I would like to share some of the memories and perceptions I have concerning this unique, rare and original human being called Kurt Cobain. I knew Kurt during his teen-age years in the period from about 1979 to 1984. I was in my mid-30s and living in and near Montesano. My sister married Kurt’s dad, Don, and also lived in Montesano. My grandfather comprehended the intelligence and individuality in Kurt at a time when Kurt was being beaten down mentally and physically. “Gramps” often told me of his respect for Kurt’s tenacity and compassion even though he was in emotional pain.
Shortly before Gramps died, he had been talking about Kurt. He looked at me and said words to the effect that he could see a nobility about Kurt that he had never seen in anyone in all his 70 years. One time, Gramps invited Kurt along on one of our steelhead fishing trips. We were spread out a few hundred feet apart along the Wynooche River. All of a sudden, we heard this horrendous combination of screaming, warbling and yodeling from Kurt, who was upstream and out of sight. Gramps told me to run up there and help Kurt, who must have hooked a big fish.
When I reached Kurt, he didn’t even have his line in the water. When I asked him what was going on, he just looked t me with those piercing eyes and huge grin. He said, “Oh, I’m just trying to thicken my vocal chords so I can scream better! ” When I went back to Gramps to tell him, he just grinned and said, “It figures, We’ll just let him be! ” We can now say, “Thank you, Kurt, for thickening your vocal chords! ” Kurt didn’t fit the general mold of society in a logging town, and so he was beaten upon by people who didn’t understand him.
One day I heard that he was in a fight a few blocks away. When I ran to the scene, the fight was over. However, I heard from a friend that Kurt was assaulted by a burly, 250-pound logger type. Evidently, Kurt did not even fight; he just presented the bully with the appropriate hand gesture everytime he was knocked down until the bully gave up. To top it all off, Kurt just had that usual grin on his face! A final footnote to this small remembrance of Kurt: A wonderful picture comes to mind of a rare, sunny day when I peeked out the window into the yard.
There was Kurt with some kind of contraption on his head. It resembled a tinfoil hat. He was sneaking around the yard, followed by about half a dozen laughing toddlers. Kurt had the million dollar grin on his face, and I could tell he was definitely n “nirvana. ” I guess you could say he was the “pied piper” of compassion. I hope that these little examples of happiness will help to show that even though Kurt experienced pain in his teen-age years he still did not let that pain stop him from loving life as fully as he could. We should never condemn Kurt for leaving us.
We should instead look inward and thank him for loving us enough to share his feelings. Let us learn that no amount of pain will ever stop us from loving life. We must all maintain respect for the signifigance of our own lives, as well as the lives of others. Larry Smith: Kurt’s uncle by marriage Here is a little glimpse of a happy side of Kurt. A measure of the kind of Man he was, even when he was about 15 years old: Old Man Reeves was this kind of eccentric guy who lived on Sylvia Street in Montesano. He was a loner and kids used to really give him a bad time, and do cruel things to him.
He would come out on his porch and shake his fist at his tormentors and scream profanities. We (myself included, when I was younger) just loved it. Sometimes kids would throw rocks and break his windows or pull up his flowers (myself not included, thank goodness). He was known for a couple of generations of kids as a real weird and ean guy, even though in actuality he was not. The tormenting went on through quite a few years, and a new group of kids would take over for the old. Kurt, however, changed the tradition. When he was running around with Matt Lukin (I think now of Mudhoney?? , Kurt saw the usual group of guys giving Old Man Reeves a hassle.
He literally screamed at these guys to leave Old Man Reeves alone. He was so emotional about it (as only Kurt could be) that he stopped these kids in their tracks. They just dropped their jaws as Kurt walked up to Mr. Reeves, put his arm around him, and led him into the house. From that point on, Kurt had tea with Old Man Reeves quite often. The fact that someone was becoming a friend with Old Man Reeves sort of took the “fun” out of tormenting the elderly man, and there was never quite as much hassle for the guy.
A simple story, but it shows Kurt’s sense of humility, compassion, and individuality… (I am describing this as I remember it. It was related to me by my friend Greg Moore of Montesano). If this stuff is interesting to you folks, please know that I have a bunch of memories of Kurt from those years I knew him. I was NOT his greatest buddy or anything, but we had some fun together. Although I was in my 30’s at the time (1978 to about 1984), I can tell you that he was an unbelievable kid. Absolute compassion. I miss him. Please let me know if you would like to hear some more about Kurt from my perspective. Gramps” (my grandfather) and I used to take a lot of hikes up the Wynoochee River headwaters into the Olympic National Park. He was a great naturalist and it was a joy to be able to accompany him into the mountain meadows.
When Kurt was about 13 or 14, Gramps and I were driving through Montesano on our way to the Wynoochee Valley uto drive up to the valley head. Well, here it was, arly in the morning, and Kurt was out walking up Third Street. Gramps stopped the pickup and yelled Hello to Kurt. Kurt was lost in thought, so Gramp had to say something like “Hey Kurt! Wake Up! (I think that is exactly what he yelled at Kurt). I cannot forget that huge grin when Kurt looked at Gramps. He yelled back words to the effect of: “Hey Amos! Wake up yourself! ” (Amos was my grandfather’s middle name, and almost nobody got away with calling him that). Kurt told Gramps that he was out taking a hike up to Lake Sylvia State Park. Gramps told Kurt that he and I were on our way up the Wynoochee for a little iking ourselves. Gramps turned to me in the truck and asked if we ought to ask Kurt, and we agreed that we sure should. But Kurt said no, he was just taking a short stroll, and “thanks anyway”.
