Slash Lovering (1970-2008) was a Seattle poet whose work focused on the Internet. His work has been labeled “grunge” however his actual association with the music scene is not well established. He was however, confirmed as a freelance writer for Microsoft, writing marketing materials. He traveled in many software-related circles. In 2008 Slashed died in a bike accident while going home to his new house in Redmond. The bits of conversation that follow are based on notes.
“One of you fags buy me a beer,” said Slash. We were at a Belltown bar in 2007, a year before his death. I was underage with a fake ID. Slash was loud and he seemed extroverted, for once. We were celebrating his retirement from Microsoft.
“I’ll get you a beer,” I said. I met Slash at a dinner party with my parents in 2004. It was a street-of-dreams style house on the Sammamish plateau, outside of Seattle. It was the house of some Microsoft VPs, who my parents also knew from mingling with the parents of my classmates at the Overlake School in Redmond. Redmond is the home of Microsoft. I grew up about a mile from the main campus.
I would not have discovered Slash’s poetry at all except for a burned CD he gave me shortly after our first meeting. He was hanging around a punk show at a place called Dog City in the University District. I had driven out there on some desolate high school Friday. I was depressed and I didn’t know anyone at the show, so I left early and put the CD in my parent’s computer. The poetry was dense and short and almost always included elements of graphic design. I had always assumed that he posted his work to obscure forums, but to this date, the CD is the only evidence I have of his poetry.
“I gave this company my life. And they gave me a way to live, but not a good way. I had to make my own way,” said Slash.
This bar was a newish place, probably not as familiar to Slash as the bars he would have frequented during the Dot Com era, a time when nightlife in Seattle reached a fever pitch and downtown, especially South of Downtown (SODO), became an art hotspot. This bar was quiet, a place for career media types and real estate folks, not a hacker bar or a cyberpunk palace. Seattle had changed a lot in the time since 2001, and Slash had watched the crash with typical indifference.
“What are these pills you gave me? I think I can lie better on them,” said Slash. Someone had given him a Tramadol. He motioned swimming in place and I imagined his likeness to Morphine frontman Mark Sandman.
Slash leaned hard against the back of our booth. “This bar reminds me of New York in a bad way. Sometimes I want a quiet place. Sometimes I want Manhattan on a Wednesday. I want to go out with traders and I want them to pay for everything. I don’t want to think about poetry. I want Wall Street to write the poetry for me.”
Slash was an introspective writer and he will talk about poetry. He never did readings and he never liked the successful gimmicks he saw many of his contemporaries use. He never understood how these things would help his writing.
He was inwardly focused and rarely read other poets, though I think he may have gone to university for poetry in the late 80s, possible Evergreen State. The only writing influence he ever spoke about was William Gibson, and I wonder now if the two ever met.
Slash died in a biking accident in downtown Redmond, on his way home from a bar. The autopsy showed he was well below the legal limit for intoxication and the courts ruled against the driver of a silver Ford Windstar.
“I’m the shit. I’m the fucking shit,” joked Slash. “I feel so good. This lifestyle is real.”
At the bar we talked long into the night. I thought there would be many more nights like that one: casual, thoughtful, with humor and with warm camaraderie. But that was the last time I saw Slash. We got drunk and invested ourselves in the dark grimy, waterfront buzz that Seattle gives its locals on cool nights.
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Erik Stinson is at erikstinson.com.