The greatest music writer that ever did it is dead.
Load of fucking DICK.
Reports the meeja:
"Steven Wells died on Tuesday after finally losing his fight against cancer."
Of course, Swells wouldn't have said that. Writing about his experience with the disease in The Philadelphia Weekly a few years back, he put it like this:
“No one ever 'battles bravely against cancer'. This is utter bullshit. You do your chemo, take your drugs and hang on for dear life.”
I fucking love that dude.
Steven "Susan" Wells made me want to be a music journalist. He was brilliant, funny, and entirely uncompromising. When I was running my fanzine, Chemical Nation, back in '97, I wote to him, and he let me serialise his novel, Tits-Out Teenage Terror Totty, for free. Later that year I traveled down from the Midlands to London, and he met me for coffee in Carnaby Street, and gave me excellent advice.
Swells and I disagreed on the relative merits of The Smiths, and had many fine arguments about them, but we loved a lot of the same music - Digital Hardcore, Slayer, pop, girlgroups. Around '98, or '99, we joined forces to campaign for Daphne And Celeste's inclusion on that year's Reading bill, and were totally fucking surprised, and awed, when we won. We watched the girls being driven off to the stage together with pride, and were disgusted when the hordes of misogynist neanderthals threw bottles off piss, bags of coins and a fucking spear at them. But the girls loved the experience, and thanked us for our support.
Years later when I was editing PlayLouder, I was lucky enough to have a budget sufficient to be able to hire Swells as a weekly columnist, and he wrote some fucking amazing stuff for us. When I was out in America getting signed to Interscope, he rang me, and invited me to come and visit him at his new home in Philadelphia, as long as I didn't try and play any "fucking Smiths". At one point Interscope were going to pay him $5000 to write my biography. When that thing fell through, the Swells biography was one of the few things I was sad about missing out on. I respected dude too much to ask him to do it for free.
One of the things Swells and I used to argue about was beards, and, inevitably, we wrote an article together, arguing our cases for, and against beards. So I shall reprint that here for you now.
RIP Swells: The Best That Ever Did It.
*FACE OFF: THE GREAT BEARD DEBATE
ROUND ONE, ANTI BEARD
"...the male beard communicates an heroic image of the independent, sturdy, and resourceful pioneer, ready, willing and able to do manly things" claims the website All About Beards.
Bollocks. Does it fuck! The beard indicates that the wearer is a sexless weirdo.
A big, bushy beard suggests that you're one of those horrible hale and hearty posh explorer types - probably called Ralph Twistelthwaite Fffeines or something equally stupid.
A creepy, neat little beard indicates that you're Noel Edmonds. Or possibly a geography teacher. Or a paedophile.
And a scraggy, unkempt beard just means that you're a lazy bastard who can't be arsed shaving. I give you Kurt Cobain, I give you Badly Drawn Boy - filthy disgusting, depressing, miserable can't-be-arsed hippy losers.
Beards suck. They ming. They are nature's way of saying - avoid this man, for he is a tosser.
Alsatian dog-headed punk rock singer, music journalist and bodybuilder John Robb has got this theory. He reckons that youth culture suffers from a crippling inertia - which is why it naturally tend towards the slackarsed and the sloppy. Hence the slacker, the hippy, the grebo, the indie scruff and the disgusting noveau tramps of the so-called new Acoustic Movement.
All these disgustingly scruffy subcultures are, of course, the products of laziness and cultural cowardice. Scared of people laughing at your clothes? Then dress "street". Scared of being thought naïve? Just mumble and shrug so everyone thinks you're "deep". Scared of failure? Then go the piss-easy shooting-fish-in-a-barrel route and whack out tuneless dirges about how depressed and fucking miserable you are. And while you're at it, fuck, might as well stop shaving, maaaaan! It's such a hassle.
But now and then, of course, something genuinely fresh and exciting roars out of this abyss. I give you punk. I give you mod. And what did punk and mod have in common? Yes, that's right - speed, aggression, style and a total and utter revulsion for all and any facial hair.
Now I suspect that bumfluffed Betty Alpha over in the pro-beard camp is going to trot out some tired old crap about Jesus, Karl Marks and Che Guevara. OK, yes they were all good blokes. And yes, they all had beards. But that was then - back when they were dodging the pigs and stirring up revolution and tossing the moneychangers out of the temple and overthrowing US backed fascist governments and writing Das Kapital and shit.
They didn't have time to shave, man. And when they did it was just to throw the pigs off the scent. I'd go further. I'd say there is only one sort of man who doesn't look like complete shit with a beard.
I am talking of course of Really Hard Blokes.
Front line infantry who've been so busy stabbing foreigners and shitting themselves in terror that they've not had time to even look in a mirror, never mind shave. Vikings, bikers, Huns Visigoths, Motorhead and other barbarians - shit, these dudes even look cool with ponytails. And deities, ie Odin, Thor, Zeus, Jehovah and Satan etc. And Brad Pitt. Obviously.
