Interesting Links (4.13.2018)

Kurt Cobain, The Rolling Stone Interview: Success Doesn’t Suck

He is bugged that people think of him more as an icon than a songwriter…

He’d be really bugged now.

“I’m really thankful, and every month I come to more optimistic conclusions.”

What an odd thing to say. Every month? Who thinks about their life this way?

“For five years during the time I had my stomach problem, yeah. I wanted to kill myself every day. I came very close many times. I’m sorry to be so blunt about it. It was to the point where I was on tour, lying on the floor, vomiting air because I couldn’t hold down water. And then I had to play a show in 20 minutes. I would sing and cough up blood.”

Knowing what we know now, it’s easy to dismiss this aspect of Cobain’s life and focus on his mental health and drug use. If he really was in this kind of pain, though–and his description seems genuine–who could blame him for reaching for something, anything, to take it away?

“Except I’m pretty sure that they [Pearl Jam] didn’t go out of their way to challenge their audience as much as we did with this record. They’re a safe rock band. They’re a pleasant rock band that everyone likes.”

I’m not a big Pearl Jam fan, but this comment was way off the mark. A song like Daughter was not a safe, feel-good rocker. It dealt directly with a tragic situation and was not easy to listen to. The fact that it was so damn catchy and got you singing along to it makes it all the more impressive.

The older I get, the less impressed I am with Nirvana. If you listen to Nevermind and In Utero back-to-back with something like Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream or Alice in Chains’ Dirt, it’s hard to imagine why those particular albums would come to be considered so iconic based on the strength of the music alone.


So Long Yinz: Why City Accents Are Fading in the Midwest

The same linguistic leavening has been occurring in Pittsburgh, another city that once boasted a robust steel industry and a much-parodied local accent. Pittsburghese developed among immigrant steelworkers from Poland, Bohemia, Hungary, and Croatia. Derisively called “Polacks” and “Hunkies” by Old Stock Americans, they sought a language and identity that would provide solidarity against nativist prejudice. This was reinforced by the labor struggles of the 1930s and ’40s, which inspired previously competitive ethnic groups to band together for economic advancement.

I don’t doubt the existence of prejudice, but the idea that our regional accent and slang developed out of some kind of intentional effort to “provide solidarity against nativist prejudice” strikes me as Marxist fantasy.

I suspect our accent is fading away for the same reason that most other regional accents are: constant, prolonged exposure to “accent free” mass media and a more mobile and diverse population.

I also object to the characterization of Pittsburgh as a Midwestern city, by the way. We’re our own thang, like David Pumpkins. A city isn’t Midwestern just because it used to have a bunch of steel mills.


Home Depot is Donating $50 Million to Job Training for Veterans and Disadvantaged Youth

It’s good when corporations do good things. Are they just doing it for the PR? Who cares? Let’s give them good PR so they do more of it.


NASA Engineer Saves Passenger Jet From Disaster When He Spots Malfunction From Window Seat

“Normally, if it’s a humid day, you’ll see vortices, or circular patterns of rotating air, off the wing,” Maasha said in an interview with NASA. “About 1,000 feet off the ground, I started seeing something white and thought, ‘maybe we’re just hitting some humidity.’ Well, then we banked to turn cross-wind and it was still doing it, and that’s when I knew something was up. I looked closer and immediately realized that we were losing fluid.”