So, we headed down the street towards the highway. However, when Gramps looked in his rear view mirror, he just started howling with laughter… when I looked back, there was Kurt, doing these sort of jumping jacks and spinning around like a madman. He noticed that we slowed, so he motioned Gramps to come back. Typical of Kurt, he just hopped in and said: “Let’s go, Gramps! ” “Hello Larry! ” Gramps went back to his house and got another ack out of the garage. I drove us up to the Wynoochee with Gramps in the middle and Kurt on the passenger side of the truck.
I didn’t really talk much to Kurt, but he just jabbered all the way up the long, dusty drive up logging roads. I wish I could remember more of the things he said. I do know he talked about the cows and how “slow” they were. Also, I remember him asking Gramps why the Hell he didn’t have a radio in the truck! So, anyway, we drove up the logging roads up into the start of alpine meadows on the National Park border. We put our packs on, and Kurt immediately started bitching about his heavy pack. Hell, his pack was the lightest!
I don’t think he had more than my extra stocking hat and Gramps extra coat in it. Also, a plastic water bottle and some candy bars. I think he ate 3 of the candy bars before we even got going. We started up through the timberu up this very steep creek bed, with Kurt sliding and stumbling all over the place. He just groaned and complained the whole way up through the timberline. I do remember that when we broke out into the alpine meadows, Kurt was just stunned by the beauty. I distinctly remember his yelling something like: “Holy Shit! ” I do remember Gramps saying “Not bad, huh Kurt?
And, it sure was “not bad”, with the alpine flowers blooming, beautiful meadows, and little waterfalls. I went over to some trees to go to the bathroom, and when I came back to where Kurt and Gramps were, Kurt was sort of “grazing” down on the ground, looking at all these little flowers and eating dwarf blueberries. Gramps just winked at me and had this huge smile, and did one of those gestures where you take your index finger and spin it around your ear to say: “He’s nuts! ” I don’t remember too much more about the hike, at least in the perspective of what Kurt did.
We did go on up to Mt. Hoquiam, and I remember we had to do a lot of waiting for Kurt; sometimes he would be a few hundred yards behind! You just weren’t going to hurry Kurt, and that was all there was to it! You know, the most vivid memory of this hike was on the way down through the steep trees after we dropped off the edge of the meadows: we were sort of crashing and sliding down the very steep terrain. Kurt was off to my right side and I could see he was just sort of looking up into the treetops as he was walking. I just cringed when he really hit hard into a big mountain hemlock.
I mean, he really smashed into it. He sort of staggered over to me with this stupid grin on his face and said: “Boy, that kind of hurt. Got any more candy bars? ” I hope this story makes sense. As I said, these little memories are not earth- shattering, but at least give a glimpse into the essence of Kurt. I wish I would have kept contact with him for the past ten years, and not just because he became famous. He was hard to track down, and I tried a few times. I always wanted to sort of just sit down and talk about Gramps to him.
I did write him a letter when Gramps died, but I don’t think he ever got it. I miss the guy. He as so mellow and so comfortable, and so unpredictable A fun teenager and a brilliant mind. This little slice of time in Kurt’s life is an elaboration of the memory I had when my grandfather took Kurt and myself on one of his steelhead fishing trips to the Wynoochee River. I first related this at the memorial at the Seattle Center. I would like to be so bold as to add to what I remember here. I had related at the memorial that Kurt had been howling and screaming and generally making a lot of noise.
Gramps had told me to go upstream to find Kurt because he must have hooked into a big fish.. and, of course, you all know that he didn’t ven have his line in the water! He was just kicking back against a good sized rock in the sunshine, practicing his screaming so, as he put it: “I can strengthen my vocal cords”… Well, I need to relate that, driving up the Wynoochee Road to the fishing spot, Kurt was really just “talking up” about how he was going to really try to catch one of those big lunkers. I mean, he was nearly bragging about how he just knew he could cast his line probably even better than Gramps.
Of course he knew damn well that Gramps had been fishing for the difficult-to-catch steelheads for probably 40-plus years. He was just miling and “getting Gramps’ goat” with his comments. I wish I could remember the exact comments, but I don’t… sorry. Anyway, we went down the Anderson Creek road, which is gravel, and deadends about 100 yards from the river. From there, you have to walk through fairly thick brush to the gravel bar. Gramps got out of the truck on his side, and Kurt and I got out on the passenger side. Gramps told Kurt to “close the truck door solid, so it would close all the way. Of course, this was a cue for Kurt to overdo it.. he gave me that wild-eyed grin, took both hands, and just “cranked” on that door! Gramps jumped about a mile! Kurt just cracked up, and was bent over laughing at this stupid little trick! I mean, I didn’t think it was so funny, but Kurt sure thought HE was funny! Gramps told Kurt and I to hold our fishing poles backward, with the tip behind us, so we could get through the brush easier, explaining that if you hold it forward, it is hard to twist and turn through the heavy stuff.
