Michael Roberts's April 13 article regarding the gifted Kurt Cobain's suicide, "Suicide Is Brainless," is completely without compassion--e.g., "suicide is an essentially selfish act usually committed by people who aren't looking past their own noses at the times of their deaths." How could Mr. Roberts possibly know this?
Obviously, Kurt Cobain was thinking of his wife and child just prior to his death; he left a letter. Perhaps he was so despondent and feeling so worthless he felt his family was better off without him. It is not logical thinking, but can you imagine the pain someone must be suffering to put a shotgun to his head?
The amount of publicity given to Kurt Cobain's death is not extreme. An entertainer's death speaks loudly to many people. I felt sad for the dark and lonely space he must have been in--there can be no more desolate place. I am sad for his family, for the people who loved his music and for his bandmates. We have no right to judge someone's actions until we have walked in their shoes. Mr. Roberts's article was callous. Suicide is committed when someone has absolutely no hope or self-worth. It is not a rational decision, as Mr. Roberts conveys.
I have been reading your newspaper since my arrival in Denver in early September 1993. I have been, for the most part, satisfied, entertained and informed by your liberal style of reporting. However, in your April 13 issue I came upon a most unsettling, downright insensitive and flat-out degrading rehash of the coroner's report on Cobain's death: "Suicide Is Brainless."
Granted, suicide is not a grand, or by any standard acceptable, means of leaving your loved ones. That does not give you or anyone else the right to look down upon him. This kid of 27 years inspired and made the hearts of a million bored teenagers glow. Call them what you want--posers, bandwagoneers--nonetheless a loss of life at any point is a terrifying and saddening event. Must we always find the bad in everything to make ourselves feel better, or can we give the other guy a slap on the back so we feel just average?
I have experienced my fair share of life lost in my lifetime. It is nothing to be treated so coldly. "Better to burn out than to fade away!" With love and compassion for Courtney, Frances Bean and the Nirvana members.
"Suicide Is Brainless" was an interesting, honest article. It failed, however, to examine the core of Kurt Cobain's suicide. Creative people are very sensitive to their surroundings. This sensitivity is accompanied by an increased emotional depth in their interpretation of life. Such intensity of personality is often labeled "manic depressive." These intensified feelings can make reality insanely beautiful, or urgently unbearable.
Selfishness is a two-way street. Perhaps Cobain did not consider his family. But perhaps he did not feel his family considered him--deep-seated childhood feelings of being unimportant die slowly, regardless of offsetting evidence in the present.
Charlie "Bird" Parker had chronic ulcers. To numb this pain and compensate for his intense personality he became a heroin addict. Bird's doctors recommended shock therapy to dampen his emotional cycle, but his wife would not allow it because she feared it would cripple his creative mind. Parker and Cobain shared the pain of brilliance.
Cobain's suicide should be judged with compassion. He tried to communicate his brilliant insights through ground-breaking music. But no matter how hard we try to listen and how hard he tried to explain, we still couldn't understand what it was like to be Kurt Cobain.
The Bite Stuff
Regarding the April 13 issue of Westword:
Occasionally, when eating a splendid meal (lobster, paella, etc.), I wander across a bite of food that's too good.
Occasionally, when I read, I read across an entire newspaper that is glorious. From Gallo to Wagner to Roberts to Jones's "Burn This Article" to the fabulous photo of Juliette Binoche, it's so good to sit down to a whole newspaper. Thanks a million!
Renalds E. Bayard
Arthur Hodges's April 13 story, "Pour Relations," was very interesting. It's bad enough shelling out an outrageous amount for an inspection, but I wonder how many concrete violations have been uncovered so far.
It also reminded me of an incident a number of years ago in Arizona involving an electric short-line railroad. A power company constructed a track from its power station to a coal mine (the distance I've forgotten) and used concrete ties. After a while, the ties started to crumble away due to vibration and were shortly thereafter replaced with conventional wooden ones. Maybe technology in this area has improved since then: I would like to see Denver's light-rail line become a success.
More Frank Talk
To be perfectly frank, does Mark Barsotti really know how to critique local music? In the April 6 article "Perfectly Franklins," he makes this comment: "The New Ben Franklins are adequate musicians..." I have seen these gentlemen perform, and even though their music is on the dark side of alternative, they offer a fresh, mature sound that is the backbone behind DeVoe's well-versed lyrics.
Moreover, it's obvious that these guys were born with instruments in their hands. They are definitely "Iron Men" when it comes to performing, playing up to eighteen songs a show without a break--and, mind you, not boring their audience.
All bands, well-known ones included, will have their off nights. But after all is said, the Franklins have played some of the better known clubs in town such as the Lion's Lair, Pegasus and Mercury Cafe. All of which pay good money to advertise "adequate" bands.
Still More Games I do enjoy reading your paper. I really learn from it.
I found the April 6 story on Ric Games, Steve Jackson's "The End of the Line," extremely enlightening and simply horrific. It explained that the masses of young men who die from AIDS have led a lifestyle of instant gratification and use no more restraint or self-control than animals. When the end is near, they turn to God but continue to the grave with their activities. They would be hurting no one but themselves--except what about the multimillion-dollar grants, the HOPWA money that we the taxpayers furnish? This in addition to all that is spent on AIDS research, treatment and care.
This young man worked with the mentally retarded. But who speaks for them, lobbies for them or really cares? Nobody. Funding for the retarded has been cut until there is very little, only enough to administrate for those placed before the mid-Eighties. There is now nothing out there for the retarded after public school unless they function high enough to be in a work program. A small SSI check is it. Their families carry the full burden.
Our politicians need to hear from us!
Name withheld on request
Having lost four best friends to AIDS in the last ten years, I was one of the readers who felt nothing but compassion for Ric Games. Then, I suppose in the name of fair journalism, you printed the letters from those who stood in judgment of Ric and his "lifestyle." To me, saying someone who acquired AIDS through sex was "asking for it" is no different than saying a woman wearing a short skirt is "asking" to be raped. Lots of horrible things happen to people because they happen to be in the wrong place at the right time. Only in the minds of ignorant, Bible-thumping, knuckle-dragging, Neanderthal Westword letter-writers does anyone "deserve" or "ask for" AIDS.
Since one writer was so kind as to share a meaningful quote about his feelings about our society, I'd like to share one with him. Hendrik Willem van Loon, a Dutch-American journalist and lecturer who lived from 1882 to 1944, said, "Any frontal attack on ignorance is bound to fail because the masses are always ready to defend their most precious possession--their ignorance."