Memoria ( Kurt Cobain)

I wrote this in a note book, a stream of consciousness, and I’ve just edited it a bit… a pencil portraitIt’s coming up to twenty years after Kurt Cobain died. Twenty years ago he was trying to pretend that there was nothing wrong, while everyone around him panicked for  various reasons. Even the ones who saw him as a cash-cow on some level must have had concern for the man he was. Most of them loved him at least a little bit. However, no one could salve his terminal sadness, not even Frances. (She’d be better off without him, he believed). Courtney was no more self-aware than he was, so not much help in the crisis. I’m pretty sure that he wanted/expected her to come and rescue him after he fled back to Seattle, but she didn’t get his calls (he forgot the secret code she’d given him), so she stayed in LA. And he gave up, and died alone.

Everyone has to make the final exit fundamentally alone, but a witness or two is a comfort on the journey. A witness or two might have anchored him in this life. Who knows?

Their nanny, Cali, thought he was a dream, Courtney didn’t get his calls. He must have felt as invisible, unwanted and irrelevant as when he was a little boy and his parents divorced – not at all amicably. Just because so many people suffer these wounds doesn’t make them any less dangerous. “Is yours a sad story?” asked Michael Azzerad. “……..No…….” said Kurt. Lots of people have the same story. But, Kurt, they all have a sad story, they are all suffering, many of them will medicate away the gnawing sadness at the core of their being; many will die, like you, too young. Or just stagger through life in a haze of alcohol and misery. That sadness needs to be acknowledged and addressed if the wound is to heal. Not enough people seem to be managing that, if the great plague of anxiety and drugs is any thing to go by. Maybe childhood wounds are what drive all the paranoia and fear in the media? And that feeds into the anxieties of the public, so that it is magnified in a feedback loop.

A few years ago, the news in Victoria was full of report of people carrying knives – and guess what?- more people started carrying knives to “protect” themselves from the other people whom they believed to be carrying knives. Hence more problems with knives as anxious, fearful people “protected” themselves from each other. Frightened people with weapons are always dangerous. Police who are required to carry guns should also be required to learn to live without fear – Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Naht Hanh teaches mindfulness courses for police and other emergency workers. Then they might be able to calm the frightened child with the knife instead of killing him. I wandered a bit there, but that is what Kurt Cobain has done for me. I see the world differently. And for that I am grateful, even as I wish fervently that he didn’t feel the need to do it, that he was still with us, an old fart having reunions and exhibiting his paintings, maybe selling the recordings of outsider artists out of the boot of his car in little towns that don’t care who he was or know what “insider art” implies. They are all outsiders…a pastel portrait

Is that it?  King of Grunge, Top of the Pops, known, imitated, desired by millions, in his head was he still the little kid whose parents betrayed his love and need, the boy who didn’t really feel wanted anywhere and didn’t fit in. Whether he ever slept under the Young St Bridge  or not, he couch surfed for much of his adolescence, sleeping in a cardboard box in someones porch at one stage. All the money and adulation in the world couldn’t make up for those years as the undesired rat-kid, a role that itself went back to the great divorce. Did no one ever say – we’re so sorry Kurt, it’s not your fault, we just don’t get along but we still love you and Kimmy, and we’ll look after you both, just not us together. Too late now. It didn’t help either that Wendy fought for custody of both children, but passed Kurt on to his father when the little boy was hard to manage.He only needed love and reassurance (don’t we all!), but Wendy had her own issues. As did Don. As do most of us.

There’s our problem.The issues of the parents are visited on the children, even unto the umpteenth generation, unless someone is able to break the chain. Some folks prevent the passing on of issues by having no issue. Drastic but effective. Most of us barely know we have issues, and our unconsciously driven behaviour causes us endless trouble and grief. Becoming conscious is the only proper solution. So simple, yet so difficult.a stencil portrait
Kurt Cobain is my “Favourite Subject” in more ways than one – here are three of the art works I’ve made over the years. Capturing a person’s facial expression, and something of the essence of their personality is a constant and provoking challenge.

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