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Duclod man uncovered.
March 12, 2007 5:51 PM   Subscribe

Duclod man uncovered. Sarah Aswell uncovers but does not name the author of bizarre letters. "As early as 1992, students at Grinnell College, a small liberal arts school in Iowa, began receiving strange, anonymous letters in the mail. The letters contained homemade greeting cards with crudely drawn pictures—men crawling on the ground, toilets and trash cans, twin closet doors—and jokes that didn’t make any sense." Previously on Metafilter, plus this blip.
posted by Mo Nickels (156 comments total) 65 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, I did not know the duclod story. What an odd, dissatisfying, and yet somehow totally predictable denouement.
posted by cortex at 6:16 PM on March 12, 2007


Nice piece of writing. I'm disappointed, looking at that old MeFi thread, that we didn't manage to find him. Maybe we will now....
posted by mr_roboto at 6:18 PM on March 12, 2007


And that "blip" is just... I don't know what to say.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:20 PM on March 12, 2007


Other than, "Nice post, Mo." OK; I'm done.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:20 PM on March 12, 2007


She obviously isn't too serious about keeping his identity hidden... based on the info in the story, I found his home page with a single google search.
posted by reborndata at 6:21 PM on March 12, 2007


yep, interesting post..but, about that "blip".....
posted by HuronBob at 6:21 PM on March 12, 2007


aaaand... got 'im. link.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:23 PM on March 12, 2007


goddamn it.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:25 PM on March 12, 2007


Oh My God! Its not shaves cats! It's shave scats! And he's using it as an organic fertilizer! AAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!
posted by milkwood at 6:27 PM on March 12, 2007


its times like this I can do naught but quote the immortal words of the Otara Millionaires Club:

"how bizzare/
how bizzare"

posted by drjimmy11 at 6:31 PM on March 12, 2007


I haven't finished the article yet, I just wanted to point out that if you poke around his site a little it's strange and kind of disturbing. Creepy really.
posted by puke & cry at 6:40 PM on March 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


hmmmm...he has a dreambook(guestbook). I've got $5.00 that says that thing gets filled with some angry rants in the next 24hrs.

What do you call a duclod that is outed on mefi?

screwed...


come to think of it, how do we know this is even the guy-maybe it's just some organic farmer that sold the writer of this piece some bad veggies at the local farmers market...
posted by cloudstastemetallic at 6:40 PM on March 12, 2007


Wow. the jack-o-lantern image is hosted at http://members.aol.com/ibitebones/, which is another page obviously by the same same guy that includes an amusing audio file: http://members.aol.com/mopbot/bonebite.wav (It's in the "slideshow" about the abandoned clambake shack, of course)
posted by contraption at 6:41 PM on March 12, 2007


I have a bad feeling this won't end well... although he's removed his address and phone from the resume, it's not hard to find. She might as well have published them.

Strangely, the date on the article is March 27, 2007. It doesn't seem to show up on the main Advocate site.
posted by reborndata at 6:43 PM on March 12, 2007


Either the person she was stalking changed stuff around, or she's exaggerating, because the "Chilee UmGum" page isn't hiding anything.

The quonsar connection is pretty funny.
posted by cmonkey at 6:43 PM on March 12, 2007


He designs web pages for a living? haha.
posted by banished at 6:43 PM on March 12, 2007


"It doesn't seem to show up on the main Advocate site."

yes it does....
posted by HuronBob at 6:48 PM on March 12, 2007


Somebody got fed (and swallowed) some kitty manure.
posted by IronLizard at 6:50 PM on March 12, 2007


OK, I'm an idiot.
posted by reborndata at 6:50 PM on March 12, 2007


I take my duclod letter out of its worn envelope. I write across it, big: “This is Maggpie. Stop sending letters, Richard.” I write it in a style that might be called “serial killer.” I put my duclod letter in a new envelope with Richard’s address on it. I put that letter into a larger envelope addressed to my sister, who lives in western Massachusetts. When she puts it in the mail for me, it will be postmarked in an area far away from me and significant to him.

Except that then she wrote this article.
posted by delmoi at 6:51 PM on March 12, 2007


It's also theoretically possible that the guy is just some random guy who the 'duclod man' tried to frame.
posted by delmoi at 6:53 PM on March 12, 2007


I like this.

Subject: I peed in a
Author: turtle
posted by puke & cry at 7:01 PM on March 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


So, uh, does this mean that quonsar is the duclod man?
posted by yeoz at 7:13 PM on March 12, 2007


schizophrenia? schizoid?
posted by bhouston at 7:14 PM on March 12, 2007


The Wayback Machine has an archived copy of his resume, which includes a photograph that's bad enough it makes you wonder how bad photographs of him must usually be if that's the one he chose to post on his website.
posted by cerebus19 at 7:14 PM on March 12, 2007


Oh, and it also has his address and phone number. Which I didn't realize until just now, when I accidentally scrolled down the top frame.
posted by cerebus19 at 7:15 PM on March 12, 2007


No, thats the University's address.
posted by IronLizard at 7:18 PM on March 12, 2007


So Quonsar makes organic fertilizer? I eat too many AAA batteries to qualify for that.

