Monday, March 21, 2011

come as you are

I've loved Nirvana for as long as I can remember. My dad would blast "Nevermind" from our Suburban speakers as he drove the carpool of me and my other white-polo-khaki-pants-wearing neighborhood buddies to Catholic school when it was his morning to drive.

My close girlfriend and I were obsessed with Nirvana growing up. We loved Kurt for his straggly hair and their music was something none of our other friends could understand. I remember sitting in the back of her mom's mini van after getting picked up from school and I opened my Jansport backpack to trade her CDs without her mom knowing.

We'd often go visit my cousins up in Seattle, and one spring day my dad was driving around Lake Washington to scope out houses (hello, realtor), and I insisted he drive me to Kurt Cobain's house which I knew was nearby. When we approached his huge home, I jumped out to see people signing his fence and the park bench near his home. I had to call my friend from the fence and let her know where I was. She squeeled and made me sign her name to the fence too.

In eighth grade, I had a book report due. The only catch? It had to be a biography of someone. Any one. When I brought my teacher a copy of "Kurt Cobain" by Christiopher Sanford, she flipped over the book to read the back cover. Rock star. Drugs. Grunge. Sucide. She turned it over and told me that I should choose a different subject since it wasn't appropriate for eighth grade. I looked at her as if she was crazy, but I went on to pick a more respectable, upstanding citizen: "Tiger Woods - The Making of a Champion." Who's laughing now, Mrs. Barton? The irony is almost too funny.
As a junior in high school, I embraced all things music. My group of friends and I would make mix CDs and go to shows every weekend. In my American History class, I was asked to write a final paper. Since my teacher was under 35, I felt as if he'd get my interest and passion to write my final paper on Kurt Cobain and the legacy of grunge music. My teacher asked for us to write the subject of our papers on a strip of paper and turn them in. Hell, he wore a flannel every day in front of the class - he'd be sure to love it. I remember him scanning through all of the submissions, and he glanced at mine and gave a certain smirk. I think he was impressed that someone approached the paper with something original and heartfelt. I spent hours and hours in the Pearl Room at Powells Books, and poured my heart into this research paper. My bookshelves were soon filled with Nirvana books, Kurt's journals and his voice echoed through my stereo. When I turned in this paper, I felt proud of my work and was pleased that my teacher allowed me the chance to research something that I was truely intersted in, unlike back in the eighth grade. 

Senior year, back in that same Pearl Room at Powells, my friend and I got to meet the bassist and co-founder of Nirvana, Krist Novoselic. Besides going to a Foo Fighters concert, this was the closest I'd ever be to a member of Nirvana. We waited to hear him talk about his latest book, "Of Grunge & Government: Let's Fix This Broken Democracy." Most people in that room cared more for grunge than government, but we all tried to keep our excitement under wraps. I had to buy his book for him to sign it. I had nothing else. While one kid brought his bass through the line to get signed, I had a book that I, to this day, have never really read. But it's a memory I'll always have.

While I haven't listened to Nirvana in years, the fasincation with their story is still strong. That friend that I would swap CDs with? We were college roommates and each hung a Kurt poster up on our dorm room (still can't find those photos online anymore, but I WILL! They are too hilarious). That final paper from history class is still one of the best pieces of litature I've ever written, and it even won me an award where my flannel loving teacher told the entire class that it was one of the best paper he's ever read (He even admitted to turning on a Nirvana album while he graded it, ya know - to set the stage).

Today I stumbled upon a press release from Seattle's Experience Music Project where they revealed their newest exhibit.

"The world's most extensive exhibition of memorabilia celebrating the music and history of Seattle grunge luminaries, Nirvana. The exhibit will feature rare and unseen artifacts and photography from the band, their crews and families. Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses runs April 16, 2011 - April 22, 2013."

I'm planning on making the trek to the Emerald City this summer to check it out, no apologies.

And tonight, I just so happen to be grabbing happy hour with my college roomie to catch up. Kurt's alligning some stars up there in the universe for me today.

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