In 1994 Kurt Cobain faked his own suicide. 22 years later he’s ending his self-imposed exile.
This is part 6 of an ongoing serial fiction. Part 1 can be found here.
The unfamiliar email in my inbox is from email@example.com and the subject line reads “Merry Christmas.” Talk about ridiculous! First of all it’s March so wishing someone a merry Christmas is just plain silly. It’s the email address itself that stands out however. How could Kurt expect anyone to take him seriously with an email address like that? Then again, I guess as a dead celebrity, one that is loved by millions, he doesn’t really have to worry about that kind of thing.
If you aren’t an uber-Nirvana fan allow me to explain. “Negative Creep” is the title of one of his simplest, but hardest rocking songs. It’s an early Nirvana tune that comes off the Bleach album and it has all of 4 or 5 lyrics, one of the most prominent being, “I’m a negative creep and I’m stoned!” The 94 would be referring to 1994, the year Kurt led the world to believe he killed himself.
It seems weird that those two ideas are what Kurt wants to remind people of every time he sends an email. If I hadn’t met the man in the flesh just a few weeks prior, I would have certainly dismissed the email as spam and ignored it. Instead I click on it. It reads:
Happy Sharkweek Jonas!
Have you heard the good news? The Virgin Mary was actually a dude! His real name was the Virgin Marvin. The whole thing boils down to a typo in the Bible. Just thought you should know.
It was cool to talk other day – or two weeks ago more accurately – you know, about all that sober bullshit. Let’s do it again sometime soon. Are you available to come up to the house? Maybe Friday?
I’ve been meaning to change my email address to something slightly less ridiculous but John hasn’t gotten around to it. I’m all thumbs when it comes to the puters’! Yee-haw!
I immediately write back that I’ll be there on Friday, heartened by the knowledge that I’ve somehow connected with the man. He’s at least thought about our conversation at some point. It would be disingenuous to dismiss the man’s fame entirely, but it almost doesn’t matter that he’s Kurt Cobain. It’s connecting with a human about something really personal that feels good.
I also dig the free-association thing he’s doing in his email. The game – like with the reference to Sharkweek – where he takes stupid shit seriously. I sign my reply with the sincere hope that he has a fantastic Lobsterfest at his favorite participating Red Lobster and further, that he’s able to enjoy as many Cheddar Bay biscuits TM as he can for the length of the promotional period – not just part of the promotional period – all of it.
This idle rumination about our connection is not to last however as later in the afternoon I get a text from Martin, who delivers the news that I’m set to interview Dave Grohl. Ironically or perhaps not so ironically the meeting will be on Friday afternoon. The same day Kurt and I were to get together. Shit.
On Friday morning we get together at Kurt’s house before the meeting with Dave to review the plan. Since we last spoke about it two weeks ago, the operation has gotten fairly complex. The team consists of me, Kurt, John and two new guys; two fit, ex-military looking dudes that will be posing as a video crew. They are dressed as plainly as can be imagined: jeans, Nike running shoes, and t-shirts. We stand around a worktable looking down at the layout of Dave’s house as John explains everything. My part seems fairly straightforward. When we break John presents me with a button-hole camera to wear. He takes a few minutes to show me how to rig it up and just as importantly, make sure it’s recording.
Before long we load up into two cars. John and Kurt in an Escalade with tinted windows and then myself and the marines/camera crew dudes in a Prius. Our caravan journeys down the hill, where we head a mile or two East on Sunset Boulevard and then right back into the hills again. As we reach the top, the space between the houses gets larger and the hedges more imposing. I look back; the Escalade with Kurt and John in it has disappeared. We pull up to a driveway blocked by a substantial gate. No wrought iron see-through shit here, this gate is solid wood and at least 12 feet tall, connected to a fence that’s just as tall. I gotta admit the fence has been tastefully done, with planters along the top as well as interspersed at regular intervals.
Mark, the camera dude that’s driving, pushes the buzzer and announces our arrival. The gate opens and we park in a driveway that could probably fit 10 cars if it had to, but at the moment there are probably 4 total. The house is big but unremarkable. I mean, it’s nice, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just like a regular wood house as opposed to a palatial manor type thing, which is what I was honestly kind of expecting.
As we get out of the car when we see a door open, out of which comes Dave and the beefy looking rocker dude that we had expected, Sonny. We are counting on him being the only member of security.
“Victimless Crime in the house!” Dave shouts as he walks towards us. He gives us the ridiculous devil’s horn salute and sticks out his tongue in an exaggerated gesture. I smile and pantomime the gesture back at him. When in Rome. . .
“Victimless Crime! I love it. You guys have never interviewed me before right? Welcome to mi casa!” Dave says.
“Nope. Not that I’m aware of,” I extend my hand. “Jonas Lapkus nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you too, dude!” Dave says. “This is Sonny.” He gestures toward his companion.
I introduce Mark and Tim, the camera crew dudes and we all shake hands.
“I wasn’t expecting a camera crew.” Dave says skeptically.
