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Sunday, 19 September 2010

Meet Satanist Cody James, author of Dead Beat.

DEAD BEAT
Cody James


It’s 1997, and the comet of the century is due some time about now, on its 3000 year roundtrip.

“Man, fucking Emeryville,” Lincoln said, pausing in his stride to hock phlegm onto the sidewalk.”

And so, for want of anything better to do, Adam and his meth addict friends end up in San Francisco, wondering where their place in the addict hierarchy might be, why no one has written a good book in over a decade, and what the fuck the comet might mean, when nothing on earth means anything.

And in a zip of light and a snort of meth the comet is gone, taking with it this last snapshot of earth for 3000 years, leaving Adam to wonder if it meant anything at all, or whether it was maybe just a bit cool that the sky looked different. Just for once. For the last time in his life.






The Dead Beat is published by eight cuts gallery press will be available as an ebook from October 1st and paperback from November 1st.

What is The Dead Beat about? Can we have a snippet?
Of course you can have a snippet. It's about friendship, addiction, and that time in your life when your innocence dies because life is beating the shit out of you:

People on drugs look with disgust and disdain at people on other drugs. There were the alcoholics—if it is a guy, people think it is cool. If it is a woman, she’s thought of as pathetic. As a whole, though, they are society’s accepted addicts, and feel themselves completely removed from drug addicts. There were the potheads. Man, potheads smoke all day and all night, mostly can’t string a sentence together, but vehemently hate all other drugs, from alcohol and cigarettes to crack. They regard all of these as evil, but not weed—weed to them is like a religious, medicinal, God-given thing. They don’t see themselves as filthy junkies like the rest of us; they are just chilled out. Everyone hates potheads in a reciprocal fashion. They’re looked upon as fucking hippies, Jerry Garcias, unwashed, patchouli-smelling, incense-burning motherfuckers. Then, there are cokeheads. They are hated for being neurotic and unstable, plus they always have the cocaine sniffles and their noses are always bleeding. It’s a bummer to look at.


Mitch had once given me a diatribe on how he used to deal coke, but couldn’t stand the cokeheads paging him all the time, freaking out. He felt that tweakers were much easier to deal with. He probably thought this because he was a tweaker himself. So, we come to the tweakers, the meth addicts. Generally reviled for being skinny, sore-ridden and overly talkative, they are looked down on by cokeheads for being cheap. In turn, tweakers think cokeheads are dumb for paying way more for a drug that lasts about 15 minutes with less kick than speed. Lastly, there are the smackheads and the crackheads. These guys are the most hated. They are the untouchables. Anyone shooting smack or smoking crack immediately becomes part of a contemptible alien species. They’re subhuman, the dregs of society. They‘re filthy, vile, disgusting, pitiable, and to be avoided at all costs. As for the smackheads and crackheads themselves, well, if you aren’t doing their drugs, then you’re just wasting your time. You’re an amateur, a wannabe. They don’t even want you in their treehouse.

Can you define the genre?
I would call it a tragi-comedy. The reason I hate writers such as Selby Jr. is because they suck all the humor and soul out of dark subject matter, rendering it false. Life isn't like that. You can be standing on the side of the road watching an ambulance driving off with your jacked-up friend in the back, feeling sad, only to see him come busting out of the back doors of the vehicle while it's driving off, and go screaming in the other direction because he doesn't want to go to the psych ward again. And you will piss your pants laughing. True story, right there.

As well as the author of The Dead Beat, you have a zine called Babylon. Can you tell us a little about that?
Babylon is about a suicidal schizophrenic writer who leaves San Francisco and heads back to his hometown in the West Texas desert. I'd call it an existential religious horror comedy. It explores mental illness and interpersonal relationships, but on a deeper level, it looks at the ancient alchemical idea of apotheosis, and Jesus as Lucifer. When you look at the New testament through the eyes of an alchemist, what is it really telling you? It's telling you that Jesus is Lucifer and he's teaching a way of inner transformation that will enable you to be absorbed into Him. Apotheosis in its truest sense - becoming one with the god who accepts you.

You're also a film-maker and a photographer and on your website there are many examples of your work. You also say you are an ex punk, ex meth addict, a satanist and a schizophrenic. Most people wouldn't want to reveal their addiction or illness. So why have you?
I don't really understand not revealing these things. Maybe I just got to the point where I don't give a fuck what is generally acceptable and what isn't. I am what I am. If someone doesn't like that, it costs them nothing to go look elsewhere.

What's a satanist?

Well, I think most people would think first of the Church of Satan, founded by Anton Lavey. I adore Anton Lavey and the Church of Satan, and I think that you'd be hard pressed to find a better philosopher. But I'm not a Laveyan Satanist. I'm a theistic Satanist. Theistic Satanism is a broad term, but for me, it means I worship the ancient Egyptian god of death, Anubis. Anubis predates Osiris as the original god of the underworld, and has appeared in many guises - such as Hermes, the serpent in the Garden of Eden, Thoth, and, within the Abrahamic framework, as Gabriel. What He wants is for humans to live up to their complete potential, of true apotheosis, of knowledge, wisdom and compassion. There is nothing more pure than Death.

