Imitation of Life
Somebody better investigate soon - Bob Dylan
Some things that have come to me, some word of mouth, since yesterday's post.
- Theresa's "suicide note" was short and vague, and found typed on a computer. That is, it was not handwritten.
- She had no history of pill popping, and her cause of death is still officially undetermined.
- The one witness to Jeremy's alleged walk into the sea, the woman who called the police, now can neither be located nor identified.
- His body has still not been recovered.
- It took 72 hours to notify Jeremy's family of his disappearance. The newspaper was notified first.
- Friends are having a "hard time imagining the two committing suicide," reports the New York Post. "Suicide would never be on their to-do list," said Blake Robin. "The narrative of the wallet and the clothes under the boardwalk, it's like somebody writing a cliché, it's not them. It would be embarrassing to them. It seems too calculated for the most uncalculated people. I can see some teenager in Idaho who listens to Marilyn Manson doing this, but not them."
- They broke a lease eight months short of term when they recently left LA. Allegedly they were being harassed by a recently-arrived neighbor, a Scientologist, and were receiving no help from authorities.
According to several friends and art world peers, the two believed they were being stalked and harassed by Scientologists, an abiding fear that soured old friendships and made some of their respective working relationships difficult.
Christine Nichols, a colleague and friend of Blake's since 1998, produced two art exhibitions, two books and a record in conjunction with the artist through the New York art gallery she co-founded, Works on Paper Inc. Nichols dates the couple's rising sense of "paranoia" to around 2004, two years after Blake created an album cover for alternative-rock star Beck, who is a practicing Scientologist.
"They thought Scientologists were really harassing them," Nichols said. "They would say, 'They are following us, harassing our landlord.' I did not see any evidence of that. But it got to be something that was huge to them -- a 'You're either with us or against us' thing where if you didn't believe them, you weren't on their side. The story they had woven in paranoia and conspiracies took over part of their lives. A lot of us couldn't understand that acting out."
Two other art world sources corroborated Nichols' characterization but declined to speak on the record out of concern that Blake may still be alive.
One thing I missed from the LA Observed article speculating on Duncan's death: the first intimation of Jeremy Blake's disappearance came from an unnamed "ex-girlfriend of Blake."
Which reminds me. I've been looking at some of the art of Anna Gaskell, Blake's ex-girlfriend and subject of Duncan's disturbing warning in her May post. (""Stop accepting payoffs from [Des Moines businessman and guardian Jim] Cownie immediately, get your younger brothers away from him, get a lawyer using only your own money, and have the lawyer get Cownie to answer a few questions about your mother and father.")
From the Guggenheim catalogue:
Anna Gaskell crafts foreboding photographic tableaux of pre-adolescent girls that reference children's games, literature, and psychology.... In untitled #9 of the wonder series, a wet bar of soap has been dragged along a wooden floor. In untitled #17 it appears again, forced into a girl's mouth, with no explanation of how or why. This suspension of time and causality lends Gaskell's images a remarkable ambiguity that she uses to evoke a vivid and dreamlike world.
Gaskell's girls do not represent individuals, but act out the contradictions and desires of a single psyche. While their unity is suggested by their identical clothing, the mysterious and often cruel rituals they act out upon each other may be metaphors for disorientation and mental illness. In wonder and override, the character collectively evoked is Alice, perhaps lost in the Wonderland of her own mind, unable to determine whether the bizarre things happening to her are real or the result of her imagination.... Gaskell addresses this psychologically loaded subject matter with images of girls wandering in a gothic mansion illuminated by candlelight. Here the psyche in question has been fractured and fraught with terror by a perverse father's look, a voyeuristic gaze.
We don't want to see things that aren't there. But when they're there, are we crazy for seeing them?
More, from Ron Rosenbaum:
According to sources I checked with in the New York City Police Department and the City Medical Examiner’s Office, the death of Theresa Duncan which has been almost without exception called “a suicide” in the local papers has not yet been officially ruled a suicide. It may well still be. To my knowledge no evidence has come to light suggesting murder or accidental death. But the authorities aren’t commenting , awaiting, for one thing, toxicology reports on Duncan they say may not be available for at least two weeks.
Rosenbaum adds that he has additional information on Jeremy Blake's reported death and other aspects of the case, and hopes to post them soon.