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  • "There will never be another Kurt Cobain," said James, mostly to the table. "I don't see how there can be. You just can't have that... what he had. Like Morrison or Hendrix. No one can have that anymore."

    He was drunk, of course -- had occupied that spot at our dining table since coming through the door 10 hours earlier with a Heineken in hand.

    "Not wasting any time, are we?" I had said as I welcomed him in.

    "There's some kind of sporting event on today, isn't there?" he grinned, putting on that cad-like aristocrat voice he's so fond of. "Drinking on the train is the done thing, old boy."

    "It's his mother's birthday," his girlfriend had whispered in my ear as I leaned in to kiss her cheek.

    James' mother died of cancer a few years ago, creating in him a strange unwillingness to move forward. He drives her car, will not get a job that means anything, will not propose to his girlfriend, will not even speak of children, will not push himself to be all the "more" that he is quite capable of being. Even drunk he is quicker-thinking than everyone else. Usually. He had been stuck now on the Kurt Cobain Is The Last True Icon theme for almost half an hour.

    "That mystique," he continued. "People burn up too quickly. Become too saturated. You can't have what he had. I walk down the street, I look at the kids. They... You weren't here for this. It was before your time."

    The last remark was directed at me. Well, actually, it was directed at a wine glass. But I was on its other side of it. Though it would have made more sense to be talking to the wine. I am older than James.

    "Where are Nirvana from, James?" I asked.
    "Which is in?"
    "And I am from?"
    "America. Which is what I mean. You weren't here. I don't know what their effect was over there. I assume it was big. Huge. I mean, you, you weren't... How could you not... That didn't connect with you? What they were saying? You didn't get into that, didn't feel those lyrics? That wasn't totally new to you?"
    "I was mostly listening to Gwar and Rollins Band in those days."

    He set down his glass and lifted his head at me as if his eyes were weights.

    "It's like you sit around thinking up weird shit to say," he said. "Nirvana, my friend, were... It was like there were three groups: the kind of athletic kids, the kids whose parents dressed them, and the Nirvana kids. Kurt Cobain was an icon. The last great icon."

    He carried on like this for several more minutes, repeating the same theme but never quite grasping what he was trying to say. I found myself reminded of sitting in a bar with Old Man Landeros many years before, listening to him wax nostalgic about Steely Dan. Landeros would have been about 32 years old when we had that conversation. James is now about the same age.

    There is some magic point in our lives, it seems, when we start to think the past really was better, when we use phrases like "kids these days" without irony. I'd like to think I've not reached that point. I hope I haven't. I would hope I never will. Thank you, Gwar, for keeping me out of the loop.
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