THE VOID RATIO is the amount of black space in the psyche, the unresolved conflicts arising from the trauma of dying and the consequence of living.
Through a series of photographs (Artefacts of Self-destruction) Urbaniak isolates and records the forensics of a ‘lifescene’ (here being the author’s own drug paraphernalia) at times discovering a breathtaking beauty emitted by the objects. Urbaniak’s lens turns the otherwise inanimate objects into landscapes, monuments, horizons, revealing the universal blackness of history and corporeal qualities of the user in the traces of blood and carbon left behind.
For his part, Levene focuses on the physical body and the abstract mind, the struggle to come to terms with and accept time, existence and mortality. It’s quickly understood that 15 years of hard- core heroin addiction, over 60‚000 intravenous injections, have been administered in an attempt to fill this volume of void. Far more than the stereotypical writing so often found in drug literature Levene’s texts employ heroin use and addiction as a means to explore far grander themes of history, nostalgia, consequence and trauma.
“Levene’s words are something like when you find a long lost old faithful, a throbber on the shin, aaaaah.....’’
‘The Void Ratio’ left me dreaming again of the fucking nightmare...’
“...far from serving solely as a portrait of a mutual friend, Urbaniak’s work in the Void Ratio captures the debris left behind in the wake of the virulent drug epidemic sweeping Britain today. Stark, powerful, poetic... The Artefacts of Self-destruction is the perfect companion to this small collection of Levene’s words.
Shane’s writing is by turns beautiful, scabrous, funny, heartbreaking and dangerous. In my opinion, Shane is one of the few, actual honest-to-God Poets we still have writing today.“
TONY O’NEIL – author.
Black Neon, Digging the vein, Down & out on Murder Mile
Soft bound, size 18x22cm
Standard Edition £20 Collector’s Edition £40
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DEATHLY HALLOWS (extract)
Into these deathly hallows. I Love you Darling. Do you find the landscape bleak? The fog sat low outside and the dew in the grass by the motorway? These things puncture the skin, that is all. Don’t be scared. It’s not like in the movies. I’ll wake up in the morning, you’ll see. You’ll find me just where I am now: sat at the table near the window in the breaking light of day, where the syringe replaces religion, held up, air bubbles flicked and rising free, its needle a part of the modern city skyline. London in the new millennium. All silver and aluminium and glass, reflecting the world two tones darker. Sleep well, Princess.... Who knows what life may bring today. Those clouds sure don’t look good. And the seagulls. Can you hear them in your dreaming? Screeching away and going birdcrazy over some death in the river? Their silhouettes against the sky, against the last smoke of the industrial age. Oh, I’d cry eternally if it wasn’t for THIS. Things are changing, Darling. This world is on the turn. War is coming like you’ll never believe..
* * *
There was an old black and white film I once watched. It was an afternoon matinee at the Riverside Studios. I remember how the lights dimmed dark, and then came the silence, and then the crackling sound of static and old reel. I watched in horror as my life unfurled...
INTO THE LOST (extract)
The rain beat on car roofs and bonnets and swept glass bottles and cat shit along the gutter. He could smell the city: wet brick and concrete, foliage and the soil beneath trees. The rain seemed to get right through his skin and made him want to vomit. He retched bringing up a thick elastic saliva that hung and broke down his top. The same mucus came from his nose. The retching bruised his stomach muscles and now he stooped as he moved. In the wet glossy road, under a tall street lamp, he caught a feint reflection of himself. He tried quickening his pace, desperate to find some place where he could suffer down and with no shame or pretence of pride let the sickness run rampant through him, allow the junk to seep freely from his pores, run from his eyes and nose, betray his stomach and dribble, burning out his arsehole. But he had nowhere, just this old borough where he had grown up and a hope that someone would recognise him and take him in. His clothes were now drenched and heavy and dragging off his body; his shoes like sopping pieces of cardboard, squelching past old haunts which somehow now screamed out to him and imbued him with a profound and inexpressible feeling of sorrow. Every step he took forward a terrible vision of his former self seemed to go slodging past him in the opposite direction. It was as if he were walking down random parts of his life, travelling along a radio bandwidth that was being tuned through ghostly frequencies of his past. Sick, he trudged on, his body dying and his mind infected with a loneliness that only a man adrift in a universe could understand, wandering lost through nowhere with just a vague memory of home.
SO DOG WE WERE (extract)
On screens, I’ve seen everything from armpit licking to shit-eating. I’ve seen Arabic looking girls, dressed in nothing but a hijab, crucified to railings and gagging on twelve inches of white cock with the Stars and Stripes tattooed along the shaft. In retaliation, I’ve seen fifteen of the dustiest Arabs gang-raping a small town beauty queen, close-ups of her tears and suffering as one rams it in her arse without lubricant or warning. I’ve been sent links to videos of amputees, midgets, mongols and she-males. I’ve seen horses and pigs being sucked off, and dogs eating pussy. In HD I’ve seen sheep, cows and chickens get it – living props, perfect for web cams anglais Shock TV.I’ve seen faceless erections poking through zippers, shoved through holes, men, women and beasts dancing jubilantly around them. I’ve seen cunts gang-banged out of all recognizable shape, laying spent around rooms, their only use then to help remove nicotine stains from filthy fingers. I’ve studied necks and faces, stretched taut and deformed during the climax of despicable acts. I’ve seen my own mother drink and fuck her way through 20 years of grief, falling out of taxis naked and crawling up the front yard with bloodied tits and bruised buttocks. I’ve made up the numbers in the most squalid dens and witnessed the human animal partake in the most debauched and intangible of practices: groups hunched over spoons, each man drawing up a measure of life before shuffling back to his individual hell. I’ve seen families brought up on grease and potatoes and tomato ketchup; parents in competition for **Special Offers** and fighting over reduced cuts of meat. I’ve seen teenage rent boys forced to deep throat podgy middle aged men; wrecks of humans crawling around the streets looking for scraps of food; amputees glued to skateboards in a desperate effort to adapt and survive. I’ve seen people riddled with body fungi and gangrene, abscesses and ulcers the size of tennis balls eating them alive.
Sick. We were sick. We lay in bed, wrapped up in filthy blankets, smoking, sometimes fucking, doing animal things, you know, like being sick
Sick. We were sick. Sick in bed. Sick in life. Sick by life. Sick. And we made each other sick.
Sick. Watching TV for days on end, sweating furiously but too bored to pull the covers off. Filthy feet; filthy legs. Separated by a valley of cigarette ends. Stuffing our faces full of fatty, greasy foods. Shutters down. Apartment crawling with bugs. Toilet blocked. Sick. We were so fucking sick.
Sick. Not dope sick; life sick. Diseased by pasts and visions and sounds and leather belts and erect cocks and murder. Sick. We were made sick by all these things. Sick. Sickened by cunt. Wet mushy drunken gang-banged cunt. Sick. We were sick. I was Sick. She was sick....
