Zodiac: life imitating art

Zodiackiller.com Message Board: Theories: Zodiac: life imitating art

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) ( on Saturday, November 02, 2002 - 03:56 pm:

Penn isn't the only one harboring the notion that the original Zodiac murders were an art piece. It's nowhere near as weird as it sounds.

The amateur psychoanalysis falls way short if this is the case, and the vaunted "profilers" of the FBI look really, truly silly.

By William Baker (Bill_Baker) (lsanca1-ar16-4-47-002-193.lsanca1.elnk.dsl.genuity.net - on Saturday, November 02, 2002 - 05:31 pm:

Alan, I'd be interested in hearing more about this death-imitating-art notion. Anything you care to share with us to illustrate the theory?

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) ( on Saturday, November 02, 2002 - 06:02 pm:

Google search:

Survival Research Laboratories
Joseph Beuys
Chris Burden
Boyd Rice
Joe Coleman
Infek Bin Laden

Just for starts. Burden and Beuys predate Zodiac, but this is not a new concept, witness DeSade. Death and pain as art are not recent impositions. SRL is a particular favorite of mine, because I know that I am at VERY SERIOUS risk of injury at every performance. All artists take risks, and it's healthy for the audience to take a few once in a while.

I'll go further with you with this privately if you like, Bill, or we could start a new thread. A thread based on the notion that the Z killings were intended as an expressive artifact might lead to some interesting speculation.

Penn was the first to express this idea in print, but it seems obvious when you look at the Z literature long enough that there is at the very least an artistic bent to the whole action.

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) ( on Saturday, November 02, 2002 - 06:10 pm:

Odd, in cleaning house today I came across this poem I wrote back in the early 1980s, when I first started looking at this case. All rights reserved, copyright, Islamic justice, etc., etc.:


Lewis Carroll's wig
Wasn't big
He wore it underneath his hood
In the wood
Where his work was done
With a gun
It made him sweat
Don't forget
Don't stop to park
After dark
He's still around
Where the bad water flows
No one knows
It's his mother
He hated her
He'll never have another
Sick of living
Unwilling to die
He can't get it up
And he can't get high
Cut clean if red
He'll be dead
Soon enough
Life is rough
And none of us
Can say his name
It's a game
It's very big
It's Lewis Carroll's wig

Maybe one of the rock'n'roll types on this board (Tom Stout, you there?) can do something interesting with it. It's mine, circa 1983 or 84.

By William Baker (Bill_Baker) (lsanca1-ar16-4-47-002-193.lsanca1.elnk.dsl.genuity.net - on Saturday, November 02, 2002 - 09:08 pm:

Alan, I can't guarantee its longevity or audience participation, but perhaps a new thread addressing this might be in order. By the way, "Lewis Carroll's Wig" is impressive. I wrote a paper for a lit class in college that dealt with his (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson's) reputed pedophilia (including his relationship with Alice Liddell) and its influence in his writings.

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) ( on Saturday, November 02, 2002 - 09:27 pm:

I'm an amateur student of Carroll/Dodgson, and I'd love to see that paper. I don't think he was an active pedophile, BTW. Repression of desire is the single greatest source of creativity.

Thanks, Bill. The poem seems juvenile to me now, but as I said, maybe some rocker can do something with it. I'm an old man, and I live in California.

There's a really atrocious film script sitting in an agent's office in NYC called "12:22". It's some lame's interpretation of Penn's theory, really twisted stuff, ultimately pinning the Zodiac crimes on (!) Charles Dodgson.

I conned the agent into letting me see it back in 1983 by pretending to represent a potential investor. It's just awful.

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) ( on Saturday, November 02, 2002 - 09:42 pm:

Infek Bin Laden died before he could witness the 911 Theatrical that vindicated his weird obssessions.

