barista!kurt

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Right after they got married in February 1992, Kurt and Courtney went to Seattle to search for a house and Wendy [Kurt’s mother] took the opportunity to throw the couple a baby shower/wedding reception. They showed up five hours late.

While staying in Seattle, Kurt and Courtney love waltzed in to Orpheum Records and found several Nirvana bootlegs in the bins. She got indignant, scooped them all up and walked up to the desk and announced that they were illegal and she ‘taking them’. When the person behind the counter said she’d have to “talk to the boss", Courtney grabbed the notepad next to the register and wrote this below note to “the boss”. Kurt wrote “macaroni and cheese for all”.

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Kurt, Courtney and Frances in their loungeroom with Kurt’s collage of artifacts from In Utero, photographed by Charles Peterson in 1993.

Cobain created the collage on the back cover, referred to as “Sex and woman and In Utero and vaginas and birth and death,” which includes fetuses and body parts lying in a bed of orchids and lilies.

The collage had been set up on the floor of Cobain’s living room and was photographed by Charles Peterson after an unexpected call from Cobain. According to Peterson, “one Sunday afternoon, Kurt calls me up, and is like ‘Hey, I want you to take that picture now.’ I rummaged for whatever film I had in the fridge, and went over.” The album’s track listing and re-illustrated symbols from Barbara G. Walker’s The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects were then positioned around the edge of the collage.

“In Utero” is named after a Latin phrase Kurt saw in one of Courtney’s poems.

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At a certain point it becomes impossible to see a great artist as a person. Rarely do we think about Van Gogh as a toddler. Try to conceptualize Martin Scorsese as a ten-year-old, on the cusp of coming to grips with the impulse to create. And not just as a “once and future artist,” but as a living breathing human being existing in an ecosystem, a community. Citizen of a town or city, son to a mother and father, student in a school of people who, at the time, all see themselves on an equal footing, all equally as a ignorant to their futures, be it filled with success or larded with failure. No person comes into this world knowing they are made for greatness. For the first few months, even Beyonce had no idea who or what she was. Yet we are all shaped by our highs and lows, the instantaneous and the perpetual, all leading us to our future.

Still, it is easier to realize this intellectually than to have your entire image of someone retroactively amended to account for their humanity. It is the great triumph of Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck that it manages to rewire the way one thinks about Cobain through nothing more than the writing, illustrations, music, and videos of the man himself coupled with brief conversations with his family and friends. No doctors, no journalists, no art historians or music producers or critics – just the life remnants of the man who became the Voice of a Generation.

Read our full review.