Tag Archives: Babes In Toyland

Polly II: suggestions of rape and involuntary silence in grunge videos

Each of the following videos contains clues about two secrets. The various crimes and cover-ups against Chris Newman is the obvious secret. It’s the situation which has been written into movies, T.V., and music videos for decades, and which I’ve been writing about for the past year. (Boldface words have definitions in the title attribute – try running your pointer over them.)

There is a second secret which I believe to be an enforced silence and cover-up having to do with a sexual assault against Kurt Cobain. Like the situation with Chris Newman, I believe this secret is not actually so “secret.” It’s a widespread deliberate cover up. And as with the assaults against Chris Newman, I do not believe that Kurt Cobain wanted the assaults he suffered to be covered up. Why do I believe this? I believe this because he laced his entire catalog with flaming easter eggs. As did many other artists, including the following.

In all of these videos Chris’ (aka “sun”) blindness is indicated by missing, covered, rolled-back, or otherwise blanked-out eyes. The lack of truth is shown by missing and/or false teeth; and in Doll Parts, stasis is indicated by the empty fireplace (one needs fire to burn all the liars) and the muddy, dirty, “hanged” dolls.

1992 Babes in Toyland – “Won’t Tell”

False teeth and water imagery to suggest that truth has been compromised. A disembodied hand suggests a lack of power. There is old man/birth/blood and single-eye imagery. (I believe in this case, the old man is a Chris Newman/Mark Arm twin.) In one scene, the mouth is removed from Kat’s face, as she stands, and is baptized, holding a handful of (blood-sucking) leeches.

Her mouth is then shown speaking or singing from the palm of a hand. At the end of the video, the older man is wearing a pink feathered mask, spotted hide “tutu” and cowboy boots as the women come after him wearing vampire fangs, waggling tongues, and brandishing drumsticks, then knives. The very last image of the video is a stuffed squirrel crouched strangely over an animal-like piece of wood. It evokes the idea of a sexual assault, though perhaps vaugely.

1994 Hole’s “Doll Parts”

Doll Parts is a stunning song and video featuring a little boy representing Kurt Cobain crouched by a cold fireplace. Outdoor scenes show Courtney smashing a twisted Victorian tea party and its landscape of dirt-covered dolls hanging from sticks and trees.

The Doll Parts video was made shortly after Kurt’s suicide. A doll’s covered eye is shown at 0:38, and there is also an anal sex-like scene just one second long: 1:41-1:42, between the words “bad skin” and “doll heart.”

1995 Alice In Chains “Grind”

Grind also uses the hole imagery, the blinded eyes, and the missing teeth.

I believe the old man featured in this video is a “twin” character, but mostly a reference to Mark Arm, due to the man’s lack of teeth, affection for the stuffed goat, and his actions in the video. Clues to the assaults against Newman and Cobain are mostly found in the scene involving a stuffed animal menagerie, beginning around 2:53.

First the old man places his hand near the cymbal-playing ape (sun) from whom he receives a stigmata. The man then looks over to see the goat (devil) slowly backing away from the scene. Alice In Chains singer Layne Stayly then looks at a long-eared patchwork creature with a star on it. The creature is kicking out its back legs in anger or torment. I believe this creature represents Kurt Cobain.

At 3:06 the patchwork star creature is attacked and overpowered by a creepy looking hook-beaked creature wrapped in something knit (like a sweater) with pins and/or knitting needles stuck in, like some kind of voodoo doll creature. The knitting needle creature forcibly unzips a zipper on the patchwork star creature (3:08), removes something that looks like a piece of bloody gauze, and chews it up. The old man is then seen closing up the brown paper bag, walking up the stairway, and petting the three-legged dog that waits there. The chorus of the song is “In the darkest hole, you’d be well advised not to plan my funeral before the body dies.” It’s a clear reference to the sun who is buried and considered “dead.”

