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Author Topic: Nirvana's "Polly"
snopes
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Comment: I've been hearing about this a lot lately, and I apologize if
this is old. The apparent "official" explanation for the song Polly by
Nirvana:

"Polly" is based on an actual incident which occurred in Tacoma in June of
1987. A Fourteen-year-old girl returning from a punk show at the Community
World Theater was kidnapped by a man named Gerald Friend (no relation to
Lonn), who hung the girl upside down from a pulley attached to the ceiling
of his mobile home and raped and tortured her with a leather whip, a
razor, hot wax, and a blowtorch. She later escaped from his car when he
stopped for gas. Friend was later arrested and eventually convicted and
will likely spend the rest of his life in jail. Kurt's only embellishment
to the story was the hint that the woman got away by fooling the rapist
into thinking she enjoyed what he was doing to her.

I've looked high and low to find any newstories in archives to verify
this, but all I could find was links to Nirvana song explanations and
such, which leads me to believe this backstory was fabricated by someone a
long time ago.

Did this really happen?

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Ulkomaalainen
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I agree with the commenter. Googling for "gerald friend tacoma -polly" yields only three very random results. Only googling for "gerald friend tacoma" gives an interesting insight in languages though, but only around 70 hits as well, all of which, after a quick check, were worded like the mentioned text, or looked like a literal translation.

Since the incident should have taken place in 1987 it would be perfectly plausible that it did not get on the net simply for no net existing at that time. OTOH, such a very horrid crime surely would find its way into some documentary pages.

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Movie characters never make typing mistakes.

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Ovalescent
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Okay, I poked around using "nirvana polly tacoma story" and finally found someone mentioning Polly "Klaus", which was probably supposed to be Polly Klass - does that ring a bell?

However, Polly Klass was murdered in 1993, and "Nevermind" was released in 1991, so that rules out that possibility. Could it be that the song just grew in popularity after the murder, and that people retroactively attributed it to the case?

The wikipedia article thinks it might be inspired by a song called "Pretty polly" that dates back to the 1800s.

Everything else I've found is basically a regurgitation of the wikipedia article's blurb about the tacoma incident. Given that the various instances I found were near perfect copies of that, and none mention a last name or further details, I'm guessing it's made-up.

A few stories spice it up by saying it happened at the Community World Theater, which is a real location in Tacoma, but I think that's just to lend false legitimacy to the story.

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"You're all suffering from trauma because it was so boring in the womb!"

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Will
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There's another possible explanation. In the liner notes for "Incesticide" Kurt Cobain mentions being disgusted that a couple of 'fans' raped a girl while singing the lyrics to "Polly".

Maybe that's how the story got started?

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candycane from strangers
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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If you don't mind, what exactly (or close to exactly) does he say, Will? I don't have that album and googling did nothing for me. If you don't have it around no biggie [Smile] .

--------------------
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A: "You contributed to the deliquency of a minor in drag!"
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SchmooPie
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quote:
Originally posted by candy from Ron Mexico:
If you don't mind, what exactly (or close to exactly) does he say, Will? I don't have that album and googling did nothing for me. If you don't have it around no biggie [Smile] .

A Google search for 'Incesticide liner notes' found this;
Incesticide liner notes

quote:
Last year, a girl was raped by two wastes of sperm and eggs while they sang the lyrics to our song "Polly." I have a hard time carrying on knowing there are plankton like that in our audience. Sorry to be so anally P.C. but that's the way I feel.
Except for the typos it matches my copy of the album.

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- C. G. Jung

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candycane from strangers
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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Thanks, SchmooPie. I wonder where he got the information. Even if 2 guys wrote him a letter that doesn't necessarily mean it happened.

--------------------
Me: "He's 19? Uh oh, I bought him a beer."
A: "You contributed to the deliquency of a minor in drag!"
"Sweet spell check: keeping drunks off the radar since 1995."- IND
God Re-Animate Green Pork Bush

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The Rubber Chicken
The First USA Noel


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I looked it up in The Crime Library (www.crimelibrary.com) and couldn't find anything. There was the 1977 case of Carol Smith who was kidnapped by a California couple as a sex slave that vaguely resembles the above case, but only vaguely. Beyond that, I didn't see much.

