Monday, February 11, 2013

The Trouble with Witty Flights: Sacred Toenails, Legal or Otherwise

Edited 2/26/13

In podcasts and on his blog, dreamsend mentioned that his suspicions regarding the ARG-like qualities of Wit of the Staircase received affirmation from sources that implied or stated some type of inside connection to Theresa Duncan.  Kate Coe told him, for example, that Duncan named her dog Tuesday.  Moreover, Theresa’s computer password was “tuesday,” she died on a Tuesday, Jeremy Blake died the following Tuesday, and “she was really into Tuesday Weld.”  Given that, one might wonder if the character string “Tuesday” had significant thematic or literary meaning here, especially given the growing awareness of Jeffrey Turner’s parapolitical musings that linked Weld to an underground occult society connected to Intel.  Then too, the rumors of the underage starlet’s wild parties and sexual escapades meshed with the sexual predation of young girls, about which Duncan often wrote.

In another instance, dreamsend described how he found the anagram “A Lonely Wit - Aloha,” or “A Holy Toenail Law” Et in Arcadia Ego Eve (Eve, for short), the author of the comment originally appearing on Rigorous Intuition, alerted him to it.* dreamsend seemed to think that, she deliberately pointed him to the cryptic remark to make it appear as though Duncan’s death had been in the works for some time before its actual occurrence on 10 July 2007.  Seeing that Duncan died unexpectedly, such foreknowledge would imply a planned murder, the erasure of a fictional character, or a fake death. 

Of course, when looking at many of the comments made by Eve, in that thread and elsewhere, one notices the abundant use of conspiracy-research buzzwords in a cryptic context.  And if you throw enough of them against the wall, a few are bound to stick here and there, thus affording anyone the opportunity to interpret and reinterpret them to indicate foreknowledge of future events. 

At some point, dreamsend looked into Eve’s personal life.  He identified her as a paralegal working in the Southeastern US. In a post titled “Troll and Bulldog Do Lunch,” he further stated that she had contacted him under a number of pseudonyms, one of which had a connection to content found on Wit of the Staircase:
In emails to me, under a variety of fake names, [Et in Arcadia Ego Eve] claimed not only to be Gannon, but also kidnap victim Johnny Gosch, or more precisely, that Gannon and Gosch were the same person, or moe [sic] precisely still, that Gannon was an alter personality of Johnny Gosch.

For reasons unknown to me, [she] contacted me under her real name, from her work email no less.

Not sure why she made it so easy, but in any event, I called her boss at the lawfirm where she was a paralegal...and said, ‘Hey, your paralegal spends a lot of time on the job sending me emails under different names.’  Her boss had their tech guy call me who confirmed that the emails all came from her computer.

I then called her PREVIOUS employer, another law firm, and talked to one of the partners there, who confirmed that they had had similar problems with her and implying that this is why she no longer worked there.  He denied, however, that his law firm had ever represented Jeff Gannon, a claim made by [Eve] to me in a telephone conversation.
In the redacted post titled “The Trouble with Anna Gaskell,” Duncan strongly hinted that media mogul Jim Cownie, the legal guardian of Blake’s ex-girlfriend, had something to do with the kidnapping of Johnny Gosch.  And many conspiracy researchers (including Duncan) suspected the missing child grew up to be ultraconservative reporter/prostitute Jeff Gannon.  If one were to speculate that Theresa's thinly veiled accusation had any merit, then it might possibly follow that Gannon, himself thoroughly entwined in and loyal to right-wing politics, would have some motive for disrupting the story by misdirecting someone looking into it.  But if Gannon did so here, one would have to first assume that he and Eve had some connection.  To that end, dreamsend posted a photograph of two people who look very much like Eve and Gannon sitting together in a friendly setting.  And to add intrigue onto intrigue, a commenter to the “Troll and Bulldog Do Lunch” post found another article linking Eve to US Intel.

The point here isn’t to discredit, poke fun of, demean, or even defend someone’s research methodology.  Rather, it’s to illustrate a claim of research manipulation by parties whose motivations weren’t clear.  Right now, for the purposes of this story, I am not interested in the truth or falsity of Et in Arcadia Ego Eve’s putative spy creds, or for that matter the true identity of Jeff Gannon.  What’s important here is the notion that someone is seeding information to a researcher that would lead him down the garden path to inevitable connections and an inescapable, though farfetched (and worse yet, grossly inaccurate), conclusion.  It’s also important to note that both supporters and detractors stipulate that once upon a time dreamsend impressed them with his ability to ferret out information in other stories.  The sentiment is also just as universal that in his investigation into the deaths of Blake and Duncan he jumped off the deep end of a drained pool, alienating former colleagues to the point where they now saw him, and Eve, as two of the dangerous “bad guys.”  

