American Gothic
October 1, 2013 11:37 AM   Subscribe

The Elvis Impersonator, the Karate Instructor, the Fridge full of Severed Heads, and the Plot to Kill the President. In March, Kevin Curtis of Tupelo, Mississippi, was arrested for mailing ricin-laced letters to a local judge, Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker, and the President - only to be released a week later when another man was arrested for the crime. In the latest issue of GQ, Wells Tower sets out to get to the bottom of the tale and finds himself falling down the rabbit hole into a whole other universe of lost American weirdness. (Know that Moo Cow the dog is okay.)
posted by Naberius (53 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
 
This was the funniest / weirdest thing I have read in a while. Recommended if your day needs a 10-page real-world dose of absurdity.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 11:41 AM on October 1, 2013


Read this yesterday. It's like a never filmed Coen Brothers script.
posted by eyeballkid at 11:53 AM on October 1, 2013 [10 favorites]


For your listening pleasure, and whatever clues it may provide, the CD Baby page, with listenable previews, for Dusty and the RoboDrum's "For Your Leather" album.
posted by Naberius at 12:00 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


What a story. It reads like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and Dumb and Dumber.
posted by boo_radley at 12:03 PM on October 1, 2013 [13 favorites]


As a native of Corinth, MS, I can say that this debacle is not representative of the majority of our population. We may be crazy, but all of us ain't batshit crazy.

Good story regardless. Reads like a Barry Hannah novel.
posted by GreatValhalla at 12:05 PM on October 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


You don't have to be crazy to send anthrax here but it helps!
posted by Teakettle at 12:09 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I can absolutely make love to a bull moose on the steps of the Lee County courthouse and garner more than 5 percent of the vote.”
posted by Skorgu at 12:30 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think the full quote is even more amazing:

“I had never stood eyeball to eyeball or dick to dick with the man, but for some reason he just hated the hell out of me,” says Holland, a gloriously profane and paradoxically genteel man of 58. “He called me everything from gay to communist. Everything but a child of God. I mean, he had no campaign or agenda except to cut my nuts out.... But you got to get your ass up early and go to bed late to beat my ass. I’ve held this seat for thirty years. I can absolutely make love to a bull moose on the steps of the Lee County courthouse and garner more than 5 percent of the vote.”


I don't know what Steve Holland looks like, but in the Coen Brothers movie, he should be played by John Goodman.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:33 PM on October 1, 2013 [28 favorites]


The agents cuff Kevin’s hands, shackle his feet, and latch his wrists to his waist.
“Am I being arrested?”
“Don’t ask questions. We’ll ask the questions.”

[...]

On the ninety-mile ride to the jail, Curtis begs to know what he is supposed to have done. The G-men will not tell him. They do not say a word about ricin or Obama. They offer up no clue as to why an army descended on his neighborhood.


Ok so I'm pretty sure this is just a colorful retelling of the situation, but if not, isn't that kind of a major "case gets thrown out" mistake for an arresting officer to make?
posted by jason_steakums at 12:33 PM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Holland indicates a box that retails for $3,495. “And ka-ching-ka-ching-ka-ching. Forty years I been doing this. It’s fucked! I mean, the [funeral] services are incredible. I love the services, but all this merchandising-pagan-ass-crazy-certified-lunatic-damn bullshit—it’s so fucked. God bless America!”

I don't...I can't...I need someone to get me Goodman on the phone RIGHT NOW. Right now. God bless America.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:48 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


His style is natty: a gray blazer over a pink T-shirt asserted by a silver crucifix, brown slacks, creased cuffs nosing over a pair of black alligator loafers. His handsomeness is of a merry elfin, Elvian strain.

Kevin sits on his sofa sipping a sweet tea as he tells me the tale of how he came to find himself crosswise with J. Everett Dutschke, and his own family, and the law. On the cushion beside him rests a pair of golden nunchuks [...]


That is where I absolutely lost it. This guy better have an agent for his story.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:51 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know what Steve Holland looks like, but in the Coen Brothers movie, he should be played by John Goodman.

Perhaps, but it seems to have more of a Billy Bob Thornton cadence...
posted by jim in austin at 12:52 PM on October 1, 2013


So Bruce Campbell can play Kevin Curtis, right?
posted by ghharr at 12:53 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


The state rep basically expecting the guy to get raped is pretty disgusting, even if he did try to poison his mom.
posted by mike_bling at 12:57 PM on October 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


New band name: Dojo Ruckus
posted by jason_steakums at 1:05 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


While the courts have not yet pronounced upon his guilt or innocence, most everyone agrees that if Dutschke does any time, they will not be easy years. “I believe he’s gonna go in a tight end and come out a wide receiver,” mused Rep. Steve Holland, Dutschke’s former political rival. “But that’s pure conjecture. I couldn’t say for sure.”

