Some excerpts of William Todd Shultz’s upcoming biography about Elliott Smith, ’Torment Saint’ have made an apparition online, and I couldn’t be more pissed off. These previews on Google books let the author reveal a few pages and I find quite revealing that, among the 368 pages of the book, they put precisely the ones susceptible to rise controversy! It’s not a coincidence if the pages describing in whole details what happened this awful day, according to Jennifer Chiba, as well as the pages presenting an in-depth analysis of ‘Elliott’s suicide’ are part of the preview. Then this part becomes totally personal:
‘… when a ‘completely dishonest’ fan saying she was ‘clearing things up for a friend’, in effect misrepresenting herself – to Scheinin’s ‘great irritation’ when she later found out about it – asked for an interview the results of which she posted on a website, in the process ‘misquoting’ Scheinin and getting various things she said ‘completely wrong’.’
Why do not say my name Schultz? Because it’s me you are talking about, right? Or may be another ‘dishonest fan’ interviewed Scheinin? And why not point where I misquoted Dr. Scheinin? What part did she consider as misquoted? Because I am really curious about this! I have still my notes with me, and I dare her or him to find where I indeed misquoted her. If she didn’t wanted to be quoted verbatim she should have allowed me to tape the interview, however she declined when I asked her if I could record it and I still wonder why. In my post, I never said she was pointing to murder or suicide, if you read it again, you will see she stayed very neutral in her declarations, and after the interview I had no opinion about what she really thought. I even asked her what was her gut feeling, I remember using that term because Liam Gowing had told me she had a gut feeling leaning toward suicide and she said it wasn’t the case. She said everything using the conditional, or balancing between the two sides: ‘It’s not a common from of suicide, but it’s not impossible,… usually people take their clothes off, it’s atypical,… ‘it could be a suicide, I don’t know’,…
‘I was curious about the depth of that 2nd wound, between 5-7 inches, and its compatibility with a suicide, but she does not seem surprised by it, as she says the hardest part is to cut the skin, but once it’s done, there is little resistance.’
‘I almost end up by asking her how many suicide by stabbing she is aware of with no hesitation marks, no removal of the clothes, two deep wounds, done in the middle of a fight, and done sober (no drugs, no alcohol), and one point makes her react…. Dr Scheinin corrects me, they were not in the middle of a fight, they had fought and she had locked herself in the bathroom…. But she pursues saying that it is not a common form of suicide, but not impossible, that many aspects in this case were atypical, like the non-removal of the clothes, but that some people ‘go against the grain’.
were misquotations??? I am still pissed off by this coward accusations.
They accused me to have misrepresented myself? The only thing I didn’t mention was the website, as it is obvious she would not have accepted the interview if she had known. I didn’t misrepresent myself in the sense that all I said was the truth, I was indeed clarifying things for a friend, one of Elliott Smith’s ex-girlfriends with whom I have communicated quite a lot. I have even met her. Since that day, I have even communicated with Elliott’s close relatives, something Schultz cannot say. Furthermore, the interview was not free, we (and I should say Iman, who generously paid for it) had to pay the Coroner for the interview ($300/hour!), so I have the feeling that reporting what she told me was totally fair. You pay for a product, you do whatever you want with it! Plus I have always wanted to share the information with everyone; if it is public records, if she told the truth, what’s wrong with posting what she said on a website?
In what I’ve read of the preview, I can tell that Schultz goes over the same old parts of the story without bringing any new argument.
‘Chiba has no history of violence’…No history of violence? What about the violence that was going on between her and Elliott? People at the Roost, a bar where Elliott used to go very frequently, witnessed a few violent clashes between the two several times. Then there was this shocking statement made by Sean Organ the owner of Org Records, the label that was supposed to release Happy Ending’s first record, J Chiba’s band. Before Elliott’s death he compared their relationship to that of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen. After his death, he didn’t want to respond to journalists about it but this is what he declared at the time:
‘That was said beforehand. People described them as a Sid and Nancy couple, constantly arguing, splitting up and getting back together again. I can’t really comment on it because I’m in London, they were over there in LA and I’ve never met them. The stories that were coming back were yes, that it was a crazed, druggy Sid and Nancy situation.’
If this doesn’t count for violence I don’t know what does. Plus what does Schultz exactly know about Chiba’s past? It has been reported she did some stays in psychiatric institutions, and she managed to get two DUIs during the time she lived with Elliott, the last one being a drunk driving (alcohol/drugs) in August 30th for a total bail amount of $15,000!
He tries to justify the absence of hesitation marks or the stabbing through clothing with the same arguments, repeating the tired sentence that Elliott ‘disliked showing his unclothed body’ when we know that this series of pictures of Elliott posing shirtless for a photographer are all over the web. I don’t say it was something he was doing all the time, or even was enjoying, but it was not totally out of character if he did it!
Then, the presence of small wounds and possible defensive wounds is once again intertwined with the cigarette burns and the self-harm habit when Scheinin clearly said to me back in 2011:
‘… Dr. Scheinin is direct, these wounds are not compatible with self-mutilation, ‘it’s not self-cutting’. I had always thought it was the case as the one under the right arm is a pretty weird location for that kind of behavior. She also thinks these wounds are not consistent with hesitation marks, which are usually around the stab wounds. In this case, once again she is formal, there were no hesitation marks, and it is pretty unusual, she will repeat this several times
However, she does not exclude some cutting by accident, Elliott may have mishandled the knife, and he may have hurt himself that way.’
That was clear and in any case I did put words in Scheinin’s mouth, this is exactly what she said. The small wounds weren’t due to self harm but could have been a mishandling of the knife.
And I find his argument ‘lack of indication of a fight’ very weak, has he ever thought Elliott could have been taken and stabbed by surprise? Actually he thinks about it later on and his argument is ‘it seems extraordinarily unlikely that a small woman could enter a kitchen, grab a knife and stab a person not once, but twice, with zero evidence of any struggle’. Apparently, Schultz never watches the news, doesn’t Jodi Arias ring a bell? And you just have to use Google to get multiple other cases of stabbing by jealous or angry women.
I stand behind my interview of Dr. Scheinin, and I don’t care if I pissed her off because I reported what she said on rock nyc. I dare her or Schultz to find any misquotation in what I wrote. Unlike Schultz, I didn’t twisted what I have heard one way or another. ‘This interview did not bring any answer’ I wrote at the end of the post, and this was true. Conversely, Schultz seems to have found his, the one that fits so well with the title of his book. But in a way, this mention of what I wrote in his book, this attempt to discredit me, is telling me I must represent some kind of danger.
Originally published on Rock NYC (September 28 2013)