MY OWN FATHER NOW
I sought the wild love of my mother’s heart. That began after the murder. The which changed her so much and as a consequence greatly magnified my own significance of being.
You have your father’s chest, she would say, crying while fingering the indent below my sternum. Then she’d lay her head on me and her tears would collect in the little well of my pectus excavatum.
I would stare at the top of her head, at the dark roots which she no longer bothered to bleach. Her hair smelled of vomit. I was terrified to touch her.
* * *
My mother is besides me smoking heroin and crack. We are living together, scheming together, scoring together, getting ill together. I notice she has a wild pride besides me, that she is as energeticand as brashly sexual as in her youth. I’m all bruised, scarred and cut up.
We have terrible blazing arguments. She throws me out and I break the windows. She slings a bag full of my dirty needles at me as I wait for a taxi in the street; one sticks in my neck. As I am driven away I watch her from the back window, crying as she picks up the needles out the road. I disappear for some days and then turn back up with enough smack and crack to be forgiven.
I get terribly tortured by love and the lovers in my life. I have the most insanely psycho-sexual obsessional romances. We are both weak within them and death-pacts are always quickly agreed.
I would die for my lovers and yet I hide hypodermic needles and heroin in the cistern in the toilet and secretly inject myself up to 7 times a day. My mother knows. She scores it for me. She’s glad to have proof that someone’s need for heroin is not a measure of the desperate love they can hold for someone. When these affairs end I no longer want to live. I turn up at my mother’s door and she takes me in and cleans me up and watches over me for months as I heal, as my drug use becomes less destructive and more narcissistic and I begin to want to be destroyed to the point of feeling life again.
INTERVIEW with Shave Levene conducted by Martin Bladh Question/Answer/Image/
What is The Void Ratio, and how did this collaboration with Karolina come about?
The Void Ratio is a strange book. It’s not so easy to define. What it’s not is a novel, nor a collection of short stories, nor rock n’ roll tales of drug capered mayhem. It is a series of short, seemingly unrelated, texts which were born out of the atmos- phere given off by Karolina’s photography (Artefacts of Self-destruction) which accompany them. Each text, a page or three long, was written (as the majority of my writing is) to stand alone as a work in its own right. But all of the texts in The Void Ratio are connected thematically. Yes, there is the obvious heroin connection, but heroin is not the subject here (and very rarely is in my work). Amongst the real subjects are history, consequence, nostalgia, isolation and estrangement. It is the world that revolves post-tragedy. Not my tragedy, anyone’s tragedy – anyone who is unfortunately sane enough to experience the whole rotten lot of it. That makes up a part of the consequence of living. On the flip side of that is the dread and fear of death and dying, trying to come to terns with that trauma with- in your own lifetime.... To try and make sense of the conflicting ideas of mortality and yet the infinity of death – especially when living life without the security of religion (“and I wish I had a God.”) Between those ideas is the black space, and that black space is the conflict one must deal with: the void ratio. And everyone’s void ratio is different.
The birth of the book is just as ambiguous. For me it had it’s birth in the days of your DES book launch in London, December 2013 ( for that reason a certain telling of the story makes up the end text in the book). But still, neither the book, nor the idea of it, was ever discussed during those days. What did happen though is that through physically getting myself to London, making good on certain promises, coming into physical contact with you and Karolina, it showed that despite certain lifestyle choices or habits (on all sides, not just mine) that we were stable enough in our insanities to be able to not only be friends but to also work together. I think that if it had’ve been a nightmare getting me to London and then once there I went AWOL off on a bender and couldn’t be contacted... Turned up late and out my face... Fucked up the evening, etc... I don’t think the book would have ever been proposed. So meeting was important for everyone. The possibil- ity of the book was made in those nights. That was the foreplay. Still, it would be another 7 months before the literary legs opened and the book would be fucked into existence. But the birth was not without drama, though for the most part, for fear of unnecessarily worrying Karolina, I kept that to myself. For the second time in my life, when proposed to write a book, just as I sat down in the calm to begin, without sign nor warning, my life imploded. From the third sentence on, I wrote the book in the most appalling of circumstances.
The Void Ratio, heroin and acrylic on foil
Could you shed some light on these ‘appalling’ circumstances? I guess the writing process most have brought out several closet monsters - “post tragedy” - your unconventional (if not incestuous) relationship to your mother, the death of your best friend, your murdered father, the list goes on and on...?
Well all these events you mention I am indeed in the post-tragedy of ... my NOW is the equation of those events and a whole many more. Writing is exhausting. All art is exhausting for me. It physically and mentally drains me and I’ve often said I detest the process of creation because of that strain. But I am condemned to that process through a compulsion to create and express what is within and around me. So I am tied to this process I do not like, which exhausts me, yet which I can no more escape than I can escape myself. I enjoy the end product or my art, but not the actual journey. Having said that, even though it is exhausting, the exhaustion does not come from it being so emotionally painful. The moment I can even contemplate writing of an event means it’s at a safe point in my life where I have dealt with it – even if remembering it can still deeply sadden and hurt me. That’s normal. But it is at an emotionally safe distance where I can process it and make either sense or no sense at all of it, but accept it anyhow. When a trauma is too raw, when you’ve not dealt with it (or at least not began to), it is non-existent in one’s art. It’s why suicide often comes as such a shock as that taking of your own life is the expression of something you were suppressing and couldn’t even begin to deal with openly or within life. So those events you mention are now badly healed scars on my psyche. They’ll forever be there, will always influence my expression, but they are scars that are closed over and now inspire me. It’s not always pleasant reliving them in pursuit of literature but they don’t torture me in any way. The appalling circumstances I referred to were of the moment, an event which was unravelling through my life as I wrote The Void Ratio. I won’t go into too much detail other than to say that I had begun taking legal action against the French state and to subdue my voice, the city (what is supposedly a socialist/leftist city) all pulled together and let their dogs out to feast on me and cause me as much trouble as they possibly could. It ended with my income being suspended for four months, almost being evicted and having my electricity and hot water cut. So The Void Ratio was written in the dark and cold after spending hours sitting in the basement of the attached residence in order to charge my phone and computer. Once recharged I’d return to my room and write and correspond until the battery fell flat. In that same period I also fell terribly ill and because of my living situation that illness lingered on and kept making a resurgence, thriving on the circumstances my body was in. All texts exclusive to the book (barring ‘’Will He Murder Myself Tonight) were written under those circumstances. I had also not long split with my long-term partner and my apartment/room was like a black museum of memories which I couldn’t bear to be around and yet had no choice. But I have resolved in my life to never again let circumstances get in the way of deadlines or art and so I did everything and more to ensure the book got written and finished.
Dirty Rotten Heart, heroin and acrylic on foil
Was the book written under the influence of heroin? What’s the current situation, are you on methadone now?