Gramps led the way, I followed him, and Kurt was behind me. No sooner had we gone about 50 feet, and Kurt was somewhere behind us, squawking and bitching.. Gramps looked at me and said something like: “Christsakes, what’s he got screwed up now? ” We went back here, and Kurt was just tugging like a maniac on his fishing pole, which was caught in the weeds and the branches. Gramps said something like, “Well, I thought you were going to be the BEST fisherman here today, Kurt. You know, you have to make it to the river before you can even think about catching anything! Of course, now Kurt is a little pissed. He just looked away while Gramps cut away the absolute birds-nest of entangled nylon that Kurt had created with his impatient tugging and pulling… We got to the river, and Gramps pointed out to us to sort of start at the top end of the “hole” where the rapids hit the deep ater, and work our way down the hole with repeated casts, so as to “sweep” the whole area where a fish might lie. But, NO, NOT KURT! He said that he was going to search upstream to the next “hole” and do it on his own.
Gramps just grinned, shook his head, and said for Kurt to just go ahead and do his own thing. So, the last picture I had in my head was Kurt, stumbling up the gravel bar, fishing pole jerking around spasmodically every time he falf-slipped on rocks, heading for that “big fish” Now, I am back to where I was in the eulogy, with Kurt kicking back and “strengthening his vocal cords”. I noticed that his lure was ust sort of displayed on top of a rock, liked he had carefully placed it there so he could just sort of stare at it!
I am not sure, but I think that Kurt never did get his lure in the water that day. Whenever I saw him, he was just screwing off, looking at log jams, skipping rocks, and turning boulders over to look at the various creatures. I do remember thinking, “what a weirdo — came to do some fishing, bragged about his fishing ability ahead of time, then goes off to do something completely different! ” The only other thing that I remember with clarity is Gramps telling Kurt: “No, you can’t ride in the back of the truck. You might fall out. ” I assume Kurt must have asked to ride back there.
I know Kurt talked on the way back to Montesano, but I just don’t remember what he said… Well, that’s it. Kind of mundane, but, when I think back on it, a smile HAS to come to my face. (Please be aware that I have tried to be as accurate as possible, and that some of my quotes are only approximations of what I remember Kurt or Gramps saying – after all, this was 15 or 16 years ago). I hope that my descriptions will at least give you a “picture” of the the essence of Kurt’s actions, and that they show his very typical human nature… ell, SORT of typical… -) For those wondering if this really is Kurt’s uncle or not, a HSMB member had talked to an detective in Aberdeen to see if he really was Kurt’s uncle, he was verified as real and telling the truth. Kurt Cobain’s Sucide Note: To Boddah Speaking from the tongue of an experienced simpleton who obviously would rather be an emasculated, infantile complain-ee. This note should be pretty easy to understand. All the warnings from the punk rock 101 courses over the years, since my first introduction to the, shall we say, ethics involved with independence and the mbracement of your community has proven to be very true.
I haven’t felt the excitement of listening to as well as creating music along with reading and writing for too many years now. I feel guilty beyond words about these things. For example when we’re backstage and the lights go out and the manic roar of the crowd begins, it doesn’t affect me the way in which it did for Freddy Mercury, who seemed to love, relish in the love and adoration from the crowd, which is something I totally admire and envy.
The fact is, I can’t fool you, any one of you. It simply isn’t fair to you or me. The worst crime I can think of would be o rip people off by faking it and pretending as if I’m having 100% fun. Sometimes I feel as if I should have a punch-in time clock before I walk out on stage. I’ve tried everything within my power to appreciate it (and I do, God, believe me I do, but it’s not enough). I appreciate the fact that I and we have affected and entertained a lot of people.
I must be one of those narcissists who only appreciate things when they’re gone. I’m too sensitive. I need to be slightly numb in order to regain the enthusiasm I once had as a child. On our last 3 tours, I’ve had a much better appreciation for all the people I’ve nown personally and as fans of our music, but I still can’t get over the frustration, the guilt and empathy I have for everyone. There’s good in all of us and I think I simply love people too much, so much that it makes me feel too fucking sad.
The sad little, sensitive, unappreciative, Pisces, Jesus man! Why don’t you just enjoy it? I don’t know! I have a goddess of a wife who sweats ambition and empathy and a daughter who reminds me too much of what I used to be, full of love and joy, kissing every person she meets because everyone is good and will do her no harm. And that terrifies me to the point to where I can barely function. I can’t stand the thought of Frances becoming the miserable, self-destructive, death rocker that I’ve become.
I have it good, very good, and I’m grateful, but since the age of seven, I’ve become hateful towards all humans in general. Only because it seems so easy for people to get along and have empathy. Only because I love and feel sorry for people too much I guess. Thank you all from the pit of my burning, nauseous stomach for your letters and concern during the past years. I’m too much of an erratic, moody, baby! I don’t have the passion anymore, and so remember, it’s better to burn out than to fade away.