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What Happened to James Chasse: From the Web Diary of Eva Lake

Sunday, October 1, 2006

From the Web Diary of Eva Lake

From Eva Lake's LoveLake

an artist, October 31 2006

Why the art world did not pick up on this story of an artist murdered is something I wonder about. The Mercury Blog, posted by Matt Davis, is the only one to really pick up on the artist that Jim Jim was (along with the first lead story in the O on Jim Jim with a real identity). Is the new guard here so still swept up in how the ‘biennial of 1999 changed everything’ and every biennial thereafter that they cannot see or consider the artist who came before their time or arrival?

What did we see in one drawing after another at the Affair and elsewhere amongst the new guard? ‘Bad drawing’ is almost celebrated and the more juvenile, the better.

I have nothing against this art, but I feel it is my duty to tell you who did it first here in PDX and who, in many ways, did it best: Jim Jim, with his spot-on yet childish scrawls, 'so deeply contrasted with his relatively sophisticated intellect' (Randy Moe’s words at the memorial) scattered throughout the Organ Organism (and I don’t need to tell you how cool fanzines are these days). What has changed here - outside of the fact that he did this in 1978? Is that uninteresting?

Memorial, October 28 2006

Last night the public memorial for Jim Jim was held at the First Congregational United Church of Christ downtown. KT Kincaid organized it. It was one of the most memorable nights of my life. I already know this. I never slept a wink after it, save to have one quick dream.

What was remarkable was the depth and articulance of everyone who came together, in their grief or in their love or in their agenda. Every time that I thought I would go, I had to stay. Every time I thought that perhaps: “This speaker will not have something to say to me” – the speaker did.

The recounts contrasted with family who knew a young man who loved to hike, to a group of friends who knew a young man who loved the Wipers. There was a notable shift when KT Kincaid went to the podium and I have to say, she was an incredible savant in her presentation of what punk was at that time, as a way of giving Jim Jim the right context.

I admired the tenacity of everyone, and those who say they will not give up, of those who say they will continue to love and of those who say they will ‘dog the police’. Those words were a moment, right there, coming from Jason Renaud. And as I came up to him, sort of nameless and full of wordless tears, others came up to me, strangers. It was like a circle of bearing witness.

In my dream red wine was spilled on a floor. I was at first worried about it, would it stain and how would I clean it up. Then I saw that I had two young children to worry over and I saw that they were fine. And that was what mattered. The spilled red wine was something I would figure out.

Vigil, October 25 2006

This coming Friday evening there will be a vigil for Jim Jim. You can find out more details about the vigil and this entire case here.

The opening for Randy Moe’s It’s a Sad Sad Sad Sad World had a bit of this flavor. People I literally had not seen since 1980 came, all friends of Jim Jim. Some came from far away too. The family was there, as well as CopWatch.

From the tenor of phone calls coming at me in the days leading up to the reception, I wasn’t sure what to prepare for. But it all turned out just fine.

The verdict, October 18 2006

The verdict of the grand jury came back and they said that the killing of Jim Jim was ‘accidental’. I still can’t get this processed through my heart. How many broken bones did he suffer? – was it 16? Piercing into his lungs and other organs, all the results of beatings from the police? I could not really read the autopsy report. He bled out in their wagon.

When I first heard of all of this, I thought dear God, I hope he was high, high as hell on something, so that he would not have felt all of that. But Jim Jim, despite what the police said right from the start (- calling him “a drugged out street-person” - I talked to the major eye-witness for the jury, who saw the whole ‘chase’ – if you want to call it that, from start to finish), poor Jim Jim was stone cold sober when he went through all of that. Not even any pharmaceuticals for all of those they wish to silence.

Portrait, October 6 2006

The Portland Mercury took a picture of Randy Moe’s portrait of Jim Jim and slogged it, to be included in the upcoming show at Chambers, which opens the 19th. We are hoping to have some xeroxed copies to look at of The Organism, the magazine he produced back in 1978/79, at the exhibition.

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