These artists all make a connection between what seems to have been an assault against Kurt Cobain and the burying of Chris Newman for a couple of reasons. The first reason, I believe, is because in both cases, the perpetrator was (and is) the same person. I believe it is Mark Arm.

The second reason for the connection has to do with predation and copying aspect of the crimes against Chris. All these artists were clearly aware that it was Chris who brought his 1970s heavy rock influenced sounds, and specifically the heavy fuzz Big Muff and the watery Small Clone, into northwest punk rock. All the musicians had to know that Mudhoney guitar players Mark Arm and Steve Turner co-opted the heavy fuzz & Fender twin sound, and either tricked or coerced Kurt Cobain into adapting the Small Clone and Big Muff into his music as well. (I believe this is why Kurt sang – and felt – “I’m a liar and a thief” in the 1993 song, Pennyroyal Tea.) Kurt used the Big Muff in the studio, but is rarely seen with one onstage. The Small Clone sound mixed with a more Wipers like distortion (DS-1) is however, very strongly associated with Kurt Cobain.

2013 Alice In Chains “Devil Put Dinosaurs Here.”

At least one other Alice In Chains video contains a symbolic (but more obvious) rape scene involving the disembodied head of a pink bunny rabbit. That is the 2013 Alice In Chains “Devil Put Dinosaurs Here.”

The rape scene takes place between 2:40-2:43 (read more commentary on this video)

1993 Nirvana “Heart Shaped Box”

It’s been said that Kurt Cobain wanted William Burroughs to act out a specific type of rape scene with him (one that involves a transference of “power” from the rapist to the victim) in the video for Heart Shaped Box, but that Burroughs declined. The video that was finally made for Heart Shaped Box did not contain a “rape” scene, but it did include a scene where Kurt imitates the “poppies” scene from Wizard of Oz and/or represents his own death. The 300 pound transparent angel, an obvious reference the sun and specifically Chris Newman, sees Cobain’s prone body in the poppies, and then stops, places her hands on her hips, and appears to show disapproval (3:10-3:24). That particular scene is found only in the director’s cut which was not widely released until less than a year ago (August 2013).

How to decode almost any POP song: Part II: Lexicon (Introduction)

The Wasteland - 1922 - opening dedication

I first noticed these symbols appearing in a consistent manner in “grunge” songs (Nirvana, Hole, Mudhoney, etc), but I now see that it is an encoded language that predates recorded music (check the lyrics to the folk ballad “House of the Rising Sun” – what’s in the suitcase? who’s in the trunk?). This symbolic language lends itself well to visual representation, so you see it appear in graphic design, television, movies, music videos.

Nothing is more fascinating than a massive secret. I myself have a Masters Degree in English and in all my years at college, no professor ever hinted to me what was the real topic of T.S. Eliot’s most famous poem, The Wasteland. Or of William Carlos Williams’ famous red wheelbarrow.

Illuminati Pizza shirtMy best guess is that this is a secret symbolic language belonging to a sect of freemasonry called Illuminati. My main problem with them is their connection to and ignoring of, crime, in particular, crimes against me, my family, and others whom I love – and their unwillingness, so far, to speak with me directly, much less admit or rectify any wrongdoing. And there has been a great deal of wrongdoing: financially, psychologically, socially, and otherwise.

Illuminati seem to me to be tied together in two primary ways, one being money, and the other being the manipulation, observation, and exploitation of a human being designated as “the sun.” The sun sacrifice is, in fact, a criminal situation. So that means that the Illuminati are linked by 1. money and 2. crime. It seems that no one can tap into the Illuminati revenue streams without also participating in, and staying silent about crime (sleeping). And since, from what I have seen, Illuminati control the United States financial systems (and manipulate other systems as well – because you can do a lot of stuff with all that money). That leaves everyone who wants to be financially “successful” in a bit of an ethical dilemma, doesn’t it?
The Illuminati’s secret sun sacrifice is a direct harm to me and to those that I love. In addition, as I began to research this topic, I was tracked, harassed, lied to, gas-lit, spied upon, exploited, violated, threatened, mocked, dogged, hacked, robbed, sabotaged, blackmailed, and finally, kidnapped. And much of this continues to this day. Knowing that the people who are bullying me are actively backed by some of the most powerful human beings on this planet – millionaires and billionaires – and knowing how many artists have suffered and even died because of this, thinking they had no other choice – well – I am not sure the Illuminati deserve quite the level of respect and secrecy to which they seem to feel entitled.