(I wonder when Scarabic will confess to staying up late trying to find me?)
posted by davy at 7:25 PM on March 12, 2007


swear to god, in january 1979, on the wall of a rest area restroom near alma michigan, i saw scrawled "how many farts can a duclod snort?". my bandmate at the time, dave, saw it too. for years we used that line as an inside joke. i never heard a definition of the word until i read about the grinnell letters here in a previous post. i remember the date because we were traveling to a gig at alma college, and shortly after that gig i hooked up with my now ex-wife. for years she kept a picture of me taken at that gig in her jewelery box.
posted by quonsar at 7:25 PM on March 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


This reminded me of the Zodiac movie.

Also: goddamn people are weird!
posted by Kattullus at 7:26 PM on March 12, 2007


Huh, I just looked at the blip link. That's certainly an interesting twist.
posted by puke & cry at 7:27 PM on March 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


And "Sarah Aswell" is obviously a pseudonym. Signed, Davy Also.
posted by davy at 7:27 PM on March 12, 2007


(Damn quonsar, you're even more ancient than I am, poor troll.)
posted by davy at 7:29 PM on March 12, 2007


holy shit davy, i'd forgotten all about that email. it's quoted word for word in this article. except i wrote back. in fact, i told here where i'd first heard the word. i think she got onto me from a blort posting. unreal!
posted by quonsar at 7:30 PM on March 12, 2007


Whoa, I graduated from Grinnell in the late '90s and I don't remember hearing about this. Fascinating.
posted by statolith at 7:36 PM on March 12, 2007


No, thats the University's address.

No, it wasn't. The top frame had (though I can't reload it now, for some reason) his home address and phone number, in Arkansas. The bottom frame had (and still has) the university's address.
posted by cerebus19 at 7:37 PM on March 12, 2007


He's also got blort listed under his favorite links section of that angelfire garbmut page. I wonder if he added it before or after the duclod post.
posted by puke & cry at 7:48 PM on March 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why, why on earth would she write this without closing the loop?

Is she trying to get him to reveal himself further? Is it another gambit?

She's not done, dammit! Premature reporting!
posted by Miko at 7:48 PM on March 12, 2007


> though I can't reload it now, for some reason

The top frame is this, which runs through a bunch of redirects and then fails. The archived page being pointed to still exists though.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:52 PM on March 12, 2007


Personally, I can't wait for the diggmob over at digg to do their thing to this guy.
posted by Xere at 7:55 PM on March 12, 2007


I received one of these letters while I was a student at Grinnell. It was very unsettling, but I had forgotten about it. Thanks for posting this, Mo Nickels.
posted by JeremyT at 7:57 PM on March 12, 2007


Or, hmm, ok. The previous MeFi thread ends with this comment:
This is Fred Beukema, the author of the Duclod article in the S&B student paper.... I did some scouring myself. I found the Chamo Howards connection...I even tried to e-mail good old Chamo at one of the addresses listed in his many joke posts. ....As stated in the article, my goal was to increase awareness of the whole creepy business and see if anyone knew anything.
Sarah Aswell? You smell likeFred Beukema.

God, I love a good mystery.

Still. The whole duclod obsession and its expression through wordplay seems pretty consistent with manifestations of schizophrenia, though IANAP so take that with a grain of salt.
posted by Miko at 7:58 PM on March 12, 2007


Given that she, or he, apparently mistook Quonsar for the duclod guy at one point, I'm not sure how much reliability one should give to her story. Assuming, of course, that Quonsar really isn't the duclod guy. This guy is in for a world of trouble, which would be a shame if the author is wrong.

Is it odd that the archive org header page no longer refreshes? That changed shortly after cerebrus posted it.
posted by Manjusri at 8:06 PM on March 12, 2007


Ahhh, this address.
posted by IronLizard at 8:07 PM on March 12, 2007


What the heck is this?
posted by IronLizard at 8:09 PM on March 12, 2007


And Fred Beukema is a complicated dude.
posted by Miko at 8:10 PM on March 12, 2007


Seems pretty clear that Sarah Aswell is real.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:10 PM on March 12, 2007


What the heck is this?

A cloud formation that maybe looks kinda like a dog?
posted by dilettante at 8:13 PM on March 12, 2007


Hmmm.
posted by Miko at 8:13 PM on March 12, 2007


What the heck is this?

A cloud formation that maybe looks kinda like a dog?

A Rorschach test?
posted by dilettante at 8:13 PM on March 12, 2007


Good thing it's so easy to reshape a tinfoil hat.
posted by Miko at 8:14 PM on March 12, 2007


What the heck is this?

The Eagle Nebula.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:15 PM on March 12, 2007


Damn it, that was only supposed to be one comment. I hit stop when it looked like it was taking a while to go through....
posted by dilettante at 8:15 PM on March 12, 2007


apparently mistook Quonsar for the duclod guy at one point

i'm not so sure about that - in the article she mentions emailing a lot of people, wondering if she's becoming like duclod man for doing so.
posted by quonsar at 8:16 PM on March 12, 2007


Hmmm, the Eagle nebula picture is an interesting choice:
People see faces in clouds here on Earth, but there are clouds in space, too. They're called "nebulae", and are generally composed of gas and dust many light years across. Perhaps the most famous is the Eagle Nebula, imaged by Hubble back in 1995. It's one of the most famous images of space ever taken.

When the picture was released, it made quite a splash in the news. CNN showed it, and they were stunned to receive phone calls from people who saw all sorts of things in it. Many people swore they saw the face of Jesus in it. Below are two shots of the Eagle. The one on the left is a closeup of one region of the nebula. On the right, the "face of Jesus" is highlighted.

