"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)
It’s been the pop culture equivalent of the buildup to Hurricane Irene. If you follow entertainment news, you know what I’m talking about. Are Demi and Ashton splitting up? OMG you guys! How about now? Now? Anything? OK, so how about if, while there’s no official statement from the couple, we all just try to interpret their tweets?
Speculation over the robustness of the Kutcher/Moore union has been going on ever since the duo started dating eight years ago. But it’s gone into wild overdrive over the past week, thanks to the fact that the couple recently spent their sixth wedding anniversary on separate coasts. While Moore was in New York promoting her directorial effort in the Lifetime breast cancer awareness movie “Five,” Kutcher stayed in California to party with friends. More damningly, TheDirty.com reported that Kutcher spent some of anniversary weekend putting it to a 23-year-old blonde. The woman in question has already diligently hired a lawyer, gone into seclusion and deleted all her social media accounts. A cover story in the new issue of the Star alleges that Kutcher’s “serial cheating” is the reason “it’s over.”
Even a faux breakup can drive Web traffic and sell tabloids. And what with Will and Jada totally refusing to get divorced after all the hype last month, seriously, what choice do the gossip police have?
But the couple themselves has so far remained tight-lipped, refusing to comment on the rumors. And that’s where the Twitter analysis comes in. Because as anyone who’s ever endured — or posted — one of those cryptic, “Sigh. Relationships are so hard,” or “Learning to let go of the pain,” status updates knows, surely all the details of anyone’s private life are encoded within those 140-character bursts.
And so, in this corner, we have Ms. Moore, who, if things go as Us magazine seems to believe they will, may soon have to change her Twitter name from @mrskutcher. Last week, one day before her anniversary, she tweeted a quote from the Greek philosopher Epictetus: “When we are offended at any man’s fault, turn to yourself; study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger.” A man’s fault — that’s clearly Ashton, right? Anger, yes. Over some sort of sexual betrayal, no doubt! As Entertainment Weekly noted , the message was obviously “especially revealing.”
Three days later, she tweeted, “I see through you ….” and a photo of herself with closed eyes. What does Demi see through? Her eyelids? Or Ashton Kutcher’s web of lies? It didn’t take long for Starpulse to describe the image of Moore as “distraught,” while Hollywood News reported that the image proves “that Demi is on to Ashton’s crap.”
Kutcher, meanwhile, who debuted in his new “Two and a Half Men” shoes just this past Monday, has been relatively silent on the rumors. OR HAS HE? On Thursday, he just happened to tweet what was playing on his Spotify account: Public Enemy’s classic “Don’t Believe the Hype.” And right on cue, ABC news was quick to report that “The ‘hype,’ presumably, refers to the reports that his marriage to Demi Moore is on the rocks” and the L.A. Times called it a likely “nod to new rumors of infidelity.” Even more tellingly, Kutcher posted later that “When you ASSUME to know that which you know nothing of you make an ASS out of U and ME.” Also, “Ashton Kutcher” is an anagram for “Cheater hunk rots.” Think about it, America.
Now, maybe Ashton and Demi really are heading to Splitsville. Maybe he really has been doing the do with other chicks. Fortunately for those who care, there’s probably a video or voice mail somewhere that can clear this all up until there’s some official announcement on the subject. (Those “Two and a Half Men” stars, they’re such scamps!) But that’ll be a sad moment for all the rest of us — the ones who get a kick out of watching the likes of ABC News trying to interpret the hidden messages within the Twitter stream of the guy who starred in “Dude, Where’s My Car” and the woman who gave us “Striptease.” I haven’t seen that kind of analysis of subtext since my junior year Irish literature class. Or the last time I got an email from an ex. But in the midst of rumors, innuendo and mysterious messages, just remember one thing that’s certain. The walrus was Paul.
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)