On all these chaps beards look just fine and dandy. But for everyone else - fuck off! Who do you think you're kidding? You've got hot water, you've got access to a razor, you live in the 21st century - you've got no excuse. You're not a barbarian. You're not a God. You're just a scruff. A lazy bastard. A stinking hippy. A beardie-weirdie. A freak. You're doing it on purpose. You're making a statement. That statement being - look at me everybody, I am a horrible, stinking can't-be-arsed fucking shit-cunt.
Look at the cringingly socially inadequate collection of deluded bores who comprise Mensa (ie Garry Bushell) - beards! Look at your woman-hating, mass-murdering psychopathic scumbags - Manson, Shipman, Suttcliffe - beards, beards, beards! Check out the sex offenders list - it's beard city, man.
OK, so you're not convinced. Here's the killer anecdote. I used to direct rock videos. I had this idea which involved using a really seedy Soho strip club. So I went to one.
And I looked at the audience - and nearly puked in horror. Every single one of the sad inadequate sweaty bastards sat there nervously biting his lip and avoiding all possible eye contact was sporting a hideous, dead rat coloured beard. Every. Single. Fucking. One.
A wise man once wrote - "A chap might as well tattoo the phrase 'I suck dog's cocks for pennies' on his forehead with a rusty compass as grow a beard".
And that wise man was me. And I was right. I always am. It's the cross I have to bear.
And so, to conclude - Oi! Alphabet! Fuck off and shave! You lazy, dirty, disgusting, filthy, rotten little hippy bastard.
Ow! That STUNG! Goddamn, that man may be old, but he sure hits HARD! How will Alphabet cope? Eh?!
*FACE OFF: THE GREAT BEARD DEBATE
ROUND TWO, PRO BEARD
I just watched a rather dull and drizzly movie called The Perfect Storm on Channel 4, I am afraid. An ugly, clumsy, and cringe making script, lots of capitalist Americans on a boat, and shit music - but there was one thing worth sitting through the thing for, and that, intelligent reader, was beards.
Ah, Beards. God's great gift to a species already gifted beyond the dreams of mere beasts. The all-purpose, creative extra that really does separate the men from the boys. Beards are so dope God Himself grew one, and it was so big that most of the world set about worshipping the swine immediately, despite the disease, pestilence, drought and misery he bestowed upon them mightily on a daily basis. He was, and remains, an utter shit, and were it not for his mighty beard we would certainly wouldn't be building huge temples and slaughtering each other for the bastard.
It is no coincidence that the God hating, capitalist, false idolising leaders of the Western World ALL SHAVE. CLOSELY. Never will a hair be allowed any more than 0.00000001 centimetres out of their faces, just to spite Him.
Ho, ho. Why is it, do you think, that the crew on that boat in the shit movie based on a true story grew beards? Because they couldn't be arsed to shave? Yeah? Shaving isn't fun, is it? That burning, searing, itching, cutting... No one looks good after a shave except people in Gillette ads. Real people look like raw meat, and, they are just as sensitive to salt. (Something to bear in mind, when a friend or relative's insistence on shaving all the fucking time starts to piss you off.)
Western Society deems beards unacceptable. The bad guy in the movies always has a beard of some kind. That he is also brown is no coincidence. Western Society equates beards with "foreigners" and "foreigners" is something Western Society does not like. Ugh! Outside people! Sick! We are a nation of inbreds, are we not? And inbreds hate beards. Even though the often physically deformed inbred would often benefit from the growth of a beard. Ladies have make-up, gentlemen have beards. Sadly, Western Society forbids such things, and we are forced to bear witness to massively repulsive, naked faces every bastard day. Ugh! Have you been on public transport lately? Have you noticed the buggers in the street? They are hideous and offensive, and they are everywhere.
I feel glad when I see a man with a beard - it is a symbol of freedom, and revolution. Of course Che Guevara had a beard. And of course Tony Blair is shaven.
Vikings had beards because they were hardcore, and so did the Celts, and the Egyptians, and almost every other decent or significant culture recorded by history. Apart from: The Romans.
And the Romans, despite their aqueducts and their roads and their shiny garrison and their skirts, were BASTARDS. They tried to kill Asterix, repeatedly. They killed Jesus (who had a beard)! And now clean shaven Western Civilisation is doing the same thing, only more so - the current raping and pillaging is beyond even the wildest dreams of Caligula, and he was a serious and dedicated Bastard. Indeed.
Ho, ho. These are serious words, but this is a serious business, and we are serious people. And this beard hating is an ugly business, and blaming it on hippies and David Badiel isn't good enough. To hate a beard is to hate man - it is indicative of a brutish, aggressive and destructive society, full of a violent fear and hatred directed at that which they cannot understand. To hate the Beard is to hate oneself, and if one hates oneself one cannot Love. And what are we without Love?
We are nothing without Love.
STEVEN WELLS IS IN HEAVEN WITTH BABY JESUS AND THE ANGELS RIGHT NOW, AND HE WILL NEVER HAVE TO SHAVE AGAIN, AND I AM GLAD, BECAUSE HE DESERVES IT. HE WAS THE GREATEST THAT EVER DID IT. HE WAS A FUCKING GOLIATH OF A MAN, HE MADE CHUCK NORRIS LOOK LIKE CONNOR Mc FUCKING NICHOLAS, AND I FUCKING MISS HIM.