Tuesday, July 24, 2007

After the Ambulances Go

"Imagination and fiction make up more than three quarters of our real life." - Simone Weil

The image above was posted by Theresa Duncan on her eclectic blog The Wit of the Staircase, July 10. Later that day, Theresa's boyfriend of 12 years, Jeremy Blake, discovered her body in their East Village apartment, an evident suicide. ("A bottle of pills and alcohol were found near Duncan's body [and] she left a suicide note saying that she was at peace with her decision and loved Blake and her family deeply.") A week later, a man was seen walking into the ocean at Rockaway Park, and not walking out. Blake's wallet and clothing, and his suicide note, were found beneath the boardwalk.

Duncan and Blake were both career artists and filmmakers. Theresa was also a game designer, a culture critic and a reader of this blog. "Paranoia seems to us an absolute patriotic duty at the moment," she wrote a year ago, "and Rigorous Intuition is like the incredibly symbolically twisted and bizarre dream you wake up from to realize that the scenario thrown up from the unconscious is actually the expression of some very simple truth you had been desperate to avoid facing." It was last May that Theresa faced hers, and posted "The Trouble with Anna Gaskell," in which she described an ongoing campaign of harassment against herself and Jeremy, and the long shadow cast by Des Moines' businessman Jim Cownie, "a major Republican donor with ties to the Midwest's Heritage Groups, founded by the ultraconservative Adolph Coors."

Cownie became the legal guardian of New York-based artist Gaskell and her siblings following the early deaths of her parents (her father was Cownie's business partner). While an undergraduate she dated Jeremy Blake for about a year. It was during that time that Blake got to know Cownie as well.

Cownie has an oddly vast collection of firearms--an entire out building devoted to them in fact.... Then there were the mobster "friends" in Las Vegas who comped Mr. Wit [Jeremy] and Ms. Gaskell with an eye roll and a groan when they mentioned Cownie's name at the front desk, as he had instructed them to do. In addition to the Gaskell orphans, Cownie has four or five children of his own. The oldest male Cownie child, then a teenager, even bragged to Mr. Wit during one visit "My Dad's going to get me in the CIA!"

Once the harassment of The Wits [Jeremy and Theresa] began, these disparate old Anna Gaskell anecdotes, which up to the late summer of 2006 had been completely unknown to me, began to suddenly bob up in Mr. Wit's memory. Mr. Wit's recollection was further jarred after we repeatedly witnessed Ms. Gaskell's brother Zach mysteriously pacing in front of our Venice California home. Then there were the many cars with Iowa license plates following us around Los Angeles at the time. (We took photos of these, naturally.) Mr. Wit during this time also suddenly remembered that busy Cownie often travelled to South Dakota to attend some of the Midwest's more unsavory biker rallies. But I guess being friends with ex-con bikers and Vegas mobsters doesn't necessarily point to somebody who would, like, hire thugs to harass, threaten or--wow--maybe even kill people.


To add the final dessert topping to this apocalyptic art world sundae, Mr. Wit says that normally dour Cownie frequently made jokes about child molestation as a "training" tool. This wouldn't be so fucking spooky, friends of the Staircase, if Des Moines wasn't the land of the Project Monarch/U.S. Intelligence rumored disappearance of Johnny Gosch and the odd resemblance of poor little Johnny to Bush White House gay hooker-psychological operative Jeff Gannon.

She concludes with advice for Anna Gaskell: "Stop accepting payoffs from 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."

When news of the deaths of Duncan and Blake were posted on Metafilter, a clue to the cause of their presumed suicides was Theresa's "paranoid screed," in which many of the "bugbears of the psy-ops crowd were put on Duncan's mental merry-go-round and given a real strong spin." The words "psy-ops crowd" were linked to the RI forum.

I don't know how I could begin assessing from here, tonight, the merits of Duncan's story and the legitimacy of the verdict of suicide. I do know it would be indecent to try. We enjoy mysteries. We even revel in the great mysteries that may mean either our destiny or our doom. But God help us if we become a mystery. And I don't want to make one now of Theresa Duncan.

