There is a fine line between homage, preservation of someone’s memory, and… cashing in. I was passing by Bar Angeles on Sunset boulevard this weekend, the new restaurant/gastropub/bar standing behind the Elliott Smith memorial wall. It is now serving brunch, and every blog, from Consequence of Sound to LAIST, was rebloging the news as if it was newsworthy. A restaurant serving brunch? How is this news?
Of course, music sites would never mention the venue if it wasn’t linked to Elliott Smith. There is a debate among fans: is this alright? is this a way to preserve the wall and Elliott’s memory… or is this blasphemy?
And there is even another debate, is it really an Elliott Smith-themed bar or isn’t it? After all the menu doesn’t even allude to Elliott… what do ‘a bone marrow soft scramble, French toast topped with whipped walnut butter, Eggs Benedict Pizza with a baked egg, bacon, spring garlic, hollandaise, and chives’ have to do with the singer songwriter? It was easy to find some idea of menu, and this blogger had a field day with the idea: ‘Everything Reminds Me of Herbed Potatoes, Son of Salmon, Some Eggs Benedict on the Hill…. Either Bacon/ Or Sausage,… Coming Up Rosé…. You get it, a missed opportunity for your ‘Eggs Benedict’ Mr. Wade McElroy and Russell Malixi!
Why not pushing the joke further? Why? After all, Wade has been clear, the restaurant is named after Smith’s 1997 song ‘Angeles’, it is done with Elliott Smith in mind, and they put a piece of the Figure 8 wall inside, which now looks like a stupid trophy decoration. They didn’t preserve the wall, they incorporated it into their décor for countless Instagram food porn, this is different.
So why isn’t there any allusion to Elliott’s lyrics in the menu? I guess because these super fans, are so Elliott Smith illiterate that they were not able to come up with anything good like ‘Coming Up Rosé’. They are not big fans, they are casual fans at best, no Elliott Smith fan would have cut the wall and replaced it by these horrible glass bricks.
At the end of this LAIST article, there is an update noticing that ‘A Bar Angeles’ spokesperson would like to note that although they do pay homage to the late singer-songwriter, they do not self-identify as an Elliott Smith-themed establishment.’
There is a fine line between homage and exploitation, and they certainly used Smith’s fame and image to make their bar known in places that would have never mentioned Bar Angles, they had two articles in Pitchfork for god’s sake! And I don’t buy their attempt to distance themselves from Elliott Smith, they definitively are a Smith-themed bar. Do you want the proof? They have now musical events like this one, a Portland marimba soloist, Michael Charles Smith, performing Elliott’s music on marimba and vibraphone…. That should go very well with the ‘bone marrow soft scramble’. Ouch!
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