Why We Should Report Everything

Almost a year ago, a small article was published in the blog section of Spin magazine to commemorate Elliott Smith’s death anniversary. The title was:

‘Why I Can’t Listen to Elliott Smith’s Music”
Six years after the tortured singer-songwriter’s suicide, SPIN contributor Ellen Carpenter talks about the day the music died.’
Ellen Carpenter explains why she loves Elliott’s music and why she has now trouble listening to his music for obvious reasons. You have to know that Spin published an in-depth article a year after Elliott’s death, and as she explains, she was the research editor of the magazine at the time and had to check everything, every detail of the article. She goes on and on about how she went through transcripts of interviews with Elliott’s friends, read books, articles, lyrics, spoke to band mates, doctors, music executives, girlfriends (even J. Chiba), and gets a little mysterious when she writes ‘People told me things they shouldn’t have, things I couldn’t repeat’.
Well she should repeat everything, but this is just my opinion.
She also remembers a show, and, sadly, she chooses the worst of all! As a matter of fact, there is an infamous show Elliott did in Chicago in 2002 when he was under the influence of a lot of things. He was opening for Wilco and, according to the reviews, he was not able to finish one single song, and was mumbling half-remembered lyrics. Sad, sad, sad but he got much better after this! Why is Ellen Carpenter talking about this specific horrific show? Just to aliment her preconceived idea of Elliott’s tragic ending? There are tons of other shows she could have talked about, especially the last ones he did in 2003! He was healthy and happy to be there.
Her point is that she cannot listen to his music anymore because it reminds her all this sadness, all this suffering and I totally respect this.
However, there is something I would like to say to Mrs. Carpenter, why was Liam Gowing in charge of the 2004 Spin article? Why did a good friend of Jennifer Chiba write an article about Elliott’s death? Don’t you think he would be a little biased?
How do I know this? Well, someone who is your friend on myspace and facebook, can be considered as a close contact. Furthermore, a person who communicated with J. Chiba after Elliott’s death directly told me one of Chiba’s friends was writing an article about her.
So when Mrs. Carpenter says:
‘Some people believed his girlfriend Jennifer Chiba, who was with him at the time of his death and who pulled the knife from his body before calling 911, murdered him. Most others thought this was ridiculous. While our story by Liam Gowing touched on the rumors, it made a case for suicide. And since I was the research editor of the magazine at the time, it was my job to make sure that case was solid. I had fact-checked hundreds of articles for the magazine, but nothing like this.’
I want to question the impartiality of the Spin article, and I am not sure her case is as solid as she pretends.
Originally published on Rock NYC (June 13 2010)

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