Kurt & Courtney, directed by Nick Broomfield

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Re: Kurt & Courtney, directed by Nick Broomfield

Postby admin » Tue Sep 24, 2013 10:39 am


by Roger Lewis



Table of Contents:

TABLE 1 - 7 Points Summary
TABLE 2 - Therapeutic, Toxic, & Lethal Dose Ranges of Intravenous Heroin in Relation to Low & High Tolerance Levels
TABLE 3 - Dose Equivalents of Heroin & Morphine
TABLE 4 - Dose & Blood Level Equivalents of Intravenous Heroin
TABLE 5 - Absence of Parallel Case Among 760 Violent Suicides
TABLE 6 - Rarity of Suicide Among Missing Persons
TABLE 7 - Homicidal Poisoning by Intravenous Heroin: Hot Shots
TABLE 8 - Prevalence of "Major" Autopsy Discrepancies
TABLE 9 - Some Probability Summaries
Appendix A - Compendium of Intravenous Heroin Related Deaths Where Blood Morphine Levels Were Tested
Appendix B - 19 Cobain Related Sympathetic "Copycat" Suicides


by Roger Lewis, Revised January 4, 1998


Please note that the research for this essay was done as an independent project and has not been directed by or overseen by any other researcher or investigator. This research is based on high quality references which are listed at the end. All rights reserved.


A comprehensive review of 99 forensic, criminological, and other scientific references was undertaken with regards to analyzing the postmortem blood morphine level of Kurt Cobain. The following essay reports on this review, which includes 19 studies of 1526 deaths specifically involving blood morphine levels of intravenous heroin related overdoses, as shown in Appendix A. Other studies which were reviewed include thousands of heroin-related deaths in general, over 3226 heroin related overdoses, over 3586 suicides, 760 violent suicides, several significant staged deaths, autopsy procedures & discrepancies, postmortem pharmacokinetics of drugs, and, with respect to the traces of a "diazepam-like" substance found in Cobain's blood, several references were reviewed regarding benzodiazepines. Table 1, below, shows a seven point summary of the material reviewed, which provides a clear picture of Cobain's true cause of death, homicide. Thus, in contrast with the "official" verdict of suicide by shotgun, the scientific facts point to a series of events which probably included a massive, lethal "hot shot" dose of heroin and a benzodiazepine administered to Cobain, which would have either immediately rendered him incapacitated in a comatose state or killed him instantly. No suicide or overdose case exists, in any of the many references reviewed, which parallels the Cobain case, most likely because the chain of events which occurred cannot be duplicated. This chain of events specifically resembles homicide patterns, not suicide, and should be re-opened to allow an independent re-investigation of the serious discrepancies in the verdict, which should be changed.

TABLE 1: 7 Point Summary

1.) TRIPLE MAXIMUM LETHAL DOSE EVEN FOR SEVERE ADDICTS: At least three days after his death, Kurt Cobain's blood contained 1.52 milligrams of morphine per litre (mg/L) plus traces of a "diazepam-like" substance. This level is widely known to represent three times the lethal dose of heroin, but it is not commonly understood that this level is three times the lethal dose even for severe heroin addicts. Generally, a blood morphine level of 0.5mg/L is caused by 75 mg - 80 mg of heroin, the established maximum lethal dose, even for severe addicts. A blood level of 1.52 mg/L generally indicates an original dose of approximately 225 mg - 240 mg of heroin.

2.) INCAPACITATED OR DEAD BEFORE GUNSHOT: Large overdoses of heroin by heroin addicts are a phenomenon which is well understood. Research clearly shows that an overdose in the range of that received by Cobain would lead to immediate and complete incapacitation and/or immediate death.

3.) OTHER FACTORS ENSURED OVERDOSE LETHALITY: The 1.52 mg/L blood morphine level does not compensate for the presence of diazepam, or Cobain's low body weight, both of which are well proven to substantially increase the lethality of the heroin.

4.) CASE UNPARALLELED IN SUICIDE & OVERDOSE REPORTS: A review of 3586 suicides, including 760 violent suicides, shows no case involving both a gun and narcotic overdose of any kind, supporting theories regarding the absence or extreme rarity of violent suicide among addicts.

5.) CASE CONSISTENT WITH HOMICIDE PATTERNS: A review of cases involving homicides shows many similarities with patterns in the Cobain case.

6.) OTHER EVIDENCE INDICATES HOMICIDE: Officially acknowledged evidence exists which indicates the possibility of homicide, including a misleading missing persons report, postmortem credit card usage, handwriting discrepancies on the "suicide" note, and the lack of legible fingerprints on the weapon. It appears the police were prejudicially in favour of a suicide ruling, and that the coroner was involved in a conflict of interest predisposing him towards this major discrepancy in the evaluation of his findings.

7.) CONCLUSION: HOMICIDE: The evidence indicates that a massive intravenous dose of heroin, and possibly a benzodiazepine, was administered to Cobain. The final of the two known injections incapacitated and/or killed Cobain, and the gunshot is evidence of a homicide staged to look like a suicide. The case should be re-opened by an independent investigatory body.


Kurt Cobain's untimely death is admittedly a morbid subject. This essay is intended solely to contribute to the efforts of thousands of Cobain admirers and others who seek to put an end to the copy-cat suicides, and to discover the truth behind this horrible tragedy. Estimates from 1995 listed over 150 acknowledged copy cat suicides, some of which are described in Appendix B. Concerns regarding potential lawsuits from bereaved parents against the Seattle Police Department has been suggested to be a factor in their determination to keep the case officially closed unless "new evidence" comes forward. One such piece of new evidence is the following re-interpretation of the officially released evidence. The official time of death is unknown, but is estimated as occurring no later than towards the evening of Tuesday, April 5th, and the body was found Friday, April 8, at 8:40 a.m. This will be the starting point for the following research and observations which attempt to present the facts supporting the claim that Cobain was incapacitated or dead at the time he supposedly shot himself, a situation which would obviously completely eliminate the possibility of suicide. The essay is somewhat technical, so efforts have been made to simplify and explain these matters for those who are not familiar with the scientific nature of this research. Additionally, some are details of the Cobain case are presented for those who are unfamiliar with the case in general.



Cobain's death in April, 1994 led to wide media coverage, and it was soon revealed that his blood morphine level was 1.52 mg per litre (mg/L). One biographer mistakenly claimed that Cobain "injected" 1.52 mg of heroin. The figure 1.52 mg actually refers to the level of drugs found in Cobain's blood, not the amount he originally injected. This can be seen in other reports, both biographical and mass media, where the 1.52 mg level is sometimes further described as "per litre of blood" or "triple the lethal dose," usually with subsequent notes that an addict has higher tolerance. Cobain would have needed to inject much more than 1.52 mg of heroin to help even the most mild headache. Additionally, the Seattle Police Department reported that a cigar box of drug paraphernalia was beside the victim, including pieces of what appeared to be black tar heroin, generally regarded as Mexican in origin. Also, according to the Seattle Police Reports, two puncture marks were found on Cobain's body, one in each arm, in the inside crooks of the elbow region.


The fact that there is "higher tolerance among addicts" is commonly misunderstood. This concept is evoked apparently as an attempt to describe how it could be remotely possible that Cobain was alive and functioning well enough to fire a shotgun, despite the otherwise triple maximum lethal dose. The "1.52 mg" figure refers specifically to the morphine per litre of blood. No doubt exists that a blood level of 1.52 mg of morphine per litre represents just a little bit over three times the maximum lethal dose, but the implications of this fact are not well understood.


Table 2, below, shows that the lethal dose range of intravenous heroin is generally regarded as 10 mg to 12 mg. Sometimes even a tiny dose can kill, so the lethal dose of intravenous heroin can go as low as 3 mg, possibly even lower. Some people get confused and think that high variability in the minimum lethal dose means that a similar variability exists for the maximum lethal dose. The most serious heroin addicts will die with virtual certainty with much less than a dose of 75 mg to 80 mg of heroin. After studying many hundreds of such cases, it is clearly established that 75 mg to 80 mg is the maximum lethal dose for even the most severe heroin addicts. Note that in a low tolerance person, in an average hospital setting, a small effective therapeutic dose of intravenous heroin is only 3 mg to 4 mg. The important thing to note here is that the problems associated with establishing a "lethal dose" for intravenous heroin primarily relates to the problem of establishing a "minimal lethal dose," i.e. the smallest amount of heroin which will kill. The "maximum lethal dose," i.e. the highest dose of intravenous heroin a severe heroin addict can withstand without immediately collapsing into a coma and/or immediately dying, is very well documented. The blood morphine level of 1.52 mg per litre found in Cobain's body represents a heroin dose which is substantially higher than this well established maximum lethal dose.

TABLE 2: Therapeutic, Toxic, & Lethal Dose Ranges of Intravenous Heroin in Relation to Low & High Tolerance Levels

Degree of Toxicity or Lethality Dose Range
Therapeutic (low tolerance) 3 mg - 4 mg
Toxic (low tolerance) 3 mg - 10 mg
Lethal (low tolerance) 10 mg - 12 mg
Therapeutic (high tolerance) 10 mg - 60 mg
Toxic (high tolerance) 10 mg - 70 mg
Lethal (high tolerance) 75 mg - 80 mg


The "1.52mg per litre" level in Cobain is one several standard measurements referring to the blood level of morphine. For example, 1.52 mg per litre could also be expressed as "152 mcg per 100 ml," because mathematically they are the same amounts. Those unfamiliar with metric conversions should note that basically, a litre is 1000 ml, so 1 mg per 1000 ml is equivalent to 0.1 mg per 100 ml. Those of you more familiar with metric will note that 100 ml is one-tenth of a litre, thus the abbreviation "dL" stands for "decilitre," which is of course the very same 100 ml. Throughout this report, whenever a source is quoted using a blood drug amount in a format other than mg per litre, I have supplied a non-italicized, bracketed conversion following the quoted figure, eg. "93.0 mcg/dL...(0.93 mg/L, ed.)."


Approximately 25 years ago, it became increasingly clear that accurate postmortem detection of morphine in blood was a problem which had finally been resolved scientifically. Garriott & Sturner, in 1973, note that "With the recent advent of improved methodology for the determination of morphine in the blood...it has now become possible to quantitate small amounts of this narcotic drug metabolite some time after the last previous heroin injection (28)." Nakamura explained in 1979 that "Until recently, the toxicologic determination of heroin death was extremely difficult because of the lack of a sensitive method for the detection and quantitation of small amounts of morphine in postmortem blood and other tissues. " (63). Data is not available regarding the testing method used to determine the level of morphine in Cobain's blood, although the scientific literature suggests strongly that GC (Gas Chromatography) is the current standard method. Other major testing methods exist, such as GLC (Gas-Liquid Chromatography), GC-MS (Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectroscopy), HPLC (High Pressure Liquid Chromatography), RIA (Radio-immuno Assay), and all of these methods have been determined to be very reliable indicators for establishing the levels of morphine in postmortem blood.


There will be no discussion blood "heroin" levels, because heroin is almost instantly transformed into morphine when it enters the blood. Heroin itself can indeed be measured in the blood and other tissues, especially the urine, but it should be noted that heroin levels are largely irrelevant to this case. Special laboratory conditions are often elaborately constructed to measure these actual "heroin levels," because in everyday life they almost never exist. Again, simply put, when heroin is injected into the blood it rapidly transforms into morphine. There is virtually no heroin left in the blood as "heroin" after about nine minutes, with the heroin going through a deacetylation process, sometimes called de-esterfication. This is known as a "pharmakokinetic" process, and is known to continue after death. Consequently, it is virtually always that morphine, instead of heroin, is measured in the blood of both the living and dead to give forensic scientists an indication of the amount of heroin originally injected, the likely time of injection, and very importantly, an indication as to the events following the injection. Morphine toxicity, whether found in the blood, bile, urine, liver, or other tissues, is the standard measurement for opioid toxicity in general, and heroin in particular, because heroin immediately turns into morphine in the body.


One study involved a small group of severe addicts who used high doses ranging from 150 mg to 200 mg of morphine four times daily (75). This is equivalent to an intake of approximately 45 mg to 60 mg of heroin, four times daily. These addicts showed some signs of serious effects, but continued for several years without fatality and showing average blood levels of 0.3 mg per liter. Another study points to the potential lethality of even low doses, with 5 fatalities showing an average of a mere 0.021 mg per liter of blood, representing an approximate intake of 3 mg, i.e the average functioning dose. The average person without pain or addiction will overdose with 60 mg of morphine (18 mg heroin), yet a patient in serious pain will likely require the same dose, 60 mg of morphine (18 mg heroin) to relieve such serious pain symptoms. Platt also mentions a particular study where severe heroin addicts were monitored, and the maximum dose seen was a daily total of 260 mg heroin, taken in four divided doses, i.e. 65 mg heroin each dose (75). Again, the maximum lethal dose of heroin is shown to be 75 mg - 80 mg for a 150 lb. severe addict. Such a lethal dose, of about 75 mg - 80 mg heroin, will give the soon-to-be-dead individual a blood morphine level of approximately 0.5 mg of morphine per litre of blood. Astonishingly, this is less than one-third of the level that was found in Cobain's tiny body at least three days after his death.

TABLE 3: Dose Equivalents of Heroin & Morphine

Drug Equivalent Dose
Heroin 3 mg
Morphine 10 mg

Table 3 shows that heroin is approximately 3 to 4 times stronger than morphine, so 3 mg of heroin is equal to about 10 mg of morphine. It should be noted that generally the data is very supportive of this equivalence between certain doses of morphine and heroin, an equivalence which is three-fold, including pharmacological effect, blood morphine levels, and most importantly, toxicological effect. To the extent that differences have been established, there is no doubt that a large intravenous heroin overdose is even deadlier and faster acting than an "equivalent" large intravenous morphine overdose.

Table 4, below, shows the generally accepted dose and blood level equivalents of intravenous heroin. More than 100mg of morphine (30 mg heroin) almost always presents major complications. Doses over 250mg morphine (75 mg - 80 mg heroin) are usually associated with certain death, i.e. 75 mg - 80 mg of heroin, leads to a blood level of approximately 0.5mg per liter, the high end of toxic doses. Thus it is clear that Cobain ingested at least triple the lethal dose for even the most severe addict. This is basically a linear conversion, which is not true for all drugs, but is shown to be true for intravenous morphine and heroin overdoses in addicts, as shown in the several of the studies referenced. If he were not a severe addict, then 1.52 mg per liter potentially represents up to 75 times the lethal dose. Details regarding common heroin doses are explained by Tong & Pond who state that "the basic unit of sale is the 'tenth,' which is 1/10 of a gram or 100 mg of pure drug. This unit...provides approximately 4 'hits' or doses. A quarter of a tenth (25 mg powder) contains 20 mg to 24 mg of heroin, which is more than the usual street addict is used to per dose." (94). Severe addicts may require 3 such hits in 1 dose, 4 times daily, while Cobain's blood morphine level represents a dose of approximately 8 to 10 such "hits." More importantly, it must be remembered that the actual size of the dose does not matter very much, rather it is the blood morphine level in particular, a what it tells us, which is the true forensic evidence, the incontrovertible fact. Although it is definitely possible to make a reasonable estimate at the obviously massive dose Cobain received based on data from other intravenous heroin overdoses in addicts, an exact dose figure cannot be determined without a full forensic report regarding the morphine levels in various other organs and tissues. Regardless of the specific dose of heroin, the 1.52mg/L blood morphine level in Cobain allows for the conclusion to be made that he was immediately incapacitated or dead based on the simple fact that no other instance exists on record indicating otherwise, even remotely.

TABLE 4: Dose & Blood Level Equivalents of Intravenous Heroin

Dose Equivalent Blood Morphine Level

75 mg - 80 mg 0.5 mg/L
150 mg - 160 mg 1.0 mg/L
225 mg - 240 mg 1.5 mg/L


The overall importance and relevance of such toxicological data is emphasized eloquently by Prouty, et. al., as "One of the most fundamental questions of postmortem forensic toxicology is...'How much drug did the decedent take?' Historically, to answer this question, toxicologists have relied upon published case reports of fatal intoxication, in which the amount of ingested drug was known or reasonably approximated, and upon reports in the clinical literature that contain information concerning drug concentrations after single or chronic dosing. In recent years, pharmakokinetic equations have been increasingly used in an effort to estimate more precisely the total amount of a drug in the body and, subsequently, estimate the dose of the drug required to produce a measured blood concentration." (76). The use of blood morphine levels to establish criminal intent dates back over 100 years. Nakamura points out that "As early as 1893...Thorwald describes a celebrated court proceeding involving a physician who allegedly poisoned his wife with morphine." (63).


Analyzing the morphine level of a dead person can help determine the time and the manner of death. Such tests are useful in cases where there is no eyewitness, or, for example, in the Cobain case, where there are officially no witness, but where forensic evidence suggests the presence of a witness, i.e. Cobain was either dead or so severely incapacitated by the massive dose heroin, that someone else had to have pulled the trigger. Nakamura remarks similarly that "Many...witnesses are unavailable because they either flee from the scene upon the death of their companion or they discard the body in a location less discriminating than their own domicile." (63) Thus the very idea of investigating a suspicious death using forensic testing of the morphine levels is a well established phenomenon, due at least partly to the tendency of those associated with the event to flee, discard the body elsewhere, and provide otherwise unreliable information in an attempt to avoid implication of their involvement. With respect to Nakamura's comment regarding "...they discard a body in a location less discriminating than their own domicile," it is noteworthy that Cobain's body was suspiciously enough found in his own domicile, even though he was supposedly a "missing person."



The following quotes from Krivanek describe the rapid action of this deadly narcotic, especially when taken intravenously, "Heroin has a far more positive slope than either morphine or methadone- that is, its effects begin, and reach a peak more rapidly...3 mg of heroin...given by subcutaneous injection will provide adequate analgesia in about 70 per cent of patients with moderate to severe pain. At that dose sedative effects and respiratory depression should both be minimal. As dose increases, they become more pronounced, and the respiratory depression will become life-threatening with about 30 mg morphine (9 - 10 mg heroin, ed.) ...Intravenous doses, on the other hand, can be considerably smaller, - about one-fifth of the subcutaneous dose." (53). Additionally, Platt remarks on the amazing rapid action of intravenous heroin by explaining that "...the high uptake of heroin...indicates that an abrupt entrance of heroin into brain tissue probably occurs 10 to 20 seconds after the usual intravenous injection by addicts...15 seconds, 68% uptake into brain with heroin compared to 42% for methadone, 24% for codeine, and morphine too small to measure. " (75). It would be a mistake to think that even a severe addict could intravenously inject triple the maximum lethal dose of heroin and survive 10 to 20 seconds. First, it must be understood that the injection process itself takes a considerable amount of time such that the lethal effects of the drug often take effect with the needle still in the arm. This specific case supposedly involved the injection, the removal of the needle & tourniquet, the placement of paraphernalia in a box, sitting on the floor, and positioning and firing the shotgun. Secondly, it is important to note that an intravenous heroin overdose is very different from the previously described "usual injection" because an overdose produces much more serious effects much faster than the "usual injection".


The Lange manual for Poisoning & Drug Overdose states that for opiates, "with higher doses, coma is accompanied by respiratory depression and apnea often results in sudden death." (68). Basically, a high lethal dose of heroin will either cause immediate death, or, in an unlikely scenario, immediate incapacitation by rendering the recipient comatose. This is described by Staub, et. al. as follows: "...we have shown that in 85% of the cases, the death should be attributed to a so-called 'golden shot'. In the remaining cases, the death is not so rapid and a survival period in a comatose state has to be taken into consideration." (90). Similarly, Garriot & Sturner, describe how "...morphine in the blood was found to correlate with the time of survival and ranged from 10 to 93 mcg per 100ml (.1 to .93 mg per litre, ed.) in the short-term interval group." (28). Notably, as of 1973, Garriott & Sturner did not find any blood morphine level over 0.93 mg per litre, i.e. Cobain's blood level was over 50% higher than the highest level they had ever encountered. Regarding the common sequelae of heroin overdoses, Nakamura explains " there are vivid accounts of victims lapsing into a deep coma immediately following a 'fix' with a syringe still afixed in the arm or on the floor underneath the body, and/or with an improvised tourniquet still in place around the arm." (63). Gossell & Bricker report that "for a large overdose, the victim rapidly lapses into coma and is not arousable by verbal or painful stimuli." (32).


Garriott & Sturner describe the relation between dose and speed of death as follows: "The cases in the intermediate-survival range - namely, from three to 24 hours - showed values for morphine in the blood of 3 to 10 mcg per 100 ml (.03 to .1 mg per litre, ed.). ...It is of interest that the three cases in the short-survival group demonstrating the highest concentrations of morphine in the blood (50, 50, and 93 mcg per 100 ml) (0.5, 0.5, and 0.93 mg per litre, ed.) showed neither froth in the air passages nor extensive pulmonary edema, supporting the concept that a very sudden death may be due to other mechanisms after injection. Rapid central-nervous-systems and respiratory depression as a direct effect of the narcotic drug would account for this phenomenon. ...(ed. note: as of 1973) The highest observed blood morphine value in an acute heroin "overdose" is 100 mcg per 100 ml (1 mg per litre, ed.). ...relatively high concentrations of free morphine tend to indicate the importance of the final injection in producing the lethal reaction." (28). Nakamura explains "In more cases, it can be now shown that narcotic was taken and rapidly distributed by the body to the various organs, and it may now be unnecessary to explain narcotic deaths by blaming excipients or hypersensitivity responses." (63). Thus, although some rare overdoses can be attributed partially to hypersensitivity, allergic, and other reactions to adulterants in street heroin, it is now widely accepted that heroin overdoses are primarily dose related.


Some confusion exists in the literature regarding estimates of "speed" of death following intravenous heroin overdose, primarily due to two reasons. The first reason for confusion concerns the minimum lethal dose, i.e. a small blood morphine level does not rule out instant collapse or death. The second reason for confusion concerns the true nature of death, which technically involves the death of different organs over a period of time. Burgess describes this as "Death does not occur all at once. One organ or system of organs may die some time before another." (8). Thus, even in those rare cases when an addict takes a large overdose and does not immediately die, immediate incapacitation occurs via a coma, and a comatose person may continue to technically "live" for hours or even days. The variability in survival periods specifically concerns the lower doses, not the higher doses, and when it comes to "massive" doses, eg. the Cobain case, the data is remarkably clear in stating that such a dose would immediately incapacitate even a heroin addict with the highest of tolerance levels.


One specific case which bears special significance with regard to the Cobain case is the case of Cindy James. The James case, as described by Dinn (20), involves the tragic death of a nurse who was reported as missing for two weeks before she was found dead. The case was changed from a suicide verdict to a verdict of "undecided," and the basic point of comparison concerns the methodologies used to reach the change in verdict. Before continuing with the similarities between the James case & the Cobain case, it is important to note several differences. The James Case did not involve a gun, there was no drug paraphernalia found near the body, and there was evidence that she was mentally unstable and possibly staged her own death to appear as murder. Also, James received morphine, not heroin (heroin is significantly faster and stronger than morphine). The cases are similar in that both James and Cobain died of a massive drug overdose which appeared to police, initially at least, to be suicides, and which later, to varying degrees, were suggested to be homicides based significantly upon the massiveness of the overdoses in relation to degree of incapacitation and speed of death.


It was conclusively determined that if the scenario of intravenous injection was indeed true, then "Following an injection, morphine at this concentration would have induced a rapid state of unconsciousness and death...Given the level of consciousness and the time required to create the scene...then the death would appear to have been a homicide." (20). Thus it is important to note that the only reason the case was not then determined to be a homicide is because there was no way to verify whether the morphine was taken orally or otherwise. The mere possibility of murder was enough to change the James verdict to "undecided," even though the case involved significant evidence of suicide. The James case establishes an important precedent of methodology, which is that the blood levels of morphine can be used to determine time of death and/or incapacitation with regards to recreating the events surrounding the death in question for the purposes of determining whether the death was due to murder or suicide. The same methodology, when applied to the Cobain case, indicates that due to death or incapacitation following the intravenous injection of a massive lethal dose of heroin (much stronger than morphine), Cobain's death would be even more certainly a homicide.


Nakamura conducted a study in which he "..selected for toxicologic analyses seven cases of heroin fatalities in Los Angeles County, all of whom had a common history of what appeared to be sudden death. ...The blood level of morphine ranged from 0.2 to 1.0 mcg/ml." (0.2 to 1 mg per litre, ed.). "Blood morphine levels in most acute heroin-involved deaths range from 0.1 to 1.0 mcg/ml (0.1 to 1.0 mg per litre, ed.)...Blood levels of morphine also appear to be regulated by dosage." (63). Only one case in the 7 case study by Nakamura had a blood morphine level in Cobain's range, at 1.8 mg per litre, and the next closest was 0.9 mg per litre. The rest were 0.5 mg per litre and lower, with levels as low as 0.1 mg per litre causing immediate death. Nakamara also refers to his related 1974 doctoral thesis from the School of Criminology at the University of California, Berkely, where he "...examined blood specimens from 64 fatalities...whose survival time could be estimated." The highest blood morphine level was 0.8 mg per litre, and there was a clear indication that the higher the dose, the faster the death.



A blood morphine level of 1.52 mg/L indicates a heroin intake of approximately 225 mg - 240 mg. Thus, despite suggestions that Cobain may have simply been incapacitated by a normal, large dose fit for an addict, it must be noted that his body weight was at highest 130 lbs., and he was listed as being 115 lbs. in late 1993. This would generally increase his susceptibility to overdose by as much as 20%, since toxicity data is based on a 150 lb. adult.