That said – I think there is hope for everyone.

How to decode the songs – Part I

[UPDATE June 19, 2014: I was figuring stuff out as I was writing. It’s obvious by now that these songwriters tap into a symbolic lexicon that pre-dates recorded music.]

Look, I’m just going to do my best. In general is no “right” or “wrong” way to interpret a piece of art, though some interpretations can be supported with evidence and thus ring truer than others. That said, these songwriters seem to have a unique style of communicating to and about each other through lyrics.

The bands that I’m interested in are: Hole, Nirvana, Mudhoney, Babes In Toyland. The lyricists are Courtney Love, Kurt Cobain, Mark Arm, and Kat Bjelland.

In Utero disc

Why these bands? A few reasons. First, they are bands that I have noticed over the years. They also have a lot in common with me as far as age, cultural background, community, etc. Second, it’s clear to me that these bands had emotional and lyrical interplay. Third, three of these bands are connected to us in Portland. That would be Hole (Courtney is from Portland), Nirvana (Kurt was connected to Portland through Courtney and others), and Babes In Toyland (Kat is also from Portland). The fourth band, Mudhoney, seems to be connected to all of us.

The fact that Kat and Courtney are both from Portland is very much de-emphasized in The Grunge Myth. But they came up in the Portland punk scene, and Kat and Courtney and Mudhoney were all familiar with Napalm Beach bandleader Chris Newman and his music. Nirvana’s relationship with Chris’ music has so far been locked in a box, wrapped in wool, and buried.

Back to the songs. The first thing to know about the songs is that the back stories are usually – not false, per say – but deliberately misleading. By which I mean, the back story may provide an image or a hint to the meaning, but it’s also often meant to throw you off the true path. If I thought that the writers of these songs truly didn’t want anyone to know what the songs mean, I’m not sure I’d be writing this. But most of the time, artists want to be understood. That’s why they are putting the words into a song instead of into a phone conversation, private letter, or locked journal.

On the other hand, there are things in these particular lyrics which, if not obscured, would cause problems. That is why these (and most) artists make up a false back story about their songs.

In this song, Kurt Cobain says that he is making up words that “don’t make sense.” But listen! I detect sarcasm.


Portland songwriter Rozz Rezabek has said (to me) that “On A Plain” borrows a phrase from one of his songs (if so, it might put another spin on the “love myself” line). Like many of Kurt Cobain’s songs, it alludes to what is and is not “safe” to say. The Black Sheep verse is odd. I guess zip codes are really important. [UPDATE: June 19, 2014 now that I have been repeatedly “punished” by the release of illicit and embarrassing footage, and now that I have experienced multiple counts of implied blackmail, I understand that Cobain’s “blackmail” verse probably ought to be taken literally.]

Another thing to notice with Hole and Nirvana songs is that when the albums come with printed lyrics, the words in print are sometimes different than the real words. Usually it’s just a single word that is swapped for another. (Also, this should go without saying, but lyrics found online are often wrong.) A word-swap example from the Hole song “Nobody’s Daughter” is when the printed lyrics say “no one here could ever stop my ruin now” (a relic from the older “demo” version of the song) but in reality she sings “no one here could ever stop my revenge now.”

Both words, ruin and revenge are significant, as is the fact that one word was exchanged for the other. It hints at a transformation. There are many such little word switches on Nirvana’s In Utero, like swapping ass for ash (“Francis Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle”).

