Charles Cross is my version of Lester Bangs. Sure he isn’t as daring, scathing, or gonzo with his writing but in my mind he helped shape the voice of a rock-n-roll generation. More specifically his works of journalism helped shape my rock-n-roll generation — a generation draped in robes of flannel that worshiped at the Temple of the Dog while seeking Nirvana in the comfort of their record collections riddled with teenage angst. If you couldn’t tell, I was a teenager during the 1990s.
Back in 2004, while studying journalism at the University of Washington, I wrote a profile of Cross I’m not sure if he could tell, but during our interview there was a whole lot of idol worship happening on my end of the conversation. Cross is the former editor and publisher of The Rocket, a publication that played a heavy hand in the rise of grunge. He is also is the author of several books including quintessential Kurt Cobain biography, Heavier Than Heaven, and the equally excellent Jimi Hendrix bio Room Full of Mirrors. He writes biographies of rock stars, has been on the New York Times bestseller list, and he chronicled the most important musical and cultural movement of my generation. How could I not be in full geeked-out grunge mode?
I’ve since run into Cross on multiple occasions since that day six years ago, and I now consider him more of a seasoned colleague as opposed to a journalistic hero. He’s always friendly and polite, and I always hope he doesn’t remember the impressionable j-school student who used every ounce of restraint to hold back the gushing fanboy inside.
Tonight Cross is giving a lecture at the Seattle Art Museum titled “Charles Cross on Kurt Cobain,” to celebrate the opening of “Kurt,” SAM’s Cobain-themed exhibit. While the event is taking place at an art museum, I’m sure no one will mind if you show up wearing a flannel shirt and ripped jeans.
If you go: Charles Cross on Kurt Cobain begins at 7 p.m. tonight (May 14). Tickets cost $4 for SAM members, $6 for students and seniors, and $8 for the general public.
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