duncanthen on february 3rd 1999 Duncan shot himself -
at times, the masked marauder
other times, the knower of the most arcane knowledge, often related to muscle development and body chemistry.
many strange stories circulate the swarthmore campus about duncan.
he doesn't seem to mind that - he kind of cooperates in the concoction of bizarre narrative with a constant leer.
at least, for his sake, he looks like harrison ford, some say. like a guy who could be president. weird.
just look out for him when he drinks, like new years '98
and how strange is that? He was a distant, weird guy, but he mostly seemed to be choosing to be weird - like he was in control of his facilities. So was suicide a calculated trip for Duncan?
I looked through my daze to see what I had written about Duncan when we were at Swarthmore together - a lot of weird shit about food:
adorning himself with veggie burgers, proposing his penis as breakfast meat, pawing at hamburger with his fingers, telling strange dream jokes, hurting himself, and appearing at a lot two fisted features.
Mostly Duncan was like any of my weirdo friends, except a little more impenetrable. I was a bit shocked to find out that when he died folks might consider me and him close. Not that I didn't enjoy Duncan's company at times, or admire his train of thought, or his stamina, but I seldom shared intimate moments with him, and when I did I was at times a bit ill-at-ease. He did weird sexual stuff without provocation. He often seemed to be literally masturbating in public.
We never talked about music, but he did share some of his extensive research into nutrition and diet over meals at Sharples. He was a quiet guy generally but in the right group of guys he would open up and share his theories. He had extensive knowledge of the body's absorbtion of calories and nutrients; Ben didn't believe it all, Wilson seemed to.
Besides the quiet boy, mostly I remember the weird stuff, making animal noises as conversation, standing next to my desk with his penis exposed for no clear reason but many murky ones, participating in lewd gestures at my girlfriend, tossing what was claimed to be a cup of piss out of his window at Ben and I, visiting Cabaret as the masked marauder and terrorizing the ladies.
It's a little strange to have to eulogize a classmate, so soon after graduation. Still if I was to remember him only as a quirky genius I would not do justice to the full depth of Duncan that begins to explain why he was a legend to the people that knew him while he was alive.
Duncan was primal or something. For me, he was hard to be with. He was socially akward, or deliberately difficult. Sometimes this just meant he was quiet, and sometimes it meant he made me uncomfortable.
His timed execution of bizarre behaviour and strange non-sequitors was at times brilliant. He often knew exactly how to unravel something serious, or add just the right straw to the camel's back of an evening of madness. Sometimes he would tell me stories, about extremely weird things "someone else" had done, and I'd be left weighing my measly existence for days.
Mark Petrakis developed an appreciation for the Wilson/Duncan deft riffing duo at New Year's '98/9; Duncan was dubbed "Duncan GoNuts."
When I heard about his suicide my question was - was he calm when he did it? did he take the gun and quietly put it to his head? or was he sobbing and upset? because most of the time he was very actively controlling himself it seemed. If you made a move physically provoking him, as Wilson and Ben loved to do, he reacted strongly - he was very aware of his physical surroundings, like an animal. The only time he lost control was when something like penny tossing in Wilson's room built to a fever pitch (meaning Wilson or Ben built to a fever pitch and provoked Duncan) and Duncan would become unsettled and move about unpredictably.
Sometimes he just up and walked off. And later we'd hear tell he'd slept in the Springfield Mall parking lot. Or wandered greater Ridley Township.