I've known people who've had dead cats hung at their doorstep; who've been poisoned and burgled, and received death threats all because of the work they do and the privileged interests they challenge. I know they're not making shit up, because I know them. But if you didn't know them, to hear them talk sometimes, you might want to think they were. Because maybe it would be better if they were a little deluded than that they were describing the world. Even if you did know them, for their sakes you might want to think so, too.

But both harassment and the delusion of harassment are real, and a paranoid screed can also be one's patriotic duty. Murders and suicides happen all the time, as do murders that mimic suicide, and less frequently the reverse. Advocating for justice and truth and a closure to mystery does not mean forever contending that death must come by another hand. And sometimes we ought to be adamant that we simply don't know.

Two days before her death, on Sunday, July 8, Duncan wrote that she had another political essay in the works and would post it later. She'd entitled it, "The Devil and Dick Cheney." What would she have said? We don't know.


Blogger Doc Nebula said...

Well, sir. If your intention with this entry was to scare the living shit out of me, then, as the Twit In Chief himself once notably intoned "Mission accomplished!"

I guess if there's a moral to this story, it's "When you run across someone powerful enough to molest children and get away with it, back away slowly, break contact forever, and never never never NEVER do or say anything about it anywhere ever again".

Or, I don't know, stop being civilized and shoot the motherfucker in the back of the head at the first opportunity.

What a world, that provides people with choices like this, and then murders them when they make the wrong one.

I guess I'm what you'd call a RigInt addict, as I love the site and keep coming back here. And being reasonably empathic, I imagine you yourself must be going very nearly out of your mind right now with a horrible mixture of sharp terror and irrational but unavoidable feelings of guilt. I feel for you. And many times I'd rather I'd never read any of the shit on this blog, either.

But all in all, I'm glad you post it. And I hope I never personally run into anyone like the predators you mention here. Or at least, if I do, I don't recognize them, and that they are never in a position of access to any of my kids.

7/24/2007 09:09:00 AM  
Blogger ericswan said...

Tarantulizing stuff Jeff. Nothing is as it appears. On July 22, 5:19 PM pacific time, I snapped a series of 4 pix of a UFO.. That would be something in the air that I couldn't identify except that it was a black speck against a white sky and I hoped the camera would be able to see it better than I could. The camera didn't. It caught the black speck and it was moving from south-west to north-east and almost directly above me. I didn't "process" the pix til the next day which was yesterday. Spent alot of time trying to find the black speck and telescope into the pic to see what it was. While I still pondered what it was and wondered and pondered how to get better resolution, I found myself outside on the front step when a fighter jet with two pods hanging from severely sloped back wings flew over the house. Don't see those all that often in Kamloops, B.C. and didn't see it very long. I only heard it after it was already out of view but the view was very close, unlike my UFO. C'est la vie!

7/24/2007 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger ELFIS said...

Dang Jeff ... I don't know what to say other than, as another commenter posted, I imagine you are awash in a number of emotions right now and probably thought long and hard about posting this.

The picture is synchromystic for me ... it looks a lot like a girl I used to know whose name was synchronous with Gillian Anderson and who was an artist with a lot of weird connections of her own whom I was just trying to find online.

Is that photo of the artist? Has there been any discussion of that pic?

It seems the tagline of her blog's title takes on renewed meaning with her death:

The Wit of the Staircase
From the French phrase 'esprit d'escalier,' literally, it means 'the wit of the staircase', and usually refers to the perfect witty response you think up after the conversation or argument is ended. "Esprit d'escalier," she replied. "Esprit d'escalier. The answer you cannot make, the pattern you cannot complete till aterwards it suddenly comes to you when it is too late."

7/24/2007 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Mister Roboto said...

This video and its accompanying songs rather say it all, I think.

