Archive for June, 2015

http://pitchfork.com/news/60004-courtney-love-sends-cease-and-desist-to-kurt-cobain-documentary-soaked-in-bleach/

Ah, the fun, the entertainment…

So, one of the many arguments I’ve heard shared over the years is the one stating “if the conspiracy theorists aren’t on to something…Why doesn’t Courtney take legal action against them? She must be scared of opening up a can of worms.” Well, here we go then. Ultimately I can understand why such an attempt has never been made; the only official releases have been the half-hearted pulled-punch ‘Kurt and Courtney’, the first book by Halperin and Wallace (then the reprise, rewrite in 2004), plus Tom Grant’s self-published efforts. There’ve been no big targets to take aim at until now. “Soaked in Bleach” is a worthy target and it’s in some ways a mark of respect, an indication of the scale of the effort, that it’s worth responding to.

Here’s the redacted letter from Courtney’s lawyers:

https://pmcdeadline2.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/soaked-in-bleach-letter-redacted-2_redacted.pdf

The letter very usefully references the link to the outcome of the recent Seattle police investigation:

file:///C:/Users/nsoulsby/Downloads/SPD_policefile_27df.pdf

The film makers have responded by claiming they’re being threatened and that their right to free speech is being infringed if Courtney takes a civil action against them. Actually, my understanding of freedom of speech means they have a point. The First Amendment protects the individual from an attempt by the government to prevent them giving an opinion – it has since been taken as the basis for wider protections for the individual against entities other than the government.

On the other hand, Courtney is perfectly entitled to take action against the film makers for libel and/or slander. It’s complicated, however. While the Supreme Court states that labeling something as ‘opinion’ doesn’t give any first amendment protection against being judged to be libel/slander, some states do have laws that protect opinion to a greater degree. In cases between private individuals (which is what a case between Courtney and the film makers would be) the first amendment doesn’t infringe on common law definitions of libel/slander. The burden would be on Courtney’s lawyers to indicate that the film makers had malicious intent toward her and/or intended to cause her emotional distress and that according to existing verifiable evidence they’d made false statements in the film. She’s certainly correct in viewing a film that accuses her of murder as  being potentially guilty of libel/slander and she’d have a fair chance of winning.

So, far as I can see, it’s entirely reasonable of Courtney to take action against a film that calls her a murderer. If someone called me a murderer I’d do the same thing. It’s reasonable of the film makers to defend themselves. What would happen in an actual court case? Feel free to discuss among yourselves… 😉

http://soakedinbleachthemovie.com/

Wanted to share the link to the film site and trailer, likewise, worth keeping an eye on Facebook to see what’s on:

https://goo.gl/51nLnY

Genuinely sad to hear people have been taking potshots at the film’s rating on IMDB before it’s even out — seems illegitimate to judge someone’s work, not on the quality of execution, not on it’s merits as a cinematic experience, but on pre-established like/dislike of the film’s chosen perspective. I mean, sure, if the film comes out and it’s poorly executed then have at it! If it’s treatment of facts is selective and/or manipulative, then it deserves calling out…But be nice for the film to be out in the world before assessment is made of it. As someone said to me, “if you can’t take people raising criticism and issues of your work then just don’t put it out into the world,” it’s unreasonable to expect people to say nothing, stay quiet, not do their jobs as critics, not exercise their right to an opinion if one chooses to put out a commercial product exchanging your energy and effort for their money, time and energy…But that’s not the same as running a concerted campaign to hammer a cultural product sight-unseen. Criticism is legit but the film might just as well be seen as giving opponents of the murder theory another chance to point out that Tom Grant has refused to release all his evidence, has made no attempt in 21 years to find a judicial/law enforcement authority to review his evidence and was the man who failed to search the Cobain residence properly thus failing to secure his place in history as the guy who found Cobain.

That’s the reason I’m a supporter of this film’s emergence, it represents people pouring energy into something they believe in; it’s a catalyst for conversation; it’s a chance to see where the believers’ case stands in 2015; it’s a neat distraction and entertainment for a couple of hours  — respect due!

There’s a tendency for the media to prefer conflict to discussion; the former is us vs. them only one can prevail territory, the latter is “we differ but let’s see if we can feed into one another’s thoughts, views and perspectives.” The latter is boring of course and heck, I love a good argument as much as anyone. In the case of this film, however, OK, I hope they’ve made a good job of it. I’m no more bothered by the content than I am by “the Americans capturing an Enigma machine on a U-Boat in the mid-Atlantic and thus saving the planet from Fascism in World War Two!” I’m pretty sure people are smart enough to enjoy it as a film, for some people to want to examine things more deeply, and for everyone to come to their own conclusions none of which make a scrap of difference to the world bar providing good fodder for conversations at the pub.

