"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)
Well, “Breaking Bad” fandom has officially reached critical mass. It wasn’t the zillions of fan art submissions or finale predictions or even last night’s Emmy win that tipped the scale, but one man: New York Times financial columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin. [Warning: spoilers ahead].
A fictional column by Sorkin was referenced in Sunday’s “Granite State” episode; stewing in anger and self-pity in a desolate New Hampshire bar, Walter White catches a glimpse of Charlie Rose interviewing ex-friends and former Gray Matter business associates Elliott and Gretchen Schwartz, who recently gave a grant to drug treatment centers. “Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times wrote a column suggesting that the grant was a kind of publicity maneuver to shore up the stock price of Gray Matter Technologies because of your association with Walter White,” said Rose to the couple:
And voilà, a column idea was born:
Sorkin wrote the full piece on Dealbook Monday afternoon:
Maybe it is cynical to suggest, but the timing and backstory of the grant is raising red flags among some investors on Wall Street and prompting some to ask: Is the donation a publicity stunt meant to mask troubling news about the company?
Little known except to a small cadre of industry insiders, the Schwartzes have been scrambling in recent weeks to keep a long-running secret from being revealed. Gray Matter’s stock has sunk over the last week as speculation has mounted that the company could be tied to a drug kingpin in Albuquerque who has made national headlines: Walter White, the former chemistry teacher turned international methamphetamine dealer known as “Heisenberg.”
“A spokesman for Gray Matter said, ‘We don’t comment on rumors and speculation.’ Mr. White could not be reached for comment,” wrote Sorkin, before stating, “Yes, this is a fictional parody, in case there is any doubt!”
Indeed, everyone at Dealbook was very excited by the mention.
Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at email@example.com.More Prachi Gupta.
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)