If you're like me, you see a rough resemblance to a face, and if you squint your eyes and stand far enough away, it does sorta resemble the way Jesus is represented in Western art. Kinda.

Some people swear by this image. Of course, it's not Jesus, it's just a random swirl of gas in a cloud 7000 light years away. When that light left that cloud, Jesus wouldn't be born for another 5000 years! But that won't stop people. In fact, the images above are from a page saying it's the Face of God.

But wait! Let's look around the Eagle a bit. If we step back a little, and look at the same area... isn't that a Scottish Terrier? It looks like it's sitting up and begging!
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:21 PM on March 12, 2007


Wow. This kind of makes me want to begin the process of cleansing the internet of any information that could be used to find me. I'd hate to be hunted down over some forum post about gun rights or abortion or something.
posted by tehloki at 8:26 PM on March 12, 2007


Hmmm.
posted by Miko at 11:13 PM EST on March 12


hmmm, indeed. i did not post that. it was only last september. i was sober 20 months at the time. i'd remember. and as far as i know, i don't have a blogger account. well, i *do*, but the handle is horsefucker, not quonsar, and i've forgotten the password. lol!
posted by quonsar at 8:28 PM on March 12, 2007


So, like, Who Friggin' Cares? Don't you people have anything better to do?

I'm going to try this 2004 Fish Eye Cabernet Sauvignon to see if $5 per bottle was a good deal or not, since I can't yet get Two Buck Chuck around Louisville.
posted by davy at 8:29 PM on March 12, 2007


It's funny -- I just saw Zodiac last night -- loved it. I can never get enough of this kind of sleuthery (and, yes, I know it's a different order of magnitude, but both cases have that kind of creepy, easy-to-get-obsessed-with feel).
posted by Toecutter at 8:35 PM on March 12, 2007


IronLizard: it's the Eagle Nebula.
posted by basicchannel at 8:36 PM on March 12, 2007


Doh!
posted by basicchannel at 8:36 PM on March 12, 2007


Who Friggin' Cares?

Slow night at Chez Miko.
posted by Miko at 8:38 PM on March 12, 2007


Just in case we're collecting the whole set.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:41 PM on March 12, 2007


"i'm not so sure about that - in the article she mentions emailing a lot of people, wondering if she's becoming like duclod man for doing so."

Yeah, but that is in reference to emails where she supposedly asks: "What is your real name?” “Who are you?” “Answer me.”, and “I’m looking for someone who wrote me an anonymous letter,” and “I think he’s connected to Grinnell College in some way. Please, I know this is strange, but please write back.”.

She doesn't mention emailing that joke to anyone but McEwan, and the big smoking gun is that he writes back “Pretty funny.”, even though she took such great pains to "make sure it’s not actually funny". It changes the story a bit to realize that she emailed that joke out to an unknown number of people and he happened to be the one that responded. Omitting that detail calls her credibility into question.
posted by Manjusri at 8:42 PM on March 12, 2007


Robert McEwen has a website that matches the description in the article.
posted by jayder at 8:45 PM on March 12, 2007


Does THIS has something to do with Tom Cruise and/or Scientology TOO?
posted by davy at 8:46 PM on March 12, 2007


Uh, sorry, I just saw that I was beaten to the punch by the seventh comment in this thread.
posted by jayder at 8:46 PM on March 12, 2007


Yes, this is creepy, too.
posted by jayder at 8:47 PM on March 12, 2007


This thread is a litmus test mobius strip.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:48 PM on March 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Armitage - i beleive i'm responsible for that one. i'm sure i found the qraft page from the referrer database i keep for blort. i dimly recall leaving the "watch out for airplanes hitting the WTC on 9/11" message to the future. well, not a specific memory, but it's very much quonsar-like, and the lower case resonates as well. the guestbook would have auto-capitalized the Quonsar in the first name field, and there is a link to blort on the main page. i'll claim that one. btw, much closer to the top you can see aswell's post - "duclod hunter - i know who you are".
posted by quonsar at 8:56 PM on March 12, 2007


This thread is a litmus test mobius strip.

A Mobius strip made out of litmus paper?
posted by supercres at 8:58 PM on March 12, 2007


with tom cruises autograph.
posted by quonsar at 8:59 PM on March 12, 2007


q -- what is this one?
posted by Mid at 9:00 PM on March 12, 2007


Mid, see here
posted by quonsar at 9:11 PM on March 12, 2007


Oh dont pay the creepy people "no nevermind"
posted by sonoma at 9:11 PM on March 12, 2007


Very interesting, even if the "Blurred line between hunter/quarry,""How far will she go to understand the mind of a madman?" thing got old fast.

What a cowardly douche bag; here's hoping he reaps what he's sowed x1000.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:15 PM on March 12, 2007


This thread is a litmus test mobius strip.

And how. Our guy's got a blog on his Garbmut page, wherein he posted the previous Mefi thread about the Duclod letters in its entirety.

Creepy.

(Warning-- link not safe for anyone who doesn't want to see a PO'd-looking half-shaved housecat.)
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 9:16 PM on March 12, 2007


i dimly recall leaving the "watch out for airplanes hitting the WTC on 9/11" message to the future.

