"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)
Every week, tech publications report on some really innovative new products: Smartphone apps, life hacks and gadgets that have astounding effects on our society. OoHo! is an edible membrane that holds water. The product costs under 10 cents to make and if successfully implemented could reduce the use of disposable plastic water bottles.
And then there are the gimmicky, silly and even sexist tech inventions that call into question why they were created in the first place. Here are this week’s most ridiculous innovations:
Tired of having your smartphone costar in your mirror pics? Arm not long enough to take a proper selfie? Is using Photobooth on your MacBook just too darn difficult? Well, a team of researchers have created the perfect marriage of technology and narcissism: The S.E.L.F.I.E. It was built with a two-way mirror, facial recognition software, LED lights and Arduino processor. All you need to do is stand on a floor sensor, wait for the LED light countdown and, presto, the perfect selfie. The image appears on the smartphone app, and you can share it with all of your friends! I can see this having a market in bar-bathrooms across the country.
Wearable tech is the next great gadget frontier: Smartwatches, Google Glass, fitness bands and nail decals! Now you can have perfectly manicured nails that also light up when you hold an Android cellphone, video game controller, tablet or smart wallet. The $12 set, designed by Japanese company Takara Tomy Arts, includes a nail file, 16 normal nail decals and one specially equipped with a built-in LED. The LED light contains near-field communication (NFC) sensors, and lights up when NFC-enabled devices are detected. Soon there will be an app to control the pattern of your LED nail-light. So when you are texting in a dark room you can also be giving a fabulous light show. Innovation!
If former Chris Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly had Pluto Mail, we might never have found out about Bridgegate. The email service wants to ride the popularity of apps that provide an ephemeral Internet experience. Like Snapchat, Pluto Mail quickly disappears. The email appears in image form and has a predetermined expiration date, after which it vanishes. The subject line, however, will remain, so make sure not to put anything incriminating it it. There are positives to this app: Your in box is no longer cluttered with brief notes that need no record. Yet the wider implications are much stranger; without a dossier of emails how can we hold sneaky politicians, philandering military men or covert mission creators accountable for their actions? Sometimes it is good to have a paper trail.
Mingleton is an app that takes Tinder to the next level. It uses iBeacon technology to pair you with people in your immediate vicinity. No more flipping through Tinder and having to meet up with them in the next town (or borough), now you can find them in the room. This quote from TechCrunch says it all: “Instead of seeing someone’s picture in the app before trying to find them in the room (damn those group photo shots!), you’re more likely to see them in the flesh first, and then you turn to the app to find their profile and indicate your interest.” Or you could just go over and say, “Hey,” and strike up some non-digital conversation. The app only filters by age range and gender, so you are just as ignorant to the stranger-at-a-bar’s favorite food, sport and animal. Creepier, though, is the fact that the app can detect where you are and broadcast that to others in range.
“Leadership Pour Elles” is an app that was launched on Monday, France’s “Equal Salary Day.” It was devised by the French Ministry for Women’s Rights. It has good intentions, but slightly misses the mark. The app is designed to advise women on workplace quandaries, and help notoriously shy French women ask for raises.
The issues arise with the advice given. According to an article from the Guardian reprinted by PSFK, the app has a diagnostic quiz where it learns things about your confidence and leadership abilities. The Guardian’s Kim Willsher writes that the app told her:
I am an “apprentice leader”, the app decides. I must learn to count to three before responding to a question or suggestion to show I’m thinking, to use silence to defuse situations and to spend 20% of my working day networking, to be “moderate” in my choice of clothes and body language, develop an “amiable smile”, keep calm, recognise emotions in myself and others but not be “sentimental”. Finally, if I want a payrise, I have to ask.
An app that tells a women in the workplace to have an “amiable smile,” “moderate” clothing and not to be “sentimental” is not innovative or empowering.
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)