PHOTO: Author Ian Halpern, left, Courtney Love's father, Hank Harrison,
and writer Max Wallace. -- Alex Urosevic, Toronto Sun
Legal threats force cancellation of presentation on Cobain death
MONTREAL (CP) -- A show of slides and evidence surrounding the death of Kurt Cobain was cancelled by the promoter after Courtney Love's law firm threatened to sue.
And two men -- one of them the father of Melissa Auf der Maur, bassist for Love's band Hole, -- were ejected from the auditorium by bouncers after they tried to denounce the proceedings to the about 80 people in the audience.
The show, held Thursday night, was to have been the fourth date in a four-city tour for Who Killed Kurt Cobain, a multimedia presentation by Love's father, Hank Harrison.
Harrison is working on a book that raises questions about Cobain's death as are two Montreal journalists, Ian Halperin and Max Wallace, who were slated to open the evening.
Cobain, leader of the grunge band Nirvana, was found dead in his Seattle-area home in April 1994. His death by shotgun was ruled a sucide.
After shows in Hamilton and London, promoter Victor Shiffman received a letter from the New York law firm Gendler, Codikow and Carroll threatening to sue him on Love's behalf if the tour continued. Lawyer Jack Palladino, also retained by Love, interrupted Monday's presentation at the Opera House in Toronto.
While there was no legal injunction preventing him from staging the Montreal show, Shiffman said, "the pressure was too much."
Halperin, Wallace and Harrison each spoke in turn as the cancellation was announced, with Halperin saying, "I've been harassed, I've been followed -- I'm not backing off this. This story goes further."
All three men denied they were accusing Love of involvement in a murder, but said they wanted to see the case reopened. Harrison said he would sue the city of Seattle and the state of Washington to have the case reopened.
Nevermind the Truth, Here's the Cobain Conspiracy
-- If it hasn't happened already, the death of Kurt Cobain has
surely entered the realm of Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and Elvis
That is to say the realm of the bizarre, cultish and nihilistic. Nothing brought this point home in a more blunt manner than a three-hour amateur freak show Tuesday at the Opera House billed as a "multimedia lecture surrounding the death of Kurt Cobain," former lead singer of now-defunct Seattle grunge gods Nirvana.
Cobain, of course, was found April 8, 1994 dead in his Seattle home of a 20-gauge gunshot wound to the head - actually the throat - at the age of 27. There was also a suicide note found near Cobain's body. Suicide, right? Open and shut case, right?
The evening was a like a high school field trip gone awry as about 200 teeny boppers gathered round the stage to hear Ian Halperin and Max Wallace, two investigative journalists, tell them their hero might have have been offed rather than taking his own life and, not only that, Courtney Love, Cobain's widow, might have had a motive to see her hubby knocked off.
They also got to see Hank Harrison, Love's estranged father, a rotund, aging Deadhead who waddled on stage to show baby pictures of Courtney on a giant video screen, to read her poetry and to clear his name.
Apparently, every time Harrison extends an olive branch to Love, she comes up with another "vile putdown," as he puts it. So, the eclectic Harrison - an author of several books about everything from the Grateful Dead to archaeological digs in Ireland - "eventually got pissed off and that's why I started doing these lectures. I'm just a writer trying to protect what's left of his career." But he still wants his daughter to take a polygraph regarding Cobain's death.
The logistics of the "multimedia" presentation were an unmitigated disaster. The sound on the audio and video clips ranged from primitive to completely unintelligible. The slides were often out of focus, out of sequence and dated. Even the casual Nirvana fan felt a yearning for something more. Anything.
The two deadly earnest journalists engaged in the rankest speculation, but their central point - that the investigation was botched by the Seattle police - seems valid. Wallace and Halperin argue that Cobain was, in fact, in the process of leaving Love when he killed himself. Thus, they argue, Love might have wanted Cobain dead in order to inherit the new-found pop music millions Nirvana was hauling in.
Then there's the theory that the drug-addled male nanny might have wanted to kill Cobain to show his love for Love. Or maybe it was El Duce, the bar-brawling, crazed leader of "porn-metal" band The Mentors, who was allegedly offered $50,000 by Love to whack Cobain.
OK. And maybe there was a second gunman on the grassy knoll behind the Texas Book Depository.
The point is there is no point. If it was a suicide, it's done. If it was murder and the police did botch the investigation, they won't be in a hurry to admit it, especially given the worldwide attention of the case.
Meanwhile, Halperin and Wallace are trying to jump through legal hoops to get their book on the case published so they can start hearing the cash registers sing.
Then there's Tom Grant, the private investigator hired by Love to get to the bottom of the case of Cobain's disapperance from drug rehab a week before his death. Grant, who searched Cobain's Seattle home with the singer's best friend Dylan Carlson, came up empty even though the lifeless body of Cobain was in the room above the garage. Some investigator.
