Liquid Conspiracy by George Piccard

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: Liquid Conspiracy: JFK, LSD, the CIA, Area 51 & UFOs

Author: George Piccard (can’t find a current site or blog for Piccard so if anyone knows if he dwells online, let me know and I will update this)

Type of Book: Non fiction, conspiracy theory

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: Conspiracy theory is always odd and this is no exception.

Availability: Published by Adventures Unlimited Press in 1999, I purchased this from my local amazing strange book source, Brave New Books, but they are revamping their online store, so for now, you can get a copy here:

Comments: Okay, this book and others like it are why I decided to ax I Read Everything and make it just an occasional sidebar to this site. You see, I read so much faster than I write and when I take too much time to discuss a book after I have read it, with some books it feels like I have forgotten huge chunks of the content. This happens especially with scatter-shot conspiracy theory like this because at some point, most of this stuff eventually covers the same ground. I mean, I will always know Icke’s alien lizard theory from James Shelby Downard’s mystical topography but unless you are a conspirator rock star, it can be hard to keep things straight unless you discuss the book within a few days of reading it. In order to give my first odd love its due, I need to just focus on the weird, you know?

And this book is wonderfully weird. And in some ways it makes sense and in other ways I can see how I lost the thread of how all of this held together, but Liquid Conspiracy explains an interesting theory, to some observable level of success, though it was all a bit mutable. It’s supposed to be mutable, though. It’s liquid, you see. But give Piccard his due, as he has a pretty interesting theory on how things work behind the scenes and under the surfaces.

Now, if you think the “liquid conspiracy” in this book refers to copious amounts of acid, you are not alone, because that was my first thought too, that all of this revolved around LSD and its impact on JFK, the CIA, etc. But really, Liquid Conspiracy refers to the information Piccard claims he received from a man called Kilder, a man who worked for the RAF during WWII and in his capacity as some sort of governmental flunky managed to find out who the men behind the curtain are and what they want to do. It is, as referenced in the book, a “Grand Unification Theory of Conspiracy.”

The elderly Englishman contacted Piccard with his information and unloaded it all before he died and Piccard did his best to verify it. Luckily, Kilder had a photographic memory (one day I will go off on a rant about how it is eidetic memory does not mean what people think it means and how it is often more than not a relatively useless trait, but that day is not today) and wrote a lot of things down. Of course, the skeptic in me is always immediately ready to snert when a clerk in some governmental agency is able to get the lowdown on the conspiracy controlling the world because, you know, it’s a damn conspiracy and you’d think they’d be a little more careful in how they disseminate their evil plans, especially when they know they have a clerk with a photographic memory who has access to their nefarious plans, but all I can do is give my head a shake, refuse to approach this with reason, relax and enjoy the show. I advise that you do the same.

Relax… Because here it comes. The Liquid Conspiracy features all the usual players in conspiracies that control the world. The Knights Templar, the Knights of Malta, the Masons, the Illuminati, the Rothschilds, Adam Weishaupt, the Federal Reserve, the Catholic Church, Skull and Bones, Nazis, aliens, Communists and on and on. You’ve likely heard it all before or read it on websites that are generally nothing but a wall of Geocities text with a series of eyes in pyramids blinking at you when you reach the bottom of the page. And really, it’s nothing new. There are men behind the curtain, lots of them, some with competing interests but all with a common goal of keeping us, the common men, so distracted from their goals that they keep us in chains and we wreck our interests as they keep all the power and the money away from us.

But the conspiracy Kilder shared with Piccard is that all of the forces that seek to control the world entered into a pact.

The Knights, the Elders, and the aliens made a pact. The conspiracy–its character subtly changed with their recent collaboration–made its final plans for the coming One World Order. The dangerous union of the Freemasons, the Illuminati, and the Templar Knights and the Roman Catholic Church with the support of the Grey aliens, brought to an end a fifteen hundred year struggle. These rival groups came together to put aside their previous animosities and to forge an invincible power.

And why not. Why wouldn’t the Masons, the Illuminati and little green–er–gray men join together? In unity there is strength, right? The proof for this alliance is what Piccard calls “The Breakfast with the Kingmakers of ’45.” Present at this breakfast were representatives of all the major conspiracies, twelve entities in total, and it was then they merged together to form a sort of perpetually moving, form-fitting, Lycra-blend conspiracy.

The new conspiracy was an entity unto itself. Using ritual magic and technologies still never spoken of, the attendees initiated an incredible device. A poltergeist of sorts, an ever-evolving energy form which would transfer power inner-dimensionally, from thought to reality. This curse (and I use these terms with reservation, for there is no other terminology to describe it) would grow, mutate, and adapt to the desires of its masters. The will of the secret world government would come to manifest physically. Still, actual temporal involvement was absolutely required. But with the aid and intelligence of their psychic contraption, their desires faced no opposition in the realm of the feeble masses.

So, it’s not just the aliens and the Trilateral Commission and the Masons and the Illuminati and the greasy soul of Prescott Bush we got to worry about. It’s a device that can… I don’t know… control our minds and adapt our reality on behalf of all these combined conspirators. Yeah, this is one helluva theory. All based on the photographic memory of some British clerk and who am I, in all seriousness, to argue with that.

You think I am being sarcastic? Well, maybe a bit, but for me conspiracy theory in a very real manner is not dissimilar to religion, an attempt to explain that which seems hidden, mysterious, beyond comprehension. There is a gossamer thread that runs from being very suspicious about the Federal Reserve to believing that there is a bizarre cabal that uses an inexplicable “psychic contraption” to blur things so we cannot see how they are perpetually working behind the scenes. One is a reasonable but at times paranoiac topic, the other is an attempt to create a story to force the world into a mechanism that to them makes more sense than the randomness that often surrounds world events, and it is all too easy to start with one and end up wallowing in the other. Human beings like believing strange things. It is a part of who we are as a species.

I mean, is a “psychic contraption” uniting the Bilderbergers and the Catholics and the aliens really that more outlandish than a talking bush afire or immaculate conception or some awesome guy rising from the dead? Of course that’s up to the individual but atheist though I am, I recognize that wacky beliefs fuel the world and I have always wondered why some wacky beliefs make the cut for widespread belief and some don’t. I suspect it is personal salvation and a sense of a larger presence looking out for us in a positive manner, something that most conspiracy theory lacks, but the cynics among us might think that makes conspiracy theory more believable.

But an angel Moroni brought Joseph Smith golden plates and a British clerk named Kilder remembered a bunch of fantastic stuff, wrote it down and shared it with Piccard and there isn’t a whole lot of proof for either happening so all you can do is decide whether or not you believe. I don’t believe either, mainly because I lack of capacity for belief but conspiracy is amazing to me in the same way religion is because I love seeing what it is that make people believe and how beliefs evolve. Conspiracy is a religion, pure and simple, a religion without a savior, and in a way, that makes it all the more amazing. So yeah, I give this no credence but I don’t have to because I love it for what it is, not for its truth or reality.

So back to Piccard. After chapter one, the rest of the book becomes his version of world events filtered through the lens of his take on the conspiracy controlling the world, and even without this filter, this book is a good conspiracy primer because it covers pretty decently a lot of territory, from Operation Paperclip to LSD as a CIA means of mind control and how it influenced the Kennedy administration, the JFK assassination, Area 51 and UFOs, MK-ULTRA, Jim Jones, the general complete anomaly that is the state of Ohio and AIDS. This is just a small sample of what this book discusses and like I said, if you remove the whole Liquid Conspiracy you still get an excellent overview of conspiracy and high weirdness in general. I could spend a lot of time dissecting the weirdness but this is not new weirdness outside of the Liquid Conspiracy. All that is different is the interpretation of the forces behind it. So if you are new to conspiracy, you could do a lot worse than begin your trip into this cloudy place of utter paranoia reading this book.

So I say read it. I haven’t been able to find out much about George Piccard online and that’s a shame that this guy may have petered out at some point, but this kind of thing gets exhausting for men who are not made of stern and lunatic stuff, like Alex Jones. But even as a side player in the madness, I think Piccard deserves a look.

Apocalypse Waiting to Happen by Dr. John Coleman

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: Apocalypse Waiting to Happen: The Plagues That Threaten Us All

Author: Dr. John Coleman

Type of Book: Non-fiction, conspiracy theory, disease

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: Well, I bought it at the marvelous Austin book store, Brave New Books. That’s a good clue as to potential oddness. The content cinched the deal.

Availability: Published by World in Review Books in 2009, you can get a copy here:

Comments: Take this statement for what it’s worth but it took me forever to write this discussion because I came down with a case of the flu that will not go away. If I were paranoid, I would be very concerned.

Man, I am definitely going to have a good time examining this book in close detail because it combines all the best things I have come to love in lunatic screeds predicting the end of the world, but before I begin, I have to say that books like this make me long for the days of ‘zines. Really, this book is a long form ‘zine, or maybe a very long newsletter. This book should have been written on an electric typewriter, single spaced, no margins, hand-written corrections in the margin and mailed to everyone who signed up for it. This book took me back to those days long past, wherein the only way one could get a hold of a strangely-spelled, interestingly-reasoned screed was to wait impatiently by the mail box.

If you are of the right mind, this book will amuse you to no end. Because when you pick up a book that is ostensibly discussing the diseases that could mark the end of the world, and the disease “Guillain Barre” is spelled “Guillane Barre” on the cover and in the table of contents you find a chapter called, “The Terrible Toll of NRSA,” you know you are in for one hell of a time.

There are moments of complete coherence wherein you think, “Hey, Dr. Coleman may be on to something, though he seems like he may be overstating it.” Then there are moments of utter lunacy wherein you think, “What sort of doctor is this guy anyway?” I still have not been able to determine what his doctorate is in, or if he is an MD, but the little bit of research I did showed me that Dr. John Coleman is a man who should have already been on my radar because he is a conspiracy theory Renaissance Man. Sometimes I am disappointed in myself but I comfort myself with the knowledge that my new Kindle and I will rectify my Coleman deficiency as soon as possible.

