Nineteen Ninety-Four

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On the weekend, when looking back to the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death, someone who was 19 at the time cried thinking about that day. Nobody knew he was dead until the 8th, but hindsight blurs all kinds of technicalities of history, and watching the April 5th, 1994 Blind Mellon performance on David Letterman made it seem like Shannon Hoon already knew, since he was about as sad as a person who lost a dear friend would be. (But he was pretty much almost always that sad, which just makes us all sadder thinking about his own separate tragedy shortly to come.)

I wasn’t quite old enough to have been deeply touched by this genre of music to mourn deeply over the loss of Kurt Cobain. I was also facing my own personal struggles of near-death experiences that brought deeper medical problems to light. Nineteen ninety-four was a heavy year. April of 1994 was a loaded month.

On the weekend, a generation and then some mourned the day the music died (in a much bloodier fashion than Buddy, Richie, and Bopper) and now today the entire world mourns – or should be mourning – the day the Tutsi died, or at least the launch of the Rwandan genocide that killed hundreds of thousands of people in an ethnically divided civil war with the Hutu leaders intent on eradicating the population not like them.

Retrospect and anniversaries are very uncomfortable when milestones are reached, whether it’s bad memories revisited, our own aging, the dwindling population of living survivors, or just the length of time that’s passed with such little progress since. It’s like there was a lot of hope before, which was lost when something tragic happened…and since, there’s been nothing but numb apathy as we carry on. No lessons have been learned but to blindly go forward, as the only escape from tragedy is to keep going and forget about it, until anniversaries come around and bring us back to how we can most accurately recreate our pain of that moment. And to dwell in our own pain, of how different we are from our rose-coloured reflection of younger years, yet how much the same the world at large continues to be.

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