For Our Consideration: Remembering Chris Cornell, a rock star in an age of anti-stardom

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Figuring out what was “cool” in the ’90s was exhausting. For anyone who cared about such things—i.e. self-conscious teens whose fragile identities were defined by what they liked—it was practically a full-time job keeping track of what it was universally okay to be into, what outliers you could safely adopt to cultivate an air of mystique, and what seemed cool but everybody who was actually cool innately understood to be fucking lame.

For example, Nirvana was generally agreed upon as a base-level cool; you weren’t going to impress anyone (even the jocks dug Nirvana), but you certainly weren’t going to be mocked for it. If you were, say, really into Sonic Youth, it conferred upon you an ineffable aura of deep-cut cool. Meanwhile, I will forever remember my poor high-school classmate who showed up in his crisp, new, Sam Goody-purchased Gin Blossoms shirt approximately two …