7/24/2007 12:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whew. Never before seen a comment thread at RI grow so slowly. This entry must have terrified EVERYbody out there.

7/24/2007 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger iridescent cuttlefish said...

I'd have to second all the emotions thus far expressed. Except for one: fear. I'm not in any way advocating suicidal bravery. Like everyone else, I have family & friends, some of whom depend on me very much. Also like everyone else (whether they're aware of this or not), I enjoy only a very tenuous, fragile existence. We are none of us immune to the many dangers in the world, especially when we start poking our noses into dangerous closets.

In fact, this is where my pseudo-suicidal bravado originates.

If we really stop and embrace the fact that our existence hangs by but a thread and that there are innumerable ways in which that existence might be effectively erased, is this not a liberating, if unnerving epiphany?

Was it ever not so?

The only real choice we have is whether we attempt to hide our heads in the sands of compliance and forgetting, or whether we allow our love and concern for what is good and true to guide our actions in this life.

On the discussion board someone has reminded us of the bravery and purity of spirit that the White Rose Society exhibited in the all-encompassing fear & hatred which had stolen like a dark storm cloud over Nazi Germany. Many years after the war, I was lucky enough to become friends with an extraordinary woman whose life reads like some fantastic and at times terrifying novel. Her name was Hedwig Rieth and anyone who has ever lived in the German city of Tübingen will know something of her story.

She and her husband, the famous paleontologist, linguist and sculptor Alf Rieth, managed to hide a stream of artists declared enemies of the State by the Nazis. Many of them were able to escape Germany to France, Switzerland, and other safer ports in the storm. Some were not as lucky. What Frau Rieth and her husband (when he wasn't forced to serve as a translator in POW camps) were able to save was the art that these "decadent" artists produced.

An entire, huge house full of it. There are museums in Tübingen and Stuttgart which now have thousands of pieces that the Rieths saved.

When I knew her, in the early '80s, I helped her to catolog some of this endangered treasure hoard. In the course of our many conversations (I lived with her for a month or so), she told me many of the stories that went with each piece. How that Chagall got saved; where that Dix was hidden. To me, the stories themselves were as "valuable" as the pieces.

When I asked her how she was able to be so brave in such a scary time--they were under constant suspicion, since her mother, Laura Schradin, one of the first women elected to the German parliament and an outspoken critic of the Nazis, was already dying in concentration camp and Alf was one of the few professors who refused to join the Party, not to mention their connections to von Stauffenberg--she told me that it wasn't really as hard as it seemed after the danger had passed.

She said, "Look, we know we're only here for such a short time anyway--if we don't live according to what we love, are we even alive? So many of our neighbors weren't really alive during those times. They were only pale shadows of human beings."

Hamlet's dilemma; the eternal question.

Hats off to you, Jeff, for helping us to be alive.

Unlike the sausage-faced Hausmeister who turned in the White Rose Society and explained his actions to us in the wonderful film of that story: "I've only done my duty."

7/24/2007 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger soulsurvivor said...

It's difficult to find appropriate children's books to address the topic of abuse, ritual and otherwise. So, I wrote two. . . last night.

I Tell
Written by Sam

When you hit me
That hurts me.
Sometimes it scares me
And I yell "Stop!"

When you do something bad to me
That hurts me.
Sometimes it scares me
And I yell "Stop!"

If you do not stop
I try to get away.
I tell Mommy.
I tell Daddy.
I tell.

When I have a bad dream
Sometimes it hurts me.
Sometimes it scares me.
I yell "Stop!"
I try to get away.

When I can't get away
I hug up my inside self
Really tight
Until I can get away.

I tell Mommy.
I tell Daddy.
I tell.

Inside Outside Me
Written by Sam

There are no two ways about it
I am more than I see.
A kitty
A duck
A billy goat gruff
I can pretend to be.

When I see a mirror
I always smile.
I can see the outside shape of me.
I laugh.
I dance.
I giggle and prance.
And that is when I see
I have an inside me.

