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What Happened to James Chasse: More Chasse time-capsule…”Alien Boy”

Thursday, October 12, 2006

More Chasse time-capsule…”Alien Boy”

from the Portland Mercury

Steve Doughton (46) just called— he was the guitarist in James Chasse’s band, the Possum Society—we posted one of their tracks on Blogtown last week.

Doughton says he knew Chasse well until his schizophrenia took hold in his late teens: “He became extremely paranoid and everything became inwardly focussed,” says Doughton. “He felt like people were werewolves, like they were cursed—and started blaming people’s misfortunes on the fact they ‘worshipped the devil’ and so on.”

Doughton also says that Greg Sage, lead singer of The Wipers told him in the mid-nineties that the song “Alien Boy” was written about Chasse. Here are the lyrics:
Go and grab your gun
Got him on the run
Cause he’s an alien
They hurt what they don’t understand

So you had to turn away
There’s no other way
You’re an alien
They hurt what they don’t understand
The more I hear and think about Chasse, the more I feel I’d have liked to have met the guy. He sounds so bright and misunderstood—it’s sad. There’s more of what Doughton had to say after the page break…

After losing touch, Doughton says he bumped into Chasse again near Powell's bookstore in 1988, when Chasse was wearing a light blue dress, and sporting a full beard. He was walking with a cane, having been struck by a Trimet bus in 1981 ("I find it hard to believe he gave the cops any kind of chase," says Doughton). When Doughton tried to engage Chasse in conversation, "he wouldn't look at me or respond", refusing to acknowledge his former bandmate.

Doughton moved to New York City but happened to bump into Chasse again on vacation—in the coffee shop at Powell's bookstore, in 2001. This time, Chasse approached Doughton and said hello. "He said, 'can I sit down with you?'," says Doughton,"and we sat and ate two cookies, drank tea and talked for about an hour." Chasse explained he was in a halfway house and on new medication, and told Doughton, "Remember how I was afraid of werewolves? I don't believe in them any more."

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