Saturday, August 29, 2009

My Life with UFOs, Part 2

A kindly correspondent wrote me a real nifty and uplifting note of encouragement last week and has asked me to continue w/ my UFO series.

Somewhere I read, and I wish I knew where so I could give a proper citation, that 90% of Americans believe that they originated on another planet. This says something about the political climate of our democratic republic, though I am not sure exactly what it says. It may be equivalent to belief in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and various historical religious figures. There is no need for a theory of evolution once we have determined that we came from Alpha Centauri. But I do believe that this crisis of origination indicates that if you are a woman, and pregnant, that you should talk to, have the father talk to, have all your family and friends talk to the baby before it is born just so’s there is no confusion later on as to where exactly it is that they came from.
Texian secession movement?

In the late 1990’s, nostalgic for the sorts of people who talked about universal mystery as I remembered in my childhood I sought out the Long Island UFO Network (LIUFON). This was after our local crash in Southaven Park and the claim was that they had a film of the alien creatures... which in fact they did have a film and I saw it on a Saturday at a hotel conference/meeting room. I was impressed.

What I saw was a lizard-like humanoid creature that had eyes and looked a bit dazed and maybe terrified sitting and was leaned up against the base of a tree, at night in the dark with people walking around. At one point a human hand moved across the screen. It held a red plastic flashlight. I also saw an alien being carried away on a stretcher.

John Ford, the fellow who showed the film, it was VHS, was nervous and fumbled with the equipment having a problem getting it to run. He had been telling us that there were probably FBI agents planted in the small hotel conference/meeting room. I had sat close to the action and when I offered to help him with the machine he freaked a bit. I have been told in the past that I sometimes look like a street cop.

Then there was some professor from some school, it could have been a community college, not sure about that, who was an expert on telling people that films are authentic and not faked. I suggested that since the flashlight was obviously real they may want to track down what kind it was... I mean, the people walking around in the film were described as some sort of special UFO black ops and so I imagine they have special issue UFO investigation flashlights. John Ford did not like my idea.

Preston Nichols, the famous author who has writ books on the Montauk Project spoke for a while and explained that the particle accelerator recently built at Brookhaven Labs is actually a proton beam canon and that the deadly instrument had been used to shoot down the UFO. He went into some detail as to the physics of how a little bitty proton can knock down a UFO.... but that got confused with another story about how the craft was actually a captured one that humans trained at Brookhaven Labs were trying to fly, but they crashed. Stupid humans.

something akin to a sensory deprivation tank?
you can do this at home with half-cut ping pong balls
taped over your eyes,
an incandescent bulb, a fan blade
and an i-pod

Then there was this chain smoker lady -- I had seen her previously outside the hotel. We were told she was from some exclusive investigation group out of Washington, DC. She explained to us how the aliens abducted people at random and had sex with them in some sort of cosmic breeder’s program. The really old guy in the chair behind me woke up at that and snarked that we don’t need aliens to do that ‘cause everybody in our community already swaps partners.

We were told about how some black preacher that lives near the park how the battery on his car died. We were told that the perimeter fence of the park had reversed polarity. And we were told that the town had installed a new horse stable on the crash site as a cover up.

They did a real good job of the cover up as my wife and I spent an entire day wandering around the park with a loony poetess lady and her young boys looking for evidence. We found nothing. I understand some of the trees lean over in the park. I found something burnt but it was very small and may have been a penny doll's head.

Here is a snippet that I found elsewhere on the Internets:

“The most Coherent information on Southaven was located in the LIUFON Press Release on August 3 1998. The actual crash occurred at 7:00pm on Nov. 24th, 1992. A man was driving east on Sunrise Highway heading toward WIlliam Floyd Parkway. There was a patch of trees separating Sunrise from Montauk Hwy. To the south of Sunrise he saw a large craft that he describes as, "tubular in shape with two large bright blue lights on each end with a bright white light in its center whose structure was composed of a dull metallic grey texture". He saw the object make a very tight right angle, cross the highway, and crash into the woods of Southaven Park. When it hit, the object emitted a dazzlingly white beam that was said to turn night to day for a moment. “

John Ford later got in trouble for putting some sort of radioactive material in the toothpaste of a local small-time politician and he was put in jail.

We Took a Special Class:
that is me in the middle
with my arm on my hip
finding out that
I am not really from
around here.

Of the people that follow UFOs there are some distinctive types:

1. Skeptical: Those who have seen weird things that make no sense and yet they remain ever hopeful of a reasonable explanation. Sometimes a scientific explanation is sought. The late J. Allen Hynek fits into this category.