For a brief moment, I was really hoping we could work John Titor into this.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:17 PM on March 12, 2007


Crap. Here's the link I meant to post. Sorry, all.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 9:22 PM on March 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


So why does that hillary thing appear both in the link you commented in and the one you say you didn't?
posted by IronLizard at 9:33 PM on March 12, 2007


What is the simple message to be learned here?

There is no search engine for snail mail...

Back in the "old days" the identity of the author of anonymous crank mail would usually go undiscovered, unless of course it was high profile or threatening. Since "Duclod Guy" crossed over to the 'net, tracking him down became much easier. All hail the mighty search engine!

Also, we see the use of linguistic style analysis, similar to what we saw in the Unabomber case. You can't eat your cake and have it too!

I liked the story as it mentioned the University of Montana, and autoerotic asphyxia. The term "duclod" also sounds like "dewclaw" which is also cool...

Thumbs up!
posted by Tube at 9:37 PM on March 12, 2007


This would be a pretty bitching movie script.
posted by Colloquial Collision at 9:41 PM on March 12, 2007


This thread is a litmus test [Mö]bius strip Rorschach blot.
posted by eritain at 9:58 PM on March 12, 2007


My last girlfriend was a student at Grinnell in the early 2000s. She was very out of the closet and hung out with a group she always called "The Back Tablers" because they congregated at a particular table in the back of the dining hall/cafeteria. Members included mostly (though probably not exclusively) those with sexual proclivities significantly different from the norm: BDSMers, ear fetishists (aka Ferengi), polyamorites, and so forth. I'm not sure whether plain-old-fashioned bi-sexuals were given to hanging with The BTs, but, then, I get the impression that the only real requirement for being a part of the group was wanting to be a part of the group.

The fact that psycho guy (or girl) was able to keep track of folks who were gay, bi, etc. over a number of years makes me think that maybe he was connected to this or another subcommunity at the school that could supply him with relevant info.
posted by Clay201 at 10:12 PM on March 12, 2007


So... Help a slow brother out here. Is Quonsar the Duclod man or not?

I was following the script up until someone pointed out a Blogger post from someone named Quonsar, which linked to the same Hillary Clinton site frequented by someone named Red Kuller, which is an acknowledged alter ego for the Duclod guy. But Mefi Quonsar claims it's a coincidence. Plus, there's Mefi Quonsar's contemporaneous quoting of an email
supposedly only sent to Duclod man (according to the article in the FPP), which appears to have been explained away by... what, exactly?

Anyone wanna help me out? Quonsar?

I find this all even better than the Zodiac movie. Except for the aviator shades and mutton chops, that is.
posted by turducken at 10:49 PM on March 12, 2007


This whole damn Web is a Rorshach blot.
posted by davy at 10:55 PM on March 12, 2007


By the way, I don't think Duclod Man is really quonsar. And I'm not saying this because I'm afraid of his lawyers.
posted by davy at 10:59 PM on March 12, 2007


I really doubt the Duclod Man could stand posting here for so long and not slip in to his "bean toilet" thing. Of course q being him wouldn't be terribly surprising.
posted by puke & cry at 11:20 PM on March 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also, we see the use of linguistic style analysis...

In a world where fingerprint evidence is wrongly believed to be conclusive, I'm not impressed by the forensic analysis of some grad student playing amateur sleuth via Google. She was looking for a pattern and she found one.
posted by cribcage at 11:23 PM on March 12, 2007


Well, this all assumes there was just ONE Duclod man. Amateurs.
posted by Emo Squid at 11:39 PM on March 12, 2007


I was just messing around with the duclod man's Gematria calculator and "Quonsar" adds up to 777. Nothing else I typed in came up with anything interesting...

From Wikipedia:

777 = 3 × 7 × 37, sphenic number, Harshad number, 3333 in senary (base 6) counting. Sometimes given the title of "Jesus' number," as the numbers 3 and 7 were both "perfect numbers" under Hebrew tradition. Someone also said: "If man is 555 and the devil is 666 , so God must be 777. This is referenced in the Pixies song "Monkey Gone To Heaven."

I'll be wearing a tinfoil hat any day now...
posted by Raoul de Noget at 12:16 AM on March 13, 2007


I'm just glad Duclod man didn't try this at my alma mater, there would have been five snivelling straight kids sad that they didn't get letters and fifteen hundred self-righteously pissed off bisexual trustafarians feeling oppressed.

They would have found him though. Well, if they hadn't been too stoned.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:36 AM on March 13, 2007


That explains his interest in computers and his ability to open my mail client and send e-mails from my account.

It's really more that you're using Internet Explorer.

My e-mails don’t bounce back, so I know the accounts are active.

No, you don't know that.

This is the technological equivalent of using big words to mask the fact that you don't know what you're talking about.

I'm not saying she came to the wrong conclusion as to the identity of the person who sent the letters, but her methods are far from ironclad.
posted by oaf at 1:33 AM on March 13, 2007


This may be the strangest thing I have read on Metafilter...
posted by ageispolis at 1:49 AM on March 13, 2007


You see a deadly sin on almost every street corner, and in every home, literally. And we tolerate it. Because it's common, it seems trivial, and we tolerate, all day long, morning, noon and night. Not anymore. I'm setting the example, and it's going to be puzzled over and studied and followed, from now on.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 1:52 AM on March 13, 2007


It's really more that you're using Internet Explorer.

nothing to do with it. popping open the mail client is what "mailto:" *does*, it pops mine open and i'm using firefox and thunderbird on linux, for cripes sake. making it happen without clicking a link is as simple as some javascript in the body tag, IIRC...

i'm not duclod man. i once linked to one of his joke sites because the word struck a memory chord in me, it seems both he and aswell took note.
posted by quonsar at 4:27 AM on March 13, 2007


Q: What are a duclod's two favorite things?

