In 1994 Kurt Cobain faked his own suicide. 22 years later he’s ending his self-imposed exile.
“So, first off, we’re gonna need access. And that’s where you come in, Martin,” Kurt says.
“But he doesn’t have a record coming out currently. He’s not doing publicity.” Martin replies, referring to Dave Grohl.
“You’re ‘Victimless Crime,’ for Christ’ sake. I’m sure as the editor of an essential music blog, you can come up with something,” Kurt says.
Martin nods. He’ll figure out how to get us in.
“The meeting needs to be at his house,” Kurt says, spinning around in his desk chair and grabbing a rolled up paper tube. He pulls off the rubber-band and unrolls the contents. “And this is what I’m thinking. We’ll know more once we know what pretext we’re using to get you in there,” Kurt says looking at me, “but this is how I’m hoping it will go down. . .” He kneels on the floor, pinning down one end of an architectural drawing with his knee as he unrolls it towards me.
I drop onto the floor as well and hold the opposite side of the drawing. It’s the layout of Dave Grohl’s house. Kurt’s manner is transformed. He’s already way more upbeat today compared to yesterday, but now that we are plotting an invasion of Dave Grohl’s home, he’s absolutely giddy.
“If you enter the house, here,” he points at the entryway, “you’ll most likely sit down to talk here, which is where he normally meets with people from the media.” He looks up at me to make sure I’m following him, which I am. Kurt looks like a 12-year-old boy that’s team captain for a game of Capture the Flag. “What I’m thinking is this. . .”
I have to wonder how Kurt would know where in his own home Dave would meet people? Or, for that matter, how he got an architectural plan for the dude’s house! He’s clearly been gathering intel for some time. I guess there’s not much you can’t do when you’ve got Nirvana money.
An hour and a half later, we have a plan. Martin and I have our marching orders. It’s up to me to come up with a series of questions for Dave regarding Weezer’s album “Pinkerton,” which is 20 years old this year and, like Nevermind and a number of Foo Fighter records, it was recorded at Sound City Studios. Sound City as any Foo Fighters fan knows, is an absolute obsession of his. He’s also a Weezer fan, which is something Dave and I have in common.
It’s actually not that tall of an order, for me as I know quite a bit about early Weezer. In fact, I’ve gone back and forth over the years, trying to decide whether Pinkerton or the Blue album is the better record. The answer is the Blue album but I’m still a fan of the former.
As we get up to head back toward our cars, Martin steps away to use the bathroom.
“Must get lonely up here,” I venture. “Not being able to go out and all.”
“You’d be surprised what I can do,” Kurt says with a smile.
“Was the outfit we saw you in yesterday standard issue?” referring to the ridiculous okie beard he wore as part of his disguise.
“I was feeling a little lazy yesterday, but we definitely get more elaborate than that. There’s a Middle-eastern-sheik-thing we’ve done… I could go just about anywhere dressed like that and nobody would be the wiser.”
“Cool, because the way you were dressed yesterday, you could probably singlehandedly re-ignite the Hatfield/McCoy feud, if you felt like it.” It’s a lame joke but it’s all that comes to mind.
“Ha, yeah probably,” Kurt chuckles politely. It’s one of those awkward moments when we both know our business is concluded and we are just killing time before saying our farewells.
Instead of silence, I figure ‘fuck it’ and speak, “Hey, feel free to tell me to shut the fuck up here, this is obviously none of my business. . .”
“What’s none of your business?”
“Well, I used hard drugs for a long time.”
“Yeah, I’m wondering if you are sober now?”
“Well obviously I quit the heroin a long time ago,” he says.
“Why is that obvious? I mean I don’t know you from Adam. I only know what the rest of the world thinks they know about you.”
“True. But the fact that we are standing here having this conversation is evidence that I’m not using. If I were, believe me, we wouldn’t be talking.”
“Yeah man, I hear that. Dope is definitely a commitment.”
“That’s for fuck’s sake sure,” he says.
From experience, I know this is the part of the “sober” conversation where there’s a potential for things to get rocky.
I go to AA meetings to stay sober. Believe me, if I could have figured out another way to do it, I would have, because in my opinion, being a “joiner” – or a part of a group in general – just isn’t all that cool. Going to AA was my last fucking resort. I’d tried everything else. If there were a drug that could have kept me off drugs, I would have taken it in a fucking second. Since that time, I’ve come to see the benefit of the human aspect of the program, of the interpersonal dynamic if you will, but, despite my generally good impression, I’m aware that there are some people in AA that can be pretty judgmental, particularly about the quality of another person’s sobriety.
For that reason, it’s a vulnerable moment whenever you reveal your AA affiliation. However somebody manages to get through their day without drugs, 12-step program or no, is a victory in my mind. If you can stay sober on your own? More power to you.
Kurt apparently doesn’t feel the need to elaborate on his answer however, which is cool. It just leaves us at a conversational impasse so to speak. The silence is too much for me.
“So are you listening to anything good these days?” I venture.
Kurt looks into my eyes intently. The intensity of his gaze is disarming. It’s feels like an assault. I have to try hard to not give in to my instinctive reaction to look away. “So, how long have you been sober?” he asks.
“Um, like over 5 years now, but at the end, man. . . It wasn’t even dope that beat me. It was everything but the dope, you know? The heroin, that shit is what it is, it’s a known quantity or whatever that expression is. . . It was everything else that got to be too much, know what I mean?”
He nods and closes his eyes at the same time. It’s an oddly affective gesture of understanding. “Oh man, I know. Believe me, I know,” he says.
And I believe he does. Martin comes out from the bathroom and we head back toward the main house.
On the ride home, I forget about being angry with Martin for trying to cut me out of the picture. I feel like I’ve made a human connection, which is a great feeling, even when it’s not with your childhood hero. The fact that it was with Kurt fucking Cobain is almost beside the point.
I spend the next day writing my interview questions for Dave Grohl, which is a cinch for me. Then the hard part comes, which is waiting for news of my appointment. One week passes and then another. I almost forget all the ridiculousness, the fact that I am going to do a pseudo interview with the front man of the Foo Fighters, as well as the fact that it’s all just a ruse so that a not-deceased Kurt Cobain will have an opportunity to sneak into his house. That is, almost. I almost forget.
And then one morning I sit down at my computer with my cup of coffee and there’s a message in my inbox. It’s from firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Who the fuck has a hotmail address anymore?” I wonder.
You’ve just read the fifth installment of “Kurt Cobain Lives.” If you liked what you read, how about leaving a comment? You can read Part 6 here.