Last Thursday night, I attended the premiere of Adarsha Benjamin's experimental short film Kurt at Art Basel Miami, which, unbeknownst to my party or myself, just so happen to be paired with a performance by Thurston Moore of the legendary Sonic Youth.
Art Basel Miami is the last place I'd expect to see Thurston Moore. Every year, during one week in December, Miami becomes this snotbed of wealthy art collectors out in full force. Not exactly the place you'd find a pallid, 50-something punk rocker.
The film was born out of the director's—and every other 70-80s baby's—love for Kurt Cobain. Thurston's appearance was pure surprise to me, but in hindsight, considering Nirvana and Sonic Youth's deep, kindred past, it's not so unusual to see him make an allegiant featuring at an all-Kurt-everything arts thing.
Thurston is a true raconteur. His first 10 minutes onstage began like an excerpt from VH1's Storytellers, delving into his cradle days in Coral Gabbles, up until moving to Connecticut and hooking us back in with his anecdotes of moving to the Lower East Side in the mid-70s. I wondered if he was just killing time onstage while possibly waiting for his drummer to return from the bathroom.
Just as my friend and I began quietly teasing for his rambling non-sequitur, Thurston made a hard storytelling right and began talking about the time when two school nuns jackhammered his mouth with holy soap.
The first time being caught blurting the F-word is a memorable one. According to Thurston, as a child in school, he would have fun placing each letter of the alphabet in front of an existing word and shouting whatever new word he came up with in class. "Duck" became "buck", "cuck," and eventually, "fuck." Regardless of Thurston's child-like obliviousness to what the fuck "fuck" meant, the word sparked a hair-trigger reaction from his school's nuns. With great gesticulation and echoes of porno scenes, Thurston motioned how two nuns could wash a kid's mouth out with holy soap without gagging him to death. Extremely visual but innocently recalled, the story garnered uproarious laughter.
What followed was some spoken word he had prepared on a few sheets of paper and a climactic, 900-minute opus of colossal distortion and noise! I guess you could say that the polar extremes of his performance was not dissimilar to the displacement of a pasty ol' punk rocker in a cesspool of tanned art tycoons.
PS: The film features Noisey darling Alex Levine of the So So Glos in the role of Kurt Cobain.
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