New York

An Open Letter to Gus Van Sant



Dear Mr. Van Sant,

I recently downloaded a film you made called Last Days off a secret FTP site on the internet. The text file included in the rip said this was a film about the famous rock star Kurt Cobain. Naturally, since I’ve enjoyed every album Cobain’s made (particularly Siamese Dream), I watched intently with both bated and regular breath.

Now don’t take this the wrong way. I am just as likely as you to disregard plain fact, common sense, and other plain and common things (e.g. sense-facts) in favor of my own reality. But your film Last Days, which is exactly 698 megabytes large if you condense the picture frame and cut out the first and last ten minutes of the film as was the case for me, took great liberties with the life of America’s arguably most important rock celebrity–possibly more important than the guy in Phantom Planet.

So I ask you, Gus (short for Guster? this is not important but still), to answer the following questions:

Several times in the American version of Last Days, Kurt’s band members Krist and Dave call him Blake. Why? Surely Krist and Dave would have known Kurt by his real name (Kurt). At the very least, they would have had a better nickname for him than Blake–like Krut, or Krobar, or Bluke.

Also: In one scene, Kurt Cobain puts make-up on his face and wears a dress. He keeps the dress on for several days, until he takes it off. But my problem is with the make-up–or should I say “make-believe”. After discussing this with my mother, who sells facial products for Clinique and is studying to become a nurse, I question whether Kurt, whose eyelids were naturally dark from his days fighting in Iraq, would have used Estee Lauder’s new Illusionist Maximum Curling Mascara No. 2 when Clinique’s Lash XL is the healthier and more affordable alternative. I know you probably think all mascara is the same, Van Sant, but people say all your films are the same too. Hey: “How do you like apples?” You see, I have never seen that film.

And while I am impressed you were able to unearth previously unreleased Cobain material (I had heard covers of “Venus in Furs” but never Cobain’s original), I am surprised by the readiness with which you downplayed the creative roles of Mike Grohl and Krist Novoselic. As rock writer Simon Rich once noted, Novoselic was the true brains behind Nirvana. Novoselic deserves more than the royalties here, Van Sant–he deserves a lengthy scene of lovemaking with Grohl. Apparently you gave this scene to him; well that’s just great.

Lastly, Van Sant, if Cobain really died in his greenhouse, why was everyone so blue? Recent evidence on my blog suggests Cobain died in his bluehouse.

I await your reply.


Nirvana MIDI Download #1: “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
Nirvana MIDI Download #2: “Sliver”

Riff Raff thanks Pete L’Official for fact-checking.

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