No. I never write under the influence of heroin. I can’t. My mind is still just as creative, and I mentally work on stuff, but nothing ever gets physically produced. Sure, there are the odd paragraphs I manage under the influence, but that is not writing... the real writing is a long and tedious process and a drug that makes you collapse into your keyboard is not a drug which can help a writer (at least not to write). I am also passionately against this myth of drugs spawning creativity. Drugs will never give anyone what they haven’t already got (with the exception of such stuff like confidence, self-worth, calm, etc) but creatively speaking drugs cannot help a bland, unimaginative and talentless person. Sure, you can relate an LSD trip or scrawl some crazy spirals while stoned... but that’s not an artist nor a writer. Art must be within you even when the drugs are not. What drugs can do for creative types is open the mind even further and allow one to express truths that they were unaware of before. But still, most of that is done in the post period of the drug’s effect, not during it. So for me drugs and creativity is. a great myth: Jimi Hendrix was straight when he recorded Voodoo Child... not clean out his mind on LSD.
Current situation. To answer that fully would be an extremely long reply as it gets to the heart of my philosophy on drug use and abstention and drug policy. I don’t believe in the ideal of total abstention nor believe anyone should make any absolute promises to quit and never use again. It is those markers of success as to why we have such appalling success rates in our clinics and rehab centres. We need to redefine what success from addiction is. For me, success is going from ten injections a day to taking one even every few days. There’s no need to make solemn promises to quit and never use again... it’s pointless and damaging. When you finally crack and use again (and most people crack and use again) you are then treated like a total fuck up and disappointment, reminded of how badly you have let everyone down from your mother to the cleaning woman of the methadone clinic and are treated and shunned as if you’ve murdered their pets. So I live by that thinking and at the moment, as I’ve now done been doing for 7 years, I stick mostly to my prescribed methadone treatment and use heroin whenever I have the urge. It equates to using once for a couple of days every fortnight or so. The only time I ever deny myself an urge is if i have writing deadlines (personal or external). How much of maintaining that balance is due to financial restrictions, supply problems, etc, is difficult to say. But I really feel, even if I were in London with heroin never an longer than 20 minutes away, that I’d still continue as I am now. The writing is also very important in my life, and it is due to that why more than two days on heroin now frustrates the hell outta me and ensures I can resist.
Chasing the Dirty Dollar, heroin and acrylic on foil
When we met in London December 2013, it was the first time you had been back in your hometown for 9 years. How do you find your ‘exile’? It seems like you have a desperate need to resurrect London through your writing?
Yes. London is a huge part of my writing and is everywhere. It’s a character in itself. The word ‘exile’ I do not use lightly. I really feel I have exiled myself, not able to return at present due to certain legal problems. I wasn’t aware of those legal problems when I first left and they were not the reason why I shot town. They came to light during the first year in France and immediately made it clear that I couldn’t go back home without facing the music and a jail term. It changed everything. Before then I had left my city and my mother but they were only a couple of hours and a couple of hundred euros away. From that day on, the UK police phoning me, my exile began. London changed within me and her memory was suddenly a huge force which tortured me and came pouring out. Where once, while I was living in London, I sought escape from her and her people now I was desperately missing her and as you say resurrecting her - and not purely with my words. I actively sought to recreate London around me, going as far as creating TV schedules of old programmes drawn from YouTube and having them play out through the days. With the curtains drawn I could fool myself into believing that my home town was just outside. Even today I am totally riddled with nostalgia for all things British and especially Londonian. I cry for my city and when I cry it is in words. Those words come to me at a huge price: they are not free. As is always the case: we pay dearly for our art (and crimes).
Blackbird Weeping, heroin and acrylic on foil
Will you allow your mother to read The Void Ratio, if so how do you think she’ll react to it?
Yes, I have no qualms about her reading the book. There are a few very sensitive parts in there that affect her and that will maybe sadden her a little, but we have been through so much together that there is nothing that cannot be remedied. I will have to bullshit her a little to soothe any concerns she’ll have, but that is often the case with family and close friends around literature. I have no qualms about doing that. I don’t write to upset or offend or shock people and would never want to hurt anyone I love with my words. Unfortunately there is sometimes a conflict of interests with stuff I must write about without suppressing any of the facts and that becomes difficult and sensitive. It’s an age old problem with writers and their friends, lovers and family. There was one passage I removed from the book because it referred to sexual abuse and incest and I had promised my mother some years ago when she found a text called ‘A Mother’s Love’ that I’d never write of that again. For lines like “I am the man who could fuck my own mother”, well, my mother has always known me as a little bizarre in my words and living, finds my paintings weird (as she said “if it was anyone else who had painted them I’d be scared to stay here!”) and so that goes a long way in making it possible for me to play on that and soothe any problems she has. She’ll probably be disappointed, because of the references to her, that she cannot wave her son’s book about at the neighbours, but we’ll survive. There’s been such horrendous things happen between us that a book and a few words will not be so serious.
Roadkill, heroin and acrylic on foil
You’ve done some very special artworks that come with the 26 limited edition copies of the book. Could you tell me something about these pieces, your ideas behind them and the unusual technique?
The smoked heroin artwork. Well, just after finishing the book Karolina spoke about the 26 special editions and wanted me to sign the books. That was fine but I’m someone who likes to do original and different stuff and so I asked her to give me a day or two to come up with something more I could do for the special editions. It was there I hit upon the idea of smoked heroin artworks and proposed that to her. She really liked the idea and so I began creating the art on aluminium foil while smoking heroin. I wasn’t sure at that stage exactly what I would or could do, as it is extremely difficult to run heroin exactly where you want it to go, and even if you can, because of the nature of how you smoke heroin you are basically drawing blind with your mouth! So it took a while trying, but finally I produced the first work ‘The Beast’ and from then on it not only gave a vague idea of what the other works should be but also how to control the heroin as a medium so as I could create something of value often enough.
I didn’t set out with any great profound idea for the artwork. I wanted the pieces to more reflect the feel of all of us involved in The Void Ratio as well as something of Infinity Land Press. So I wanted very symbolic images, a kind of satanic/gothic feel, mixed with ideas of grief and death and romance. There was also a conscious aim of making ‘heroin art’ ... the kind of stuff many junkies do whether it’s with blood, drawing on their walls, or just scribbling emotional stuff and broken hearts or skulls on paper. People don’t realise so much but Basquiat was really steeped in heroin art. You go into any shooting gallery, in any city, and you’ll find the same kind of stuff. But back to the smoked artwork, initially, they were to be pure black pieces with a black signature. But finally, that didn’t really represent me of have any connection with my other artwork and so gradually, naturally, small touches of paint were added and instantly they came alive to me and had a very recognizable Shane’ish quality to them. Usually I do not sign my artworks, but in this instance the pieces improved with the signature and brought them even further to life. I was so taken with the final artwork I produced that it became quite dif- ficult having to hand them over to Karolina. I wanted to keep them myself and exhibit them. It had nothing to do with giving them away free, it was purely the quality of them. But finally, I think they’ll be in good hands/better hands than mine and I know it’s a first ever giving out heroin artwork with a book release. It’s also nice that people can get these great pieces for next to nothing and then have the chance of them being really sought after in some years to come. I really like that idea. Of really giving something of yourself to people. Not just a signature... something that really makes the collector edition special and each one unique. Keeping to the visual.