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Ramblin' Dave, quietly making noise
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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I remember seeing a blurb about that liner note mentioned in a profile of Kurt right after he killed himself. That was the first thing that came to mind when I read the OP, and it made me think the story may have grown out of that.

--------------------
Another lifetime I'd have fallen in love with you
Swept away by my feelings, ashamed and confused
But just now it's enough to be walking with you
Let the mystery play as it will! -Lui Collins

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Hazed
We Three Blings


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Funny, I always heard the song was about the rape of a mentally retarded girl. [Confused]
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Jack Dylan
Deck the Malls


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Where did you get the mentally retarded part from? Nothing in the lyrics indicated that to me, but I only looked them up just now.

--------------------
Eppis: Do you know why being a revolutionary doesn't work in this country? Being a revolutionary in America is like being a spoil sport at an orgy. All these goodies being passed around and you feel like a shit when you say no.

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Ramblin' Dave, quietly making noise
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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quote:
Originally posted by Jack Dylan:
Where did you get the mentally retarded part from? Nothing in the lyrics indicated that to me, but I only looked them up just now.

There was a notorious gang rape of a retarded girl here in the States (Glen Ridge, New Jersey, to be exact) not long before Nirvana hit it big. That probably wasn't the inspiration for the song, but it could be why some people make that association.

--------------------
Another lifetime I'd have fallen in love with you
Swept away by my feelings, ashamed and confused
But just now it's enough to be walking with you
Let the mystery play as it will! -Lui Collins

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gardenmarie
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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Yes, it really happened.

http://infoweb.newsbank.com/iw-search/we/InfoWeb?p_action=doc&p_docid=0EB048A5859F88E7&p_docnum=15&p_queryname=2&p_product=NewsBank&p_theme=aggregated4&p_nbid=I54U4CHKMTEzNjgzMDk5O C4zNzA4NzE6MTo3OnJmLTY3MjA

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gardenmarie
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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Just thought about it - I should probably post the article text as well lol

GUILTY VERDICT IN RAPE CASE
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
August 19, 1987
Author: The Associated Press
Estimated printed pages: 1

Gerald Arthur Friend was convicted yesterday in Pierce County Superior Court of the kidnapping and torture-rape of a 14-year-old girl.

Prosecutor Tom Stratton said he would recommend an exceptionally long sentence for Friend, 49 (age), who was convicted in a similar attack 27 years ago. In the latest case, Friend was charged with first-degree kidnapping and first-degree rape in the attack that occurred over several hours late June 5 and early June 6.

Officials said the victim was a runaway who accepted a ride from Friend near the Tacoma Dome after she attended a rock concert in the area. When the girl tried to get out of the car, authorities said, she was handcuffed and abducted at knife-point to Friend's mobile home.

The victim testified last week that Friend tortured and repeatedly raped her with several objects in his mobile home. She said he blindfolded her and ran a propane torch close to her skin. She eventually escaped.
Memo: Update
Edition: FINAL
Section: News
Page: D1

Index Terms: ASSAULT SEX CRIME AGE COURT VERDICT
Dateline: TACOMA
Copyright (c) 1987, 2000 Seattle Post-Intelligencer (http://seattlep-i.com). All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Record Number: 8701220169

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candycane from strangers
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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gardenmarie, no one was saying that didn't happen, we're discussing whether this was the inspiration for the song.

--------------------
Me: "He's 19? Uh oh, I bought him a beer."
A: "You contributed to the deliquency of a minor in drag!"
"Sweet spell check: keeping drunks off the radar since 1995."- IND
God Re-Animate Green Pork Bush

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gardenmarie
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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quote:
I've looked high and low to find any newstories in archives to verify
this, but all I could find was links to Nirvana song explanations and
such, which leads me to believe this backstory was fabricated by someone a
long time ago.

Did this really happen?

Sounds like the valitity of what happened was in question to me - also there were plenty of people above who had checked for news articles and crime reports and couldn't find it.
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candycane from strangers
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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I guess I got more caught up in the ensuing discussion, my apologies.

--------------------
Me: "He's 19? Uh oh, I bought him a beer."
A: "You contributed to the deliquency of a minor in drag!"
"Sweet spell check: keeping drunks off the radar since 1995."- IND
God Re-Animate Green Pork Bush

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