2. Technical Hams: The folks that like electronics and gadgetry and will go into excruciating detail about things like anti-gravitational generators. They like to play with oscillators and strobe lights. They are apt to try to do a home-built craft. Preston Nichols fits this type.

3. Religious Folksters: Karl Jaspers talked about UFOs as religious phenomena, and this is where angels, fairies, elves and creatures living in an alternate parallel universe seem to fit. This is also where the likes of Jacques Vallee seem to settle. John Mack the Harvard psychologist borders on this region in a secular manner with his investigation of abduction experiences.

4. Fakers: Those that know they are full of crap but laugh their way to the bank, particularly when we buy their books and pay to attend their séances. I put Whitley Strieber square in this camp.

5. Schizoid: Hallucinatory paranoids... which is where I see the unfortunate John Ford.

On a good day I will find myself anywhere on this scale.

If I am fortunate to ever get to a Part 3 in this remembrance I hope to talk a bit on my thoughts in respect of the wealth of UFO related literature. We are a long way past when a friendly Norwegian looking babe would walk through the wall, tell us that the earth needs to be saved, and that we – us and only us who are always diligently paying attention -- can save it, and then casually share a cold lemon soda with them. I am intrigued as to how people come to believe stuff through reading words. If we can figure it out with outer space then pretty soon we may have it under control as a global MASH with Facebook and Tweeter.

One of them mysterious crash sites.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Life with UFOs, Part 1, District 9

I saw the movie District 9 this weekend and found it very entertaining. It reminded me of my life with UFOs. Check it out.

Here we have the cover of Science & Mechanics, August 1968.

UFOs not only invaded New York, they invaded Ithaca, NY (my home turf), and more specific they invaded the woods and swamps of Newfield, NY.

At the time the incident was said to be the most extended ‘flap’ since Kenneth Arnold’s sightings over Mount Rainier.

A quote from the eye witness Mrs. Anna “X” who lived over near Connecticut Hill and Arnot Forest, “What I saw was even bigger in diameter than that big tractor tire sitting down there in the yard.” “I had already turned off the television because it wouldn’t straighten out, no matter how I jiggled the knobs.”

Mr. B was out fishing, “He was a little guy, maybe three feet tall, and he was wearing what looked to me like a diving suit. It was all black rubber or some such material. He never took his helmet off. And through the glass in front of the helmet I could see his skin was very dark brown. His face looked something like a monkey’s. But he had no hair at all. He planted himself in front of me and started to gesture.” [We can only begin to imagine what that was about.]

Here is a sketch of what Donald Chiszar, then 13 years old, saw:

The significance of all this, in my life, was that Aerial Investigations & Research, Inc. (headed by one William D. Donovan) took up camp in our house... with my stepfather as some sort of officer of the organization, and for several years the folks of the Tompkins County and surrounding area who had witnessed a UFO sighting of any sort showed up -- once a month -- in our living room. Up to that time in my life I had not particularly experienced science fiction all that much and here we had these folks who were very adamant about their very real non-fiction experiences and they were telling their true-life stories.

If you ever need me to tell you how Jesus stepped out of my television set and you want me to make it sound authentic that it really true did happen so help me god then I know how to do that as I have learned at the knees of some of the best in the business.

I knew a whole lot about Men in Black way before Close Encounters of the Third kind came out. Did you know that their blood, if it is blood, is green?

I remember my own spouting off for a half hour or so in the basement, with my one real true UFO book in my sweaty hands, all trembling to fall over with nervous excitement of the adventure... to lay out to Mr. Donovan what techniques we may want to follow in order to encourage a visitation!

I was flattered with my own scientific erudition. I heard years later that Mr. Donovan went on from the Ithaca scene down toward Woodstock along the Hudson and organized gatherings of folks to hang out on naked hilltops. I am not sure if they held hands, wore aluminum foil on their heads, sniffed incense and sang Kum Bah Yah, or not.

For a good while there an EMERGENCY report would come in to our headquarters of a sighting or a cluster of mysteriously leaning over trees in a State Forest and we would run off to tramp around and see what was to be seen. Usually we saw not a whole lot though I will admit I saw a few odd things and if I can ever afford it I might go for regression hypnosis to find out just what happened that night I was walking my bike back from Boy Scouts and the giant white balloon Zeppelin thingy flew over... and I was home late by an hour. Or that really weird moon that I saw out the bedroom window where a moon has never been then, nor before or since. When I first realized as an adult I have tinnitus my immediate reaction was to wonder if they had found me (and that only after I concluded it was not my car buzzing). This is not a joke; really, I live, and sleep, in fear of an alien abduction. I fear it enough that I suffer from nocturnal flatulence since my subconscious discovered that they can’t handle that... that smell.

