"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)
1. Pennsylvania Gov. Corbett: Gays are like children. Neither should be able to marry.
When he isn’t busy defunding public schools, Pennsylvania’s oh-so-enlightened Republican Gov. Tom Corbett is fighting hard to keep same-sex couples from marrying in his state. To that end, he’s going after a low-level county clerk who had the audacity to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, because he believes it is the right thing to do. In the lawsuit against the idealistic clerk, the state’s lawyers made the following ridiculously off-base and offensive argument: Gays can’t marry in Pennsylvania any more than children can. Exact wording:
“Had the clerk issued marriage licenses to 12-year-olds in violation of state law, would anyone seriously contend that each 12-year-old … is entitled to a hearing on the validity of his `license’?” the state wrote in its brief.
By the end of the week, Corbett seemed to recognize that comparing consenting adults to children was offensive and probably the wrong analogy to use. He courageously backed away from the statement, blamed his attorneys for the wording, and shirked all responsibility for it.
But he’ll be damned if gay Pennsylvanians marry under his watch.
2. Joe Walsh gives absurdly racist “I have a dream” speech.
There was so much shame frothing around Republican and right-wing circles for their despicable behavior this week during the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and the historic March on Washington, it is difficult to know where to start.
While not one Republican representative participated in the festivities, having more important things to attend to like meetings with lobbyists and continuing their pointless efforts to defund Obamacare, former Rep. Joe Walsh, mercifully a one-termer from Illinois, let his racism flag fly full mast with his idiotic rewrite of MLK’s great speech. In Walsh’s view, African-Americans suffer from “dependency on the government plantation.” In Walsh’s dreams, African-Americans are to blame for all of their own problems, and the extreme right-wing agenda is the only solution.
Apparently, Walsh missed the part about people being judged on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, and his rewrite comprised a list of vile racial stereotypes lacking all nuance.
We have a dream, too. That politicians like Joe Walsh will, well, just cease.
3. Laura Ingraham makes bizarre and vicious decision to feature sound of a gunshot during John Lewis’ speech.
Possibly outdoing Walsh in offensive behavior during the civil rights celebration was right-wing radio host Laura Ingraham. Ingraham, a dangerously articulate ignorant woman, made the argument that the people commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington were trying “to co-opt the legacy of Martin Luther King into a modern-day liberal agenda.”
Instead, Ingraham is co-opting King into some sort of conservative hero, who heralded our so-called color-blind, totally debunked “post-racial” society. Words, yes. Wrongheaded distorted words. But everyone has a right to their opinion.
Then in the middle of the speech made by Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights hero who marched in Selma and was injured there and who was the youngest person to speak at the march 50 years ago, came the sound of a gunshot on Ingraham’s radiocast. Lewis is in mid-speech, talking about the unfinished business of civil rights in America.
“We must say to the Congress: fix the Voting Rights Act. We must say to the Congress: Pass comprehensive immigration reform. It doesn’t make sense that millions of our people …”
Lewis falls silent, as if hit, in an echo of MLK, Medgar Evers, the Kennedys. (Listen to it on Media Matters; it is way more disturbing than can be conveyed in writing.)
Ingraham, anti-immigrationist, NRA mouthpiece, etc. … did not like what he was saying. Does this cross the line from speech into incitement? Just asking.
4. Christian radio show hosts: Gays commit half of all murders.
Haters did not confine themselves to race this week. The homophobes were out in force as well. While Gov. Corbett infantilized gays, evangelicals sought to demonize them by spreading outrageous propagandistic lies.
Last Saturday, the hosts of the Minnesota-based radio show “The Sons of Liberty,” Bradlee Dean and Jake McMillan, claimed that homosexuals are responsible for half of all murders committed in large cities. Where they would get such a wildly inaccurate notion, nobody knows. Facts or actual information seldom interfere with the dissemination of hatred.
Dean, who is founder and executive director of a nonprofit Christian youth organization, You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International (wow, doesn’t that Mad Max-inspired name make Christianity seem appealing?), said he was quoting a New York City judge named John Martagh. But, after just a little digging, the Huffington Post revealed the quote came from a 1992 newspaper column by an evangelical loony who never cited his statistical source, but is still quoted from time to time in anti-gay rhetoric. So this is just one of those lies that gets repeated enough it becomes a kind of truth for the liars.
