It has happened more in recent months than in years past.
I wake up in the morning, I take the precursory five minutes to get my bearings as I stare longingly into the bedroom curtains, and then I pick up my cell phone to see what sort of major news developments have filled my notifications since I decided to lay my head down on a pillow.
I almost half-heartedly expect to wake up these days to the sudden arrival of nuclear war.
And more often than not, I’m greeted with the news that somebody famous that I had absolutely no connection to or interest in has passed away.
Now most of the time this doesn’t bother me – it’s the cycle of life, and except for David Bowie and Prince, there hasn’t been anybody of fame that has died that has caught me off guard.
But this morning, staring at the words in the dropdown notification, I felt like I was hit by a truck.
With Chris Cornell – the front man of seminal grunge rock band Soundgarden – a piece of my youth and, by extension, my soul, had died.
To more accurately explain why Cornell was important to me, one must understand the contribution that Cornell made to music in general, and how said contribution helped shape a radical change in musical direction for millions of American youth.
Nirvana and Kurt Cobain might get all the credit for creating the grunge movement, but those early Seattle bands that launched their unflinching, bold and dirty sound into the consciousness of mainstream American teens can’t be ignored, and Cornell was a major part of that group.
I still remember sitting there in my parents’ living room, waiting for school to start, when the video for “Hunger Strike” came on MTV – the dark, almost morbid heaviness flowing through the speakers of that Sony Trinitron like water overflowing from the bathtub.
This was a song on an album of Seattle friends – a blending of Cornell with the lion’s share of Pearl Jam, including a relatively new singer at the time named Eddie Vedder.
Cornell reappeared again when Soundgarden burst onto the scene in March of 1994. A month later, Cobain would commit suicide and send shockwaves through the world and leave an entire subset of American youth without one of the seminal voices that had given them hope when none seemed to exist.
As astute comic and social critic Bill Burr pointed out Thursday morning on his podcast, the music of Chris Cornell, some of which was recorded 25 years ago, has held up remarkably well in the time that has passed since it was considered new.
While I complain that the music that used to make me feel rebellious as a child is now appearing on classic rock rotations, there’s also a bit of joy there as well – knowing that I got to live through something, and in a sense, be a part of something, that in a sense has been immortalized.
And right now, I’m kicking myself that I missed the chance to see Temple of the Dog when they played a pair of shows recently in San Francisco because I forgot that nothing in life is guaranteed.
A run through the list of people of that era that are no longer living, most of whom died after their demons got the best of them, with the “Gentlemen of the Thread” – Mark Condit, Chris Teicheira and Eric Wohle – reaffirmed that the pioneers of grunge music in the early 1990s are almost completely gone.
Kurt Cobain. Layne Staley. Shannon Hoon. Scott Weiland. And now Chris Cornell.
Two suicides and three drug overdoses.
I know that I’m no longer a child anymore, and these stories – and these people – are going to pass away in the coming decades.
But sometimes the legacy of the person and the changes they brought to the world with their vision and their talents creates a lasting impact in a small-town kid searching for an identity and coming to terms with themselves.
I didn’t think I would find myself humming “Say Hello 2 Heaven” all day when I went to bed last night, but right now it’s the only thing that’s running through my mind.
Hello swollen Stanislaus
River – nice to see you again
It’s been months since the swollen Tuolumne River threatened to flood portions of low-lying Modesto.
And now the lower Stanislaus River, which benefitted from additional storage capacity at New Melones Reservoir when massive amounts of water began flowing in earlier this year, is now running high.
And if you’re a golfer in Ripon, this means that the additional water will likely impact you.
For almost a week now the Jack Tone Golf Course has been taking on water and it’s not expected to drop for some time now that warm temperatures are once again increasing the snow melt in the High Sierra and sending even more water cascading down into the reservoir below.
For Jack Tone Golf Course General Manager Aaron Heether and the Buzzini Family – who designed and built the course on land owned by the City of Ripon – it’s a very costly natural occurrence which will shutter more than half of the course for close to six months while the work necessary to rehab the affected portions are hashed out.
But it’s not necessarily all bad.
This week a shipment of floating range balls arrived so that the course can open the driving range once again – giving die-hard golfers the chance to hit off a natural grass tee box once again.
Only this time there’s the added benefit of driving golf balls into the water, which shouldn’t be underestimated for it’s fun factor.
I’m not quite sure of the legality of what I’m about to disclose, but on a yearly houseboat trip in my 20s one of the guys used to drag an inner tube behind the boat on the last day across Shasta Lake, roll out a rug on the top of the boat’s second story, and try and land balls within it. He would bring hundreds with him and never brought any home.
So when California’s drought undoubtedly returns and the water in the state’s largest reservoir drops to dangerously low levels again, don’t be afraid to don a mask and a snorkel and go looking for the fruits of his labor.
There’s a Titleist or two down there somewhere.
And if you’re not willing to do that much work, just drive out to Ripon and get the same effect.
The splash is worth it. Trust me.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.