A: Fish heads and an over-inflated sense of entitlement.

Seriously though, as I read through this story I thought it was some sort of elaborate lead-in to an ARG of some sort.
posted by owenkun at 4:29 AM on March 13, 2007


Weird. I was at Grinnell from 91 to 95, and have no memory of that stuff at all. I wonder if anyone I know received letters?The word rings something of a bell, maybe it was a graffiti I saw, but I could be making that up.

To Clay, regarding the 'back table" or "goofy table" as we (those who didn't sit there-- it was affectionate though) called it then, those folks were definitely not most of the lgbt community at Grinnell, at least at the time. They were more sca, sci fi, trekkies, d&d, etc., who may or may not have been outside the sexual norm (not that there was any norm, really, there and then).

Without any info about how the guy got people's names and addressess, it's hard to say how he chose his targets. But it would be interesting to see if there are any correlations. I wonder how he focussed on Grinnell?
posted by miss tea at 4:58 AM on March 13, 2007


This may be the strangest thing I have read on Metafilter...

I agree. It's like something out of a Peter Straub novel.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 5:20 AM on March 13, 2007


I was halfway through this thread when the dog knocked something off the coffee table and I jumped like 4 feet in the air.
posted by desjardins at 7:10 AM on March 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


As someone who has personally met both Sarah Aswell and Fred Beukema (and who logged on this morning hoping to post this link, grrrr), I can vouch for the fact that that they both exist and are not the same person.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 7:19 AM on March 13, 2007


I don't understand.
posted by everichon at 7:38 AM on March 13, 2007


Yeah, this is definitely a strange thread, even more so because Sarah is an old friend of mine. It was a bit surprising to see her name on the front page, and then there's all this behind it...

Huh, and I actually mention the previous duclod thread in passing in an old email to her.

[On preview, I guess I don't need to vouch for Sarah's authenticity.]

I asked her about this, and she asked me to let you all know that she does not think quonsar is the duclod man, though she acknowledges bothering him a bit before she found the real guy.

I think we can all tell that quonsar is a different kind of crazy, anyway.
posted by whatnotever at 7:40 AM on March 13, 2007


So a link to Grinnell was never found? If not, then the story continues to be creepy.
posted by ken_zoan at 7:51 AM on March 13, 2007


Yeah, I still don't know how this guy tracked people down. I know Sarah and Fred both wrote for the Grinnell College newspaper, another guy I knew who received one of these letters was profiled in the paper. Maybe that's how the Duclod man got people's names?
posted by croutonsupafreak at 8:05 AM on March 13, 2007


That would be easy enough to research, for someone truly dedicated to the cause. If 100% of letter recipients' names had appeared in the paper, that would be a strong suggestion that that's where they were coming from.

However, if the person does have a mental disorder, there doesn't necessarily need to be a connection with Grinnell of the type we might expect. He may never have worked there; he may not know a single person there. It could simply be that he has ideas of reference.
posted by Miko at 8:12 AM on March 13, 2007


"Mostly, the letters targeted gay and bisexual seniors."

It seems to me that this targetting means that he has a definite and longstanding connection to Grinnell, maybe not through employment or even as a student, it could be that he gets his information via a faculty member, but it's hard to believe that targetting an LGBT minority (one presumes) could be anything but a direct connection. And doubtless such personal information was not published in the newspaper. When you add the unusual or unpublished (whatever) student addresses, it still seems to suggest someone with some decent access to records.
posted by peacay at 8:36 AM on March 13, 2007


i don't know why, but this reminds me of salad fingers in a really creepy sort of way.
posted by prototype_octavius at 8:41 AM on March 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hi. This is Fred. As others have mentioned, Sarah and I are actually different people.

I was first told about the duclod letters in Spring or Fall 1998, by members of the classes of '97 and '98 who had received them. I got a letter after Thanksgiving, 2000. If I hadn't had that previous conversation, I wouldn't have known what the hell it was, other than having some weird connection to the bathroom graffiti on campus. I probably wouldn't have told any administrators about it, and I certainly wouldn't have written the article for the school paper (archived in really odd places around the web but unfortunately not on the Scarlet & Black website anymore).

The thing that has always suggested the duclod-guy had to have a connection to campus is that people who were socially connected tended to get them in clusters. I personally think the "name in the paper" angle is a non-starter, because a good friend and former roommate of mine who I don't think was ever mentioned in the paper got a letter at the same time I did, from the same postmark. Correlation isn't causality, of course, but it seems odd that someone sent letters to me and to him simultaneously.

Previously, it seemed that certain groups on campus were being targeted. For a while, a streak of openly GLBT students were getting the letters. For a time it seemed to be people associated with the above-mentioned Back Table who were getting them -- the people who told me about the letters in the first place were peripherally associated with the BT.

My current pet theory is that there are at least two guys involved in this, and that the one with the specific Grinnell connection hasn't been found. The Grinnell connection has to be real and physical -- someone carved duclod jokes into at least half a dozen men's room stalls on campus and even in town.