So, in just the cover and the table of contents, I already know this book’s content is going to be a bit iffy and my suspicions are played out in the text. This book is ostensibly a treatise on the diseases that could potentially end mankind as we know it, and it takes all kinds of very interesting turns while offering some information that turned out to be more or less factually correct when I looked into it and some that is simply the stuff of conspiratorial dreams (and that is a statement anyone should take advisedly because though I am deeply interested in illness as a topic, I am a liberal arts sort of gal, not a scientist).

It’s hard to buy into the alarmist nature of the book but all conspiracies are alarmist and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but I knew I was in for a ride when I read this (and from here on out, just know I am not going to enter the traditional [sic] when there is a grammar, spelling or structural problem in Dr. Coleman’s text because it would become tiresome):

The cardinal sin being committed against God and man by the spiritually wicked men in high places is the destruction of mankind through so-called “natural means.”

Okay, so I now know Dr. John Coleman is going to look at this via a Christian filter of the Apocalypse, which is just fine with me because as an atheist I don’t have any dog in that fight but it also means I will be able to dismiss some of what he considers proof. We also know that we might venture into the idea that some of these diseases threatening us are not natural in origin. Hoo boy, I am very excited now. You should be, too.

Despite the fact that I know that very excellent conspiracy awaits me, I have to say the hands-down best parts of this book are all the left turns that come out of nowhere. The sort of shifts in content that make you shake your head and wonder if you missed a page or something, and realize no, it’s not you. The quote I give above is at the top of page 2. Dr. Coleman then spends three paragraphs discussing disease and how it is that the death toll of disease far outweighs casualties of war plus some fear of Socialist government, which was sort of a “What?” but still mildly topical in context, then :RECORD SCRATCH:

This book is not about politics per se, so I will confine my remarks to posing the question that so badly needs to be asked: What in God’s name are our soldiers doing in Iraq and Afghanistan?

No matter how tragic the Columbine School and the Virginia Tech massacres of April 20, 1999 and April 16, 2007, they cannot be viewed as anything other than sad and terrible occurrences. What is so savage about it all is that the victims were not allowed by law, to defend themselves.

Okay, so we now know this is going to be a roller coaster of weirdness. We now have a pretty good window into Dr. Coleman’s mind: the government is going to kill us with disease, governmental action that Dr. Coleman does not like will be called Socialist and he is pro-gun to the extent that he thinks high school freshmen should carry them to school. And if it sounds like I am mocking Dr. Coleman, maybe I am a little, but mostly I have mild affection for people with mindsets complete different than mine because without them this website would be basically a shill for Eraserhead Press. And, it has to be said, I have been known to harbor one or two wacky ideas myself…

Of particular interest to me was Dr. Coleman’s take on the Clinton presidency refusing to destroy all of the smallpox samples housed with the CDC:

In 1996 the World Health Organization demanded that all existing stocks of smallpox viruses be destroyed. At first the United States was vociferous in its demands, that all nations possessing stocks of the virus join the U.S. in destroying such stocks. All of a sudden, having gotten a taste of what it is like to be mass killers in Serbia and Iraq, the governments of Britain and the United States did a 180 degree turn. “We are not going to carry out our previous decision” (to destroy the smallpox hoard), said Clinton “just in case the U.S. may need them in the future.” This startling announcement came on April 22, 1999. Mark the date well. Future historians will trace the start of the coming apocalypse to this date.

Having read enough Richard Preston to ensure I lost sleep, I have a different take on the U.S. refusal to destroy their smallpox stocks. You see, disease is a form of mutually assured destruction and nations talk a big game about getting rid of disease stocks and nukes but such stores are preventative measure to keep other countries from using disease as a form of warfare because they know we could just return the favor. Moreover, in the event a country launches a dirty bomb against us and we don’t have samples of the disease to make a vaccine, we are sitting ducks. Unpleasant, but true. Stocks of nukes and stocks of disease make for better diplomacy in a world wherein seats of political power are occupied by egoists and madmen. Interestingly, before declaring Clinton the worst sort of bastard for reneging on the U.S. promise to destroy smallpox stocks, Coleman, who has already shown little use for dictatorships and Socialism in general, declares:

When apprised of Clinton’s decision not to destroy our stash of deadly smallpox viruses, Mikhail Shurgalis, Russia’s spokesman on the treaty, denied his country has any stocks of smallpox. Iran and China also deny holding any Biological Warfare stocks.

Okay, I don’t think Dr. Coleman is twisting facts and ideas to suit his particular hobbyhorse. I think riding his hobbyhorse gives him a strange myopia. Does he really trust Iraq, Russia or China’s word on whether or not they destroyed their smallpox stores? And say Clinton had believed them and sometime in our lifetime we found out those nations in fact had their smallpox stores and we had destroyed our disease deterrent as well as the means to make a vaccine? Policy in such matters is cloak and dagger to be sure but not nearly as straightforward as Dr. Coleman seems to think. “Oh, China and Russia say they no longer have smallpox viruses? That’s good enough for us. Those countries have never given us cause to doubt them before,” seems to be the reasoning where disease stockpiles are concerned. Would such a naive approach work in nuclear disarmament? Probably not.

The overall structure of Dr. Coleman’s book makes some level of sense and as a rule, I can see where he is coming from as this sort of conspiracy is nothing new – the government wants us sick and covers it up, the government accidentally makes us sick and covers it up. Many people exhibit this manner of thinking, notably Jenny McCarthy, and it was therefore not that surprising to see it in action here.

Autism in children may be the result of vaccinations. British doctor, Stephen Walker, was the first to discover a possible link between child vaccinations and autism on June 3, 2006. This has led to speculation among medical researchers that there must be a common factor somewhere, but discovery of what that factor is, remains beyond reach. Are we being used as human guinea pigs?

Well, we might be, but not via vaccinations. Stephen Walker has come out and admitted he cannot prove a link between the MMR vaccine and autism and as of right now there is not a single link between vaccinations and autism.

But Dr. Coleman is all too willing to go that extra step in the course of his paranoia despite the fact that one of his own sources has backed down from his initial findings:

We know now vaccines injected into children weaken their immune system and leave them vulnerable to other diseases. Could it be that the grand design is to make children vulnerable to infectious plagues, which will then sweep millions of people to their deaths in far greater numbers than the Black Plague of the 14th Century? After all, didn’t Bertrand Russell say that there had to be a return of the Black Plague. Vaccinations have become the chic way of allegedly warding off terrible diseases, but what we are learning through research into such illnesses as chronic fatigue syndrome is that the more prevalent the inoculations programs are, the more there is a growing incidence of strange and exotic diseases, which hitherto, were unknown or only occurred in limited numbers.

It’s actually extremely questionable that vaccines weaken a child’s immune system when the end result is that children with these vaccinations do not develop mumps, measles, German measles, whooping cough and all the myriad childhood diseases that made children die left and right. And if you don’t get Dr. Coleman’s riff about Bertrand Russell and why his musings on the Black Plague are de facto evidence of anything sinister in the government to sicken people, it’s discussed in the book and evidently in some of his other books and I will touch on it more in a bit. But yeah, it’s conspiri-tastic. And bless Dr. Coleman for associating vaccines with the word “chic.” When I get my next flu shot I better get a Chanel bandaid. I also dispute the idea that CFS is new or burgeoning as it is a disease that most commonly afflicts women and the annals of medical history are crammed with depictions of sickly, easily tired, wasting, neurasthenic women. CFS has been around for a long time but like most auto-immune illnesses, there is still very little known about it.

But don’t get me wrong. I love conspiracy theory but I have no issue discussing where it falls short and can be dangerous. Hell, the conspiracy about vaccines has led some to believe that Jenny McCarthy’s anti-vaccine advocacy has a body count. So while I am largely amused by Dr. Coleman and quite interested in reading more of his books, the fact is, he sort of doesn’t mind mixing it up in a way that makes it hard to swallow even the passages where he gets things right. The government is at fault, Bertrand Russell is somehow behind it, and that’s all well and good because heaven knows Russell could stand to be taken down a peg or two posthumously. But given all the conspiratorial bends this book takes, the following was… shocking… and upsetting to a liberal gal like me:

The incidence of all strains of hepatitis, A-G, is very heavy in Central and Latin America and India, and immigrants from these areas are not screened when they are arrive in the U.S., so that there is a vast pool of infection — a veritable reservoir of hepatitis in our midst. In California the situation has become so serious as to border on panic as more and more people are discovering that they are infected with hepatitis C. Yet, in spite of the terrible dander, concerned citizens who demand medical screening for immigrants are called “racists.”

Terrible dander, eh? One would think a panic about an infectious disease that reduces lifespan would be more than a dander but maybe I shouldn’t nitpick that. Instead let me nitpick facts. In the United States, the vast majority of people who currently have Hepatitis C contracted the disease before blood was tested for the diseases as a matter of course in refined tests to find the disease, which was developed in 1990. Since accurate screening began, the number of people who contract Hepatitis C has fallen dramatically. In the current climate, the top causes for Hepatitis C transmission are via risky sexual and drug usage behaviors. Because Hepatitis C is blood-borne, there is some risk from food-handlers, and to be blunt, no one really knows all the potential methods of transmission but blood seems to be the most reasonable risk.

But as a whole, it is, in fact, racist to say that people from Central and Latin America and India who have Hepatitis C are more likely to become drug abusers and engage in unprotected sex, and statements like this one, a statement Dr. Coleman makes several times in the book, is a rallying cry for people who desperately need to cling to something to prove motive behind their race hate. Moreover, most people well-versed in epidemiology will tell you that we have far more to fear simply from legal travel. A disease like Hepatitis C is small beans compared to the capacity for a super-flu to spread and cause a pandemic because of the ease of rapid air travel. Immigrants with Hepatitis C are the least of our troubles.

