My Love Affair With Kurt Cobain’s Death
Kurt Cobain died when I was 8. It would be a few years before I’d become completely engulfed by his music and by his celebrity in general; but when that happened, I was utterly obsessed with him – particularly, his death.
I was 13 and depressed (and typical) – the kind of depression that stems from some major life change that all adolescents experience to some degree. In my case, I had moved 45 minutes north of where I grew up, in the middle of a school year. I wasn’t suicidal, but it seemed that I could use Kurt Cobain as a sort of “case study” in understanding my own sadness. I began scouring the internet to research the circumstances that surrounded his “suicide.”
Have you ever researched Kurt Cobain’s suicide? Don’t. This was the first of many conspiracy theories that managed to a. make me appear bat shit crazy and b. caused me to consume countless billable internet hours. I’ll sum it up for you – there is a wealth of Geocities pages on the internet that will argue that Kurt Cobain was murdered. Kurt Cobain fanatics don’t hate Courtney Love because she was the heroin-addled Yoko Ono. They hate her because she had Kurt Cobain offed.
According to the conspiracy theories, that is. Tom Grant, a private investigator hired by Love, turned against his client when he found evidence that Cobain may have been a victim of foul play. Grant’s website lists variable after variable that leads any reader to believe that Kurt was murdered.
For example, Cobain’s suicide letter read more like a resignation letter. And we’re not talking “I resign from life” here. We’re talking, “I hate being famous, dunzo with Nirvana, wanna spend time with my kid, please leave me alone.” The last four lines of the note made reference to death, but those lines are questionable in origin. Different pen, different handwriting. The amount of heroin in Cobain’s bloodstream would’ve (potentially) rendered him unable to pick up a gun and shoot himself after shooting up. The gun landed in some funky way that wasn’t consistent with someone who’d shot themself in the head. The forensics don’t add up. SUPPOSEDLY.
So why would America allow one of its most beloved rock stars to die in vain? You announce that a cult figure like Kurt Cobain killed himself, and teens are lining up to do the same – 68, to be exact. If the Seattle police jumped the gun by ruling his death a suicide, one that resulted in 68 more deaths, well. That’s a lot of blood on their hands. You do the math.
At least, that’s what I thought in my youth. Much like the “Tupac isn’t dead” conspiracy, I don’t know that I have the wherewithal to fight this battle for another ten years. But back then; my sole purpose was to educate anyone who would listen on the who, what, where of Cobain’s death. I was like a Jehovah’s Witness. “Good morning, can I come in and tell you about Kurt Cobain’s good news?”
For this, I felt rewarded. I had my first ethereal experience with Kurt Cobain after staying awake for 48 hours straight on Adderall (or “Speed,” as I called it when I was 14 and “edgy”). My sleepless drug companion and I sat locked in my bedroom listening to Nevermind and sitting in front of my Kurt Cobain poster, waiting for something to happen. After awhile, I could’ve swore his hands began to move up and down the guitar neck. I watched him play along with himself for an unseemly amount of time. I realize now that I was hallucinating from lack of sleep, but at the time it seemed that my “spreading the good word” had reaped some sort of supernatural benefit. Later on, my friend and I took out the Ouija board I’d stolen from my grandparents’ house. It was decades old and didn’t have a pointer. My friend went to the bathroom, leaving the door open and allowing my dog to dart in. She proceeded to stare directly at the poster and bark violently. The dog was inconsolable and quite frankly, freaking me the fuck out; but I couldn’t help but feel that I’d found “god.”
Much of my teenage years revolved around the idea that Kurt would protect me from trouble. This notion stemmed from a series of “coincidences” in which I’d find myself involved in some sort of calamity, usually a car accident or a situation that involved police officers. My friends and I were always “spared,” crashing into misfortune, but never burning. As we’d drive away, Nirvana would play on the radio, as if on cue. Caught trespassing? Police sent us on our way and “Dumb” would play. Pulled over with four people in a two-seater? A warning and “Aneurysm.” My friends and I attributed this luck to my devotion to “the truth.” It had nothing to do with the fact that Nirvana is one of the most esteemed bands in pop culture and that KRock would play something from their discography at least once an hour.
I went off to college and would give brief, stoned bathroom lectures on Cobain’s unfortunate fate, but eventually things like schoolwork and boyfriends lead me down another path. I never stopped “believing,” but I did stop preaching. As I aged, I became less fanatic about everything and more concerned with, “I have bills to pay” or “I need to buy groceries again.” I ran out of the time and patience required to argue conspiracy theories on my Facebook wall every time I wanted to post a video of Kurt’s acoustic set on Unplugged. The only remnant I kept from my teen years is a beat up Kurt Cobain t-shirt I bought from a headshop when I was 14. I wear it once a week, on Sundays. Brunch is my church.
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Try something today. Count how many times someone brings up some sort of mental illness in normal conversation. Add that number up and tell me it doesn’t strike you as kind of weird how many normal people walk around with the belief that there is something wrong with them.
She assumed it was jewelry. Every year he gets her a charm for her gold chain or a pair of dangly earrings.
Fall if you will, but rise you must.
You may lose what would have been the joy of the experience had you not been so focused on some fabricated idea or unrealistic expectation you had of how it was going to turn out.