I love Aberdeen, Washington, or as I call it, Far West Virginia. I always have. At one point, I almost moved there.
Grays Harbor certainly has its problems, economic depression being the primary one, but it has one of the lowest costs of living in the USA, and the best climate in North America (83 inches of rain to Seattle’s 37). Most of all, the place is real.
People in Aberdeen don’t buy $50 flannel shirts from Capitol Hill thrift shops because it’s fashionable. They buy $8 flannel shirts from Aberdeen thrift shops because it’s cheap and durable. If you want to experience “grunge”, do yourself a favor and skip Seattle altogether. Go straight to Aberdeen.
Speaking of Aberdeen …
After adopting Kurt’s song as their slogan, and after naming a park after Kurt, the city of Aberdeen is now considering naming a bridge after him too. This week, it was revealed that the Aberdeen Park Board wants to rename the The Young Street Bridge in Aberdeen, to the Kurt Cobain Bridge. (http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/Aberdeen-may-rename-bridge-for-Kurt-Cobain-1437158.php)
When I read this article, my first thought was “good, good for them”. Then, I began to wonder.
Why, after all this time, is everyone in Western Washington still so eager to be associated with Kurt Cobain?
Kurt toiled in relative obscurity for 90% of his life, yet after he died, everyone stumbled over themselves, rushing to claim him as their own.
Take Seattle, for instance.
The Seattle Art Museum hosted a 4 month Cobain Exhibit last month. The city points to Nirvana’s music as the ultimate example of the “Seattle Sound”. The Experience Music Project opened a Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses exhibit two months ago.
But, Kurt is not from Seattle. He was the hick from the redneck sticks that everyone looked down on for most of his life. He only lived here in Seattle for about two years, yet, Seattle does everything it can to make itself synonymous with Nirvana.
Does anyone else find this odd? Does anyone else find it ingenuine?
Think about it … Seattle is a town that requires a credit report to rent even the most modest of apartments. It’s a town where over 50% of the population has a bachelor’s degree or higher. It’s a town that cherishes higher education, obedient employees, and a town that loves its big business like a mother loves her child. Yet somehow, some way, we also inexplicably love Kurt Cobain. A high school drop-out with poor credit, a foul mouth, and a healthy drug habit.
Now, I really like the new EMP Nirvana Exhibit. It’s a beautiful collection, and I highly recommend it to all Nirvana fans. That said, I watched a video of the opening night ceremonies of the exhibit, and I could not help but cringe the whole way through it.
I was very glad to see Krist at the podium, but the rest of the shlock was beyond painful.
I mean, who were these people standing around the Sky Church? Where were the stringy-haired kids? Where were the punk rockers? Where were the poor folks from Aberdeen? Where was the alternative media and where were the uncool, unconnected people?
The only thing I could see was a wall of corporate sponsors behind Krist’s head and journalists with $5,000 cameras yelling “woooo!” from the sides of the room.
I had trouble digesting this. It was just a bit too much. I kept wondering, had the EMP revealed a punk exhibit 25 years ago, would Kurt have been invited?
To this day, I cannot fathom why Seattle elitists are still so in love with Kurt Cobain. Think about it. The guy near the front with the expensive camera would be beside himself if his kid dropped out of high school to start a band. He would be pissed off to no end if his child stole nitrous oxide from a doctor’s office to get high. Yet, here he is shouting “wooooo!” each time Krist mentions such antics.
And we were supposed to buy this? Seriously?
There are thousands of pot smoking, high school drops-outs with a love for punk music in Washington State right now, and do you know what upper-middle-class Seattle calls them?
Everyone north of Enumclaw knows that a Bachelor’s Degree from UW and a job at Amazon is the admirable path in life. Anything less is a waste.
And how about those corporate sponsors that just love Kurt and everything he stood for?
Qwest? Oh yeah, they are all about taking punk to the masses. This is why they conduct a credit check before giving you DSL. To make sure you’re punk enough.
Wells Fargo? Wells Fucking Fargo? Really? Yeah, Kurt was a Wells Fargo fan. Kurt just loved those $29 overdraft fees. Kurt was all about home foreclosures.
How about Boeing? Hey kids, if you want a job at Boeing, stay in school, pay your bills, and for god’s sake … stay off dope. You will be urine tested. Yet, here Boeing is, honoring someone that dropped out of High School, had no degree, and took plenty of drugs.
How, exactly, do they reconcile this?
How, exactly, do we reconcile this?
Then, of course, there was the guffawing media. Is there any news station in Seattle that doesn’t love Kurt Cobain?
Ironically, one of the news stations that covered the EMP opening once admonished me for using the word “shit” in an article. They said “we would like to link to your article, but can’t do so because it contains profanity”. They did, however, write a glowing article about EMP’s Nirvana opening night. All of a sudden, they were down with punk.
Hey news guys, you do realized that Kurt used profanity all the time and had a pretty healthy smack habit?
I guess a hit record and a few bucks makes “shit” a little more palatable, eh?
You know, I just figured out how to make a run at this blogging thing. You see, right now, I have something like three incoming links from the entire Internet. It’s my own fault because I say “shit”, I say “fuck”, I talk about drugs, I take stands against mainstream things, and I do all the things that the Wooo Boys supposedly love, but goddammit it … I’m just not cool.
I don’t need any more pictures or lengthy diatribes, what I really need is for the coolest person in Seattle to come out and say “I read Seattle Rex every day!”. Then, and only then, will the floodgates of support open.
Stone? Eddie? Kim? Any takers?
Mark, how about you? For Christ’s sake, I still turn people on to Mr. Epp, and we both know that stuff was shit. If I can get you to come out and declare that Seattle Rex is cool, I’ll have my own column in the Stranger by the end of the week. Sure, The Stranger is elitist faux-alt, but goddammit, they offer health insurance.
Jeff Bezos? You out there?
Come on guys, load up on guns, bring your friends …
Ah, what’s the use. It’s a losing battle.
Every day I look around, and all I see is insincerity. People with carefully messed-up hair. 500 people with the same tongue piercings and nose rings. Same skinny jeans, same beards, same kids on Downtown sidewalks hustling me for a donation to “save the planet”.
None of it is real, though. Everything is pretense. From the apathy of a Pine Street pizza clerk to the enthusiasm of a man with a $5,000 camera shouting “wooooooh!”. All the world is a stage, and everyone is an actor.
We’re punk when we want people to think we’re punk. We’re professional when we want people to think we’re professional. We’re outraged when we want people to think we’re outraged. We all love black and gay and homeless people, we all have college degrees and trendy internships, we all subscribe to credit monitoring services and have resumes that shout to the world that we’re team players; most of all, though, most importantly … we all love Kurt Cobain and everything he stood for.
We’re Seattleites, and that’s our official position.
If you go to Aberdeen today, you will encounter 100 potential Kurt Cobains. Poor scrawny boys with long, dirty blond hair, and poor hygiene. If one of these kids made it to Seattle, and got a job mopping floors at EMP, we wouldn’t shout “wooooo!”. We wouldn’t give him the time of day. If anything, we’d point to him and say “son, that’s you in a few years if you don’t get your act together”.
That boy will never have an exhibit in Seattle Center. That boy will never have a bridge named after him. That boy has a tattered notebook full of poetry, and he can play power chords like nobody’s business, but in Seattle, that boy is still a loser.
At least until his single goes #1.
Then, and only then, will that boy be King of Seattle, and retroactively, King of Aberdeen.
May we all treat tomorrow’s Kurt Cobain as well as we treat yesterday’s Kurt Cobain.
Enjoy the bridge.