Dumb – Lessons Learned From Montage Of Heck



These days, intense emotional reactions followed by brutally honest self-analysis seem to be the only way people know how to tell the truth and in return, you believe in anything they say. Ninety minutes or so into the new documentary about the last famous person I ever related to or cared about, Kurt Cobain: Montage Of Heck, home movie footage shows “the voice of a generation” hold his infant daughter as she’s getting a haircut. At first it seems to be this sweet moment but when the definitely tired, possibly drug-addled, and likely disconnected Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain nods off and his baby begins to cry you realize all is lost.

Four times during the look into the driving force of one of my favorite bands, I turned it off and wept. The visceral way I watched Montage Of Heck speaks to not only the impact of Kurt’s art but also the nasty truths behind his life and death by suicide in April, 1994.

No one was ever there for him and he just gave up.

The top search term for this blog is “Kurt Cobain Sychophant”. There’s no need for me to sell you on the greatness of him as an artist or the deep way I felt related to him as a mentally ill person, and fellow “small, moody, and weird reject”. What Montage Of Heck does is slay every myth about Kurt Cobain and painfully reveal that despite years of red flags and cries for help, Kurt died alone and it seemed to be his destiny from a very early age.

The first half of the film shows his childhood. A lot of time is devoted to his diaries, journals, notebooks, drawings, and personal voice recordings beginning during his pre-teen and teen years.

I took away some stuff, a lot of it I already knew, but given new context, from the documentary.

1) Kurt needed therapy as early as age 9. His parents divorced in the mid 1970s. He acted out as a result, bouncing between equally clueless and selfish mother and father as they embarked on new lives with new spouses and new children. He had almost no family structure between the ages of 11 and 19.

2) Bullying and humiliation drove every single artistic thing he ever did. The next time someone tells you ridicule and boys being boys is just a part of life, show them Montage Of Heck. From his first sexual experience to his first bout of drugs and alcohol to his failures in school, it all stemmed from his inability to deal with peer pressure and relating to kids his own age.

3) His slacker image and anti-fame reputation were lies. Even though he had trouble keeping a job pre-Nirvana, when his girlfriend Tracy would go to work, he’d strum guitars for hours while watching television and write or draw in his notebooks all day. This was part of his “10,000 hours” of practice. Also, he was more ambitious than given credit because he knew the names and addresses of almost every independent record label in existence during the late 1980s before convincing Sub Pop to release Nirvana’s first album in 1989.

4) Drugs were in his life early and he used them for different reasons than “rock star lifestyle”. He did heroin for the first time in the mid 1980s, years before he was famous and or married Courtney Love. He wrote about drugs as early as 1984. A still mysterious stomach ailment led to him using opiates. Like a cancer patient using pot for pain, he used narcotics to stave off serious abdominal pain well before he ever released a record.

5) Courtney Love didn’t kill him any more than Yoko Ono broke up the Beatles. Giving Courtney credit for anything about Kurt’s death is feeding the teeming narcissist what she wants, attention. The two of them were quite screwed up before they met. While Kurt’s drug use escalated after their marriage, it was tied more into his mental illness and his failure to deal with his life than anything to do with his choice of spouse. Kurt was alone, no one helped him, not once.

For die-hards like me, there wasn’t a lot of new information, but filmmaker Brett Morgen animated Kurt’s journals and audio recordings to present everything in a clear, creative but very disturbing fashion. Montage of Heck is brilliantly made. It’s worth the two hours of time but it’s a chore to watch if you care anything about Kurt and or Nirvana. It took days for me to just get a hold of my own emotions.

As a father, the scenes of Kurt with then baby Francis are hard to watch. If anything, Montage of Heck humanizes him even more and gets rid a lot of the rock star bull crap that never belonged with his legacy. I think the biggest lesson I learned from Montage of Heck was that Kurt Cobain ended up the way he should have, because of his lack of family cohesiveness and his own failures. That lesson is hard to accept, but it gets me beyond fandom and makes me realize that adulthood, maturity, or whatever this is I’m going through at forty-something years old is okay after all. Kurt Cobain decided it wasn’t and his being gone is just dumb.

No Compassion

talking heads

The first time I walked into a therapist’s office, I counted the steps from my car to the front door, forty-eight, and I made the trip four times before I went inside. I was broken, mired in a divorce, hobbled by the crutch of alcohol, and unsure if I wanted to see the thirty-sixth year of my life till it’s conclusion.

Within a few not quite one hour but paid for as such sessions, my pro determined I was not only battling mental illness but was also a grade A type 1 co-dependent. I was capable of grand empathy and compassion for others, but at the cost of my own identity and well-being.

After nine years of on and off therapy, quitting drinking several times, and remarriage that brought my family to five, a wife and three daughters, I’ve improved my ability to take care of myself, but only incrementally. I’ll fill every person’s cup in the room then realize I’m thirsty an hour later because I forgot mine.