Heroin purity has been shown to vary widely, with samples containing as little as 1% heroin. Mexican black tar is usually no higher than 40% pure, but is not uncommonly up to 80% pure, while highest recorded purity level for Mexican black tar heroin is 93% pure (89). If the heroin used in this case was indeed Mexican black tar heroin, and it was in the range of the highest potency recorded, i.e. 93% purity, then the dose required to reach a blood morphine level of 1.52 mg per litre would be approximately 245 mg to 260 mg. Whatever the physical source of heroin was, it does not really matter; the only thing that makes one type of heroin stronger than another is concentration of dose, so it was approximately 225 mg to 240 mg of some type of heroin. If the purity was 40%, a more common figure, then the lethal dose, including adulterants, would have been around 600 mg. Thus there is a definite chance of up to 350 mg of procaine or acetyl procaine as an adulterant. Note that procaine is commonly found in samples of Mexican black tar heroin. Regarding the potential toxicity of procaine, it should be noted that procaine levels would likely be undetectable in Cobain's blood due to the fact that the body was found at least three days after death. Still, the importance of procaine's potential toxicity is emphasized by Nakamura, who says "Nearly all the contraband heroin in the western areas is obtained from Mexico and contains an appreciable amount of procaine, or acetyl-procaine, as a filler material. ...The potential danger of a large concentration of this dilutent in street heroin needs to be better understood. (63).


Diazepam is generally synonymous with the more well-known drug Valium, and sometimes the term diazepam refers to the generic category of drugs known as benzodiazepines. This class of drugs is regarded as sedative-hypnotic, and is not cross-tolerant to opioids. That means addicts can use diazepam and similar drugs in the same way that non-addicts use them. Conversely, even a heroin addict will experience toxicity to benzodiazepines in the same manner as a non-addict. A junkie is not immune to the toxic effects of a benzodiazepine overdose simply because he or she can handle a big dose of heroin. Cassidy, et. al. report "as both drugs cause respiratory depression...the likelihood of death resulting as a consequence...is greater than if either drug were taken alone." (10). Oldendorf reports on the effect of relaxation as increasing heroin absorption in the brain (67), a factor which addicts often attempt to manipulate, eg. by using heroin with a relaxant such as a benzodiazepine.


Diazepam poisoning in particular, and benzodiazepine poisoning in general, is rare in isolation, but not at all uncommon in combination with other similar drugs, notably heroin. Several current studies from sources as disparate as the USA, Australia, Denmark, and the U.K., show that benzodiazepine abuse frequently occurs with heroin abuse, and that resultant death is a serious, growing concern. The two drugs have a definite added effect, increasing the likelihood of respiratory failure associated with heroin overdose by a very significant amount, which has now been relatively well quantified. The lethality of the combined use of heroin and diazepam are discussed by Nakamura, who mentions them in reference to occasional problems with finding a postmortem blood morphine level. The lethality of the heroin is so greatly increased that very small doses kill, meaning that "...the interaction of drugs in eliciting acute responses and causing deaths even when sublethal amounts of two or more drugs are present in postmortem specimens from the same cadaver may be a factor." (63).


The previous relative safety of benzodiazepines has become especially challenged lately with the misuse and abuse of related drugs such as Halcion and Xanax. Notably, these newer ultra-short acting benzodiazepines have a much shorter half-lives. This means that they clear out of the body very fast. Also, they have been considered the sole cause of death in recent forensic cases. Their potential lethality is especially increased when injected, and is the most common form of benzodiazepine-related respiratory failure. While diazepam is effective at a dose of 5 mg, the effective dose of Xanax is merely 250 mcg, with a half-life of 10-20 hours. Thus Xanax works as well as Diazepam at one-twentieth of the dose. Diazepam works in 30 minutes, while Xanax works immediately, and has a half-life of 10-20 hours. That means that 10-20 hours after taking it, half of it has been rendered useless. When injected, benzodiazepines in general are twice as potent. Thus a significantly toxic oral dose of 30 mg of diazepam would be easily achieved by an approximate equivalent of 500 mcg to 750 mcg of intravenously administered Xanax. Diazepam is measured usually by its secondary metabolites in the liver, and the metabolites for Xanax and Diazepam and Valium are all very similar, so often no differentiation is made during testing, which is often only conducted to determine presence, not quantity. If the benzodiazepine in Cobain's blood was indeed a fast-acting one, then it very likely played a major role in making the massive dose of heroin even more deadly.


Gottschalk and Cravey, in their large compilation of deaths involving psychotropic drugs, found 129 cases where morphine, predominantly intravenous heroin, was determined to be the primary cause of death. Three of these cases involved diazepam and intravenous heroin or morphine (33). The first and second cases both involved oral diazepam plus intravenous heroin and/or morphine. The first case showed a blood morphine level of only 0.13 mg/L and diazepam at 1.4 mg/L, and the body was discovered approximately nine hours after death. Case 2 showed 0.3 mg/L blood morphine and 6 mg/L diazepam, and was discovered about seven hours after death. Case 3 included the possibility that the diazepam might have been injected with the morphine, and the blood levels were 0.02 mg/L morphine and 0.3 mg/L diazepam, with the body discovered about 24 hours after death. The third case in particular shows an extremely low blood morphine level can be lethal when combined with a low dose of diazepam.



As mentioned previously, the strongest forensic evidence indicating Cobain was murdered is the sheer lack of a parallel case in forensic literature concerning violent suicides and/or overdoses. Overdose reports normally show results similar to those from Logan & Luthi, who described 16 deaths caused by intravenous heroin or morphine in which blood levels were measured, and the highest serum morphine level seen was 0.920 mg/L. (57). Appendix A: Compendium of Intravenous Heroin Related Deaths Where Blood Morphine Levels Were Measured, shows the rarity of occurrence of a blood morphine level equal to or greater than Cobain's. Many thousands of opiate related deaths were reviewed, and for the purposes of this report, over 3000 of these deaths were determined to be specifically related to overdoses among addicts involving the intravenous use of morphine or heroin. Next, this group was further narrowed to eliminate those cases in which blood morphine levels were not available. Cases where the drug was known to be morphine were eliminated, as were cases where the cause of death was determined to be other than overdose. The 1526 cases remaining showed 26 instances where the blood morphine levels were equal to or above Cobain's, an occurrence rate of 1.7%. None of the above cases reportedly involve a gun or violent suicide. Additionally, no case reported overdose sequlelae of a nature which would even imply the possibility of anything other than immediate incapacitation and/or death. Where data was available, it was remarkably clear in presenting images of addicts with tourniquets in place, syringes in hand, and other evidence of abrupt death. Clearly, the level found in Cobain is among the top 2% of the highest blood morphine levels ever discovered, even in severe addicts.


The fact that the Cobain case as it supposedly happened has no parallel in the references reviewed concurs with Burston's finding that "self-poisoning with morphine or heroin is very uncommon." (9). He also states the effects of heroin "...is of such short duration and is so intense that it inhibits any type of physical activity, either criminal or non-criminal." (9). Also, no case of violent or traumatic suicide reviewed compared well with the Cobain case. Gatter studied "...1862 postmortem examinations of suicides carried out in north west London over a 20 year period from 1957-1977...," (29) with only 20% (369 cases) committing suicide by physical injury, none of which involved opiates. Maurer and Vogel state plainly "...the general rule that opiates inhibit tendencies toward violence." (59). Similar findings are reported by Nowers, in his study of "...51 consecutive gunshot suicides in the County of Avon, England between 1974 and 1990," where it is apparent that suicide by gunshot is uncommon. "Of the 1,117 cases identified, 51 were gunshot suicides (4.5 per cent)...39 used a shotgun." (65). Again, no case reported blood morphine levels. This is illustrated in Table 5, below.

TABLE 5: Absence of Parallel Case Among 760 Violent Suicides

No. of Violent Deaths / Violent Deaths Including Heroin O.D. / Source
96 / 0 / Selway
369 / 0 / Gatter
51 / 0 / Nowers
246 / 0 / Cooper & Milroy


Additionally, Selway's (83) study of all 96 gunshot suicides in Victoria, Australia during 1988, demonstrates that none of the 64 cases where the blood was analyzed involved narcotics. Only two cases had taken an overdose of any kind, one drinking Paraquat, and the other taking oxazepam, alcohol, and imipramine. Selway's and Nowers' studies collectively deal with 147 suicides in which a gunshot was the cause of death, yet not one single case even distantly resembled the supposed scenario for Cobain's "suicide." The 1862 suicides studied by Gatter included 369 violent deaths, with 51 gunshot suicides as well as a significant degree of drug overdoses, yet again, no parallel exists to Cobain's case. Cooper & Milroy's study involved 536 suicides, 246 of which were violent, 10 of which involved a gun. (15).Thus, in 3586 total suicides, including 208 suicides by gunshot, no case remotely resembles a situation where a gunshot of any kind and a heroin overdose of even minor proportions occurred.


Remarkably, 8 studies out of 19 reported on at least one of the 26 rare blood morphine levels in Cobain's range. Staubb, et. al., listed 12 cases in particular out of the 52 cases studied which showed total blood morphine levels equal or above Cobain's level. (90). However, it is vital to note that all these cases involved abrupt death immediately following injection, and none of any of the 52 cases studies was reported to have committed suicide with a gun of any kind. Basically, their study showed a remarkable consistency in abrupt reactions, indicating an 85% probability of instant death, and 15% chance of instantaneous collapse into a comatose state. Still, it is worth pointing out that this is the single largest group of cases at or above Cobain's range. Coumbis & Balkrishena (16) show four high level cases, while Gottschalk & Cravey (33) and Hine, et. al. (42) each show 3 such cases. Studies which found only one such level are Richards, et. al. (77), Paterson (70), and Monforte (62). Finally, Nakamura (63), mentioned previously, also found only one very high level case, with 1.8 mg/L, and the manner of death was known to be instantaneous.


Regarding Washington State heroin overdose deaths, including Seattle, a 1996 report by Logan & Smirnow in a study of 32 cases of "...deaths involving morphine." (58). The focus of their research basically concerned testing the reliability of postmortem blood samples over time, and the variabilities between morphine levels when collected from different tissues, including different "sites" of blood collection, eg. femoral, iliac, and ventricular sites. Also of specific relevance to the Cobain case is the authors noted "...the pattern of opiate use in this population is almost exclusively one of Mexican black tar heroin." (58). Generally, they conclude that "Although both site dependant differences and time dependant changes have been shown to affect the concentration of some drugs in postmortem samples, neither appears to be the case with morphine." (58). The main point is that the Cobain blood data is generally regarded as reliable, despite the fact that the body was discovered at least three days after death. More importantly, note that only one case of 32 was suicide, with the remainder listed as accidents or probable accidents. The highest total blood morphine level, collected initially from the iliac site, is 0.4 mg/L, shows black tar heroin use among a population of addicts does not appear to necessarily lead to significantly higher blood morphine levels than those found in addict populations where black tar heroin is uncommon.


The high lethality of black tar heroin due to increased purity levels is discussed in Sperry's 1988 paper (90). Most of the 129 deaths involved "...very high (greater than 1 mg/L) concentrations of opiates in the blood..." (89). Sperry also discovered the highest level of purity in black tar heroin ever reported, 93 % in some rare cases. No case involved "...the so-called acute idiosyncratic reaction...," further supporting the findings that acute heroin overdoses are dose-related primarily. While it is obvious that many adulterants can increase lethality, it would be completely mistaken to think that pure heroin lacks toxicity as a result of it's purity or the lack of toxic adulterants. None of the cases studied by Sperry showed evidence of other drugs, and no case was reported to involve a gun or trauma. While it is unfortunate that Sperry does not provide a detailed list of blood morphine levels and other data, it is important to note that even in a population of addicts overdosing on black tar heroin, levels over 1 mg/L are considered "...very high..." (89) This contrasts with Cobain's level, which registers 50% higher. Due to lack of specific blood data, Sperry's report is excluded from Appendix A.


Further confirmation of these findings is seen ubiquitously throughout the scientific literature, creating a preponderance of evidence. Gottschalk & Cravey's study of 128 heroin-related deaths showed only 3 cases in Cobain's range. (33). Only one of the 128 deaths involved secondary self-inflicted trauma of any kind, in which one person committed suicide by hanging. Notably, despite evidence of intravenous heroin and/or morphine use, and despite the fact that morphine levels in other tissues confirmed death by overdose, there was no morphine detectable in the blood at all, which helps explain how the individual had time to hang himself. The individual in question tested positive for several drugs, as is common in cases of self-poisoning, and this accounts for the lethality of the otherwise low dose of opiates. Specifically, oral methadone was also consumed, thus there would be a moderately delayed reaction before the combined effects of the drugs took effect and killed the victim before he died from the hanging itself. None of the 128 deaths involved a gun of any kind.


Paterson (70) discusses 189 cases of fatal self-poisoning in North and West London between 1975 and 1984. These cases involved only one drug each, and each case was determined to be the direct result of an overdose of that specific drug, with no other contributing causes. The study further confirms that the myth of the suicidal heroin addict is indeed a myth, with only seven cases involving morphine, i.e. less than 0.04% of the cases studied. The average, or "mean," blood morphine level was high, at 1 mg/L, with a range of 0.19 mg/L to 1.9 mg/L, indicating at least one case in which the concentration was at or above Cobain's range (probably only one, which would raise the mean beyond normally seen mean levels). No other details are provided concerning the route of administration, i.e. whether or not the morphine or heroin were administered orally or intravenously. Intravenous administration is a significant possibility, and since Paterson's study includes at least one case in seven in Cobain's range, the data is used in this study to determine the specific probability and/or possibility of an individual attaining such a high blood level. Note that if the data is interpreted as 1 case in 189, then the chances of an individual attaining such a blood morphine level via self-poisoning, during a nine year period, is less than 0.0054%, i.e. extremely remote.



The idea that a person could intentionally kill someone is hard to truly accept, and it is even harder to imagine someone staging a murder to look like a suicide. It seems normal to ask "does this really happen?" Yes it does happen...staged deaths are unfortunately not rare. Furthermore, criminology textbooks clearly state that when someone who is drugged supposedly commits suicide, the "...fair supposition..." is murder. Also, when an adult goes "missing," the chances of suicide are very slim. Read a sampling for yourself from O'Hara's, Charles E., Fundamentals of Criminal Investigation (66): "...V. Beck examined forty suicides, whose skulls were smashed... Naturally in such cases the muzzle of the barrel must be placed directly under the chin or in the mouth. It is not therefore impossible that a murder may be committed in this way, and all the more likely as it lends itself easily to the suspicion of suicide; it is a fair supposition that a person asleep, stupefied, or bound, may thus be killed."
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Re: Kurt & Courtney, directed by Nick Broomfield

Postby admin » Tue Sep 24, 2013 10:40 am


TABLE 6: Rarity of Suicide Among Missing Persons

Incidence of Suicide in Missing Persons Reference
1 in 2000 O'Hara


Table 6, above, demonstrates O'Hara's findings regarding the rarity of suicide among missing persons. It must be noted that this data does not specifically regard heroin addicts, and reflects the findings of one criminologist, yet it provides a general indication as to the rarity of suicide among missing persons. He describes how the myth of a suicidal missing person perpetuates homicides staged to look like suicides; "To the layman the suicide theory is one of the first to suggest itself in a disappearance case. Statistically, however, it can be shown that the odds are greatly against the suicide solution. Approximately one out of 2,000 missing persons cases develops into a suicide case...A voluntary disappearance is motivated by a desire to escape from some personal, domestic, or business conflict...A disappointment in love seldom results in a self-inflicted death...In the disappearance of approximately 100,000 people annually in this country, it is to be expected that personal violence should play a significant part in some of the cases. Murder, the unspoken fear of the relatives and the police, must always lie in the back of the investigator's mind as a possible explanation. The suspicions of a shrewd investigator have not infrequently uncovered an unsuspected homicide. The two most popular motives for this type of homicide are money and love." Thus it is made clear that the police and relatives routinely view the possibility of murder with a certain degree of horror, while the investigator must remain suspicious to a degree which others may find ghoulish and/or paranoid, but which is nonetheless the call of duty.


A review of Lester's book on murder statistics shows the conflicting nature of much of the research into the possible relationships between homicide and suicide, yet establishes very clearly that "Narcotics were more likely to be present in the homicides." (54). Victims of murder are usually men, and for both sexes, the most vulnerable age group is between 25 and 34 years of age. Both sexes were "...killed most often at home. Both were killed more often with guns..." Regarding the statistical possibility of spouse murder, Levin & Fox state that "...though only 15% of all homicides are committed by females, more than 40% of all poisonings are committed by them." (55). Lester reports on Wolfgang's 1956 Philadelphia study which concluded that "Wives killing husbands constituted 41% of female murderers...Men killed by women were most often killed by their wives." Furthermore, again consistent with Cobain case, "...spouse murders were more often violent and brutal than other murders...85% of spouse murders took place in the home." (54). Another study showed "...murderers more often attacked people they knew." A 1972 study in New York City by Baden found "...215 homicides, 19 suicides, and 46 accidents among narcotic addicts. Narcotics homicides (versus other homicides versus other addict deaths) were more often male..." (54).


Similarly, O'Hara remarks on the common phenomenon of "Simulated Suicides: These are usually planned by persons wishing to defraud insurance companies or to arrange for a change of spouse...A search for motives should include an inquiry into insurance policies...," as well as a concept especially relevant to this case, the "Incapacitating Sequence: Certain combinations of wounds suggest a physical impossibility. To draw a conclusion of suicide, the wounds should be physically not improbable...". Additionally, he makes the point "Murder: The conclusion that a particular homicide is a murder is often made by the exclusion of accident and suicide." (66). The above quotes show how a charge of murder can result from disproving the possibility of an accident or suicide. Motives aside, the main issue here is described above as an "incapacitating sequence." Indeed, the simple fact that Cobain was drugged at all is considered a major indication of murder. Truthfully, Cobain's death should have been treated as murder from the start; as the victim he should have received the benefit of the doubt.

TABLE 7: Homicidal Poisoning by Intravenous Heroin: Hot Shots

Heroin Related Deaths % Homicidal "Hot Shots" Reference
174 3.5 % (6 cases) Froede & Stahl


Froede and Stahl, in their paper "Fatal Narcotism in Military Personnel," reviewed 1.3 million U.S. military autopsies between 1918 and 1970, and found 174 cases due to "fatal narcotism." (26). Such deaths have been an ongoing problem for the U.S. military, especially since the expanded military presence of U.S. personnel in Asia since WW II. Interestingly, there were only two deaths involving a gun shot wound, both of which were determined to be accidents while under the influence. These 2 cases did not involve lethal levels, and were thus excluded from Appendix A. Only 14 cases, i.e. 8 %, were determined to be suicide. Thus, despite the overwhelming prevalence of guns in the military, a factor well known to increase the likelihood of a gunshot related suicide, no such case occurred. Additionally, 6 cases, i.e. 3.5 %, were determined to be the result of an intentional homicidal administration of a lethal dose of heroin, a "hot shot." Thus if a similar figure existed for civilian cases, i.e. a 3.5% occurrence of homicidal hot shots amongst heroin deaths, then it appears clear that the Cobain case, statistically speaking, is much more likely to be the result of such a "hot shot" than any other scenario put forth.


Levin & Fox (55) report on a series of staged deaths perpetrated by Doreathea Puentes, who allegedly poisoned up to nine people. The first victim was thought to have committed suicide by an overdose of codeine, a verdict which changed when other deaths were correlated with Puentes. As mentioned elsewhere in this essay, other cases have been re-opened an resolved more successfully, eg. the James case (20) in section two, the Winek case (97) in section seven, and the " postmortem credit card use" case (8) in section six.



There is an officially acknowledged lack of legible fingerprints on the shotgun. The weapon was handled by two or more people several times before Cobain's death, so it is possible someone wiped the gun clean to intentionally avoid detection. Another well known fact is that Cobain's credit card was used several times after death. Postmortem credit card use has, in and of itself, has been the sole precedent in reopening and solving at least one homicide case staged to appear like a suicide according to Burgess (8). The missing persons report was filed by the widow, who told the SPD that Cobain had escaped a rehabilitation centre, purchased a shotgun, and was suicidal. Truthfully, the purchase occurred before Cobain entered the rehabilitation centre. The report seemingly predisposed the SPD to the idea that they were investigating a definite suicide, not a possible homicide. Despite SPD claims that the case was investigated as a possible homicide from the beginning, the SPD reports on the incident clearly state that the first officer on the scene viewed the case as a suicide. Furthermore, Cobain's behaviour following his departure from the rehabilitation centre included signing autographs at the Seattle airport, hardly the behaviour of a "missing person." Also, misleading accounts of details in the case have mistakenly claimed the room in which Cobain was found was barricaded.


Additionally, the note found at the scene of Cobain's death was determined by the SPD handwriting expert to be a suicide note written by Cobain, yet significant disagreement among handwriting experts points to the definite possibility that the most crucial "suicidal" lines, i.e. the last four lines, were written by a separate person. The note reads like a retirement letter, written to Cobain's "fans," explaining his resignation from the music industry. This retirement included a refusal to perform for a major tour, thus forgoing an estimated $7 to $9.5 million dollars. The estimated revenue from Cobain's music is millions of dollars, clearly enough to be a motive for homicide. The widow continues to deny several reports claiming she and Cobain were about to be divorced and that she was involved in an extra-marital affair.


The coroner, Dr. Nikolas Hartshorne, was interviewed by a newspaper reporter for the Vancouver Province in April 1996, and he insists Cobain died from a self-inflicted shotgun wound. The doctor's credibility has been questioned due to a conflict of interest, because he knew Cobain and the widow personally. Previous investigative reports indicated this conflict of interest, but the newspaper interview clearly confirms the problem. This was the first time it was ever declared, for example, that not only had Hartshorne booked Seattle "punk" bands frequently, he actually booked Cobain's band, Nirvana. Additional to the conflict of interest issues is the simple fact that even the best coroners make mistakes. The most common cause of mistakes made by coroners is basic human error. Gruver & Freis (1957), studied 1,106 autopsies, who concluded that "...lack of mental alertness or awareness on the part of the physician in attendance seemed to be a most common cause for diagnostic errors. More often than not, the correct diagnosis could have been made if the responsible physician had been less mentally stagnant about the problem."(41).

TABLE 8: Prevalence of "Major" Autopsy Discrepancies

No. of Autopsies % Cases With At Least 1 Major Discrepancy
6000 11.7 % to 33.8 %


When a diagnostic discrepancy occurs in an autopsy, it is twice as likely to be due to something missed than something found, or, as Hill & Anderson say, "...significant underdiagnosis occurs more often than overdiagnosis by a factor of almost 2:1."(41). This fact conforms with the Cobain case, where the massive level of blood morphine was mistakenly deemed irrelevant and thus "underdiagnosed." Table 8, above, summarizes a study including over 6,000 autopsies, and provides statistics which show that it is far more likely that the Cobain case involved a serious "major" diagnostic discrepancy (a likelihood of at least 11.7% to 33.8%) than any other scenario put forth officially. Burgess wrote, in Understanding the Autopsy, that "There are many jurisdictions in this country where you would not have to be half-smart to get away with murder, quite literally...the fact remains that, in all too many places, the investigation of possible murder is undertaken only after pressure is brought by relatives or other interested parties, and when such investigation is instituted, it is done so incompetently that murder after murder goes unsolved and unpunished." (8).


"The question whether a fatal injury was homicidal, suicidal, or accidental is as common in real life as it is in detective fiction. ...It is natural for a murderer to try to escape detection by making his crime look like suicide or accident, and such attempts have doubtless been going on for a long time. One cannot say how long, for one never hears about them when they succeed. However, records of failures take us quite far back." Smith, Sir Sydney (87).


Wecht, in the forward to an article by Winek (97), stated that "One of the most useful and relatively new areas of toxicology has to do with the significance and practical importance of drug and chemical blood levels. Identification and more importantly, quantitation, of blood levels is essential in many civil and criminal actions involving drugs. Without such information, the cases become matters of pure speculation and are predicated on circumstantial evidence (which may or may not prove to be correct ultimately)."(97). Winek's article, "Drug and chemical blood levels," mentions the following amazing case: "A lethal level of a drug or chemical found in an individual's blood does not by itself establish the cause of death. For example, a known narcotic addict was shot to death. Analyses of various body tissues (brain, bile, blood, etc.) revealed levels of morphine that have been found in other deaths attributed to overdose with heroin or morphine. However, in this case the cause of death was due to the bullet wounds!" (97). The indication is that a morphine overdose simultaneous with a gun shot wound is an overwhelmingly rare phenomenon at most, and that in the only such incident reported, the most obvious conclusion was homicide.

TABLE 9: Some Probability Summaries

Description of Event Probability

Suicide in Missing Persons 1 in 2000
Violent Suicides 760 in 3586 Suicides
Violent Suicide with GSW 208 in 760 Violent Suicides
Violent Suicide with GSW & MTA O.D. 0 in 760 Violent Suicides
Overdoses with Serum Morphine >1.52 mg/L 26 in 1526 MTA Related Overdoses
Suicides Involving MTA O.D. & GSW 0 in 3586 Suicides
O.D.s with Serum Morphine >1.5 mg/L & GSW 0 in 3226 MTA Related Overdoses
MTA Related O.D.s Involving GSW 0 in 3226 MTA Related Overdoses


Table 9, above, summarizes several probability statements regarding this case. A large dose of two drugs administered by intravenous injection thus appears to be a definite possibility. Specifically, Cobain was probably given an injection of no less 225 mg of some type of heroin and a benzodiazepine. The suggestion that Cobain's tolerance to heroin was so high that he could have withstood the dose described above is clearly mistaken. The addition of a benzodiazepine of any kind, especially in combination with Cobain's low body weight, points to complete incapacitation at best, and strongly, if not conclusively indicates Cobain was dead before the gunshot wound. The official statement that Cobain ingested triple the lethal dose of heroin is probably an underestimate, yet it must not be understated that triple the lethal dose of intravenous heroin is three times more than the amount which kills even the most severe addict. Dead men don't pull triggers.


