Friday, December 9, 2011

Kurt Cobain's Ghost Is Seeing A Psychiatrist!


Of all my deceased celebrity patients, perhaps the most unpretentious is Kurt Cobain, former lead warbler of the 90s rap group rock combo Nirvana. In fact, the first time he entered my office, I thought he was there to repair the window unit air conditioner.
 “Thank god you’re here. It’s been driving me out of my mind,” I said.
“What?”
“The A/C. It rattles. And it’s a diabolical rattle. Sometimes one sharp strike will stop it.” I demonstrated with my cane. “Other times, several–even many wicked blows are required before the infernal noise comes to an end.” Again, I demonstrated, working up a sweat. “I swear this air conditioner is one of B.F. Skinner’s creations. It’s an intermittent reinforcement machine.” To
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emphasize my point, I gave the unit a swift kick, ending the rattle. “See?”
Kurt Cobain knelt down before the now smoothly humming unit. “Actually, it’s a Westinghouse, not a Skinner,” he said, peering at me through a curtain of uncombed blond hair. I had to restrain myself from caning his plaid flannel clad shoulders on the spot.
“B.F. Skinner is a legendary behavioral psychologist. While I don’t fully embrace his theories, any repairman who enters my office should at least be aware of his existence.  Time and time again, I’ve told the management of this building that anyone in their employ who comes here–from the cleaning gal to the mail man– must be a well-rounded, educated individual who understands my analogies.”
“I’m a writer. That qualify?” Kurt Cobain asked. When he stood up, I noticed that his dungarees, while sporting holes in each knee, were neatly pressed.
“Novels?”
“Pop songs.”  
“Broadway?”
“Punk rock.”
“I’m not familiar with that.”
“It’s–you know–songs about Lithium and cancer. At least that’s what I do.”
“I see. Top of the Pops stuff.”
“Yeah, we did have some hits. In the 90s. Until I, you know–”
“Please. Please. Don’t tell me yet. It’ll ruin the story arc of the analysis. Sit down. Better yet, lie down.”                   
Kurt Cobain began to stretch out on the floor.
“No. No. The couch. That’s right. Take a few deep breaths while I fetch my notebook. By the way, sorry about mistaking you for the A/C man. Most of my clients have faces I recognize. Or show up in a tux or sequined bikini. You know, show biz pizazz.”
And thus began Kurt Cobain’s thus far fruitful therapy. Each week he arrives wearing in the same shirt and jeans, fidgeting as he struggles out loud to compose the next verse of his sordid life tale.
That’s right. In order to make him comfortable enough to confront his fears head on, I am allowing Kurt Cobain to “unload” in the form confessional pop songs.
In nine months of therapy, he has composed five tunes I consider keepers. Only seven more and he’ll have an album’s worth of solid material, two or three of which would have potential as singles were Nirvana still active, according to a deceased A&R man–another client–to whom I leaked the demo.
Arguably, I should receive a co-writing credit on several numbers for having drawn the lyrics out of him during therapy sessions. Not only that, the rhythm on one rocker mimics the rattle of my A/C. But the issue is moot for obvious reasons.
I have also been successful in prodding the introverted punk star to take up an athletic activity, which he has done with encouraging gusto, bordering on obsession. Using the same shotgun he clutched to his breast during one bizarre session, Kurt Cobain has become an accomplished skeet shooter, which happens to be my own relaxing hobby.
In fact, on two occasions we mutually blew off our frustrations on several cartons of clay pigeons. Kurt’s aim–and mood–improved when he taped photocopies of his former wife’s visage to the flying targets, mimicking a technique of mine that employs my second from last spouse.
Not only that, he’s begun to make new friends here in the Afterlife. In fact, just the other day, he entered a shooting competition with author Ernest Hemmingway and silent film star Mabel Norman, finishing a strong third.
Kurt Cobain’s skeet-shooting obsession allows him to target the true source of his frustration while avoiding grievous self-inflicted wounds. His prognosis as of this report: an uplifting ***1/2 stars out of 4.
Abraham Tribesky
(cross-posted from his blog)

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