All Atrocities, or, Corporate Comic Strips Still Suck!
You want to challenge yourself? Try writing a funny take on the whole Nirvana/Cobain situation without coming across like you’re making light of it.
Not surprisingly, Richard Lee, long known to Seattle Public Access TV viewers as “That Kurt Cobain Was Murdered guy,” has sued the Seattle PD over the newly-released photos. Because if there’s one thing That Kurt Cobain Was Murdered Guy wants us all to remember, it’s that he, and no one else, is That Kurt Cobain Was Murdered Guy.
Still, he is trying to honor Cobain’s memory, in his own tinfoil-hatted way; he just does it by harassing Krist Novoselic and ranting at unflattering camera angles.
Insensitive responses to Kurt Cobain’s death are nothing new; I remember the day his body was found, when I was at work and heard the news from Seattle’s KNDD. My manager asked how I felt about it, to which I responded that I was “kinda bummed.” Which is true – even leaving aside his personal issues, I was a fan of his music, and this meant that there would be no follow-up to the spectacular “In Utero.” My manager took that response and ran with it; over the following days and weeks, he would share with me every copycat suicide, asking if I was going to do the same. He would report to me every time drug addict Rush Limbaugh or chickenhawk Ted Nugent found new ways to take glee in the fact that, y’know, a guy is dead. And all because I admitted that I was “kinda bummed.”
I don’t claim to have any special insight into Cobain’s mentality, especially at the end, but there have been quite a few attempts to pay tribute that seem, even from my outside perspective, to be in spectacularly poor taste.
You may remember the digital zombie puppetry of Guitar Hero 5, featuring a digital avatar of Cobain that, once unlocked, could be used on any song in the game, leading to the surreal sight of Cobain shimmying to songs by Bon Jovi and Public Enemy.
Cobain’s hometown of Aberdeen, Washington, a place for which he had little-to-no affection, really did dedicate a statue of Cobain last week, with a single cement tear running down its cheek. The town has lately embraced its
only most famous son, adding the words “Come As You Are” to the sign that greets visitors, and declaring February 20, Cobain’s birthday, “Kurt Cobain Day.” The creator of the statue, Randi Hubbard, first created the statue not long after Cobain’s death; at the time, Krist Novoselic promised to “knock down” the statue and claimed it would become “a shrine for idolaters to prostrate themselves in front of and a beacon for reactionaries to shake their fists at while cursing.” Novoselic is one of the few people who can claim to have insight into Cobain’s mentality, and I tend to agree with him on this subject.
I’m less inclined to empathize with Courtney Love, who still wants to see a Nirvana-based musical happen, elevating the band to the rarefied level of Whitesnake and ABBA. Love promises “There will be no jazz hands on ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’,” which is a mental image I didn’t have until she gave it to me. Still, I’m sure her very-tasteful plans are due to her sincere wish to honor her late husband’s spirit, and not at all because heroin and plastic surgery aren’t cheap.
So maybe it’s not a bad thing that Nirvana nostalgia comes with a built-in cutoff date. If you start from the release of Bleach in 1989, that still gives you five good years of reissues and Rolling Stone supplements, before it’s time to stick the flannel back in the closet. So I’ll see you all in 2019, when we can once again start chuckling uncomfortably at lines like “and I swear that I don’t have a gun.” Just, whatever you do, don’t admit that you’re “kinda bummed,” or you’ll never hear the end of it.