Compendium of Intravenous Heroin Related Deaths Where Blood Morphine Levels Were Tested

No. of Cases Reference
Baselt, et. al.

20 Coumbis & Balkrishena
172 Froede & Stahl
22 Garriott & Sturner
9 Gerostamoulos & Drummer
128 Gottschalk & Cravey
202 Hine, et. al.
28 Irey & Froede
5 Karch
16 Logan & Luthie
32 Logan & Smirnow
435 Monforte
71 Nakamura
7 Paterson
114 Richards, et. al.
1 Robinson (79)
8 Robinson (80)
52 Staub, et. al.
243 Steentoft, et. al.

Total No. Cases: 1526
Total No. Cases >1.5 mg/L: 26 (1.7%)
Total No. Cases Which Parallel Cobain Case: 0


19 Cobain Related Sympathetic "Copycat" Suicides


Steve Dallaire, from Labrador City, Newfoundland, and two other young men, Michael Cote and Stephane Langlois from Fermont, Quebec (Fermont is near the Labrador border, hence the case has become known as "the three teenagers from Quebec"). A basic report can be found in many sources, such as the Globe & Mail, Thurs., Oct. 20, 1994 (Toronto, Canada). This story broke the heart of a nation, and shocked many people who had previously not considered the impact of Cobain's death. The RCMP stated clearly that the case of the three teenagers was Cobain related. The later suicide of their unnamed friend is also considered to be Cobain related. Basically, the 3 young men travelled on a cross-continent trip which ended in Langley, B.C., where they committed suicide in their car by carbon monoxide poisoning. They left a full journal, and a pair of worn, denim jeans covered in hand written ink with Cobain's lyrics and some other writings. A cassette tape by Nirvana was found in the car's cassette deck. The incident attracted major national and international news coverage, including a feature cover story in the widely circulated MacLean's Magazine, and a full 1 hour television documentary by CBC TV's award winning investigative journalism program, The Fifth Estate.


The Quebec provincial police reported that the young man jumped off the Jacques Cartier Bridge on Oct. 15, 1994 listening to a Walkman containing a Nirvana cassette tape. (Globe & Mail, Toronto, Can., Oct. 20, 1994)


An eleven-year-old boy, Simon Nolin was found hanged in the basement of his family's home in Ile d'Orleans, near Quebec City, on Wed., Jan. 10, 1995. At his feet his father found a note that read "I'm killing myself for Kurt." (Jed Stuart, St. Pierre, Que., for the Times Colonist, Victoria, B.C., Can., Fri., Jan. 13, 1995)


Lyndon Gagnon, a "...devotee of the rock group Nirvana..." committed suicide on April 10, 1995, followed by his girlfriend Linda Goldsmith on April 15. Both were 13 years old. (Richard Watts for the Times Colonist, April 20, 1995, Victoria, British Columbia, Can.).


Rich Truman from Leduc, Alberta, an 18-year-old, hanged himself in an apparent Cobain related suicide. The unnamed 16-year-old male from the same region committed suicide by gunshot. (David Staples, for the Edmonton Journal, Jan. 19, 1996, Alberta, Can.)


A Vancouver woman referred to only as "Colleen" committed suicide following the Cobain-related suicides of the "three teenagers from Quebec" (see Cases #1-3 above). (Vancouver Sun, Dec. 8, 1994, B.C., Can.)


The tragic death of Bobby Steele is a well established Cobain related suicide in Edmonton, Alberta. He committed suicide at age eighteen, at home, on July 3, 1994. The bereaved father, Major Robert Steele, claims to have prevented 6 other Cobain related suicides in Edmonton by the end of 1994 alone. (Ottawa Citizen, Dec. 1, 1994, Ontario, Can.).


An unnamed 16-year-old young woman killed herself in Dublin leaving a suicide note reading in part "...done it for Kurt." (Daily News, Nov. 25, 1994, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Can.)


Committed suicide at age 28 with a shotgun shortly after returning from the Cobain memorial service at the Flag Pavillion in Seattle , April 10, 1994.(Sandford, C., Kurt Cobain, Victor Gollancz, London, U.K., 1995)


Two unnamed young men died in Niagara Falls, Ontario, both labelled Cobain-related suicides. The first death was a 17-year-old, who hung himself in his basement bedroom. The other death was the young man's 19-year-old friend, who hung himself from a tree in the park the day after his friend's funeral. (Calgary Herald, Alberta, and Winnipeg Free Press, Manitoba, Canada, Nov. 24, 1994 - C.P.)


According to Sgt. Jim Hanson of Tracy, California, the 20-year-old Gaston Lyle Senac accidentally shot and killed himself when he was joking with friends and emulating Cobain's reported suicide by propping a 12 gauge shotgun on the floor, kneeling with his mouth over the barrel. (Montreal Gazette, Canada, Thurs., Dec. 8, 1994 - A.P.)

CASE NO. 18. UNNAMED TEENAGER IN SOUTHERN TURKEY: Circa April, 1994. (Sandford, ibid)

CASE NO. 19. UNNAMED TEENAGER IN AUSTRALIA: Circa April, 1994. (Sandford, ibid)


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81.) Sax, Irving .N. & Lewis, Richard J. Sr., Dangerous Properties of Industrial Materials Vol. 1-3, 7th edition, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York City, NY, USA, 1989.

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Re: Kurt & Courtney, directed by Nick Broomfield

Postby admin » Tue Sep 24, 2013 11:05 am

Mothers & Daughters: Courtney Love's Mom, Linda Carroll, Reflects on Her Daughter and Her Own Birth Mother
by Neva Chonin
February 5, 2006




Seated in a wooden booth in Chinatown's Far East Cafe, Linda Carroll is in tears. Not because she's talking about the chaotic life of her estranged daughter, rock star Courtney Love, or the emotional rediscovery of her biological mother, the author Paula Fox.

Carroll is crying because the Far East Cafe now offers karaoke, but no paper-wrapped chicken, and because the last time she sat in one of these booths was also the last time she saw her best friend alive. She's crying because people now tote McDonald's bags through Chinatown and because the site of her adoptive father's optometry shop -- just across the street from the hotel where she's staying -- has been converted to an art gallery. Carroll has returned to the city of her childhood, and her city, like Carroll herself, has changed.

"It's like I'm in a movie," she marvels, gazing fondly at the Far East's baroque interior. "I haven't been here in 40 years, and I feel like the same person."

She might feel the same, but with her blond coif and soccer-mom sweater, Carroll, 61, bears little resemblance to the earth mama on the cover of her new book, "Her Mother's Daughter: A Memoir of the Mother I Never Knew and of My Daughter, Courtney Love" (Doubleday). Although its title makes it sound like a tell-all memoir, Carroll's book is more than revelations about her famous kin. It's also the evocative story of a Catholic San Francisco schoolgirl who grew up to weather several marriages and raise five children while surviving everything from Haight-Ashbury to a sheep farm in New Zealand. At the core of her memoir is a mother-daughter legacy spanning three generations, rife with those elements that make such a story archetypal: conflict, love, loss and redemption.

Of course, "Her Mother's Daughter" also has the undeniable draw of Love's celebrity. Carroll hasn't spoken to her famous daughter in years, though she remains in touch with her granddaughter, Frances Bean Love-Cobain. In many ways, Carroll and Love's relationship hasn't changed much in 30 years. Carroll found her mercurial first daughter intimidating in childhood. She still does.

"What's our relationship?" she asks, poking at a plate of fried rice. "It's complicated. I haven't talked to her in a long time, but even when I did, it was horrible -- a lot of screaming, yelling, accusations. I would react to her volatility by distancing myself because it scared me so much, and I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to engage in it with her. For her, it came across as coldness. But it wasn't really coldness; I was freaked out. People ask if I'm at peace with our relationship. Of course I'm not. She's my child."

Relations with her own biological mother have fared better. Carroll, now a therapist in Corvallis, Ore. (her clients have included political fugitive Katherine Ann Power), decided to track down Fox in the early '90s after Love became pregnant with her own daughter. Fox later wrote of their reunion in San Francisco in her 2001 autobiography, "Borrowed Finery."

"It was so weird to see so many ways that she's like me," says Carroll. "Kids need a certain kind of mirroring when they're growing up, and my adoptive parents didn't know how to mirror me because I was so different from them. But with Paula, I saw so much of myself, so much of my own history in her story."

Fox's life, which Carroll describes as "Dickensian," was at least as colorful as her daughter's. Sent to an orphanage as a child, she had Carroll at 20 after a one-night stand. In an echo of her own abandonment, Fox gave her child up for adoption, and Carroll was raised in Pacific Heights by Jack and Louella Risi. It was no storybook girlhood: Her father, she writes, was sexually transgressive; her mother, distant.

Carroll responded by creating a life outside her adoptive parents' home. Together with her friend Judy Carroll -- whose surname she took after Judy's death -- Carroll turned San Francisco into an extended family. "The city was like a playground," she says. "And we had outrageous imaginations. We would look at people and convince each other that someone at the next table was a murderer, and then we'd follow them. Every day I would wake up and wonder, 'What's the adventure of the day?' "

After high school, Carroll's fascination with odd characters led her to the Haight's hippie community and finally to Hank Harrison, an early Grateful Dead associate who threatened to kill himself unless Carroll slept with him. At a loss, she did. They later married in Reno and Carroll became pregnant with Courtney. The two divorced, Carroll says, after Harrison's behavior grew increasingly violent and erratic.

Courtney Love's childhood was blighted from the start. She returned from visits with Hank covered in paint, talking about drugs and suffering from nightmares. Expelled from school after school, interviewed by psychiatrist after psychiatrist, she was prone to fits of rage and feelings of persecution. Barely able to keep her own life together, Carroll eventually left her eldest in the care of friends while she, her second husband and other children relocated to New Zealand. At 16, Love had herself legally emancipated from her family.

Attempts have been made at reconciliation, but Carroll and Love -- whose agent has called "Her Mother's Daughter" a work of "vicious fiction" -- never resolved their differences. For her part, Carroll doesn't claim to have been a superlative mother. "There's so much I regret about all my kids," she admits. "I can see where my chaos and being out to lunch affected Courtney. Certainly if I'd been more stable in my life, it would have been so much better for her."

Though the two remain estranged, Carroll bristles when others criticize Love and is quick to come to her defense when shock jocks smear her name during book-tour interviews. "When people are so horrible about her, it brings up this helplessness I felt when she was little. Where is the mercy? When celebrities crash, there's a feeding frenzy. I hate it."

She says she sees elements of herself in Love, just as she sees much of Fox in her own personality. But if the mother-daughter legacy of abandonment and estrangement has endured the decades, Carroll hopes the tradition of reconciliation will continue, too.

"Courtney really has a strong spiritual center," Carroll says, leaving the cafe to rejoin the chaos of Chinatown. "She has some kind of a God hunger, and that's been true for me, too. I've had a lot of craziness and a lot of loss, but I feel blessed. I've always known I'm more than just my story."
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Re: Kurt & Courtney, directed by Nick Broomfield

Postby admin » Tue Sep 24, 2013 11:10 am

Linda Carroll
by Wikipedia



Linda Carroll (born 1944, San Francisco) is an American author and a marriage and family therapist. [1] She is the mother of singer and musician Courtney Love, and the daughter of author Paula Fox.

Linda was born to Paula Fox when she was 20, [2] the result of a one night stand. [3] However, given the tumultuous relationship with Paula's own biological parents, she gave the child up for adoption. Linda was adopted into an Italian Catholic family, and raised in Pacific Heights by Jack and Louella Risi. Linda took her surname after her friend Judy Carroll, after Judy's death.[2] Linda graduated from high school in 1961. She married writer and one time-Grateful Dead manager Hank Harrison in Reno,[2] and gave birth to Courtney Love in 1964. Within years of Courtney's birth, both Carroll's adoptive parents died. Also, Carroll's three-month-old baby died of a heart defect. [4] [5] She divorced Harrison in 1969, alleging that he had given Love LSD, and brought her daughter with her to Marcola, Oregon. She had two other daughters with the second husband, and settled on a hippie commune in Oregon. She divorced and married Frank Rodriguez. [6]

After finishing her bachelors degree in Oregon in the 1970s, she moved to New Zealand. She returned to Oregon in the 1980s and received a masters in counseling, and began practicing as a therapist. In the nineties, she and her veterinarian husband, Tim Barraud, began to teach a couples course based on the Imago work of Harville Hendrix, the PAIRS training of Dr. Lori Gordon, and their own insights, study, and practices.

As an adult, Carroll found that her birth mother is the novelist Paula Fox (her grandmother was screenwriter Elsie Fox).[4] In 2006, her memoir Her Mother's Daughter: A Memoir of the Mother I Never Knew and of My Daughter, Courtney Love, was published by Doubleday.[1] Carroll has not spoken to her daughter in years and remains estranged. Love's agent called the book a work of "vicious and greedy fiction", and said, "We find it astonishing that any mother should write such a book. This is especially true in the case of Ms Carroll, who abandoned her daughter when she was a seven-year-old and whom Ms Love thus barely knows at all."[2][4] In 2008, Remember Who You Are was published by Conari Press, and she is currently working on a book about relationships entitled Love Cycles. [7]


1. Courtney Love's mom denies paper's story". USA Today. 8/24/2003. Retrieved 1-March-2013.
2. Neva Chonin (February 5, 2006). "MOTHERS & DAUGHTERS / Courtney Love's mom, Linda Carroll, reflects on her daughter and her own birth mother". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 3-March-2013.
3. Acocella, Joan (May 16, 2011). "From Bad Beginnings". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2012-03-01.
4. Gaby Wood (28 May 2006). "No love lost for a mother's lost love". Independent Woman. Retrieved 1-March-2013.
5. Carroll, Linda (2005). Her Mother's Daughter. Doubleday. ISBN 9780385512463 Check |isbn= value (help).
6. Jung, K Elan (2010). Sexual Trauma: A Challenge Not Insanity. The Hudson Press. pp. 188–189. Retrieved 2011-10-30.
7. Jon Spayde (May 2012). "The Same Old Argument". Experience Life. Retrieved 3-March-2013.
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Re: Kurt & Courtney, directed by Nick Broomfield

Postby admin » Tue Sep 24, 2013 11:38 am

Death of Kurt Cobain
by Wikipedia



171 Lake Washington Blvd East Seattle, Washington, the site of Cobain's death.

Kurt Cobain, the lead singer of the American grunge band Nirvana, was found dead at his home located at 171 Lake Washington Boulevard in Seattle, Washington, United States on April 8, 1994, having committed suicide three days prior on April 5. The Seattle Police Department incident report states that Cobain was found with a shotgun across his body, had a visible head wound and there was a suicide note discovered nearby. The King County Medical Examiner noted that there were puncture wounds on the inside of both the right and left elbow. Prior to his death, Cobain had checked out of a drug rehabilitation facility and been reported suicidal by his wife Courtney Love.

Despite the official ruling of suicide, several theories have arisen offering alternate explanations for Cobain's death. Tom Grant, a private investigator hired by Cobain's wife, Courtney Love, to find Cobain after his departure from rehab, put forth his belief that Cobain was murdered. Grant's theory has since been analyzed and questioned by television shows, films and books. Authors and filmmakers have also attempted to explain what might have happened during Cobain's final days, and what might have led him to commit suicide.

Discovery of Cobain's body

On April 8, 1994, Kurt Cobain was discovered in the living quarters above his garage at his Lake Washington house by Veca Electric employee Gary Smith. Smith arrived at the house in the morning to install security lighting and saw Cobain lying inside. Smith found what he thought might be a suicide note with a pen stuck through it beneath an overturned flowerpot. A shotgun, purchased for Cobain by Dylan Carlson, was found resting on Cobain's chest.[1][dead link] Cobain's death certificate stated that his death was a result of a "contact perforating shotgun wound to the head", and concluded his death a suicide. The report estimated Cobain to have died on April 5, 1994.

Memorial and cremation

On April 10, 1994, a public memorial service was held at the Seattle Center, where a recording of wife Courtney Love reading Cobain's suicide note was played. Near the end of the vigil, Love arrived and distributed some of his clothing to fans who remained there.[2] In the following days, Love publicly consoled and mourned with fans who would come to their house.

Cobain's body was cremated and Love divided portions of his ashes, some of which she kept in a teddy bear and in an urn.[3] Another portion of his ashes was taken by Love to the Namgyal Buddhist Monastery in Ithaca, New York in 1994, where they were ceremonially blessed by Buddhist monks and mixed into clay which was made into memorial sculptures.[3] A final ceremony was arranged for Cobain by his mother on May 31, 1999, attended by both Courtney Love and Tracy Marander. As a Buddhist monk chanted, his daughter Frances Bean scattered his ashes into McLane Creek in Olympia, the city where he "had found his true artistic muse."[4]



Advocates of the verdict (death by self-inflicted gunshot wound) cite Cobain's persistent drug addiction, clinical depression, and handwritten suicide note as conclusive proof. Members of Cobain's family have also noted patterns of depression and instability in Kurt before he achieved fame. Cobain himself mentioned that his stomach pains from an undiagnosed stomach condition during Nirvana's 1991 European tour were so severe, he became suicidal and stated that taking heroin was "[his] choice", stating "This is the only thing that's saving me from blowing my head off right now."[5]

Cobain's cousin Beverly, a nurse, pointed out that there was a family history of suicide. Beverly claimed that bipolar disorder and his struggles with drug addiction led him to commit suicide.[6][dead link]

In Charles Cross's Heavier than Heaven, bandmate Krist Novoselic talked about seeing Cobain in the days before the intervention: "He was really quiet. He was just estranged from all of his relationships. He wasn't connecting with anybody."[7] An offer to buy a nice dinner for Cobain resulted in Novoselic unintentionally driving him to score heroin. "His dealer was right there. He wanted to get fucked up into oblivion. ... He wanted to die, that's what he wanted to do."[8] In his own book, Of Grunge and Government: Let's Fix This Broken Democracy, Novoselic alluded to circumstances of Cobain's death: "Tragically, [Cobain] picked the wrong way to resign from the position he was thrust into."[9]

Richard Lee

The first to object publicly to the report of suicide was Seattle public access host Richard Lee. A week after Cobain's death, Lee aired the first episode of an ongoing series covering Cobain's death called Kurt Cobain Was Murdered. Lee claimed several discrepancies in the police reports, including several changes in the nature of the shotgun blast. Lee acquired a video that was taped on April 8 from the tree outside Cobain's garage, showing the scene around Cobain's body, which Lee claimed showed a marked absence of blood for what was reported as a point-blank shotgun blast to the head (several pathology experts have noted that a shotgun blast inside the mouth often results in less blood, unlike a shotgun blast to the head).[10]

Tom Grant

The main proponent of the existence of a conspiracy surrounding Cobain's death is Tom Grant, a private investigator employed by Courtney Love after Cobain's disappearance from rehab. Grant was still under Love's employment when Cobain's body was found. Grant believes that Cobain's death was a homicide.

There are several key components to Grant's theory:

Bloodstream heroin levels

On April 14, 1994, Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that Cobain was "high on heroin when he pulled the trigger". The paper reported that the toxicological tests determined that the level of heroin in Cobain's bloodstream was 1.52 milligrams per liter, and that there was also evidence of diazepam, or Valium, in his blood. In the report was a quote from Dr. Randall Baselt of the Chemical Toxicological Institute who stated that Cobain's heroin level was "a high concentration, by any account." He also stated in the report that the strength of that dose would depend on many factors, including how habituated Cobain was to the drug. [11] Grant argues that Cobain could not have injected himself with such a dose and still have been able to pull the trigger.[12]

However, several different studies on heroin use have noted the difficulty in pinpointing the level of heroin that an addict can tolerate. In a 2004 story, Dateline NBC questioned five medical examiners about the figure from the toxicology report. Two of them noted the possibility that Cobain could have built up enough of a tolerance through repeated usage to have been able to pull the trigger himself, while the three others held that the information was inconclusive.[13]

Grant does not believe that Cobain was killed by the heroin dose. He suggests that the heroin was used to incapacitate Cobain before the final shotgun blast was administered by the perpetrator.[14]

Also, some have noted that as Grant, Wallace and Halperin have gone on the dosage reported in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, not the actual autopsy report, they may not have the correct amount.[15] The SPD cannot release the information to the media as reports and records of autopsies and postmortems are confidential, protected under Washington law.[16]

Police also reported that Kurt Cobain had injection marks on both arms.[citation needed] The Seattle police department made these sections of information in the full toxicology report public.

Suicide note

While working for Love, Grant was given access to Cobain's suicide note, and used her fax machine to make a photocopy, which has since been widely distributed.

After studying the note, Grant believed that it was actually a letter written by Cobain announcing his intent to leave Courtney Love, Seattle, and the music business. Grant asserted that the few lines at the very bottom of the note, separate from the rest of it, are the only parts implying suicide. While the official report on Cobain's death concluded that Cobain wrote the note, Grant claims that the official report does not distinguish the questionable lines from the rest of the note, and simply draws the conclusion across the entire note. However, it should be noted that many of Kurt's notes were written in this manner, proven when Cobain's Journals were published in 2002.[17]

Grant claims to have consulted with handwriting experts who support his assertion. Other experts disagree, however. Document examiner Janis Parker concluded the suicide note was written by Kurt Cobain.[18] When Dateline NBC sent a copy of the note to four different handwriting experts, one concluded that the entire note was in Cobain's hand, while the other three said the sample was inconclusive.[13] One expert contacted by the television series Unsolved Mysteries noted the difficulty in drawing a conclusion, given that the note being studied was a photocopy, not the original.[19]


The shotgun, a Remington Model 11 20 gauge, was not checked for fingerprints until May 6, 1994.[citation needed] According to the Fingerprint Analysis Report, four cards of latent prints were lifted but contained no legible prints.

The Seattle Police Department's follow-up report states that the shotgun was inverted on Cobain's chest with his left hand wrapped around the barrel. The officer had to pry the shotgun from Cobain's hands, which could be a factor in the illegible prints.[20]

Police report

Grant also cites circumstantial evidence from the official report. For example, the report claimed that the doors of the greenhouse could not have been locked from the outside, meaning that Cobain would have had to lock them himself. Grant claims that when he saw the doors for himself, he found that the doors could be locked and pulled shut. Grant also questions the lack of fingerprint evidence connecting Cobain to the key evidence, including the shotgun (although this could be attributed to the gun's oil coating or condensation in the greenhouse.)[15] Grant notes that the official report claims that Cobain's fingerprints were also absent from the suicide note and the pen (although as it was stabbed in the soil, it would be likely that a palm print would erase fingerprints)[21] that had been poked through it, and yet Cobain was found without gloves on his hands. None of the circumstantial evidence directly points to murder, but Grant believes it supports the larger case.[22]

Rome incident

After Cobain's death, Love claimed that Cobain's overdose in Rome was a suicide attempt. Love told Rolling Stone's David Fricke, "He took 50 pills. He probably forgot how many he took. But there was a definite suicidal urge, to be gobbling and gobbling and gobbling."[23]

In studying the Rome incident, journalists Ian Halperin and Max Wallace contacted Dr. Osvaldo Galletta, who treated Cobain after the incident. Galletta contested the claim that the Rome overdose was a suicide attempt, telling Halperin and Wallace, "We can usually tell a suicide attempt. This didn't look like one to me." Galletta also specifically denied Love's claim that fifty Rohypnol pills were removed from Cobain's stomach.[24]

However, they also stated: "Grant believes Courtney may have mixed a large number of pills into Kurt's champagne so that when he took a drink, he was actually unknowingly ingesting large amounts of the drug, enough to kill him. But if that's the case, why did she call the police when she found him unconscious on the floor? If she wanted Kurt dead, why didn't she just leave him on the floor until he died?"[15]

Galletta also noted that Cobain's recovery was aided by the "timely intervention" by Courtney Love, who called for help.[25]

Grant believes that the claim that the Rome incident was a suicide attempt was not made until after Cobain's death. Grant claims that people close to Cobain, including Nirvana's management Gold Mountain, specifically denied the characterization prior to Cobain's death. Grant believes that if Rome had truly been a suicide attempt, Cobain's friends and family would have been told so that they could have watched out for him.

Others have asserted that the claims by Gold Mountain and others were simply efforts to mask what was happening behind the scenes. Lee Ranaldo, guitarist for Sonic Youth, told Rolling Stone, "Rome was only the latest installment of [those around Cobain] keeping a semblance of normalcy for the outside world."[26]

Rosemary Carroll

Grant spoke to Cobain's attorney, Rosemary Carroll, at her office on April 13, 1994. He says that she pressed him to investigate Cobain's death, and claimed that Cobain was not suicidal. Grant also claims that Cobain had asked her to draw up a will excluding Love because he was planning to file for divorce. Grant claims that this was the motive for Cobain's death.[27] Carroll has not confirmed Grant's allegations or commented publicly on the matter.