Dammit, US political and prison system, this is not amusing.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:06 PM on October 1, 2013 [10 favorites]


Curtis says it was the other way around, that Dutschke was the one stalking him. Through the use of tracking software, Curtis claims he knew Dutschke was surveilling his Myspace site, “clicking on my page seventy-five times a day.” As usual, nobody believed him. So in May 2010, Curtis devised a trap. He baited his Myspace page with a fake Mensa certificate made out in his own name.

Oh man. This story.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:11 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Or perhaps Tupelo was just too small a town for two conspiracy-minded, snappy-dressing, nunchuck-swinging rock ’n’ roll men to coexist in harmony.

Until right now I thought Doug in Accounting was a kindred spirit but now I'm starting to catalogue all the times he's looked at me funny after talking nunchucks (wood v. metal, optimal chain link length, grip and stance) and maybe he's not such a good friend after all
posted by Shepherd at 1:14 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Curtis claims that one of his former jailers, with whom he became Facebook friends, told him that Dutschke is awaiting trial in the very same cell where Kevin spent his week in custody. It is especially delicious to Kevin Curtis when he imagines what Dutschke must have felt, his first day behind bars, when he glanced at the wall beside the stainless-steel toilet and read the Magic Markered graffito the prior tenant had written there: “I am KC and I approve this cell.”

this could not be more beautiful
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:17 PM on October 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


The caskets are as opulent and beautiful as a fleet of limousines. The top-tier models sell for upwards of $5,000, but Holland begins his sales pitch to prospective clients with a humble gray container in a far corner of the room. “I bring ’em to this little $995 jobbie right here. I say, ‘Okay, this will get you from point A to point B. Now, water and worms will get in there, and if you read the Scripture it says “Ashes to ashes and dust to dust,” and that’s what this is really all about. What you are buying is $995 worth of dignity to keep me from tying a rope to your heels and pulling you into the hole, which would accomplish the same thing.’ Then they’ll come buy this shit over here.” Holland indicates a box that retails for $3,495. “And ka-ching-ka-ching-ka-ching. Forty years I been doing this. It’s fucked! I mean, the [funeral] services are incredible. I love the services, but all this merchandising-pagan-ass-crazy-certified-lunatic-damn bullshit—it’s so fucked. God bless America!”

I can't even find the words for how much I love this article.
posted by jason_steakums at 1:27 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Has anybody at GQ ever won a Pulitzer? Because I think this might have a chance.
posted by COD at 1:43 PM on October 1, 2013


This...this will be a Coen brothers' movie, right? Joel and Ethan, if you're reading this, please secure the rights to this story NOW, call it Double Trouble, and make sure John Goodman has time in his schedule. William H. Macy as KC, John Turturro as Dutschke, and Helen Hunt as Laura would also be great, but maybe I'm channeling too many of your previous pictures into this real life, can't-make-this-shit-up, crazy ass story. But this story must be told, and you guys are the ones to tell it!

I am mosk and I approve this request.
posted by mosk at 1:52 PM on October 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


Man, I had to double-check to be sure that this was a non-fiction story.
posted by jadepearl at 1:55 PM on October 1, 2013


This is easily the best I've read all year. Holy shit.
posted by Iosephus at 2:02 PM on October 1, 2013


Little Red Corvette, as sung by Kevin Curtis to a group of 8th-graders.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:16 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


William H. Macy as KC,

I might just be nostalgic for early Coen Brothers, but I could see this role being just the thing to get Nic Cage back on track. And had we not lost Charles Durning, I could see him in whatever role John Goodman didn't take.
posted by bibliowench at 2:30 PM on October 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


> I might just be nostalgic for early Coen Brothers, but I could see this role being just the thing to get Nic Cage back on track. And had we not lost Charles Durning, I could see him in whatever role John Goodman didn't take.

Oh, man, I totally forgot about Nic Cage's fascination and love for Elvis. Yeah, I can totally see him in this role. I can also totally see him chewing the scenery in this role, which would need to be kept in check.
posted by mosk at 2:33 PM on October 1, 2013


He isn't a Coen staple, but I had KC mentally played by Sam Rockwell as I read the article.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:48 PM on October 1, 2013


One of the craziest, best stories I've read in a long time. But let's be clear: Elvis did not invent Rock'n'Roll.
posted by AAALASTAIR at 2:49 PM on October 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


The only problem with the Coen Brothers directing this must-be-made movie is that after the whole Fargo opening title thing, nobody would believe this story was true. And who could blame them?
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:26 PM on October 1, 2013




Coming from Louisville, I wonder if there's any relation to Drew Curtis of Fark fame.
posted by dr_dank at 4:52 PM on October 1, 2013


