A few years ago, I got to talk to a friend of Elliott Smith who opened up quite honestly about what he thought happened to his friend. I told him about my attempt to look for the truth and this is part of what he wrote to me:
‘It is commendable to search for the truth in the case of Elliott’s death. I think that for you to do it, as with any violent death, you take a long and treacherous road. It is more than me being in a state of denial as far as a stage of grief that causes me to have suspicions. Then again, I feel, at this particular juncture in time, there is only so much I can do, and I believe to the best of my ability I have done it. I do not believe the police have followed through with it to the best of their ability, however. There remain many questions as to why, but I just don’t have the answers, and it does not seem that anyone else does.[…]
The truth is what counts. Elliott, especially being a philosophy major, would tell you that is what matters, not what you or anyone else would like to believe or like not to believe, as the case may be.[…]
In searching for the truth, it is made even darker because the chances of you getting the truth out of one of Elliott’s crowd is very slim.’
And he had a good point right there, Elliott’s crowd hasn’t been very cooperative. Believe me, I have tried but people don’t want to talk publicly or even not at all, probably because, if they have suspicions, they don’t want to accuse someone of murder without concrete evidence. May be they are afraid of whatever J. Chiba could attempt against them, such as a lawsuit?
Recently, I attempted to talk to the former owner of the studio next to Elliott’s, as I know she had witnessed some strange things and also had experienced J. Chiba’s bad temper several times. First she seemed determined to talk to me, then she changed her mind, just a month later.
The fact is that she had already wrote everything she could remember on Sweet Adeline, Elliott Smith’s message board, just after his death in 2003, meaning she had already gone public. So what was she afraid of this time? She said that J. Chiba ‘had a bad temper’, that she yelled at her and that she didn’t want to put her kids in any kind of danger. She also wasn’t happy about the fact I called her bad encounter with Chiba a ‘fight’, but whatever you call it, when one person yells at you, it is not a tea party. Anyway, the point is that her refusal to get more involved may explain why other people don’t want to talk either: Everybody is afraid.
Mary Lou Lord, who recently got involved with Gil Reyes and performed after a screening of his ‘Searching for Elliott Smith’ documentary in Denver, CO, sent to Iman this message on Facebook
‘Hiya…I just found the Rock Nyc…awesome! Anyway, thank you for not throwing me under the bus about the Gil Reyes movie…ugh…I got in a verbal fight with him the night of the showing…it wasn’t pretty, but probably funny…Thank you again..’
I tried to contact Mary Lou to know more about what happened, but so far, no success. Why isn’t she talking? I just wonder why she got involved in a fight about the movie, was she mad at Reyes for orienting his movie the way he did? After all, she wouldn’t be the only one,… Sean Croghan is in the film a lot and wasn’t apparently happy about the result after watching it, as he declared to the Willamette Weekly in 2011:
‘I’ve never needed the true-crime details of that day. That was difficult. Thinking about the way he died is difficult enough. It becomes a little voyeuristic.’
And, beside the weird and interesting fact that he got involved in the movie without knowing that Chiba will be exposing the details of that terrible day, this tells a lot about Elliott’s crowd: They don’t want to think about his death, so forget about them talking about it!
Originally published on Rock NYC (October 15 2012)