When I look at you
I see the outside you
And I begin to see
There are no two ways about it
You are more than I see.

I see you.
You see me.

If these are considered helpful and deemed worthy of use with small children, I'd love to have these available online as a free resource. With some non-threatening illustrations, these could also be published. I don't want any credit or money. I want everyone to find their voice and speak up and speak loud.

7/24/2007 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Like her, the links to her blog are dead.


7/24/2007 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger cadeveo said...

I send love out your way, Jeff, and solace; and I send it, too, for Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake.

I didn't know Duncan and Blake, and I never will. But knowing that they lived with honest passion and that they managed to touch people, I admire them. Whatever the truth of their deaths, may their lives have afforded gifts of awakening to all those with whom they made positive connection.

Keep living, Jeff.


7/24/2007 07:46:00 PM  
Blogger et in Arcadia ego Eve said...

I've poked my nose about as far as you can into that dangerous closet...believe me there's NOTHING to be afraid of. There's nothing to be afraid of about this post either. Paranoia is a complete waste of time.

The only thing to be afraid of is dying with something terrible on your soul. And in that respect Cownie has way more *** WAY MORE *** to fear than anyone who might walk into the ocean and forget to come out.

7/24/2007 07:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know, Eve.....I think Jeff may be next.

7/24/2007 08:49:00 PM  
Blogger The Way It Can Be said...

This is very sad and tragic.. It goes on and on and it seems that only strong, continuing resistance will suffice.. to the point of open warfare in some cases..
The free open internet is a key step in that direction.. calling a spade a spade and fighting rampant phony secrecy are other steps.. something like code pink is
what we must all support and participate in.. this is a fight and the enemy are bullies.. that is the clue to how they can be defeated.. take all the anti-bullying advice and use it against establishment bullies both overt and covert..

The Way It can Be
Evan Palmer

7/24/2007 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger et in Arcadia ego Eve said...

Shrubbery....Oh my Gosch! You might be right!!!

Code Pink....Jeff is next!


7/24/2007 09:51:00 PM  
Blogger Dr. Bombay said...

I am going to try and ask this
as tactfully as possible. Your not
ahhhhh... feeling suicidal are you?
And I don't mean your willingness
to expose these evil bastards in
the way of your latest post.
A few years back someone threatened
quite seriously to kill me and
vowed they would make it look "like
an accident". I told a few of my closest friends that if anything
happened to me this is the "guy"
responsible. So maybe you should
tell a few of your "close friends"
here at R.I. that if it looks
like an "accident" , it wasn't.
I read the New York papers every
day and I can tell you the press
coverage has been full of statements by friends and family
that Jeremy and Theresa were very
much in love and had everything
to live for. From the NY Post:
"Blake Robin, a friend of the
couple said he had a "hard time"
imagining the two committing
suicide. Blake said "The narrative
of the wallet and the clothes
under the boardwalk, its like
somebody writing a cliche, its
not them. It seems too calculated
for the most uncalculated people".
What I find interesting is that
someone reported that they had seen
Jeremy "making his way into the
pounding surf" but that "someone"
was never identified by name.
And as of today, 7/24, his body
has not been recovered.
And what exactly was in Theresa's
post "The Devil In Dick Cheney"?
Did Jeremy unknowingly access info
from that post after Theresa's
death and thus had to be eliminated
as well?

7/24/2007 10:26:00 PM  
Blogger AdamIerymenko said...

There is something in the air these days. It is as if the air hates beauty, creativity, spirit... all you read these days in the news, in comments online, and all you hear in friends conversations in hate. Everyone hates everyone. The air is heavy with hate and dullness.

I'm not an artist... I'm a scientist and an engineer. But I feel it just the same. As I work to achieve what I consider beauty-- the functional beauty of technology-- I hear the voice of the Zeitgeist of the present age whispering in my ear "do it!" "do it!" It is, of course, encouraging me to kill myself.

The age does not want creativity to happen. We are all supposed to surrender.

