Celebrity, Skinned

And when I get to heaven, God will be my designated driver: Courtney Love
Virgin Records

Report of Los Angeles County Coroner's Department

July 14, 2004

Decedent: Love Michelle Harrison, a.k.a. Courtney Love

Date of Birth: July 9, 1964

DOD: July 14, 2004

Cause of death: Myocardial infarction occasioned by ingestion of hydrocodone (1.1 mcg/g), carisoprodol (50.8 mcg/g), meprobamate (18.1 mcg/g), morphine (positive test using less than 100 mg/g)

GASTRIC: 124 grams submitted for analysis

Hydrocodone--5.6 milligrams in total specimen submitted Carisoprodol--2374 milligrams in total specimen submitted Morphine--None detected

URINE: 5-Monoacetylmorphine--Positive


Decedent was found on the evening of July 14 in a Chateau Marmont suite rented by Salma Hayek. Ms. Hayek had lent the room to Love Michelle Harrison because of a request from Harrison's boyfriend to "let her get some things straight." Hotel waitstaff reported that the decedent was being loud and boisterous, alternating between sobs and aggressive rants, while watching an MTV Cribs episode featuring the singer-songwriter Pink and reading her own premature obituary in the Seattle weekly The Stranger.

Reports indicate that at 10:43 p.m. the decedent "verbally attacked and sexually assaulted," or vice versa, Leandro C. Perez, a home deliverer of Zone Meals. When Mr. Perez insisted that salmon spread was not a carb, the decedent struck him with the metal lid that covered her Zone dinner and likened him to "that Foo Fighter fuck." The decedent then bewildered Mr. Perez by telling him that she could "get [him] a meeting with Cameron Crowe if he wanted it" and then cupped his genitals in what he described as a "needy" fashion. Mr. Perez left and reported the cupping to the desk clerk.

Decedent was then discovered at 11:47 p.m. by daughter Frances Bean Cobain and her boyfriend (no name given). Decedent was sprawled on the bathroom floor near a Moleskine Notebook in which were drawings and notations describing "next makeover: me as ironic lizzy mc guire--fuck the stevie nicks shit the GIRLY GIRL INSIDE IS THE REAL ME."

Since Love Michelle Harrison's status as either suicide or homicide is as yet undetermined, Coroner's Office chose as center of its investigation the recent Courtney Love compact disc entitled America's Sweetheart (Virgin Records). On the jacket cover the decedent is portrayed as an angel with an unblemished complexion except for a mass of thrush on the upper third of her right thigh. (Autopsy found this to be consonant with the decedent's actual skin.)

Upon a first listening, the psychic state of America's Sweetheart would seem to connote deep distress, trauma, and helplessness. Examples: In the song "Mono," "I'm so tired of this." In the song "Hold on to Me," "Now he brings me down/Down to the ground/I never will get out/I never will get out." In the song "Sunset Strip," "And I know that I won't see tomorrow."

There are indications of neural and motor-function damage through adrenal overstimulation: In the song "Zeplin Song," "Why does he rain on my parade/Why does the song remain the same/I can't remember my own name." The decedent would seem to name her suicide weapon of choice very clearly: In the song "All the Drugs," "With all all of my money/With all all of my love/With all all of my money/Doesn't feel as good/As the drugs." The decedent's song "Life Despite God" ends with this sad plaint: "All my love's in vain/I cannot, cannot find a vein."

In short, what America's Sweetheart would seem to indicate upon a first listening is the self-pity and grand mythomania of the long-term drug addict. Yet a closer analysis suggests a different warring force in the subject: an all-encompassing narcissism. The decedent seemed, upon the time of recording, unable to distinguish the difference between herself and the world she inhabits, a sign of narcissism reaching the tipping point of psychosis (and perhaps an explanation for the many phials of Haldol stored in the Chateau Marmont bathroom, prescribed to one "Curtney Cobane.")

For example: In a song entitled "But Julian, I'm a Little Older than You" (about which my colleague has written "It's about her flirtation with a Stroke"--indeed!), the decedent begins by making a sexual entreaty to "Julian," encouraging him to overcome his anxieties about their age difference and have sex with her immediately. In short order, however, the song is about the decedent's place in the rock 'n' roll canon: "I'm overrated, desecrated/Still somehow illuminated..." Similarly, in the song "Mono," the decedent begins with a Joan Jett-like exhortation: "Give us brilliant boys that we wanna fuck/Full of ecstasy, hard drugs, and bad luck."

Yet very quickly she segues into "Oh God you owe me one more song/So I can prove to you/That I'm so much better than him." There would seem to be no place, experience, or idea that does not eventually become the decedent, her unmet needs, and her dreams of glory.

The extremity of the decedent's narcissism, her infantile unwillingness to accept the presence of that which is Not-Herself inside her psychic space, suggests an inability to ideate suicide. The homicide scenario leaves us with few leads, though Homicide Division's interviews with Evan Dando, Trent Reznor, and John Carpenter suggest some plausible suspects.

In brief: History may note that the lyrics from the decedent's America's Sweetheart are extremely similar, in their rapt and hostile self-absorption, to the prison diaries of the recently deceased Saddam Hussein. In both cases, conspiracy theories as to the causes of death will no doubt flourish, not only because the decedents were too solipsistic to kill themselves, but because the number of those who had motive to kill is so high.

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