THE DAY KURT COBAIN BLEW
HIS BRAINS OUT
by Andreas Economakis
Marisa and I arrived at LAX late in the evening and when we finally got home I hit the sack right away. I was due to work on a Japanese Kirin Lager Beer commercial featuring Harrison Ford early the next morning, out at Zuma Beach in Malibu. I had not realized that the time had changed while we were in Kauai. Daylight savings time. This strange horological tradition does not affect Hawaii, and so the morning of my shoot I woke up an hour late. Nothing like the phone ringing and your boss yelling at you before your morning cup of coffee.
I floored it all the way to Malibu, my red 1975 Toyota pick-up truck a blur on the highway, its SR-20 engine humming like a distressed honeybee. I peeled into the Zuma parking lot and dashed to the Production trailer, formulating a profuse sorry on my lips. All was well. Harrison hadn’t arrived yet. I walked down to the set, an overly built Japanese campfire set by the beach. Two small grey whales came near the shoreline, attracted by the large lights we’d set up. My friend Tim and I waded out into the surf and got close to the beautiful creatures. I remember looking into their eyes and sensing recognition. Then, like two bored tourists, the whales dipped into the water and swam off.
I helped carry cases of beer to the set and chilled them in the coolers. Harrison arrived in his rented Black Mercedes SL500 convertible. His bodyguard followed him in a black SUV. A thin Vietnam Vet with hard looks, the bodyguard eyed us all suspiciously before kind of relaxing.
Within the hour, Harrison started his scenes. “Kirin Laga Beeroo Koodasai,” he kept saying. The Japanese applauded each take. What luck to have Indiana Jones sell your beer. What luck and 3 million dollars.
At lunchtime I took a swim and was called out of the water by a lifeguard who said he’d spotted a shark near me. My nerves just a wee bit frazzled, I walked up to the parking lot, all the while thanking my lucky star that I hadn’t become a McNugget to a California Great White. I found Tim hunched over by the bushes, trying to snare lizards with a homemade horse-hair noose. Tim is a quarter Sioux Indian, which I guess explains this odd obsession. I tried to snare a lizard with the contraption, unsuccessfully. Greeks are not good lizard-catchers. Harrison and his tense bodyguard walked by. Harrison smiled at us. The sun was behind him and we were blinded.
Tim told me that he’d talked to the bodyguard and he told Tim that he didn’t carry a gun. “Don’t need one,” the bodyguard had said. I believed him. Tim returned to snaring lizards. “Dude, did you hear the news?” he asked me. “What?” I responded, watching Harrison enter his motor home. “Kurt Cobain blew his brains out.” Harrison Ford slammed the door shut, the snapping sound making me jump. The bodyguard leaned against the motor home, peering out towards the sea like the Marlboro Man. I looked at Tim. “Got one!” he said and lifted a dangling lizard to my face.
This piece is part of a collection of stories on blindness entitled: The Blindness of Life.
Copyright © 2010, Andreas Economakis. All rights reserved.
For more stories by Andreas Economakis click on the author’s name below.