Guest Letter: Spiderland And Overdose Awareness Day

In light of the recent Overdose Awareness Day, writer Jordan McClements shared this letter with LEO. We think it’s a great read and hope you do too.   


 I overdosed on heroin in 2017, and second oldest Cousin overdosed, and died, in 2019.

            I blamed Dad for my heroin use, because Dad and I didn’t talk for ten years of my life.

            I was entangled in the nightmare from Dad, even though I talked to Dad, and wrote a novel forgiving Dad and Puh Pup, and what Puh Pup did to Dad, I didn’t forgive Dad or Puh Pup.

            I was still entangled in non-forgiveness.

            I was in my lifelong dramatization of the album, Spiderland, by Slint, from Louisville, Kentucky, recorded in August 1990, and released on Touch and Go Records, on March 27, 1991. Slint brought post-rock to the world.

            I stare into the mirror of the band members’ four crystal faces, submerging the black and white quarry on the front of the all black gatefold LP.

            Around the letterbox photograph, is the eruption of shadows, dancing your name.


            I am 18 years old again.

            I am starting college at Delaware State University, again.

            I am no longer 28, going to Medill, at Northwestern University for Social Justice and Solutions Journalism.

            I have not written my novel, For He Who Rides the Pony, on the overdose crisis, at Columbia College Chicago.

            Second oldest Cousin isn’t dead from a heroin overdose.

            I haven’t overdosed on heroin and survived because second oldest Cousin saved me, yet.

            I haven’t tried heroin.

            This is me before Spiderland.

            I first met David Pajo, guitarist of Slint, and current guitarist of Gang of Four, in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, when I was in college, at a screening of the documentary on Slint, Breadcrumb Trail, by filmmaker, Lance Bangs.

            David was kind, and generous to me, when I asked David about the compositional approach to Spiderland.

            I was going to Delaware State University, majoring in English, so I could become a better writer. I didn’t play guitar, I never did. I didn’t believe in myself enough to play guitar, and at the time, dedicate myself between the essence and divide of touching eternity, to write.

            I was scared of telling my story, the story of losing Mom and Dad in two different car accidents, that Mom and Dad lived through, but never came back, a story I didn’t know existed, until I heard Spiderland.

            Maybe, the killing of myself.

            My ADHD was so severe, I could only read short stories, from the minimalist American writer, Raymond Carver. Dad, drank. The sentences, short.

            Slint’s lyrical approach connected to me instantly, just as Carver’s prose did. Every word counts.

            The delivery between screaming, whisper, and cautious regret.

            Everything I was scared of, in telling my story.

            I felt Spiderland, told my story.

            But the longer I listened to Spiderland’s musical compositions, the longer and deeper my psyche began to formulate Spiderland’s intricacies.

            The first time I saw Slint perform live, was on their last reunion tour on 1 May 2014, at Union Transfer, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

            When everything went black at the concert, I began to consider who the imaginary audience was.

            Was I imagining my story played out on the stage, that I couldn’t perform?

            The person I went to the concert with, fell asleep on the side of the stage, and I realized, I, was the imaginary audience, the imaginary audience of self.

            Somewhere, I knew Slint was performing, but I watched my life playout on the stage of the concert.

            My memories were in orchestration, screaming, with clawed nails, trying to press smoothly, the rapture of guilt, that was smothering me.

            And it hit, like the needle does, used to, and echoes, in my eternity.

            I didn’t save Brother from getting abused by a family member in seventh grade.

            Dad, didn’t get help for what Puh Pup did to Dad.

            Dad didn’t get help, so Brother didn’t.

            I was in seventh grade.

            Pleading to Dad to take Brother to The Psychologist to help Brother because, Dad cried at the dinner table at night, telling us of the horror of Puh Pup hurting Dad, and Brother and I faced the Biblical wrath.

            Then one afternoon, while Dad was gone, to get back with Dad’s ex-wife, and not getting Brother help, I ran away.

            I didn’t talk to Dad for a decade.

            I invited Dad to my high school graduation and Dad didn’t come.

            Now, I am in college in 2014, Dad is here in Philadelphia, at the Union Transfer, Slint show.

            I feel Dad’s presence, because my psyche is Dad.

            Tomorrow is Dad’s birthday.

            2 May 1970.

            The concert ends, and when I buy a Spiderland t-shirt, and Slint sweatshirt with the middle finger on it, I realize I don’t have enough money. Drummer, guitarist, singer, and lyricist for Slint, Britt Walford sees my shame, and thanks me for supporting the band, and to take both.

            We drive home from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

            Tomorrow, 2 May 2014, is Dad’s 44th birthday, and Slint is playing.

            I want Dad to witness Spiderland, where I live, where I am Dad, and somehow, myself, or Jordan.

            I buy two tickets to see Slint at the Otto Bar, in Baltimore, Maryland.

            Dad and I cross the Bay Bridge, and make it to the Otto Bar.

            Slint’s van is behind the Otto Bar’s building, with David Pajo’s Harley-Davidson motorcycle parked.

            David tells me it’s cool that I brought Dad to the concert.

            Dad and David talk about Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

            Vocalist, guitarist, and lyricist for Slint, Brian McMahan, asks me if I play music, and I tell Brian I write, and the conversation steers from music to writing, Brian listening to me patiently, with kindness.

            I meet musician, of the electronic duo Matmos, and English scholar at Johns Hopkins University, Drew Daniel, in the crowd, and we talk about the similarities between Slint’s lyrics and Raymond Carver.

            Drew is kind, and tells me of his scholarship on the image of resting one’s hand on one’s face throughout history.

            Drew tells me to email him about literary theory.

            Dad comes back, destroyed from the bar, celebrating Dad’s birthday.

            I didn’t drink at the time, I thought I had learned something from Raymond Carver.

            The concert begins the same, but I am able to separate my psyche.

            I see my shadow, at first, in Dad, and whatever is left, is myself.

            But as I press further into my memories:

            Who is the imaginary audience?

            I realize Brother isn’t here.

            Brother isn’t here in Spiderland.

            It’s just me and Dad.

            Wrapped up in eternity.

            Me, and, Dad.

            Oldest Cousin, knew that I had tripped on mushrooms at Dad’s house, to the surprise of Dad’s boss coming over for dinner.

            Oldest Cousin said:

            “You need to call your Dad up, and tell your Dad, I’m sorry.”

            Oldest Cousin and I talked about the ten years I was away, and compared them to how second oldest Cousin is away.

            Second oldest Cousin isn’t alive, anymore.

            I knew Dad would not survive for us both to forgive, one another.

            I knew our ending, had already been written time through, playing out fate.

            But when I went home, I knew I would call Dad.

            Now, I’m 28, and no matter the medications, or drugs, it’s just me, and, Dad, guessing who, is the imaginary audience, to heal the severed, between Dad and me.

            I had written a novel on forgiveness, and I was still vengeful.

            I have to remember Dad hurt also, as a result of the trauma.

            Oldest Cousin was right, calling Dad, and saying I’m sorry, is safer.

            Though, I still, miss you.