"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)
President Obama made no mention of the war on drugs in his State of the Union speech, nor its role in both international and domestic crises, signaling that despite marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado and a resounding chorus calling for change throughout the world, the idea of drug law reform still remains on the margins of mainstream consciousness and taboo among the political elite.
On the same day as the President’s address, Human Rights Watch released their annual watch report, in which they declared that “drug criminalization is inherently incompatible with human rights.”
The report makes note of how drug laws further entrench the wildly unequal nature of the American criminal justice system, where blacks are ten times more likely to receive a drug conviction than whites despite similar rates of using and selling. It also noted the now familiar statistic that 2.2 million people in the world’s oldest constitutional republic are in prison or jail, the highest number in the world–a figure fattened by the number of those incarcerated for low-level drug offenses.
HRW also examines how drug criminalization in the United States incites heavy-handed government policies around the world while simultaneously destabilizing weaker countries. The result is millions dead with many more shepherded into cages or the arms of organized crime every year.
From their report:
The report goes on to propose a series of major reforms to drug policy, which include “decriminalize personal use and possession drugs for personal use, reduce criminal regulation of drug production, and ground treatment and care in human rights.”
The think tank Insight Crime critiqued the report for failing to couple calls for decriminalization with concrete ideas for how to regulate production and distribution of drugs. The authors note that while some Latin American countries have decriminalized drug possession and use, sale and distribution are still illegal, and thus the lucrative black market responsible for so much violence and mayhem continues to operate unabatedly.
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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