Similarly, sounds of words are important: harrowing / heroin (Napalm Beach) whore / horror (Hole) aqua seafoam shame / I’ll proceed from shame (Nirvana). [Update June 19, 2014: Old Dirty Bastard’s “I am the only unique Ason” sounds like “I am the only uni-gay-son.”]

Symbols are very important to these writers. Kat Bjelland, Courtney Love, Mark Arm, and Kurt Cobain use, and used, symbols which would seem to have universal significance in very specific ways. I find Hole and Nirvana’s lyrics to be particularly illuminating. When the angels, stars, fire, dirt, dust, dolls, candy, mud, honey, santa claus etc appear in their songs (and sometimes in images and videos), they are references to specific people and situations.

For many of these images, you can often make a one-to-one correlation. (Hair = thoughts. Sun = Chris Newman. Dirt = degradation.)

Finally, in each of these four bands’ songs, identities can be fluid. Hole’s “Honey” is supposed to be about Kurt Cobain, and it is – but I believe there are two other subjects in the song. (The name “Honey” alone should be be a clue.) Sometimes one subject addressed in verses, and another in the bridge. Vocal inflections offer clues. [Update June 19, 2014: this transient identity thing is especially true in movies. For example, in the Austin Powers movie, Mike Myers plays several different characters, and the “sun” identity shifts from character to character.]

In particular, songs that seem to be about, or addressed to a woman are very likely actually about, or addressed to, a man. [UPDATE June 19, 2014: This is illustrated in James Bond and Austin Powers as a man dressed like a woman, ala Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre actors.]

Kurt Cobain identified as bisexual, another thing that is very much de-emphasized in The Grunge Myth. And it’s strange that The Myth would bury this aspect of Cobain’s personality, because it is so very present in his lyrics and other imagery. It seemed to be something he wanted people to know and understand about him.

An open letter to Courtney Love Cobain

“I’ve always been a paranoid person by nature anyhow, and now I have all these people so concerned with what I say and what I do at all times that it’s really hard for me to deal with that… If I could have predicted what was going to happen to me a few years ago, I definitely wouldn’t have opted for this kind of a life-style.”
– Kurt Cobain, “The Dark Side of Kurt CobainAdvocate interview (February 1993)

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/1062930″ params=”color=116297&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”320″ iframe=”true” /]
Dear Courtney,

I have never met you or spoken with you, but I know you and my sweetheart Chris had a flirtation when you were still a teenager.

I now see so much of what you have been put through for so many years and I am so sorry.

I want all artists to be able to speak freely, to be able to tell their own truths, you and me included. It seems like this is a big problem for someone. And I need for Chris to not be invisible anymore. This, too, is a big problem.

The only way out that I can see, is for me to try to understand, and speak, the truth. I know I have to piece it together like a detective since when it comes to deviating from the script, insider’s lips are sealed.

Good thing I have a skeleton key.

Visible Woman antique toy

Last month Mike Leach uploaded a Napalm Beach bootleg recording for “Into The Sky,” a song I had never heard before. Chris had never put it on an album.

The recording is from 1982, and the photos from 1984, both in Seattle. The guitar tone in heavily infused with both Electro-Harmonix Small Clone and Big Muff, Chris’ sound of that era. As I mentioned in my original article on Napalm Beach, Mark Arm of Mudhoney carefully examined Chris’ amp and pedals at the Vogue in spring 1986. By 1988 the Fender Twin/Big Muff tone became a big part of Mudhoney’s signature sound, and soon the Small Clone became Nirvana’s signature sound (Nirvana seemed to use the Big Muff mostly in the studio – I hear it all over In Utero). This in and of itself wouldn’t be so remarkable – except for the fact that by 1990 Chris and his music had dropped off the map in Seattle and was frozen out of anyplace connected with Seattle (like the U.K.). Chris continues to be deleted from his own history while others accept accolades for inventing some kind of “Seattle sound.”

