection he’d yet experienced. He expressed his frustration at this situation with a heroic lack of regard for himself or other people, withdrawing from public life, eradicating all potentials for conversation, and he began to work on a novel that he felt would express something of his disgust. This became a pornographic exploitation and plea for a new white Australian policy that would remove all white peoples from Australia, and place them in colonies in England. It was a poorly considered symbolic gesture against post-Howard Australia, and everyone who’d read it had considered it exactly that, except for Derek, reasoned Jim. He’d seen the potential of the character, and exploited it in a matter that he felt was more realistic of the situation. White Cunt told the story of the same teen descending into a racist, paranoid drug addicted hell. The standards of political correctness were met with equal disdain as his cynical take on the standards of Australian mateship, and immediately the novel was met with hysterical media attention.
The entire saga repeating through his mind made Jim’s face ache as he watched the book do nothing on the tile. White Cunt.
He crawled back across the house to his room, and pulled himself onto his bed. He lay face down for a couple of minutes, sobbing, and thinking of Nina. And at that moment, the door opened, and she walked in.
“What the hell happened here, Jimmy?” He was laying on his elbows, his face turned toward her with an expression of utter terror, as if he was looking at his father. His two feet lay in various stages of decomposition, and he was naked from the waist down, covered in vomit. She cried out, and ran over to the bed.
“What’s wrong?” She was frightened, and patting his head frantically, as if he were a fear stricken pet.
“Where… did you go?” He rasped, rolling over on the bed. She gasped as she was confronted with his body. “Where’s Derek?”
“Derek? Derek, why Derek?” Nina frowned. “Oh Jimmy, I’ve been at mum’s house. I’ve been at mum’s in Brissie, since Christmas. Remember? You dropped me at the airport? Jimmy. Jimmy. Jimmy. What did you do?”
Nina realized that Jimmy wasn’t hurt as much as he’d hurt himself, and she took a step back from the bed and stared around the room, her mouth scraping against her chest. “What did you DO?!” She screamed, and ran from corner to corner, examining piles of ashes, handprints and torn up books and records in stacks on the floor, and she stopped, turned with a terrifying grace, and screamed a word with a hundred syllables at him with such venom that he cowered underneath a pillow. “Get out! Get out of here!”
Jimmy crawled out of the flat, and she threw trousers and shoes out at him, and when he’d finished pulling his pants on in the driveway, she threw the book out at him. He noticed the author who wrote White Cunt wasn’t called Derek at all, but Sheila. Where did he get Derek from? When he read the blurb on the back, he remember he’d read the book on the day that Nina left, Christmas, and suffered such crippling anxiety in the presence of writing that described his life – his naïve teen moving to western Sydney life – that it’d prompted him to start kicking in his walls and smashing Nina’s artworks into pieces.
“She’d understand!” he remember crying, “It’s a cleansing ritual! I’m expressing my emotions!”
This was what he tried to yell at her through the door as he bashed on it, holding the book. “It wasn’t the real me! It wasn’t Jimmy!”
After a while the door opened a crack, and two narrow eyes squinted at her. “What do you mean?”
“I mean I’m not the person who destroyed our flat. I mean, it was my body…” Nina made to slam the door, which caused him to splurt out, “…I think we’re having a baby!”
She stopped and spat at him, “What did you just say?”
“I think Francis is having kittens.”
“Francis is a boy, Jim. He can’t have kittens.”
“Well, I feel a lot of shit at the moment, and I don’t know how to express it. I don’t know what to do with it. I think I might… love you. More than I thought.”
Nina opened the door. “Wait. You love me more than you thought, so you trashed my flat and burned all her artwork?”
“All… her artwork?”
“Sharon’s artwork. Sharon… Jim, wait. Where the fuck is Sharon?”
At that moment Jim felt the insane agony of pain in both of his feet. His face turn white and he crumpled to the floor, and, inferring that Jim had murdered Sharon, Nina did the same.
They were both laying there when Sharon came home from her Christmas holiday with her girlfriend, who just stared at the two and into the flat, turned to her girlfriend with a sour expression, and got on the back of her scooter. “Looks like we’re staying at yours again tonight.”
In the bedroom, on the turntable, was a copy of The Ropes Demo II, the sound of which had caused such severe trauma to Jim’s delicate sense of self, the sound of which had caused his mind to cave in, his entire house to ruin. The hissing noise as the blunt stylus rode through the inner groove was the only audible sound in the flat.
—From Distort #41