Kurt Cobain hometown is ‘sick of the meth heads and thieves’


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The town of Aberdeen, Wash., has always had something of a love-hate thing with graffiti.

One of the backwater harbor town’s major claims to fame is that Kurt Cobain, the late and still-beloved purveyor of adolescent alienation from the rock group Nirvana, got arrested in 1985 for penning graffiti on the wall of a local bank.

‘Ain’T goT no how waTchamacalliT,’ it said.

Cobain once famously sported on his guitar a sticker from the punk band Feederz that said: ‘Vandalism: As beautiful as a rock in a cop’s face.’


These days, the local bowling alley in Aberdeen has been plagued with a new generation of graffiti. Much of it seems much less imaginative than Cobain’s: gang symbols, or tributes to the hip-hop duo Insane Clown Posse.

Between painting over the writing and coping with a long spate of thefts, Rainier Lanes owner Rob Shaver was becoming impatient. Last week, ‘impatient’ turned to ‘fed up,’ when he discovered that a pair of plastic rain spouts had been stolen from the exterior of the building.

He decided to pen some graffiti of his own, on the hand-lettered reader board that stands outside the bowling alley: ‘I’m sick of the meth heads and thieves in our town,’ it said.

The reaction was instant. ‘Thank you for the courage to put that up on your sign,’ said one city resident, according to the Aberdeen Daily World. ‘Finally, somebody is saying what they think about the problem,’ said another. ‘We saw your sign and support you.’

Rainier Lanes front desk manager Steve Wood said Aberdeen isn’t the small-town place it was (and that presumably includes the days when Cobain and Nirvana co-founder Krist Novoselic were skulking around town as teenagers).

‘Aberdeen has a real bad meth problem,’ Wood told The Times. ‘About 10 years ago, this town used to be real nice, and drugs have just taken it to making it not a good town anymore.’


Shaver told the Daily World he battles people spitting on his bowling alley and urinating on his trash bin, ‘and when I tell them it’s not OK, they threaten me.’

KIRO television talked to several townspeople who agree. ‘I own a business and I know how he feels -- I got broken into,’ Joe Veloni said.

The Aberdeen Police Department tracked an 11% increase in serious felony crime during 2010, with the biggest component being an increase in thefts. The local drug task force said it identified 15 major drug trafficking organizations working around the Grays Harbor region that year.

The outpouring of support for last week’s billboard prompted a new sign this week. ‘Thank you for all of the positive comments,’ it says.

Why did the rain spouts get stolen, though? One would presume that few people would be in that much of a hurry to get the rain off their roofs in the perennially gloomy town.

‘I don’t know,’ Wood said. ‘We’ve been trying to figure that out.’



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--Kim Murphy in Seattle

Photo Credit: Rainier Lanes in Aberdeen, Wash.