But the weird statements don’t stop there, and it would be disappointing if they did:

In a sense, HVC [Hepatitis C] is worse than HIV because there is no indication at the onset of the disease that one is really ill.

Well, actually, there isn’t a whole lot at the beginning of HIV contraction that lets you know you’ve contracted the disease. Obviousness of infection and delay of symptoms are actually a common trait of both conditions.

Then there are the delightful statements, like this one:

It is more desperately urgent, that we defend our liver!

Ignoring the implication that we are all sharing a single liver, I shouted a comma-less variant of this exhortation the day I stopped drinking.

Now here is why Dr. Coleman is such an excellent conspirator: He lays out interesting information that may or may not link together ideas but never really follows through, which is one of the hallmarks of excellent conspiracy:

A horrific outbreak of the Black Plague occurred in 1348, dislocating the wage and price structure producing major economic and political conditions and social crisis, and carrying away millions of people. We are presently living in the middle of economic and political conditions closely paralleling those of 1338, which fit in with the predictions of Ziegler who said a great plague would come by the year 2020. This also confirms the expectations of Hecker who said that each succeeding plague would be more virulent that the last. In 1347, famine in parts of Europe, notably in what is now Italy, helped the spread of the Black Plague. Compare this with Africa today, where millions are dying from starvation and AIDS.

Actually, Dr. Coleman rides off the rails with the AIDS comparison because despite the sheer horror of AIDS, the fact remains that it does not kill with the rapidity of yersinia pestis. A person with AIDS can live a very long time and the way the disease is spread is more selective so while it is a pandemic in parts of Africa, it is not even in the same class of rapid-death disease spread we are discussing when we talk about Black Plague. But this is a tantalizing passage because Dr. Coleman is not talking about Nostradamus-styled predictions. Phillip Ziegler is an excellent source for information about the history of the Black Death and it would have been nice if Dr. Coleman had told us how the economic and political conditions today closely parallel those of 1338 because having read Ziegler (admittedly many years ago), I don’t see the correlations. The Hecker he is referring to is J.H. Hecker and I know nothing of his work so I don’t know if Hecker is a good source, but this could have been such an interesting section if Dr. Coleman had laid out for us how we are looking at a political climate and social climate that could result in a plague. I think such conditions are here. I’ve read enough writers like Laurie Garrett to know that things could become quite dire quite quickly if conditions were right. I just want Dr. Coleman to better explain his alarmist utterings.

And I gotta tell you, his section on MRSA, though he calls it “NRSA” in his table of contents, was damn informative. I have family in the medical community who have echoed that MRSA is a nightmare, that once a hospital has a MRSA contamination, getting rid of it is dicey, that unions prevent some hospitals from removing from service nurses who test positive as being carriers for MRSA via the nose tests, and that in many cases, surgery is a crap-shoot (and if you ever read much about prion diseases, you will fear surgery for the rest of your life, believe me). I had to have a steel plate put in my ankle two years ago and I recall the weird things people told me to do after surgery. One nurse told me that after surgery that I needed to go home and run the hottest water I could stand over my incision, no matter what the doctors said. I didn’t because it would have hurt like 20 bastards in a bastard boat but I always wondered if she told me this because she felt this was a deterrent to MRSA. The parts about MRSA are as jumbled and use as interesting grammar as the rest of the book but here Dr. Coleman was on point and his paranoia, while perhaps overblown and strangely stated, was not out of bounds when healthy teenagers are picking the infection up in locker rooms and dying from it.

And then there are other sections where he starts off strong, with cogent, well-thought out points, but then he just veers off course, falls down the mountain and crashes in the valley below. In an excellent paragraph explaining what he failed to explain in the passage about the Black Plague, Dr. Coleman explains in detail how poverty, overcrowding, and crappy government in Brazil have led to a perfect storm for AIDS that could lead to a complete pandemic. Then he follows that with this:

The monsters in the Club of Rome and those running the Global 2000 mass extermination program are well pleased with their work. Barring a change of plan – – which appears totally unlikely – – billions of people will die of AIDS this decade. If Lord Bertrand Russell and H.G. Wells were alive today, they would look upon AIDS as a providential gift, a dream come true.

Dr. Coleman explains earlier in the book what the Club of Rome is and why Bertrand Russell and H.G. Wells are among history’s greatest monsters (they evidently are a part of a plot to kill off “useless eaters”) but I’m weary, the explanations are suitably lunatic and until I read his books on the topics themselves, I will not discuss them, but I wonder why, in the face of actual evidence of wrong-doing that causes problems in the here and now we have to ascribe these ills to the machinations of two dead Brits, one so priapic he barely had time to manage his sex life with decorum, let alone plot to destroy the world a century after his death.

Dr. Coleman’s information about AZT, the drug used to treat AIDS is another instance wherein Dr. Coleman may have been presenting excellent information but the fact that he thinks that Bertrand Russell was a part of a cabal to kill off the world makes it hard to know if AZT is the poison that Dr. Coleman says it is. That’s one of the few times conspiracy theory makes me unhappy – when conspiracy folk may have an excellent point but you can’t trust in it because of all the lunacy that accompanies it. A very basic Google proved that AZT is not in fact the miracle drug I had initially thought it to be. But it is… unsettling that many of the voices who bring us dissenting information are as untrustworthy in their own way as the the standard sources of news.

His take on flu viruses, especially H1N1, was timely but also unnecessarily alarmist:

According to a top scientist for the United Nations, who examined the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Africa, as well as the victims of HIV/AIDS, concluded that H1N1 possesses certain transmission vectors that suggest that the new flu strain has been genetically manufactured as a military biological warfare weapon.

He goes on to cite “scientists,” who are evidently working for the UN, who say that H1N1 was a human-engineered disease, which doesn’t pass the basic skeptic sniff test. The H1N1 virus subtype has been identified for almost a century, both the avian and swine infections. I can only assume that the horror of it creating a Spanish flu-type pandemic (which was caused by the avian H1N1 virus) is one of the reasons people feared this disease so much and as I have begun to note, fear is the cause of most conspiracy. However, unless anyone can give me the mechanism by which they think this known disease was mutated to make it similar to Ebola, I call shenanigans. I can only assume that the reason anyone would link H1N1 to Ebola is because the former on occasion and the latter always cause a cytokine storm in the sufferer. But the cytokine storm was an element of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic so again, we’ve known for almost a century that cytokine storms can happen in flu and it would be hard to say that a flu that causes a cytokine storm is anything new.

The conspiracy continues, and this seems especially odd since Dr. Coleman understands in Brazil how poverty, overcrowding and bad government contribute to the spread of disease:

…I believe that Swine Flu will return with a vengeance once the creators of the virus have finished their new genetic model and it is once again released to run amuck throughout the world. Certainly there have been several major pandemics in the U.S. (poliomyelitis, Spanish Flu and Avian Bird all proven or suspected). With Swine Flu, there should have more than likely been well over a thousand fatalities. But what was the actual count? The only fatality was a child. Of course that has changed but why is it that so many more deaths occurred in Mexico than anywhere else. Other races, even other Hispanics, appear to contract a much milder form. Was this due to the lack of medical facilities and the state of the slums around Mexico City and other major cities? But if one looks at Rio de Janeiro and its infamous “favelez” slums –far worse than anything found in Mexico — the theory does not hold up.

Well, the epicenter of the Swine Flu outbreak occurred in Mexico City, not Rio. Had it started in Rio, would we wonder why people in Mexico City slums didn’t fall as fast or as often? No. Where a disease begins is hit the worst. North and South America had time to react and the disease spread simply didn’t occur the way some panicked epidemiologists suspected it would, exactly as what happened with recent outbreaks of SARS and Avian Flu. And as a whitey white white, I got H1N1 and have never been sicker so I am unsure where the idea that other races are less affected comes from – the people who died in the U.S. were not in slums nor were they uniformly of Mexican descent. My anecdata and the actual data simply do not bear out Dr. Coleman’s beliefs.

And it spirals down the rabbit hole from there, with incendiary insinuations that the WHO sat on information about the outbreak of Swine Flu in Mexico, the WHO may have started the outbreak and bizarre and completely unscientific assertions that it is impossible for “four different viruses from three different animals” to mutate into a single disease.

And that’s the worst part of this whole thing, the sour note at the end of this symphony of sickness: Dr. Coleman has interesting points that are made suspect or outright overshadowed by some of his more lunacy-laden beliefs. I haven’t read anything else by Dr. Coleman – maybe he has a line on information that will completely redefine how I think about Bertrand Russell – but there is enough truth in so much that is terrible in medical history that I really don’t need to know about the Club of Rome or a plan by H.G. Wells to believe terrible things have happened and have been covered up. The presence of such whackadoodlery taints the points that Dr. Coleman could drive to town and take to dinner. Hell, I consider myself a skeptic but still believe Edward Hooper’s research that indicates that AIDS is a zootrophic condition that jumped from simians to humans as a result of the development of an oral polio vaccine in Central Africa. That’s some hard core conspiracy right there but it doesn’t require a cabal of long dead elites – just the hubris of a few men who hid the bad things they did and a compliant and easily redirected medical community and press that would not and still refuses to look hard into the issue.

So, I can’t really recommend this book unless you, like me, like nothing more than out-there conspiracy and stories of disease. I think Dr. Coleman’s works, however, are going to appear here again soon, because I have had ill-will for H.G. Wells after discovering he was a plagiarist of the worst sort. I really want to believe Dr. Coleman that Wells was indeed a terrible, terrible man. But there are far better books that make the case for conspiracy and illness. Tackle one of those first before reading this. But I intend to start reading Dr. Coleman’s works apace. He seems a man who will offer a ton of insanity with a few ounces of clarity and frankly, a few ounces of clarity combined with the entertainment of good conspiracy are worth it for me.