Right now I'm just excited, though, that Sarah was published in the Advocate and that this story can start getting some more information from outside sources -- I'm fascinated, for instance, by quonsar's 1979 Alma reference. Thank you all for taking the time to theorize about this bs.
posted by beukema at 8:50 AM on March 13, 2007


The 3.5 lies link, with an interesting comment on privacy. An Oracle users forum.

Peacay, I could swear that in one of the links I read last night about this, a Student Affairs or residential life person at Grinnell said that it really wasn't just LGBT students that were getting the letters. Now, I can't find out where I read that.
posted by Miko at 8:52 AM on March 13, 2007


The Grinnell connection has to be real and physical -- someone carved duclod jokes into at least half a dozen men's room stalls on campus and even in town.

Yeah, but I guarantee if this weird lore existed about any small private college, indie goofballs would certainly amplify it even if they had nothing to do with the letters.

It could certainly be that the organic gardener is just a conduit for the letters, which originate somewhere within the college.

Seems like the college really ought to have been working harder at this...doesn't it?
posted by Miko at 8:55 AM on March 13, 2007


Miko -- you're right. They could probably crack it for $10,000 or less with a private investigator.
posted by Mid at 9:04 AM on March 13, 2007


No doubt the graffiti holds little weight as evidence. But targetting socially connected groups of students? And what about the esoteric addresses? Must be some insider involved. I don't mean any disrespect to Sarah but the article, although well written, is better as a story than it is as a piece of journalism. I'm not suggesting that it's inaccurate or the like, but it's difficult to objectively examine the situation/evidence when it's such a personal account.
posted by peacay at 9:13 AM on March 13, 2007


btw, a small correction: alma is where i am playing next week. it was ALBION in 1979. the gig was at albion college.
posted by quonsar at 9:28 AM on March 13, 2007


So is the guy at http://members.aol.com/shavescats/ a real person? It seems like the article clearly leads there, and the site has (or had) personal contact info on it, so where does that leave things?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:45 AM on March 13, 2007


If you take the name and address posted in the "resume" discussed above and plug it into people finder databases, you get a real guy by that name who also had an address in Amherst, Mass. . . Some of the letters came from the Boston area, per the article.
posted by Mid at 9:46 AM on March 13, 2007


Yep, peoples are strange, but lordy, I love shit like this. The world is a bizarre, interesting place. No doubt. Creepy, but interesting.

And Mo Nickels, Quonsar, Miko, everbody -- I love you guys. Really.

Sigh.
posted by mooncrow at 10:52 AM on March 13, 2007


Looks like we got away with it again, q!

Shh. I think I can hear someone coming


*talks in a loud voice about local sports team's recent luck*
posted by asok at 11:03 AM on March 13, 2007


I'm in Little Rock. You think I should swing by his place and have a chat?
posted by Justin Case at 11:09 AM on March 13, 2007


I wouldn't, unless you get a written invitation. Sounds like asking for trouble if the guy feels threatened and anyone has used the contact info here to harass him already.
posted by IronLizard at 11:49 AM on March 13, 2007


Fred, how do you know Duclod Man was targeting socially connected groups of people? Maybe a ton of students got the letters at the same time, but a lot of recipients did nothing and people only heard reports from their friends.
posted by hydrophonic at 12:16 PM on March 13, 2007


hydroponic: Grinnell has only about 1,500 students, and I think it was closer to 1,300-1,400 when Fred wrote his article. It's pretty easy to know what's going on on campus.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 12:22 PM on March 13, 2007


Clearly this is a gorilla/viral marketing campaign by Grinnell.
posted by pithy comment at 2:26 PM on March 13, 2007


Are any scans of the duclod letters and drawings online?
posted by agropyron at 3:01 PM on March 13, 2007


I'll second the theory that there doesn't have to be an in-town Grinnell connection. I went to an equally small school, and if you picked 10 random names out of the campus directory (available on the web as of '98 or so), 3 or 4 would be LGBQ (q, as in "questioning").

We also had our own local legend, which was similarly propagated by non-principals: Boon Tan, the Cambodian exchange student who never showed up -- but his luggage did. Since the '70s, graffitti of his sad visage have turned up on urinals and in subway tunnels from Paris to Phuket. (Verbal gif: A politically incorrect version of the smiley face, with slanted eyes and a Charlie Brown half-smile, half grimace -- since he was happy to be admitted to school, but sad because he never got there.)

And Quonsar, you're off the hook. (I'm a Triclod, if it makes you feel any better.)
posted by turducken at 3:29 PM on March 13, 2007


Another weird blip: I just found out in a conversation spawned by this thread that the Duclod account was a throwaway joke by a friend of mine—he remembers having posted a couple of jokey (and apparently subsequently deleted) comments in the old thread.

The account was banhammered, too, needless to say. Oh for those heady days when the jokes were not just cheap but free.

That same guy is responsible for me checking out mefi in the first place. Small world. Here's to ya, man.
posted by cortex at 3:35 PM on March 13, 2007


And this .wav link from one of the alleged Mr. Duclod's many circa 1999 sites is where I get off the crazy train.

This isn't "Zodiac," it's "Silence of the Lambs." (Or just maybe, "Blair Witch.")