If this were a “diabolical” plot of some sort, then its effect would seem to be twofold.  On the one hand, you’ve neutralized an otherwise persuasive voice.  On the other you’ve begun to shape the story of Blake and Duncan by eliminating or discrediting certain lines of inquiry that might develop into more valid insights later on. Any current discussion about ARG-like qualities--not necessarily in the story of Blake and Duncan, but rather in the treatment of that story–would most likely engender some degree of disbelief, even if reasonable.**

Then again, attempts to define Blake and Duncan’s existence had literally begun days after the discovery of Jeremy’s body.  The website Theresa Duncan Central, as noted earlier, aggressively characterized Wit as a stoner, a faux-intellectual, a troll, and a “dearly-departed, demented plagiarist.” The posts often relied on material by journalist Kate Coe, who sometimes commented on the posts.  All in all, it plays up the folie à deux angle, and derides dissenting opinions, among them those of writer Ron Rosenbaum, who initially considered conspiracy explanations of the couple’s demise.

The blogger known as Socrates, also named as one of the “bad guys” on the “UR Doin It Wrong” thread, cited the Theresa Duncan Central blog on his own site, DFQ2, describing it as “...pretty much what it claimed to be:  A One Stop Source For Budding Duncanologists [italics and caps original].”  In a post titled “The Theresa Duncan Story Solved,” he echoed many of the negative sentiments found on Theresa Duncan Central.  As he wrote in the opening paragraph:
Theresa's story had actually been figured out soon after she and her soulmate Jeremy Blake committed suicide. They were not murdered. They did not fake their deaths as part of an elaborate, alternative reality game. They were not harrassed [sic] by Scientologists, at least nowhere near the extent Jeremiah Duggan was. I don't think they were even harrassed [sic] by anyone, no more than any of us are trolled on. Theresa was a drug user. She was also mentally ill. She was on a path to embarassment [sic]. She was a plagiarist and liar. She had a strong dislike for older people. She had just turned forty. She killed herself out of self-pity and shame.
Socrates had a reputation for trolling various sites through a number of sock-puppets for years before Blake and Duncan excited the blogosphere, and for years afterIn a 7 March 2011 post, Kid Kenoma characterized Socrates as a pseudo-leftist who, after being either fired or shunned by such liberal and progressive activists as Velvet Revolution’s Brad Friedman and Daily Kos contributor Maryscott O’Connor, tried to curry favor with far right political players David Horowitz (founder of the Wednesday Morning Club mentioned earlier in this series) and Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Patrick Frey, who blogs under the handle Patterico.  Another Daily Kos contributor, Neal Rauhauser, contended that Socrates and Frey had connections to a disruptive ultraconservative online faction attempting to silence selected liberal and leftist targets through defamation, among them Velvet Revolution founder Brett Kimberlin.***  

Others have linked this cabal to another huge name in right-wing politics.  As The Watchful Avenger wrote in a 16 May 2012 post titled “LA DA John ‘Patterico’ Frey Reveals His Plot To Destroy Non Profit”:
There has been a long term war ongoing between Frey and VR dating back to early 2010 when Frey and Andrew Breitbart organized a group of conspirators using mentally challenged individuals such as the cyberstalker Seth Allen and the Islamophobic Manassas Virginia Attorney at Law, Aaron Justin Walker, who also blogs as Aaron Worthing, to go after VR and Brett Kimberlin by publishing derogatory and or false information about VR and Kimberlin to destroy VR’s ability to raise funds. I have long questioned the reason why Frey and other individuals such as Walker who tweets as @AaronWorthing have gone after VR and its founders Brad Friedman and Brett Kimberlin. Last night Patrick Frey revealed what the operation was truly about, and that is VR’s donors....