Ultimately, it’s only entertainment – if it was a film denigrating the case for climate change then I’d argue against it, if it was a pro-fascist film I’d oppose it, but this is just one man and one tale. What the hey. I do wish more supporters of ‘Justice for Cobain’ were members of Amnesty so they could work on miscarriages of justice in the here-and-now but…

What’s the film about? Well, thank you IMDB:

“SOAKED IN BLEACH reveals the events behind Kurt Cobain’s death as seen through the eyes of Tom Grant, the private investigator that was hired by Courtney Love in 1994 to track down her missing husband (Kurt Cobain) only days before his deceased body was found at their Seattle home. Cobain’s death was ruled a suicide by the police (a reported self-inflicted gunshot wound), but doubts have circulated for twenty years as to the legitimacy of this ruling, especially due to the work of Mr. Grant, a former L.A. County Sheriff’s detective, who did his own investigation and determined there was significant empirical and circumstantial evidence to conclude that foul play could very well have occurred. The film develops as a narrative mystery with cinematic re-creations, interviews with key experts and witnesses and the examination of official artifacts from the 1994 case.”

As a side-bar, with absolute credit to P Leroy from whom I’ve cribbed merrily, just wanted to tackle the “Cobain couldn’t have taken so much heroin and still fired the gun” point…Here’s the 12 page 2006 study; “Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics of High Doses of Pharmaceutically Prepared Heroin, by Intravenous or by Inhalation Route in Opioid-Dependent Patients”:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1742-7843.2006.pto_233.x/pdf

Conspiracy theorists quote Cobain’s levels as “1.52 mg/L” and that such an amount would require an injection of 225mg which they state is “X times THE lethal dose.” Yet, this study makes clear that the maximum dose recorded by the addicts who took part in the study was “450 mg” while the median was “287.7 mg” and that “no serious adverse events occurred during the study.”

This report – “Morphine Disposition in Opiate-Intoxicated Patients” – discusses patients brought to hospital; “five of these patients were IV heroin overdose (OD) cases, four were dealers who had swallowed packets of heroin at the time of arrest, two were bodypackers in the course of spontaneously eliminating balls of heroin, and two had ingested Paregoric elixir.” The individuals possessed heroin levels ranging from “144 ng/ml” (roughly the same as Cobain’s) up to “891 ng/mL” (six times more than Cobain’s.)

http://jat.oxfordjournals.org/content/18/4/189.long

Why were they able to exceed ‘the lethal dose’? Because there’s no simple exact figure for a ‘lethal dose’ – there’s ultimately no such thing, there are many different lethal doses depending on the individual situation. Ultimately there’s not even a way to tell what a ‘lethal dose’ for Cobain would have been because he died of a gunshot wound not of a heroin overdose. The variability of ‘the lethal dose’ in cases of heroin overdoses is caused by the combination of an individual’s physical constitution and condition (weight, height, body composition, muscle mass, how recently they ate, hydration level, status of addiction, etc.) and the physical constitution of what was injected (size of dose, composition of chemicals cut into the dose, presence/absence of moisture, etc.)

Next, the figure for Cobain – 225mg – was created by assuming that 75-80mg of heroin provided a blood level of 0.5mg/L. It doesn’t. The level of heroin in the blood varies over time and is almost undetectable after 30 minutes. In the first study an injection of 70mg created a blood level of 1.52mg/L after five minutes, twenty minutes later that level was 10 times lower – that’s how rapidly it fades. So, in the test case, it took five minutes for an addict to reach the famed “1.52mg/L.” The total doesn’t take time into account – it’s a measurement of Cobain’s perfectly tolerable blood level at some point between the injection and 5-10-15 minutes afterwards. Plenty of time for a shotgun.

