I already posted the complete run of the newsletter John put out for the New York Fortean Society, which he ran in the ’80s and ’90s (starting here). It was usually one or two pages, photocopied, with news of events, speakers, fortean publications, and members. But for some reason, he didn’t keep #4 1/2 in his newsletter file. I did turn up a copy, however, so here it is.
March 10, 2015
February 27, 2015
I continue to post Mary Hyre’s letter to John. This next one is from August 31, 1967. She reports on a couple of UFOs, including one that seemed to follow her, her husband’s health problems, and the “craziest dreams” she had about John.
February 14, 2015
Andrew Colvin has published another volume of Keel. This is The Invisible Diet, which John shopped around without success in the ’80s. I mentioned it here. It’s a curious book: it tells you how to change your eating habits by changing everything else in your life, and how to gradually wean yourself off sugar, caffeine, white flour, and other nasty substances. John meant it as a humorous but useful diet book; potential publishers were confused by it. Colvin has updated and expanded it for today’s dieters. You can find it here.
The show Monsters and Mysteries in America, seen on Destination America and the Discovery Channel, has filmed an episode devoted to John, which will air sometime in the spring. I chatted with the producers, but declined to be interviewed on camera. Nothing personal; I’ve just done a lot of TV and interviews in my time, and never particularly enjoyed them. I’d rather sit at home and work on other things.
Meanwhile, Happy Valentine’s Day. And if you’re following the Invisible Diet, lay off the chocolate.
February 12, 2015
I received this comment from someone calling him or herself “Rollo Tomasi’s Right Foot.” I thought I may as well answer it on the front page.
“If you really aren’t going to put things together in a coherent order and tag them like a normal blogger, you’re not only suppressing John Keel’s enduring fame for the sake of your own ego, you are doing an enormous and almost monstrous disservice to serious researchers and writers who are beginning to look critically at the twentieth century UFO mythos, its manipulation by intel services and its anthropological and sociological aspects.
If you hold a collection of physical Keeliana it would be immensely preferably were you to either properly collate it and present it or otherwise donate it to a university where the material will be professionally prepared as an accessible collection in the same way Penn Jones, Jr. material has been.
As it stands this drip-drip-drip of more or less random snippets is silly. John Keel may have left his papers and files in a horrendous mess all over the floor of his rooms but that is no excuse for you doing the same online.”
First of all, I should point out that this was never intended as a definitive archive of John Keel’s work. It’s just a personal tribute site, from someone who was a friend of his for many years. I poured a lot of time into trying to keep John going in his later years. Larry Sloman and I met with social workers, helped get a grant to pay his back rent, went to court for him, shopped for him, called ambulances for him, supervised a cleaning of his apartment, acted as medical proxies, and more. We also preserved his papers. We do hope to get it into a university, where it can be properly archived. Meanwhile, I’m posting items for his fans, as a stopgap.
I’m 60 years old, and have little interest in computers. I’ve never aspired to be a “normal blogger.” I don’t understand the utility of tags, and if not using them breaks some unwritten code in a subculture that I have no interest in, I don’t really care. You can use the search engine to find things. I consider the most useful part of the site the bibliography, by the way, since nobody had really compiled one before.
I’m mystified as to how any of this feeds my own ego. The site is about John; I keep myself pretty much out of it. In fact, it takes time away from my own work. My own life certainly suffered from all the time I spent trying to help him when he was alive.
Why you should be so hostile to a tribute site by a friend is also somewhat mystifying. If you don’t want to look at any of this before it’s “professionally prepared as an accessible collection,” then don’t. And I suggest you spend your energy hating someone who actually does you harm.
February 11, 2015
Here, by popular request, is a sample of John’s ill-fated Playboy article from 1966. I’ve posted a few things about this episode, but I suppose a synopsis is in order.
After Playboy published a letter John wrote about the poet Maxwell Bodenheim, he pitched a few ideas for pieces. Playboy turned down articles on science fiction pioneer Hugo Gernsback, and on the old Hobo News, but expressed interest in a short piece on UFOs, on spec. John decided to write the definitive article, and it grew longer and longer, as the correspondence grew more acrimonious. Eventually, the piece was rejected.
It was to be called “Operation Trojan Horse,” although it had little to do with the later book. John kept a first draft; it’s very rough, 86 pages long, and mostly written on the back of stationery from Sandy Howard Productions (where John was working on the TV show “Mack & Myer for Hire”). Ivan Sanderson made a few marginal notes; I don’t know if he was critiquing it, or if he and John hoped to salvage material for their equally ill-fated UFO book.
It was John’s first UFO article, although he had previously written a radio script on the subject for American Forces Radio. It was mostly a catalog of the main sightings and encounters up to that time. Here are the first five pages. I’ve previously posted the outline.
February 4, 2015
And here is the third and final part of John’s 1966 visit to Project Bluebook. It was quite a conversation.
February 2, 2015
Following are the next two pages (there are six) of John’s report on his 1966 visit to Project Bluebook. Tempers flare!
January 26, 2015
On April 19, 1966, John Keel visited the Pentagon, to interview Lt. Col. Maston Jacks of Project Bluebook for his projected Playboy article. They talked for two hours. John later wrote a report of the meeting, and sent copies to NICAP, APRO, Ivan Sanderson, and his editors at Playboy. I posted Jacks’s response to John’s initial letter of inquiry here, as well as Sanderson’s response to the report; I hadn’t found this report yet. John also describes a preliminary visit to NICAP, including a meeting with Major Donald Keyhoe.
The report is six pages; below are the first two. More to come!
P.S.: As William Grabowski mentions in the comments, John gives a short version of his interview with Jacks in The Mothman Prophecies. It’s on page 23 of the Tor edition.
January 1, 2015
If John Keel were still here, I’m sure he’d be glad to toast you with a diet soda in a parking lot. This photo was taken by George Kuchar, who seems to have his thumb over the lens.
As we head into another year, please tell me what you’d like to see on this site. I’ll warn you that John left surprisingly few notes about Mothman, although he did keep a file of clippings about it.
I’ve had a busy year, myself. Black Scat Books published my translation of a selection of plays by the proto-Surrealist Alphonse Allais, as well as a collection of my comics and picture stories, The Unknown Adjective. I also wrote the introduction to the second volume of Richard Toronto’s definitive collection of Richard Shaver’s artwork, Rokfogo, which may be of interest to some of you… I’ll be marking my 60th birthday with a concert of my music at Brooklyn’s delightful Jalopy Theater, and am planning a number of lectures at the equally delightful Morbid Anatomy Museum, also in Brooklyn. You can check my site if you’re curious. Meanwhile, Happy New Year, and more Keeliana is on the way.
December 16, 2014
The next letter from Mary Hyre is from August 5, 1967. She reports on more UFO sightings and interference with television reception, as well as her sister’s health problems. The clipping she mentioned is not in the envelope; as usual, John must have filed it separately.