Forrest Armstrong is one of them people that are born with talent to shit. Either through a hip hop track that will make your girl bare her titties or the new and ultimately bizarre novel “Deadheart Shelters”, Armstrong exudes and exerts a passionate and smooth style that has been compared to both Dante and Milton. If i had to make a comparison id say he’s a mash up between Biggy Smalls, The artful Dodger and that kid in high school, that was grimy as shit, but succeeded in all sports and fucked all the glamorous honeys.
More importantly, its all done with a sincere and ease free distance, with out even a wiff of self importance or Ego. In his own words – “[My] mental energy goes to stupid nonsensical things that don’t exist, [other] than real life things. Like brushing teeth and shit. If you ask [me] right now the prettiest thing [I] can imagine is if you cracked open a chestnut, egg or a lemon and a bluebird flew out.”
He’s the kind of dude you either want to snuff for being so smooth or fuck for being so fresh. We here at HST have the pleasure of checking out his interview with Mike Daily, An excerpt from his new novel and the amazing (i seriously fucking love this track) “Computer Love” that you just gotta check out. I dare your woman to keep her tits in her top, i fucking dare her.
Below is a small teaser into the world of the infinity talented, and cool as a Tarantino flick Forrest Armstong, The gasoline Monk.
Daily: Carlton Mellick III, the biggest-name author in Bizarro fiction, called The Deadheart Shelters “[t]he literary equivalent of an Alejandro Jodorowsky film.” What influence has avant-garde filmmaker Jodorowsky had on your work? Which of Jodorowsky’s movies in particular do you most revere, and why?
Armstrong: Yeah, that was cool to hear because Jodorowsky really has had a huge influence on my work, especially The Holy Mountain. That film was one of those moments like when I first saw Dali’s spider-legged elephants that I realized right away how important it would be to me. Right from the start, when the bird flies from the guy’s bulletwounds. There’s so much in Jodorowsky’s work that mattered to me and must’ve showed up in my work: his use of color, the way he unlocked the surrealist image to be anything, even his ultraviolence, and definitely that parable-quality of his work, how everything moves slow and hits so hard–like a submarine underwater or something.
Exerpt from Forrest Armstrongs, The Deadheart Shelters:
Many days passed doing different things; I almost forgot. It happened one night when the man was downstairs locking us into the beds. I was lying there, waiting like I always do, looking at the ceiling as he took my leg in his hands and touched me with the cuff but hadn‘t yet clasped it. I jerked and kicked him, hard enough to put him on the floor, and he looked up at me. He had this funny way of changing his face then, as if I‘d made him happier. I jumped on him dragging the blanket because I knew I couldn‘t let him talk, and wrapped his head like it was an egg I didn‘t want to break. He was shouting but the shouts got soaked into the cloth and stayed there. Then I slid my hand to where his mouth would be and kept pressure on it, on it, on it, until there were no more vibrations.
I stood up suddenly and felt ice cubes smooth down my back. “What do I do now? What do I do now?”
Lilly started to cry. “You‘re a murderer, Pete.”
Mark leaned back on the bed and put his own chain on. “I was already locked in. Okay? I was already here.”
Abe stood over the body now lifeless, watching as if expecting it‘ll jerk. He kept looking up at me, opening his mouth and muttering one syllable then shutting it. Shaking his head a lot. “Well we can‘t stand here forever.”
“I thought it‘d help, Abe, I thought it‘d help me leave”
“Well sure. It does. What‘re you gonna do now?”
I walked a circle around the body. “Can you hide me somewhere?”
Abe nodded. They put me under the beds tucked back against the walls so I could
hear all night the creaking when they turned. Then Abe broke the glass in one of the windows and ran upstairs to tell them that I‘d fled. I listened as they came down to see the body. The men we never see save for times like this. They shouted at nobody and struck Abe over and over and I almost crawled out to stop them, but I didn‘t. I listened. I never slept.