Godspeed to the intrepid young Mefite who discovers the bodies in the crawlspace...
posted by turducken at 3:48 PM on March 13, 2007


Yeah, seconding agropyron: I would like to see the beans on the toilet. And the man crawling on the floor.
posted by everichon at 4:08 PM on March 13, 2007


I even managed to find the obituary of his father. Amazing what the internet will bring you if you ask it right...
posted by incongruity at 4:12 PM on March 13, 2007


Yeah, I would also like to ask both authors if they could scan their letters. I particularly want to see the guy crawling on the ground.
posted by puke & cry at 5:13 PM on March 13, 2007


Metafilter: a different kind of crazy

Metafilter: gorilla marketing

Metafilter: I don't understand.

OK, I'm done.

posted by eritain at 5:32 PM on March 13, 2007


Everichon & co:

Google around a bit, and you can see the beans on the toilet seat. Also, you can see a guy swigging urine from a large bottle. But I can't guarantee that you'll be happy you did.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 6:49 PM on March 13, 2007


I don't know about you guys, but I'm sleeping with the light on tonight.
posted by phaedon at 12:23 AM on March 14, 2007


i can't believe i got to the bottom of these 130+ comments.

no, it's not gorilla marketing. the campus gorilla was a different grinnell institution. i helped buy him his suit back in 1993.
posted by umbú at 8:00 AM on March 14, 2007


hydroponic:

As croutonsupafreak notes, the campus is really small (1300 at the end of the 90s). The duclod stuff stayed underground in part because some people didn't talk about it -- I got an email in 2001 from an alumna who thought she had been personally targeted and didn't tell anyone about it because she was scared -- but had it been a widespread mass mailing, there would have been an uproar to match. Grinnell students are renowned for their sense of outrage and (self-)righteousness. I say that not to be (overly) disparaging, and with tongue slightly in-cheek.

Furthermore, if the mailings had been particularly more widespread than what had been previously, voluntarily reported, I suspect there would have been more response when the campus article (and a smaller version in the alumni magazine) was published in 2001. One of the administrators later told me she had gotten a smattering of responses. Based on the stack of letters I saw, and what people told me, I generously estimate a maximum of 20 letters in any given academic year, and an average of more like 10. While that is 1.5% of the campus population, it's still too small for the groupings of recipients to be an accidental coincidence.

puke & cry:

This may set off your hoax detector, but neither Sarah nor I have our letters. Sarah describes how she got rid of hers in the article. I gave mine to the security office in 2001 after finishing my article, and upon graduating immediately regretted giving up this weird but personal memento. I haven't seen the print version of Sarah's piece, but I know she was trying to get a copy of a letter to send to the Advocate.

An alum in the Grinnell online community mentions that he still has his letter, and I'm going to ask if he'll scan it so I can put it up somewhere.

Interestingly, though the letters were largely uniform through the late 90s and into 2001, there were subtle changes over time. One page of jokes was replaced by a big photocopied image labeled "actual headstone inscription," showing in big block letters DUCLODS DIE TWICE. I remember someone saying a later letter (after Sarah's time, I think) included a copy of my article.

Layers upon layers of weird.
posted by beukema at 10:17 AM on March 14, 2007


[blank stare]

This is some weird, weird, stuff. I ran out of daytime sinus pills, I'm currently groggy and fuzzy-headed from the nighttime ones, so I don't know if it's the pills... but the article and this thread fill me with a deep, physical sense of "WTF?!?". The kind that almost makes you laugh despite yourself, if it weren't a touch too creepy... Perhaps it'll make more sense when not chemically altered.

Beans. On a toilet. Half-dog, half-man. What?

The weird, she makes my brain hurt.
posted by CKmtl at 10:54 AM on March 14, 2007


So has anyone (like from Grinnell administration) ever just called the guy in Little Rock? There's plenty suggesting that the mystery begins and ends with him.
posted by Mid at 12:41 PM on March 14, 2007


Also, note to quonsar: duclod.com is available.
posted by Mid at 12:46 PM on March 14, 2007


Quonsar: are you in a perc ensemble? When are you playin at Alma? I want to see your band.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:08 PM on March 14, 2007


turducken: Thanks for the Boon Tan reference; I googled and quickly found everything you'd ever want to know about Boon Tan and his legend. (Turns out he was Malaysian, not Cambodian.)
posted by languagehat at 10:49 AM on March 15, 2007


Anyone willing to summerize this whole fpp/thread in a few simple sentences? I'm having trouble following...
posted by serazin at 11:21 AM on March 15, 2007


1. Weird Guy sends anonymous weird letters to Grinnell students over many years.
2. Students get scared, the letters are creepy.
3. Some students try to find Weird Guy.
4. Weird Guy turns out to have really weird web pages.
4. At least one student gets confused and wrongly thinks that quonsar is the Weird Guy (an easy mistake).
5. One of the Weird Guy's web pages seem to list Weird Guy's actual contact information in Little Rock, Arkansas.
6. Nobody, as far as I know, has actually called up the Weird Guy.
posted by Mid at 12:14 PM on March 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hey languagehat -- thanks for the link. Brought back many fond memories of Uncle Duke Day at Foss 1 (coed bathrooms and all).

