"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)
One major institutional difference between the left-wing and the right-wing media is the right-wing media’s undisguised contempt for its audience. Right-wing blog readers, Rush listeners and Fox viewers of America, take note: They think you’re stupid. All of them.
There’s no other explanation for the conservative media tendency to highlight and publicize stories that any person who’s been following politics for six months would immediately recognize as complete bullshit. This is why the Weekly Standard has created a clock that is counting down to the moment when Barack Obama will drop Joe Biden from the ticket and replace him with Hillary Clinton — an event that everyone knows will not happen. Bill Kristol and his lackeys cannot possibly be dumb enough to actually believe that Obama will blow up his own campaign and pull an entirely pointless V.P. switch. But they obviously think Weekly Standard readers are dumb enough to buy it. Matt Drudge, who knows his audience is stupid (Condi for Veep!), has been pushing the dump Biden story hard all week, just because. Everyone knows it won’t happen.
Meanwhile, in the world of things that simply probably didn’t happen: WDBJ, Roanoke/Lynchburg’s CBS affiliate, had a report today on a local cupcake bakery owner who refused to let Joe Biden buy cupcakes because he was mad about “you didn’t build that” (something this owner was lied to about by the right-wing media and the presumptive Republican presidential nominee). The story went viral, obviously, but buried at the end of it was this fun surprise:
Here’s the back story, we’re told that shortly after Crumb and Get It told Biden’s advance people ‘no’ — the Secret Service walked in and told Chris McMurray, “Thanks for standing up and saying ‘no’” — then they bought a whole bunch of cookies and cupcakes.
Oh, this is some quality journalism. “We’re told”!
Secondhand tales of Secret Service agents saying or doing anything are almost always complete bullshit. Only the most credulous or totally irresponsible of political writers give any credence to “I heard a Secret Service agent say [some very partisan thing]” tales. It’s also a fact that Republican operatives have in the past specifically invented bullshit stories about Hillary Clinton and attributed them to made-up Secret Service agents.
But, you know, some local new channel said someone told them this great story, it’s not really clear at all how the ostensible Secret Service agents were identified as Biden’s detail or anything, but this definitely seems like a very solidly reported story.
So the Washington Examiner’s “Beltway Confidential” writer jumped on it, whereupon it went to Fox Nation, Drudge and even the Corner (where at least Daniel Foster has the sense to add an “if true” caveat).
I heard that after the Secret Service agents bought the cupcakes Joe Biden stole all the cupcakes and drew backward “B’s” on all the cupcakes with red icing and then Michelle Obama wouldn’t let anyone eat the cupcakes. Pass it on!
UPDATE: Hey, guess who’s now on record denying the cupcake thing happened? It looks like the Secret Service just apologized for the inconvenience and did not actually stand up for the rights of Job Creating Americas or whatever the hell fantasy these crazy people invented.
Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @pareeneMore Alex Pareene.
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)