The Beast, heroin and acrylic on foil
There’s a certain story behind Karolina’s work The Artefacts of Self-destruction. I believe all the objects photographed being your own well exercised drug paraphernalia?
Well again, The Artefacts of Self-destruction made up a part of the foreplay to the book. Karolina’s initial mail was concerning a photographic project focussing on various death scenes and what would be left behind in the wake of each individual tragedy. So it all began with Karolina just wanting advice on an overdose death/scene. I gave that advice, and because she is a visual artist and will understand much more through visual documentation, I also sent her some pictures of my apartment after a week long drug bender so as she could see what the police would have discovered had I succumbed during it. Then I proposed maybe sending her some authentic paraphernalia to use for the shoot. She agreed and was excited about this and so I prepared and sent a box of illegal stuff across the Channel including used syringes, methadone bottles, smoked foil, alcohol swabs, heroin cooking cups (still with the filters in them and traces of heroin residue). Karolina religiously unpacked these objects, isolated them and then photographed them as one would do forensic evidence. By this time I think she had rethought her initial project and so it was at that moment there that she asked if I would be willing to write some words to her photos that we could publish together as a little zine through Infinity Land Press. I agreed immediately. But not even Karolina knew all the secrets behind what I had sent and she had photographed. Unbeknown to her I had sent two needles still full with blood and heroin: two syringes which very nearly killed me one night here some months previously. There are a few references to this night in the book and so the images and the texts really have many secret little histories which connect them but which the viewer/ reader will have no comprehension of.
Schizoid in Nilsen’s Glasses, heroin and acrylic on foil
Talking about near death experiences, there’s a short text in The Void Ratio called The Day where you imagine your corpse being found in your apartment by an ex-partner and you conclude that “Even post-mortem my effect on her is negative.” Is this how you actually perceive your future death, or is it way of terminating a destructive relationship for good?
I terminate all my relationships (destructive or not) within life. I don’t need death to help me out with that one. The text is really how I foresee my death. I sleep with my front door left open each night so as there will be access to my body. That started the night I thought I wouldn’t make it. I was alone, took an injection, and whatever happened it did something to my circulatory and coronary system. I had this enormous pressure build up in my head and then my heart went into cycles of absolutely thumping. It was so violent you could see my chest vibrating. I made two phone calls that night. It was 2am and no-one answered. I went and sat on the toilet and really expected to die right there and be found some days later. After an hour my heart calmed but this pressure thing inside my head persisted. I finally found sleep and was surprised when I awoke in the morning. I’ve felt not so much unwell these past 18 months but really weak in terms of mortality. I feel something could happen in my body any day... whether it be brought on by the needle, the effects of the heroin itself or something just gives out. Every- thing has taken a toll. As I write in the Pain of Painkilling: it’s the body: it falls to fucking pieces. So it really is how I foresee my death. But that text, The Day, actually makes up a part of the exile themed texts. A lot of people take it quite lightly when I talk of being isolated. Because I am so gentle of nature, easy going and approachable they take it I must be overburdened with friends. But I seriously do not have a single friend here in Lyon. In fact, I’ve never had more than one or two great friends in my entire life. My companionship has always been my lover. So outside of a relationship (which hasn’t happened often in my life) I am alone. In London I had my mother and even kinda the neighbours who you get to know a little, but here I live in absolute seclusion, passing months without seeing anyone but my dealer, the kebab man and the old Algerian who owns the corner shop.
So if anything untoward were to happen it would certainly be my ex-partner who would first realise something was up and would have the job of investigating it. The line about having a ‘negative effect even post-mortem’ refers to the life she endured with me. She was in love and so it didn’t seem negative to her, but really, if one looks coldly at the facts, of who she was when she arrived and who she was and the problems she had when she left, well, my presence only ever caused her harm and brought negative things to her life. She only just made it out alive after taking an overdose one night just after I had called an end to our days. But she never fell out of love with me and so my presence haunts and tears at her. I don’t think she can really be complete again until I am out of this world for good.
Crucifixion, heroin and acrylic on foil
SHANE LEVENE - THE ART OF SELF DESTRUCTION by Martin Bladh (Extract)
I first met Shane Levene at St Pancras Station, London, the evening of December 4th, 2013. Under his arm he carried a parcel which contained a painting - his own depiction of his father’s mutilated corpse - a painting brought to me as a gift in response to an intense three year long internet correspondence. The prime subject, a mutual obsession: serial killer Dennis Nilsen. That winter Shane was back in London, his city of birth, after nine years of exile in France. This time invited as special guest for the launch of my book DES (Institute of Paraphilia, 2013) which included parts of our correspondence.
I first came in contact with Shane and his writings in late summer 2010. By then Shane had followed my work for more than a year and had contacted me to express his deep admiration for a series of photographs I had made called Sad Sketches where I impersonated Nilsen’s 15 victims one by one. The reason why it took such a long time for him to reach out to me and make his presence known is a rather unconventional one:
My real fear was of contacting you and sparking of a chain of events which led to a bizarre repetition of history, namely us somehow meeting up and you taking the opportunity to murder me in an exact replica of my father’s death - thus you gaining instant infamy for your art, and the two of us going down in history together as having one of the most bizarre internet encounters ever struck up.
I’LL BE THE MIRROR
Interview with Shane Levene conducted by Martin Bladh
DES by Martin Bladh, Institute of Paraphilia Studies 2013 (Extract)
Your father Archibald Graham Allen, 28 years old, was killed by the infamous serial killer Dennis Andrew Nilsen one evening in late 1982?
Yes, my father disappeared in September of 1982 after a huge argument with my mother. The exact date is unclear as my mother did not think much of it at the time and also suffered from chronic alcoholism. But it was certainly in September of 1982 and that is also very likely the same night he was a picked up by Nilsen as there was never another sighting of him. My own last image of my father is him standing on the window sill, his arms stretched out (holding on) and screaming obscenities through the glass at my mother after she refused to let him in or lend him money to score heroin. He was bleeding from some earlier fight and hung up against the window he looked like he was being crucified. It sounds very cinematic, but that’s just how it unrolled... kinda like an excruciating last image.
How old were you at that time and what did you make of his sudden disappearance? It took awhile before the truth was revealed.
At the time my father disappeared I was seven. Due to my family set-up and the unhealthy drug and alcohol fuelled relationship between my mother and father, no-one (at first) thought too much of the disappearance. And it wasn’t the first time he’d disappeared. My parents relationship was a very stormy and violent one, and my father being a heroin addict was always disappearing for days or weeks without trace. Also, due to my father’s drug problems I was living with my half brother and sister at my stepfather’s and so for me there was no great change in my life. In fact, I hardly remember the period at all. What I do remember is my mother and stepfather (like the entire country) being completely gripped by the story that broke in 1983 of human remains being discovered in a house in North London. Of course, no-one for a minute thought that our lives and futures would in any way be affected by the story.