By Warren (Warren) (w205.z064002105.hou-tx.dsl.cnc.net - on Monday, November 04, 2002 - 08:52 am:

Alan - Zodiac Poet Laureate! Great poem! You my main man in any poetry slam. Vanity publishing extraodinaire. Nobel Committee notified. Please share reward with the great unwashed on the board. Off to build a habitat. The WB.
P.S. Always thought Stine's shirt was a symbolic scalp lock, and continual evolution/discard of signature.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-17-121.bos.east.verizon.net - on Monday, November 04, 2002 - 09:03 am:

Alan: Just noticed Chris Burden's name in your post on art as predating Zodiac. Not so.

"Chris Burden is an enormously influential conceptual artist who began exhibiting in 1971. He received instant fame that year with a performance piece called Shoot in which a friend, at his request, shot him in the arm. Since then his work has investigated the workings of money, power, military might, and —especially— technology."

I know Chris Burden. I have worked with Chris Burden. Zodiac is no Chris Burden. Intertesting suggestion in the connected themes, however.

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) (65.sanfrancisco-12rh16rt-ca.dial-access.att.net - on Monday, November 04, 2002 - 01:17 pm:

Heh, nifty paraphrase of Bentsen, Peter.

Ya got me on Burden "predating" Zodiac, but they could easily be called contemporaries. Burden also had himself nailed to a Volkswagen at one point.

By Mike_D (Mike_D) ( on Monday, November 04, 2002 - 02:57 pm:

jeez the poor car!

By Oddball (Oddball) (pcp02495134pcs.flrnc01.al.comcast.net - on Monday, November 04, 2002 - 03:37 pm:

Is SRL still functioning? I have some clips of a performance from about twenty years ago that are genuinely unsettling.

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) (32.sanfrancisco-12rh16rt-ca.dial-access.att.net - on Monday, November 04, 2002 - 04:04 pm:

SRL is alive and well.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-19167.linkline.com - on Monday, November 04, 2002 - 11:00 pm:

From the Yellow Submarine
Hey Bulldog...Bull grog[look up grog in an extensive dictionary or net-can even refer to a cloak] doing it again[87?]...Some kind of happiness is measured out in miles[if you will go two miles...]...Childlike no one understands[the costume?]...Jack knife in your sweaty hands[!]Some kind of innocence is measured out in years[young couple?]...You don't know what it's like to listen to your fears[I am nervous]...You can talk to me[they did and he spoke to]...Big man walking in the park[!]...Wigwam frightened of the dark[possible wig and the 6:30 PM]...Some kind of solitude is measured out in you[the island?]...You think you know but you haven't got a clue[the PD theories that would follow?]...
We know Z used the term Blue Meannies from the Yellow Submarine.Did he read and ponder these lyrics in his metaphysical mystical mind?Was this song "life imitating art" to Zodiac?Did it influence LB?Couple it with the title DAY Tripper(first daylight crime?) and...FYI plus!

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) ( on Tuesday, November 05, 2002 - 08:15 am:

Part of the genius of the Beatles was the overlaying ambiguity of the lyrics (cf. "Norwegian Wood" = "knowing she would"?). Lennon in particular had a known fondness for James Joyce, and his lyrics reflect that. They could touch people at deep personal levels through implication and inference. The entire "Paul Is Dead" phenomenon sprang out of this ambiguity.

Interesting that you picked the one song on the soundtrack that does not appear in the movie, Howard.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-17-121.bos.east.verizon.net - on Tuesday, November 05, 2002 - 08:49 am:

"Burden also had himself nailed to a Volkswagen at one point." VW as crucifix. Also crawled naked across Wilishire Blvd on broken glass, lived in a locker at Cal Arts for five days, held gallery guests hostage for hours on stepladders in water with live electric cable (twice: one w/110 volts, 1 w/220), biked across Death Valley, disappeared for 6 weeks, draped his prone body with a tarp in front of gallery, attracting EMS, police and arrest. "Shot" (1971) was literally too close to the bone, photos show him clearly in shock. BTW: it was a .22 lr.

