Saturday, September 15, 2012
If one is going to goof off and go fishing in shallow waters, they might as well be interesting shallow waters. I was cleaning up Sanderson's collection of anomalistic journals just before I traveled back here to Wheeling, and was surprised to see that he had accumulated a high stack of something called The New Atlantean Journal. I'd had very little "experience" with this magazine, and opened up a few. The first thing that you notice about it is the "Board of Consultants". J.Manson Valentine; John Michell; Brinsley Le Poer Trench; Brad Steiger; George Hunt Williamson; Vincent Gaddis; Riley Crabb; and Gray Barker. Mind-boggling. I can't even imagine what it would be like to have all those people in the same room. Surely the pillars of logic and reason in the Universe would shake, rattle, and roll right down a Black Hole which conveniently opened. BUT, interesting? Yes.
This magazine was the effort of Joan Whritenour, now Joan O'Connell, and her husband Patrick. Joan had previously run newsletters on these topics, especially UFOs, and her old first try, Saucer Scoop, actually began rather well before falling into paranoia about violence and conspiracy. SO.... I "scooped" up a bunch of these NAJs and hauled them off to Wheeling for some fun reading.
In the first one that I picked up while still back in Kalamazoo, there was a reported incident of an MIB encounter. It was one of the weird ones. I photocopied it, stuck it in the backpack, and now it has risen from the dead to inspire this post. But before I get to that Out Proctor tale, since there may be some readers who aren't too grounded on what we're talking about here [MIBs aren't really like Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith], I'm going to give a very brief background foundation.
The MIB phrase enters the anomalies literature in a modern way with this guy Albert Bender. He was an early UFO club founder, who was not wired too tight apparently. He did attract several well-known individuals to join his organization [Gray Barker was one] way back in 1953. 1953 was, one remembers, the year that the Robertson Panel cautioned the intelligence community to monitor such citizen groups for dangerous activities which could amount to producing hysteria to poking their noses in to places they didn't belong. As it turned out, Bender was a candidate for both.
In august of 1953, something whizzed into New Haven CT and blasted a hole in a metal sign. The picture above is from a page in the USAFs Blue Book files. [There's no evidence that the USAF investigated this incident, but pretty good evidence that the Navy did].
Somehow a member of Bender's fledgling organization beat the military to the punch and acquired some metal fragments from the scene, which were not originally part of the sign. These were sent through Bender to a lab for analysis. The analysis report above is also a sheet from the Blue Book microfilm. As the even-though-it-seems-unlikely explanation for this event is probably a wayward piece of military ordnance [from the Navy], this grabbing pieces and having them privately analyzed could definitely be classified as sticking one's nose where it doesn't belong.
In September Bender got a visit. And, despite that to all sense these were Navy officers following up on this case, the Three Men in Black legend was energized and on center stage.
It went into the spotlight because of this book. Gray Barker, who himself had been a pretty sane UFO researcher up to that time, became fixated on this. It was because Bender just suddenly quit, went incommunicato, and was said to be paranoid/terrified. Another researcher named Jarrold seemed to have the same thing happen. Barker never regained any seriousness about the field, and became an unhelpful nut for the rest of his life, creating hoaxes and all manner of disruptive crap.
Part of that pile of crap happened when Bender finally resurfaced from his own version of lunacy with a tale of "what really happened" which was either delusional or craftily invented to make money. Barker by that time was "all in" on such travesties. So, he helped Bender publish a tale which despite its fictional character then inspired a lot of others to engage in the most incredible of stories and claims. From that point forward, UFO investigators have been barraged by a huge variety of things, all claiming somehow a relationship to Men in Black, but manifestly of wildly different natures. But lest you become discouraged, some of these very high strangeness stories may well be true --- just not Bender's, and probably having nothing to do with UFOs.