When I heard the 1982 bootleg, it immediately became clear that Nirvana’s Very Ape (1993) lyrically links “Into The Sky” (1982) with Mudhoney’s song Mudride (1987). I saw that “Very Ape” was a message to, and about Chris and Napalm Beach. It began to confirm some of my suspicions as to what had happened between Mudhoney and Napalm Beach. The lyrics to “Mudride” are very telling, as are the lyrics to “Burn It Clean” from the same album, Super Fuzz Big Muff.

While I didn’t mention it directly in my first Napalm Beach article, I do sometimes wonder why Kurt Cobain never mentioned Napalm Beach or Snow Bud. While it may be easy to fool newcomers and outsiders, every old school punk rocker between Portland and Vancouver B.C. ought to know that it was slightly odd that Cobain would shout out to almost every northwest underground band except Chris Newman’s bands, especially considering how Chris had been so connected to Seattle, not to mention certain sonic/songwriting connections that I’ve noticed.

In fact, the omissions are so glaring that Chris believed that Kurt hated him. They had met backstage at Satyricon around 1988 and had an argument in which Chris stated that women were not good rock singers and Kurt begged to differ. (This is kind of funny since in 1986 Chris wrote and recorded an entire album for female vocals, but he can be a contentious ass when he’s drunk.) That all seemed to work itself out, but Chris thought that maybe that encounter, along with possible jealousy because of your earlier connection with him, added up to the long-term freezing out.

When Chris saw you with Francis backstage at No On 9 in 1992, you looked right past him. And when Bohemia After Dark television interviewed Krist and Kurt, asking them about their favorite Portland bands, they said Poison Idea, Hitting Birth, and the Wipers. And this is how it’s been, ever since Sub Pop launched their plan for world domination in 1987. Glaring blank spots.

All these years Chris has believed that all the Sub Pop associated musicians hated him. Now I believe there has been a distortion campaign, a string pulling campaign, and some kind of cruel game in which he is untouchable. No matter what they claim, the reality is that this game was designed for one simple reason: to destroy his reputation, bury him, and promote the idea that Sub Pop’s Seattle based bands invented the wheel.

I’m not saying it isn’t brilliant – I’m just saying it is wrong and very harmful, and I need these aggressions to end. I also want amends in the form of positive recognition.

Courtney, I think you may also be the target of a long term distortion campaign, but with a different motivation. In your case, I think that some people feel guilty over your husband’s suicide. Was there some bullying going on? What about issues of control? Because it sure seems like this narrative (myth) is tightly controlled, and those who tell the truth (even someone relatively unconnected, like me) are threatened and/or punished. And in Kurt’s interviews and music I sense shadows of serious trauma, guilt, and and suppression – something beyond the “legendary divorce.” Is it possible that someone wants to make you look as bad as possible to avoid scrutiny of their own behavior?

To me, the most frustrating thing is that they refuse to stop the game. Sub Pop, K Records, and the aptly named Kill Rockstars seem to be splitting up the back catalogs of Portland bands who were friends and contemporaries of Napalm Beach, and positioning themselves as experts and archivists – which is great! – except that so far, they continue to bury Chris and his music. They still have the nerve to snide about Portland “pot smoker jeans bands” and to dismiss Chris’ vast catalog as unimportant.

Nirvana - Heart Shaped Box  directors cut

It felt like such a blessing last month when I saw and understood the message to Napalm Beach in “Very Ape.” When I went to bed that night the most amazing full moon positioned itself directly outside the window stayed there all night, bathing us in silver light so bright it kept waking me up. I took it as a positive sign.

Into the sky / a white fire light / only for me / only for me / wipe my eyes

Then I tried to write about it. That was the beginning of my being censored.

According to Collapse Board editor Everett True, the man who created the MYTH of grunge, my Masters Degree in English – along with being a guitar player, a songwriter, being exactly one year younger than Kurt Cobain, and growing up in a very similar logging/fishing town on the same Pacific coast highway as Aberdeen (Astoria, Bandon, North Bend etc) – does not actually qualify me to analyze or interpret Nirvana’s lyrics. At all.