My life with UFOs in an odd way corresponded with my life with marijuana and beer. As a teenager it became something of a sport to toke up then grab a six of cold beer and go hang with the old man on a hilltop with binoculars, freezing our nuts off, late into the night. And there were those other nights we would drive around on back country dirt roads and the truck would suddenly act funny.

My own uprightly religious grandmother confessed to me that she saw three little people standing at the base of her bed one night when she was awoken. She claimed they were minions of the Devil. It may have been an aborted abduction --- but what they would want with her is an even bigger mystery to me. She was way past breeding age.

Then there was Jimmy Orr who when we first met him was a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman. I was an avid reader of real science -- I knew all about coral atolls, radiation and evolution -- and I remember him one day spreading out the encyclopedias on the living room floor and giving us his best salesman pitch. I think he may have taken inspiration classes, or special sell-a-thon pills.

He was one of the loudest proponents of the Newfield UFO flap, the guy that got everyone into action... in the Science & Mechanics there is a picture where he stands in a snowy field, wearing black, his arms stretched out as if he may want to fly, but his head pointed down at the ground looking at three dark splots that could be cow pies for all I can tell this many years later. So much for my powers of time travel.

That inspection of bull manure almost sums up Mr. Orr who in short order got his application to the Ithaca Police Department accepted and he quickly turned turn-coat and denied everything.

But not before the legendary J. Allen Hynek himself had shown up to find out what all the Ithaca noise was about.

If you look it up on the internet you will find some Cornell engineering student claims he sent up a plastic hot-air bag with a sterno burning in it... but he had to have done that on a slew of nights to match the local hysteria of sightings.

On the looney toon side it was said of Mr. Orr that he wanted to be a cop because a stud in uniform made the girls horny. Other than that he was a complete asshole. The last time I saw him he tried to bust me and several of my friends... but that is a whole ‘nother story. All I can say to it is I never saw a UFO while on acid.

Then there were our friends Eve and Feister who went west and never returned. They may have gone off with the Hale-Bopp folks, but we may never know. There was a big write up in the Ithaca Journal that I have around here somewhere.

I do not want to go on here much further this time around, and may get to a Part 2, but I will say that I own, and have read since 1968 several hundred UFO books, a few of them rarities from the 50s. Next time around I might tell about how Brookhaven Labs shot down the UFO in our local community. It crashed in one of our Long Island parks and the town built a horse stable over it as a cover-up... the Fed scientists shot it down with their proton cannon.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I Like Trains

My most memorable railroad experience was when my stepfather, at times a machinist by trade decided to build a 1.5 scale live-steam Union Pacific "Big Boy" locomotive in the basement. It was going to be BIG. It was going to be real steam, I mean that for real... hot steam. Just think of that. It would whistle and chug and have all sorts of amazing mountain-climbing power, and weight, and we could ride behind it.

He built a jig table for it with 2 x 8s running on edge distanced just right to accommodate the proper width of the scale track rail.

We owned five acres of woods with trees with dips and rises and rocks and all sorts of amazing terrain. I knew my way around that five acres pretty good as it was our land. Our land! So we walked it and put out small stakes with colored cloth to identify particular features. We knew where the trestle bridge was going to go. We knew where he would build the pond with the cascading water falls. We knew there would be lights, he was an electrician. We knew where, and exactly how large of a diameter would be allocated for the round table. A round table, such magic!

We wore black and white striped engineer’s caps. We listened to a Live Steam record on the stereo phonograph. It was exciting!

He poured a wheel out of concrete with a piece of pipe in the center of it and attached the handles from a dead lawn mower, the mower part having long been discarded, it was a neat use for handles. I helped him make this amazing tool. It was like having Popular Mechanics in the back yard. We now had a very nice roller, and we used it to roll the crushed stone roadbed, all eight feet of it that was our mock-up.

Then he went and had another idea.

The table lasted many years, too cumbersome for me and my brother to lift. Eventually it got knocked down and morphed into debris.

The eight foot of roadbed lasted longer as it was not particularly in the way. I missed the round table, I really had my heart set on it.

Too many years later I lugged the roller off to the county dump.

And the woods was, well, woods until it got sold and parceled out for house development.