Years ago, I rejected the traditional notions of “manhood” and decided being compassionate, kind, emotional, and empathetic was who I was and perhaps something to be mocked politically or by other men, but not something I’d apologize for any longer.

My oldest daughter is a 19-year-old college freshman, recently pledged to a prestigious sorority, member of the honor roll, with dreams of becoming a surgeon. When I was her age, I wanted to be a famous writer and journalist. Almost everyone I knew discouraged me because it was a lofty goal and they thought I should be more grounded. I give my daughter the opposite advice. I tell her to be selfish, for now, because when she’s older, she won’t be able to look after number one. The irony is, these words come someone who has never been selfish enough. My “do as I say not as I do” must make my girl laugh hysterically when my back is turned.

One of my favorite songs comes from the Talking Heads, No Compassion. It’s a punk classic and the actual definition of ironic because it’s the opposite of what the songwriter meant and definitely the polar position of my worldview.

I know I need to be more compassionate to myself, but there always seems to be someone who needs it more. At least I know who I am.


100 Word Song – Cup Of Coffee


I’m living in an alternate dimension right now, teetering on mental breakdown because of real world wildness of my oldest daughter moving into college tomorrow and my real job, outside of the blog, book writing and Lefty Pop (www.leftypop.com), becoming overwhelming. I apologize for the lateness of this week’s 100 word song.

My writing friend, Valerie The Word Pirate of http://thewordpirate.wordpress.com/ selected this week’s tune, Cup Of Coffee by Garbage. My 100 will be connected to Velvet Verbosity’s 100 word prompt, Wharf, as well http://www.velvetverbosity.com/.

Back to Silas in the garage, now unarmed and vulnerable.

Last time: https://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/100-word-song-worrisome-heart/

“Silas, pick up the money and the gun. They’re yours.”
Archie held back Roscoe and Kenny, who stared in amazement.
Silas kept his eyes on all 3 men, scooped up the cash and gun, holding it down to the garage floor. He spoke.
“I know how to end this.”
Roscoe yelled.
“Yeah, we kick the shi…!”
Archie pushed him then motioned for Silas to continue.
“I have Bart’s stash, all of it.”
Archie shook his head at Roscoe, who growled.
“Meet at Tampa wharf in 2 hours. I’ll give you 3 grand, then you put a million miles between us.”

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog

You have six days from NOW, to write 100 words inspired by Valerie’s pick of Garbage’s Cup Of Coffee. Use the media that are social to advertise you magic, then link up with the green mr.linky button at the bottom.

100 Word Song – Worrisome Heart


No lead in or exposition, just a song, more Silas and Olive, and a request to go see my sometimes writing partner, Tara aka @Tara_R from http://www.thinspiralnotebook.com. She chose today’s 100 word tune, a jazzy number from Melody Gardot called Worrisome Heart.

Here’s my 100.

Last time: https://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2014/08/06/100-word-song-wish-i-could-fly-like-superman/

Silas swallowed, thought about Olive, then his hand shook. His finger was close to the trigger. He dropped it on the ground. Archie smiled. Kenny and Roscoe ran next to him, but Archie stopped them with one sentence.

“I know what it’s like to be surrounded by people with troubling ways and worrisome hearts.”

He stepped toward Silas. The gun was equal distance from both men.

“Everybody wants the short cut get to where they’re going. We’re not like that.”

Silas stared at the money in his other hand, then dropped it to the garage floor, too.

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog

As always, you have 7 days from NOW, to write 100 words off Melody Gardot’s Worrisome Heart, Use the media that are social to advertise your magic. Also link up to the green Mr. Linky button, below.

100 Word Song – Wish I Could Fly Like Superman


Sorry for the lateness of this week’s 100 word song. Between work, being featured on my first ever podcast interview, and some Lefty Pop aka http://www.leftypop.com business, it was an overwhelming day. Wait, what? Podcast interview? Oh, yeah. If you do this blogging thing long enough, hit a BlogHer conference and treat people decently, someone will hand you a small snack of internet fame. My writer friend Poppy Marler aka aka @poppyjmarler hit me up in San Jose and asked me to do a Skype interview last Wednesday. It ran today. I wouldn’t shut up and used the phrase “be a whore” professionally. Here’s the link to Poppy and her friends Tammy and Vanita’s site Blogging Betties. They do a great job and were very nice to me. Hope you have 45 minutes.


Today’s 100 word song was chosen by Dawn of The Dawnie Project http://www.thedawnieproject.com/ . She suggested 1979’s Wish I Could fly like Superman by The Kinks.

Last time: https://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2014/08/04/between-something-and-nothing/

Silas scanned the garage. He saw nothing that Roscoe, Archie or Kenny could use as a weapon. Archie spoke.

“There’s 300 dollars on the red toolbox to your left. That’s what these two owe you from the deal with Bart and that shiner.”

Silas walked over, then picked up the cash. Kenny and Roscoe took several steps toward him. Archie shouted.


Archie approached.

“I know who you are, Silas Royster, of Daily, Georgia. You’re better than this. But you’ve got fly away like Superman from those two girls.”