Every story that has come out against VR and Brett Kimberlin has been produced by Frey, Mandy Nagy [known online as Liberty Chick], Aaron Worthing and Seth Allen, as noted in this tweet from Frey:
The recently deceased Andrew Breitbart, had a number of conservative bonafides having written political commentary for Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Washington Times.  After helping Arianna Huffington set up her now-famous Huffington Post, he set up a similar website,, which served as a news hub for various stories supporting the conservative cause. In one of the most famous cases that broke on, a couple of Republican activists, James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles, posed as a couple (ostensibly a pimp and his prostitute) seeking help from the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a non-profit organization dedicated to solving such issues as voter disenfranchisement, and decent housing and medical care for the working poor.  They secretly videotaped the interviews with ACORN personnel, and elicited responses that would seem to indicate that they were advising them on how to evade taxes and avoid detection of sex trafficking crimes. 

As it turned out, the story was a hoax.  The video was heavily and expertly edited.  Among other things, someone had overdubbed questions onto the audio track that didn't correspond to the original ones asked of the ACORN workers.  Consequently O'Keefe and Giles succeeded in making ACORN staff seem complicit in a criminal conspiracy.  The cameras never showed O’Keefe and Giles during the interviews, but in other footage (i.e., in scenes without ACORN staff) they wore stereotypical Mack and callgirl disguises, thus making it appear as though their intentions were obvious.  In truth, however, O’Keefe and Giles wore plain street clothes during these conferences.  A number of subsequent official investigations found that ACORN had neither violated any laws, nor misused any of its government funds.  But ACORN has yet to recover from the scandal.****

While there’s abundant evidence that GOP political tricksters expended considerable effort to define various individuals and groups as evil, immoral or unlawful enemies, it’s still curious that one of its ranks would have that much of an opinion on the fate of Jeremy Blake and Theresa Duncan.  Moreover, that he would use the same kind of venom that most would for political targets would imply that he saw them as political targets important enough to go after.  Throw in someone like Et in Arcadia Ego Eve who has alleged ties with a famous right-wing ideologue, and Wednesday Morning Club regular Kate Coe, and you have an even more curious group of people playing an active role in shaping the Blake/Duncan story.  What’s interesting isn’t their diversity, but rather their ideological homogeneity.

As Alice herself would say, “Curiouser and curiouser.”
*Again, not to be confused with former Rigorous Intuition Forum moderator Et in Arcadia Ego. 

**Threads of the Blake/Duncan story somehow wound up being incorporated into The Great and the Terrible (also known as the I’m Sorry) ARG designed by Brian Bricker.  The plot deals with a framed private investigator’s attempts to prove his innocence in a murder case.  It has since been brought to my attention that the attachment of Blake and Duncan to the I'm Sorry ARG came, to a substantial degree, from blogger dreamsend.  While on the one hand such would give little example of an ARG designer deliberately injecting Theremy into a game, one could still surmise that the deaths of Blake and Duncan could be injected into an ARG scenario, just as other conspiracy stories have been.

***A lawsuit Kimberlin filed against Frey revealed Socrates to be a New Englander named Seth Allen.  Allen was accused of penning the material, which Frey posted on his blog. 

****The attack against ACORN was in essence an attack on President Barack Obama, who, as a community organizer worked with the group in Chicago during the 1980s.  A number of Republican pundits accused ACORN of rigging the 2008 US presidential election through their voting registration efforts.

Other stories involved the heavy editing of a videotaped speech made by Georgia State Director of Rural Development Shirley Sherrod which made her appear racist against white farmers, and the entrapment of US Representative Anthony Weiner (D-NY) in a sexting scandal.

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  • At 1:29 PM, Anonymous Lea said…

    The "freepers" at right-wing site Free Republic had a field day with Theresa and Jeremy's death.

    Poster "LDSentinel" posted a link to The Wit of the Staircase, calling it an "anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Bush, anti-Cheney, etc. blog." "Old Sarge" recommended "bleach in the gene pool," while "no dems" joked "Latest reports say that the Hillary Clinton campaign is extremely saddened over the loss of two more votes due to their deaths" prompting "Reagan80" to reply, "Now that they're dead, their registrations can be 'voted' as many times as necessary to win!"

    "Mad_as_ heck" seemed to sum it up:

    "I know a lot of people just like these too. They never know a moment of joy or peace in life. That is the price of the left’s century long attack on the foundations of western civilization.

    The world in which the modern leftists live is so empty, so cynical, so devoid of meaning. I thank God every day that I was never sucked into the vortex of nihilism in which these pathetic people are trapped."

