June 3rd, 2005


Four Horsemen

The Missing Piano Leg is a week overdue. I finished the first two sections but, whilst I was happy with most of it, the detective element to the story wasn't a success. This isn't going to work, I thought, especially in a Holmesian pastiche. I don't write that seriously,but neither do I write stories that often. It would bother me to let it out if I wasn't satisfied with it. But I did have an epiphany of sorts yesterday (in Somerfields...!) and can see the way out. I'll have to rework much of it, but it should balance this time around. Apologies.

My interest was piqued by the inclusion of a feature on this morning's Today program about a supposed rise in methamphetamine use in our most fair capital. I've been reading about this coming meth explosion for quite a few years now, but I remain inconvinced. Mostly because I really don't mix in the circles that would enable me to judge whether there is actually anything of substance to these stories.

According to one Professor Jonathon Elford, between 10 and 20% of gay men in London are using the drug. I find this hard to credit, but then notice that the survey was conducted amongst "gay men in gyms". I suspect the sampling may have affected the statistical outcome more than a little. So, might London be facing a meth explosion similar to that found in the US gay scene? It could be, but I've no way of knowing.

The item mentions a site callled Lifeormeth set up by Gary Lee. It's a different approach to the one taken at Tweaker. There's some intriguing writing on the site, although I don't think I quite read it in the spirit that Lee intended. This mention of LA sounds like a possible phildickian short story:

"...crystal was also widely used as a means to surviving the ruthlessly competitive movie capital due to its ability to erase feelings of inferiority and heighten sensory perception, enabling users to intensify their focus on whatever activity they are engaged in..."

Hmm, a future/now world in which people can only succeed through aggressive self-medication and memory dumping. Popcorn buckets of Zoloft and Vicodin passed around as they screen the daily rushes. Anyone for Chew-Z? Don Simpson aside, this next section reads like something Burroughs or even Ballard would eagerly snip into a cuttings folder:

"..the stench excreted from the body after hours of crystal-fueled sex - an acrid combination of industrial toxins and body odour - is similar to that of old blood in stale urine usually detectable around the critically ill and injured in hospital emergency wards."

It's no better in the nightclubs:

"Imagine a dance club where the atmosphere is dark and edgy. Grating, discordant, oppresively intense "music" - like a medley of chainsaws - blasts your eardrums as the hostile crowd avoids eye contact, glancing at each other only to glare with empty, glazed eyes and clenched jaws. There is no fun, no laughter, no uplifting dance vibe; just grinding, dense negativity..."

And, behold, in the midst of this nihilist jackboot-and-astroglide apocalypse, the whiff of a religious conspiracy:

"Until recently, resident Grammy-award winning DJ Peter Rauhofer - who has remixed several tracks for Madonna, a devotee of the Kabbalah which regards homosexuality as a sin, and which claims that gays can be "cured" and "changed" - religiously adhered to Roxy's apparent policy of hard, banging pots and pans, upping the ante as the night progressed until only a sketchy, tweaked crowd of tina users remained."

Sketchy? Drawn in unsteady lines, awaiting to be inked in. You can put your hands right through them. I don't suspect in the least that Lee is suggesting that some quack-mystical conspiracy is afoot, but the language still puts it there before me. In conclusion, Lee comments:

"This is the legacy of tina: a vicious vampire that has been allowed to fester unhindered throughout North America's metropolitan cities, seducing, devouring and severing the collective life-force of the post-AIDS generation of gay men."

Or a golem even? I'm only disappointed that Lee doesn't manage to find relevant passages from Revelations or even Nostradamus to suggest that the apocalypse is upon us. I've no argument with Lee's revulsion and upset at what the drug has done to those around him, but I think he may need to tone down the imagery a bit. He makes the drug sound so unattractive that you really can't believe why anyone would ever take it in the first place. I suspect Lee, and admittedly myself, write about the drug with some first-hand experience. My advice is to avoid it and I suspect that most people who ever take the drug generally would after the experience. It's too much. People who cane it, however, aren't going to be put off by me or anybody else saying not to do it.

With the above in mind, I note that there's now a WIliam Burroughs evening as part of Meltdown. Both Alan Moore and Iain Sinclair are due to appear. Overall, that's much more tempting.