Nick Broomfield

Filmmaker Nick Broomfield decided to investigate the theories for himself, and took a film crew to visit a number of people associated with Cobain and Love, including Love's estranged father, Cobain's aunt, and one of the couple's former nannies. Broomfield also spoke to Mentors' bandleader El Duce, who claimed that Love had offered him $50,000 to kill Cobain, C Love: "El, I need a favour of you. My old man's been a real asshole lately, I need you to blow his fucking head off." El Duce: "Are you serious"? C Love: "Yeah, I'll give you $50,000 to blow his fucking head off." El Duce: "I'm serious if you are". CLove: "Where can I reach you"? El Duce: "You can reach me here". Then passed a polygraph administered by polygraph expert Edward Gelb.[28] Though El Duce claimed that he knew who killed Kurt, he failed to mention a name, and offered no evidence to support his assertion. However, during the interview, he mentioned speaking to someone called Alan, before quickly saying,"I mean, my friend" then laughing, saying, "I'll let the FBI catch him". Broomfield incidentally captured El Duce's last interview, as he died days later when he passed out on train tracks and was run over.

Broomfield titled the finished documentary Kurt & Courtney, and it was released in 1998. In the end, however, Broomfield felt he hadn't uncovered enough evidence to conclude the existence of a conspiracy. In a 1998 interview, Broomfield summed it up by saying, "I think that he committed suicide. I don't think that there's a smoking gun. And I think there's only one way you can explain a lot of things around his death. Not that he was murdered, but that there was just a lack of caring for him. I just think that Courtney had moved on, and he was expendable."[29]

Ian Halperin and Max Wallace

Journalists Ian Halperin and Max Wallace took a similar path and attempted to investigate the conspiracy for themselves. Their initial work, the 1999 book Who Killed Kurt Cobain? drew a similar conclusion to Broomfield's film: while there wasn't enough evidence to prove a conspiracy, there was more than enough to demand that the case be reopened. A notable element of the book included their discussions with Grant, who had taped nearly every conversation that he had undertaken while he was in Love's employ. In particular, Halperin and Wallace insisted that Grant play the tapes of his conversations with Carroll so that they could confirm his story. Over the next several years, Halperin and Wallace collaborated with Grant to write a second book, 2004's Love and Death: The Murder of Kurt Cobain.

Contesting the murder theory

Grant counters the claim that he profits from the sale of casebook kits on his website by stating that it goes to offset some of the costs of his investigation. As Grant related, "I wrestled with that ... but if I go broke, I'll have to give up my pursuit and Courtney wins."[30]

Halperin and Wallace spoke to several people involved in the investigation of Cobain's death who refute the conspiracy. The Seattle medical examiner who examined Cobain's body, Dr. Nicholas Hartshorne, insisted that all of the evidence pointed to a suicide. However, many have questioned his opinion because he once promoted concerts for Nirvana, to which he replied, "It's leap of faith, that someone who once promoted concerts for bands would now risk his job, prison, and public disgrace, in order to cover up a murder. I have promoted numerous concerts. Would I aid in covering up a murder? No. As a promoter you don't have that type of relationship with the bands you promote."[31] Sergeant Donald Cameron, one of the homicide detectives, specifically dismissed Grant's theory, claiming, "[Grant] hasn't shown us a shred of proof that this was anything other than suicide." Cobain's friend, Dylan Carlson, told Halperin and Wallace that he also did not believe that the theory was legitimate and in an interview with Broomfield, implied that if he believed his friend was murdered, he would have dealt with it himself. In 'Kurt & Courtney' he specifically said that he would kill Courtney and others involved if he believed they had killed Kurt.[32] He has criticized Tom Grant's investigation saying:

"I think he's just a dipshit. A total incompetent. I was with him for three days when he came up here. He is a total incompetent. He couldn't find his ass with a map"[20]

Many of Kurt's friends and family have supported the suicide verdict. Bandmate Krist Novoselic has strongly voiced his opinion that Kurt killed himself.[20]

Kurt's friend Everett True has also stated that Kurt killed himself,[33] as has Dave Grohl.[34] Kurt's father, Donald Cobain (who worked with Washington State Patrol), has made no attempts to reopen the case, despite his professional connections.[35]

Reactions of Cobain's friends

Several of Cobain's friends have accepted that he committed suicide, but noted being surprised when it happened. Mark Lanegan, a long-time friend of Cobain's, told Rolling Stone, "I never knew [Cobain] to be suicidal. I just knew he was going through a tough time."[36] In the same article, Dylan Carlson noted that he wished Cobain or someone close to him had told him that Rome was a suicide attempt.

Danny Goldberg, husband of Rosemary Carroll and founder of Nirvana's management agency Gold Mountain Entertainment, refers in his book Dispatches From The Culture Wars: How The Left Lost Teen Spirit to "the crazy Internet rumors that Kurt Cobain had not committed suicide but had been murdered" and states that Cobain's suicide "haunts me every day".[37]

In August 2005, Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon was asked about Kurt's death in an interview for Uncut magazine. When asked what she thought to be Kurt's motive in committing suicide, Gordon replied:

I don't even know that he killed himself. There are people close to him who don't think that he did...[38]

When asked if she thought someone else had killed him, Gordon answered,

I do, yes.

In the same interview Gordon's then husband and collaborator Thurston Moore stated that:

Kurt died in a very harsh way. It wasn't just an OD. He actually killed himself violently. It was so aggressive, and he wasn't an aggressive person, he was a smart person, he had an interesting intellect. So it kind of made sense because it was like: wow, what a fucking gesture. But at the same time it was like: something's wrong with that gesture. It doesn’t really lie with what we know.

A musical hero of Cobain's, Greg Sage, said about him in an interview:[39]

Well, I can’t really speculate other than what he said to me, which was, he wasn’t at all happy about it, success to him seemed like, I think, a brick wall. There was nowhere else to go but down, it was too artificial for him, and he wasn’t an artificial person at all. He was actually, two weeks after he died, he was supposed to come here and he wanted to record a bunch of Leadbelly covers. It was kind of in secret, because, I mean, people would definitely not allow him to do that. You also have to wonder, he was a billion-dollar industry at the time, and if the industry had any idea at all of him wishing or wanting to get out, they couldn’t have allowed that, you know, in life, because if he was just to get out of the scene, he’d be totally forgotten, but if he was to die, he’d be immortalized.

Cobain's grandfather, Leland Cobain, has publicly said that he believes Kurt was the victim of murder, and not suicide. He explicitly stated that he thinks Kurt "was murdered."[40] Also of note, Courtney Love's first husband, "Falling" James Moreland, lead singer of the indie rock band The Leaving Trains, has publicly expressed that if he had remained married to Love, then he would likely have "wound up like Kurt, shoving a shotgun down my throat."[41][dead link] Moreland also said that "She was always threatening me with violence and loved the idea of paying someone else [to] do her dirty work," after she threatened to pay someone to beat him up.[42] Rozz Rezabek, another 1980's flame of hers, attested to Moreland's feelings as well in an interview featured in the 1998 film Kurt & Courtney.


1. Odell, Michael. 33 Things You Should Know About Nirvana; Blender magazine, Jan/Feb 2005]
2. Azerrad, p. 350
3. Dickinson, Amy (February 1996). "Kurt Cobain's Final Tour". Esquire.
4. Cross, p. 351
5. Azerrad, p. 236
6. Libby, Brian. "Even in His Youth". AHealthyMe.com. Retrieved February 24, 2007.
7. Cross, p. 332
8. Cross, p. 333
9. Novoselic, Krist. Of Grunge and Government: Let's Fix This Broken Democracy. Akashic Books, 2004.
10. Halperin & Wallace, p. 128
11. "Justice For Kurt Cobain - Media Coverage - Newspapers - Seattle Post Intelligencer". Justiceforkurt.com. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
12. Halperin & Wallace, p. 113
13. Lauer, Matt. "More questions in Kurt Cobain death?" Dateline NBC. April 5, 2004.
14. Halperin & Wallace, p. 116
15. "Justice For Kurt Cobain - Investigation - Rebuttals - Anonymous". Justiceforkurt.com. 2007-10-26. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
16. "Justice For Kurt Cobain - Investigation - Rebuttals - Charles Robbins - What About The Evidence?". Justiceforkurt.com. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
17. http://docs.exdat.com/pars_docs/tw_refs ... be7d8a.jpg
18. "Justice For Kurt Cobain - Investigation - Rebuttals - Charles Rollins - Suicide Note". Justiceforkurt.com. 2007-10-26. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
19. Halperin & Wallace, p. 112
20. "Justice For Kurt Cobain - Investigation - Rebuttals - Anonymous". Justiceforkurt.com. 2007-10-26. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
21. "Justice For Kurt Cobain - Investigation - Rebuttals - Charles Rollins - No Fingerprints". Justiceforkurt.com. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
22. Halperin & Wallace, p. 121
23. Fricke, David (December 15, 1994). "Life After Death". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 14, 2013. Now in Yarm, Mark (2011). Everybody Loves Our Town. A History of Grunge. London: Faber & Faber. p. 439. ISBN 0-571-27650-4; ISBN 978-05-7127-650-9.
24. Halperin & Wallace, p. 89.
25. "Justice For Kurt Cobain - Investigation - Rebuttals - Charles Rollins - Courtney Wanted Kurt Dead". Justiceforkurt.com. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
26. Strauss, Neil. "The Downward Spiral". Cobain: By the Editors of Rolling Stone. 1994.
27. Halperin & Wallace, p. 119
28. George W. Maschke. "Polygraph Operator 'Dr.' Edward I. Gelb Exposed as a Phony Ph.D.", AntiPolygraph.org, June 16, 2003: "Gelb is a past president, executive director, and chairman of the board of the American Polygraph Association and in 1998 earned the association's Leonarde Keeler Award 'for long and distinguished service to the polygraph profession.'"
29. Miller, Prairie. "Interview with Nick Broomsfeild". Detailsonkurtcobainsdeath.com. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
30. Halperin & Wallace, p. 126
31. "Justice For Kurt Cobain - Investigation - Rebuttals - Charles Rollins - The Coroner". Justiceforkurt.com. July 27, 2007. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
32. "Kurt Cobain's death - Dylan Carlson talking about it.". YouTube. 2007-07-27. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
33. True, Everett (August 24, 2011). "Ten myths about grunge, Nirvana and Kurt Cobain | Music". The Guardian. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
34. Buchanan, Brett (March 29, 2011). "Alternativenation.Net | Dave Grohl Talks About Kurt Cobain’S Death, Calls It “Heartbreaking”". Grungereport.net. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
35. "Justice For Kurt Cobain - Investigation - Rebuttals - Charles Rollins - More Things To Consider". Justiceforkurt.com. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
36. Strauss.
37. Goldberg, Danny. Dispatches From The Culture Wars: How The Left Lost Teen Spirit. Miramax, 2003.
38. Dalton, Stephen. "Suicide Blond." Uncut Magazine August 2005. Beautifully Scarred. Accessed on August 24, 2005.
39. Marc Covert (2003). "interview with greg sage". Smokebox.net. Retrieved 2007-05-03.
40. Gold, Todd. "Remembering Kurt" People Magazine, April 12, 2004. Retrieved October 17, 2008.
41. Gumbel, Andrew. "Courtney Love: First-class provocateur – that crazy thing called Love" The Independent, February 8, 2008. Retrieved October 17, 2008.
42. Knight, Henrietta "My wild wife Courtney wore stockings and suspenders in bed... and so did I." Sunday Mirror, December 29, 1996. Retrieved July 31, 2013.


1. Furek, M. p. 21. "The Death Proclamation of Generation X: A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of Goth, Grunge and Heroin." i-Universe. ISBN 978-0-595-46319-0
2. Charles R. Cross "Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain"
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Re: Kurt & Courtney, directed by Nick Broomfield

Postby admin » Wed Sep 25, 2013 5:06 am

Love Child
by Kevin Sessums
June 1995



Grunge queen Courtney Love is on her way to becoming the most powerful female rock icon in the country, but she thinks everybody wants her dead. As Love searches for a new home—some place with “witches and vampires”—Kevin Sessums talks to the Great White Widow about sex, drugs, her daughter, Frances Bean, and the suicide of her husband, Kurt Cobain.

"Somebody in Japan offered me a grotesque thing,” says Courtney Love, the grunge diva who fronts not only the alternative-rock band Hole but also, as the widow of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, the grief-fed rage of an entire generation. “They offered me $4 million for this house because of Kurt dying here. Of course, l was, like, ‘Go fuck yourself!’ They were never even going to live here. They just wanted it, As what'? As a fucking museum? Kurt wanted me to stay. Or he would not have done it in the greenhouse,” she continues, alluding to the day Cobain, having escaped from his last visit to a drug-rehabilitation center, took a gun, put it to his weary head, and pulled the trigger.

A guard unlocks the gate to the estate, which is high on a hill above Lake Washington in Seattle, near the house of Howard Schultz, the chairman and C.E.O. of the Starbucks coffee-bar chain. The first thing l see at the end of the drive is that infamous greenhouse—now a shrine filled with orchids and daphnes and gardenias—above the garage. Parked below it, like a kind of auto couple, are Love’s two Volvos, a sedan and a station wagon. The bumper sticker on the former reads, i’m a homemaker and proud of it. As I enter the quarry-stone mansion, which she says once belonged to the Blaine family, who were among the founders of this most beautiful of northwestern American cities, the delighted squeals of Frances Bean Cobain, the two-and-a-half-year-old progeny of Kurt and Courtney, serve as a welcoming herald. The bright-faced youngster is being chased around the downstairs rooms by Love’s bearded assistant. “l’m gonna get you!” he teases her. Captured, the child issues a child’s instinctive challenge: “Mommy!”

Mommy—a kind of autocouple herself since the death of her husband only a year ago, an embodiment of both Cobain’s lingering spirit and her own carnal presence—cries out from somewhere above us, “Bean! Bean!” The voice is ragged, loving, rocked-out after two weeks of performances. "Beeeeean!”

To the left of the manor‘s grand staircase is a rather formal dining room lorded over by a dark and bedeviling Robert Hawkins painting titled The Drug Dealer’s Horse. To the right is a parlor containing three overstuffed sofas. A giant framed needlepoint angel is on one wall. On another hangs a gift to Cobain from the writer William Burroughs, a sketch, primitively rendered by the grizzled author’s apparently shaky hand, of a slit-eyed, slightly evil, alien-looking creature—an E.T. with the D.T.’s. What appear to be bullet holes riddle the portrait. The inscription from Burroughs reads. “The Priest, they called him.”

“Burroughs shot it,” a bleary Love, now standing in the room, tells me when she sees me looking at the holes. Her mottled blond hair is matted, and a white silk robe is thrown matter-of-factly over her blowsy body. “That’s what he does—he shoots up his art. Kurt would go into a Burroughs imitation when he was on drugs, or in bed. ‘All riiiight, baaaaby . . . arrrgggrrr,’” she growls, imitating Cobain imitating Burroughs.

Across the living room is the Buddhist altar on which most of Cobain’s ashes are kept in an open urn. (Some are buried beneath a small willow tree outside; others are in Love’s bedroom under a miniature sculpture of a benevolent Buddha.) A baby picture of Cobain looking exactly like Frances Bean—especially the eerily wise, walnut-size eyes—sits next to a portrait of him as a famous young man. “He was so gorgeous . . . . Kurt,” Love laments. “I don’t know how I got lucky that way.” She opens a small round box next to the altar. Inside is a mass of black-rooted blond locks. “Look at his beautiful hair,” she tells me as I pick up a precisely folded piece of tissue that sits atop the strands. “Those are his pubes—I snagged a few," she brags. “I wanted his heart. I wanted his heart to put an oak in it. I was going fucking medieval.”

“An oak?” l ask.

"Yeah. I wanted to plant an oak in it and have it grow. It’s an old Saxon tradition. He had a lot of German in him. Some Irish. But no Jew. I think that if he had had a little Jew he would have fucking stuck it out. But he didn’t. . . . His ashes are finally going to the Calvary Cemetery here in Seattle. I was thinking at one point: Because he loved it so much, would Kurt want to go to New Orleans? When people go and make their fucking pilgrimage, would they like to go to New Orleans? Mmmmm . . . no. I guess Seattle will stay the mecca for drugs and Kurt Cobain.”

All about us are vases of Stargazer lilies, Cobain’s favorite flower, as well as an array of religious symbols and artifacts. “A lot of this Christian stuff is Kurt’s,” Love says as she shows me the rest of the house. “Mine is the Buddhist stuff. The Jesuses are Kurt’s. He had Jesus-envy. But we both sort of defied it, too, because we started studying Buddhism. . . . I like all the angels around, because I think they protect me and my daughter. I mean, her dad’s an angel. When she sees her dad on TV, she goes, ‘Oh . . . an angel’—whatever that means in her little head.”

Love relieves her assistant and begins to chase Frances Bean herself, mother and daughter harmonizing in their squeals of alarm. At the top of the staircase, they hang a right and end up in Frances Bean’s bedroom. Love, looking at the lone, small photograph above the bed, curls up on the covers while the child searches through the books strewn about the floor among the stuffed animals. “Who’s that?” she asks her daughter, pointing at the portrait of a happily disheveled couple.

“That’s Mommy,” Frances Bean answers, looking up from where she is digging deeply into a pile of toys.

“Who’s that?” Love asks, this time reaching up to touch Cobain’s face with her nicked and nicotined fingers.

“That’s Daddy.”

Frances Bean finds what she’s been searching for. “Will you read me this?" she asks, handing Love a copy of Beauty and the Beast before retrieving a naked doll—a rather handsome young male one—to hold as she climbs onto her mother’s lap.

“Who’s that?” I ask the child.

“It was a gift from her father,” Love tells me. “It’s Luke Perry. But Kurt dressed him in a dress before he gave it to her.”

Frances Bean eyes the doll.

Love begins: “One cold winter’s evening a ragged old beggar woman came bearing a rose to the door of a castle. She pleaded for shelter, but the spoiled young prince who lived there turned the woman away . . . ”

Continuing to read, Love tries to wrap her daughter in the white robe that barely clings to the edges of her breasts. Handing me the doll, Frances Bean climbs higher on Love’s lap and hangs on every word. The child places her tiny hands on her mother’s cheeks and listens to the last lines read to her in that ragged, loving, rocked-out voice, “The spell was broken,” her mother finishes, knowing the lines by heart, and turns to look into her dead husband’s eyes framed there in her daughter’s face. “The Beast was no more,” she recites, more in a rasp than a whisper. ‘“Love had changed his life forever.”

There is a Grand Guignol naiveté about Courtney Love. Offstage, at home, it enhances the maternal intimacy she enjoys with her daughter. Onstage, it is monstrously effective at arousing in her audiences the mother lode that all great rock ’n’ roll stars must tap—puerile rebellion. Offstage and on, Love is as unpredictable as she is prurient. Louise Brooks, the great screen siren, could have been describing Love when she once summed up the charms of the American child star Shirley Temple: “a swaggering tough little slut.”

Love’s Kinder-slut persona is primed and ready by the time I catch the last leg of a recent Hole tour in Salt Lake City. As I wander around the temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, located in a 10-acre square in Salt Lake City, I can’t help but wonder who will show up for Hole’s concert tonight. The young people here are so well scrubbed and polite that I can't imagine them singing along with anything other than Mormon hymns. Stationed around Temple Square are lovely young girls from all over the world, referred to as “sisters,” who are doing their missionary work for the church. Flight attendants for the ancestral angels of this faith, they piously dispense information about the holy pioneers who settled in this valley in 1847.

Even in Salt Lake City, it turns out, Courtney Love and Hole can pull in a crowd. “Hers is the heart of the rock ’n’ roll audience," Danny Goldberg, who once managed Nirvana as well as Hole and is now chairman and C.E.O. of Warner Bros. Records, tells me. “You meet 14-year-olds and they’re all into Hole. It’s not just a cult. It’s not just colleges. It’s not just critics. She’s appealing to the heart of the MTV mainstream rock audience. It’s not just based on one song. It’s her. There are very few women who have ever done that. . . . My daughter, Katie, who is four and a half, often says she wants to be like Courtney when she grows up," Goldberg continues, laughing nervously.

“I’m a Courtney Love fan because I think she’s a woman who goes beyond the limits of anything to say what she wants to say and to do what she wants to do," a chubby teenager named Holly tells me just before the concert begins in a small hall on the shore of the Great Salt Lakes. Along with hundreds of other sweet-faced girls and tough-talking boys, she is getting revved up for her idol’s entrance. “I think she’s been through hell and back,” says Holly. “And she’s survived!”

Suddenly the crowd lets loose with a pulsating roar. I look up and see Love, in a girlishly pink getup, stagger onto the stage full of Stoli and a couple of weeks’ worth of road-weary attitude. Her band—the beautifully aloof bass player, Melissa Auf der Maur (who replaced Kristen Pfaff after her death from an overdose of heroin last year), guitarist Eric Erlandson (his stoicism tested tonight by the news of his father’s death), and drummer Patty Schemel (calm, kick-ass, the keeper of the rhythmic flame)—grab their instruments and wait for Love’s signal to let the music rip. Holding a stuffed Barney dinosaur in one hand and a Dunhill cigarette in the other, she pauses to stare down at the throng of rowdy boys crowding the stage below her, then smirks at their crude innocence and drops the Barney amid the trademark array of broken dolls that adorn the stage around her. (Love’s song “Doll Parts” has become the latest teen anthem for pubescent girls terrorized by their own tender, morphing bodies.) Ready to mosh—an activity that entails pushing, shoving, and lifting performers or audience members and passing them over the heads of the crowd—teenagers of both sexes are screaming obscenities at her. One boy even has the audacity to shout out that he loves her. “How do you know you can love me?” Love asks him with disdain. “I’M A BITCH!” she warns them all and cranks up the music.

For more than an hour, her vulgar allure in full bloom, Love flaunts her superiority over the audience. Her performance is a slur of politics and pouty sexuality. She is scornful. Scatological. Scurrilous. Every lyric she sings—from “I fake it so real I am beyond fake / Someday you will ache like I ache” to “I made my bed / I’ll lie in it. / I made my bed / I’ll die in it”—is echoed by these kids. A fervor bordering on the religious seems to be sweeping through this more or less Mormon congregation, and as she douses them with bottled water—a ritual she performs for her audiences—the shtick takes on the added ceremonial trappings of baptism.

At one point Love beckons a boy from the crowd, who, shouting “Fuck you, Courtney!” over and over, shoots her the linger. By the time the others have passed him over their heads to the stage, the boy’s pants are down around his knees and his boxer shorts are low on his hips. Love elaborately fakes fellating the teenager, then pulls his boxers all the way down. The kid flashes his penis at his buddies before Love wrestles him to the floor and kicks him off the stage. All in all, Sister Love is giving an amazing, appalling performance. She possesses the swagger of Joplin at full swig and the foul mouth of Morrison at his marauding, raunchy best. Expertly guiding this latter-day throng into a Holey, ghostly frenzy, Love is a tough little slut all right, a flight attendant for the ancestral angels of her own deeply rooted American faith.

Already in a state of dishabille—a dirty T-shirt and panties the extent of her attempt at getting dressed today—Courtney Love strips the rest of the way and steps into the bath she is drawing on the second floor of her Seattle home. The steaming water rushes from the faucet as she slides down lower and lower into the tub. Spreading her wounded legs, scabbed and bruised from stage-diving into the waiting clutches of her fans, she lets out a low moan as her body reaches the onrush of water. Slowly she slides back up and begins to wash herself deep beneath the suds that surround her. Her white breasts, like great cakes of soap, bob about in front of me.

“I’ve always had great tits,” she’s told me. “So after Frances, I had them lifted. . . . They didn’t move my nipples, and they didn’t put anything inside of my breasts. But if I see this in a pull-quote in the story, Kevin, I’ll say you’ve had a penis extension.”

Love lathers up her hair, and as she scrubs away at her black roots, she tells me how her buddy R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe has inspired her to experiment with sleeping with members of her own sex with what she calls his pansexuality. “But I’m more of a fag," she has told me. “I‘ve got the same tastes as fags. I like to suck. I go for the rough-trade boys. I’m a total drag-queen fag.”

“Are you a top or a bottom when you sleep with women?” I ask.

“I’m still trying to figure that one out.”

“How about heterosexually? Top or bottom?”

She dips her head back in the water. “Heterosexually I’m a full-out bottom.”

“You’re probably a bossy bottom,” I guess.

“No,” she says. “That’s Madonna. That’s the difference between us. . . . I let men be men. I should let people know this so that then I won’t have all these wimpy little boys chasing after me anymore. They keep thinking I’m going to beat the shit out of them. . . . That’s one of the misconceptions about my husband that was so fucked up—that he was passive. He wore the pants in a big way!”

“So he wasn’t bisexual? Some people have even suggested that he was gay.”

“He wanted people to believe that. I don’t think he was ripping them off, either. He wanted that part of himself to be free, but he didn’t go through with that, because that wasn’t his preference. . . . I left him with Michael Stipe one night and told him to go explore his cravings. ‘Big talker, go on!’ I told him. All he’d ever done was kiss some guy in high school and some kid in a club. He came back the next day, and I started screaming, ‘What happened? He said, ‘I dunno. It was just weird. Nothing happened, but sort of I’ll never know. Michael’s never told me. . . . I don’t know, this whole subject of sleeping with people and going out with somebody. . . . It’s been a weird year. A few months ago I really began to ‘see the world,’ so to speak. . . . You know, I have a weird Michael Douglas fetish. I love Michael Douglas. He’s older. Jewish. Hot. I really want a Jewish prince.”