The Covert War Against Rock by Alex Constantine

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: The Covert War Against Rock

Author: Alex Constantine (and yeah, I am submerged in his site right now, reading about Duncan and Blake – brb after I have fallen off the deep end entirely)

Type of Book: Rock and roll, conspiracy theory

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: It posits unusual theories about the deaths of famous rock stars.

Availability: Published by Feral House in 2000, you can get a copy here:

Comments: Okay, by now, if you’ve spent any time reading here, you’ll know I am highly skeptical of much conspiracy theory despite the fact that I can’t ever read enough about it. Yet, even as a skeptic, I have a conspiratorial bent to me, depending on how much my belief is beggared. I think there was a covert CIA plot to kill JFK. The more and more I read about the death of RFK, the more uneasy I am about whether or not Sirhan Sirhan acted alone and if his current mental state is due to organic schizophrenia. So embracing such ideas means that a little part of me believes that elements of the American government could want specific celebrities dead. And while some of this book seemed unlikely to me, some of it that hit my belief-o-meter. I’ll need to read more and research more before I can completely buy into some of this content, but there was a lot of information in this book that had the ring of truth to it.

I was surprised at how much of this I knew before reading this book – I’ve clearly absorbed more conspiracy than I thought. Very little of it was new, yet I am surprised by my reactions at the parts that were new to me. I mean, I always suspected there was much more behind the deaths of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh than just cancer and a gun shot, respectively. I mean, when the CIA decides to destabilize an entire country, it isn’t too much to believe that they would also take steps to assassinate reggae musicians who, through their charisma and music, were overt leaders against American political control. Did Bob Marley really get cancer via a copper wire put in boots given to him by the son of a head of the CIA? I tend to think maybe not, but then again, I also live in a world where dissidents get killed via ricin in an umbrella gun.

But the part of this book that was the most new to me was the section about Tupac Shakur. I recall clearly when he died but I thought little of it. He had seemed like a gangsta to me and gangstas sometimes get shot. I didn’t (and mostly still don’t) listen to rap and knew little about the man, to be honest, but the media portrayal of him painted a picture that substituted itself for real information about the man and his death. Constantine’s research into Shakur’s death revealed a completely different picture of Shakur for me, and pointed to very sound reasons why there might have been a conspiracy to kill him. That Shakur was the heir apparent to an activist family, one of whom escaped from prison and defected to Cuba, the way the shooting occurred, the seeming lack of police attempts to solve the murder, all make it seem as if there were some sort of conspiracy to kill Tupac and obfuscate the investigation.

Aside from the belief that Mama Cass Elliot may have been the victim of government-sponsored assassination, there was not a single case in this book that I could say, “Pants!” to (Cass Elliot died of an undetected heart defect, nothing more, nothing less). Whether or not you think the government killed John Lennon, Phil Ochs, Jimi Hendrix or Jim Morrison, Constantine raises interesting questions about time lines, government interest in these performers and details that were blurry then and blurrier now. (Actually, I did invoke underpants when I read Constantine refer to Donald Bains’ The CIA’s Control of Candy Jones. I found the book so lacking in anything approaching proof that I didn’t even want to keep the book once I discussed it here. Candy Jones was a victim of her own sad mind and the utter incredulity of Long John Nebel, not the MK-Ultra program or the CIA or anything else.)

Of all these deaths presented in this book, it was Michael Hutchence’s that affected me the most. Born in 1970, neatly sandwiched between the deaths of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, I was too young to be as interested when most of the stars in this book died, or, in some cases, I was not alive yet. But INXS was a band I adored as an adolescent and young adult. I recall seeing INXS perform on their tour for Listen Like Thieves. Terrence Trent D’Arby opened and despite being in nosebleed seats, my friends and I danced and danced, thrilled to be there. Shabooh Shoobah and The Swing are two of my favorite pop albums ever. His death just seemed so unlikely – death by auto-erotic asphyxiation? Really? The information Constantine presents about elements of Hutchence’s death, important details that never made the public airways, genuinely make me wonder about Hutchence’s demise.

All in all, this was an interesting book. It took itself seriously and as a result, I took it seriously. Constantine certainly knows his conspiracy, and he can write a tight sentence. I think the chapter on Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls is worth the price of admission, and the chapter on Marley and Tosh was a welcome double feature. I don’t buy all of the content in this book but it raises a lot of questions, which, when you are dealing with content of this sort, is often the best anyone can ask for. I mean, I still think Mark David Chapman acted alone, but just because he beat the government to John Lennon, that doesn’t mean the government did not want him dead. This the oddbooks corollary to “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.”

(However, aside from Mama Cass and Candy Jones, this book did strike a major discordant note with me. Maybe rock conspirators can help me out. Constantine asserts that Joan Baez claims she is a survivor of ritual abuse via the Monarch Project. However, the sources he uses combined with his specific verbiage do not support that Baez ever said she was a victim of ritual abuse. Though he says Joan makes this claim, his actual sources never verify anything except she is a vocal opponent of torture and that she has been in intensive therapy. So I fired up the ol’ Internet to see what I could find out.

After several hours spent online reading lots of assertions that Baez survived the Monarch Project (and cringing as the sites pinged my anti-virus software), all I could find were people saying that because her father worked for Cornell, the supposed site of many government mind control experiments in Ithaca, and because she wrote a song called “Play Me Backwards,” which has lyrics that can be interpreted as the words of an abuse survivor, Baez was a victim of mind control. I could not find a single source with a direct quote from Baez indicating she was a victim of the Monarch Project. Those sites that claim she says such a thing use her song lyrics as a de facto admission on her part, which in my mind is hardly the same thing.

More troubling is that the longer I read, the more familiar the phraseology the sites used became. In fact, I began to think there was a single source that asserted Baez was a victim of the Monarch Project, likely based on the fact that she once lived in Ithaca and wrote a disturbing song, and endless others cited that first source. See for yourself what I mean. Google “joan baez ritual abuse.” Soon the phrase self-described victim of ritual child abuse will become very familiar, as all the sources for this information seem to be revisiting one original source that I cannot run to ground. If the belief that Baez was a victim of such abuse is stated outright by Baez somewhere and I missed it, I would love it if someone would direct me to the source. That she has been through intense therapy and speaks out against torture is not enough proof in my books. Interpretation of song lyrics is not enough proof either. Baez has worn her beliefs and attitudes openly for years, speaking out about injustices. If she was a victim of the Monarch Project, I would expect there to be a direct quote from her saying so, not innuendo about song lyrics. So if it is out there and I densely overlooked it, please direct me to it. Leave a comment here, or e-mail me. Some of you send me some pretty interesting e-mails so if anyone knows the answer, I think one of my readers might.)

James Shelby Downard’s Mystical War by Adam Gorightly

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: James Shelby Downard’s Mystical War

Author: Adam Gorightly

Type of book: Non-fiction, conspiracy theory, occult symbology, Masonry

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: It’s about James Shelby Downard’s whacked out and at times strangely on the nose beliefs and how they relate to the mass of conspiracy theory as a whole.

Availability: Published by Virtualbookworm.com in 2008, you can get a copy here:

Comments: Having read Carnivals of Life and Death by James Shelby Downard (I reviewed it here), I wanted to know more about the man, whether or not he was a real human being, and specifically what Gorightly had to say about him. I really like Gorightly’s biography of Kerry Thornley, which I also discussed on this site. I also have a soft spot for Discordians, it must be said, so I am kindly disposed towards Gorightly in general. But I was not as impressed by this book as much as I was by Gorightly’s earlier effort. There was a scattered quality to this book, with a ton of information thrown at the reader in very short order. If you are unfamiliar with Downard or with vast swathes of conspiracy theory in general, you will spend a lot of time Googling when you read this book.

It was quite nice to see that some of my own research and my own suspicions may have some validity to them (because it is impossible not to start feeling some paranoia when you read content like this and it can become hard to determine if you are suddenly seeing odd shadows where there are none). In my review of Carnivals of Life and Death I posited that Downard likely did not exist and may have been a group hoax created by Adam Parfrey, Michael Hoffman and William Grimstad, and Gorightly addresses that idea without confirming or denying it. I find that interesting but don’t see it as anything anyone should find upsetting if Downard is indeed a hoax. Art (or artifice, as it were) is the lie that tells the truth, sometimes. And even though I felt at times that Golightly veered off into his own riffs, I found this book mostly interesting, though the discussions were shallow and yet covered a shocking amount of ground. This is a short book, only 93 pages long, 10 of which are two separate introductions and another three are the index and appendices.

Chapters 1-5 discuss some of the topics Downard covers in Carnivals of Life and Death, as well as the article Downard wrote about the JFK assassination called “King Kill 33.” His unbelievable stories of being a Masonic scapegoat, combined with his supposed sex slave wife and similar mental maunderings are better read in his book, but Gorightly’s discussions are amusing enough. I particularly enjoyed chapter five, which dealt with mystical toponomy. There is an intoxicating “holy crap” element to Downard’s discussions about the 33rd latitude – there is something completely insane yet undeniably obvious about all of it.

It’s around chapter six and onward that things just let loose, applying various branches of conspiracy theory to Downard, mainly via mystical toponomy and mind control. A whole bunch of names who are more or less entire books in their own right get tossed out there in just chapter six alone, from Aleister Crowley to Richard Oppenheimer to Jack Parsons and how they all relate back to the 33rd latitude. From there we expand into Robert Temple’s Sirius theory and UFO-lore, including the Order of the Solar Temple cult suicides, then move on to the assassination of Robert Kennedy, “The Revelation of the Method,” insane journeys with Downard in his silver stream trailer, the connections between Jim Keith’s death at Burning Man and the movie The Wicker Man and the Son of Sam murders… and it was about here that I found myself a little overwhelmed. There is a ton of information crammed into this little book, almost too much.

