June 25, 2016
Los Angeles, California
Throughout my investigation, I have discussed at length my father’s “Murder as a Fine Art” crime-signature M.O. I have linked it to what I term, The Man Ray Nexus. (The Minotaur, The Lovers Lips, L’Equivoque, Juliet Stocking Mask, adding to it the most recent 2015 discovery of Man Ray’s Alphabet for Adults book, published by his friend and fellow surrealist artist, William Copley in Los Angeles in 1948. That book contained the secret inclusion of a drawing of George Hodel “quarreling” (the letter “Q”) inside the courtyard of the Sowden House. (Most Evil II, Chapter 9, Surrealist Enigmas–Riddles Wrapped in Mysteries.)
Below photo shows 1947 LAPD Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short crime scene photo compared to Man Ray’s 1947 photo Priere de toucher (Please Touch) on display at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Coincidence or a Surrealist Tribute to George Hodel’s
Real Death Masterpiece?
In their book, Exquisite Corpse: Surrealism and the Black Dahlia Murder (Bulfinch Press 2006), authors Mark Nelson and Sarah Hudson Bayliss reference a 1947 artwork by Marcel Duchamp as follows:
In July of 1947, Duchamp collaborated with the artist Enrico Donati to create 999 handmade covers for the deluxe edition of “Le surrealisme en 1947,” the catalog accompanying the Exposition Internationale du Surrealisme at Galerie Maeght in Paris. Alongside the words “priere de Toucher” (Please Touch) the covers featured a three-dimensional, foam rubber sculpture of a breast surrounded by black velvet. A more affordable edition of the catalog had a photograph of the same breast by the French photographer Remy Duval, reproducing the image from the deluxe version.
Photo of Marcel Duchamp’s “Please Touch” (1 of 999) which sold in New York in 2010 for $254,500. Clearly, this is the source of Man Ray’s 1947 photograph of the same name.
The artworks created by both Duchamp and Man Ray following just months after Dr. George Hill Hodel’s “Murder as a Fine Art” January 15, 1947, murder masterpiece and homage to Man Ray, begs the question:
Did Duchamp and Man Ray recognize and return the homage to Man Ray’s close friend, George Hodel with a wink and a nod as their joint creations of- priere de Toucher (Please Touch)? Does their artwork literally represent a piece of the missing puzzle? Is it an exact copy of Elizabeth Short’s excised right breast as well as their insider’s knowledge of the crime? (We know the crime scene photographs were in possession of newspaper reporter Will Fowler, son of screenwriter, Gene Fowler, and we have established that they would have been readily available for distribution to George Hodel’s “inner circle.”)
(SKH Note- One of the most interesting overlooked facts related to the crime scene and follow-up investigation the following day at the coroner’s autopsy is this. Elizabeth Short’s excised right breast was never recovered. While other cuttings were found placed inside the victim’s private parts, the breast was not and remains missing to this day. My opinion is that it was kept as “a trophy” after being surgically removed at the Hodel/Sowden House. Never left the home and possibly could have been the “something buried at the house” referenced by the unidentified LAPD police witness. This would also give extra emphasis and underscore the possibility that Duchamp and Man Ray in their follow-up artwork, were paying homage to the “missing piece of the puzzle.” )
Baudelaire Love as the Surgeon/Victim
“Squibs. I believe I have already set down in my notes that Love greatly resembles an application of torture or a surgical operation. But this idea can be developed, and in the most ironic manner. For even when two lovers love passionately and are full of mutual desire, one of the two will always be cooler or less self-abandoned than the other. He or she is the surgeon or executioner; the other, the patient or victim.”
George Hodel worshiped and identified with Charles Baudelaire, whom he read and studied in the original French. It is likely that Father read these words from Baudelaire’s Journal, and took them to heart, and would later translate and apply them as part of his own surgical crime.
The following article, written by drama critic, Ted Le Berthon, appeared in his weekly column “The Merry-Go-Round” in the Los Angeles Evening Herald, on December 12, 1925. The article describes my father, George Hodel, who had just turned eighteen, but was passing himself off as “twenty-one” so he could drive taxi in downtown Los Angeles. (Le Berthon changed his name from “Hodel” to “Morel” and dad’s self-published elitist magazine Fantasia to “Whirpools.” I quote the article here in its entirety:
Los Angeles Evening Herald
December 12, 1925
By Ted Le Berthon
The Clouded Past of a Poet
GEORGE MOREL is tall, olive-skinned with wavy Black hair and a strong bold nose. His eyes are large, brown, somnolent. A romantic, hawklike fellow, a pianist, a poet, and editor of Whirlpools, a bizarre, darkly poetical quarterly.
“George is a nice boy but…”
How often did one hear that!
What his friends hinted was that George, being young, was inclined to write of melancholy things.
Of course, George could have pointed to Keats, Rupert Brooke or Stephen Crane for precedent, but…”It’s not George’s gloom, his preference for Huysmans, De Gourmont, Poe, Baudelaire, Verlaine and Hecht that pains us,” these “friends” would parry, “but his stilted elegance, his meticulous speech!”
George drowned himself at times in an ocean of deep dreams. Only part of him seemed present. He would muse standing before one in a black, flowered dressing gown lined with scarlet silk, oblivious to one’s presence.
Suddenly, though, his eyes would flare up like signal lights and he would say, “The formless fastidiousness of perfumes in a seventeenth-century boudoir is comparable to my mind in the presence of twilight.”
One might have answered “What of it?”- but one just didn’t.
As one of George’s “friends” put it: “He’s young. He’ll get over it. What he needs is contact with harsh realities. At present his writing is tenuous, dreamy, monotonous–and he is like his writing.”
A Future Realistic Novelist
I HADN’T seen George for about a year…
And last night, strolling up Spring street in a sort of Morelian reverie myself, I was startled by hearing a familiar voice. The next moment I saw a tall young fellow in a taxi driver’s uniform seize a burly, argumentative man by the coat lapels and growl menacingly:
“Come across with that taxi fare or I’ll smack you in the nose, right here and now!”
The speaker was GEORGE MOREL.
The Man Ray Nexus