The most bizarre part of an already surreal evening came when Jack Paladino, a slick-talking lawyer/private investigator hired by Love's lawyers, took the stage to discredit the two young reporters' work as shoddy and their motive as simple greed.
It was like a Jekyll and Hyde routine hitting vaudeville as Wallace shrugged his shoulders, "I'm not going to stand here and deny we're making money on Kurt's death," while his partner, an exasperated Halperin, pleaded with Paladino and the audience, "if we can prevent one more copycat suicide, wouldn't it be worth it to re-open the investigation? One life saved?"
Everyone was covering his own ass on this night: Paladino protected Love's interests; the young muckrakers - despite not having raked enough - hyped their forthcoming book and ol' Hank Harrison tried to put a human face on the ogre his daughter portrays in the media.
Too bad nobody covered the asses of the audience members, who were screwed for $12.50.
The Cobain Conspiracy
Who killed Kurt Cobain?
Maybe Courtney Love, her father Hank Harrison suggested last night during an oddball speaking engagement at the Opera House.
Harrison, author of several books, including a Grateful Dead bio, joined Montreal journalists Ian Halpern and Max Wallace in a "multi-media" presentation that tried to cast doubt on whether the Nirvana leader's April 1994 death was actually a suicide, as officially ruled by Seattle coroners.
Using a crude slide and video show, Halpern and Wallace previewed their book, Love & Death: The Story Of Kurt & Courtney, which claims there may have been a conspiracy behind Cobain's death involving his widow.
Harrison didn't point a finger directly at Love. But shares the belief that the Hole singer had a motive, there is evidence of foul play, and the case should be re-opened.
"This is about Kurt Cobain, not Courtney," Harrison said at the beginning of his lecture for the audience of about 200. "When I was with Greenpeace, it was about the whales."
Harrison withstood some heckling and rambled at length about his relationship with his estranged daughter.
Harrison also defended himself against nasty comments Love has made about him in the media. He claimed he's been forced into the public eye to clear his name.
"Kurt Cobain was a Zen master," was one of his more bizarre comments. "The fact that he didn't know it was so Zen. And Zen masters don't kill themselves unless they're lighting themselves on fire in Vietnam to protest the war."
Halpern and Wallace didn't back down during their portion of the presentation, in spite of the presence of a man who identified himself as Love's lawyer, Jack Palladino.
Going on evidence gathered in interviews, the pair believe Cobain wanted to divorce Love near the time of his death. She was looking for "a vicious divorce lawyer" to help crush a prenuptial agreement she'd reportedly signed that would keep their respective fortunes separate in the event of divorce.
Halpern and Wallace showed videotaped interviews with the coroner, Dr. Nikolas Hartshorne, and private investigator Tom Grant, whom Love hired to track Cobain down when he went missing from an L.A. drug rehab centre the week before his body was found in his Seattle home.
Hartshorne admitted he and Love were old friends, a conflict of interest in the case, according to the journalists.
Grant, a reputable ex-cop, said he has nothing to gain from going against Love, but believes there was foul play.(LIE)
Halpern and Wallace revealed that there were no fingerprints found on the shotgun found with Cobain's body, and an autopsy ruled the singer had a "double-dose" of heroin in his system.
They said Cobain's suicide letter was actually a retirement letter, and that the suicide portion is in someone else's handwriting.(LIE)
Amid a flurry of heckles, they revealed credit card statements showing someone used Cobain's credit card after he died. They didn't mention whether or not the card was in the wallet found next to Cobain's body.
"A proper investigation would put an end to the hundreds of copycat suicides that have followed Cobain's death," Halpern said, defending his cause.
Added Wallace: "It's in Courtney's best interest to clear her name."
Montreal Authors Allege Cobain was Slain
PRESS MONTREAL -- Seattle police may be ready to file
murder-conspiracy charges in the death of Kurt Cobain, says the
co-author of a coming book on the grunge rocker.
But police in the West Coast city say there's nothing new in Cobain's death, which was ruled a suicide by authorities.
Ian Halperin and Max Wallace, both Montreal journalists, have completed a book on Cobain that includes allegations the rocker's death was murder, not suicide. They say they have a U.S. publisher but Halperin wouldn't reveal the name.
Seattle police spokesman Sean O'Donnell said yesterday there was nothing new in the Cobain case. "Nothing to indicate it's other than a suicide," O'Donnell said.
Cobain's death, which sparked copy-cat suicides among his fans, was thoroughly investigated, O'Donnell said, but the department would be willing to consider credible new information.
Cobain, 27-year-old lead singer for Nirvana, was found dead in his Seattle home April 8, 1994. He was believed to have shot himself.
Halperin claims Seattle police sources have indicated charges could be filed soon.
Halperin claims his book will give a good idea of who killed Cobain. Halperin began to look into the case after hearing rumors he was murdered.
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