My stepfather, who in his waning years insisted to be called Sante Fe, was born on the Seneca reservation at Salamanca in the Western area of New York State. In the photo of the camelback here the man standing 2nd over from the left with the Frenchie hat cocked on his head is his grandfather Joseph Follett. Joseph was a fire man, meaning he kept the locomotive in fuel. Joseph was married to a Seneca woman, and her father was a chief, though that has little to do with railroads. Salamanca, though, was a hub for a whole lot of railroad activity connected with the oil industry. There is an entire history to that in Sinclair Oil and associated with JD Rockefeller. [So that the few times I have worked on a historic preservation project associated with the Rockefellers I have felt that it is my history that I am engaged with... the most striking being work at JD Rockefeller’s boardroom in lower Manhattan. That is another story.]


Sante Fe in Korea got an assignment to run an industrial engine from one place across the country to another and for whatever reason it broke down and he and the two other soldiers that were with him refused to abandon the engine. They slept in the freezing cold and as a result my stepfather got frostbite to his feet, a problem that plagued him for the remainder of his life. He also got some bronze stars. Though he never told me about this incident, I learned it only a year ago from my mother, I do remember from when I was a kid black n’ white photos of him standing proudly, and handsome in front of a small steam locomotive. The engine looked something close to the one in this photo.


When we bought our house and my son was younger I had an idea that finally I could build an HO scale model railroad. Living in apartments had always made this desire seem temporary. I made a table for it in our front room. It was a large table and made moving around in the room difficult. I bought stuff, switches, lights, locomotives, neat railroad cars. I had an idea to expand on the White Mountain Central Railroad and to incorporate a cog rail system, an expansion of railroad as historic theme park. I meticulously assembled a few buildings and made them look old and weathered. I am proud of my ability to make model buildings look old and weathered. I laid track. We are near the Atlantic ocean and I learned that some kinds of track simply corrode in the salt air all by themselves. In the honorable tradition of our family, and seeing as my son did not seem to be equally infected with the railroading bug, and my working long hours, I stopped in mid stride.

I took up reading books about the demise of the American railroad system, quite an interesting story, actually. Books have beginnings and thankfully endings. When you end a book not many people take notice. When you do not quite end a model railroad layout it tends to linger. We continue to have remnants of that model project waiting in our background.


Steam Town is very kool, something of a large layout, but Railroad Tycoon, the computer game, taught me so much. It provided a simulation of ever increasing complexity of supply-demand pressures that build up to a point that suddenly everything collapses in a cascade of chaotic confusion. It gave me the idea to monitor our historic restoration business with real-time progress graphs -- up until 9/11 at least when all the emphasis seemed to switch over to airplanes. It also made the current economic recession seem fairly apparent as it approached, and the cascading collapse of our business and personal economic situation seems so, well, easily anticipated. We need to quit the game and start over fresh. I think next time I will concentrate on the lumber trade up near Montreal.

I met an old feller in a railroad museum in Altoona one day and when he inquired about my wandering around railroad experience I wanted to be more brief in a few words than here... he was a bit nonplussed that I got my railroading off a computer screen.


My second most memorable railroad experience was when I took the train from Chicago to New York expressly so that I could ride through Horseshoe Curve. I had been to visit the curve via automobile in the past, and my wife and son seemed a bit sleepy while I wanted to see one more train, just one more, please? So, though the trip was a long one and I had to sleep in my seat the penultimate experience was a very short one. I do remember looking out the window with my eyes and mouth open as we went around.


My least favorite railroad experience was on a cold and snowy winter day when a LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) train that I was a passenger on hit a car stopped at a crossing and killed all five family members in it. I have only been on a few trains that have ran into people [and when I am told that nuclear power is safe then I always wonder when the trains will stop hitting each other in the news]. We had to sit there for three hours and did not even get to see anything.

But I am also reminded of the celebratory drunk fellow on one pre-Christmas ride on the LIRR who when he realized he was on his way to Montauk lamented that he had meant to go to Philadelphia.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Dig Well

I cannot honestly remember if this story was not previously published at Gator Springs Gazette, or not, and I have been a bit too discombobulated the last few months to go ask, but here it appears at Rusty Barnes' Fried Coffee and Chicken (oh, no, Fried Chicks and Caffeine) uh... go check it out for yerself --

Dig Well

Down past the layer of worms. Remnants of a rusty hinge and a broken medicine bottle, things that I finger and turn over and examine before sending the fragments upward for further scrutiny and classification and the comment, “Keep digging.” Down past my own height. The earth towers over as I reach out from side to side, not quite able to stretch fully, confined within the tube of boulders, some larger than my belly, some smaller. I will find this water. Down I dream, and down I dig in dreaming to the core of the world or beyond, downward in search of muddy water. Like any other immigrant to here, I am mud-hogging the stone lining of a dark womb. After a lengthy silence Pop shows up. “How does it look down there?”

in the mean time for the more graphics and audio oriented do check out this neat map and follow the links:

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sex and War

Sex and War, How Biology Explains Warfare and Terrorism and Offers a Path to a Safer World, Malcom Potts and Thomas Hayden

If one truly feels alive in their most dangerous exposure to war, to armed conflict, to death and the risk of their own sudden death, to feel most alive when dealing out death in the killing of others then how can people who never experience war ever feel themselves to be alive?