Seriously, from chapter six on it is like a who’s who of whacked culture and fucked history. David Berkowitz, Terrence McKenna, the Unibomber, Jim Keith, the Carr family, Henry Lee Lucas, Stanley Kubrick, Bill Cooper, Prescott Bush, my hometown hero Alex Jones and so many, many more. This little book could make you go blind from the sheer audacity of its scope. I am unsure if this is a complaint or praise. You tell me…

Because stuff like this matters to me, I will add that the editing at times annoyed me. I suspect that most people who read this sort of stuff don’t care but the editing got very sketchy half-way in. Pepsi Cola did not have an ad that wanted to teach the world to sing. The use of dashes was bizarre. The book incorporated British-style and American-style use of conversational punctuation with no real rhyme or reason. If you’re gonna present a boatload of information in a short amount of space, it helps when the editing and more basic elements of fact checking are on the nose. In some places the editing outright grated.

And so did some of the theories and assertions. I mean, one cannot really disprove that the planet Sirius brought civilization to Earth (well, maybe you can) but you can definitely prove that Henry Lee Lucas and Ottis Toole did not commit several hundred cannibalistic murders. The only reason Henry Lee Lucas is linked to Jim Jones is because he confessed to killing everyone at Jonestown himself, but I think he claimed he shot and stabbed them instead of delivering cups of cyanide-laced fruit drink. Lucas was a semi-literate, probably mentally-challenged grifter who could be coerced into admitting anything. Indicating there was anything sinister in Bush the Lesser commuting his death sentence, linking him to the MK-ULTRA program and the Matamoros drug cult is wacky and sort of dumb. But then again, I also tend to think Gorightly has more than a little trickster in him. I suspect sometimes he just throws things out there to see what will stick, who will believe and who will not. But that’s just a guess because of the whole, you know, Discordian thing.

So, this is a reserved recommendation. If you’re new to the game, you may wanna read up on various insanities before reading this book because it is just an overview of madness and how it related to the theories of James Shelby Downard, and if you have not read Downard, definitely read Carnivals of Life and Death before you read this book. This book was loony though maddening at times, but because I kind of like Gorightly and because I was never bored reading it, I fall more on the end of recommending it than not. But heed my warnings, gentle readers – this book is a one-inch dip in the ocean of conspiracy and as a result may be more taxing than entertaining.

1996 by Gloria Naylor

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: 1996

Author: Gloria Naylor (yes, that Gloria Naylor)

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: God help me, but just bear with me for a moment. Back when I stumbled across the information about Johnny Gosch and the whole Franklin Scandal, I did a search and somehow ended up on the site of a woman called Eleanor White – I can no longer recall the exact link that got me there, but believe me, I got there. Anyway, Eleanor is a person who believes in gang stalking, meaning that organized groups of government entities and private citizens stalk her, breaking into her home, wearing out her clothes, breaking her furniture, leaving mounds of dirt on her kitchen floor, tapping her phone calls, harassing her at work, following her every move and using advanced technology to read her mind. The site had some unintentionally hilarious moments, like when White or someone else posted pictures of some very ratty long johns worn through at the crotch as proof that someone was breaking into their home and wearing out their clothes.

But ultimately, there was nothing funny about any of it because no matter whether or not you believe these people’s claims, the fact remains that they think this is happening to them and some are terrified. Regardless, the first link on the Alphabetical Site list White had on her site was to a review of Gloria Naylor’s 1996. So I had to get a copy. It took me a while to make myself read it. And I don’t even really want to discuss it here because I know that the end result will be a lot of e-mails if not comments from people who genuinely think they are victims of gang or multiple stalkers and will accuse me of being part of the vast conspiracy of people loosening the buttons on their coats, taking their new tires and replacing them with bald radials in order to make them miserable, or beaming thought rays into their brains to inspire suicide. But I read it and by my own messed up, self-imposed rules, discuss it I must.

Availability: Published in 2005 by Third World Press, it is still in print via the publisher’s website or you can get a used copy here:

Comments: I am a grad school dropout. I finished one semester and realized I was just not cut out for it. I was 26 and didn’t want anybody telling me what to read anymore because I just wanted to be left alone with my true crime, my conspiracy theories, my Loch Ness monster photo analyses and my Fay Weldons. I flat out didn’t have the mental discipline it took to get my Master’s, which was no surprise really because as an undergrad, I would stay up until the wee hours after studying to read the books I wanted to read, sometimes faking my way through classes because I couldn’t bring myself to read Beowulf or Mrs. Dalloway. But in that one semester of grad school, I took an African-American women’s writers class and studied Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison and Gloria Naylor. We read The Women of Brewster Place and Mama Day, the latter being not a great novel, but not a bad one either. And the former, in addition to winning a National Book Award in 1983, was a favorite of Oprah, who starred as one of the characters in the mini-series based on the book.

I wonder if Oprah has read 1996. I wonder what she thinks about this book, about what has happened to Gloria Naylor. Something in me tells me she hasn’t read this book. Nor have most Naylor fans who may stumble across this discussion. I am using large quotes from this book in order to discuss it thoroughly and if it seems like I am ridiculing Naylor or anyone else who believes in mind control or gang stalking, I’m not. But if I don’t use her words and react to them with candor, it will be impossible to show why this book is so shocking and so odd.

Gloria Naylor purchased a dream home on St. Helena Island in South Carolina. She set out to spend her summers there, relaxing away from New York and gardening. All was idyllic except for Eunice Simon’s cats. Her neighbor’s cats routinely dug and defecated in her garden. Visiting with Simon did Naylor no good and relations between the two degenerated. Things came to a head when Naylor put out poison to kill tree rats and ended up killing one of Simon’s cats instead. Yes, as in every book I read these days, there is a dead cat in 1996. Things spiral completely out of control when Naylor loses it in a supermarket and snipes at Eunice, “You bitch.” Simon hears “Jew Bitch” and it’s katy bar the door.

At this point, the book slides completely into speculation on Naylor’s part, a retelling of what she thinks must have happened (and bear in mind, Eunice Simon is a pseudonym, as are most of the names in this book, so trying to research what happened to Naylor is impossible). According to Naylor, Simon’s brother is highly placed in the National Security Agency, and though he is tired of his oversensitive sister, he finds that Naylor has tenuous social ties to Black Muslims and begins to make her life hell on those grounds. Using the anti-Jew sentiment that Eunice misheard in the supermarket combined with anti-Semitism perceived as the aim behind Black Muslim groups, Dick Simon from the NSA not only launches an investigative campaign against Naylor, but he also calls in the local ADL to assist stalking and tailing her.

Naylor’s garden is killed off by stalkers. Her home is broken into. She is followed everywhere she goes. Her computer is hacked. Three students recruited by the NSA to torment her – she calls them The Boys – terrorize her at all hours. A friend who visits her is threatened. She returns to New York and the organized stalking continues. Every few minutes, cars stop and open and slam close their doors outside her apartment. Neighbors let the NSA set up a computer and satellite in their home so that thought rays can be beamed into Naylor’s brain. These thoughts they send her are meant to cause her to try to kill herself. When Naylor fights back against the thought rays via inner strength, the NSA ups the ante and begins to read her thoughts and respond to them in real time via typed words on a computer, a sort of intercranial instant message conversation. Untold amounts of money and man hours are spent on tailing and antagonizing Naylor, who accidentally killed a cat and spoke admiringly of the Million Man March.

Sigh…

I am not going to dither here as others have who have read this book, refusing to comment on the factual truth of the events as Naylor perceives them. Outside of sites on organized and gang stalking, you will find scholars weasel out of dealing with the horror of the content by stating the largely irrelevant: that whether or not you believe Naylor was a victim of organized citizen and government stalking, isn’t this an interesting look at race relations in America, a sober reminder of the potential for a tyrannical police state or a fascinating combination of narrative fiction and speculation? That’s some bullshit right there, folks.

I won’t waffle because it is a condescending move not to state facts plainly because I don’t want to look like I am calling a renowned writer crazy. Yes, race relations are still terrible in this country. Yes, the government is intrusive. And maybe Naylor set off a Jewish neighbor with some ties to the NSA and Naylor was investigated a bit rigorously as a result. But nothing else here that Naylor describes as a fictional narrative of true events is even plausible. There are those who think that the fallout of her dispute with her neighbor caused Naylor to become mentally ill. I have no idea. But this book is full of delusions.

When a person says they are stalked, I can believe them. When a person says they were investigated rigorously by the government, I can believe it. Believe me, I can believe it. We all have stories to tell in this post 1984, post 9/11 age. But when a person tells me that the government has been reading their mind with a computer and a type of satellite, typing in responses to their thoughts in an abusive argument, not only can I not believe it, but it brings into doubt even the rational, reasonable accusations the person made. Given the paranoiac belief that Jews are fueling the attacks against her, reliance that Naylor has genuine understanding of what happened to her is crucial to being able to tolerate this book as much more than an anti-Jewish polemic in which a misunderstood insult in a grocery store can launch the entire force of the Anti-Defamation League in a campaign of terror. But then again, I also think only a True Believer in the utter corruption and complete, almost God-like competence of our government will be able to believe the whole of 1996.

This is gonna be one of my longer discussions so read the rest under the jump.

The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi

This post originally appeared on I Read Everything

Book: The Monster of Florence: A True Story

Authors: Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi

Why Did I Read This Book: I have a deep love of the true crime genre. The Monster of Florence serial killings were unknown to me before this book and Amazon also had a copy on sale. So, how could I resist.

Availability: Published in 2008 by Hachette Book Group, you can get a copy here:

Comments: Like I said above, I love accounts of true crime. I also love accounts of miscarriages of justice combined with a healthy dose of vindication. I knew this book was the former when I ordered it but had no idea it was the latter. This book proved an absorbing, infuriating read, all the more because I am a person who takes a keen interest in topics like the belief systems that cause Satanic Panics as well as conspiracies. Most books on those topics get reviewed over on my other site but this book was not an odd book, despite the presence of a decades-long Satanic Panic combined with a pretty profound judicial conspiracy. The line between odd and non-odd is completely arbitrary, I think, but I review this book here mostly because I can see the average person reading this book and finding it very interesting.