My real birth would come one year later when I was was awoken to life by the scream of my mother – she had been informed that my father’s skull had been discovered and identified amongst other remains found in the ‘House of Horrors’. My memories really start there... my life started there. It was the first part of the equation which adds up to who I am today.
So, this terrible news had a devastating effect upon you and your family. I think you referred to the whole incident as “surviving the Texas Chainsaw Massacre”? Could you give me some of your reflections on the immediate aftermath?
The news had a devastating effect upon my mother, certainly, and her reaction to that news had a terrible effect upon me. Also, and it’s very important, it was only after the murder that my mother came completely clean and admitted I was Graham Allen’s child. It had always been rumoured, but until that point it didn’t matter either way. Now he was dead, things drastically changed. I was all that remained of my father - all my mother had left of him - and so suddenly I became an important piece in the game: a pawn which had been promoted. So, the murder/death itself didn’t affect me, but the consequences of my mother’s reaction to it did. She took the full wallop of the blast, and I got showered by the shrapnel - ten whole years of it.
To deal with the unimaginable pain of losing her lover my mother sought oblivion and became a chronic alcoholic. When not even 40% proof alcohol could soothe her she then became seriously self-destructive and suicidal. On three separate occasions she was hospitalized in intensive care and came very close to succeeding in finding the emergency exit she sought. My mother also became extremely sexually promiscuous and easy, I think searching the world for a man who no longer existed. That spilled over into my life, and so I grew up around alcoholism and physical and sexual abuse. But I don’t blame Nilsen, nor the murder, for that. I don’t blame anything but the human instinct to soothe pain - an abstract instinct which doesn’t have an excuse of its own. From what I see blame never resolves anything, it normally just leads back to Hitler (or some over-curious amoeba sitting out in the sun for too long!) So there was an aftermath from the murder, but in that sense Nilsen is also an ‘aftermath’ of something. His acts and actions were also a natural response to things in his own life.
Yes, I did once mention “surviving the Texas Chainsaw Massacre” but was referring more to surviving my childhood, although with many scars and missing parts. But I always see gain in loss, and so ultimately I lost a conventional up-bringing and gained a more perverse one, though I think given the choice I would have chosen that anyway. What intelligent, creative person would ever want to be ‘conventional’?
That’s a very Nietzschean attitude, and to me something to admire. It makes me think of Genet’s statement in his banned radio speech where he defended the old reformatory schools – even though he was raped and abused there – because they could spawn creative geniuses like himself.
As a child and adolescent did you try to imagine how your father suffered in the hands of Nilsen? The gruesome tale about the dismembering and the disposal of his body must have been a very stark and abstract mental image for a child to muster... One of the reasons I bring this up is because of your painting Portrait of My Father during His 15 Minutes of Fame which is an explicit and excellent study of a dismembered body. I hope you don’t find this question tasteless... but in some kind of way, can you feel that Nilsen and the murder got you closer to the man that now ‘turned out’ to be your father?
No, I don’t find your question tasteless at all... my boundaries of taste are so immense I’m not sure I can ever be offended in that way – and certainly not coming from someone I respect artistically and intellectually.
So: can you feel that Nilsen and the murder got you closer to the man that now ‘turned out’ to be your father?
I’ve never thought of it like that, but now you ask the question, yes, in certain ways it did. It was because he was murdered, never really having a chance to know him, that I became as interested in him as I did. In many ways I even replicated his life, living what he was living up until the day he disappeared. My initial addiction to heroin (in part) was an extreme kind of method acting... getting to know my father and his life and struggles through completely immersing myself in the kind of life which he led. But yes, certainly the murder made me want to rediscover the person who was murdered... to understand my father that little more, and even to better understand some of the more subtle events of that night. Still, paradoxically, more than get me closer to my father, the murder (and especially the manner and the details of it) gave me an urge to get closer to the killer... to discover just what kind of a man would do some- thing like that and why? And that kind of brings me back to the first part of your question.
Yes, I did imagine what my father went through; for a while I was preoccupied with it. I couldn’t believe that someone I knew, had come from, had ended up being killed and then disposed of in such a way. Of all the men in London, he was one of the 15 (at that time) who had somehow found himself in this man’s home. At times that was too incredible a fact to be able to comprehend... and because I knew we had a personal bond, it also gave me this weird feeling like I was somehow, somewhere in Nilsen’s flat that night too. That’s hard to explain, but because I was a part of him the events felt very close. Concerning the actual murder I always saw that through two different perspectives: 1) my mother’s 2) my own.
When viewed through my mother’s perspective it was a hard thing as I would imagine the pain and torment which she must have suffered knowing the one great love of her life ended up like that... being dismembered and boiled and violated in ways no-one would really ever want their lover to experience (dead or alive). In that way I kind of felt my mothers pain, and for me, that pain always justified anything she ever did. I don’t have one ounce of spite or bitterness towards my mother as I think she had good cause and good justice to go completely off the rails.
The other perspective I viewed and thought of the murder from was my own, and that was a very different outlook. I found the murder fascinating (even as a 7 year old), and would always ponder and linger over the most gruesome parts, and wonder what my father looked like removed from life, and how bizarre it would be to have a headless torso on the floor, or even a body with the hand or arm removed. I’d imagine his head boiling away on the stove, but never with horror or disgust, always with a curiosity for the macabre. And really, from a very young age, I decided that the dismemberment meant nothing to me, that maybe it wasn’t even a crime??? That if anything was serious it was the murder - the taking of life - and anything that came after to get rid of the body was nothing in comparison to that. So for me, the worst thing Nilsen did was to kill, and what he did to the body after more fascinated me from the perspective of ‘what kind of man would do that and why?’ and ‘could I do that myself?’ So the actual dismemberment finally brought me back to Nilsen (not my father), attracted me to someone I found fascinating and wanted to learn more about. If my father had been merely strangled or killed in a fight, I really wouldn’t be interested in the killer at all, but this was different, there was something much more behind this and in it’s own unique way expressed a desperation, an isolation, and a vulnerability to which I immediately related. Of course, being a lover of unconventional people and thought I had no choice but to study Nilsen. Like many, during that study I was completely wooed by Nilsen, by what came out of his mouth and from what his mind and hands had done. It finally came that I was even proud that it was Nilsen who killed my father and no-one else. So the murder led me to ponder many things – discover the people involved, discover my mother, and more importantly, discover myself and my own thinking under extreme circumstances.
You have turned the tragedy into a source of creativity, of artistic inspira- tion and personal growth, but you’ve also used it as an ego boost – “I’m the artist whose father was killed by Dennis Nilsen”- am I right? You claim that you identified a great deal with you father – immersing yourself in his rough lifestyle which later gave away to the heroin addiction. But this also sparked a compulsive fascination for his killer. Now we enter Genet territory again (this time I think about Funeral Rites; where the protagonist sides with the murderer to get closer to his victim). My question is: isn’t it Nilsen that you actually identify with? Am I totally lost if I would maintain that he’s your muse?
