"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)
If all goes according to plan, in April 2023 40 pioneers will colonize Mars and live out the duration of their lives on the (so-far) lifeless planet. According to Mars One, the nonprofit group planning the expedition, over 100,000 people (including Gary Busey) have signed up for the honor.
Would-be colonists were asked to make a case for their candidacy in video applications. They were also asked to describe their sense of humor — aside from being mankind’s greatest experiment, the trip will also be reality TV gold. A large part of Mars One’s $6 billion funding plan comes from broadcast licensing. Judging from the response they got, another lucrative source is the application fee, which in the U.S. is $38.
So what would drive a person to be ready and willing to leave Earth for good?
“I know that my place is there, between the stars” says a Romanian candidate who goes by MarsMan:
Willard Sollano Daniac, a 36-year-old electrical inspector from the Philippines, wants to discover new elements, see what people look like in the planet’s atmosphere, and perhaps save the human race:
“It’s hard for me to understand why people around me — good, strong-minded people — don`t care about development of other planets, when there is a billions of different worlds above our heads,” [sic] wrote Anna, an 18-year-old student from Russia. She doesn’t care about being first; she just wants to get there:
As CNN points out, “There are financial and practical questions about this venture that haven’t been clarified.” Another big concern is safety: An expert interviewed by the network said that exposure to cosmic radiation and solar particles in deep space would be “fairly dangerous.” But assuming the pioneers can get along and don’t all die of cancer, life on Mars sounds pretty plush:
Within the settlement are inflatable components which contain bedrooms, working areas, a living room and a “plant production unit”, where they will grow greenery. They will also be able to shower as normal, prepare fresh food (that they themselves grew and harvested) in the kitchen, wear regular clothes, and, in essence, lead typical day-to-day lives.
Aside from promising a “fantastic adventure” and a certain place in history, Mars One intends for the project to “jumpstart massive developments in all kinds of areas, a few examples being in recycling, solar energy, food production and the advancement of medical technology.”
The group created a documentary featuring four other would-be Martians. Here’s the official trailer:
Lindsay Abrams is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email email@example.com.More Lindsay Abrams.
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)