Shouting the Poetic Truths of High School Journal Keepers

Sunday, April 09, 2006

April 9, 1994

Yesterday marked too important events in the grand scheme of life. For starters, it was Shanna's birthday. Secondly, and probably more importantly (though not to take anything away from Shanna), NIRVANA lead singer Kurt Cobain (which is an anagram for "ROCKIN' TUBA") was found dead in his home, an apparent suicide. This is not something that you can just hear & brush off like most celebrity deaths, because most celebrity deaths occur when the star already lived most of his/her life, or in the rare case of, say, River Phoenix, who died last fall of a drug overdoes, well ... I don't think he meant as much, at least to me, as someone like Cobain. I find it ironic that in the Jan 27, 1994, issue of Rolling Stone, the interview with Cobain makes the following remarks:

"he's never been happier in his life"
"his life is pretty good. And getting better."
"I'm a much happier guy than a lot of people think I am"
"every month, I come to more optimistic conclusions"

Jesus, and nobody realizes this. While listening to In Utero last night and the Katherine Johns1 WLS-AM talk show on Generation X, it became obvious that everyone thought of Cobain as (as he put it) "this pissy, complaining freaked-out schizophrenic who wants to kill himself all the time." And sure, he had a heroin addiction (due mostly to his stomach ailments) and he was uncomfortable with fame, but this isn't how he was all the time. I mean, he got married (to Courtney Love, of the band Hole) and had a daughter (Frances Bean) and as the interview indicates, was finally beginning to piece his life together. I was looking forward to a new Nirvana album, which Cobain envisioned as "pretty, ethereal, acoustic, like R.E.M.'s last album." He was recovering from his addiction ... that is, until early last month, when he fell into a two-day coma in Rome by overdosing on some Italian drug2 & champagne. And, of course, just days ago, it was announced that Nirvana wouldn't perform at Lollapalooza '94 ... that seems fairly obvious now. So I suppose he has been falling back into his past life recently. But it just seems like so many people don't understand the real, complex Kurt Cobain. I don't admit to being a huge Nirvana fan, but I think that I understand better than most.3 It was just such a tragic shock...
-JMC 11:05 AM

1 sic: The WLS host's first name was Catherine. What's most interesting to me about this part of the entry is how, in the pre-Internet days, the first place I turned for instant discussion and analysis was talk radio, where the perspective was understandably skewed. Man, I would've loved an online community that night.

2 Huh?

3 Okay, so here's the really weird thing about this entry: how did I really "understand" Kurt Cobain? Because I read a Rolling Stone interview with him three months before he died? I mean, I seem to be pretty frustrated with the mainstream media, but the position I'm coming from is the only-slightly-less mainstream media. And since I really wasn't a huge Nirvana fan -- I mean, as a 15-year-old burgeoning rock fan, I owned both Nevermind and In Utero, naturally, but they weren't like my favorite band or anything -- reading this entry makes me cynically speculate that the emotional effect Cobain's death had on me was just so media-influenced. I think I really wanted to identify with Generation X (I'd read the Coupland book, seen Reality Bites, etc.) -- despite being on the tail end of it (most demographers don't extend Gen X past 1981) -- and so the effect of Kurt's suicide was more symbolic than genuinely emotional: "This is my generation's hero, you adults don't understand." I'd never had anyone I could've said that about, and it probably made my life seem important.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

April 6, 1992

MICHIGAN vs. DUKE or DUKE vs. MICHIGAN -- take your pik!1 -- (Hint: They're the same) Baseball starts today w/ the CINCINNATI Reds taking on the Padres of the city of San Diego You've gotta admit both teams have improved - The Padres solidified (What a cool word) their infield & the Reds did the same w/ pitching & outfield. So, the Sox play 2morrow vs. CALIFORNIA -- I wuz reading the TV guide -- Hell, what else am I gonna do -- I wuz bored -- And on Tuesday on the CBS Schoolbreak Special or whatever the hell it's called -- They have this show called - "Different Worlds: A Story of Interracial Love" -- Hey, U know I'm taping -- It sez - two high school students who witness a murder during a robbery form an immediate bond, but their different cultures, blah blah -- God I hope it's a white guy & a black girl!2
-JMC 12:28

I'm here at lunch talking to Steve and Plato, which is actually Aar0n M@rsh under an assumed name. That's fine and good, but now I've got to go.
JMC 12:54

This is science -- Salv1a Sm1th's mom is our substitute -- I wuz at Chris T0desc0's hourse on Saturday cuz he had this confirmation party -- only 4 people showed up -- I wuz playing some of my songs!3 -- I played "Bohemian Rhapsody" & Michael & Ian were like, "What is this?" & I say, "BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY - QUEEN, #9, 1976, #24, 1992"4 They were cracking up -- Michael told me his favorite group was Boyz II Men, at least he's listening to pop music5 -- What else? Probably nothing -- This VCR - $129 or NUTTIN'6
-JMC 1:42

1 My pick was Michigan, because I liked the Fab Five and couldn't stand Duke, who seemed just as spoiled as the New York Yankees later in the decade. (Two years prior, after a screening of Joe Vs. the Volcano on my birthday, it was announced that Duke had beaten UConn in the quarterfinals, and my friends proceeded to mock me by singing "Duke of Earl" in the car on the way home (wtf).) The whole week before the 1992 final, my 8th-grade English teacher wrote "Go Duke!" on the chalkboard -- I think she had a son who'd gone there -- which I would try to erase, along with the kids who altered her daily "P.M.A." (Positive Mental Attitude) reminder on the other side of the board by substituting an "S" for the "A."

2 It wasn't. As hinted in other entries, I was obsessed around this time with interracial romance and especially with white male/black female pairs, triggered by a dream that I had in 7th grade in which I kissed an African American girl in the school boiler room.

3 I don't know what "played my songs" means -- most likely, I brought a cassette tape with songs I'd taped off the radio, although part of me wondered at first if I'd sat down at the piano at Chris's house.

4 By this point, I was an inveterate chart-watcher. By the way, the song actually made it all the way to #2 on the Hot 100 in 1992 when all was said and done, propelled by its iconic appearance in the Wayne's World movie. It was deeply weird to hear it every night on the B96 countdown, next to the usual dance-pop tracks the station generally favored -- as if Queen were this total one-hit-wonder novelty band.

5 This is an interesting reaction to me, because on one hand, "pop music" can be seen as sort of lowest common denominator, what you listen to when you're not adventurous enough to seek anything else out, since all you have to do is turn on the radio. But clearly as a 13-year-old, I felt like my pop-culture savvy elevated me above the out-of-touch nerds I hung out with. A sense of coolness at that age was still dictated by mainstream culture: you're either with it or you're not.

6 Probably parroting some long-forgotten TV commercial.