I know that if I stopped my work and became a cubicle drone as the age wishes me to become, the voice would go away.

Before you readers think I'm nuts... no, I'm not suicidal. I never have been, and never will be. I've never planned or attempted suicide. I think it's a worthless waste of one's own life and is terribly mean to those who love you.

Being suicidal is not what I'm talking about.

Perhaps they did take their lives. If they did, I know why. If you are feeling what I'm describing here... keep the faith brothers and sisters. Do your Work (capital W) and create beauty. That is what will change things.

7/24/2007 10:47:00 PM  
Blogger Sounder said...

"and Rigorous Intuition is like the incredibly symbolically twisted and bizarre dream you wake up from to realize that the scenario thrown up from the unconscious is actually the expression of some very simple truth you had been desperate to avoid facing.”

...and yet it seems we never wake up, and the scenario presented maintains it’s logical contradictions without a conscious modeling system that is up to the task. (Of creating better correspondences between categories.)

RI’ers have nothing more to fear than a customized psy-ops project.

The truth is simple, but the fog is thick.

7/24/2007 11:02:00 PM  
Blogger omnimental said...

You fucking hopeless parasites. The world is a violent storm of greed, where the victor takes the spoils, and you are just waking up to it now, saying to your sorry selves, "oh no, they could kill me?"

Well at least that is one of the oldest fear tactics in the book. This site is not run by a radical. It is run by a spook who is trying to disuade people from uncovering the emporer in his disgusting countantenence.

I say, come get me you fucking slimey fucking nobody. I will lunge at the pain with greedy zeal and take my death like a warrior. Fuck you "Jeff." You are not "Jeff."

If you can kill me and get away with it, try it you insecure mobster, you little boy, in your little boy's club. You are already dead. I live FOREVER.

7/24/2007 11:13:00 PM  
Blogger omnimental said...

You fucking morons have philosophised yourselves into a pit: now you have no where to turn but to your passive resistance. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

I heard, "the ends never justify the means." Ha ha ha hah hah hah haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

Aliteration and $3.50 will get you a medium coffee at easternStarbucks. You are all going into debt, you are being violently enslaved, your children are being raped and militarized...and death surprises you. Ha ha aha ha ha ha haaaahh.

Yawn. You have to get your head out of your asses, now. You have to stop listening to tools of the feudal lords who tell you out of one side of their mouths that violence is out of fashion while they rape your mind, body and spirit with the other side of their mouths. If you do not stick up for yourselves, you DESERVE everything coming to you.

Unfortunately, your pride is too large: you have already said indignantly that you don't believe in violence; now you have to lie there and take it rather than simply admitting you were wrong, admitting that you are all merely naked apes that kill when necessary.

Fuck you, you martyrs, holier-than-thou peaceniks.

Kill or be killed fuckheads. Kill or be killed.

Frantz Fanon was a fucking freak by the way. I'm sure if he ever entered the blogosphere, he would have met his matches and never would have written The Wretched of the Earth; he would have realized how unfashionable logic is and stuck to salient, sensational, feel-good rhetoric extolling humans as beings of pure light who don't need violence: they have their divine god-like logic and reason...that has gotten them to the point of...um...

Yeah, IC, you want an economy of abundance, so you can have a little commie society where everyone is the same, and if anyone threatens your religion of non-violence, you can kill him: how remarkably advanced a society you envision. If an alpha male comes on the scene, 49 gorillas can rape his ass. Wow, what superior intelligence: apes fighting to be king and when the king appears, they get all pissed that it isn't them. What a future indeed.

Will the people there, in your future society, be made of 60% light or more like 99% pure white light? Will they be completely hairless? Hair on their genitals?

7/25/2007 12:02:00 AM  
Blogger Dr. Bombay said...

You wouldn't happen to
have a sister by the name of
Sabina would you? Just asking...

7/25/2007 01:16:00 AM  
Blogger Sounder said...