No matter what Love claims, she is interested less in Douglas‘s ethnicity than in his Hollywood pedigree. She has become increasingly enamored of the idea of becoming an actress. “My agent kept saying I was a cross between Bette Midler and Madonna,” she says, remembering her early foray into Hollywood. “But I kept saying, ‘No, I’m not. Fuck you. I’m James Dean. I’m Sean Penn.’” Recently, her movie dreams rekindled, she was hired to play the small part of a waitress in Keanu Reeves’s upcoming film Feeling Minnesota. “Keanu is pretty savvy.” she says, putting out her cigarette in the tub. “He keeps to himself. . . . During My Own Private Idaho, all those boys were in Portland fucking up big-time.” She is referring to the disturbing Gus Van Sant film that starred the late River Phoenix and depicted the deliriously dark lives of northwestern street urchins. “I’ve gotten real scared that dope—you know, heroin—has gotten more and more chic with the actors. They don’t know how to deal with dope. It’s been in my world—rock ’n’ roll—forever. But these are little kids. Little actor-boys. ‘Aren’t we cool'? We’re copping!’ Well, no, it’s not cool. I remember one night, New Year’s Eve 1991 into 1992, Keanu was really trying to make friends with Kurt. . . . But Kurt was being really rude. There were a bunch of fucking Ashley Hamilton rich kids in their rooms, and they were all fucking wasted. We were, too. Kurt finally put a sign on our hotel-room door: no famous people please—we're fucking!”

“Courtney, how can drugs be in your life?” I ask her. “Your husband blew his brains out. Dope played a large part in that. Your bass player in Hole OD’d. Your child was almost taken away from you because of allegations about your using heroin during your pregnancy. How can you be around dope, much less use it?”

There is a long pause.

“For me, I’ve found that accessibility is nine-tenths of the law. . . . Yeah, I was taking drugs for a while after Kurt died . . .” She stands and wraps herself in a white terry-cloth robe. Tying a towel around her wet hair like a turban, she closes her eyes and turns her face toward the late-afternoon light. Scrubbed clean, as if she had washed away all the cloying aspects of her personality along with the grime from two weeks of road shows, she sighs and takes in the sun’s final inches of warmth. At this moment—as sad and sultry as any Marilyn ever had—the woman is adorned with nothing but her damned beauty.

“Come,” she commands.

‘Courtney is the definition of a star,” says David Geffen, who signed Nirvana and Hole to recording deals with his eponymous company. “She both excites people and provokes them. She’s on the beat and pulse of the time. Mostly, though, she's talented. . . . Yet I think that being a big star is a very, very damaging experience, so who she will evolve into out of this experience is really a big question mark and can only be dealt with in its time.”

“Is part of her appeal the fact that she’s the Great White Widow?” I ask him.

“No, I don’t think that at all. The fact that she is the widow of Kurt Cobain made life more difficult for her and her record [Live Through This],” says Geffen. “When it came out pretty much at the same time, I think people were hostile to her, and hostile to it, and didn’t deal with it on its own terms. The fact that it has nevertheless been this great success is in spite of that, not because of it.”

“Courtney is emerging at a time when women in general are becoming important in rock ’n’ roll, and she is the primary symbol of that,” says Danny Goldberg. “She combatively and assertively identifies herself as a feminist rock singer, and this is a time when the culture is ripe for that. In some respects she is the most powerful female rock star. I’m not saying she’s the best, because there have been so many great ones—Chrissie Hynde and others. But there is a kind of cultural power she has that I don’t think anyone since Janis Joplin has had. She has the power of real hard rock. It’s not middle-of-the-road music. . . . There are many, many artists that get a lot of press and win critics’ awards that don’t really sell a lot of records. But without selling a million records—which she's going to do with Live Through This—you’re not a rock star. You’re a cult figure. She’s emerging from cult status.”

Syndicated rock columnist Lisa Robinson sees Love, ironically, as the latest in a long line of male rockers. “Courtney has that element of danger,” says Robinson. “You never know what she’s going to do next. We’re not used to seeing that in a woman. We’re used to seeing that from Jim Morrison, or Iggy Pop, or from Johnny Rotten in the early days of the Sex Pistols. She’s a rock star in the sort of unpredictable, volatile way that people voyeuristically expect. But if she had not made a really great record, which she did, none of that would matter.”

Robinson’s colleagues agree with her. Though Hole’s first album, Pretty on the Inside, challenged mainstream audiences with its raw power, Live Through This has crossed over and gained Love and the band the respectability of being not only rock artists but also record-label moneymakers. The rival rock journals Spin and Rolling Stone named Live Through This best album of the year in 1994. In both readers’ polls, Love was named best female singer. Hole opened MTV’s “Unplugged” series in April of this year. And even The New York Times hailed her as “nobody’s victim. On the stage, she is a charismatic and powerful performer, in complete control of her band and her audience.”

“There are two rock ’n’ roll audiences—there is the Beavis and Butt-head audience and the R.E.M. audience,” Love claims, and she’ll have to confront them both when her band becomes one of the star attractions during this summer’s Lollapalooza tour. “The R.E.M. audience is older. They’re like the Sarah McLachlan audience. You’ve got to have the Beavis and Butt-head crowd, but it’s really hard to train Beavis and Butt-headers to understand that girls can play rock. . . . Rock is all about writing your own script; it’s all about pioneering.”

“There’s never been a woman quite like her before in rock,” says music critic Jim Farber of the New York Daily News. “The really great show I saw her do was the one at the Academy last September in New York for the college media. At the end she did ‘In the Pines,’ the old Leadbelly blues number that Kurt Cobain had done at the end of his MTV Unplugged performance. It’s a mythic blues song about sexuality and longing and jealousy and loss—all the blues themes that are very erotic. She sang it as brilliantly as he did; then she dove into the audience and kind of sank to the bottom. You really didn’t know whether she was going to resurface. It was like this Suddenly Last Summer thing. You really wondered, Are they going to devour her? And then there was this resurrection when she came up again. It really had that drama. . . . The only women who have come close to her are marginalized women. Lydia Lunch is certainly out there. And Diamanda Galás. But they have very small audiences. Courtney is someone who has barged her way into the mainstream, blaring all the way. . . . And yet there just is this . . . this . . . tragedy all around.”

It began early.

“I am conceived out of a really bad situation,” Love claims, and proceeds to give a rather frightening portrait of her father, who at the time was a San Francisco hippie hanging around the Haight; indeed, the renowned district is, in addition to all its other connotations, a heartbreaking homophone for the very emotion she still feels for the man. Love’s mother was already pregnant with her when her parents married, but they divorced only a few months after her birth in 1965. Her father, Hank Harrison, was a Grateful Dead disciple. Her mother, Linda Carroll, is now a therapist living in Oregon whose latest claim to fame was talking radical fugitive Katherine Ann Power, who had been on the run for two decades, into finally turning herself in to the authorities in 1993.

A court ruled that Courtney’s father was not to see her unsupervised until she was grown, according to her mother, who remarried several times. Courtney has two teenage half-brothers and two half-sisters—a social worker and a law student—from those marriages, but her early childhood was one of aching loneliness. “I was practically autistic my whole childhood,” she says now about those years she spent at home before, shockingly enough, striking out on her own at the earliest of teenage years, supported by a small trust fund from her maternal grandmother.

“What Courtney has in her she came with,” says Linda Carroll, who is speaking publicly about her daughter for the first time. “The reason that I’m a therapist is that I began taking her to therapists by the time she was two, and could really find so little help and empathy for both of us in the people I went to. She was in so much pain. And that manifested itself ever since she was a little girl in ways in which I had no clue how to deal with. I had no idea of any way to help her except just to love her and hold her. When I started taking her to therapists, one of the awful things that happened was they began to pathologize her, which is what psychology has done with what they don’t understand. I think that Courtney came with a tremendous sense of pain in her. . . . She’s not any different than she was when she was two years old. . . . Yet there were times, even as a small child, she would be really, deeply touched by something. And when that would happen, it was as though every part of her went soft for a little while—including her heart. Even then she was touched by oppression and pain. It was a part of her that I think was genuinely touched by Kurt. They were very alike. I don’t know if this is true, because I didn’t know Kurt when he was only two, but I suspect that Kurt was pretty different until he was about 9 or 10. I don’t think Courtney was. I think she has carried this grief longer, and maybe that’s why she’s a survivor, because she came with it and she had to learn how to survive with it from the beginning. . . . Strangely enough, she was an absolutely, unimaginably calm and happy baby. She hardly cried.”

“How could you allow your daughter to leave home at such a young age?” I ask. “What was it like for you?”

“It was horrendous. Unbearable. Horrible. But Courtney is not containable. She was never containable. . . . My deepest fear about her is that what always made her life so torturous—this kind of psychic pain—is what is making her famous, and that ultimately has got to be so wounding. Her fame is not about being beautiful and brilliant, which she is. It’s about speaking in the voice of the anguish of the world.”

“What is one of the clearest memories you have of her?”

“When she was in second grade in Eugene, Oregon, she was having a lot of nightmares. I had no idea what to do. I took her to a psychiatrist just to try to find some way to bring her some solace. The psychiatrist said part of the problem with her was that she needed to join Girl Scouts,” Carroll recalls, laughing lightly now at such a thought. “She needed to be in normal kid activities. I dutifully went to a Brownies meeting with her. . . . I could tell it was really hard for her to be in this room with all these kids. The person who was the Brownies leader suggested they have an art show. She asked all the kids to draw something. The things that Courtney drew were always startling. She didn’t draw sunsets and apple trees. She would draw sort of . . . wounded figures. I can still see her that day—her little face so intense with those crayons. At the end of that, the teacher told the troop that they were going to see what drawing they liked the most by holding them up one by one and everyone applauding. I knew that this would be terrible for her. When it got to hers, she just grabbed it and ran over to me, and we left. At that time, when a child was exhibiting the kind of pain Courtney was exhibiting—a lot of nightmares and a lot of crying and hating school and hating everything the treatment was pretty much to try and make that child what they called ‘normalized’ rather than saying, What kind of creature is this, and how can we make her be O.K. with who she is? That whole belief system was really awful for her.”

It was so awful that Love fled as soon as she could. Her early life took her all over the globe. With her mother and stepfather, she moved to New Zealand, then back to America. By the time she was 12 she had landed in reform school because of stealing, and from then on, with her trust fund, she basically lived on her own by her increasingly well-honed wits in a number of American cities and foreign countries, including Japan, where as a 14-year-old she worked as a stripper; Ireland, where she hung around Trinity College; Liverpool, where she infiltrated the rock scene; Taiwan, where she stripped again; Hollywood, where she stumbled in her first attempts at screen stardom; New York, where she hung out in clubs and continued to rock; Minneapolis, where she rocked some more; Alaska, where she again stripped; and Spain, where she appeared in Alex Cox’s unwatchable film, Straight to Hell after having already had a bit part in his acclaimed Sid and Nancy. If any place could be called home base, it was Portland, Oregon. “My Own Private Idaho is the story of my early adolescence,” she says with perverse pride.

No matter how lonely or broke, Love has always maintained her survival instincts and steeled herself against the vagaries of life with an innate stoicism. It is a stoicism, in fact, that she has passed on to Frances Bean, who displays it in all her alarming, lovely innocence. “Frances is an amazing little kid,” says Rosemary Carroll (no relation to Love’s mother), who is not only Love’s lawyer but also the wife of Warner’s Danny Goldberg. “She’s so prematurely adult. My daughter, Katie, is about two years older than Frances. At Christmastime, Danny and I took Katie and Frances to see A Christmas Carrol. We came home, and the kids were playing, and they got in a fight, as kids do. My daughter tends to be a . . . well, ‘brat’ is one word that other people have used,” Carroll says, laughing. “Anyway, she said, ‘Frances, I hate you!’ She threw down a doll and stormed out of the room. The normal reaction is for the kid who is left standing there to start crying, especially if your mom or your nanny isn’t there. Frances did not bat an eye.”

Love removes a key from the pocket of her terry-cloth robe. She slips it into the lock, takes a deep breath, and leads me into the greenhouse above the garage. Adjusting her toweled turban, she sits on a multi-legged wooden stool with a plaque on it that reads, now you have many legs to stand on. The last of the sun filters through the skylights and laces her face. She is as silent as the orchids that surround us.

“This is where my husband died,” she finally says.

“Though I know Kurt was in a lot of pain, I still think suicide is a mean and selfish act,” I tell her.

“It’s a fuck-you thing to do. I’ve felt it, I’ve felt it many times. . . . There’s nothing more embarrassing than telling everybody you’re fine and then calling the suicide hot line and having the police kick down your door,” she confesses, recalling the night she claims she made such a call and was horrified to find that it had been traced. “They’ve turned it into a whole new category: ‘Rock Stars Most Likely to Die This Year.’ I think I was No. 1. . . . The American public really does have a death wish for me. They want me to die. I’m not going to die."

“I know you got a lot of grief for it, but I felt your anger was justified that day when you read his suicide note on the tape that was played for his mourners here in Seattle.”

“I was raw,” she says simply. “I had blood on my hands.”

“Figuratively or literally?”

“Literally. I was out here for three days. Alone. I wouldn’t let anybody come near me. They tried to drag me out, but I was, like, Fuck you! I found another gun and was screaming, ‘Get out!’ Then they left me alone.” She will write me later, “I was not a heroin addict at that time, neither was Kurt, though he was abusing it in ways hitherto unseen ever by me. Mixing it, synergizing it, yet I’ve mixed it since he died and never gotten wasted like that.”

“How do you ever get over something like this, Courtney?” I ask her as the last light fades from the greenhouse.

“Time. That’s all there is. Time.”

“I know there was the famous incident in Rome when he OD’d and was in a coma and you had to rush him to the hospital. But that wasn‘t the only time he’d done it. You saved him as many times as you could.”

“There’s no reason for somebody to die if there’s someone else around," she says.

We sit in silence.

She does not bat an eye.

‘Do you think in some paradoxical way the reason you and Kurt connected so much was that he was the female version of you and you were the male version of him?” I ask Love on another occasion.

“That’s definitely true,” she agrees. “I am definitely a woman, and he was very much a man, but the qualities were reversed at times, yes. . . . My gynecologist tells me that I have too much testosterone, and he wants to put me on the Pill, because it will even out my estrogen. It’s, like, Look, I’m all woman, but if I were on estrogen, I don’t think I’d be me. I’d turn into this big femmy creature.”

She is certainly this big femmy creature when she arrives at Vanity Fair’s Oscar party at Mortons restaurant in Los Angeles with her good friend Amanda de Cadenet, the wife of Duran Duran’s John Taylor, who will appear in Allison Anders’s segment of the anthology film Four Rooms as the goddess that a coterie of witches—which includes Madonna—attempts to conjure. Wearing matching cream silk lingerie-like gowns and rhinestone tiaras, the two soak up more attention than the movie stars mingling around them. “The way to get Best Dressed at the Oscars,” Love tells me, “is always, always, always to wear Marilyn-white silk charmeuse. Period. That’s it. I wanted to prove a point: that grunge is not dead. You don’t have to go out and get a fucking Vera Wang that looks like shit and spend three grand on it.”

The media lined up behind velvet ropes go into a flashing frenzy when Love and de Cadenet step from their car, and later, when I introduce Love to Barbara Walters, the newswoman insists that the two must have lunch the next time Love is in Manhattan, to discuss doing an interview. “Barbara Walters knows who I am?” an awed Love asks as we walk away. “Shit! I must be famous.”

“Courtney is very strong-willed and not afraid,” says de Cadenet, who met her at a party where Love was with Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins, Love’s favorite man in rock. “I tend to be a bit like that, too, but that can work to your detriment, because people think you’re just loud and obnoxious when it’s just having a point of view. . . . People are intimidated by a woman who has an opinion. I hosted a show in England called The Word, and Kurt appeared on it. The first time I ever heard of her was when he said, ‘Courtney Love is the best fuck in the world!’ I thought, Hey, I thought I was. Who is this woman? . . . Rocksters spend a lot of time debating whether she’s a junkie, or she’s a bad mom, or did Kurt write her last album. Gossip focuses on the negative. But that fuels her. The more you hate her, or slag her off, that inspires her. She takes all that stuff and puts it in her work. That’s something really important that I like about her.”

The two ladies are on their best behavior tonight. In fact, later, when I accompany Jessica Lange to the Pulp Fiction party at Chasen’s to continue celebrating her Oscar win, we run into Love, who is holding to her breast a clutch of astonishing portraits of Frances Bean just given to her by photographer Herb Ritts. I introduce the two of them, and Lange moves her Oscar over and spreads a few of the photos out on the table. Love asks her advice not about acting but about motherhood. As de Cadenet arrives to lead Love away to yet someone else who wants to meet her, Lange, who has just finished filming A Streetcar Named Desire for CBS, leans over to me and whispers, “My God, that was Blanche DuBois.”

“How do you want me to introduce you?” the real-estate agent asks as we are being driven in a gold Rolls-Royce toward the Garden District in New Orleans.

“Courtney Love Cobain,” she says curtly, lighting a Camel. She is at her grownup finest this afternoon, determined to find a house in only a few hours so that she can come down here after Lollapalooza and write her next album, which she plans to call Celebrity Skin. “Because I’ve touched so much of it,” she tells me. She has her hair swept up on her head like a punk Ivana. A pink silk suit rides high on her white-stockinged thighs. Her makeup is perfectly applied; still, retrieving a Chanel compact, she checks her lipstick yet again. “$1.8 million is a mortgage for me, honey,” she says to the agent without moving her lips as she reddens them even more. “$600,000 is cash.”

As we pass mansion after mansion, Love points out what she likes and doesn’t like. Bob Dylan has a home down here. Peter Buck of R.E.M. has bought one in the French Quarter. Her buddy Brad Pitt has reportedly been looking at one of the city’s most sought-after properties. Even Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, which Hole toured with last summer, has begun renovating a historic home. The fact that Reznor, who fueled a rock feud with Love when he called her a “manipulator and careerist” in print, is making the move hasn’t deterred Love from trying to find her own house in the neighborhood.

“Yeah, I fucked Reznor, but it wasn’t that great of an experience,” she tells me later, after we've looked at a few houses. “I was slumming. . . . Simone de Beauvoir in The Second Sex wrote about this thing called sexual valuation, meaning you are who you fuck. You cannot get back at a man that way, but a man can get back at a woman by sexually devaluating her.” Bored, she turns her attention to more important matters. “I want witches and vampires! I need some demon possession!” she screams at the real-estate agent. “That last house you showed me was too damn clean!”

The first such crime comic is entitled "Black Magic."


This is a picture showing the cover or title page of this comic. Now, one story in this comic is entitled "Sanctuary," and the cover shots relate to this particular story.

You will note that this shot shows certain inhabitants of this sanctuary which is really a sort of sanitarium for freaks where freaks can be isolated from other persons in society.

You will note one man in the picture has two heads and four arms, another body extends only to the bottom of his rib. But the greatest horror of all the freaks in the sanctuary is the attractive looking girl in the center of the picture who disguises her grotesque body in a suit of foam rubber.

The final picture shows a young doctor in the sanitarium as he sees the girl he loves without her disguise.

The story closes as the doctor fires bullet after bullet into the girl's misshapen body.

Now, that is an example of a comic of the horror variety.

The next slide, the second story, is the cover shot of a comic entitled "Fight Against Crime."

One story in this particular issue is entitled "Stick in the Mud". This is a story of a very sadistic schoolteacher who is cruel to all of the children in her classroom with only one exception. The one exception is the son of a well-to-do man who has lost his wife. Through her attentions to the son the teacher woos and weds the father.

The following picture shows the school teacher as she stabs her husband to death in order to inherit his money. She then disguises her crime by dragging his body into a bullpen where his corpse is mangled and gored.

The small son, suspecting his stepmother, runs away so that she will chase him into the woods where a bed of quicksand is located.

Our last picture shows the stepmother sinking into the quicksand and crying for help. The small son gets the stepmother to confess that she murdered his father by pretending he will go for help if she does so.

After her confession he refuses to go for help and stays to watch his stepmother die in the quicksand.

-- Hearings Before the Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency (Comic Books) of the Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, 83rd Congress, 1954

A rambling old mansion across from Anne Rice's house is closer to Love’s taste, but it would require too much work. “I’m sorry I’m so picky,” she sighs as we climb back into the Rolls, “but I had a subscription to Architectural Digest before I had one to Ms. magazine. . . . The one thing I didn’t like about that other house was that the garden was way too pristine. I’m really good with gardens. I’d love to rip that garden out and make it a really decadent old-style New Orleans garden. Lots and lots of jasmine. Wild roses. Trellises. . . . And then I’ve got some wonderful poppies and poppy bulbs . . . ”

“We’re losing our daylight,” the agent tells her.

“That’s when I like it here. I like it when it gets dark. . . . I don’t know, though, do you think this is a good place to raise a kid?” She lights another Camel and, sliding down on the backseat, sticks her pink pumps out the open window. “Do you know that Mississippi John Hurt song?” she asks me, then begins to growl off -key as the sun squats lower in the Louisiana sky. “Angels take him away, oh, Lord,” she sings, her feet dangling in the breeze, smoke devilishly lurking about her face. “Angels took him away . . . ”

‘Bean!” that voice calls out in all its ragged glory on yet another afternoon back in Seattle. “Beeeean!”

The detritus of Love’s troubled life spills onto the floor from every corner of the bedroom she once shared with Cobain. Old magazine articles. Books. Cobain’s guitars. Fiercely scribbled faxes. Contracts. An array of CD’s. Videos. Faded snapshots. Christmas decorations from last December still hang on the mantel. One of Cobain’s Jesuses, this one a Technicolor postcard, is tied to the headboard of the bed, the divine eyes rolled heavenward. A tarnished silver tea service sits on the mussed, stained sheets next to a portable computer Love uses for her infamous America Online conversations with her fans and detractors. (In April, the Hole forum was suspended—one of the rare times America Online has ever deleted a folder from one of its message boards—because of violations, including a threatening message that was sent in.) The bedroom door is even splintered from her kicking on it when Cobain locked himself in here during one of his suicidal depressions.


Frances Bean, her nanny chasing after her, comes running into Love’s bedroom and into her mother’s arms. “If you were telling Frances Bean a story about her own life that began ‘Once upon a time,’ how would you finish it?” I ask.

“Once upon a time,” Love begins, watching Frances Bean inspect a heartshaped pillow with a needle and thread left in it, “you were the first of your generation. Ignore everything else that went on before you.”

The child attempts to finish sewing up the heart.

“Frances, be careful,” Love warns, taking the pillow away. “That’s a needle. It can hurt you.”

Frances Bean pulls at another pillow, a half-moon-shaped one behind her mother’s neck on the back of the chair. “This was Daddy’s,” she tells her daughter. “You want to lay down on Daddy’s pillow?” The child nods yes, takes the crescent of foam from her mother, and places it on Love’s chest. She gently rests her head there.

“Who’s that?” Love asks, stroking Frances Bean’s hair and pointing to a ceramic angel on the bedside table.

“Daddy,” the child responds, rubbing her face against the pillow. “Meow,” she moans, mimicking a cat. “Meow.”

“That’s what the kitty says. And what does a doggy say?” Love asks.

“Woof, woof, woof!” Frances Bean barks.

“And what does a ducky say?”

“Quack, quack, quack!”

“And what does Frances Bean say?” I ask.

The child lifts her head from her mother’s pillowed chest, then raises her hands in the air like claws. Suddenly she begins to growl in a voice as terrifyingly grizzled as any angry, grunge-encrusted rocker’s. “Arrrgggrrr!” she lets loose.

Love pretends to be scared and hides her face in her hands. Frances Bean laughs at her mother’s fright and growls again. “Arrrgggrrr!”

Love hides her face.


Surprising Frances Bean, Love ferociously begins to growl right back. “Arrrgggrrr!” she goes, mimicking her daughter’s inherent Kurt-like cry. “Arrrgggrrr!”

Frances Bean stops her laughter.

“Don’t scream, Don’t scream, Mommy.”

Love stops her cry.

The child places her tiny hands on her mother’s cheeks. “We be gentle.”
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Re: Kurt & Courtney, directed by Nick Broomfield

Postby admin » Wed Sep 25, 2013 10:26 am

by Lynn Hirschberg
Vanity Fair - September, 1992.



Are Courtney Love, lead diva of the postpunk band Hole, and her husband, Nirvana heartthrob Kurt Cobain, the grunge John and Yoko? Or the next Sid and Nancy? Lynn Hirschberg reports.

Courtney Love is late. She’s nearly always late, and not just ten, fifteen minutes late, but usually more like an hour past the time she’s said she’ll be someplace. She’s late for band rehearsals, she was late when she used to strip, she was even an hour late for a meeting with a record-company executive who wanted to sign her band, Hole. Courtney assumes that people will wait. She assumes that they will forgive her as they stare at the clock and stare at the door and wonder where the hell she is. And they do forgive her. Until they can’t stand it anymore and then they get mad, fed up, and move on. But by that time Courtney is gone... she’s off keeping someone else waiting.

When she does show up, she shows up. When you’re an hour late, you can really make an entrance. She’s tall and big-boned and her shoulder-length hair is cut like a mop and dyed yellow-blond. The dark roots show on purpose – nothing about Courtney is an accident ... and today she’s attached a plastic hair clip in the shape of a bow to a few strands.

She’s wearing black stockings with runs in them, a vintage dress that’s a size too small, and a pair of black clogs. Her skin, which has been heavily Pan-Caked and powdered to cover an outbreak of acne, is pasty-white, and her lips are painted bright red. She has beautiful round blue-green eyes, which she has carefully made up, but the focus is on her mouth. She’s all lipstick.

