"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)
In January, after learning of the existence of “The Legend of Koizumi” manga series, in which a cast of world leaders, including George Bush, the Pope, and the former prime minister of Japan Koizumi Junichiro, battle it out for world domination via the game of mahjong, I beseeched the Seven Lucky Gods for an English translation.
Today, reader Benkun informed me that, through the grace of scanlators XLG and Red Hawk, my prayers have been answered. Chapter 1 of “The Legend of Koizumi,” in which a truly demonic George Bush tangles with the awesome Koizumi, is now available. It is as deliciously crazy and satisfying as I ever could have hoped it would be.
You have to jump through a couple of hoops — you will need to download an 11 megabyte zip file that, once unzipped, resolves into 30 separate jpegs. And it is, I suppose, technically speaking, a copyright violation, although there are no authorized English translations, as yet, that one might be infringing upon.
But really, if enough people download the Koizumi scanlation and start talking it up, maybe an authorized version will eventually emerge. Maybe even a TV version, fit for the Cartoon Channel! There’s a market to be tapped here, people! Are you listening?
Although I guess maybe the politics might have to be dumbed down for an American audience. In Chapter 1, after George Bush lures a naive young Japanese legislator up to his hotel room, asking for some “help” in learning the game of mahjong, he, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleeza Rice gang up on the poor man, and, after trouncing him, strip him naked and tie him to a chair in a scene that is more than a little reminiscent of pictures from Abu Ghraib. “The Legend of Koizumi” isn’t all fun and games.
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)