No, I’ve never used the Dennis Nilsen angle as an ‘ego boost’ but rather as a ‘ca- reer boost’ (albeit a genuine one). I realised a while ago that each time I sat down to write something special was happening with me and words. At times it was quite hard to believe that the words I wrote were even mine. I knew they were, but it was a weird experience reading them back and having the feeling that they had come from some other source, maybe even a recognized hand. So I felt then that I was finally ready to do something creative with words. But feeling that, and even if one is possessed with a talent, to get recognised or to stand forward out the pulp is something very different and is an art all of its own. The world is a huge place to be in, and amongst hundreds of thousands of words, from hundreds of thousands of writers, one is even more indistinguishable than usual... you need something else - or it greatly helps. I knew I was going to use the Internet as my initial publishing medium and that to stand out from the thousands of people writing up their daily antics online I needed something powerful to use as a tab- loidish sound-bite. The Nilsen history is what I decided to use for that, a spade in face, something to stop people dead and have them take note and want to know more. I was confident that I could hold a reader, but I needed people to read to have a chance of holding them. The Nilsen history was also a history I knew would cross barriers and interests and would bring in journalists and film-makers and writers and publishers. I had reached a time in my life where I was tired of slave work, had some time on my hands and wanted to try funding a living from my art. And I don’t feel a cheat for that, because the murder and Nilsen is an honest and real part of my life and expression, and I had and have not one single qualm about using that in a material sense: as something I possess and is worth something. I’ve paid the dues for my history, and it really has served its purpose. I’ve had such traffic through my words and have been contacted by the most wonderful people. So, no, I never have used the Nilsen aspect as an ego boost, just as a career boost. I will also add that all my life I kept the Nilsen history to myself. As a teenager I had tried telling a few friends but they all waved me off as some fantastic liar and attention seeker, and so from the age of 13 on I never told a soul (outside of two lovers). So actually me putting that on my writing site was the first time I had ever used it in any way.
Yes, you’re correct, I certainly do identify more with Nilsen than with my father. I’ve had the privilege to discover Nilsen where I’ve never had the chance to discover my father. My father wasn’t a vagrant but led a very vagrant kind of life and as a result didn’t leave much trace or history behind him. Outside of the stories from my mother and step-father there was no other way to find out anything else about him. But I also identify with Nilsen in other respects, especially his feelings of loneliness, his desperation for company while possessing a personality that made it very difficult, and also that obsessive loyalty which he seemed to seek from living things which finally always seemed to disappoint him. I understand completely why and how he could love a dog above all other things. But more than that I understand Nilsen’s expression... I understand and relate to DENNIS NILSEN THE ARTIST. I can’t explain that sentiment very well, I can just say that I understand the killings and his words and sketches and regard them in an artistic light. It was a tragedy, sure, (and for him just as much as for anyone else) but in a way I kinda sense he was finally a resolved man after being caught, after ‘he’ was finally presented to the world, his work put on 24 hour display in every newspaper and magazine nationwide. I think that was an acceptable pay-off for Nilsen, and after being exposed he had no further need to carry on with that spe- cific aspect of his ‘work/expression’. I also think it probably calmed certain urges and gave him an inner peace, and to some extent even allowed him to express his fantasies and desires and thoughts and feelings in a safe environment: prison. So I have discovered Nilsen and identify with him in the same manner I have discovered yourself or Francis Bacon. But as for Nilsen being my ‘muse’, no, that’s not the relationship I have towards him. I have NO muse except the consequence of life. I feel too distinct from people to have anyone as a muse. So Nilsen, like many others, is not ‘THE’ source of inspiration, but ‘A’ source of inspiration. I think you may have put forward that conclusion based more upon our personal corre- spondences over the last year. Certainly Nilsen is a factor in my life and work, but as a percentage of the whole he registers only as much as other artists and writers and musicians who have influenced me. I think if asked to summarise my work only very few people would even mention Nilsen’s name alongside mine.
In the main my work deals with events, actions and consequence. It is about the poverty of hope which pervades this world, and is also a search through tragedy to understand ones own mortality and come to terms with it. And although one could make an argument that some of those themes could still have been born from the Nilsen history, in fact it just comes from my life which was full of bizarre things way before the murder, and things which left just a big an impression upon me. You must keep in mind that before the murder I had already been around and seen such things as: criminals, paedophiles, free and open sex, alcohol abuse, the police, the inside of prisons, injecting drug users, prostitutes, social services, poverty, suicide attempts... that is what I was born into. So I was taking in and processing a lot of weird from the day I was tugged out the womb - the murder was just the latest in a long line of bizarre events which were to pass through my life. Sure, after the murder life got even more fucked up, but by then I believe I was already viewing the world through a set of very unique eyes.
Returning to an earlier question where you mentioned Genet and reform school, yes, an abuse, severe trauma or experience can certainly help create someone very different, but not a genius. Genius comes from somewhere else and is a huge collective of unknown forces. The seeds of genius are sown a long time before someone gets gagged and fucked up the arse... that just maybe gives one’s genius an extreme event to focus on and process. For anyone to be raped or molested and even begin to look at that experience from a perspective other than what is socially or morally acceptable means there was already a huge amount of individualistic and off-beat thought even before that point. So I don’t think one event ever makes a person, although some events can be very forming, influential and totally preoccupying. The murder of my father was a defining moment in my life, my mothers reaction to it another, and the man behind that murder became another. They are all ‘muses’, but NOT in the singular. So you’re not lost if you think Nilsen is a muse, just maybe we still have much more to discover about one another than we so far have, but that’s only normal.was aware of that and had maybe even rehearsed what he would say and how he would explain himself. I think Nilsen is also turned on by such attention (terribly frustrated by it also as he’s not in control of his own image within it) but I think if he could have somehow did what he did to an ongoing media coverage, explaining away his actions as he went, I think he would have encouraged that. If Nilsen was secretive it was partly because it was absolutely necessary, he couldn’t have expressed himself openly, as many artists cannot. The arrest was kinda like Nilsen’s Vernissage... the sealing and opening of his works to the public, his coming out as an artist. Only for him, ‘coming out’, his appearance on the world stage, had more drastic consequences than for most artists. But nothing’s simple when speaking of Nilsen and I also think he took a pleasure going undetected, outsmarting the police, blatantly tossing away bag loads of human remains on street corners, getting rid of tons of meat under his neighbours eyes.... that feeling of superiority we feel when we’re outsmarting the world.
Nilsen’s eventual and almost immediate confession after he was apprehended was not given in any way to release himself of his crimes (and I’m glad of that) but to revel in them... show how clever he had been. His explanations were more to do with giving off/fixing an image of himself.... showing the police, the magistrates, the crown prosecution service that he was no idiot or madman, but an intellectual who had reflected upon his actions and had reason for each one. Like all artists I think Nilsen was obsessed with his own acts, and anyone that interested in their own productions will ultimately welcome media attention. (even if it may come at a severe price).