I have read a little of The Dead Beat, and it's hard hitting. How much of your life experience has gone into the book?
Everything I tell you in that book is true. And I think that's why people react to it the way they do - it's real, there's no bullshit involved.

How did you discover eight cuts gallery?
Dan Holloway is one of my best friends. When he told me what he was planning with Eight Cuts, I was twelve kinds of excited. As far as Eight Cuts publishing The Dead Beat - I guess something about the book touched Dan on a deeper level - that's all he's interested in - whether or not something makes him excited inside. He's not in it for the money or the cred - show me someone else whose intentions are that pure, and I will eat my goddamn hat.

Do you have a critique partner?
For The Dead Beat, it was R.John Xerxes Piche from Love Bunni Press (http://www.lovebunnipress.com/) who painstakingly edited that manuscript several times. It wouldn't be the book that it is without him.

Are you working on another book/film?
I am! I'm working on a film about Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, which is nearly finished. It utilizes their own home movies and journal entries, so really, they are the artists and I'm just their post-humous editor. I'm also working on a book of dark folktales called The Siren's Song, which I'm pretty sure is the best thing I've ever written.

Do you have a website?
It's: http://thecodyjames.com/




To read a chapter from Dead Beat click for more...


The Ugliest Sunrise Ever

I was finding it increasingly hard to be at work. Yeah, everybody hates their damn job, and I had hated my damn job for a long time, but my reasons for hating my damn job had changed. At first, I had hated it because I had wanted to be at home - writing. But now, I was finding it increasingly hard to be at home – writing - too. Now it wasn’t that I wanted to be anywhere else; it was that I really didn’t want to be at work. When my shift ended, I walked out and stood on the corner of the street. Where do I go now? I felt disconnected, my limbs felt alien, as if they were someone else’s, nothing to do with me, and for a good 10 seconds, I couldn’t even remember who ‘me’ was. So, where the fuck do I go now?

I walked to the payphone up the street and paged Mitch. Mitch, our reedy, pockmarked speed dealer who went everywhere on his bicycle. He delivered speed to your house, took your money, did a few lines with you, talked your fucking ear off for 45 minutes, and left. I arranged to meet him at my house. I wanted that bitter taste, that night-long jack up. I mean, what the fuck else was I gonna do?

Later that night, on the BART train on our way into the city. The train went under the Bay. I couldn’t move my hands. I couldn’t breathe. I panicked. I remember leaning on Xavi, and there was Xanax and vodka, and then the harsh lights of the Powell Street station. I found a chemical equilibrium somewhere between the stairs up to the street and Chinatown. I found I was feeling pretty damn good.

At the Lucky 13 bar on Market Street, a debate was raging. Sean had stated that he was thinking of breaking it off with Frank, because Frank had been doing smack. Lincoln had taken offence.

“Wait, wait, wait. You’re standing there telling me that you are breaking it off with him because he’s doing drugs?” Lincoln asked, outraged.

“Smack. He’s doing smack,” Sean said, emphasizing the word, as if to infer that heroin was beyond doing drugs.

“And you don’t find this hypocritical, even though you keep running off to the bathroom to do lines?” Lincoln inquired slowly, narrow-eyed.

“So do you!”

“Yeah, but I’m not dumping someone for doing the same thing.”

“It’s not the same thing at all.”

“So, it’s ok to shove shit up your nose all the time, but God forbid your boyfriend should shoot up?”

Xavi and I were silent, but I was inwardly agreeing with Linc. People on drugs look with disgust and disdain at people on other drugs. There were the alcoholics—if it is a guy, people think it is cool. If it is a woman, she’s thought of as pathetic. As a whole, though, they are society’s accepted addicts, and feel themselves completely removed from drug addicts. There were the potheads. Man, potheads smoke all day and all night, mostly can’t string a sentence together, but vehemently hate all other drugs, from alcohol and cigarettes to crack. They regard all of these as evil, but not weed—weed to them is like a religious, medicinal, God-given thing. They don’t see themselves as filthy junkies like the rest of us; they are just chilled out. Everyone hates potheads in a reciprocal fashion. They’re looked upon as fucking hippies, Jerry Garcias, unwashed, patchouli-smelling, incense-burning motherfuckers. Then, there are cokeheads. They are hated for being neurotic and unstable, plus they always have the cocaine sniffles and their noses are always bleeding. It’s a bummer to look at.