Omni said; "...merely naked apes that kill when necessary. And.. "kill or be killed". Or..."The world is a violent storm of greed, where the victor takes the spoils,"

So hey everybody, violence must be the answer to the violence. Boy we are going to change the world now. And being 'merely' animals, what choice do we have anyway? Yeah, that's the ticket.

Omni, you are about as shallow as a dinner plate.

7/25/2007 06:15:00 AM  
Blogger iridescent cuttlefish said...


I heard some death metal the other day (accidentally, of course) and realized in a single epiphanous flash where you came by your style of "discourse"--all that goat blood gargling mentation that passes for conversation on your end has its roots in that sort of dark orgiastic spasming.

I'm sure why I'm even responding to someone who says, "Fuck you, I want to kill you..I understand why the elite want to kill off the drones, yeah, maybe they're right...froth, foam, froth," but I will anyway, if for no other reason than because you've completely mischaracterized everything I've said and don't seem to understand much at all beyond the bone walls of your personal prison.

In a world of abundance, Mr. Dog-Eat-Dog/Cannibal Capitalist Lap-Doggie, everyone is freed from material constraints (unlike your voluntary savagery) so that they can do whatever they want to do. As long as it doesn't impinge on their neighbors right to the same pursuits, of course. This means that we'll finally be free to express our creativity, the thing that really makes us human and without which we're just eternally frustrated automatons. Check out Maslow's The Further Reaches of Human Nature, where you'll find this list of needs we all share in the quest to be human:

Truth, rather than dishonesty.
Goodness, rather than evil.
Beauty, not ugliness or vulgarity.
Unity, wholeness, and transcendence of opposites, not arbitrariness or forced choices.
Aliveness, not deadness or the mechanization of life.
Uniqueness, not bland uniformity.
Perfection and necessity, not sloppiness, inconsistency, or accident.
Completion, rather than incompleteness.
Justice and order, not injustice and lawlessness.
Simplicity, not unnecessary complexity.
Richness, not environmental impoverishment.
Effortlessness, not strain.
Playfulness, not grim, humorless, drudgery.
Self-sufficiency, not dependency.
Meaningfulness, rather than senselessness.

Now, I'm not naive enough to think that you'll consider any of what I'm saying--you've already demonstrated the limitations of your thinking and the crudity of your aesthetic sense. Other readers might, however, be interested in comparing your abject misery and surrender to the model that the Elite have given you with an alternative vision put forth by people who are smart and brave enough to think beyond the confines of the uncomfortably dumb.

So, in that spirit then, try Wade Frazier's Roots, Branches and Paradigms, where he gets into the abundant goodness of Bucky Fuller, a man whose vision you, poor rotten Omni, probably couldn't even appreciate with your broken antennae.

Then you might want to check out the scarcity & abundance discussion going on at the discussion board that was started by our conversation here after Jeff's Blackshirts & Skins post. I'm over there trying to convince someone rather different from you, Omni, that there even is an elite.

What a range of human response: from black-hearted neo-Visigoths like Omni who "think" the only way to live is kill-or-be-killed to the squeaky cleam skeptic who thinks that governments don't lie and there's no such thing as monopolies!

The challenge for us is how to let all of them be happy without killing each other. Yeah, exile is best, at least for the hard cases. No blood. Ever. (Vampirism is catching, you know.)

7/25/2007 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger BillyWarhol said...

That is one Wild Ride of a Story*

I hadn't heard about it til the Vanity Fair article but i'm very intrigued by the whole sordid Mess*

Actually their Life seemed Perfect + Charmed up until the end*

I wonder if Cocaine was bringing on the Paranoia*

Good reason to have Benadryl or Atavan's handy*

Movie material for sure*

12/18/2007 04:15:00 PM  
Anonymous wolf et said...

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7/20/2010 07:33:00 AM  
Anonymous justpub said...

Just Pub, a dumb return to castle wolfenstein enemy territory comic strip by feuersturm.

7/20/2010 07:33:00 AM  

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