And talk. From the moment Courtney sits down at a table in City, a restaurant near her home in Los Angeles, the verbal pyrotechnics begin. You get the sense that she has a monologue going twenty-four hours a day and that sometimes she includes others. When she’s not talking, she doesn’t seem to be listening exactly but, rather, absorbing: Who is this person? What is his context? What can I learn/get from him? are the thoughts coursing through her brain. With Courtney, it’s not so much scheming as it is focus. She has always known what she wanted and what she wanted was to be a star. More precisely, Courtney always thought she was a star. She was just waiting for everyone else to wake up.

It looks as if, after a few false starts ... an acting career that didn’t quite take, some stints in other bands that didn’t work out ... Courtney is having her moment. She and Hole were just signed to a million-dollar record deal; she is married to Kurt Cobain, the lead singer of Nirvana, and within the realm of the alternative-music scene, Courtney is now regarded as a train-wreck personality: she may be awful, but you can’t take your eyes off her.

Her timing is excellent: in the wake of the huge success of Nirvana, an extremely talented rock band from Seattle that surprised everyone in the industry by selling (so far) seven million records worldwide, there has been a frenzy to sign other bands in the punk-grunge-underground mode. The music ranges from almost pop to loud thrashing ... the only real unifying link is that most of the bands are on independent labels and appeal to college audiences. "No one can get a seat on a plane to Seattle or Portland now." says Ed Rosenblatt, president of Geffen Records, Nirvana’s label. "Every flight is booked by A&R people out to find the next Nirvana."

Last August, Hole, which is much more extreme and less melodic than Nirvana, released Pretty on the Inside on Caroline Records, an independent that is a subsidiary of Virgin. The record is intensely difficult to listen to—Courtney’s singing is a mix of shouting, screeching, and rasping ... but her songwriting, which has been compared to Joni Mitchell’s, is powerful. "‘Pretty on the Inside,’" writes Elizabeth Wurtzel in The New Yorker, "is such a cacophony ... full of such grating, abrasive, and unpleasant sludges of noise... that very few people are likely to get through it once, let alone give it the repeated listenings it needs for you to discover that it’s probably the most compelling album to have been released in 1991."

Courtney’s postfeminist stance (she has the power—she just wants to be loved) echoes throughout her songs. Her chosen topics—rape and abortion, to name two—are extremely provocative. "Slit me open and suck my scars," she sings about sex. "Don’t worry baby, you will never stink so bad again," she intones about a botched abortion. In her strongest song, "Doll Parts," she turns introspective: "I want to be the girl with the most cake / He only loves the things because he loves to see them break / I think it’s true ... I am beyond fake / Someday you will ache like I ache."

Even before Nirvana’s massive success, Hole was lumped with Babes in Toyland, L7, the Nymphs, and other female led underground groups. Although these bands were quite different from one another, and wildly competitive, they were all dubbed "foxcore." And when Nirvana’s album Nevermind started to sell like mad, the so-called foxcore bands suddenly seemed commercially viable. "There’s a pre-Nirvana record-industry perception of this kind of music," says Gary Gersh, the Geffen Records A&R person who signed Nirvana. "And there’s a post-Nirvana record-industry perspective. But if you’re out there and trying to sign the new Nirvana, you’re chasing your tail. The game is not finding the next Nirvana, because there won’t be a next Nirvana."

It is somehow appropriate that Madonna’s new company, Maverick, was the first to be interested in signing Courtney Love to a major record deal. In mid-1991, Guy Oseary, an enthusiastic nineteen-year-old who was working for Madonna and her manager, Freddy De Mann, at their then unnamed company, told his bosses about Hole. He also contacted Courtney’s lawyer, Rosemary Carroll, and Hole-mania began. "Courtney had been orchestrating this game plan from the beginning," says Carroll. "She was always very aware of the business, of her place in the business."

Courtney claims she never wanted to sign with Maverick. "Freddy would have me riding on elephants," she says. "They don’t know what I am. For them, I’m a visual, period." Madonna’s presence worried her even more: she did not want to share the spotlight with the premier blonde goddess of the last decade. "Madonna’s interest in me was kind of like Dracula’s interest in his latest victim."

But Courtney, who is nothing if not shrewd, knew that one offer could spur other offers. Besides, she had another ace to play: by late ‘91 she was dating Kurt Cobain. When Hole went to England, she wasn’t shy about either Madonna’s interest or her new boyfriend. She gave lots of interviews and the notoriously fickle British music magazines, who adored her grunge-rock sound and her torn thirties tea dresses, proclaimed her their new genius. "The British tabloids called me ‘leggy’ and ‘stunning,’" she recalls. "The best article was about Madonna. It had a really big picture of me as a blonde and a really small picture of her as a brunette. I cut that one out."

For his part, Oseary, who saw Courtney and Hole as his private find, was shocked. "The stories in the English press went, ‘Madonna doesn’t have AIDS and she wants to sign Hole,’" he recalls, sounding rather exasperated. "From then on, it was ‘Madonna’s Hole.’ ‘Madonna’s Hole.’ Suddenly, we’re just one of the bidders. At Hole’s next show, thirteen A&R people were there!"

So it began—the first-ever bidding war over an unsigned female band. (In the record business, independent labels are not considered contenders—until you’re on a major label you’re unsigned.) It wasn’t clear whether or not most of the bidders liked, or even knew, Hole’s music—it was the magic combination of Madonna’s interest, Kurt Cobain’s interest, and the strength of Courtney’s personality. In any case, Clive Davis, president of Arista Records, reportedly offered a million dollars to sign the band. Rick Rubin, head of Def American, was interested, but he and Courtney clashed when they met. She had similar difficulties with Jeff Ayeroff at Virgin. "Now, Kurt," she exclaims, "is able to go into Capitol, go into a meeting, decide he doesn’t like it halfway through, walk out on the guys mid-sentence, and everyone goes, 'There goes Kurt. He’s so moody. Nirvana’s great.' But I go in and spend three hours with Jeff Ayeroff and tell him more about punk rock than he ever knew. I give him quality time, but, I’m sorry, I don’t want to be on his label and he gets a boner about it and calls me a bitch."

In the end, she signed with Gary Gersh at Geffen, the same label as Nirvana. "We didn’t make the deal because she is married to Kurt Cobain," says Ed Rosenblatt. "But it is a little weird. Hole is a band who we happen to believe in and, oh, by the way, she’s married to..."

Courtney’s deal, worth around a million dollars, is bigger and better than her husband’s. She and Carroll insisted on that. "I got excellent, excellent contractual things," she boasts. "I made them pull out Nirvana’s contract, and everything on there, I wanted more. I’m up to half a million for my publishing rights and I’m still walking. If those sexist assholes want to think that me and Kurt write songs together, they can come forward with a little more." She pauses. "No matter what label I’m on, I’m going to be his wife," she says. "I’m enough of a person to transcend that."

Probably. But in the circles she travels in, Kurt Cobain is regarded as a holy man. Courtney, meanwhile, is viewed by many as a charismatic opportunist. There have been rampant reports about the couple’s drug problems, and many believe she introduced Cobain to heroin. They are expecting a baby this month, and even the most tolerant industry insiders fear for the health of the child. "It is appalling to think that she would be taking drugs when she knew she was pregnant," says one close friend. "We’re all worried about that baby."

"Courtney and Kurt are the nineties, much more talented version of Sid and Nancy," says one executive. "She’s going to be famous and he already is. But unless something happens, they’re going to self-destruct. I know they’re both going to be big stars. I just don’t want to be a part of it."

Courtney has heard all this before and, in a perverse way, she thrives on it. "I heard a rumor that Madonna and I were shooting heroin together," she says rather gleefully, lighting up a cigarette. "I’ve heard I had live sex onstage and that I’m H.I.V.-positive."

Courtney laughs. None of these statements is true, although the live-sex thing is a very persistent rumor. "Now," she continues, balancing her cigarette on the edge of the ashtray. "I get a chance to prove myself. And if I do, I do. If I don’t—hey, I married a rich man!"

She drags for dramatic effect. She’s joking and, then again, she isn’t. Audacity is one of the keys to her charm. "You know, I just can’t find makeup that stays on in the summer," she says, abruptly changing the subject. Courtney stamps out her cigarette, rummages through her purse, and heads off to the bathroom.

"Only about a quarter of what Courtney says is true," says Kat Bjelland, the leader of Babes in Toyland. "But nobody usually bothers to decipher which are the lies. She’s all about image. And that’s interesting. Irritating, but interesting."

When it comes to biographical information, Courtney is hard to track. She says she was born in San Francisco in 1966 (that date seems off—she is probably older than twenty-six, although not much), her father was involved with the Grateful Dead, and her mother, who was from a wealthy family, was a follower of various gurus. (She no longer speaks to her father, and her mother, who has married several times since, is closer to Courtney’s four half-siblings, one of whom is a Rhodes scholar.)

Courtney hated school and moved around quite a lot: from boarding school in New Zealand to a Quaker school in Australia to where she ended up—Oregon. At twelve, she stole a Kiss T-shirt from Woolworth’s and was sent to a juvenile detention center. "To be quite honest." she recalls, "I got into it. I was very semiotic about my delinquency. I studied it. I learned a lot. I’d grown up with no discipline and I learned a lot about denial. It did not have an adverse effect on me."

After three years, around 1981, she was out and living on a small trust fund. She had pretty much decided that music would be her world. She also began stripping— an occupation that has, off and on, supported her for most of her adult life. "I didn’t want to sell drugs," she explains. "I didn’t want to steal cars. I didn’t want to be a prostitute. So I stripped.

"And I was fat then," she continues. "You can be fat and strip. I’d strip at Jumbo’s Clown Room. Or I’d work in the day at the Seventh Veil. I didn’t have a gimmick. I see girls now who are trying to be alternative. They won’t make a dime. You’ve got to have white pumps, pink bikini, fuckin’ hairpiece, pink lipstick. Gold and tan and white. If you even try and slip a little of yourself in there you won’t make any money."

Through the classifieds in a punk fanzine called Maximum Rock N Roll, Courtney had begun corresponding with Jennifer Finch, a kindred spirit who was living in L.A. "I came and visited her," Courtney says, "and entered the glamorous world of ‘extra’ work."

Jennifer had been working part-time as punk-rock color on TV shows like Quincy and CHiPs, and she brought Courtney along. "I met a lot of people through that," she says. One of those people was Alex Cox, who was about to direct Sid and Nancy. "All the punk-rock extras went up for parts in Sid and Nancy," Courtney recalls. "He met me and he put his arm around me and said the most subversive thing he could think of was foisting me on the world. That was back when I was really overweight, too. But I wasn’t scared. I wanted to act ever since Tatum O’NeaI won the Oscar."

She was cast as Nancy Spungen’s best friend, and then Cox wrote Straight to Hell, an incomprehensible spaghetti Western, for her. There were rumors that the two were lovers, but Courtney vehemently denies any romantic involvement. "I was sexless," she says. "People say we were a couple because that’s how they explain his interest in me. During that time, I did not sleep with anybody. I was fat and when you’re fat you can’t call the shots. It’s not you with the power."

Following Straight to Hell, Courtney decided to briefly abandon her musical aspirations and concentrate on acting. She took the $20,000 that she’d been paid, moved out of Jennifer’s house, rented an apartment, and bought a pink Chanel suit. She was taking the bus – she still doesn’t know how to drive, despite having lived in L.A. for ten years – but she was well dressed.

"I didn’t quite pull it off," she says. "A friend went to a party and told Jennifer, ‘Courtney was wearing Chanel and she had a glass of champagne in her hand, but her makeup was exactly the same.’ It wasn’t quite right. I had this publicist who was obsessed with Madonna and obsessed with me and she decided to make me into a star. I just couldn’t pull it off. I’d get zits."

It occurred to Courtney that you could have acne and still be a rock star, so she moved back to Portland, slimmed down, and started singing in bands, including Faith No More, which has gone on to tour with Guns N’ Roses and Metallica. She met Kat Bjelland, and in ‘84 or ‘85. Courtney and Jennifer and Kat moved to San Francisco and started a band called Sugar Baby Doll. "We wore pinafores and played twelve-string Rickenbackers," she says. "It was a disaster." It wasn’t a punk band—Sugar Baby Doll was softer, sweeter. "Jennifer and I were not into it," recalls Kat. "We wanted to play punk rock. Courtney thought we were crazy. She hated punk then."

In the alternative world, integrity and credentials are everything—and Courtney is viewed by most as a late convert to the world of punk. "I was New Wave more than hard-core," she admits. "I thought the whole punk scene was really ugly and unglamorous and I needed it to be glamorous. I’m into it now, but back then I’d go to Black Flag [a seminal L.A. punk band] shows and refuse to go in. It was just all these boys killing each other."

After the San Francisco debacle, she moved to Minneapolis and played briefly with Kat’s new band, Babes in Toyland. (Jennifer was back in LA, forming her band, L7.) She and Kat clashed, and she went to Alaska to strip. Then she moved to Portland briefly, and by 1989 she was back in Los Angeles. "I just couldn’t take it anywhere else," she explains. "Minneapolis was so fucking unpretentious. Everyone has a flannel collection and is in a band named after a welding instrument."

She put an ad in the Recycler ("I want to start a band. My influences are Big Black, Stooges, Sonic Youth and Fleetwood Mac") and stripped to pay the rent. "I Worked at Star Strip," she says. "The girls in that place are superconstructed. They’re a little classy. Three of them had fucked Axl [Rose]." Soon she put together Hole and started to rehearse in earnest.

"The first time I saw her onstage, she was dressed like a soiled debutante." says Rosemary Carroll, Courtney’s lawyer. ‘‘Her dress was ripped and she was a mess except for a perfectly pressed huge pink bow on the back of her dress. She was riveting to watch. Courtney had a presence and a power that was fascinating."

Hole played around L.A., but they weren’t discovered until they went to England in late 1991. Courtney may have been jumping on the foxcore/alternative-band wagon in America (although she would claim otherwise), but in England she was perceived as an original. With her dirty baby-doll dresses and dark kinky songs, she was the U.K. music-press pinup of choice. "I thought they’d be terrified of me," she says. "This loud American woman. But it worked! We sold a lot of records."

And they came back to a buzz in the States. By then, she was together with Kurt and the Madonna thing happened and everything was falling into place. "It wasn’t surprising," Courtney says. "I mean, I wasn’t surprised. I always knew."

It’s about seven P.M. on a balmy night in early summer and Courtney is knocking on the door of her apartment. She has lost her key or forgot her key or can’t find her key. Whatever. "KU-RT," she singsongs. "Come to the door."

After a short wait, he opens it. "Where’s your key?" he asks, looking as if he’s just woken up. Kurt is wearing pajama bottoms, is bare-chested, and has a sparkly beaded bracelet on his wrist. He is small and very thin and has pale-white skin. His hair, which he’s dyed red and purple in the past, is now blond, and his eyes are very blue. His face is quite beautiful, almost delicate. Where Courtney projects strength, Kurt seems fragile. He looks as if he might break.

"God, it’s hot in here," Courtney says, marching into the apartment. Kurt explains that he’s turned the heat on—it feels around a hundred degrees in the living room. "I’m still cold," he says, slumping into an overstuffed armchair. He looks exhausted.

Their home, in the Fairfax area of L.A., is sparsely furnished. There are guitars in their open cases on the floor, and a Buddhist altar has been set up against one wall. Dead flowers sit in a vase next to a pair of those see-through body-anatomy dolls. In fact, there are dolls everywhere: infant dolls with china heads that Kurt is using in the next Nirvana video, a plastic doll that he found while on tour, and many, many toy monkeys. Painted on the fireplace, which is covered with candy hearts and heart-shaped candy boxes, are the scrawled words MY BEST FRIEND. "We had a fight last night," explains Courtney. "So I wrote that to remind him."

She continues the apartment tour, showing off a drawing that Kurt’s sister did, a photo of him at six with a drum, another doll, whose head is cracked open. In the kitchen, Courtney has taped lists all over the cabinets. "Kurt’s ex-girlfriend made these," she says. "I found them when I went through his stuff." She reads aloud from one: "1. Good Morning! 2. Will you fill up my car with unleaded gas. 3. Sweep kitchen floor. 4. Clean tub. 5. Go to Kmart. 6. Get one dollar in quarters." This last one seems to crack her up. "He never did any of that stuff."

The phone rings. Kurt has disappeared into the bedroom, and Courtney goes to answer it. "Hi, Dave," she says. It is Dave Grohl, the drummer in Nirvana. The band has been on hiatus for a few months and Dave is calling from Washington, D.C. "I’ll go get him," Courtney says, sounding more than slightly perturbed. She puts down the receiver. "Just call me Yoko Love," she say’s. "KU’-RT." Kurt curls up with the phone, and Courtney plops down on a legless sofa. She is wearing a green flowered dress that’s ripped along the bodice so that her bra is exposed. "They all hate me," she says. "Everyone just fucking hates my guts."

This may be true. Since Courtney and Kurt’s courtship began last year, she has reportedly antagonized Grohl and Chris Novoselic, the other two members of Nirvana. "Courtney always has a hidden agenda," says someone close to the band. "And Kurt doesn’t. He’s definitely being led."

While it’s difficult to determine Courtney’s ulterior motive with regard to Kurt, she does have mini-feuds galore. Her major complaint in terms of Nirvana seems to be with Novoselic’s wife, Shelli. Courtney's gripe is vague—something about Shelli’s making Kurt sleep in the hallway of their house. "I wouldn’t let her come to my wedding." Courtney says.

She definitely relishes her position as Mrs. Kurt Cobain. It was one of her goals, not something she left up to fate. The couple first met eight or so years ago in Portland. "Back then," she recalls, "we didn’t have an emotion towards each other. It was, like, ‘Are you coming over to my house?’ ‘Are you going to get it up?’ ‘Fuck you.’ That sort of thing."

By the time they met again. Kurt was a star and Courtney was much less casual in her approach. She realized that, when it comes to romance, aggressive behavior can be very appealing. "People say, ‘How did she get Kurt,’" says one friend. "Well, she asked. And she wouldn’t take no for an answer."

Courtney pursued him for months – got his number, called him, told interviewers that she had a crush on him. She even resorted to religion. "Courtney chanted for the coolest guy in rock ‘n’ roll – which, to her mind, was Kurt – to be her boyfriend," says Jimmy Boyle, a friend who works for the Def American. Finally, she persuaded an eager-to-please prospective manager to give her tickets (plane and concert) to a Nirvana show in Chicago.

"I was there in Chicago when they consummated their relationship," say’s Danny Goldberg, senior V.P. at Polygram and Nirvana’s (and now Hole’s) manager. "We chatted for a while and Courtney worked her way into the other room, where Kurt was. I didn’t see sparks, but they did go home together. That was in early October. They were married in February."

It wasn’t really quite that simple. Initially, Kurt had his doubts. Reportedly he had been too busy recording and then touring with Nirvana to focus much on romance. "Kurt is very smart," says one friend, "but he’s shy. A lot of people mistake that shyness for a lack of confidence, but he does know his own mind. When Courtney showed up I think he was attracted to her flamboyance. She was very sexual and I think she just took him over. He went on TV and said she was the best fuck in the world."

Still, there were problems. "He thought I was too demanding, attention-wise," Courtney says matter-of-factly. "He thought I was obnoxious. I had to go out of my way to impress him."

By the time he proposed ("I just knew he should ask me if he had any brains at all"), she was pregnant. The wedding was in Hawaii: Kurt, who once planned to wear a dress, wore pajamas, and Courtney wore ‘‘a white diaphanous item that had dry rot. It had been Frances Farmer’s in a movie." She signed a pre-nuptial agreement (her idea) and they did not go on a honeymoon. "Life is like a perennial honeymoon right now," she says. "I get to go to the bank machine every day."

All this would he perfect, except for the drugs. Twenty different sources throughout the record industry maintain that the Cobains have been heavily into heroin. Earlier this year, Kurt told Rolling Stone that he was not taking heroin, but Courtney presents another, extremely disturbing picture. "We went on a binge," she says, referring to a period last January when Nirvana was in New York to appear on Saturday Night Live. We did a lot of drugs. We got pills, and then we went down to Alphabet City and we copped some dope. Then we got high and went to S.N.L.. After that, I did heroin for a couple of months."

"It was horrible," recalls a business associate who was travelling with them at the time. "Courtney was pregnant and she was shooting up. Kurt was throwing up on people in the cab. They were both out of it."

Courtney has a long history with drugs. She loves Percodans ("They make me vacuum"), and has dabbled with heroin off and on since she was eighteen, once even snorting it in Room 101 of the Chelsea Hotel, where Nancy Spungen died. Reportedly, Kurt didn’t do much more than drink until he met Courtney. "He tried to be an alcoholic for a long time," she says. "But it didn’t sit right with him."

After their New York binge, it was suggested to Courtney that she have an abortion. She refused and, reportedly, had a battery of tests that indicated the fetus was fine. "She wanted to get off drugs," says Boyle. "I brought her herbs to ease the kick, so she wouldn’t freak out so badly. I was bringing stuff over to her house every day because it’s a whacked-out thing to do to a kid."

According in several sources, Courtney and Kurt went to separate detox hospitals in March. "After a few days, she left and went and got him," says one insider. "They never went back."

Whether or not they are using now is not clear. "It’s a sick scene in that apartment," says a close friend. "But lately, Courtney’s been asking for help."

She is definite about one thing: she wants the baby. And so does Kurt. In the living room is a painting he made using the sonogram of the fetus as a centerpiece. They know it’s a girl and have picked out a name: Frances Bean Cobain.

"Kurt’s the right person to have a baby with," Courtney continues. "We have money. I can have a nanny. The whole feminine experience of pregnancy and birth—I’m not into it on that level. But it was a bad time to get pregnant and that appealed in me." She smiles. "Besides, we need new friends."

This is a sly reference to Kurt’s phone call, which is winding down. "Dave is upset," Kurt says after hanging up. "So," Courtney says, "what do you want to do? Why don’t you start a new band without Chris [sic]?" Kurt pauses. He looks upset. "But I want Dave," he says. "He’s the best fucking drummer I know."

They are both silent a few minutes. Kurt looks so tried he seems to be asleep with his eyes open. Courtney suggests they go out to buy cigarettes. "Will I get hassled?" says Kurt, who, due to the popularity of Nirvana’s videos, is recognized everywhere. "Get used to it!" says Courtney. He shrugs ... it doesn’t look as if he wants to move an inch, much less miles into the world. "You’re such a grump," she says. It’s frustrating ... you marry a millionaire rock god and all he wants to do is stay home and mope. "We never do anything fun," Courtney whines. Kurt is silent. "O.K.," he says finally. "Where are they car keys?" As Courtney searches for them, Kurt heads off to the bedroom to put on a shirt. "You know, he drives really well," she says as she hunts through a pile of stuff. "He likes safety."

There’s just been an earthquake ... 6.1 on the Richter scale ... but Courtney and Kurt don’t notice. They are too busy shopping. Kurt is excited...this store, American Rag, which is huge and specializes in authentic vintage clothes mixed with clothes that are new but appear to be vintage, has an enormous collection of used jeans in very small sizes. He is making his way through the rack very, very slowly. "I got him to wear boxers," Courtney says, helping him to find his size. "You can’t believe how tacky he was, he wore bikinis. Colored. Just a tacky thing."

She gets impatient and heads off to inspect a rack of dresses. She is very specific about style. She tries to achieve what she terms the "Kinder-whore look," which seems to mean either ripped dresses from the thirties or one-size-too-small, velvet dresses from the sixties. Her hair and makeup remain consistent: white skin, red lips, blond hair with black roots. "It’s a good look," she explains. "It’s sexy, but you can sit down and say, ‘I read Camille Paglia.’"

Courtney is extremely possessive about this style statement...she is currently in a war with her erstwhile friend Kat Bjelland because of a borrowed velvet dress. Or, at least, that's what started it.

"Kat has stolen a lot front me," she says, hitting on one of her very favorite themes. "Dresses. Lyrics. Riffs. Guitars. Shoes. She even went after Kurt. That was the last straw. Because I put up with the lyric stealing. And I put up with her going to England first in a dress that I loaned her. Now I can’t wear those fucking dresses in England anymore."

Kat isn’t Courtney’s only target ... she’s convinced that nearly everyone in the music scene is either plundering her schtick or is just plain worthless. She hates Inger Lorre, the lead singer of the Nymphs; despises Pearl Jam, another terrific Seattle band ("They’re careerist and they go out with models"); is angry with Faith No More ("The new record is called Angel Dust – they stole that from me"); has quarreled with Jennifer Finch of L7 (more stolen lyrics); and is convinced Axl Rose is "an ass – and he also goes out with models."

And so on. Not surprisingly, she also has a few concerns about Madonna. "I didn’t want to get involved with her, because she’s a bad enemy to have," Courtney says, giving a navy dress a closer inspection. "I don’t want her to know anything about me, because she’ll steal what she can. What I have is mine and she can’t fuckin’ have it. She’s not going to be able to write lyrics like me, and even if she does get up onstage with a guitar, it's not going to last. I don’t care how vain and arrogant this sounds, but just watch: in her next video, Madonna is going to have roots. She’s going to have smeared eyeliner. And that’s me." Courtney pauses, pressing the dress against her body to check the size. "In some pictures, I come across as a fourteen-year-old battered rape victim," she continues. "And she wants that image." Madonna’s response to this outburst? "Who," she asks, "is Courtney Love?"

