John loved film, and shot a number of 8mm movies himself. Some were simply home reels; others were more ambitious. There was, apparently, a screening of a few of them in 1972. Veteran Forteans may recall that he used to show “Egypt — 1954” at meetings of the New York Fortean Society and the International Fortean Organization.
The Bowery News — originally the Hobo News — was a kind of raffish paper that celebrated the culture of the Bowery. It included cartoons, verses, racing tips, and news and gossip about hoboes, bums, panhandlers, barflies, hitch-hikers, tramps, pearl-divers (dishwashers), and the rest of “Society’s basement.”
John wrote for it in his teens; the photo shows him outside the office when he was nineteen.
And here, for good measure, is a picture of the Brakebeam Kid, also from 1949.
All of which leads us to a Keel bio and poem from the Bowery News, December 15, 1948. The novel mentioned was West of Washington Square — lost long ago. And I assume that the joke that follows was just filler added by the editor.
Readers of The Mothman Prophecies may remember Jaye P. Paro, a radio personality at the Long Island station WBAB. There is much on her in Chapter 15; she met the curious “Princess Moon Owl,” and had an “unnerving experience” with a man in a black Cadillac.
Ms. Paro also appears in Strange Creatures, in Chapter 10. John describes some of the folklore and creature sightings on Mount Misery, in Long Island; and mentions that she and a couple of her friends saw “something that resembled a human, disfigured face, long wild black hair, and dressed in a long black garment.” John adds that they took a picture of this creepy character. A Googling tells me that some people out there are curious about this photo, so I’ll post it here. It’s none too impressive; it looks, as John says, like “a dark blob.” But here it is; you can see for yourself.
It was published in the July 1969 issue of Beyond. The same magazine published a (clearer) photo of Ms. Paro; I’ve posted that above, so you can put a face to the name.
As readers of Jadoo know, the dedication reads: “This book was written for Lite who lived part of it and suffered all of it.”
John met Lite in Germany; she accompanied him on many of his wanderings through the East, and then joined him in Barcelona, where he finished the book. There were several passages about her in the first draft, but all were cut by the time it was published. As John recalled, their romance didn’t survive his return to NYC. But here they are, looking happy, in Germany in 1954.
This letter appeared in the December 1964 issue of Playboy. It gives a glimpse into John’s early days in Greenwich Village, in the late ’40s; as well as a memoir of one of the Village’s more memorable characters. For those of you unfamiliar with Bodenheim, he was sometimes known as “The King of Greenwich Village”: he wrote many volumes of verse, and a few rambling novels (with titles like New York Madness and Naked on Roller Skates). After a long decline into poverty and alcoholism, he was murdered, in a particularly sordid case that kept the NYC tabloids busy for weeks.