Silas pulled the gun and aimed it at Archie.

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog

As always, you have 7 days to give up 100 words inspired by The Kinks Wish I Could Fly Like Superman. Use the media that are social to advertise you magic and the green Mr. Linky button to link up.

Between Something And Nothing


You’ll see some changes to this space as weeks progress. I learned from my BlogHer trip that I must more organized and focused in what posts here so you can know what to expect and grow along with the content. My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog will be a platform for my serialized fiction, subsequent published books, and other writing. This has always been a writing blog by a writer who likes to write.

Lefty Pop, aka http://www.leftypop.com or @lefty_pop or http://www.facebook.com/leftypop will be the destination for my opinions, politics, and pop culture material. My partner, Linda Roy aka @modmomelleroy of http://www.elleroywashere.com and I are planning some changes there that will feature more video and podcast blogging. We’re very excited about all of this.

I will write about music here, because a) that’s my gimmick b) you can’t stop me.

I’ve neglected my serialized short story, Light Of Day, about Silas and Olive, two 19-year-old lovers on the run in 1989 Florida. It’s coming to an end, sometime in the next two to three months.  So, let’s get on with it. Here’s a new story episode, no prompts or tie ins, just a several hundreds words of the inevitable confrontation.

Last time: https://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/22/100-word-song-best-day-of-my-life/

There was a party of four riding in the Cutlass as Silas drove from The Jade strip club to Finn Brothers Garage. Zola and Olive shared the backseat as Olive changed clothes and chattered about her shift as a waitress among nude dancers and grabby men. Silas drove while a stark disquiet rode shotgun. As he pulled the car to a stop in an alley between the garage, Olive blurted.

“What the hell did you tell him, Zola? He hasn’t looked at me once since I got in the car.”

Silas parked, took the keys from the ignition, and tossed them over his right shoulder. Without turning around he delivered the plan.

“I’m going inside and getting the money. Zola, if they don’t have the two thousand you said they’d have, I’m taking whatever I can get. If something happens, let Olive drive, she knows how jacked up the brakes are on this car. If, I’m not out in five minutes, get the hell out of here.”

He walked past the passenger side window as Olive rolled it down and stuck her head out.

“Honey, I love you, forever, okay?”

The pacing of her words were typical Olive, Silas thought to himself. Quick, deliberate, and with emphasis on forever and okay. Everything he’s learned about her over the past few hours from Zola told him to not answer, keep walking, and perhaps, not come back. He gave in, one more time.

“I love you too, Liv. He felt tears well, so he squeezed his eyes shut and pivoted. By the time he got to the window, Olive was smiling. He leaned in and kissed her, tasting liquor, lipstick, and lies. He put his left hand in the waist of his blue jeans and adjusted the gun so he could draw if necessary.

He walked into the auto body shop, let the metal door slam shut, then looked over the empty bays as the echoes died down. Both Finn Brothers and their cousin, Kenny, stood thirty feet in front of him. None of them were holding money.

Here’s The Ocean Blue with their alternative 1989 hit, Between Something And Nothing.

I wrote two books. They got good reviews. The third one, a sequel to the first, Woman Of Troy, is on the way, very soon.

The Ballad of Helene Troy, an underdog story about a female musician in New York City, and Soul To Body, about an ex-1990s guitar player trying to raise his teenage daughter after the death of his wife, her mother, are available, digitally, on Amazon.com for your kindles, and in paperback from Lulu.com


100 Word Song – Best Day Of My Life


It’s BlogHer week so Leeroy and I tried to reach out to someone we not only think a lot of  but also isn’t attending so they’d be available to write. Carrie http://museunleashed.com/ is one of my favorites. She writes a brilliant science fiction romance story with her great character Rachel. She also has a very eclectic taste in music, Last time Leeroy got to her, she picked the Lego movie tune. This time she chose American Authors The Best Day Of Our Lives. I sing along with this in the car with my daughters.

My 100 is not only a new episode of Silas and Olive but also hooked up to my friend Velvet at http://www.velvetverbosity.com and her one word prompt “faded” http://www.velvetverbosity.com/ .

Here’s my 100.

Silas looked past Olive’s smile, staring at the sun crashing in as dusk pushed through. She leaned in for a kiss. He jumped away, hand in the air like he was trying to grab the dropping sun.

“What’s the matter?”

Silas didn’t answer. He walked to the Cutlass’ driver side motioning Zola to the back seat and barked.

“Everyone get in the car, we’re never coming back here.”

The good memories Silas had of Olive were faded. Olive spoke to Zola.

“Did y’all have a good day?”

Zola answered in a mysterious, flat tone.

“The best day of our lives.”

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog

As always, you have 7 days from NOW, to write 100 words inspired by American Authors The Best Day Of My Life. Go see Carrie and Velvet. Use the media that are social to advertise your 100 word magic and pink it up to the green Mr. Linky button below. Wish me luck at blogher, I’ll be one of 4 dudes there.