Nevertheless, Courtney is very serious about her vendettas. They have an equalizing effect: by trashing the likes of Madonna she becomes, in some twisted way, her peer. "Courtney’s delusional," says Bjelland, who hasn’t spoken to her in a year. "I called her a while ago because I was worried about her baby and her sanity, but I never heard back from her. In the past, I always forgave her, but I can’t anymore. Last night, I had a dream that I killed her. I was really happy."

None of this fazes Courtney...she isn’t particularly interested in the consequences of her actions. She is, instead, after a certain kind of acknowledgment. Courtney wants her power known, and aside from the fact that everyone is stealing from her, she feels one of her main obstacles in this quest is the whole beauty thing. She has written a fanzine for Hole devotees called And She’s Not Even Pretty because, she explains, "a lot of the anti-Courtney factions say, ‘And she’s not even pretty. Here’s this new rock star..Kurt..and he’s supposed to be married to a model and he’s married to me."

This delights her, and she takes her stack of dresses over to Kurt, who is still carefully looking at each pair of jeans. He seems in a trancelike state and the salespeople, who all recognize him, keep their distance. "Isn’t he pretty?" she says. Kurt doesn’t seem to hear her. "We go out once in a while and women look at him like they’re starving," she goes on. Kurt continues to move through the rack in slow motion. "A lot of people want a piece of that new fame thing," she says. "I can understand that."

It’s later the same evening and Kurt is sitting in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven, waiting for Courtney to buy dinner, which consists of cookies, fruit juice, and cigarettes. As he stares out the window, a large van pulls up and a guy in full heavy-metal gear gets out. He is wearing a Nirvana T-shirt.

"That guy has on a Nirvana T-shirt," Kurt says rather sadly. The heavy-metal audience was not what he had in mind when he wrote "Smells Like Teen Spirit." "I’m used to it now. I guess," he says softly. "I’ve seen it a lot."

Commercial success in the alternative world ruins your credibility and Kurt is deeply concerned with staying true to his vision. He wouldn’t perform at Axl Rose’s thirtieth-birthday bash (Rose is a big Nirvana fan) and turned down a spot on this summer’s Metallica/Guns N’ Roses tour. Still and all, "the general consensus is that Nirvana should quit," says Bjelland. "They’ve reached... nirvana. What are you going to do after that?"

This is ridiculous logic, but it is the conventional wisdom within the community. "Courtney," Kurt says when she returns, "that heavy-metal guy was wearing a Nirvana T-shirt." "I know," she says, munching on a cookie. "I saw him." There is a long pause while they ponder this reality.

"I’m neurotic about credibility." Courtney says finally. "And Kurt is neurotic about it, too. He’s dealing with people who like his band who he despises. For instance, a girl was raped in Reno. When they were raping her, they were singing ‘Polly,’ a Nirvana song." Courtney pauses. "These are the people who listen to him."

"But there are all kinds of fame," she continues. "Like the Replacements had Respect Fame. Big Respect Fame. And that kind of fame can really mess with your head. Rather than, say, Paula Abdul fame. That is Valley Fame."

Kurt laughs. Courtney has a basic, commonsense approach to business matters that clearly appeals to him. "Credibility is credibility," she says. "All these labels signing everything that moves because they think they can purchase credibility. They think they can market it. And I say, Let them try." Kurt turns the key in the ignition. "Why do I want what I want?" she says, although no one's asked the question. "You have to give yourself some bogus-sincere nineties little reason about what it is that’s making you go. And mine is influence." Kurt smiles. He knows what she’s talking about.


It’s a month later and Kurt sounds like a new man. Cheerful! Alert! He’s talking on the phone from their hotel room in Seattle, where he and Courtney are rehearsing with their respective bands. "It’s great to play with the boys again," he says. He chatters on about his car (an old Plymouth Valiant) and the recent riots in L.A. "Courtney is out at the sauna," he says. "She’s really pregnant now, but she’s not that big. I think we’ll have a little elf baby."

Four hours later, Courtney is on the line. She, too, sounds happy and less manic. She’s full of news: there are rumblings that Gus Van Sant (Drugstore Cowboy, My Own Private Idaho) wants to put her in his next movie, she’s found a new bassist for Hole, and she and Kurt have bought a house in Seattle. "Nothing is better than being landed gentry," she says. "You must own property. That’s what I told Kurt."

Nirvana is going on a mini-tour in Scandinavia, and the baby is due in early September. "It’s the same day as the MTV Video Awards," Courtney says. "I think it’s very important that Kurt play that, but he doesn’t think like I do. If I was him, I’d have to play the video awards. I appreciate money. Kurt doesn’t see it the same way."

This is typical Courtney...eyes always on the prize. "I heard a couple of new rumors about me," she says gleefully. "That I’m Nike and Kurt married me for Nike money. That that’s why he’s attracted to me."

She laughs. There’s still talk about drugs and she knows it. Throughout the industry, there is increased worry about little Frances Bean. "The worst thing," she says, avoiding mention of the persistent drug rumors, "is when people say Kurt’s helping me to make it." She pauses. "If anything, Kurt has hurt me."

That’s going too far and Courtney stops herself. "No," she says, backpedaling. "Things are really good. It’s all coming true." Courtney laughs. "Although it could fuck up at any time. You never know."
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Re: Kurt & Courtney, directed by Nick Broomfield

Postby admin » Fri Sep 27, 2013 11:51 pm

Strange Love, by Lynn Hirschberg wrote:By the time he proposed ("I just knew he should ask me if he had any brains at all"), she was pregnant. The wedding was in Hawaii: Kurt, who once planned to wear a dress, wore pajamas, and Courtney wore ‘‘a white diaphanous item that had dry rot. It had been Frances Farmer’s in a movie." She signed a pre-nuptial agreement (her idea) and they did not go on a honeymoon. "Life is like a perennial honeymoon right now," she says. "I get to go to the bank machine every day."

All this would he perfect, except for the drugs. Twenty different sources throughout the record industry maintain that the Cobains have been heavily into heroin. Earlier this year, Kurt told Rolling Stone that he was not taking heroin, but Courtney presents another, extremely disturbing picture. "We went on a binge," she says, referring to a period last January when Nirvana was in New York to appear on Saturday Night Live. We did a lot of drugs. We got pills, and then we went down to Alphabet City and we copped some dope. Then we got high and went to S.N.L.. After that, I did heroin for a couple of months."

"It was horrible," recalls a business associate who was travelling with them at the time. "Courtney was pregnant and she was shooting up. Kurt was throwing up on people in the cab. They were both out of it."

Courtney has a long history with drugs. She loves Percodans ("They make me vacuum"), and has dabbled with heroin off and on since she was eighteen, once even snorting it in Room 101 of the Chelsea Hotel, where Nancy Spungen died. Reportedly, Kurt didn’t do much more than drink until he met Courtney. "He tried to be an alcoholic for a long time," she says. "But it didn’t sit right with him."

After their New York binge, it was suggested to Courtney that she have an abortion. She refused and, reportedly, had a battery of tests that indicated the fetus was fine. "She wanted to get off drugs," says Boyle. "I brought her herbs to ease the kick, so she wouldn’t freak out so badly. I was bringing stuff over to her house every day because it’s a whacked-out thing to do to a kid."

According in several sources, Courtney and Kurt went to separate detox hospitals in March. "After a few days, she left and went and got him," says one insider. "They never went back."

Whether or not they are using now is not clear. "It’s a sick scene in that apartment," says a close friend. "But lately, Courtney’s been asking for help."

She is definite about one thing: she wants the baby. And so does Kurt. In the living room is a painting he made using the sonogram of the fetus as a centerpiece. They know it’s a girl and have picked out a name: Frances Bean Cobain.

Endangered Minds: Why Children Don't Think, and What We Can Do About It, by Jane M. Healy, Ph.D. wrote:CHAPTER 2: Neural Plasticity: Nature's Double-Edged Sword

The large auditorium is hushed as the lights dim and a statistical chart appears on the screen. I reflect momentarily that I have never heard a large group of educators this quiet.

"Now, I'll show you the effects of different environments on our animals' brains." Dr. Marian Diamond wields her laser pointer triumphantly. "We've been working at this for more than thirty years, so I hope you'll forgive me if I skip just a little." The audience chuckles appreciatively and subsides into rapt attention as Dr. Diamond continues. "Here's a summary of the data comparing brain size and weight of rats reared in the standard cages, those who lived in the 'impoverished' environments, and here" -- she pauses dramatically -- "are the results with the animals who lived in the enrichment cages. Notice how, with increasing amounts of environmental enrichment, we see brains that are larger and heavier, with increased dendritic branching. That means those nerve cells can communicate better with each other. With the enriched environments we also get more support cells because the nerve cells are getting bigger. Not only that, but the junction between the cells -- the synapse -- also increases its dimensions. These are highly significant effects of differential experience. It certainly shows how dynamic the nervous system is and how responsive it is to its internal and external surroundings."

This international audience has gathered to hear many speakers describe new concepts for education, but Dr. Diamond is clearly the star attraction. A professor of neuroanatomy at the University of California, Berkeley, she has pioneered studies that have opened scientists' eyes -- and minds -- about the power of environmental factors in physically altering the dimensions of growing brains. In experiments described in her book Enriching Heredity [1] and elaborated on in the next chapter, rats in an "enriched" environment, actively interested and challenged by frequent new learning experiences, develop larger and heavier brains and also show increased ability to run mazes, the best available test of a rat's intelligence. Moreover, in a series of recent experiments, she has demonstrated for the first time that the effects of personal involvement in new learning appear to be so powerful that rats of any age can develop new brain connections if they intensely pursue new challenges. "Yes," she concludes, with a flourish, "if we work hard enough at it we can even change the very old brain."

She is immediately besieged with questions. Aren't there some basic learning abilities the environment can't change'? What about heredity? "Heredity plays a highly important role in the form of these different [behavioral] repertoires," she acknowledges, "but we now have clear evidence that the environment can play a role in shaping brain structure and, in turn, learning behavior. It is the area of the brain that is stimulated that grows." [2]

The auditorium resonates with an undercurrent of response. An elementary school principal seated next to me whispers, "If this applies to human brains, too, think of the implications for teachers -- and for parents!"

I am eager to talk with Dr. Diamond, and an hour later, when she has finally been released by a swarm of questioners, I have my chance. This world-renowned scientist turns out to be an approachable and thoughtful person-- and it soon becomes evident that she takes her own theories to heart. Our conversation takes place as we stride vigorously through a nearby woods, impelled by the enthusiasm with which she approaches new ideas as well as new physical challenges. She has just returned from her first kayaking trip and is about to embark on a six-week teaching assignment in Africa.

Although Dr. Diamond is obviously convinced that stimulation is good for human as well as for rat brains, I am curious about how confidently we can apply her animal research to children. I explain my questions about the effects of contemporary culture on children's brains. Do neuroanatomists believe that the brains of children, like those of the rats, can be changed by their environments?

"To those of us in the field, there is absolutely no doubt that culture changes brains, and there's no doubt in my mind that children's brains are changing," she replies. "Whatever they're learning, as those nerve cells are getting input, they are sending out dendritic branches. As long as stimuli come in to a certain area, you get more branching; if you lose the stimuli, they stop branching. It is the pattern of the branching that differentiates among us. The cortex is changing all the time -- I call it 'the dance of the neurons.' This is true in the brains of cats, dogs, rats, monkeys, or man." [3]

Many similar experiments have convinced other scientists of the changeability -- they call it plasticity -- of brains. Although it is obviously impossible to conduct similar studies on humans, researchers agree both on the validity of principles derived from animal experiments and on the fact that human brains are probably the most plastic of all. Another expert in the field, Dr. Victor H. Denenberg, recently commented, "One would expect even more powerful and more subtle effects with the human, whose brain is vastly more complicated than that of the rat, and who lives in a much more complex social and environmental milieu." [4]

With the reality of brain plasticity well-accepted in scientific circles, it was still a new idea for many of the educators attending Dr. Diamond's presentation.

"I guess it seems obvious, but I somehow never really believed that what I did in the classroom would physically influence the size or shape of my students' brains!" commented one teacher. "It does put being a teacher -- or a parent, for that matter -- in a whole new light."

Indeed it does. In order to interpret any research responsibly, however, it is necessary to understand it. Although scientists themselves do not claim to have any final answers, this chapter will summarize what is currently known about environments as sculptors of growing minds both before and after birth. Let us start by entangling ourselves briefly in a very old, but fundamental, controversy.


"Just as the twig is bent, the tree's inclined." Common sense suggests that growing organisms are highly adaptable to external influences, but what seemed so apparent to Alexander Pope has caused psychologists to argue bitterly for years. How much is mental ability shaped by environments and how much is in the hands of heredity? After all, the tree still develops bark, leaves, and a functioning root system no matter how the twig gets bent. Psychologists have tried to resolve this issue with studies comparing identical and fraternal twins. Currently, heredity and environment are each assigned roughly 50 (or 40, or 60)% of the credit. As parents of wiggly little children can understand, however, their physical behavior resists numerical formulas -- and so does their mental behavior: learning. So-called "nature-nurture" interactions are complex. For example, in a case to be considered in a later chapter, a learning disability that runs in families may result from changes in the child's brain before birth. Cells in the fetal brain get rearranged by chemicals produced because of an inherited response of the mother's own autoimmune system (don't worry, scientists are confused, too) -- which the child may also inherit. Would you say this disability is caused by heredity or by the prenatal environment?

In another controversial example, children from lower socioeconomic groups tend to score below average on standard IQ tests. Is this because poor environments depress their intelligence, or because they never learned good test-taking skills, or because, as some believe, families with nonstandard intellectual endowment might get trapped in lower socioeconomic groups? In another chapter, when we consider the results of efforts to alter such children's intelligence, we will see how difficult it is to sort out these factors.

Brain research is now giving these old issues an interesting new dimension by changing the focus from heredity versus environment to heredity plus environment. Until recently, so little has been known about the "brain" that most theorists sidestepped it when trying to explain intelligence (and they produced some mindless theories as a result). Now we acknowledge that the basic genetic architecture for our brains lies at the heart of all learning and even much of our emotional behavior. When these inherited patterns interact with the child's environment, plasticity guarantees an unlimited number of interesting variations. The final pattern is determined by the way each individual uses that unique brain.

Behavior Changes Brains and Brains Change Behavior

"Do you really mean that the way children use their brains causes physical changes in them?" Since I began the research for this book, I have heard this question from almost everyone to whom I have talked -- everyone, that is, except the neuroscientists. Their response is quite different, more along the lines of, "So, what else is new?" These scientists already understand that experience -- what children do every day, the ways in which they think and respond to the world, what they learn, and the stimuli to which they decide to pay attention -- shapes their brains. Not only does it change the ways in which the brain is used (functional change), but it also causes physical alterations (structural change) in neural wiring systems.

"Would I be safe in saying that if you change what a child does with his or her brain, you're physically going to change that brain?" I asked Dr. Kenneth A. Klivington of the Salk Institute in San Diego, California.

"That's absolutely correct," he replied. "Structure and function are inseparable. We know that environments shape brains; all sorts of experiments have demonstrated that it happens. There are some studies currently being done that show profound differences in the structure of the brain depending on what is taken in by the senses."

We will return later to these and other studies, but before we get too far into the details, we should undertake a look at the way the brain develops before and after birth, focusing on this whole concept of its changeability. A good starting point is the brain's most basic structure -- the cells and their connections -- for therein lies the secret of neural plasticity.

Networking Neurons

All brains consist of two types of cells: nerve cells, called neurons, and glial cells. The neurons, numbering in the billions, arrive in the world ready and waiting to connect themselves together in flexible networks to fire messages within and between parts of the brain. No new cerebral cortical neurons will be added after birth, but since each of these nerve cells is capable of communicating with thousands of other neurons, the potential for neural networking is virtually incomprehensible. Surrounding glial cells provide the catering service for the nervous system, supporting and nourishing the neurons as they go about their delicate task of creating, firing, and maintaining the connections for thinking.

If you hold your hand out in front of you with fingers extended, you can get a rough idea of the shape of the average neuron. Your palm represents the cell body, with its central nucleus, and your outreaching fingers are dendrites. These microscopic projections extend in treelike formations to act as intake systems, picking up messages from other neurons and relaying them to the cell body. After reaching your palm, a message would travel down your arm, which represents the axon, or output system. When it reaches the end of the axon, it must jump across a small gap called a synapse before being picked up by dendrites from a neighboring neuron. This primordial intellectual leap is facilitated by chemicals -- called neurotransmitters or neuromodulators. It is repeated untold billions of times as this vast array of potential goes about the business of daily mental activity. The strength and efficiency of synaptic connections determine the speed and power with which your brain functions. The most important news about synapses is that they are formed, strengthened, and maintained by interaction with experience.

New Experiences: New Connections

Dr. Richard M. Lerner, professor of child and adolescent development at Pennsylvania State University, and author of On the Nature of Human Plasticity [5] points out that you can't have a developing, changing, responsive organism without its brain being able to be altered structurally by environmental encounters. Structural change, in this case, does not mean growing new neurons, but rather creating new structures, like road systems, between the ones that are already there. As the structures of dendrites and synapses change in response to experience, the new pathways formed allow different functions to follow them so the child becomes able to master new skills. The brain's flexibility is also increased, since new pathways provide alternate routes to the same destination. During our discussion, Dr. Lerner used the analogy of a road system in a developing town. At first, there may be only one road through town; as alternate routes form, a driver has more choices of how to get to a destination. The structural changes are comparable to building a new road, and the functional ones to deciding which of several roads to take to reach a goal. The systems are mutually interactive, since the roads are constructed as a response to demands for certain types of functions.

I asked Dr. Lerner about the possibility that children's brains today might be constructing slightly different road systems from those, say, twenty years ago. If they are being attracted to different types of stimuli, both structure and function could be altered, he acknowledged. Yes, taking a large group of children and exposing them to certain experiences might modify them in a particular direction. Of course, any conclusions of this sort would require a good deal of evidence, this conservative scientist hastened to add. [6]

Scientists hesitate to make definitive statements on this point because they have not had the technology available to get the evidence for large groups of "normal" children. Even with new computerized techniques of brain imaging, it is still difficult to pin down subtle changes at the level of the neuron. Moreover, most research dollars have gone to the pressing issue of serious disability, so most available evidence comes from youngsters whose brains have been injured through illness or accident. They provide dramatic evidence for plasticity. Frequently children master skills even when the neurons thought to be important are missing or damaged. For example, very young children with severe injury in the brain's language areas can develop remarkably good abilities to talk, understand language, read, and write. These brains have been able to develop new structural connections to bypass injured areas and also to reorganize functionally by using alternate, undamaged areas. With a cast of understudies, the final performance is usually somewhat impaired, but young brains are astonishingly flexible.

What about older ones? While new tricks are indeed harder for old synapses, studies of stroke victims prove that with sufficient effort the human brain may be remolded to some extent at any age. The latest research confirms this principle for healthy brains as well. In fact, as I write this book and you read it, our brains are not even the same from moment to moment. The very acts of writing and reading are doubtless changing, very subtly, the way some cells connect together. I find this idea thought-provoking, and I can even become somewhat confounded thinking that while I am thinking this thought-provoking thought, my brain is probably being changed by it!

It is much more difficult, however, to reorganize a brain than it is to organize it in the first place. "Organization inhibits reorganization," say the scientists. [7] Carving out neuronal tracks for certain types of learning is best accomplished when the synapses for that particular skill are most malleable, before they "firm up" around certain types of responses.

Hard Wiring and Open Circuits

Animal brains have an easy time of it. They carry out many of the basic routines of keeping alive, fed, and safe, reproducing and caring for the young, with preprogrammed neural systems that do the work without asking questions. While these more primitive brains are clearly capable of learning, more of their cells are committed to hardwired networks genetically programmed to function with a minimum of flexibility.

Human brains depend on these hard-wired systems, too, but we also have larger areas of uncommitted tissue that can mold itself around the demands of a particular environment. A human brain is thus well adapted for life in a complex society. Our species has a better chance for survival with mental equipment flexibly engineered for the challenges of an ever-changing world. Thus, human brains and the culture they generate are intertwined. As the culture acts to modify our brains, they, in turn, act to modify the culture. [8]

Researchers have debated heatedly about which learning abilities are hard-wired and which are more open to experience. One of the foremost authorities on early brain development, Dr. William T. Greenough [9, 10] of the University of Illinois, has recently found a new way of looking at this problem. According to his explanation, some systems, which he calls experience expectant, are specifically designed to be easily activated by the type of environmental information that a member of a species may ordinarily be expected to encounter. Most human infants, for example, have sufficient visual, auditory, and tactile experiences to activate circuits for seeing, hearing, and touching. These brain cells require proper experience at the proper time, but even a brief period of normal input causes connections to be formed.

Some aspects of more complex skills like language also seem to be built into this "experience expectant" system; the brain "expects" to be stimulated by a set of sounds and some basic grammatical rules (e. g., little children soon pick up the idea that verbs come before objects -- "want cookie"), so these abilities are learned readily by children who have even minimal language experiences in early years. Experience-expectant neurons can be foiled, however. Later in this chapter we will consider what happens to children deprived of even basic sensory experiences.

The open circuitry that accounts for many human learning abilities, however, develops from connections that Greenough calls experience dependent. These systems are unique to each individual's experience and account for the fact that we all have quite different brains! For example, learning about one's physical environment, mastering a particular vocabulary, or trying to pass algebra means the brain must receive enough usable stimulation to carve out its own unique systems of connections between cells.

Since so many children these days seem to lack higher-level language development, I decided Greenough's research might offer a clue. I asked him whether all language should develop almost automatically from a minimum of environmental exposure (experience expectant), or whether higher-level language abilities might depend more on special amounts and types of input into the system (experience dependent).

"My opinion is that language development is heavily experience dependent," he replied, "and therefore would have a great deal to do with the way a child is reared. Hypothetically, children who grew up receiving a great deal of their input from television, for example, might be different from children who grew up getting input from an individual speaker."

"If they get different types of language input, could the language areas of children's brains be subtly different from those of twenty years ago?" I asked.

"I think you can make a case for it, although our work can only indirectly say anything about that. What we know is that the brain very selectively can be shown to respond to its particular experiences; if an animal, for example, learns a motor task, you see very selective changes in the brain regions that govern that task; so that there is no question that these changes are highly specific to the events that produce them. It's certainly quite conceivable that a major difference in the way in which kids grew up would lead to a major difference in brain organization for information processing. There's remarkably little evidence available, however," he added.

"Is it possible that the pace of our contemporary life, when many children are constantly being stimulated from outside so that they have little time to sit, think, reflect, and talk to themselves inside their own heads -- could that make a physical difference in their brains?" I ventured.

"I think it's a reasonable hypothesis," Dr. Greenough responded thoughtfully.

In a later chapter we will examine research that sheds considerable light on some of the subtle language deficiencies shown by many of the current generation. For now, let us resume our survey of how the brain learns to think -- and what happens if it doesn't. While I personally believe that most of the worrisome changes now occurring in children's brains are caused by intellectual environments, some drugs and chemicals to which children are now exposed before birth may also be contributing to the increased incidence of learning difficulties.


The very flexibility of systems that rely on experience for their shaping, or even for their survival, makes plasticity a double-edged sword. On one side is the optimistic news that brains are designed to make the most out of the situations in which they find themselves. At any age we take an active role in shaping our own brains according to what we choose to notice and respond to. On the other hand, however, lie several serious issues. What happens if significant numbers of cells are damaged during the process of development so they can't respond efficiently? What if the "right" stimulation is not available? Is it possible to focus too heavily on one set of stimuli and neglect others? In order to address these complex questions, we must first get an overview of the prenatal process that sets the neurons into place. Then we will move on to consider sources of flaws in the system.

Building the Fetal Brain: Neurons Compete to Survive

Most people are unaware that nature over-endows us with brain cells, yet this apparent wastefulness is our assurance of adaptable mental equipment. In the nine months before birth, the fetal brain grows rapidly from a small cluster of cells into an organ that contains too many neurons. By the fourth week of gestation it has started to differentiate into separate areas. Neurons and glial cells are produced at a rapid rate and then, to the continuing amazement of neuroanatomists, manage somehow to "migrate" to the areas for which they were designed.

The first cells out form areas for more basic functions such as physical drives, reflex movements, and balance. Somewhat later come relay stations for sensory stimuli and some technical equipment to help with memory and emotion. These abilities are mainly "hardwired" into systems underlying the neocortex, whose convoluted surface covers the rest of the brain like an elaborate layer of gray frosting. Hardly a superficial addition, however, the cortex is the control panel for processing information at three levels:

1. receiving sensory stimuli

2. organizing them into meaningful patterns so that we can make sense out of the world

3. associating patterns to develop abstract types of learning and thinking

These later-developing "association areas," so critically important for planning, reasoning, and using language to express ideas, are the most plastic of all; their development depends on the way the child uses his or her brain at different stages of development.

Surprisingly enough, all these abilities emerge as a result of a violent competition by which the brain literally "prunes" out and disposes of its excess neurons. Because there is a limited number of available connection sites, the mortality rate for neurons is staggering. Even before birth up to 40-60% die off because they can't find a permanent home. During gestation, each cell migrating to the cortex tries to find a prearranged spot in one of six layers. They don't all arrive, however. The first cells out arrange themselves in the first, or inner, layer, and the later arrivals quite literally must climb between and beyond them, stacking themselves up until eventually all six layers have formed. The final layers hold the potential for the highest-order, latest-developing mental abilities, but these cells have the hardest job finding their proper station in life.