In my way of looking at the topic, there are three entirely different categories of things which flow into UFO files trying to be called MIBs. The first is simple ordinary intelligence agents doing their jobs. This is what happened to Bender. This is the equivalent of any intelligence agent going into the field for any reason. The top picture above is Captain Edward Ruppelt down in West Palm Beach investigating the Desverges case in 1952. If he was wearing his dark blues, he could have been a man-in-black. The picture below is our buddy Kevin Randle. He was intelligence for some of his run. Kevin can be pretty scary when talking about Stanton Friedman, but generally he's a good guy. Have to admit he's got the glasses for the job, though.
Could Allen Hynek have been a Man-in-Black? Well, in a way he was one of the first. In 1953, after the Robertson Panel had fingered Coral Lorenzen and the fledgling APRO as a potential trouble-making situation, Hynek and Bob Olsson from Blue Book made a special trip to try to talk her into being more Air Force friendly. Unlike Bender, Coral was tough as nails and basically ignored their "patriotic" plea. [I have the dim bell ringing in my ear that she condescended to asking prospective new members about their political propensities in order to join, but I can't find my old reference, so take that with a grain of salt].
Hynek may also have figured in a somewhat weirder case as well.
In 1955 the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory moved its HQ from Washington DC to Cambridge, MA to accept the job of creating a worldwide satellite tracking network --- they knew that we and the Soviets were on the brink of launching something. The staff expanded and Allen Hynek migrated from Ohio to Massachusetts to join Fred Whipple in directing the project. He was, therefore, away from Blue Book quite a lot in the 1955-1959 years. Sometime in 1968, NICAP received word from a 1955 witness [at the time the chief pilot of the East Coast Pilot's Association] that he and two others encountered a UFO while on practice landing maneuvers on a lake near Worcester, MA. Their own flight landed then at Hanscom field, and the sighting was immediately reported to the base officers.
Three weeks later, the witness was told to report to the USAFs Cambridge Research Center [these guys did the green fireballs and had plenty of UFO experience]. He was met at the door of the facility by two men [in black?] taken inside AND BLINDFOLDED [!]. He then was taken into an elevator which rode up and down seemingly aimlessly for ten minutes. It stopped finally, they got out, the blindfold came off, and he was sent to an office. The person waiting for him inside was HYNEK! Hynek cross-examined him for quite some time, finally admitting that the witness' testimony interested him greatly, since scientists on the roof of the research center had seen a similar object one hour earlier than his encounter. Well, Allen, who would have thought it of you? You could have had Tommy Lee Jones' job.
Categories one and two are mundane almost to the point of boredom. Category three is not. Category three is straight out of Whackland. Albert Bender's own book, mentioned above, hardly qualifies. It's just really bad fiction. What we are encountering here is "The Very Strange Visitor". This is the kind of stuff that John Keel lived off. Keel, however, is all "dark" about it [probably a reflection of his own inner persona]. The cluster of incidents, though often frightening in their raw alien-ness, aren't necessarily "dark", but rather [usually] just absurd. These are things which just don't fit. They are worse than the Fairies or the Ghosts or the ABSMs. They are just WHACK.
Ivan Sanderson, who had no idea what to make of such extreme strangeness, received a letter from an admirer who told of one such thing. She said that she was in Kentucky enjoying a car race in 1962. She noticed a man some distance away, just standing. Uninterested she avidly turned back to watch the races. Suddenly she became aware that this man was sitting right beside her. He was medium height and build and age, but normalcy stopped [subtly] there.
His hands just lay down alongside his legs, unmoving. They showed no signs of veins nor any alteration of color anywhere at all. ['Too perfect", she said]. There were no markings even where the bending points of the fingers should be. He watched things, but only by moving his eyes, not his head. His head occasionally did change position, but it was as if it mechanically rotated to a new spot and stayed there. His clothes, though ostensibly work clothes, were perfect --- no wrinkles; no signs of perspiration nor stain. Never a sound. His face in profile was chiseled so perfectly as not possibly real. He didn't blink nor move any part of his face. His hands never moved. There was no sign of there ever being a beard.
