"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)
Kentucky GOP Senate nominee Rand Paul is squirming under the bright lights of national media attention since he toppled Mitch McConnell’s handpicked candidate Trey Grayson Tuesday night. On Wednesday, an interview he gave to the Louisville Courier-Journal, in which he seemed to say he would have opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, hit the Internet and cable television. Wednesday night MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow interviewed him and tried to get him to clarify his remarks, and Paul tried to talk his way out of siding with the terrible folks who wouldn’t let black students sit at those Southern lunch counters in 1960.
But Paul basically sided with the terrible folks. The Tea Party hero said he thought the Civil Rights Act was fine when it came to desegregating public institutions, but not private businesses. He called the issue of desegregating lunch counters “obscure,” and implied the First Amendment gave business owners the right to be racist.
You’ve got to watch the whole interview. At the end, Paul seemed to understand that he’s going to be explaining his benighted civil rights views for a long, long time – but he seemed to blame Maddow. “You bring up something that is really not an issue…a red herring, it’s a political ploy…and that’s the way it will be used,” he complained at the end of the interview. Whether the Civil Rights Act should have applied to private businesses – “not really an issue,” says Tea Party hero Rand Paul.
It’s going to become increasingly clear that the Tea Party movement wants to revoke the Great Society, the New Deal and the laws that were the result of the civil rights movement. Paul may be right that his views are “not really an issue” with his Tea Party supporters, although I have to think some of them won’t enjoy watching him look like a slippery politician as he fails, over and over, to answer Maddow’s questions directly. It’s a long way to November, but I’d be pretty happy to be Kentucky Democrat Jack Conway right about now.
Here’s the interview. Don’t watch if you can’t stand to see a politician sweat.
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)