Duncan Logic



My pal Duncan did just about everything in his own weird and unique way. I used to call it “Duncan Logic.”

For example, one time Duncan was in this xerox shop, xeroxing off the pages of one of his zines. And whenever he got a stack of pages copied, he’d pick them up off the xerox machine and carry them across the room to his box. After watching Duncan doing this 3 or 4 times, walking back and forth from the xerox machine to his box, I said; “Duncan, wouldn’t it make more sense to bring the box over HERE to the xerox machine so you wouldn’t have to keep walking back and forth?” “Oh. Yeah,” said Duncan. “You might have a point there.” Duncan Logic.

Another time, Duncan was walking around wearing this old shirt that was really raggedy. So I got him a nice new shirt. “Oh, I couldn’t wear that shirt,” said Duncan. “Why not?” I said. “Because it doesn’t have breast pockets. I have an elaborate system where I keep all my personal items in my different pockets. My four pants pockets, my two jacket pockets, and the two breast pockets of my shirt. The shirt you gave me doesn’t have breast pockets, so it would throw my whole system off.” Duncan Logic. He ended up wearing the rags for the rest of the month until somebody gave him a shirt with two breast pockets.

Duncan’s hotel room at the Berkeley Inn was practically like living in a storage locker. Boxes and boxes were stacked up everywhere, from the floor to the ceiling. With this narrow path leading from the door to his bed. Which was also half-covered with boxes. One day Duncan lost one of the boxes that had copies of his TELE TIMES zine in it. Those copies were very precious to Duncan. So he was pretty upset about it. “Did you look in all the boxes in your room?” I asked. “Yes,” he said. “I looked in every box, except for that one box down there in the bottom of that pile.” “Well, why don’t you look in THAT box?” I said. “Because that’s my last hope,” Duncan said. “And if they’re not in that box then I know they’re really gone for good. So I’m afraid to look in it. Because I’ll be so heart-broken if they’re not in there. So I’m waiting until I’m in a real strong and stable mood before I do it.” Finally, two weeks later, Duncan mustered the courage to look in that box. And the copies of TELE TIMES, thankfully, were indeed in there.


Duncan used to borrow money from 30 or 40 people every month, through the course of the month. Sometimes he’d get just a quarter. Other times in might be $20 or $30 bucks. Everyone who knew Duncan was well familiar with his endlessly repeated mantra: “Ahh. You couldn’t loan me a couple bucks until the first, could you?” Then on the first of the month, when Duncan got his check, he’d go to the bank with 30 or 40 envelopes and fill them with the money he owed each person. Then he would track them all down and pay them all back. The problem was, by the time he paid everyone back he would have used up all of his check and be broke again. So he’d have to borrow from 30 or 40 people over the course of the next month, to get by. So usually Duncan started out every month already broke and having to borrow. It was like a Myth of Sisyphus deal, where every month Duncan would start out at the bottom of the mountain all over again. I said to Duncan: “You start out every month with the same amount of money whether you borrow or not. So you’re not getting ahead by all this borrowing. And you waste an enormous amount of time and energy every month looking for people to borrow from, and then searching for them to pay them back. Wouldn’t it make more sense to just budget your own money?” Duncan said: “Well, uh, By finding all these people who are willing to loan me money I’m also finding supporters of Duncan. People who are willing to help me in other ways too.” So Duncan had developed this network of supporters. And they would often give him clothes and food and other thing as well as money. So he had his own personal collection of patrons of the artist. So there was a method to his madness. Sometimes.


One other thing Duncan was famous for. He carried this big cardboard box around with him everywhere he went, curled under his arms and pressed against his chest.. People sometimes wondered what was in the box. He had all of his vending stuff in there, and his art supplies, and his food, and whatever books and comic books he was reading at the time. And God knows what else. The thing weighed a ton. Often Duncan would put crap in his box and forget it was even in there and carry it around for months (or years) before he realized he didn’t need it in his box. Sometimes I would say to him: “Wouldn’t it be more practical to carry your stuff around in a backpack like everybody else?” Duncan said: “Oh. No. I don’t want to learn how to use a backpack.” As far as I know, you didn’t have to read an instructional to learn how to use a backpack. But that was Duncan.

Finally, in Duncan’s last years, when he was getting weaker physically, he did finally switch over to a backpack. And he carried the backpack everywhere he went, curled under his arms and pressed against his chest.

Duncan Logic.








Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s