There is much to discuss in this book, and strangely, the actual killings, for me, took backseat to the drama that unfolds as Douglas Preston gets sucked not only into telling the tale of the Monster of Florence, but into suspicion of having a role in the supposed conspiracy of Satanists who killed couples along the Florence countryside. The eight killings began in 1968 and ended in 1985. They all involved the killings of couples, most of whom had gone to a wood-like area to park and have sex. The male was generally shot first and the woman shot and/or stabbed, and in five cases, the woman was also mutilated sexually. The cases bear a superficial similarity to the Son of Sam killings in the US, and to my admittedly unexpert eye, the first incident and the last seem very much like they were not done by the same person who committed the other murders because they deviated in some manner from the killer’s MO.

In the course of investigating and then prosecuting men for this crime, the authorities could not have done a worse job had they tried. The first man convicted of the killings, a thoroughly unpleasant man to be sure, eventually had the case against him overturned and was set free by the Italian courts. One Italian police officer even believes evidence was planted to try to prove the case against the innocent man. Though all evidence seems to point to a Sardinian man, whose wife was one of the first victims, the Florence police decided to dive head first off the deep end.

Enter Douglas Preston, American author of popular thrillers, who arrived in Italy to write a book and ended up friends with journalist Mario Spezi, a man with a great interest in the Monster of Florence case. Investigating, they came across all sorts of shocking examples of police failure, investigative misconduct and judicial wrong doing, as well as flat out whacked thinking on the part of Chief Inspector Michele Giuttari, who evidently has a firm belief in the fantastic, and Judge Giuliano Mignini, whose continued presence in the Italian court system after his antics in the Monster of Florence case is baffling.

Investigating the Monster of Florence murders, Preston and and Spezi uncovered all kinds of bizarre information. For example, a lone doctor’s suicide was seen by investigators to be a lynch pin in proving a Satanic cult was behind the murders (the doctor fit several different theories – rich Italians killing for a Satanic sect, a doctor has to be the killer). That theory involved the doctor’s body being fished out of the water, taken to the morgue, swapped with another body, and the fake body was then buried under the doctor’s name.

On April 6, 2002, with the press standing by, the coffin of Francesco Narducci was exhumed and opened. His body was inside, instantly recognizable after seventeen years. A DNA test confirmed it.

This blow to their theories did not stop… Giuttari and the public minister of Perugia. Even in the lack of a substantiated corpse they found evidence. The body was too recognizable for someone who had spent five days in the water and then another seventeen (sic) in a coffin. Giuttari and Mignini promptly concluded that the real body had been substituted again. That’s right –Narducci’s real body, hidden for seventeen years, had been put back in the coffin and the other body removed because the conspirators knew ahead of time that the exhumation was coming.

Then comes Gabriella Carlizzi, a conspiratologist whose ravings make my local hero Alex Jones seem like a rational person of restraint in comparison (a search for Carlizzi’s pro-Satanic Panic blog was of little help but I did find an Italian page that claims she died on August 11, 2010 – I have no idea if this is true). Carlizzi’s theories of Satanic murder, the swapping of the doctor’s body and even more insane theories influenced Giuttari and Mignini, eventually leading to Preston and Spezi finding themselves suspects in the decades-long murders. People warned Preston that Carlizzi was a dangerous person but to those who have dealt with people who are true believers in conspiracy, just the time suck alone of dealing with such people is enough to cause us to want to avoid them. Preston exchanged many e-mails with Carlizzi until he realized his folly and even when he was finished with her, his e-mail box remained clogged by her raving missives. Carlizzi’s theories, crackpot though they seem to us, were taken very seriously by some Italian authorities. In fact, she provided many “links” in the case.

…The investigators also had to show that Narducci had a connection to Pacciani [the man inititally convicted as the Monster who was later released]… and the village of San Casciano, where the satanic cult seemed to be centered.

They succeeded in this as well. Gabriella Carlizzi made a statement to the police asserting that Francesco Narducci had been intiated into the Order of the Red Rose by his father, who was trying to resolve certain sexual problems in his son – the same diabolical sect, Carlizzi claimed, active for centuries in Florence and its environs. Police and prosecutors seemed to accept Carlizzi’s statements as solid, actionable evidence.

Giuttari had no problem rounding up the town drunks and prostitutes and even a man described as a village idiot and having them recite patently untrue information in order to seek convictions. He never seemed at a loss to find people willing to say whatever it was he needed to be said, using the same people over and over, each time molding their testimony to his ends.

As if on cue, Giuttari and his GIDES squad produced witnesses swearing to have seen Francesco Narducci hanging around San Casciano… It took a while for the identities of these new witnesses to come out. When Spezi first heard the names, he thought it was a bad joke: they were the same… witnesses who had been the surprise witnesses at Pacciani’s appeal so many years before…

The three witnesses had earth-shaking new information to impart, which all of them had forgotten to mention eight years earlier when they had first stunned Italy with their extraordinary testimony.

Giuttari was quite unorthodox in his approach to using evidence to solve crimes. In his eyes, a simple doorstop became “an esoteric object used to communicate between this world and the infernal regions.” He fully embraced the theory that powerful people were behind the Satanic conspiracy to kill. Why would these people kill couples and mutilate dying women? Giuttari’s theory was that a

shadowy cabal of wealthy and powerful people, seemingly beyond reproach, who occupied the highest positions in society, business, law and medicine, had hired Pacciani, Vanni and Lotti to kill people in order to obtain the sex organs of girls for use as the obscene, blasphemous “wafer” in their Black Masses.

How all of this came to pass, all this blaming innocent citizens, so many trials and retrials, the willingness to believe in the unbelievable was summed up by an Italian nobleman who was at one point himself accused by some of being the killer:

“In Italy, the hatred of your enemy is such that he has to be built up, made into the ultimate adversary, responsible for all evil. The investigators in the Monster case know that behind the simple facts hides a satanic cult, its tentacles reaching into the highest levels of society. This is what they will prove, no matter what. Woe to the person… who disputes their theory because that makes him an accomplice. The more vehemently he denies being involved, the stronger is the proof.”

And this is exactly what happened. Preston himself has what is essentially a warrant for his arrest should he ever reenter Italy and Spezi himself was arrested and held without communication for days until saner heads prevailed and he was released. Spezi’s appearance on television and numerous articles he wrote examining the deficiencies of the investigation put him squarely in Giuttari’s cross-hairs. In a search of Spezi’s home, Spezi became angry and mocked the police, showing them his own doorstop, identical to the one that Giuttari had considered an occult object. That doorstop gave Giuttari what he considered physical evidence to link Spezi to one of the murder scenes, resulting eventually in Spezi’s arrest. Judges reviewed the evidence and eventually released Spezi but not before his life was completely upturned.

The final trial in this book ended after the book was published, but Giuttari and Mignini’s Satanic killer was acquitted. And so much of this stemmed from the outrageous claims of a demented woman running a website (her claims about the 9/11 attacks are… interesting.)

If that seems like a hopelessly backward idea, us Yanks need to recall that the Satanic Panic plagued us for years and in some places never went away. The trial of the West Memphis Three was no less filled with lies, misinformation and desperate attempts by law enforcement and the judiciary to spin a wild tale of Satanism to solve a case when the real murderer was far more prosaic, far more familiar. Crazy ideas are never far from hand and books like this serve as a sober reminded that there is no idea outrageous enough that some police, judges, or jurors will not believe it.

For those who followed the Amanda Knox travesty in Italy, it will come as no surprise that mad theories again tainted the court system – Gabriella Carlizzi thinks there was some sort of Satanic, Masonic ritual the girl was supposedly involved in that led to the sexual murder of her roommate. Worse, Judge Mignini presided over her joke of a trial.

In November 2007, Mignini became involved on another sensational case, that of the brutal murder of a British student, Meredith Kercher, in Perugia. Mignini quickly ordered the arrest of American student, Amanda Knox, whom he suspected of involvement in the murder… It appears from press leaks that Mignini is spinning an improbable theory about Knox and two alleged co-conspirators in a dark plan of extreme sex, violence and rape.

Knox was convicted and is in an Italian prison now.

But the Monster of Florence remains unidentified and only innocent people have been harmed in the bizarre quest for justice.

Though it may seem as if I have spoiled this book, believe me, there is so much more -so very much more – than what I chose to excerpt here. This case is a skein of tangled yarn. And even if you know how it ends, the many knots along the way make for fascinating reading. I highly recommend it. Fans of true crime will love the investigation and those of us who like a conspiracy theory will realize that America is not the only country where people believe truly bizarre things.

The Carnivals of Life and Death by James Shelby Downard

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: The Carnivals of Life and Death

Author: James Shelby Downard

Type of Book: Conspiracy theory, occult symbology, Masons, utter insanity

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: Well, the whole thing sets off my oddometer, but by the time the young Downard claims he saw Alexander Graham Bell involved in sex magick rituals on Jekyll Island, the odd credentials of this book were no longer in question.

Availability: Published by Feral House in 2006, you can get a copy here:

Comments: Oh god. This is one of those moments where in I suspect I am in way over my head. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I fear the Masons and loathe the Ku Klux Klan as much as any self-respecting conspiratologist should. I think there is a level of “street theater” in our economic and political processes, a sort of active public facade that, if the veneer were ever pulled away, would show us far more sinister than it would positive. I think the banking industry and the political system in America are all corrupt beyond belief and that those who operate behind the scenes in these systems are people whose interests in no way reflect the well-being of the American people.