It was off to the races once Dean and McMillan made their initial assertion. All those murderers in the LGBT community are inherently immoral, and so of course they engage in things like murder. It’s on a continuum with their abominable sex acts.
5. Pat Robertson: Gays using “special rings” to infect us with AIDS.
It gets worse in the category of possible incitement against gays. “700 Club” host and resident lunatic Pat Robertson moved beyond even dubious sources of information long ago. His latest bizarre assertion is that “vicious” gay men in cities like San Francisco wear “special rings” to “cut” people when shaking their hands and give them “the stuff.” The stuff is HIV/AIDS. Words are beginning to fail the aging preacher, who says gay people are committing the equivalent of murder.
It’s easy to dismiss Robertson as just too far gone even to pay any mind, but he does still have his show and his following.
Is anyone else feeling the similarity between this and the blood libel about Jews using the blood of Christian babies to bake their matzoh?
Apparently, the Christian Broadcasting Network thought it went too far, and cut Robertson’s crazy comment out of the program before airing it.
6. Liz Cheney makes Dick Cheney look liberal by opposing her own sister’s right to marry.
Making Darth Vader look tolerant is quite an accomplishment, but Wyoming GOP Senate candidate, the daughter of the former vice president and sister of openly gay Mary Cheney has done just that by publicly stating her opposition to gay marriage.
“I am strongly pro-life and I am not pro-gay marriage,” Liz Cheney said in a statement this week. “I believe the issue of marriage must be decided by the states, and by the people in the states, not by judges and not even by legislators, but by the people themselves.”
It is too late to prevent her sister from marrying. Mary married her longtime partner in Washington, D.C., and once the issue hit close to home, Dick Cheney broke with his own party to support her and others’ right to do so. But while it might be assumed that blood runs thicker than politics, Liz sought to clarify she is just as intolerant and right-wing when it comes to basic human rights as her Republican opponent, incumbent Mike Enzi.
Holiday dinners at the Cheney household must be a ton of fun.
7. Ted Cruz’ father rants insanely about Obamacare.
Ah, family. While strife and dissension may be plaguing the Cheney family, Ted Cruz and his nutty father, Rafael, are on the same deluded page about Obamacare. They both believe that it signals the end of civilization as we know it. “They may take our lives,” Rafael told a crowd in Wilmington, Dela., joining rabid anti-Obamacare crusader Jim DeMint this week, “but they cannot take our honor.”
While it is unclear what exactly the hell he is talking about and how it relates to the Affordable Care Act, Rafael Cruz, a Texas pastor, really knows how to whip up the crowd. “We can be complacent no more, we can be silent no more!” the Texas pastor foamed at the mouth. “You know, we have seen our lives under attack. Our quality of life is being eroded more and more and more as our liberties are taken away. As regulations and more taxation, we are seeing our lives being destroyed.”
What is clear is that DeMint’s over-the-top effort to stop Obamacare, a nine-city tour where he has called healthcare for seniors and veterans “un-American” (it’s socialist, you see), is increasingly divorced not only from reality, but also from the mainstream of the Republican Party. They want him to shut up about closing down the government in order to defund healthcare, and are increasingly excluding the Heritage Foundation, which he heads, from policy discussions.
Does this mean some Republican lawmakers are coming to their senses? We would not go that far.
8. Mitch McConnell woos women voters by touting legislation he never supported.
Just a suggestion: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell should probably examine his own voting record before issuing press releases, or holding events with titles like Friday’s “Women for Team Mitch.” The release said the Kentucky right-winger supported the Violence Against Women Act in 2012 and 2013, which a quick fact check reveals he did not. He also opposed two other bills that would help women — the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act.
At the event itself, McConnell neither addressed women’s issues not took any questions from women, according to a local reporter. But one woman, his wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, told the crowd he supports increased cancer screenings and checkups for women, which is strange because he’s campaigning against the Affordable Care Act, which would increase women’s access to preventive medicine.
Wow, we feel wooed.
Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)
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)
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