At first I assumed True was somehow stuck mourning the death of Kurt Cobain. Like, it’s been almost 20 years and he’s been sober for a while, yet he is still stuck in this deep strangling grief? So much that no one else can touch Nirvana?

No, no, no. It was another smokescreen. THIS reality dawned when I noticed an image in the directors cut of Heart Shaped Box.

I saw that in this brand new version of the video, the little girl in the Ku Klux Klan robe is pushing an empty wheelchair towards Kurt Cobain’s unconscious body in the poppies while the overweight (visible woman) angel with dirty wings looks on with disapproval. It’s a striking moment for many reasons, one of them being it’s the first time the angel seems to be truly aware of her surroundings.

When I tried to ask Everett True about these things, he got very icy and started gaslighting me. Actually, he’d been gaslighting me for months, but now he turned it to 11. So Everett True and I broke off contact.

Then I noticed this:

HONEY is beautiful and amazing and this performance brings tears to my eyes every time. It told me that the parallels I had been seeing were real.

I now understand why Everett True dismissed Nobody’s Daughter. He didn’t want anyone else take it seriously. Because in fact there is a great deal of honesty and courage in those songs. I see the album as a compliment to In Utero, and the two albums together, along with the knowledge that I already have, tell a fairly clear story. I know you overcame some serious obstacles to record and release Nobody’s Daughter, and I can detect that someone wants to bury it, too. The patterns are becoming familiar to me.

Nobody's Daughter - Live To Air Review - Everett True - Bust Magazine

I want Nobody’s Daughter to be heard, and I want it to bring good things.

I see that Hole, Babes In Toyland, Mudhoney, and Nirvana all were writing songs that interweave, using coded language and common symbols. I am going to address this.


Erika / BOO FROG

NAPALM BEACH – Into The Sky (1982)

I try not to forget
what I’m running from
It hasn’t got me yet
I think about it some
Into the sky
a white fire light
Only for me
Only for me
white fire light
Now let us see
won’t you let me see

I haven’t lost my mind
I know it’s someplace safe
I wonder what I’d find
if I could see

well, into the sky
a white fire light
only for me
only for me

yeah white fire lies
now let us see
won’t you let me see

Well into the sky
wipe my eyes

only for me
now let us see

Nirvana - Heart Shaped Box

Introducing Napalm Beach: The band that taught Seattle how to rock

Sam Henry and Chris Newman - Napalm Beach

I’ve tried to write this story, or something like it, a few times, but always got mired. Then, on July 11, something about the way two contrasting images cut across my brain – the 25-year-old daddy-band Mudhoney surfing across the blue skies of Seattle, while the 33-year-old granddaddy-band Napalm Beach says farewell from deep inside the Star Theatre – made me think it’s time to finish. Continue reading Introducing Napalm Beach: The band that taught Seattle how to rock

Introducing the band that taught Seattle how to rock…


By Erika Meyer

I’ve tried to write this story, or something like it, a few times, but always got mired. Then, on July 11, something about the way two contrasting images cut across my brain – the 25-year-old daddy-band Mudhoney surfing across the blue skies of Seattle, while the 33-year-old granddaddy-band Napalm Beach says farewell from deep inside the Star Theatre – made me think it’s time to finish. Continue reading Introducing the band that taught Seattle how to rock…

Three female-fronted bands from early grunge-era Portland, Oregon

Monica Nelson - Obituaries circa 1986

By Erika Meyer

To me, what was interesting about the 80s and 90s was not so much a handful of bands centered around Seattle (though some of those bands were pretty good and a few still are), but the music and art created by different underground and punk communities of the era. Sub Pop packaged Seattle for public consumption, but there was lot of good music and art created in the northwest outside of Seattle.

Here are three female-fronted 80s bands from Portland, Oregon who helped create that heavy rock sound which became popular in the 90s. Continue reading Three female-fronted bands from early grunge-era Portland, Oregon