And yeah, come to think of it, there probably weren't many exchange students coming out of Cambodia in the late 70s...
posted by turducken at 6:58 PM on March 15, 2007


I ran this past my ex-GF (the aforementioned Grinnellian Back Tabler). She feels like this could be one big joke with no malicious intent and that, if it is, it's completely in keeping with the "Grinnellian sense of humor."
posted by Clay201 at 1:20 AM on March 16, 2007


So the "Grinnellian sense of humor" involves making gay people feel threatened? Remind me to discourage my grandson from going there when the time comes.
posted by languagehat at 5:32 AM on March 16, 2007


So the "Grinnellian sense of humor" involves making gay people feel threatened?

Quite the opposite in my experience.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 6:25 AM on March 16, 2007


Actually, Grinnell is an unusually gay-friendly school. Very liberal. Every once in a while there is an identity-baiting situation where somebody makes a joke that pisses people off, and the majority of the student body denounces it, makes some flyers, maybe holds a rally, and life goes on. In a sense, the duclod thing fits with these occasional incidents. But it is not representative of the school in any way.

An alum here in Minneapolis who was at the school in the mid-80s tells me that he saw the duclod jokes on campus when he was a student.
posted by beukema at 6:32 AM on March 16, 2007


...beaten to the punch by croutonsupafreak...
posted by beukema at 6:33 AM on March 16, 2007


I did wonder if it could be the function of an intra-college secret society. Does Grinnell have secret societies? I'm not really talking about the few that are on the elaborate level of a Skull and Bones or Flat Hat Club, or about fraternities and sororities, but there are underground societies at many colleges. Some are senior honor societies, but others are just recreational pastimes and social groups.. I wasn't aware of any at my private liberal-arts school, but a couple of friends at other ones said they were pretty prevalent. I heard of some, in particular, at Mt. Holyoke and at Muhlenberg. This kind of prank, sustained for 20 years and involving personal information about students, would be easily facilitated through a secret society.
posted by Miko at 9:29 AM on March 16, 2007


I think you're absolutely right, Miko, that a society could do this. That's long been one of my theories. But the problem I've always had with that theory is that on as small a campus as Grinnell, I figure that at some point, somebody would have talked. Either somebody unconnected with the group would have overheard or been told on the side, or someone who was asked to join in the "project" would have balked because it's fucked-up, and talked.
posted by beukema at 12:14 PM on March 16, 2007


So the "Grinnellian sense of humor" involves making gay people feel threatened?

I'm not entirely sure it's a good idea to speak on behalf of my ex-gf (the author of the sentiment about which you inquire) on the subject, but I think I'm going to take a swing at it anyway.

As I understood her point, it was that those who "get" the "Grinnellian sense of humor" wouldn't percieve the letters as threatening. They'd percieve them as a joke.
posted by Clay201 at 5:21 AM on March 17, 2007


I think you're absolutely right, Miko, that a society could do this.

That's the logic I had in mind when I mentioned the Back Tablers, though I was thinking not so much of a group effort as one person using the group to (unwittingly) collect information for him. However, the "secret society" hypothesis, while it does kind of have that air of JFK conspiracy theory to it, might make more sense.
posted by Clay201 at 5:36 AM on March 17, 2007


As I understood her point, it was that those who "get" the "Grinnellian sense of humor" wouldn't percieve the letters as threatening. They'd percieve them as a joke.

And if they don't "get" the "Grinnellian sense of humor" and stupidly feel threatened, fuck 'em, they're idiots? No offense to your ex-gf or to Grinnellians in general, and I'm perfectly willing to agree that that's a state of mind common to college students everywhere and I shouldn't hold it against Grinnell in particular, but it still sucks.
posted by languagehat at 7:26 AM on March 17, 2007


Languagehat: I'm not sure why you're being so combative. Grinnell is one of the most gay-friendly, nurturing campuses in the country.

There are a number of current or former Grinnellians who have posted here. None of us have posted, "Chuckle, chuckle, it's a gay joke, screw the folks who don't get it." The tone has been more of bewilderment and puzzlement, and a little bit of uneasiness. Grinnell had marches and candle light vigils a couple of times when I was there, including when anti-gay graffiti appeared on campus and when some non-white students were hollered at by townies.

If the Duclod letters were targeting Republicans or Evangelical Christians, I could see it be an inside joke, sadly, because the campus is not as open minded when it comes to people of a conservative persuasion.

As to the secret club theory: The "secret clubs" at Grinnell while I were there included the "people with a gorilla suit," who passed the suit down from year to year so that every year a wild gorilla man would roam the campus handing out candy, and the "people with a super hero costume," who did the same thing. That's about all the secret stuff I'm aware of from the campus.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 7:45 AM on March 17, 2007


Languagehat: I'm not sure why you're being so combative. Grinnell is one of the most gay-friendly, nurturing campuses in the country.

Sorry if I'm coming off as combative; I'm just trying to fathom why this unpleasant series of harassing messages is being sort-of-defended by allusions to the "Grinnellian sense of humor." I have nothing whatever against Grinnell and am perfectly willing to believe that it's gay-friendly and nurturing; I just think it's lame to claim that what seem on their face to be homophobic and unsettling messages can be taken lightly because they "could be one big joke with no malicious intent." College students are notorious for pulling dumb jokes that don't come off well despite having "no malicious intent"; all I'm saying is that these messages shouldn't be excused even if they were intended as jokes (which, frankly, I find pretty hard to believe). [NOT ANTI-GRINNELL]
posted by languagehat at 11:26 AM on March 17, 2007


Looks like the shavescats site is gone.
posted by agropyron at 10:59 PM on April 4, 2007


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