Reading about Greg Dulli for my review about the Afghan Whigs made me stumble upon a few articles about him, and among some, about his friendship with Elliott Smith. Greg Dullli owns the bar The Short Stop in Echo Park, an old cop bar that Dulli re-vamped with a precise idea in mind, declaring to the blog Summerskiss:
‘We weren’t going to be a cop bar anymore, Garth Brooks is not going to be on the jukebox anymore. The foosball tables are leaving too, and electric darts — what were you thinking? But if you’re cool with Johnny Jenkins and Black Flag on the jukebox, you’ll be fine.’
Of course, Elliott was fine with that and used to go to the bar, as Dulli remembers:
'I actually knew Elliott 13 or 14 years ago when the Whigs had played with Heatmiser a few times in Portland. But when I bought a bar in Los Angeles, I was bartending and co-managing it when we first opened. If I was bartending on a Monday night and there wasn't a lot of people there, that's when Elliott would come in. We remembered each other from Portland and still had a lot of friends and music in common. I'm not going to tell you we were best buddies because that wouldn't be the truth. But for about a year, he would stay after the bar closed and we'd listen to the Beatles and the Hollies on the jukebox, and I'd be able to pick out everything he was stealing. Beautiful man, though.’
Also, Dulli had a few things to say on the subject of Elliott Smith’s death:
‘I told somebody that the thing I felt the worst about it was not that he did it or not that I wasn't going to get to talk to him anymore, but that I had thought about the five minutes before the act, and I think that's probably the absolute pit of loneliness and despair.'
In another personal blog, the author writes about a story told by Greg Dulli during his Twilight Singers tour:
‘Greg and Elliott met during their Afghan Whigs and Heatmiser (respectively) days, but really became friends while Greg was tending bar at his place in Echo Park, the Short Stop. Elliott would come in at the end of the night and hang with Greg while he was closing up, and they'd chat. One night they got to talking about Shakespeare, and Elliott revealed that his favorite was Romeo & Juliet. He then acted out the lovers' suicide scene, which ends up with Juliet stabbing herself in the heart after finding her lover dead. "Oh happy dagger, find thy mark…"
Greg would dedicate "Martin Eden" to Elliott after that. It opens with, "Black out the windows, it's partytime… You know how I love stormy weather, so let's all play suicide…" He didn't tell that whole story in LA, and I think it's just as well. I know some people probably would have been very emotional about it.’
Greg Dulli is talking from the suicide point of view, and this story about Elliott precisely liking this Romeo &Juliet scene seems so perfect, … too perfectly fitting to what happened to him. I don’t doubt he liked Shakespeare, but he also likes Dostoevsky and Kafka, and Beckett, and many, many authors,… But what does it mean at the end? Could we romanticize his death even more?
Now if you look at the facts, the violent fight between Elliott and Jennifer Chiba, Chiba supposedly locking herself in the bathroom and ignoring him, her removal of the knife and the blood all over the house,… there was really nothing romantic about his death.