Mitch had once given me a diatribe on how he used to deal coke, but couldn’t stand the cokeheads paging him all the time, freaking out. He felt that tweakers were much easier to deal with. He probably thought this because he was a tweaker himself. So, we come to the tweakers, the meth addicts. Generally reviled for being skinny, sore-ridden and overly talkative, they are looked down on by cokeheads for being cheap. In turn, tweakers think cokeheads are dumb for paying way more for a drug that lasts about 15 minutes with less kick than speed. Lastly, there are the smackheads and the crackheads. These guys are the most hated. They are the untouchables. Anyone shooting smack or smoking crack immediately becomes part of a contemptible alien species. They’re subhuman, the dregs of society. They‘re filthy, vile, disgusting, pitiable, and to be avoided at all costs. As for the smackheads and crackheads themselves, well, if you aren’t doing their drugs, then you’re just wasting your time. You’re an amateur, a wannabe. They don’t even want you in their treehouse.

Xavi was mumbling something I couldn’t understand. Linc and Sean argued on. I smoked, drank my vodka, and formed the notion, without any justifiable cause, that everyone around me was a hell of a lot more stupid than me. I was holding myself up to myself as the epitome of brilliant insight and intellect. I went into the bathroom and did lines. Yeah, I’m so fucking smart.

The next day at work, my teeth felt like they were going to fall out. Not just a couple of them. No, all of them. They felt like they were just hanging in by a thread. I sucked at them, loudly. Nobody was in the store, and the clock was moving so slowly that I had checked if it was working four times. At lunch, I didn’t eat. I had four beers and a whiskey, then walked to a payphone and called Ginny. I arranged to meet her after work. It wasn’t that I wanted to see her, so much as it was that I couldn’t think of a good reason not to. The minute I put down the phone, I realized that there was a really good reason for not seeing her--I didn’t want to. So, I called her back and cancelled. I went back to work, breathing fast and sucking my teeth.

There was something else, too. Starting about a week before, I had begun to smell rot everywhere I went. It had been driving me nuts, trying to figure out where the smell of decay was coming from. Sitting there at work, however, the smell’s origin suddenly became clear. It was coming from me. I wondered, blandly, just what part of me was rotting away.

“Man, I saw this homeless guy today,” Sean was telling me, “and he was just the most homeless, homeless guy ever. His hair was not just matted and shit; it was like one big dread. And he was beyond dirty, with these long, creepy nails, and this blue blanket that he was wearing as a shawl. He was walking up and down the street, with his head held really high. He seemed messianic, you know? So, I asked him what was up, and he told me that God had created himself, so as to create all of this. Pretty fucking interesting, huh?”

We were in Sean’s room. I noticed that everything on his table had been arranged in geometric patterns. He had emptied a jar full of shirt buttons onto the floor and was carefully arranging them into piles, according to size and color. I didn’t want to go into my own room and stare at that blank fucking page again.

I looked at the clock--six hours had passed since I had gotten home from work, and had sat down in here with Sean doing lines. Sean had spent six hours arranging buttons, and even worse than that, I had spent six hours watching him arrange buttons. It was late now.

“You wanna go out or something?” I asked.

“Let’s go to the all-night ‘Payless’ in Piedmont. I need more buttons,” he said.

“Alright,” I answered. I took my cigarette, and burnt my inner arm with it. It hurt. I did it again.

“What are you doing?” he asked me.

Now what kind of a stupid fucking question was that?

By the time we were driving home from the ‘Payless,’ the sun was coming up. I had to go back to work pretty soon. Sean was driving.

“I have The Spiders,” he announced.

“Huh?”

“The Spiders! You know, those little black things crawling around out of the corners of your eyes, but when you try to focus on them they disappear or wiggle just out of view” he replied.

The Spiders were actually the reason that I recently stopped driving. Well, that, and I had had three accidents in three weeks. I was jumpy and paranoid and I had The Spiders. But, I didn’t tell Sean that. I said nothing, and squinted out of the passenger window. I didn’t want to go to work. I really felt like I had just left there. It didn’t feel like a whole evening had passed. It didn’t feel like the next day. It felt like I’d had an extended lunch break, nothing more.

You know that feeling you get when you watch the sunrise—the colors are vivid, and the world looks clean, and you are overcome with a deep feeling of hope and optimism? Yeah, well, I didn’t have that feeling at all watching the sunrise that morning. What I did have was a kind of generalized anxiety, an irregular heartbeat, and a wrenching pain in my stomach.

 Words from Cody James:

maybe there is no way to leave the world a better place, and the only thing left to do is tell the truth
according to a man called william branham, 1977 was the year that armageddon would come.
it didn’t.
in 1977 elvis died, and i was born.
i grew up in the east of england,
the south of france,
the north of california,
and the west of texas.
i write because i need to tell you a story.
it’s the oldest story in the world,
it’s the only story in the world.

cody james is the author of the book and zine, babylon. she is a writer, a filmmaker, and a photographer; an ex punk and an ex meth addict; a satanist and a schizophrenic
as a musician she has opened for the white stripes. as a writer she has headlined at rough trade east
on stage she is hypnotic, in person she is magnetic, on the page she is unforgettable; in everything she does she wages a guerrilla war on bullshit
cody spent 1997 in san francisco eating noodles and wondering if comet hale-bopp would change her life forever. it didn’t. but she did write the dead beat. and that might just change yours.

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