No, Nilsen didn’t remember my father’s name.... in fact it’s one of the murders he remembers the least about. That for me again shows how little he cared for the gore. The three murders in Cranley Gardens were the most gruesome in terms of what happened to the bodies post-mortem, and if Nilsen had have been interested or excited by that side of the killings these would have been his stand-out moments, not the murders he least remembers. That’s very insightful. I think by that time the murders had become quite routine and were losing their thrill.
The anonymity, I think that’s probably something we concern ourselves with but which was never a concern in Nilsen’s head. There were reasons from the very start which made these peoples names unimportant... they were never going to be around long enough to need to know who they were. Nilsen’s memories of them would be of the position he had elevated them to, and not of who they ever were. But I think Nilsen also had a lot of respect for his victims... something akin to what a bullfighter has towards the bull. You respect this thing because you will dominate it so thoroughly, and yet without it you are nothing. The kill is elevated to royal heights, because the kill is the killer himself.
Yes you’re right about Nilsen not really taking trophies (although he did keep small personal item and actually wore some of his victims’ clothes to work.) Indeed when he was caught I believe he was wearing Stephen Sinclair’s scarf. Still, it wasn’t to the level that many go, and I think again that says something about the depth of Nilsen’s crimes and that even if there was a strong sexual element in the killings that was maybe not the force that made him carry them out. I say that thinking that if the murders were pornographic then many more trophies would have been taken and used to relive a part of that fantasy over and over again. I see Nilsen’s murders as not only sexual but also human. After being sexually relieved I don’t think the act ended (because the fantasy was more than that; orgasm was not Nilsen’s climax). The murders were a living fantasy, even after the act they continued to give Nilsen something, make him feel more comfortable in the world. I think that’s why he took comfort in having the bodies under the floorboards, or sitting the dead in chairs – it balanced out something that was lacking in his life, but not ‘company’... more the feeling of being a ‘superman’, someone who was in complete control of something, somewhere.
I’m not sure how clear that last piece is. I’ve read it over and am not at all sure I’ve said what I intended to. But maybe you will understand? Anyway, certainly Nilsen is a very different fish to his counterparts... he is separated from most of them by his clear lack of insanity. I believe you could talk to Nilsen for years and never come to the conclusion that he is clinically insane. Yes there have been similar killings, but only in the act. So I agree Nilsen worshipped himself through his victims, but I think he also lived through them and found completion through them. And getting back to trophies/ memorabilia, not many artists keep memorabilia of their work; the expression is the memorabilia; getting it out is the keepsake. I think Nilsen’s trophies were mostly mental.
Still, for everything I have said in these writings, I don’t see Nilsen as a figure of tragedy. I think the human condition is tragic, that our consciousness of time and death is tragic. We are a tragic species and I don’t really see anyone with any greater cut of the cake than anybody else. My affections for Nilsen come from my recognition of him as a human, and I’m more interested in the characteristics and emotions we share rather than those which set us apart. Of course, what he did also intrigues me, but all my friends intrigue me... those weird things which make them who they are. I see nothing terribly immoral in what Nilsen did. If I had to choose between having dinner with him or the Minister for Foreign Affairs, I’d choose Nilsen every time. So I don’t see Nilsen in a tragic light (same as I see none of his victims in a tragic light) I see him as a human being who had certain needs and impulses and complexes (as we all do). It was just a shame that his needs could only be calmed through multiple murder and then imprison- ment, but in many ways all artists are imprisoned by their work, it’s an obsession that we have to express at all costs. I think it would be an injustice to pity him and see him in a tragic light. I see him in an exceptional light, even though my own humanity makes me wish he never had to suffer prison. My own humanity would also like to see him free.
WILL HE MURDER MYSELF TONIGHT - The Void Ratio (Extracts)
Martin sent me his scenario for the planned performance. It began with a sedat- ed, maybe partially strangled me/my father on a mattress on the floor in a black room. Martin/Nilsen would then arrive and finish the job, straddling me and strangling me into post-mortem. I would then be washed and my freshly murdered body made up with talcum power, ready to be pulled around into various positions of Nilsen’s Sad sketches. My head would then be covered with a black pillow case and with a scalpel Martin would carve the words I’LL BE THE MIRROR into my chest. My body would then urinate, all life gone, my last literary and human offering to the world.
As we prepare for the performance I enter a state of que sera sera. I am here now and my psychological make up ensures and has always ensured that this moment would come and I would confront it no matter how much I felt I should not. I know that if something happens, with all the abuse and damage I’ve done to my body over the years, I’d never have the strength to overpower a murderous Martin Bladh. Even if I struggle and kick out and fight, not one of the audience will inter- vene as we’ll be re-enacting a murder and they will think it is just a hyper charged and realistic performance. They will think the blood is fake, that the victim is acting, that Martin is Martin and it’s just another show. I do not think of much. I look at Martin one last time and wonder what he has in store for me tonight. And then in words of the killer, leaving for work wearing the scarf of his latest victim on his last day of freedom: I stepped out into my final legend.
I am not scared I am nothing, just like the day after the night when the dream blew in. I feel like I am an extra in the world. I walk out with my head slightly lowered, walk around to the mirror and remove my top and then my trousers and naked I begin to cut the word DES into my chest. The scalpel is blunt and it is not easy to break the skin. I am hurried to get this small performance piece over with, after I just lay down and shut my eyes and am passive until the end. I manage to cut the words into me and spit down myself to try and get more blood flow. I walk around to the mattress and in just my socks I lay down in front of the small crowd. I am at Martin’s mercy and artistic expression now: I have put my life and body in his hands. I close my eyes and strangely all feels totally calm.
Martin is on top of me for the first time. He feels hot, sexually awakened but not over me, over his theatre. I can hear and feel his breath. I’m not sure if it’s really Martin or Nilsen. When he moves me around into the sad sketch positions it is with a loving forcefulness, like he has that right and enjoys that right and no force of nature will ever prevent him from having me in the position he wants. I hear him taking photos of me and when he comes back the next time I can smell he is made up, that this is the death scene and soon all will be black.
Martin covers my head with the black hangman’s pillow case. I open my eyes for a brief instant and can see the vague form of Martin atop of me and a light coming from behind him. I close my eyes again; it feels more comfortable, like really peaceful. I have never been so close to death in my life and I just lay there and accept it and maybe wouldn’t mind too much if it came. I enjoy life because I am within it and have no choice, but maybe there would be a peacefulness aside from gulping air that would not be too bad either, maybe the city should have my soul this way and there can be an empty seat on the Eurostar tomorrow and an empty apartment in another city in Europe, that I will never be compelled to write when it is the last thing I ever want to do. I wonder what it will feel like to have the jugular sliced open, how my mind will react... if I’ll just give in and allow Martin to subdue me as I bleed out on stage and lose consciousness.
