By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
THE ILL-FATED COUPLE LEFT — some might argue fled — Los Angeles last fall. In New York, Blake took a full-time job at Rockstar Games and prepared for a big fall show at the Corcoran Gallery, where he was to be artist in residence. The stylish couple found the perfect apartment in a converted rectory at St. Mark’s in the Bowery.
By uncanny coincidence, activist Father Frank Morales, a controversial figure who probes conspiracy theories, was the pastor. Morales told the Weekly that “Theresa . . . manifested a penchant for looking at things in a dark way,” adding, “She came to [New York] with some hard feelings, some hurt, but she was a bright light.”
She and Jeremy Blake were photographed at New York social events, and she eagerly joined the St. Mark’s fund-raising community. In March, her short story “Topographers” was published in Bald Ego, the au courant magazine edited by Glenn O’Brien. But Duncan never shook off her fear and suspicion. On her blog on May 20, she wrote that author and USC research scholar Reza Aslan was a “Muslim American seeming Homeland Security agent,” and blamed Scientologists for graffiti and a dead cat in her old Venice neighborhood.
Aslan told the Weekly that whenever he appeared on TV, she contacted him with strange rants. He gave Duncan’s threatening messages to his lawyer because “I wanted someone else to know about this.” Aslan knew her for years, and “she had always said kind of crazy, paranoid things,” but “it just got worse and worse. She accused me of being an undercover CIA officer, of eavesdropping on her, of having her FBI file. The conversation she blogged about — about her FBI file — never came up; the whole conversation was completely fictional.
“She was losing her grip on reality, and Jeremy was so devoted to her that he would go along with it . . . It became impossible to ignore, and so my [girlfriend] and I began to extricate ourselves.”
In New York, Duncan continued to push the twin storylines that had enveloped her in Los Angeles. She found more conspiracy — but this time in the New York art world, publicly accusing Blake’s former girlfriend, photographer Anna Gaskell, of being linked to an alleged tangle of right-wing conspirators against her and Jeremy Blake.
And she continued to paint a picture of dream film projects that were just around the corner. Speaking to the Weekly from New York, writer and editor O’Brien says Duncan told his wife, Gina Nanni, she’d gotten a movie deal. And Blake Robin wrote to the Weekly that Duncan “told me she was working very hard ‘on a very exciting project that I can’t wait to share with you that will take all summer long.’ ” But, Robin says, “Jeremy was working hard and she was waiting.”
Theresa Duncan was, undeniably, a creative force — infuriating and inspiring by equal measure. Remembers Nichols: “I always respected her often elegant and eloquent thoughts and her discipline and drive to record them. I am truly sorrowful that fears, insecurities and rage got the best of her.”
Many read Duncan’s words online, and most thought she was glamorous, brilliant, brave, bold, erudite. She was all those things — but those attributes didn’t win in the end. Her blog was called The Wit of the Staircase, the literal translation of the French l’esprit d’escalier. It means a perfect rejoinder that comes too late.
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