She ultimately turned her attention back to the races. Suddenly he was right up next to her crowding her, even though she hadn't seen him move until they touched. She shifted towards her husband to gain some space. The "person" shifted again. This happened three times, and the "person" was suddenly gone. After exchanging remarks with her husband, who said "that guy was just weird", they settled into the races again. Back he was suddenly right along side. Now she turned to fully face him. He had somehow altered his head [she didn't see it move] and fully faced her.
" I was looking right into his eyes. Mr. Sanderson, the contrast between the life in the pupils of those eyes and the unaliveness of the rest of that body still makes me feel sick. Even the whites of his eyes were not real. No part of that body was alive but there was life in those pupils. It was like that artificial body just wasn't there when I looked into those pupils. I don't know what he was...."
And The Lord knows, neither do we.
1975, Wauwatosa, WI: 7:30pm, the doorbell rings. The wife goes to answer. About four feet from the door was a person in odd clothes holding a 5-foot long white crooked cane. She, through the locked screen door, inquired: "yes? Yes?". Then hearing no response, she called her husband. He was boggled by the appearance of the visitor and murmured to his wife: What the hell is this, something left over from Halloween? [It was November at the time]. He unlocked the door and stepped out.
"The skin on his face was the same as smoked meat and the face was lined with deep grooves." The mouth was a small dime-sized puckered opening. He had an extremely pointed chin. He wore a hat. "It was shaped like a man's straw hat except the brim was more narrow". He had tufts of hair which stuck out beneath it. The hands were deformed and looked almost clawed. The legs were bent.
The husband reached towards the entity. It struck its crook on the pavement three times. The "visitor" then moved away, not by walking but simply drifting over the ground. It moved to the edge of the lawn and the street, where [the husband and wife suddenly noticed] were four other identical creatures --- dress, crooks, and all. One was a roly-poly shape, and it was at the center of the group. They would strike their canes and "bounce" into the air two to three feet high, in appearance like the low-gravity effect seen when the astronauts bounded on the Moon. When they affected walking, their feet would move, but they were not within two or three inches of the ground. The couple was surprised that they couldn't remember much about the dress of the "things" nor other details of facial features etc. But they did say: "They looked like oversized gnomes". As the couple retreated inside, the visitors drifted away. One raised its hand as if in final goodbye.
What is this stuff? Although the couple intellectually "punted" and thought that must have been visited by "aliens", these sorts of experiences carry almost none of the flavor of the core UFO phenomenon, even the Close Encounters. What are they? What "realm" do they inhabit? Why do they emerge? Why the apparent meaninglessness?
In the world[s] of the anomalies, some things are actually rather easy to grasp. Of them, UFOs are [in my opinion] the easiest --- they're just part of good old common physical reality, no matter how fancy their inventions are. Psi seems to be "just" an erratic personal brain talent, which takes a "short-cut" through spatial dimensions to accomplish what it does. NDEs and OOBEs seem to be "merely" the separation of the spirit/consciousness-focuser from the physical organism. Even Faerie seems less "alien" in the old dictionary sense of that word.
Whatever this stuff is, "J" and "K" don't have a chance. They need to stick to UFOs.
Till next time--- check under the bed....
- November (7)
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- Almost Unknown CE3, or Ambulatory Dream??
- A Fafrotsky Solved?
- An Early Induced Out-Of-Body-Experience??
- OUI-JA: Yes, Yes? NO, NO.
- Men In Black, Addendum: A moment in UFO History.
- Playing Hooky.
- On The Margins Of Cryptozoology, Part Last, I thin...
- At The Margins Of Cryptozoology, Part two.
- At The Margins Of Cryptozoology: Mastodons and Ame...
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- A Different Perspective
- American Philosophical Library
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- Dr. J. Allen Hynek's Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS)
- Dr. Janet Quinn
- Frontiers Of Science
- Global Consciousness Project
- National Investigations Committee On Aerial Phenomena (NICAP)
- Robert G. Jahn, Ph.D.
- Smithsonian (SIRIS)