“Honestly I wasn’t either. Martin told me about them, like literally this morning.” I explain.
“Well, I guess we’ll just have to improvise,” Dave says in his perma-optimist puppy-dog like manner.
We file past a big patio area with a grill set-up, through a side door and down a hallway into a big living room/reception area. From looking at the drawing earlier I know this room is right next to the home studio, the studio that houses the Sound City mixing board.
As we are settling into place, Dave offers us drinks. I don’t take anything but Mark takes a beer. Dave and Sonny seem to already have beers started. I note, prude that I am that it’s not yet 4 in the afternoon. Tim from our crew, announces that he’s forgotten a bag in the car. He doubles back and goes outside. Then its Mark’s turn. He asks to use the toilet. Sonny explains where the studio toilet is and Mark exits the room.
Dave and I have a little back and forth about where would make the best framing. There are multiple gold records framed on the walls as well as Foo Fighter posters, and all sorts of other paraphernalia from his other exploits, Them Crooked Vultures, etc. I make sure to make the most of them as I frame the camera shot.
“Right on man, so thanks for coming,” Dave says amiably.
“Oh course, of course. Thank you for making the time,” I say. God, I sound so obsequious! I guess because I know I’m being disingenuous. Honestly I’ve never felt too strongly about the Foos or Dave Grohl in general. I just never really paid them all that much attention, as difficult as that has become of late, just because the dude has been fucking showing up everywhere.
Tim comes back into the room with the bag he intentionally forgot in the car. Now it’s time for Mark to do his thing.
Right on cue, he comes running into the room, “Guys! Jeez I’m sorry! There’s something wrong with the toilet! It’s overflowing!”
“Oh Christ, are you serious?” Dave says.
“I’m so sorry,” Mark says. “I didn’t do anything unusual. I just flushed and the next thing I know there’s water everywhere.”
“Sonny, can you check that out for me, please?”
I almost laugh when I see the look Sonny gives Dave. “Are you serious?” he asks.
“Dude! What? Do you expect me to do it?” Dave asks.
“How about we have a plumber look at it? Do I look like a plumber?” Sonny shouts.
I knew Mark was going to sabotage the toilet, but Sonny’s refusal to attend to it is an unexpected delight. Good stuff!
Mark chimes in, “Guys, I’m so sorry. I’ll go see if I can’t stop it from overflowing.”
“You heard the man! The thing is leaking! Just make sure it doesn’t flood the fucking studio!”
“Dave, I really think this is best handled by a professional.” Sonny says hands held aloft in a supplicating gesture.
“Sonny! Get the fuck up there or you’re fired!” Dave says, flatly.
Sonny, face goes beet red. He looks about ready to explode but he catches his breath and marches toward the door in apparent acquiescence. This is good. This is what we needed him to do.
It’s now time for me to ask for a tour of the studio. I wait a couple of seconds for Dave to cool off. So much for the calm and collected, chilled-out Dave-Grohl-bro! One overflowing toilet caused the fight of the century, like the two of them were ready to snap and all they needed was an excuse. It’s not every day you get a show like that.
Dave’s face is still flush. “Well you think you know someone,” He says.
“Jeez, sorry to cause such trouble.” I say. I am having a really hard time not cracking up. This is pretty fucking choice.
“Nah, don’t sweat it,” he says shaking his head. He takes a pull from his beer. “I guess I got some personnel issues to work out.”
“I don’t know if this is a bad time, but I was wondering, would you mind giving me a peek at the studio? At the sound city board?”
Dave seems to snap back to it. “Of course, dude! That’s what you’re here for. Come on! Let’s do it.”
“Again, so sorry for all the fuss.” I say.
“Forget about it,” he says getting off the couch. “Follow me.”
As Dave and I go through the door into the hallway, I tell Tim to wait there. “Go ahead and keep setting up. We’ll be right back,” this was my signal to him that I’m proceeding with the plan.
The first door we come to is the control room, where he and I need to be for this to work. We walk though, check, and sure enough there’s the Sound City board in all its massiveness.
“Here she is…” Dave says, playing tour guide, “the one and only. Ain’t she a beaut?”
“Amazing, “ I say.
Like in studio set-ups I’ve seen in movies and TV, there is a large thick glass window that looks out on a room with walls lined with sound insulation.
“So this is the control room and out there,” I gesture, “is where you mic the actual instruments?”
“Yup, exactly,” He says flipping a switch on the wall that lights the mostly empty room. “And over here to the left,” he says flipping another switch, “is the vocal booth.
The next sound I hear is Dave’s beer bottle hitting the thinly carpeted floor with a thud.
In the closet-like vocal booth, the light reveals a very-much not dead Kurt Cobain. He stands there looking scary in the sharply angled spot-light coming down from the ceiling. He’s staring intently at Dave with those piercing blue eyes of his.
I make sure to register the look on Dave’s face. He’s completely slack-jawed.
“What… the… fuck…” he says.
You’ve just read the sixth installment of “Kurt Cobain Lives.” If you liked what you read, how about leaving a comment? You can read Part 7 here.