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Kurt Cobain

By Devora

Kurt Cobain

"Rape me, my friend
Rape me again
I'm not the only one
Hate me
Do it and do it again.
Waste me
Taste me, my friend"

"Rape Me"

Kurt Cobain will always have a special place in my heart. right next to the Inferior Vena Cava.

I HATED "Smells Like Teen Spirit." I thought (and still do) that it is the height of rock-star pretension to intentionally obscure the lyrics to your own song. It just screams "I'm a self-important assh**e who is too good to lower myself to acknowledging the existence of my fans." This turned me off to Nirvana for a while, until small town American corporate rock radio discovered other songs on the album. I did not see the video for "Smells Like Teen Spirit" until three years after it first hit heavy rotation on MTV. It's more of a challenge then I care to engage in to get MTV if you have no television (the first smarty-pants who sends me diagrams and detailed explanations how to get cable through my molars gets 50 lashes with a wet poodle). Yes, Virginia, you can survive for long periods of time without a television. No, it doesn't entitle you for hardship pay. Once I finally did enter the 20th century and spent some time damaging brain cells by watching MTV, I saw the video. It was far from what I expected. I was struck by how.sweet and vulnerable Kurt Cobain looked. During part of the video he had this sweet, shy half-smile that really tugged on my cynical, hardened heart. He looked like a little boy. I was immediately hooked. The song "Lithium" also moved me firmly into the pro-Nirvana camp. Any band that writes an ode to heavy antipsychotics is a band I can enjoy listening to.

For those readers who cut your rock teeth on Kid Rock and Garbage, a bit of background is necessary here. Before Nirvana ushered in the Age of Grunge, Hair Rock was king. You know the ones I refer to, if only from your parents album collection: Poison, Warrant, Motley Crue, Winger (whose orthodontist won the Lifetime Achievement Award - Kip Winger has the most perfect teeth in the history of rock and roll). I hold these bands personally responsible for the hole in the ozone layer. If these boys had been able to control their inhalant addiction and kept their hairspray use down to one can every OTHER day, we wouldn't be in the shape we're in. The required uniform for these bands (they were all issued uniforms from central casting) was eyeliner, lipstick, hair teased out to here (the higher the hair, the closer to SATAN), skin tight clothing, and a half-naked stripper on each arm. Marrying them is not required, unless you are in Motley Crue. Into this choking cloud of Aqua-Net, cocaine and pheromones walked Nirvana, with their jeans-and-flannel-shirt concert costume and their decidedly low-tech stage show. Video killed the radio star, and Nirvana killed the hair bands. For this, we all owe Kurt Cobain our eternal gratitude.

Every generation and every individual has one "where I was" moment. It's that moment when you got the news, and you will always remember where you were, what you were doing. For my grandparents, that was Pearl Harbor. For my parents, it was the assassination of John F. Kennedy. For me, it was Kurt Cobain's suicide. (That may sound like the height of Gen.X pretentiousness, but bear with me for a minute.) I will always remember where I was when I heard about his death. I was driving home from my bookstore job in Cincinnati, Ohio. It hit me a lot harder than I had expected. It took me a long time and a lot of thought before I could crystallize why I was so upset about the suicide of a rock star. Kurt's songs, Nirvana songs, were bleak, cynical, violent, and often disturbed. But they sold a LOT of albums. Kurt Cobain was a very rich man. From my vantage point, he was thumbing his nose at our society, at our superficial, trend-driven culture. It was as if he were saying "I made fun of you, insulted you to your face, picked on your sacred cows, and not only did you listen to me, you bought my records in droves." He hated this society as much as the rest of us did. He was one of us freaks, doing what we always wanted to do, and getting rich doing it. And if he could do it, so could we. He gave me hope that maybe we could win in this David Vs. Goliath fight against conformity and the pink world.

And then he swallowed the gun.

I have gone back and forth on my feelings about Kurt's death. (I won't even go into the paranoid theory that Courtney hired someone to kill him.) Some days, I wonder what the point is in even trying. Kurt was rich, he was successful, and none of it helped. His money and fame didn't insulate him from the hopelessness of trying to change this mandatory conformity society we live in. If he can't, what kind of pretentious idiot would I be if I kept beating my head into that wall?

Other days, I watch his videos and I get angry, for very personal reasons. Kurt Cobain was a rock star, but he was also a husband and a father. He CHOSE heroin and a shotgun over his wife and newborn child. He made a conscious decision to abandon his family in the cruelest way possible. Kurt, if you didn't want to be a rock star anymore, fine. If you wanted to go live in a hut in Montana and never pick up the guitar again, that would be OK too. But you have a responsibility to your wife and child that supercedes your desire for opiates. Your family comes before your addiction, your ego, and your vanity. I'm sorry that you had such a rough time with your heroin addiction that you felt the only way out was to end it all. However, what you did to your wife and daughter was just plain WRONG. I had hoped you were a better man than that.

Devora lives in the midwest. Overeducated and unemployed, she now works as a glorified secretary at the state Deaf School while she decides which career path to send her life careening down next.

Comments? Questions? Gripes, groans or moans? Send them to Devora.

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