– the first half of this doc (covering Cobain’s frenetic childhood and rise to pop culture ubiquity) is more engaging and interesting than the latter, though the back end helps humanize the Kurt who descended into tragedy (not to mention his widow Courtney Love, an immensely likable figure throughout Heck, even when discussing drug use during her pregnancy [and she was right, her kid turned out fine])
– the Scanner Darkly style animated segments, while very richly detailed and atmospheric, ultimately feel too clean (read: too Hollywood) for the rest of the film’s aesthetic (read: notebook scrawled punk rock anarchy)
– there are no revelations here concerning Kurt’s personality or approach to life; it all just reinforces how difficult the world can be for ultra altruistic and/or ultra idealistic figures, especially when they have major aspirations
– I’m enormously satisfied this prestige work includes that hilarious circa ’91 footage of Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic videotaping himself in the rest room of an airplane, joking about “this bird [goin’] down”
– it was cool at the end when they credited every person who ever passed through Nirvana equally
– the worst thing you can say about Montage Of Heck is that it gets a little repetitive and ends abruptly—of course, this simply mirrors Kurt’s final years, so maybe this entire exercise is perfectly honest and unflinching
– as sad a figure as Kurt Cobain seems this documentary does a great job proving he could be just as funny and light-hearted as anyone else; in fact, his wit seemed so quick I could easily see him holding his own on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” next to Greg Proops and Ryan Stiles; I for one would have lovingly embraced Kurt Cobain, Improv Comic
– it’s inevitable another doc on Kurt or Nirvana will be produced someday, but after Heck it shouldn’t be (Obama can secure his legacy by making this an executive order or constitutional amendment or whatever process this country uses to legislate movies about grunge)
– other books may summarize with great aplomb exactly what the music of Nirvana and Mudhoney meant to a generation but nowhere else will you find a more detailed account of the fistfight that ended Cat Butt
– Courtney Love is the Richard Nixon of grunge; can you imagine how powerful she’d be without the pettiness and the insecurities?
– I laughed when Natalie Portman died of a broken heart in Star Wars but I cried in this book when the same thing happened to Layne Staley
– speaking of Layne, the only grunge myth the author fails to bust, prove, or even address is the one where the Alice in Chains singer was ousted from “Celebrity Jeopardy!” for giving Alex Trebek the finger (actually I think this was disproven years ago but I want to keep the idea alive that Staley was an expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls, the alleged subject of the question in question)
– according to Chris Cornell, Kurt Cobain only disassociated himself from Nirvana’s game-changing Nevermind after its release because that was the cool “punk rock” thing to do, but also according to Chris Cornell you should wear breakaway shirts at all your concerts and rip them off dramatically even if it annoys the shit out of all your other band members
– Ben Shepherd is still pretty mad some people used to call his band “Frowngarden”
– the singer from Candlebox (who are from Seattle!) did not sleep with Madonna when he had the chance, something his then-wife admonished him for when Candlebox’s career went down the toilet (this woman and Mr. Candlebox are now divorced)
– Everybody Loves Our Town presents a fairly complete and undeniably engrossing map of grunge from messy start to even messier finish; I only wish the book included a rebuttal from Glenn Danzig regarding the alleged $12,000 guarantee Jeff Ament claims Danzig’s band Samhain had for a show in Detroit in the mid-eighties
The big rock hoo-ha this week is the appearance of the Smashing Pumpkins’ poignant 1993 hit “Today” in a Visa credit card commercial narrated by Morgan Freeman:
People are screaming “sell out” louder than Billy Corgan’s ear-splitting guitar solos, which is kind of understandable. I was slightly taken aback when I first saw the above ad, although I think that had more to do with a financial institution shamelessly pimping via nostalgia the very wares that brought this country to its economic knees. I mean, as far as the Smashing Pumpkins go, they never really had all that much street cred to begin with.
Before I go any further, I’d like to stress the fact that I truly enjoy a lot of the material SP has released over the years. A considerable amount of joy would have been absent from my ninth grade life had Siamese Dream not existed. Yet the Smashing Pumpkins were never some underground phenomenon holding dear to their principles who just happened to break mainstream. The Pumpkins signed to a major label subsidiary (Caroline) for their first record and jumped to the major (Virgin) for album number two. Corgan and Company actively sought and achieved rock stardom (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
Honestly, what band from the post-grunge era exemplifies big time mainstream radio rock better than the Smashing Pumpkins? In the absence of Nirvana and self-imposed MTV exiles Pearl Jam, SP was omnipresent, dominating every facet and becoming the de facto rock band everyone knew about (even the Muppets). The Pumpkins’ third album was a non-ironic attempt to compete with Pink Floyd’s The Wall. They made a guest appearance on “The Simpsons” back when that show was still the most untouchable entertainment property in the universe. They replaced famously ousted members with people just as or more famous (Melissa Auf Der Mauer FTW!). They had TWO songs on the Batman & Robin soundtrack (a fact I find far more reprehensible than having a song in a Visa commercial). Really, when were the Smashing Pumpkins NOT selling out?
I guess since Billy Corgan lays out so much of his bare, naked soul in his songs, people feel like he’s some serious, moralistic musician who doesn’t do shit like shill for credit card companies or appear on “The Bozo The Clown Show.” Well, Billy’s done both of those things, but he’s also made a bunch of killer music. This is all very reminiscent of the hoopla over Iggy Pop letting Nike use a Stooges song umpteen years ago. Does no one remember the years Iggy spent fucking around with David Bowie, trying desperately to become America’s Next Chart-Topping, Money-Making Rock Sensation? People act like Iggy went to the mountains for the entirety of the 1980s and didn’t come down until a sneaker company teased him with a few bags of wampum. It’s fucked. Besides, the Stooges were first signed to Elektra Records, the same label that had THE DOORS. SRSLY. WTF, people.
Billy, I got your back, if only for “Geek U.S.A.” That shit was my JAM. I don’t normally give lifetime passes, but that song, it, like, put me in a safe emotional cocoon where other kids couldn’t judge me or tease me for casually masturbating in public. I want to luxuriate in its blistering, fuzzy psychedelic deliciousness forever. Also, I’m pretty sure you had sex with Courtney Love, which gives you the kind of cred usually associated with people like GG Allin.