That having been said, I need to make it clear I think that “mystical sex circuses,” “witchcraft sex magick orgies,” and “sexathons that aim at nothing more than racial blood mixing” are neither really part of the secrecy of the economic system behind the economic system, nor are they things that most people really need to worry about in the course of their everyday life. I also suspect that I don’t lean towards believing that

…the mythology of Revelations will be followed like Tinker-Toy instructions: a time of tribulation will come first, after which survivors will be made “one” via a post-tribulation “rapture” spawned by the technical sorcery of having their brain pleasure centers titillated magnetically so that all will cum together.

But then again, a lack of genuine belief in the mystical has always been my Achilles heel.

I suspect there may be rabid disagreement with my above assertions and I’m okay with that because I am relatively sure that a very young James Shelby Downard didn’t witness a man called Cock Robin blow Alexander Graham Bell on Jekyll Island. Knowing that James Shelby Downard likely didn’t exist and was, perhaps, the brain child of three different men doesn’t play as much into my declaration of “Pants!” at the notion of Bell, just, you know, having sex magick orgies in front of kids as you might think. This is The Parable of the Whackjobs, and none of this ever happened but was written to illustrate certain points, like mystical toponomy, symbolism of names and an uneasy sense that things are not entirely as they should be. Call me naive if you must.

But whatever you call me, you need to read this book because it is a hoot. Purportedly the autobiography of one James Shelby Downard, who was born in 1913 and died in 1998 before he could finish his tale. He is most famous for his essay, “King/Kill 33: Masonic Symbolism in the Assassination of John F. Kennedy.” I read that monster years ago but had no idea the full body of ideas Downard (or whomever) brought to the table.

This book reads like those Home Alone movies, you know the ones. A precocious kid with questionable parents keeps finding himself in violent situations wherein he bests his attackers. Imagine those movies except Kevin gets stalked and attacked by Freemasons and the Klan and you pretty much have the gist of this book. According to Downard, he was set up as a scapegoat (pharmakos) or symbolic whipping boy, presumably by his criminally negligent and downright weird parents, and spent his entire life standing up for the American Way by thwarting attack after attack after attack and witnessing unspeakable acts while besting the worst evil there is.

I’m not saying Downard doesn’t have interesting ideas. Some fascinating conclusions are drawn in this book and to be completely frank, at times, some of the scattershot in this book that hits the target is a little eerie. But in order to appreciate that you have to read the rest of the book for what it is: a fictional story, a parable, that through extremes tries to show things the author believes are buried from our sight. These are myths for the paranoid, bizarre, over-the-top fables meant to tell a larger story through unbelievable detail. Or Downard was really a plucky young man who foiled that Joe Pesci time and time again. Believe what you want, but it is undeniable that this book is interesting and a fun read.

You get pushed off the deep end fast in this book, starting the very second Adam Parfrey finishes his introduction. Here’s a small taste of the paranoia and weird associations Downard presents in his own introduction:

…I got a glimpse of frightful memories from the long-dead past and, perhaps more importantly, recognized the past for the corpus mysticum that it is. When my mystical past revealed how it had really occurred, it became a horrendous thing cloaked in iniquity, that old now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t that preserves the criminal mysteries of Masonic oz art (M oz art).

Get used to that, those interesting little connections in Downard’s head. He sees connections in ways that will change how you look at things, synchronous connects that, for some, lead to sinister conclusions.

Of course, there is mention of cats, burning them in fact. I bring this up only because I am beginning to despair of all the mentions of dead cats in all the books I read. If I traipse down the primrose path that Downard stomped, I would begin to think there is something connecting all these dead cats mentioned in every damn book I seem to pick up these days. For now I’m just chalking it up to bad luck.

The book begins with young Downard being secured spread-eagle in his bed on Christmas Eve. He was five. He was unpinned in the morning only to find switches and coal in his stocking. We move from there to a shootout with Masons wherein the tot escapes and blows stuff up. His mother made him dress like a girl. There’s the above-mentioned trip to Jekyll Island where he saw all kinds of things and was almost killed in some sort of magick theater ritual. He gets abandoned and lives like a dog until he is reunited with his mother. He is almost killed countless other times. He thwarts the Klan, he finds Million Dollar Gold Certificates the way I find cat hair on my chair. He is nailed to a tree by the Klan but only the size of his small anus prevents him from being sodomized. He liberates a white sex slave. He finds all kinds of bizarre “grave goods” from the tomb of a Mason only to have FDR offer to purchase them and when he gets the check for a million dollars, his parents talk him out of cashing it. His wife turned out to be a mind-controlled sex slave. He explains the symbolic meanings of dunce caps and bull whips. He finds all sorts of parallels between innocuous ideas, discussing usual ringers like Disney and Proctor & Gamble, but also making the average person aware of why it is we should be alarmed if we see a man curse a pig and then touch our water faucet. This is, like, maybe 5% of the insanity in this book. To discuss it in depth would require far more time than I have and more gin than I am willing to drink.

The best part of this book is how through it all, Downard never gets a clue. I mean, after the third time the Masons tried to kill me, after the Klan had nailed me to a tree, after I’d almost been choked to death by Cock Robin while everyone chanted, “Non Person, Non Person,” I’d be suspicious of anyone who asked me to fish around in an old family tomb. After I noticed the tomb had been booby-trapped, I probably wouldn’t have gone on in. Not Downard. If this man existed, we need to find his grave and take some of his bones to have him reconstituted when DNA technology catches up with my imagination. We need more Downards – clever, foolhardy, indestructible, paranoid yet open to adventure. An Army of Downards? Hell, America would be restored to her old glory in no time.

So yeah, read this book. Home Alone combined with Masonic paranoia and more mystical esoterica than you can absorb in one reading. I highly recommend this fine lunacy.

Voodoo Histories by David Aaronovitch

This post originally appeared on I Read Everything

Book: Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History

Author: David Aaronovitch

Type of Book: Non-fiction, sociology, history, conspiracy theory

Why Did I Read This Book: I am an avid reader of the odd, as my other book discussion site should prove, and eat conspiracy theory with a spoon. When I saw this book as I wandered through a Barnes & Noble, it was a gimme that I would buy it. That conspiracy theory might actually shape contemporary historical belief seemed too interesting to pass up.

Availability: Published by Riverhead Books in 2010, you can get a copy here:

Comments: I liked this book but not for the reasons I purchased it. As someone who has spent a lot of time wallowing in conspiracy at different times in my life, there was little new for me in this book (though this is not to say there was not some content unfamiliar to me – there was and it was fascinating). Moreover, this book is more a debunking attempt than really a look at how conspiracy theory has shaped modern history for the average person. No one can walk away from this book and feel that any of the examples of conspiracy, their formation and later belief, has affected the modern canon of history, aside from the JFK assassination. Of course people whose personal beliefs lie on the fringe of reason hold conspiracy theory close to their hearts, but I think it is overblown to seriously suggest that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the “plot” to kill Princess Diana in a random car accident with a drunk driver, or Hillary Clinton supposedly murdering Vince Foster is ever going to achieve the level of mainstream belief that will reflect these fringe beliefs as history.

Of course there are always some who believe all manner of odd things. Michael Shermer has shown us that, as well as any other number of debunkers. It often seems as if those who have fringe beliefs are greater in number than they are because the proliferation of conspiracy theory sites on the Internet make the information seem more common place and because the press loves nothing more than a crank with a misspelled sign, wearing a costume and yelling about injustice. The Tea Party (Teabaggers, as they are known to people like me) has shown this in spades in the United States. Get some loud, bombastic, angry, and, in some instances, completely insane people in one place and the press is all over it because crazy is a close second to sales behind sex. But the numbers of Teabaggers are statistically insignificant and recent polls indicate that these people who have received so much press recently as a new force in politics don’t have enough numbers even to impact the 2010 midterm elections. Fringe beliefs among the Truthers and Birthers and Teabaggers will end up as a foot note to history, not history itself.

Aaronovitch does a relatively sound job of showing how, for the fringe, certain myths will not die and will always be a part of a certain zeitgeist regardless of the proof given to debunk these myths. Like the idea that Princess Diana was assassinated or that the Kennedys had Marilyn Monroe killed by an overdose of barbiturate suppositories. There are those who will believe this no matter what, and Aaronovitch shows clearly how the seemingly unbelievable, like the President of the United States is a foreign born citizen or that 9-11 was an inside job, gains some credence. Aaronovitch discovered similar traits that enable otherwise sane people to believe weird things.

1) Historical precedent: If you can show that other conspiracies happened in the past, it is easier to believe they happened now.
2) Elite them against us: All conspiracy theory at its heart shows actions of an elite few – rogue CIA agents killing JFK (which is not that unbelievable for some of us), Jews plotting a world takeover – against the mass of people. Those who do not believe are seen as sheep, people who are so mass deluded they cannot believe.
3) “Just Asking Questions”: Many purveyors of conspiracy theory assume the role of an innocent questioner instead of a provocateur.
4) A circle jerk of “experts” who all quote each other in order to give the theory legitimacy.
5) A veneer of academic credibility, much of which gets echoed by established media but when examined up close, credentials are always suspect.
6) Errors in the theory are explained as disinformation from the forces that the theory hopes to out.
7) Assumption of the role of an endangered victim – those who discuss the theory claim to be under constant surveillance. This assumption of persecution makes outsiders wonder what the subjects of the conspiracy have to hide.

But at it’s heart, this book never convinced me that aside from contemporary news media dropping the ball occasionally that conspiracy theory really is shaping how we perceive history. There may be a sizable minority who have bought into the propaganda of 9-11 conspiracy but where most of the sources are concerned, like the movie Loose Change, I have never heard a single sane person speak of it favorably, and the only places where it is discussed favorably is on sites where conspiracy is the sole topic. Most people (unlike me, for the record), do not think there was a CIA conspiracy to kill JFK, though the evidence in that case has been so muddied and mishandled that differing theories as to what happened were inevitable. Most people, despite the media attention Birthers get, do not think Barack Obama is a Muslim foreigner sent to destroy the United States. While the Kennedy assassination is a different kettle of fish in some respects and has, in fact, affected history, it is hard to see the connection between the actual history of this nation and fringe belief. I cannot say the same about the UK, where a couple of the theories in the book are germane, like the idea that Princess Diana was assassinated, an anti-nuke protester murdered in a conspiracy, or the details surrounding the likely suicide of a Parliament crank. I cannot make that leap mainly because my experience with conspiracy theory exists in an American realm.