Chris did not originate the conceptual art movement, but he sure as hell charged it up.

Z as performance art? Very possible.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (cache-ntc-af07.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, November 05, 2002 - 10:00 am:

Is it possible that Chris Burden was inspired by The Theatre du Grand Guignol in Paris, but desired to take it a few steps further? Maybe the same can be said for the Zodiac.

When did the Grand Guignol finally shut its doors? '61, '62? Any reason why the Z couldn't have caught a performance or two before it finally closed down for good?

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-17-121.bos.east.verizon.net - on Tuesday, November 05, 2002 - 10:16 am:


By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-17-121.bos.east.verizon.net - on Tuesday, November 05, 2002 - 10:27 am:


As for Chris, sure its possible, but I don't think he was influenced by any form of theater. Don't think he was even into theater. I told him one time I thought of him as an actor, in the literal sense of "to act is to do" therefore "one who does". He looked at me like I was out of my mind and his wife told me it was an insulting thing to say to an artist. Like performance art is so different from theater. I didn't thnk so, but Chris was definitely comin from somewhere else, at least in the early 70's.

But Z? If he thought of himself as a performance artist, he was more into process and relationships than shock. I doubt he even though about shock effect: all of his deals were about himself as art and the "audience", for lack of a better word.

To complete the analogy, however: Z at LHR, and BRS was much more Grand Guignol: shock effect on the community. At LB the killer was pure performance artist: it was about his relationship with the victims, not the effect of the crime on the community. PH is a tossup: strong elements of both.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-17-121.bos.east.verizon.net - on Tuesday, November 05, 2002 - 10:29 am:

To clarify the above:"I doubt he even though about shock effect: all of his deals were about himself as art and the "audience", for lack of a better word" refers to Burden, not Z. Z was definitely into shock effect.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (cache-ntc-af07.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, November 05, 2002 - 10:42 am:

Hmm . . . any chance some of our target members of the military spent time in Paris prior to being deployed to Vietnam around 1965?

An [morbid] interest in shock art leads to combat shock, which leads to an inability to cope in the relatively non-violent environs of ones home.

Sounds like a recipe for murder to me.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-19167.linkline.com - on Tuesday, November 05, 2002 - 03:27 pm:

Correct.See what you can discern-for fun, from "One After 909" coupled with "The Long and Winding Road" and KJs incident.
Zs postcards(Beatles song "Postcard"1970/ song and when first Z postcard was sent and "Two of Us Sending letters and postcards"coupled with "Fixing a Hole"/Sea Of Holes",relative to Zs punched hole/s in postcards-which INCLUDES the Pines card.
"And though the holes were rather small they[public/PD?] had to count them all."

Penny Lane and Lass ,Hilburn and Hikari all nurses.FYIIIIIIIIIII

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) ( on Tuesday, November 05, 2002 - 05:13 pm:

The problem is that you can link the Beatles with nearly anything, Howard. Was Z into the Beatles? Maybe. Does it help? No.

Gilbert & Sullivan is a more rarified taste, and therefore a good lead. Same goes with the movies: THE EXORCIST was enormously popular, and BADLANDS was popular enough to be fairly useless as a lead. THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME, on the other hand, is not a commonly known film, and CHARLIE CHAN ON TREASURE ISLAND or whatever the hell it's called is sufficiently rare that anyone exhibiting any familarity at all with it at the time of the killings would be worth looking at twice.

If Zodiac had been half as smart as he thought he was, he'd have referenced LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD. It has all of his themes.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-19167.linkline.com - on Wednesday, November 06, 2002 - 11:38 am:

Right,this is why I tossed in the FYI.Actually,all of the supposed sources of Z 'inspiration'are-inspite of how promising they appear-FYIs!
On a personal note,I searched the Beatles songs as I knew my suspect/s searched them for "hidden messages"on how to conduct their crimes and purposes.You know the old story there.