Steven Wells, 1960-2009.
Legendary rock journalist Steven Wells (aka Swells, Seething Wells, Susan Wells) passed away on Tuesday after a long battle with cancer. Even near the end, he was still penning pieces full of his trademark combination of wit, grit and spittle, culminating in this column for Philadelphia Weekly.
Now, it would be quite easy to lapse into a series of mawkish platitudes about how he was one of our favourite writers during our formative years, and how he was one of the inspirations for what we’d quite inappropriately describe as our ‘writing’ ‘style’. We could even spend a few paragraphs cackhandedly trying to pay tribute to him in a rough approximation of his own work, “with Swells at the typewriter, words suddenly had the opportunity to become huge man-eating, razor-toothed pitbulls, ready to launch a gruesome attack on the fleshiest folds of the subject in his sights”, that sort of thing.
However, as pointed out in the opening pages of his excellent novel Tits-Out Teenage Terror Totty, he didn’t really go a bundle on people schmaltzily mourning someone they’ve never even met, so it’d just seem a bit wrong. Instead, we’re going to quote the aforementioned opening to T-OTTT, and embed a Daphne & Celeste video:
“Here it comes now! Stumbling through the undergrowth, the brittle skulls of small rodents cracking like gunshots under the savagely spiked heels of its steel toe-capped Dolce and Gabana fuck-me stilettoes.
Those oh-so familiar doe-like eyes fix madly on the middle distance, ignoring the brambles and branches that lash at that brutally scarred but oh-so beautiful face. On its back, surgically attached and purely decorative, are two massive wings of compassion. On its lurching torso is a matt-black strapless Versace gown. In its gnarled fists it carries a razor toothed chainsaw. And in its heart - HATRED!
She's BACK! Stop CRYING! Princess of the Pod People! Queen of Hearts! Empress of Empathy! Duchess of Despondency! Monarch of Melancholy! Sovereign of Sobbing! Czarina of WANGST!
England's Rose is risen from the dead and this time - IT'S PERSONAL!
Sewn back together by an especially formed team of the world's top neurosurgeons and made more beautiful, more perfect, more saintlike, more compassionate, more doe-like and better equipped to deal instant death than ever before!
Her reconstituted flesh covers a titanium skeleton. State of the art micro-circuited laser weaponry hums under her peach-like skin.
She lurches to a stop and scans the horizon.
A lone paparazzo - the penile telescopic tools of his evil trade slung around his scrawny neck - lies concealed by camouflage just a hundred yards to the front, blissfully unaware of the savage death that awaits him.
"QUEENMOTHERFUCKA" screams Spencerstein as she scoops a fistful of upper-class quality cocaine out of her Chanel handbag and rams it wastefully up her oh-so-perfect nostrils before ripping the massive chainsaw into rapidly barking life. The startled paparazzo looks up suddenly and shitshocks savagely as he whirls round with whiplash intensity to witness the senses-shattering sight of Diana's zomboid horrorcorpse tottering towards him at impossible speed, slashing the air insanely with the fume-spewing chainsaw and screaming like a banshee on crack.
CRUMP! CRUMP! CRUMP! CRUMP!
Spencerstein charges, spitting with fury, bog eyed with hated and
gets blown to bloody bits as she accidentally steps on a landmine.
Ooh! That's got to fucking hurt!
"SHE'S DEAD - AGAIN!" scream an ecstatic British press.
"HUZZAH!" roar an orgasmic British public as they whip out millions of still tear-soaked and snot-stiffened union jack hankies and prepare for another week of utterly debasing, undignified, snivelling, grovelling and utterly nauseating forelock-tugging mass hysteria as, once again, she's scooped into a coffin and obscenely paraded through the streets of London in an orgy of braindead emotional masturbation. “
- from Tits-Out Teenage Terror Totty, by Steven Wells (Attack! Books, 1999) ISBN 1 84068 032-6
Rest in peace, Swells.