And the next day I was free. I crawled out of the window already broken and ran, pumped with the adrenaline of unable-to-sleep. I reached a valley of amateur gravestones, made out of rotted wood or cardboard or less, when the immensity of what I was doing hit me. Every morning I‘d woken up to the same violent alarm, walked among the same dreary faces and fell asleep to the same kneejerk conversations, but now I could wake up when the eyes un-lidded themselves. I could be like a kid again, listening to the geese.
There was nobody here. I thought of Lilly. It felt like she was a drain plug you pulled out of a bathtub, and the cold air lowering itself on top of you. Something suddenly gone, irretrievably gone. I don‘t think of it now. But I remember how long my heart felt like a draining bathtub I couldn‘t plug to stop from draining and I carried it around like you‘d carry a dislocated shoulder, just trying to keep it undisturbed.
Miles far away, sleep held me. I must have still been on my feet because I don‘t remember lying down but it was mid-afternoon once and then the sun had not yet risen.
I woke to moans that sounded like low-pitched on sped-up tape, so the high of them was unnatural. Beside my head was a nest of hippopotamus babies I could fit in my hand. The trees beeped like heart monitors. The clouds were made of steel wool and kept dipping like fish lines. For my hunger (because my mouth had been denied the usual wheat in boiled water, today) I grabbed one of the hippos and made him brainless under a rock, but then felt too strange to eat him raw.
“No!” said a voice. “No! How could you?” A man with goat horns (maybe falsely-attached to his head) came out from between trees.
“Are you talking about this?” I said, holding up the hippo with the pulped head. The ones below, still in the nest, started to squeal unbearably loud. The clouds as if noticing this scratched themselves across the blue-stained glass of the sky and you could see where it left marks, transparent outwards to galaxies.
“Yes, that! They haven‘t even grown yet.” He clenched his teeth. “The tears their mother will make. Give him to me.”
He took the limp thing in his hands (it looked more like a toy), and dabbed at the guts spilled on the rock with his fingertips. His hand glistened when he held it up. “Don‘t eat anything. It‘s okay, you didn‘t understand. I understand everything; I even know why you‘re here and I understand that. I was waiting for you to wake up.” He got to his feet. “Excuse me.”
I sat there listening to the hippos still squealing. Soon he came back to put the fixed hippo in the nest with the others and all their moans got softer as they started nuzzling each other. “You‘re very lucky,” he said. “Their mother is alone by the water, now, but if she had returned before I did you would have been dead.”
I nodded. “You know why I‘m here?”
“You ran away from enslavement. I understand. Feel your cheeks.” I did, and the corks inside them were gone, and a strange tissue that felt like earthworms was there instead. “There‘s more to do, of course. Smooth out those scars, adjust your features. I bet your masters hardly recognized you before; they definitely won‘t now.”
My head felt like a filled aquarium, heavy and often off-balance by things drifting from one side to the other; I could feel it tilting on the neck. I stared down at the reborn hippo. His head was unblemished. “I never thought to disguise myself.”
“You would have been recaptured in a day. You slaves are made to be recognizable. But I understand you.”
“I want to go back and free the rest.”
“You never will.”
He made us a breakfast of this stuff that looked like scrambled eggs, but was white and tasteless. Still, it fell into my stomach like other things do. I asked him what he was and he said “Free” and laughed. Then apologized.
“Shall we take care of the rest?” he asked.
Through the trees still beeping and beyond two coops filled with different permutations of chickens (one kind featherless, the other inside-out who wore their organs like necklaces), we came to a house he built out of cinder blocks. The windows were duct taped like the ones in my slave-home and I shivered involuntarily. “Why do you do this?”
“To keep the world out when I don‘t want it. Go in, go in.”
I got on my back on a natural-made mattress stuffed with wilderness things. “This will hurt,” he said, “this first part. But you have to be awake to receive the pigment. What color do you want your eyes to be?”
I chose red, weightless red, because I always loved sunsets when I had the chance to see them. I wanted the sun to be setting forever in my eyes if it could. He put the syringe in and pushed the dropper, and I closed my eyes tight to ignore the sting but it just made me blink over the needle. It hurt more. And when it was done and the minutes of dimmed vision ended I looked in a mirror, and it looked nothing like a sunset.
“I‘m going to put you to sleep now. Tomorrow, I will teach you about society.”