This is a question that I have become obsessive to understand, and it is a very strong reason for my fascination in reading books about war, and in many respects this book has provided me with the most insight of any that I have read.

If you want peace, understand war.” – Basil Liddell Hart [found on page 367]

I strongly believe that an answer to my question, above, would provide a clue to how humans can figure a way to manage to survive on this planet. I say manage to survive as in even to address the question of how we humans can find a way to survive in our environment on a closed planet system. So much of war, as is brought home over and over in this book is about resources as a means to survival, and about the connection of human sexuality to the flow, and control of resources. Poon tang or water or blood or oil or black slaves, whatever. And through this book we come to a better understanding of just how closely tied sexual politics is to the maintenance of peace.

It brings me down pretty much to our responsibility of access to birth control, family planning and abortion by choice of the specific woman and the diversion of the global military budget toward universal education -- and why our taxes should be geared toward support of that sexual freedom.

When as young man I decided to be a vegetarian pacifist I found ex-Vietnam Marines beating the crap out of me, illiterate morons punching me out because I held books like they were a purse, potential girlfriends thinking I was a fruit, and fruits jumping me in my sleep, and all I really wanted was not to end up in Vietnam... when I adjusted to a mental state that signified the next person to bash me in the face with a Budweiser beer can, or jump me in my sleep I would kill them, things changed. Life got measurably better day by day. Nowadays at this point in my life all I can hope is to think it up. Boo!

Human aggression is not solely limited to war, it is as simply manifested as relationship of husband to wife (or wives, depending on the culture -- I am still trying to relate with the idea that Osama bin Laden's father had 75 children, if I have the count correct, that is certainly more than we can say for Tolstoy), and of husbands to bands of husbands, or that boys will be boys, in troops, gangs, gaggles even as they appear to mimic the aggressive and organized nature of chimpanzees. One needs to accept a general awareness of evolutionary theory in order to relate with the underlying thesis of this book, which in short is that, our male aggressive behaviors, in war and in sex, were developed through the natural selection of the surviving specimens. The man animal that has been able to kill more, enslave more, destroy more, capture rape and pillage more has also been in general the one who has been able to have the most sexual relations, and the most surviving offspring. It may not be always the case, but enough so that the next Jr. that comes along that kills off their siblings and the siblings of as many around them as they can possibly manage will, obviously, feel alive both with the sword (the machete seems to kill more people than nuclear proliferation) and in the saddle.

Cain wins.

I read somewhere that playing with money, as occurs in lower Manhattan that commerce built not on physical labor but on outwitting the opposition through the manipulation of numbers creates not only Masters of the Universe who buy up posh properties in the former Long Island Gold Coast (as in Fitzgerald land), but sexual dynamos who take their aggressive hunger for the thrill of the hunt manifested, bled out in the bedroom. That can all be bullmonkey, or horse adoration -- but I would be curious to read a study by Potts of the relationship of Sex and Commerce, or surprise, surprise -- to learn that politics is sex by other means.

As I have read in other reviews, the book does wander though I find things such as a footnote that says that it has been reported that an American manning a rocket silo once demonstrated that with a piece of string and a spoon he could override the carefully designed system requiring two men to initiate firing a missile – well, this just makes me feel all tingly and goose bumpy all over, particularly with my other fixation on Chernobyl... and we are even told elsewhere where goose bumps come from.

I am curious though that one time a Texas friend whom I trust told me that at Angola the snipers are women as they have found out Southern girls do not hesitate to narrow in on target and shoot when a prisoner tries to run into the countryside. I think I need more research, though hopefully not in the form of my own quality time. Been there, done that, not interested to revisit.

As a kid I was told that when we see the white light to run toward it.

We were not talking about an alien abduction experience. A few years ago I found out that when my step-father was sent off to Korea that they made a stop in Japan for a tour in the back of a truck of the flatter blacker portions of Hiroshima -- and yesterday I watched Henry Fonda tool around in an old truck in Grapes of Wrath and thought, gosh, they all look related to me. My stepfather never told me that he felt most alive in Korea, but he did mention waking in the night in a frozen trench and bayoneting the shadow of a man that was descending down upon him. And he did, some years later, tell me that he loved me.

Let us not forget the cost of peace as it rides through us each day that we are here alive.