Tolerance is always raised but to define it more clearly; an addict needs to inject larger amounts to create the same physiological response in the body – this includes the responses that lead to death from heroin overdose which are respiratory distress, arrhythmia and acute endocarditis (issues with the heart or with breathing.) None of those responses are instantaneous and their onset depends on the addict – I would need a far smaller dose to kill me than Cobain would require to kill himself. There’s nothing about the figure for Cobain’s blood level that means death is the conclusion.

http://thetalkhouse.com/music/talks/buzz-osborne-the-melvins-talks/

The media landscape is all about opinions – people giving their views. The debates over what they say hinge, firstly, on the basic test of ‘provable lie/fact’ then, if that can’t be answered either way, secondly, on a questioning of legitimacy. In the case of Buzz Osborne speaking about the accuracy and/or merits of “Montage of Heck”, Osborne kicks off that game by stating the case for his authority at the start (in summary; I was big buds with Cobain and the Nirvana boys and played shows with them from start-to-finish.)

There’s definitely no disputing his centrality to the Nirvana story (re: https://nirvana-legacy.com/2012/11/24/no-melvins-no-nirvana/) and his presence as a witness – Tad may have played far more shows with Nirvana (enter “My Friends” into the search bar on here to check the stats) but Melvins played with Nirvana across more years – five of seven years of the band’s existence – than any other and that’s ignoring Cobain’s pre-Nirvana outings with either Dale Crover or Buzz Osborne. The issue, however, is that his legitimacy as a witness doesn’t have much bearing on whether his views on “Montage of Heck” are worth much.

Osborne states three elements are untrue; Cobain’s self-told tale of his failed attempt to lose his virginity and to take his own life; Cobain’s claim to having had stomach issues that predated, were an excuse for and independent of his drug addiction (again, legitimacy; Osborne is a former heroin user so could be deemed to know that of which he speaks); then Courtney Love’s tale that the Rome suicide attempt was provoked by non-consummated cheating.

In the first case, Cobain’s claim that everyone in school knew about it does seem overblown – but ultimately all the story illustrates is that, if it was a fiction, then Cobain had one sick and slightly morbid imagination for grim detail, and if it was true then he was a pretty morbid fellow who perceived people were talking about and criticizing him. It doesn’t undermine the overall picture or necessarily say charming things about him. On the second question, again, I admit I feel there’s substantial room for doubt regarding the nature of Cobain’s stomach issues – given the evidence that he was using drugs of one sort or another throughout the Nirvana years, given the disorganized dining arrangements resulting from poverty plus touring, given his apparently fussy eating habits, disentangling drug challenges from medical challenges seems tricky. Again, Cobain seems to have believed in his stomach issues, but there’s room for doubt over their origins. On the final point, about what provokes the Rome suicide attempt – well, I’m guessing we’ll never know for sure. Certainly Courtney Love’s relationship with gospel truth has been an unstable one and I’m far from granted Cobain psychic powers either.

Thing is…Osborne’s point doesn’t seem to be to argue for some more positive vision than what the film suggests; he sums up the entire second half of the film as “malodorous, doped-up rock & roll miscreants deeply fouling an unsuspecting apartment.” His point regarding Cobain’s stomach issues is that Cobain was a lying junkie. His point on Courtney Love seems to be that she was a lying CHEATING junkie. His point about the ‘retard’ tale seems to be that Cobain was a liar. Osborne has been on record before basically in a self-righteous growl about how fed up he is of talking about Cobain, how Cobain was a “fucking loser,” and how much he despises Courtney Love – this doesn’t seem dramatically different. His issue seems to be with the narrative of the damaged teenager growing up into a damaged adult who ends up in a damaged relationship…Except he’s in total agreement with the last two bits of that.

A separate point was made at the Seattle Q&A for Montage of Heck by Alice Wheeler:

http://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/music/qa-kurt-cobain-doc-director-gets-a-mixed-reception-in-seattle-video/

Wheeler’s point is that the Cobain she knew was a pleasure to be around, a nice guy – the “Courtney’s view” she objects to is that air of morbidity that clings to Cobain and that the film certainly doesn’t dispel. I heard a similar perspective from a friend who knew him during the Tacoma/Olympia days who, again, thought the film chopped out those years of Cobain altogether. They have a point – that Cobain wasn’t always gloomy, or sad, or unfunny, or gross…But the film’s focus was on two things; his childhood upbringing and his own marriage and child. The Nirvana story has been fairly well-covered and the film deliberately reduces the band story down to shreds of imagery rather than retelling a story that’s been told over and over again. Criticizing the film for not being a different film – a band documentary – would seem harsh. I can understand though that losing those crucial four years where Cobain seems to have been a popular presence in town, someone who wasn’t outgoing but was warm and friendly and enjoyed his band…It’s sad that little window wasn’t opened. But then again, if that wasn’t part of the footage and material that exists in the Cobain vault, if no one was able to capture it, then it’s hard to make a film of it.