Then the anesthesia, or something that made me sleep when I inhaled it. When I looked in the mirror upon waking I felt unrecognizable, though I‘d never had much of a sense of what I looked like to begin with; we hardly saw reflections where I came from.
But I no longer looked like a slave.
He brought me to a boiling pot as big as a lake with swollen seals floating in it and lobsters the color of blood blisters thumping the shore. The steam coming off it like the steam from dishwasher detergent that felt un-breathable but so thick between us we looked like smudged lead to each other. There were telephone poles driven into the bottom of it that rose two feet above the water and if you put plywood across them they might have been a bridge. He asked me to cross.
“I don‘t think I can,” I said.
He grabbed both my hands and put them underneath the water where they burned,
and when he let them up again my fingernails were coming loose. “You may be asked to do things that you don‘t expect you can do. But your legs work, your feet are tied to them tightly at the ankles, and it is broad daylight. Nothing prevents you from doing this.”
I looked at the telephone poles like broken pieces of a dock and pretended they were nothing else. But the first one I jumped on paralyzed me, I couldn‘t go forward or back, and soon I couldn‘t stand still either and the water burnt me again.
“Time is also something you may be asked to relinquish. You know this about time already, that often the time you have belongs to somebody else. You should be thinking how to pickpocket its owners, not how to protect your own pasture of it, which the locusts will eat whether you are watching or not.”
I tried to run like a deer from footsteps or the glimpse of something‘s movement, that blind kind of run with all nerves of your body in collaboration towards one idea, but that was also wrong. I fell three jumps in and hit my chest against a pole. My breath got knocked out and it was a longer swim back. On the shore, I rolled in anguish, my skin hyper-sensitive to the grains of sand impressing it. He squeezed my arm so there was a handprint in white within the hot pink. “And they will kick you when you‘re down. You know so little; I‘m trying to protect you, to make you un-hurtable. Smarter.”
A frog leapt from the shore and got halfway out before a blackbird caught it in its feet and we could see it still thrashing, like a limbed hole in the sun. And when they were both too small to see no piano strings were struck in the air nor cathedral bells in their memory but a resumed silence no more or less profound than before. I stood up and looked at the telephone poles and did that thing where you allow your mind no room for decision because your body‘s already propelled and each pole under my feet was like putting on a shoe. Until the first moment I thought of falling and it was like untied laces.
Immediately under the water, I saw a dream in my head of matches lighting origami and a bathtub filled with blood. A man rose from the tub and when he toweled himself dry his skin was made of metal, two thick bolts dug into his eyes, a zipper half-undone running along his spine. In my delirium, ignoring the boiling water I was in, I reached to tug the zipper all the way down and so much mud poured out of him the bathroom filled to the ceiling.
I was pulled onshore with a fishhook through my lip. The steam which once smelled like cleaning fluid now stank of overdone scallops and microwaved plastic.
When I woke up the bed sheets were greasy and smelled so strong of menthol my eyes watered upon opening, but my burns were gone. I could roll to my side without cringing and blink too. It felt like the first undisturbed sleep ever, the bed like a net full of swans and the blanket like wings spread over me. But then it came time for waking as it always does and we went to rub against the cold gravestones of morning.
On the hill we looked down into the pasture, enclosed in chain-link fence, where the bulls were poised in the sterile anxiety of waiting. Some started pacing when they saw us above them and bellowing like car horns, a bellowing which seemed to bring the rain clouds closer. They started charging the fence, pushing dents the size of mattresses into
“They‘ll break out of there,” I said, hoping that we‘d turn back before making them angrier. “They‘re much stronger than that fence.”
“Well go down there before they do.”
He handed me a brand and a bucket of bright coals. “Nobody will want to remember you. They won‘t even listen once if they can help it and if they hear something else it will be as if you never spoke. Is this what you want?”
There was a loud rip like a dumpster lid slamming as one bull tore a hole in the fence. “I don‘t care about that. We gotta leave.”
“First make yourself known.”
“Go down there and make it so they won‘t forget you.” He lifted up the brand I was holding and it read Pete in backwards letters. “Burn yourself into permanent memory.”
