January 27, 2005

Obtaining Nirvana at Last

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In his suicide note, Kurt Cobain quoted Neil Young’s “Hey Hey Hey” with “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” Cobain’s choice of such prolific lyrics have been used to express the singer’s mindset and can even be extended to explain his cremation. In any case, it seems Cobain was cremated after death, and his remains were divided. One third of Cobain’s remains went to his mother, one third went to Courtney Love and the last third of Cobain’s remains is rumored to reside in, of all places, our very own Ithaca, N.Y.

As all Nirvana fans can attest to, Kurt Cobain had an almost messianic presence during his lifetime. His influence on the Seattle music scene in the 1990s helped bring alternative “grunge” music to the forefront of American popular culture, and the album “Nevermind,” which featured a naked baby underwater chasing a dollar bill, continually makes it to the top of Rolling Stone’s and other’s compilations of the best albums of all time. Songs like “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Come As You Are,” “Lithium” and “Heart Shaped Box” all became the anthems of Generation X.

Cobain’s untimely death on April 8, 1994 at the height of Nirvana’s fame led to the usual conspiracy-theories and copycat backlash one might expect when a beloved rocker takes his own life. Ten years later, there are entire websites, an investigative book entitled Who Killed Kurt Cobain and one documentary film, Kurt and Courtney, devoted to proving that Courtney Love, not heroine and a shotgun, were the cause of death. But why Ithaca?

It is hard to believe that such an alt-rock legend would be buried in Ithaca, N.Y. but according to several unsubstantiated Internet sources, the rumors are true. The Buddhist temple in which Courtney placed Kurt’s cremated ashes is apparently one of several temples in the area. Visitithaca.com lists just about everything there is to do in the Ithaca area, but there is no mention of Kurt Cobain or any of the Buddhist temple, the name of which is not publicized.

It is somewhat surprising that a shrine to someone like Kurt Cobain remains so unbothered. Where are the pilgrimages to the grunge god’s grave? As television shows like “I Love the 90s” and its follow-up, “I love the 90s Part Deux,” make evident, Generation X is still very much alive, as is interest in Kurt Cobain, his music and his death. Such interest has been fueled by last year’s release of the Nirvana box set, the publication of Cobain’s personal journals and Courtney Love’s continued antics help keep Cobain in the public’s memory. Perhaps this disconnect can be blamed on the lack of a link between Kurt Cobain and Ithaca, NY. The two don’t really fit together. Ithaca is known for many things: its wineries, its weather and of course Cornell University; maybe its time to add Kurt’s burial site to the list.

Archived article by Logan Bromer
Sun Staff Writer