Holy Cow, that is a stunning story.
posted by marienbad at 5:52 PM on October 1, 2013


I keep reading various passages over and over and then yelling WHAT at the monitor

WHAT IS HAPPEN

Fuck I love GQ.
posted by elizardbits at 6:03 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also I totally skipped to the end for news of Moo Cow.
posted by elizardbits at 6:04 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fookin' fascists shot and incarcerated Moo Cow. I hate when police act like soldiers. They could have let him put the dog in the house.
posted by maggieb at 6:11 PM on October 1, 2013


That was a terrific read, just the right level of bemusement, delight, and hyperbole. Thanks for posting.
posted by smoke at 7:52 PM on October 1, 2013




the president’s life has been menaced by an Elvis impersonator, ex-janitor, and “Prince super-fan.”

I would've liked to have heard more about this part.
posted by elmer benson at 8:10 PM on October 1, 2013


The joke about prison rape is disgusting.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:24 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I really would like to know what the guy actually saw in the refrigerator that night. Presumably, he misunderstood whatever it was, but a human head?
posted by imabanana at 11:32 PM on October 1, 2013


The jacket of a demo CD characterizes the music of the RoboDrum as “progressive guitar funktronica for smart people.” This reviewer would characterize it as very ghastly. Still, the music of the RoboDrum is not without the power to haunt the listener.

link! bring us the link!
posted by mwhybark at 11:35 PM on October 1, 2013


I think this is weird and interesting but I'm not getting the rejoicing in this thread.
Is it maybe that a lot of things mentioned are kind of iconic to Americans? Like Elvis impersonators and the attitude of the funeral parlor guy? Is it a recognition effect thing?

For me most of the article felt like "huh" and like I was missing something.
posted by Omnomnom at 12:54 AM on October 2, 2013


Also, the bit where he got arrested and questioned was terrifying.
posted by Omnomnom at 12:55 AM on October 2, 2013


>isn't that kind of a major "case gets thrown out" mistake for an arresting officer to make?

Not at all. County of Riverside v. McLaughlin established that suspects must be provided probable cause within 48 hours of their arrest.
posted by gngstrMNKY at 2:13 AM on October 2, 2013


Love this kind of stuff. Pretty much the perfect lazy morning read: I followed this story back when it broke and always wondered what the whole story was. I suspect this will be made into a movie.

Kevin Curtis also gave this amazing press conference.
posted by ph00dz at 8:33 AM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really would like to know what the guy actually saw in the refrigerator that night. Presumably, he misunderstood whatever it was, but a human head?

The fridge thing is really weird because I would have expected this to be a not totally wild accusation if the hospital contained medical examiner offices/exam areas? I admit my sole knowledge of this comes from like, Hannibal and the terrible Bones, but various investigators have to poke at dead body parts for science reasons, right? Might they not do it in a hospital if their town is small enough to not have a separate facility?

But then why wouldn't the hospital administration just say "yeah, he saw some body parts, big deal, this is a hospital and we do that shit and it's normal."

I am mad that there were no photos of Moo Cow.
posted by elizardbits at 8:48 AM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's interesting how a few folks are reacting to the prison rape thing. If Holland had said he hoped Dutschke would be shanked in prison for almost killing his Mom, would it have gotten the same fingerwagging?

The state of prisons in the US is pitiful. At the same time, Holland's reaction doesn't seem terribly out of line, considering the close connection to the crime.
posted by 2N2222 at 12:07 PM on October 2, 2013


It seems out of line because it makes light of rape. The reaction is only interesting if someone does not understand that hoping someone is violently and repeatedly raped in prison is a bad thing to hope.
posted by elizardbits at 12:17 PM on October 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yes, I would have criticised Holland if he'd called for Dutschke's murder. Or anybody else's murder. Or anybody else's rape. How can you not be appalled by someone calling for the commission of capital crimes, especially in such a sniggering and conspiratorial way?
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:46 PM on October 2, 2013


I especially don't think a State Rep should be treating prison rape as an amusing jape. Does Steve Holland represent all his district, or everyone but the incarcerated?
posted by five fresh fish at 11:40 PM on October 2, 2013


I might just be nostalgic for early Coen Brothers, but I could see this role being just the thing to get Nic Cage back on track.

Nic Cage is a natural for this. He's got early Coen Brothers' cred, we know he's got the chops to be an Elvis impersonator (see: Wild at Heart) and who else could bring a line like "Take off your glasses. I wanna see your eyes because I don't think you give a DAMN about MooCow!" to life like Cage?

Make this happen, people.
posted by ShutterBun at 1:23 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


This totally resurrected my love for Wells Tower, thanks for posting.

I can't wait for the next it of fiction he comes out with– I loved Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned.
posted by inkytea at 10:37 AM on October 25, 2013


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