“I don‘t want to fight the bulls.”
“Oh, no, don‘t fight them. You‘ll lose; you cannot fight a dozen bulls. You‘re only a man. Just put your name on them.”
The bulls gathered at the edge of the fence like rats in a ditch when you‘re throwing food in it. I put the brand in the coals to get hot. The coils at the end which spelled my name began beetle-colored and grew, in a minute, to the color of fire that‘s close to white.
I pulled it out and we both admired it, and just as he was saying “Perfect” and gesturing to the restless bulls I stuck it in him, on the exposed part of his arm below the elbow, and held it there as long as I could.
The smell of barbershops and cooked pork. His screams were like a guitar string tuned too tight and the bulls below were moaning louder, with the deepness and volume of a full locomotive. All at once I dropped the brand and ran, blindly and awkwardly as if bound in a straightjacket and ten men behind me and the trees all had hands to catch me with. But no one stopped me; only the overexertion of myself. I collapsed with my lungs rasping aquatic.
Facedown in the fresh dirt warming up in the afternoon, I felt suddenly thankful. I laughed at the absurdity of what happened because the only things that were absurd where I‘m from hurt you, were less absurd than perverse and if you laughed it was only to distract your mouth from crying out.
I spent the afternoon stretching into initial dimness of evening building a toy town out of the dirt. He found my like this, and I jerked up, toppling some of the toy buildings.
“I don‘t want to hurt you,” he said.
“No. You can sit back down.” He helped me reconstruct some of what fell and then pulled up his sleeves. “I will never forget you,” he said, showing me his arm newly-tattooed with my name.
That night we sat under the trees which grew bullets in gel pills and when they‘d hatch prematurely they‘d go off like a gunshot. I would jump when it happened, but he wouldn‘t. “This is all you ever do, huh?”
“Make this little chemical universe all by yourself in here.”
“It keeps me company.” He had a glass pipe and was crumbling black rocks into it, smoking the dust. Each hit he‘d cough for half a minute, the smoking coming out like furnace smoke and him doubled over as if his lungs were irreversibly deflating. Then he‘d resume composure with a more unstrung smile. “This keeps you company, too,” he said, passing me the pipe. I didn‘t know what to do at first because no substance had passed through my lips but things I could touch and the lighter was an abstract instrument to me, I didn‘t understand it. Since then I‘ve smoked enough cigarettes to prune my lungs.
The first cloud through my throat I retched and dropped the pipe. Watching it break like slow ballet on an ice rink stage. “Idiot!” he said, but I stopped understanding him, his voice like a slingshot that I only saw him let go of and then landed somewhere else. I was somewhere else. A lifetime in a sober head violently erased.
From where I sat he seemed like a zoo animal, drooling and lurched forward without self-consciousness or agenda. And saliva from my own mouth was puddling on the front of my pants but I didn‘t think of it. He said, “Oh well, I‘m high enough” and the words whirled from ear to ear in my head.
“I feel like I‘m dreaming.”
“It‘s supposed to feel like that.” There were two men sitting with us now, one cooking his shoes in the fire and the other motionless, addressing me. Their jawbones shifted under the skin like cats under blankets and when he opened his mouth to talk I could see his tongue flapping like a black sail. “If it didn‘t feel like that it would mean you‘re always dreaming, and nobody wants that.”
“Nobody. Look at your friend,” he said, gesturing. “He has been asleep behind the wheel of his body for years.”
“But he fixed me.”
“Fixed you? Nothing can fix you. You will always be the same.”
From far behind the trees a movie was playing that we couldn‘t see, but the brightness reached us like a thousand caged moons and we could doze off to the soggy violins of its soundtrack. At one point I was bumped awake by the man who‘d finished cooking his shoes and I chewed on rubber for a while then dozed off again. The violins like a hearse-carried casket we could sleep in.
We woke up on the roof of a barn and couldn‘t figure out how to get down. “What happened?” I asked, and he said “This kind of thing is usual. Don‘t be afraid.”
Deadheart Shelters – Buy the madman here.
When you cant afford weed, smoke this.