CONTACT & LINKS
INFINITY LAND PRESS
A huge HUGE thanks to our much loved and respected landlord Dennis Cooper for allowing us to use his blog in spite of the great personal tragedy that drug abuse amongst certain loved ones has had in his life. The utmost respect - Shane, Karolina & Martin X
p.s. Hey. This weekend the blog has the enormous pleasure of helping to usher 'The Void Ratio' into existence. Co-author Shane Levene is a veteran d.l. of this place whom you longer term readers and commenters will remember by his moniker Memoiresofaheroinhead, and the book's publisher, Infinity Land Press, is of course very known to me and admired as the home of my scrapbook book 'Gone', which they put out last year. Shane is an amazing writer and thinker, and Karolina Urbaniak is a powerful photographer, and ILP's books are always extremely beautiful objects. So, naturally, I encourage you not only to explore the post but to order 'The Void Ratio', if you can. Thanks for your attention, and my tremendous gratitude to Shane, Karolina, and Martin Bladh for giving my blog this honor. ** Jeffrey Coleman, Hi, Jeff! I was aware of Momus's eBook, but the craziness of my days of late has stalled my getting it. Today, done deal. I've read Liliane Giraudon's 'Fur'. In fact, I think I did something on the blog about it ages ago. It's very, very interesting. Let me know how you find her stories. Good to see you, man, and take care. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi, sir. I have a few friends who are a bit obsessed with Wil Wheaton. I've never watched 'The Big Bang Theory'. Should I? ** Tosh Berman, Hi, T. Interesting, yeah. I'm not a big fan of SF the place at all. Just being there usually makes me feel strangely discomfited. Never have been able to figure that out. But I do like a lot of music from there, and, of course, a number of my favorite writers are SF-based: Killian, Bellamy, Gluck, and on and on. Have you ever thought of writing something about that? Ruminating with your fingers? It seems like it would be very interesting. ** Steevee, Hi. Flipper! Yeah, I mean, the 'American Sniper' blah-blahing seems post-shelf life already. ** Keaton, Hi. Weird, when I think college, I always knee-jerk think of 'hunks', jocks, that sort of type. I wonder what that's about. My one brief year at university was spent at a really hippie kind of school where being gay was cool enough that students were faking it left and right. When I was young, and when hippies ran the counterculture, they gave me the willies with key exceptions. But I liked the music they liked for the most part. Not the books. Never was into the Beats or Timothy Leary or any of that stuff. You like Phish?! That's scary. ** Sypha, I won't expect classic, okay. Good thing you warned me. But I know I will seriously relish you singing in a fake German accent. That much is guaranteed. ** Kier, Ha ha, Denicality. I always try to think up a clever name-change for you when I get to you, and everything I think up is too lame. Like I almost typed, 'Hi, Krispy Kiereme!' Just to show you. Split pea soup is godhead. I seriously recommend it. When it's done right, it makes your mouth feel like a really soft bed. Oh, I want to know what decadent thing you let yourself buy. Go nuts! So sheep and horses get along? Yeah, why wouldn't they, I guess. They're fellow vegetarians or even fellow vegans? I always wonder what animals think about each other. I really wish they could talk. Or maybe whisper. Being tenderized beat is such a good version of beat. My day: Yeah, editing. What did we do? Oh, we finished the trailer. We like it. Our producers probably won't, but we'll see. It's good, though. Then we went back into Scene 3 and revised it a bit. Of all the scenes, it was the one we transformed most radically in the editing. It was originally going to be pretty long, and it had this very complicated dialogue, most of which just didn't end up working when it was spoken. So we chopped it way down and made it something else that's just as strange as the original but more fast and poetic. And it still wasn't quite right. But we added in some footage and changed some of the shots to make them look more beautiful, and we think it's pretty perfect now, but we're going to watch the whole film again today and see if it actually is ready. Then we fiddled a little with Scene 4, mostly sound stuff because it was the scene that was shot indoors and has the fake snowstorm in it and other sound details that make it tricky to get right. I think we finished that. So, ideally, when we look at the film today, we'll decide it's finished for the time being. Tomorrow we show it to our first objective outsider to get a distanced perspective, and I'm excited and nervous about that. Anyway, the editing was most of the day and evening. Then I came home and, again, did stuff of such an apparently minor nature that I forget what I did. Oh, Kate Moss was standing in front of the Recollets yesterday smoking a cigarette. The cafe here was having some big event, and I guess she must have been part of it. She looks really great. Okay, tell me everything you can about your weekend, and I'll be back with some kind of full report about mine first thing on Monday. Love, me. ** _Black_Acrylic, Cool, glad you dug it. The prose is kind funny and dry or something, yeah. Cool, cool about you and Andrew being on the same page, and about the dual interview. May your weekend roil you gently. ** Cal Graves, Hi, Cal. Oh, that sucks about the Lit. Theory class. Lit. Theory should be fun but, hm, yeah, it isn't always, that's for sure. I, of course, passionately encourage you to write more and more fucked up things, but, of course, I would encourage that. Pharmakon was amazing live. Amen Dunes were pretty good, but I think I like them recorded a little better. I don't think I know most of those music things you saw. Any of them that you particularly recommend I get sonically involved with? Nice music wish list. I had tickets to see Croatian Amor here, and they were playing with Lust for Youth, which would have been cool too, and I was really excited to see him/them, but I got bronchitis and couldn't go. Sucks. Oh, I made a list a while back of my all-time favorite music gigs. I can give you my top five, if I can remember them. Hm. I think they went like this: Flaming Lips circa 'The Soft Bulletin' at The Palace in LA, Gang of Four circa 'Entertainment!' at this club The Starwood in LA, Buttonhole Surfers circa 'Locust Abortion Technician' at Paradiso in Amsterdam, Guided by Voices circa 'Bee Thousand' at this little club Jabberjaw in LA, The Melvins circa 'Houdini' at some temporary club on Hollywood Blvd. whose name I forget, and, hm, maybe Kraftwerk on their first 'reunion' tour in ... the late 90s (?) at The Palladium in LA. How about you? Diggety-diggety-Dennis. ** Hyemin kim, Hi! Yes, Kitty Glitter has written a bunch of books wherein celebrities are turned into rampaging sexual beings, but I haven't read any of those. I haven't read John Donne is ages, but, yeah, I thought he was great. I hope your second move goes really smoothly. That's okay about the guest-post. I'm doing my best, and if reruns end up returning, so it goes. Have a lovely weekend! ** Schlix, Hi. I used to watch 'ST:TNG' for some reason, and, yeah, everyone in the 'Star Trek' hardcore fanbase hated the Wesley Crusher character. Seriously hated him. It was funny. Cool, I'll look at 'The Orphanage' the next time I go to the English language bookstore here. Wow, you have a lot of Gisele in your near future. 'Showroomdummies' pre-dates my working with her, but I like that piece. It has no text at all. ** Okay. Your weekend post has been throughly intro'd up above, so all that I'll add is that I hope you have a super weekend in store around here should you have the time inclination. See you on Monday.