"Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)
Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)
I was invited to debate the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue on “Scarborough Country” tonight, and even though I’m leaving to spend Easter weekend with my family, I couldn’t resist (they pre-taped for Thursday night).
Pre-taping is odd; I have no idea how the segment will turn out. All I can tell you is that for a very long period of time, Joe stepped out of the middle and let Bill and me swing away. I only had to ask him not to yell at me once, I think.
We talked for almost 40 minutes, so they’ll have to trim it down to fit the show. We mostly disagreed, as you’d expect, but we reached a tiny bit of agreement in the end. Donohue said he thought the “South Park” episode this week in which Jesus returns as a ninja and cuts Donohue in half was “hilarious,” and he disagrees with conservatives who’ve told him to sue Comedy Central. (Maybe Jesus spending last weekend praying for Donohue to be a bit more open-minded paid off?)
We found no such common ground on chocolate Jesus. They both tried to depict recent books by atheists and skeptics and scientists as a new assault on Christianity, but I said that at Salon we’ve put them into our popular series “Atoms and Eden: Conversations about Science and Faith,” and that some of this wave of books are by scientists who’ve found that their work deepened their Christianity, rather than challenged it. I got to defend my girl Michelle Goldberg, whose “Kingdom Coming” wasn’t a big Scarborough favorite, by reminding them — I had to do this over and over — that Goldberg and “American Fascists” author Chris Hedges aren’t targeting all Christians, just the extremists who are trying to turn this into a Christian nation. Donohue also shared that he got support for his jihad against chocolate Jesus from a conservative Muslim, and I suggested that he think about that very carefully. Aren’t we trying to fight fundamentalist Islam, the kind that wants to take our freedoms away? Anyway, it was exciting. We’ll see if it makes good TV.
And with that the blog closes its doors so we can put up the Easter baskets and make sure everyone has a chocolate bunny or Jesus. Have a great weekend, everyone, and I’ll see you Monday.
Joan Walsh is Salon's editor at large and the author of "What's the Matter With White People: Finding Our Way in the Next America."More Joan Walsh.
Heatmiser publicity shot (L-R: Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson, Neil Gust, Elliott Smith) (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott and JJ Gonson (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
"Stray" 7-inch, Cavity Search Records (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott's Hampshire College ID photo, 1987
Elliott with "Le Domino," the guitar he used on "Roman Candle" (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Full "Roman Candle" record cover (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott goofing off in Portland (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Heatmiser (L-R: Elliott Smith, Neil Gust, Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson)(courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
The Greenhouse Sleeve -- Cassette sleeve from Murder of Crows release, 1988, with first appearance of Condor Avenue (photo courtesy of Glynnis Fawkes)