"So, you can see right away that we can all be considered brain damaged in one respect," wryly observes Dr. Jane Holmes Bernstein. [11] But some of us get labeled, and some don't. As we talk, I notice that one wall of her office in Boston Children's Hospital is covered with drawings made by some of the children that she sees every day. As a clinical neuropsychologist working with children called learning disabled, she attempts to understand behavior -- primarily learning behavior -- in terms of brain structure and function. She is convinced that brain shapes behavior, but also that experience in the world shapes the brain as it develops, through a process that she terms "competition for connections." This mechanism is initiated before birth by nature's clever overproduction of neurons.

"Cell death appears to be a natural consequence of the competition for connections: those cells that don't connect are lost. Ideally, this process will result in a very efficient structure, but it can go wrong, too. Sometimes damage before birth to an early-maturing part may lead to abnormal patterns of connections; if early-arriving cells preempt the connections that should belong to later arrivals, the later ones have nowhere to go and sort of fall off the cliff. It's important to realize that early development after birth may seem normal -- after all, some basic connections have been made; later on, however, it's likely to be a different story. Higher-order thinking skills that should develop with maturation have no foundation!" [12]

What happens, then, to the potential learning ability of this brain? Why would nature set up such a risky system for developing mental connections?

"It seems to me that this sort of competitive connectivity model is the basis for a great deal of our uniqueness as individuals. The playing out of these patterns is presumably what allows brains to be generally competent at the same skills but different in the individual case," reflects Dr. Bernstein.

Not everyone agrees with Dr. Bernstein's terminology. "I hate the term 'brain damaged'!" Marian Diamond argues. "We each have different kinds of brains; the connections are different, giving us different kinds of abilities. Give the young people the benefit of the doubt. . . we have different brains to develop and this is a positive connotation, not a negative one!" [13]

Whatever words may be most effective in getting people to realize that not all children learn in the same way, it is clear that environments play an important role in these differences. Later, we will return to some of Dr. Bernstein's opinions about how neural patterns are being "played out" for today's children. Now, however, we should finish our look at prenatal life by considering some of the specific factors that may alter these patterns of connectivity -- for better or worse. They fall generally into two categories: those that come in from outside, and those that are produced in the environment of the womb itself.

The Vulnerable Fetal Brain: "Birth Defects of the Mind"

The brain is always most plastic at times when it is growing fastest. The fetal brain is especially vulnerable, not only because of its increased metabolic rate, but also because of an underdeveloped ability to detoxify harmful substances. Not so many years ago, obstetricians earnestly assured their patients that the placenta was an effective screen for toxic materials, but they were wrong, as the thalidomide tragedies eventually demonstrated. We are now acutely aware that many toxins are able to cross the placenta. Because of its rapidly proliferating concentration of cells, the fetal brain is a natural target, and the systems growing fastest at the time of exposure are on the front line. [14]

Even toxic material that doesn't cross the placenta, such as residue from cigarette smoking, may accumulate in the placenta and disrupt the baby's nutritional intake. Many prospective fathers are unaware that they, too, can harm their unborn children. If they have been exposed to toxic substances, their contaminated seminal fluid may expose the fetus during intercourse or cause birth defects if toxins have damaged the genetic structure of the sperm. [15]

Because of the finely timed schedule of cell proliferation and migration, different effects may come from exposure at different times. Some are more obvious than others. Damage during the first few days of pregnancy usually results in spontaneous abortion, of which the mother is probably unaware. From one to eight weeks of gestation, when cells start to move toward their target destinations, fetal death or major abnormalities usually result. After eight weeks, when neurons begin to settle into place, toxic exposure may result in subtle rearrangements of their placement or with their potential ability to communicate. These seemingly minor structural and functional abnormalities have aroused growing concern from a group of scientists in the new field of behavioral teratology: the study of the effects of toxic substances on the developing brain. These researchers are convinced of the potential of teratogens, or toxins, to cause subtle but pervasive difficulty with learning and behavior -- the type of problems that, even years later, earn some children the label of "learning disabled." [16]

"Yes, it's a serious problem. There are clear links between substances commonly found in the environment and later development of learning and behavior difficulties," says Dr. Brenda Eskenazi of the departments of Maternal and Child Health and Epidemiology at the University of California at Berkeley. "You might call these 'birth defects of the mind.' The effects on the brain are so subtle they don't show up on routine screening measures, and it may be years before the problem gets identified." [17]

Most such problems are of three major types: motor clumsiness and/or perceptual difficulties; problems with attention; or disabilities in specific types of school learning such as reading or math. As Dr. Bernstein pointed out, while it is sometimes hard to understand how prenatal exposure can show up only years later in school, early damage to higher-order systems may not become apparent until those particular systems are called on, as, for example, in reading comprehension or math reasoning. Since exposure to toxins after birth may also invite subtle forms of damage, causality is hard to pin down.

Hazardous Substances for the Fetal Brain

What are the hazardous substances? Although many potential candidates have been identified, conclusive results from well-controlled testing are few and far between. Here is a summary of the current field:

Lead: Clearly implicated in mental retardation, lead exposure both before and after birth has been shown to lower IQ even in potentially gifted children as well as causing problems with attention and academic learning. Yet the source of the problem may go unrecognized. Dr. Herbert L. Needleman of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is convinced that many children who have real learning and behavior difficulties in the classroom look "fine" when examined in a doctor's office. He estimates that as many as 650,000 American children may be affected. Authorities all over the world are beginning to share this concern. [18]

Other metals: Methyl mercury, arsenic, aluminum, and cadmium have all been implicated, particularly when combined with exposure to other toxins or with lead.

PCBs, PBBs, solvents, pesticides, and some chemical fertilizers: All contain ingredients that may affect the central nervous system. The presence of these substances in many work environments has resulted in new precautions and some regulations concerning exposure for people of childbearing age.

Recreational drugs: Alcohol may cause serious abnormalities in both mental and physical development or may exacerbate the effects of other toxins. The level of susceptibility appears to vary widely among individuals, and it is not known how to determine what amount, if any, is safe for anyone person. Narcotics known to be toxic to the developing brain are heroin, methadone, and codeine. Most research on marijuana is out-of-date and poorly controlled; new studies suggest extreme caution by both potential mothers and fathers. [19] Likewise, many authorities warn that growing cocaine use by pregnant women will soon flood the schools with children who have attention, learning, and social problems. In all, drugs taken during pregnancy are producing a substantial subpopulation of children who begin life with significant neurological impairment. At this writing, it is estimated that at least one out of every nine babies born in the United States is affected. [20] And these children are not even included in our already declining test scores!

Prescription drugs: Prospective parents are advised to discuss potential childbearing with a well-informed physician who can advise them on current information regarding any medication they may be taking.

Over-the-counter drugs: Experts advise completely avoiding these during pregnancy.

When I began to investigate this topic for an article I was asked to write recently, [21] I found myself horrified by what I read and heard from experts in the field. Everywhere I looked, I could see (or breathe, or ingest) substances that were under investigation. How did my husband and I ever manage, I wondered, to have three healthy, well-functioning children? I procrastinated about writing the article, partially because I was worried about frightening expectant parents, yet I became increasingly convinced that this information should be promulgated. Finally, I placed another call to Dr. Eskenazi, who had mentioned the fact that she was expecting her first child. I asked her how she reconciled her own pregnancy with her extensive knowledge about hazards to her child's developing brain.

"You have to use common sense," she replied. "Even knowing everything I do, I don't get hysterical. I just maintain sensible precautions. I read labels and avoid situations where I might be exposed to toxins. I would certainly advise women to clean up their environments and their lifestyles before becoming pregnant, and then just be careful and relax as much as possible." [22]

This is good advice, but to what extent does our society help women "use common sense" or even inform them clearly about the issues involved? Where is the research that will clarify the dimensions of this worldwide problem? At every teacher workshop I attend these days, I am asked, "Do you think that drugs or medications taken by parents may be related to the rash of attention problems we are now seeing in schools?" Although I am convinced there are a number of other forces playing into children's attention problems, I am obliged to respond, "Yes, according to the research, it is certainly a factor."

One group of teachers in California, alarmed by newspaper reports about neurotoxic effects of crop spraying, wanted to know what connection it might have to an increasing number of diagnosed learning disabilities in their district. They are not the only ones wishing for better answers to questions like these. In recent testimony before a Senate subcommittee, Audrey McMahon of the Association for Children with Learning Disabilities appealed for increased research on this global problem, the threat of which, she points out, does not end when the child is born. The brains of young children remain highly susceptible. Contaminants come from a multiplicity of sources, such as air pollution, automobile exhaust, foods that have been sprayed with pesticides, clothing worn by adults in a contaminated workplace, and even breast milk that has absorbed toxins stored in the mother's body fat. During the course of my interviews, a doctor in Germany told me that he and other physicians are advising women who live near the Rhine River, which has been heavily contaminated with pesticides and industrial residues, not to nurse their babies for more than a few weeks. [23]

The Stressed-Out Fetus

Toxins are not the only influences by which the fetal brain can be altered. A mother's illness and accident pose obvious risks. Recently we have also become aware of the importance of her nutritional and emotional status. It is encouraging to learn that these two variables are themselves doubled-edged swords that give parents some control over the general course of their baby's prenatal life. A sensible, balanced diet containing reasonable amounts of protein during pregnancy is a powerful protective factor against other risks. On the other hand, fetal brains are affected by malnutrition, and poorly nourished women also tend to give birth to children of low birthweight, who are statistically more at risk for learning problems. [24]

In today's fast-paced society, the subject of maternal stress is an issue that warrants better research. Animal studies have shown that stress during pregnancy can upset chemical transmission systems in the brain of the fetus, [25] possibly because hormone secretions associated with stress cross the placenta. One recent rat study from Israel demonstrated that "random" stress during pregnancy (i.e., the pregnant animal was exposed to loud noise or flashing lights on an unpredictable schedule) not only caused increased fearfulness and exaggerated stress response in the offspring, but also produced chemical brain changes resulting in permanent alterations in the relative size and shape of the two halves of the offsprings' brains. [26] (Is this an animal analogue for "different learning styles"?)

Published reports by several authorities have suggested that sustained stress during the first months of pregnancy may be a factor in the development of hyperactivity in children, but the professional literature does not offer any definitive guidelines. Expectant mothers are well advised to avoid prolonged, excessive stress if they possibly can -- although available definitions of what constitutes stress, or what "excessive" means for any individual woman, are frustratingly vague. [27]

The Flexible Mind: Overcoming Prenatal Damage

Before we move on to consider the way brains develop after birth, let me digress for a note of reassurance. The idea that brains can get changed around like this is a bit less frightening if we consider the point that everyone is "brain different" in some respect. Many children emerge apparently unscathed from difficult pre- and postnatal environments, while others end up "learning disabled."

There are doubtless several reasons for these different outcomes. First, environments continue to modify the brain long after birth, so their effects can actively counteract prenatal problems. Moreover, some children just seem to be genetically more resilient than others. Good prenatal nutritional and emotional environments provide additional insurance. Finally, because of the young brain's great structural and functional plasticity, it can arrange itself around some types of learning in a wide variety of ways, depending not only on innate predispositions but also on the way the material is presented.

Most school learning calls on many sets of connections, not just a single location in the brain, so some types of prenatal "damage" may be circumvented by later learning experiences. For example, youngsters learning to read by either sounding out words ("b-a-t") or by guessing at them from their general shape ("STOP") are using different systems of neurons in each case. Later, when they move on to rapid reading and comprehension of more complex material, they will connect up with higher-level systems. Thus, skilled reading is said to be "subserved" by a number of different combinations of brain cells in different locations. Some are obviously more critical than others (the ones that put the sounds together with the letters, for example), but it is possible to circumnavigate areas of weakness. Even without big "holes" in our brains, most of us have had to learn to compensate for certain sets of connections that don't hook up quite as easily as others! If you contemplate the potential arrangement and rearrangement of several billions (or hundreds of billions ) of nerve cells, you get a notion of the infinite number of ways in which a system can get arranged.

If some kinds of damage happen early enough, this flexibility, teamed with a drive to succeed and the help of a supportive environment, can generate seemingly miraculous results. One of the most remarkable stories I have recently heard was from Dr. Isabelle Rapin of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. One of her patients was a girl who had been born with, quite literally, a "hole" in her brain -- a large defect in the right rear quadrant of her cortex. Looking at an early brain (CT) scan of this child, which showed several distortions in addition to the large "empty" area, I had trouble believing she could ever have approached normal functioning. Yet, although she had some enduring visual problems, slow motor development, and trouble doing math, her verbal IQ registered in the superior range by the time she was nine years old. [28] When Dr. Rapin told me about this case, the girl was a student doing well at a well-known Ivy League university.

Some very specific types of damage or deprivation may noticeably effect basic "hard-wired" abilities, such as sensory discriminations (e.g., seeing visual features like vertical or horizontal lines; hearing certain kinds of sounds) because they are "localized" to very specific cells in the brain. Areas controlling attention and some related "executive functions" that will become important in later life (and in later chapters of this book) may also be vulnerable to early damage or deprivation. Many higher-level skills, however, can be approached in several different ways and thus may develop through more variable routes.

In his important book, Frames of Mind, Dr. Howard Gardner has suggested that separate types of intelligence call on many different brain areas. [29] A person may be highly gifted and have a wonderful memory in linguistic (language) intelligence, for example, but be unexceptional at music or interpersonal relationships. We can't draw a neat circle around any of these clusters in the brain, yet the various abilities within each seem somehow to work together. Specific skills within each cluster are developed at different stages of brain growth during childhood and adolescence.

Because the organization of the brain is so heavily influenced by the way it is used after birth, the home and school environment can do a lot to help potentially learning-disabled children learn more successfully. For example, as I have described in my previous book, a child's exposure to good language, a positively structured environment, and methods of instruction appropriate for his or her style of learning may determine whether learning problems materialize. [30] Moreover, the potential of teaching techniques to reorganize young brains is a hot new topic in the education world. We will see in a later chapter how one researcher claims to be changing brain function of reading-disabled schoolchildren with different teaching methods.

While the exact effect of brain-endangering substances remains undetermined, most of the academically injurious changes observed in today's children are probably much more a function of mental environments after birth. Fortunately, parents and teachers can actively do something about these influences. But they need to proceed wisely.

Engineering the Fetal Brain

Some people are in a real hurry to get started teaching their children. An increasingly popular attempt to "stimulate" brains artificially while they are in the womb is worrying many professionals.

"A lot of crazy, bizarre things are happening in the United States," reports Dr. Susan Luddington-Hoe, professor of maternal and child health at UCLA and author of How to Have a Smarter Baby. [31] ''There are now over fourteen programs for prenatal learning! Pregnant women are wearing belts with stereo headsets to try and stimulate their infant's brain. Some people are even holding a card with, say, an a on it to Mom's belly and shining a flashlight through it while they say 'a, a, a' so the kid will supposedly be born knowing the alphabet. Let me tell you, I don't condone any of this stuff."

During a normal pregnancy, the fetus receives a great deal of stimulation from the mother's and its own movement, from the sound of her voice and heartbeat, and even from the taste and smell of the amniotic fluid. Although scientists -- and mothers -- confirm that a fetus can respond to some external events, notably sounds, organized "learning" by fetal brains has a rather tenuous base in research. Studies have demonstrated that infant animals acquire preferences for tastes and odors in utero. [32] One researcher claims that human infants, while still in the womb, learn to prefer their mothers' voices and can even be "taught" to favor certain familiar stories that the expectant mother has frequently read out loud. [33] Dr. Luddington- Hoe's research has suggested that a fetus can differentiate its parents' voices immediately after birth.

Reports such as these have provoked a rash of commercial materials with which parents may attempt to create designer brains in their infants. There is even a "Prenatal University" for those who can't wait to get started paying college tuition.

"For heaven's sake," exclaims Dr. Luddington-Hoe, "nature has created the perfect environment; why should we mess around with it?"

Most responsible researchers agree that we do not yet know enough to do anything that risks distorting the natural processes of mental growth. Trying to "engineer" children's learning at any age can have disastrous emotional and neurological consequences.

The evolutionary history of our species has given us a neural architecture preprogrammed with a driving need to arrange itself adaptively. If a fetal brain is cared for and protected in following its own developmental timetable, it will emerge at the end of nine months ready to take on the challenge of molding itself around the demands of an awaiting -- and constantly changing -- world. We will now begin to examine this process.
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Re: Kurt & Courtney, directed by Nick Broomfield

Postby admin » Sat Jun 20, 2015 10:01 am

Description of Kurt Cobain




At the age of eleven, Kurt Cobain was the subject of a description to be published in his school's newspaper, the Puppy Press, under the headline, "Meatball of the Month":

Kurt is a seventh grader at our school. He has blonde hair and blue eyes. He thinks school is alright. Kurt's favorite class is band and his favorite teacher is Mr. Hepp. His favorite food and drink are pizza and coke. His favorite saying is, "excuse you." His favorite song is "Don't Bring Me Down" by E.L.O. and his favorite rock group is Meatloaf. His favorite TV show is "Taxi" and his favorite actor is Burt Reynolds.


Kurt's biographer Charles R. Cross writes, "his doodles mostly were of cars, trucks, and guitars, but he also began to craft his own crude pornography." He had many pets. He loved animals, taking care of strays.

When he was eight his grandparents took him to Disneyland for the first time. His mother drove him from Aberdeen to Seattle where he took a plane to Arizona. It was a whirlwind, stretching his experience of the world.


In the second grade, Red Dye Number Two was removed from his diet. He could not concentrate on any one thing for long, and this was thought to be the culprit. A doctor prescribed Ritalin to remedy the problem. Kurt possessed an overactive mind.

The Cobains

Almost every time someone writes about Kurt's childhood, they invent a different way from the last person who tried it. One biography of Kurt describes him "a kind of menace," another paints him as a sensitive artist. It is as if the person talking about Kurt was never themselves young. He was without doubt his family's horcrux: he simply was not very interested in being anything they were.

at age fourteen

He was artistically gifted from the first, but he could not inure himself from criticism. When a peer could not understand one of his paintings, he lashed out at the willfully obtuse fourteen-year-old girl. His mother divorced Kurt's father when he was nine. She later said, "Everybody was telling him how much they loved his art and he was never satisfied with it."

Later, his worried parents would decide to finally send him to a child psychiatrist. He told Kurt to fit in more.


As soon as his parents got divorced, Kurt stopped eating. At the age of ten, he transferred to a new elementary school in Montesano closer to his father. Girls began noticing him for the first time, his blue eyes. He loved television, never found himself without something fascinating to absorb in silence. His favorite shows were Taxi and Saturday Night Live.

He was not happy in his town, and wanted to live with his mother again. She had moved on to an even worse relationship. Later, when Kurt confronted his mother about why she'd forced him to stay with his father, she told him, "Kurt, you don't even know what it was like. You would have ended up in juvie or jail."


His sketches became more advanced. He once showed a sketch of a vagina to a friend, and when his friend asked him what it was, he laughed.


He was probably not ADHD, but he was still on a pill regimen: not just Ritalin, but sedatives, too. When something was wrong he knew where to go. He felt he could not really depend on anyone else. In junior high, he called his teachers racist and got high whenever he could. He avoided school to be alone, not to hang out with friends.

LSD, marijuana, mushrooms and amyl nitrate. Plus whatever he was taking on script.

His parents became even more concerned when, at the age of fifteen, Kurt composed his first short film, Kurt Commits Bloody Suicide, which featured fake blood pouring out of his wrists. He had thought Jimi Hendrix killed himself and wanted to evade the world in a similar fashion.


He stayed with his uncle for awhile, but the man and his wife had an infant daughter and for space reasons, they made Kurt move out. He was shuttled around between other relatives for a time. No one seemed to take much of an interest in the boy. Back in Aberdeen for high school, he was picked on more than he was admired. His still beautiful mother started dating younger men before she married a longshoreman who regarded Kurt as a kind of pestilence or plague.

In his new art class, one assignment encouraged the students to show an object as it developed. Kurt drew sperm. A classmate said, "It was such a different mental attitude. People began to talk about him, wondering, 'What does he think of?'"


When he moved back in with his father, the man made Kurt pawn his only guitar. Kurt left after he had redeemed the instrument, and turned down the Navy. Out of desperation his mother put down a $100 deposit on an abandoned house for her son. One of Kurt's first ideas was to install a tank full of turtles. One of his other ideas was to change music forever.


Ellen Copperfield is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in San Francisco. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here. She last wrote in these pages about Madonna's adolescence.
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Re: Kurt & Courtney, directed by Nick Broomfield

Postby admin » Sat Jun 20, 2015 10:03 am

Kurt Cobain Biography, Videos & Pictures
by guitarlessons.com




Kurt Cobain was born on February 20, 1967, to Donald Cobain and Wendy Fradenburg in Aberdeen, Washington. He took an early interest in music; at the age of two he was singing along to Beatles songs. At the age of eight, Kurt was profoundly affected when his parents divorced. According to his mother, after the divorce, her son’s personality dramatically changed. Not knowing how to cope with his parents divorce, the once charismatic Kurt became withdrawn and distant. Cobain recalled this period of his life in a 1993 interview saying, “I remember feeling ashamed, for some reason. I was ashamed of my parents. I couldn’t face some of my friends at school anymore, because I desperately wanted to have the classic, you know, typical family. Mother, father. I wanted that security, so I resented my parents for quite a few years because of that.”

Kurt lived with his mother directly after the divorce, but after a year moved from Aberdeen to Montesano to live with his father. For the first few years, father and son lived in a trailer park, however, the family moved into a house when his father remarried in 1978. In the years that followed, Kurt grew more and more rebellious, despite his still introverted nature. During this tumultuous time, the elder Cobain didn’t know how to handle his son’s rebellion and Kurt was shuffled between friends and other relatives.

When Kurt turned 14, his uncle gave him a choice of birthday presents: a guitar or a bicycle. By this time Kurt was finding escape in strong punk scene of the Pacific northwest, frequently going to see punk shows and even hanging out at the practice sessions of local area band, The Melvins. Owing to this interest in music, he chose the guitar and began to learn a few cover songs.

By the middle of his tenth grade year, Kurt was living back in Aberdeen with his mother. He would remain with his mother until two weeks before graduation, when he dropped out of school after realizing he did not have enough credits to graduate. His mother, angry at her son’s decision, gave him the ultimatum of getting a job or getting out of her house. Shortly after Kurt found all of his clothes boxed up. Without a steady home, Kurt stayed at various friends houses and occasionally would sneak into his mother’s basement to sleep. When he could not find any other place to go, Cobain hung out under a bridge on the Wishkah River.

In 1985, Kurt Cobain’s first serious attempt at forming a band resulted in a project with Melvins’ bassist, Dale Crover, entitled ‘Fecal Matter’. The band recorded it’s demo tape, ‘Illiteracy Will Prevail’, at Cobain’s aunt’s house. Kurt would play guitar and vocals, and Dale would handle bass and drum duties. In Early 1986, Buzz Osborne, also of The Melvins, joined the band on bass followed later by Greg Hokanson on drums. Shortly after, however, the group would disband. Buzz and Dale went on to record The Melvins debut album and Kurt began his search for a new band.

Kurt had long wanted to form a band with Krist Novoselic, whom he had met while hanging out at The Melvins’ practice sessions. Proud of his talent on the demo he recorded with Crover, Kurt gave it to Krist and asked him to join him in forming a band. Krist agreed and the beginnings of Nirvana were in place. In their early days, the duo played host to a revolving list of drummers before settling on Chad Channing, with whom they would record the band’s debut album, ‘Bleach’. Chad didn’t last long, however, and by the time the band recorded their major label debut, ‘Nevermind’, he had been replaced by Dave Grohl.

‘Nevermind’ was, unexpectedly, a huge commercial success. Kurt had a hard time dealing with the newfound fame, which clashed with his underground roots. Being on the national stage meant that Nirvana gained a lot of people who claimed to be fans, but did not acknowledge the band’s political message. Kurt’s lyrics were his outlet, and were deeply personal, he harbored resentment for those followers who called themselves fans but didn’t bother to listen to the band’s message.

Cobain’s future wife, Courtney Love, first met him briefly at a Nirvana show in 1989 and developed a crush on him. After being formally introduced in 1991 and told by Dave Grohl that the two shared interests, Courtney began pursuing Kurt. By late 1991 the two were spending a lot of time together, bonding over their mutual affinity for drugs. In early 1992, the couple discovered that they were expecting a baby, and were married on February 24 of that year. Their daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, was born on August 18.

A 1992 article in Vanity Fair revealed that Courtney admitted to using heroin while she was pregnant with Frances. Courtney claims that she was misquoted, but nevertheless, the incident created a big problem for the family as the Los Angeles Department of Children’s Services claimed that the two were unfit parents because of their drug use. Frances was taken from the couple and placed in the care of Courtney’s sister for several weeks. The couple regained custody, but had to submit to drug tests and random visits from a social worker.

By 1994, Kurt’s drug use was becoming an increasing problem for his health, and the band. Love organized an intervention on March 25 of that year. Following the intervention, Cobain agreed to enter a detox program and on March 30 entered the Exodus Recovery Center in Los Angeles. The next day, Kurt climbed a six foot fence and left the facility. On April 3, having not heard from her husband, Love called in a private detective to find him.

On April 8, 1994, Kurt Cobain’s dead body was found in his Lake Washington home by an electrician who had come to the house to install a security system. A suicide note was found with the body that read “I haven’t felt the excitement of listening to as well as creating music, along with really writing . . . for too many years now.” On April 10 a public vigil was held for the musician at the Seattle Center. It drew nearly seven thousand mourners.
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