Monday, 7 April 2014

the case of kurt cobain's death

On Saturday (5th April) it was the 20th year anniversary of the death of Kurt Cobain.
Since that fateful day of his suicide there's been a steady drip of the inevitable conspiracy theories that are de rigeur following a young man's death with such a high public profile. There are the usual fans, along with those that revel in such stories, living out a sort of self diagnosed analysis of the events and just like similar cases of early deaths in hugely popular artists , Hendrix, Morrison, Monroe etc etc, the list is long, the conclusion is of course that the great one was cold bloodily murdered by an assailant so devious and conspiratorial they had to be involved in an artists shady or subversive background. It all makes very good headlines, it all makes for irresistible gossip spreading.. "I told you so" remarks.
But rather unusually, in Kurt's case, a rather unprecedented step was taken there or about on March 20th by the investigating Police Force at the time in Seattle to reopen the original files of the rock icons suicide in anticipation of the upcoming 20th anniversary.
    "Seattle Police Department Cold Case Detective Mike Ciesynski reviewed the case file in anticipation of media inquiries about Cobain’s death, and the many conspiracy theories surrounding the case."
And rather surprisingly Ciesynski did find something. There were four rolls of photos from the incident scene, never developed by the investigator. They'd originally assumed Kurt had committed suicide and “and already had Polaroids and photos from the medical examiner,” so it's assumed these extra rolls of film were unnecessary.
Although you would have thought even if it was just curiosity they'd have checked the rolls out anyway. Still, that's the way things turned out back in 1994.

What was even more surprising though, given that it was the fuzz actually doing this, they released a selection of these photographs on their website, which is here if you want to see more.
We've picked some (below) from this selection.
Most of them were of the "scene" and place where Kurt committed the deed. His garage. Not the usual sort of garage we might recognise though, well not for most of us, this looked more like an extension to the house with adjoining doors, nicely fitted benches but pretty sparse, and with good lighting. Maybe a lot of garages are like that in the States come to think of it.
Anyway along with photos of the scene, there were also close up shots of Kurt's dope stash, a small box with his doings in it, and a little more chillingly and very saddening is a close up of his arm, obviously he's laying prone on the floor, and on his arm is a hospital or medical tag.
For all his troubles Kurt had recently left a rehab centre. Kurt was very troubled you see, and always had been. There had been a period when the young child Kurt had been happy but it had long gone.
It's like his rise to rock stardom was to have been no more than a distraction during a couple of the early years with his music before his troubled mind returned.
One of the pictures is of the actual "suicide note". It had been pinned through with a Biro or pen and stuck in a plant pot or some such. Which looks a pretty definitive statement right there,.. you can imagine him right pissed off thinking "there you go.. stick that".
A fragile mind would have likely placed it in his pocket for it to be found later. A sort of private internalising.
This is only conjecture of course but there's a definite tetchy undercurrent of displeasure in him when he also writes as part of that note -

    "Thank you all from the pit of my burning, nauseous stomach for your letters and concern during the past years. I'm too much of an erratic, moody baby! I don't have the passion anymore, and so remember, it's better to burn out than to fade away."
But it also seems this note is the basis of much of the conspiracy.

    "Grant believes that it was actually a letter written by Cobain announcing his intent to leave Courtney Love, Seattle, and the music business. Grant believes that the few lines at the very bottom of the note, separate from the rest of it, are the only parts that sound like a suicide note. He believes that those lines are written in a style that varies from the rest of the letter, suggesting that they were written by someone other than Cobain".
'Grant' being a private detective working for Courtney Love.
Actually, its quite true in that if you look at the note you'll see the bottom few lines are addressed to Courtney and their child and are written in a larger printed style, added like an after thought and more haphazard than the rest of the note, which is long and almost squeezed onto the paper, like he didn't want this to end up with PTO at the bottom in finishing up his diatribe of dissatisfaction. He adds -
    "Frances and Courtney, I'll be at your alter.
    Please keep going Courtney, for Frances
    . For her life, which will be so much happier without me.

It's also fare to say not once does he mention he ever wants to leave Courtney and the family home. Plus the fact he ends with "I love you" hardly confirms that rumour.
Nah, what you got here is a guy who thoughtfully and intensely puts together his case of dissatisfaction with just about everything around him, finishes, gets himself numbed up and ready to make a final bit of checking.. "have I got the gun, is it loaded, OK anything else?.. Yeah got to tell her (Courtney) it's not her but me".
The rest of the note if you care to look is much more an impersonal address to the rest of the world, his fans and things in general pertaining to the music business.
There's a website that shows the note text, a scan of the note, and his death certificate here.
Oh yes and there's just one final observation in the Police photographs. Since when has it been good practice for Officer O'Malley (we'll call him that) to be posing with a sublime smile on his gob at the incident scene. You can just imagine it at the time , "Yeah take one of me by this bit of the rock stars nutty sculpture".
(Kurt had obviously made a sculpture from a wooden stool with more than 4 legs (ha), on it a note reads "NOW YOU HAVE MANY LEGS TO STAND ON".)
And likewise below that there's the nicely posed casualness of Plain Clothes Officer Dipstick. "Yeah now take one of me just going about my usual day business.. pretty cool eh".
No wonder they didn't develop these mugs.
Final words go to modern day Cold Case Detective Mike Ciesynski “It’s a suicide. This is a closed case.”
It's doubtful the conspiracy theorists will believe that! They rarely do.