  • At 7:24 PM, Blogger ELFIS said…

    Great start to this portion of the Theremy drama, X.

  • At 7:32 PM, Blogger ELFIS said…

    Oh, and I don't think I'd ever seen that "Karla Rising" link to Beth / Eve.

    Some other interesting links when googling for Beth Kennison & ghost troop as search terms:

    Did anyone save DreamsEnd's post on Ghost Troop/Eric May?

    Ghosts in the Machine: Eric May and Infiltration of the Peace Movement

  • At 11:50 AM, Blogger Charles Gramlich said…

    The quote that you indicate about the fake names is pretty telling. It shows very well the convoluted way this person reasoned. It takes almost fifty words to say what they mean about the "alter" and they have to obfuscate before they get there. this is not someone who is forthcoming and open in their statements and they seem a bit in love with their own words as well.

  • At 2:40 PM, Blogger X. Dell said…

    Lea, that's a good find. I've come across other examples of ideologically pointed interpretations of Blake and Duncan, some courtesy of Kid Kenoma. I find it fascinating that there is such a consistency to that aspect of the story.

    ELFIS, thanks for the kind words and the links. The Captain May link might indicate another example of the folie à deux story serving a specific ideological interest (it would depend on the the strength's of Eve's ties to the Ghost Troop milieu).

    Charles, all I can say is that's an interesting observation.

  • At 7:05 PM, Blogger Thirtyseven said…

    Excellent digging & interesting reading, thank you. Appreciate the independent audit.

  • At 10:34 PM, Blogger X. Dell said…

    Hello, Thirtyseven. Welcome to The X-Spot.

    I hope I don't come across as "auditing." Sounds so, I dunno, Miscavish (to invent a word).

  • At 12:42 AM, Blogger Ray Palm (Ray X) said…

    I wasn't aware of the rest of the story regarding ACORN. But the trick did work: get a nasty story (mostly untrue) in the headlines and leave most people with the impression that you want to stick in their minds. Of course, usually mainstream media, if they do follow up with the rest of the story, don't do it on the front page or as a lead story, thus leaving many people uninformed of what really happened. And most people – and I'm guilty of this at times – are so busy with their day-to-day lives (and also in some cases suffering from information overload) that they don't search out revelations that come later regarding a headlined event.

    A good example is the invasion of Grenada during the "glory days" of President Reagan . He claimed the US military could "Stand Tall" again but if you read about what really happened, all the screw ups during the invasion to "save" the American students, you'll know much more than the average Joe or Jane on the street.

    The theremy story is murky in some areas, thus making it easy for some to confuse the issue, trying to implant a popular (but untrue version) into the public's consciousness.

  • At 9:43 AM, Blogger Thirtyseven said…

    LMFAO! So sorry for the inadvertent CoS pun, it was just force of happen from finance/security nomenclature. I do a lot of "audit" activity in my daily grind, just without any e-meters or portraits of Ron.

    So let me say: thanks for the sober re-examination.

  • At 9:45 AM, Blogger Thirtyseven said…

    Man, I do those phonetic typos a lot these days...probably a grim sign of some oncoming neuro-disorder...meant to type "force of habit."

  • At 3:57 PM, Blogger X. Dell said…

    Thirtyseven, no worries. We speak fluent typo on the comments page. Thanks for the kind words. Feel free to comment at anytime.

    Ray, some of my students were journalism majors, and they used to joke that corrections appear on page seven. Press outlets often portray themselves as authoritative. So if people saw all their mistakes, they would begin to look more critically at it. But to leave the mistake uncorrected would be unprofessional. So oftentimes their choices are between defending the story, evidence be damned, or correcting it in such a a way as to not call attention to the goof.

    And as you attest, the strategy worked. Considering the calamity that befell ACORN's fundraising after the scandal, it would seem that most people didn't get the full story.

    You're also right in pointing out that a story so murky as Theremy could be ripe for deliberate misstatement because of its obscurity.

  • At 4:07 PM, Blogger X. Dell said…

    Almost forgot, Thirtyseven, but I tried to view one of your pages, but it wouldn't load because my anti-malware program blocked it. I'm guessing that it's an image or some other file that's causing the problem. You might want to check that out.

  • At 12:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I miss my art in motion

  • At 11:49 PM, Blogger X. Dell said…

    Anonymous, I think I've missed my art whether in motion or standing still.


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