Morgen’s film is set up as a mirror – Cobain’s parents’ marriage and his upbringing versus Frances’ upbringing and her parents’ marriage. That’s where the film’s focus is and it does that successfully using the materials available. Morgen does show Cobain had a multifaceted character, that he was humorous, that he did take pleasure in his success, that he could parody himself…The film can’t ignore the rather grim tale of Cobain’s artistic creations, self-image and self-reporting even though it does mitigate those elements. Intriguingly it seems Osborne would like to see the tale blackened further to show a lot more of the squalor of the final years. Krist Novoselic and Cobain’s parents and sister all tell their parts and the audience is given credit for intelligence and is allowed to pick the bones out of their stories – I think that’s respectable and brave, to allow audiences to make their own minds up. I thought that Cobain’s mother was still spouting bile at her husband several decades after the end of the marriage which gave a telling indication of how poisonous the atmosphere must have become and why Cobain’s own view of his father might have been damaged further if that’s what he was around; I thought her tale about “buckle up,” sounded like nonsense but at least showed Cobain being proud of his success; I thought she looked scarily like Courtney Love does too. All those points don’t invalidate the film – they make it interesting.

It seems Osborne would like a film that shows Cobain as the dupe, rather than the partner and co-conspirator, of a ‘devil woman.’ His claim that “90% of Montage of Heck is bullshit” seems to be a case of Osborne letting his dislike for Courtney Love and his renunciation of his own druggy past overwhelm critical distance or assessment of the film. I certainly don’t hold that Osborne’s legitimacy as a commentator makes him the arbiter of truth or fact in the story of Kurt Cobain. Osborne is just one more truth added to the pile.

Back Page of NY Times

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/may/6/nick-soulsby-nirvana-book-tells-story-from-view-of/

October 30, 2012 – 946 days ago, I started tapping away on the blog. Today…OK, having deleted 30+ posts over the past few years, it’s the 400th piece to go up. One every 2.3 days but certainly aware it’s been a slow year on the blog front. Regardless, cause for celebration. I celebrated by rejigging the ‘categories’ in the left hand search bar to make it slightly easier to find material and otherwise, onward! To the future!

What’s been on these past weeks while I’ve been very quiet on the Nirvana front?

Well…Mainly just making efforts to keep the “I Found My Friends” book out there. Entertaining stuff for me – hope some nuggets for fans too:

KFLY Radio interview with Carl Sundberg:

https://youtu.be/pRpIXUWGk1c

The North Coast Voice:

http://www.northcoastvoice.com/

Charger Bulletin:

http://www.chargerbulletin.com/2015/04/08/i-found-my-friends-review/

Pop Matters:

http://www.popmatters.com/feature/191995-i-found-my-friends-the-oral-history-of-nirvana/

http://worldnewss.net/i-discovered-my-pals-e-e-book-provides-current-perception-on-nirvana-historic-previous/

http://something-witty.com/2015/04/08/exclusive-author-interview-i-found-my-friends-the-oral-history-of-nirvana/

http://amusicblogyea.com/2015/04/10/book-giveaway-win-a-copy-of-i-found-my-friends-the-oral-history-of-nirvana-by-nick-soulsby/

http://issuu.com/lisamsnyder/docs/rtm_april_issue_2015

http://therecoup.com/2015/04/14/i-found-my-friends-the-oral-history-of-nirvana-st-martins/

http://wnyu.org/2015-04-16_newafternoonshow

https://christopherscottauthor.wordpress.com/2015/04/16/review-of-i-found-my-friendsthe-oral-history-of-nirvana/

http://grantland.com/hollywood-prospectus/kurt-cobain-montage-of-heck-nirvana/

http://expressmilwaukee.com/article-permalink-25609.html

http://publishersweekly.com/978-1-250-06152-2

What next? Well, my strongest desire is to use the leftover notes and to put up brief pieces regarding each of the bands who played alongside Nirvana over the years, so there’s always a record of them if people ever wonder ‘who…?’ Next March sees the release of “Cobain on Cobain”, part of Chicago Review Press’ ‘Musicians in Their Own Words’ series which I was invited to act as editor for, meanwhile kickstarting a non-Nirvana work…On it rolls. Never did get round to doing the ‘Nirvana: North West Tour Guide’ as a freebie for here. Ah time…

Just thank you for following some of my ramblings this far. Appreciated. Always. And the comments that come in make a world of difference in terms of educating me further and spreading the knowledge on something I think we all appreciate.