"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)
The sad, spooky, dystopian world of mass-produced meat gets the full Tim Burton treatment in an animated short set to Fiona Apple’s cover of “Pure Imagination.” It also serves as a cleverly disguised advertisement for Chipotle.
The first clue comes when the film’s protagonist, a disenchanted scarecrow fresh off a trip to the factory farm, picks a familiar-looking chili pepper from a vine. When the scarecrow opens his own, local food stand, the tacos he serves may also trigger a spark of recognition. But it isn’t until the three and a half minute video ends that the fast-food chain’s name appears.
Chipotle never airs television ads, and the video is actually a promotion for its free iOS game. The chain’s strategy, writes Slate’s Matthew Yglesias, is to position itself “as a highbrow and upscale alternative to other quick service restaurants.” Yglesias argues that the message gets through. So, too, does the commentary on factory farming as a fantasy-gone-wrong. “The Scarecrow” might not make you crave Chipotle, but it definitely makes a strong case for eating local:
Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email firstname.lastname@example.org.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)