But if you get past the notion that history has been deeply affected by conspiracy theory, let alone shaped by it, this book is an incredibly informative, fascinating read. I think anyone interested in conspiracy theory will find much to like in this book. Like many, I knew that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was fake, a scurrilous attempt to pass off fiction as a historical document exposing a Jewish plot to take over the world. Aaronovitch takes this one step further and shows that not only was it a fake, but it was a bad forgery as well, showing the original sources from which the PotEZ was taken, showing side by side analysis. Moreover, I did not know that the men at the heart of publicizing all the supposed crimes committed by President Bill Clinton are the same men behind the attempts to prove that Barack Obama is a Muslim, non-American, socialist/communist/fascist. Joseph Farah and Christopher Ruddy evidently got an 8-year break when George W. Bush took office after Clinton, but got back up to speed in a heartbeat when Democrats took the office back. There were also two British conspiracies that I was not as well-versed in. All in all, this book was worth it for the information I did not know, the connections that show how these conspiracies were created and managed for the new information age.

However, I think reason is not in as short supply as the evening news wants us to believe. Nor is it in as short supply as this book would lead one to think. People believe outrageous things, that cannot be denied. Conspiracy theory is, indeed, a cultural force. I just don’t think it is a force that shapes history and that in a large part comes from my personal experiences with conspiracy immersion, but if it were, the official line would be that Marilyn was murdered, Princess Diana was assassinated by the British royal family, Jews are out to get us and Obama is a Muslim foreign agent. If the fringe had anything more than Internet innuendo, Loose Change would not be derided in every sane circle for all the factual errors it makes. Affecting how elements of history may be perceived to certain individuals is not the same as shaping history as a whole. There is no denying that the fringe affects people who believe it and the history they subscribe to, but fringe belief has not shaped history, modern or otherwise, and in trying to prove it, this book fails.

But it succeeds in telling about some extraordinary delusions of the crowd and how they shaped perception for certain groups (and my local conspiracy expert Alex Jones gets a couple of shout outs). That it does not meet its thesis goal matters less to me than it should because it was simply so damned entertaining – Aaronovitch has an engaging writing style and an amusing, at times caustic wit, and the book is just fun to read. All in all, for a book that missed it’s mark, I can’t believe I am telling you to read it, but I am.

The Prankster and the Conspiracy by Adam Gorightly

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: The Prankster and the Conspiracy

Author: Adam Gorightly

Type of Book: Non-fiction, biography, conspiracy

Why I Consider This Book Odd: Well, Robert Anton Wilson wrote the foreword. That’s sort of a clue right there. But overall, this book covers almost all the bases of oddness: Kennedy assassination conspiracy, Jim Garrison, the 60s in general, Discordianism, CIA spooks, and, Jesus help us all, Sondra London.

Availability: Published in 2003 by Paraview press, you can get a copy here

Comments: You know, I still sort of love the Discordians, even though the whole riff often wears thin for me now. Twenty years ago, I was an avid member of a Discordian offshoot, The Church of the SubGenius. (My SubGenius names were Lady Helena Burningbush and later Lady Helena Burningbook, and Google away – I am lucky that most of my asshattery as a young person occurred before the Internet came to make sure our every act of silliness is recorded for eternity.) But as I got older, I just didn’t see the point anymore. I still see some value in the sort of social satire that such parodies permit, but in the final analysis, I’m pretty earnest and cloaking one’s self behind so many layers of sarcasm and inside jokes in order to make a point ultimately is more work than I am willing to do to prove I am not one of them.

But when Kerry Thornley (Lord Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst) and Greg Hill (Malaclypse the Younger) created Discordianism and co-wrote the Principia Discordia, it was a natural rebellion against the postwar rage for order that permeated life in the 1950s, and the tricksterism had a profound point, one that has become diluted over time, especially now that the Internet makes being a trickster almost mandatory. But 50 years ago, before 1960s rebellion embraced chaos and dissent, Discordianism was a precursor and perhaps catalyst for serious social change. Kerry Thornley, as described in this book, is a man who inspired and in many senses created the counterculture in the United States and while some of the assertions of Thornley’s influence seem overstated to me, he is a person whose role in creating the counterculture has been overlooked in many quarters, and one has to wonder how much his unwitting and unwilling role in the assassination of John F. Kennedy contributed to Thornley’s name being forgotten more than it is remembered.

This book is both Thornley’s biography and an examination of conspiracy theory, and I think that Gorightly’s refusal to settle on a specific opinion, to analyze and give the facts that he does, gives this book far more impact than had he just put on a tinfoil hat and delivered the standard “Warren report bad, Garrison good, Oswald patsy” line that has tarred those who truly worry that there was a CIA conspiracy to kill John F. Kennedy (hi, I am one of them). According to Gorightly, Thornley, who served in the Marines with Lee Harvey Oswald and wrote a book about him before the JFK assassination, and lived in New Orleans during the appropriate times, may have been manipulated by the CIA, and he may not have. (As some may or may not know, the infamous picture of Oswald holding a rifle and a copy of a Communist rag, supposedly taken in his backyard, is very likely Oswald’s head grafted onto Thornley’s body.) Given how insane and paranoid Thornley became later in his life, it is hard to tell what really happened.

For example, Thornley knew a very creepy man, Gary Kirstein, whom he mostly called Brother-in-law, who was an unsettling influence in Thornley’s life, and planted ideas that made Thornley think that perhaps he was subject to mind manipulation by the CIA. Thornley specifically believed this because he somehow or another (if at all) picked up rogue radio waves with his mind, an activity that Brother-in-law seemed to know all about. However, the only person who could have proved that Brother-in-law really existed, Greg Hill, died before anyone could question him on the subject. Others who lived in New Orleans at the time and knew Thornley could not verify that Brother-in-law existed. Thornley later believed Kirstein was E. Howard Hunt and Gorightly is of the opinion that Brother-in-law could have been Hunt but does not stake his reputation on it.

And with the mention of E. Howard Hunt, creepiest of the creepiest of spooks, you can tell that this is one helluva fun conspiracy tome, and one of the better because the author, while clearly subject to interesting beliefs (aren’t we all) maintains an air of interested speculation without ever confirming or denying anything. I left the book with the feeling that Thornley was very likely on to something, that perhaps he was an unwitting participant in one of the darkest moments of history, but his subsequent mental illness makes it impossible to know the truth. One of his friends at the time, then Grace Caplinger, now better known to some as character actress Grace Zabriskie, adds to the idea that Thornley’s memory, or at least his interpretations of memory, are to be held in doubt. Thornley described himself as having a long affair with Grace. Grace recalls one incident of not-very interesting sex that never happened again. His ex-wife Cara said that she never experienced some of the things Thornley claimed, like three black helicopters flying over their home. As Thornley drifted further and further into psychosis, it is impossible to know what happened and Thornley’s life does not make it any easier to parse out.

Peripatetic, even when he remained in one city for a while he never seemed to live in the same place for long, Thornley was truly a man who both brought about change and was subject to it. Like a Whitman poem, his mind contained inconsistent multitudes. He initially believed the Lone Gunman theory of the JFK assassination and wrote a book, Oswald, explaining this theory. He later recanted this theory. He became convinced Oswald was a CIA plant who was assigned to ferret out Communist sympathizers in the military and was later a part of a fringe CIA conspiracy to assassinate JFK. Jim Garrison, no small loon himself, called Thornley to a grand jury in order to recount the testimony he gave to the Warren Commission, and was so angered with Thornley’s testimony that he charged Thornley with perjury, though the charges were later dropped.

Though this book does speak of a mentally healthy Thornley (relatively speaking), much of the book documents his decline into mental states even the odd like me find unnerving. Thornley, after his divorce from his wife Cara, went through an exhibitionist sexual phase, which seems normal enough in some quarters. People experiment with all forms of freedom when long term relationships end. But in the manner of many biographies these days, it is revealed that perhaps Thornley had pedophilic tendencies, though if he had them, they were of a short duration and he regained his sense of restraint and decency. One can see this man becoming so mentally adrift that the sexual freedom he in part helped herald in could, in a drug haze, cause him to misapply his sexual freedom to children. If it seems like I am using too many words and dancing around the topic, it’s because that’s exactly what I am doing. I hate the idea that even unhinged Thornley would become so far afield that he could not see the lack of morality in sexual interaction with children. Though this is a very small part of the book, it stuck with me. Everyone these days is either a pedophile or a closet Nazi when their biography finally comes out.

Thornley died in 1998 of complications from a rare disease called Wegener’s Granulomatosis, and though his madness cleared enough at times to permit him moments of humor and clarity, one of the ways I know he was probably deeply entrenched in psychosis is that in his last days, he evidently had a friendship, if not relationship, with Sondra London. My distaste for London runs hard and deep. She has become such a scourge in her by now routine attempts to cozy up to violent murderers for a chance at love, renown, and potential book fodder that she has caused death row inmates to call her a skeeve. She pissed on the memories of the brutally murdered as a self-admitted serial killer lovingly serenaded her in court as she beamed like a teen girl being courted for the first time. I never really saw her as a person much interested in telling the stories of the insane, the broken or the criminally violent as much as someone who would do anything for money, publicity or to satisfy her admitted hybristophilia (or, to paraphrase her, she likes bad boys).

She is a loathsome human being who has made a career out of manipulating deeply mentally ill or sociopathic if not psychotic killers into collaborating with her on books (her collaboration with the disturbed and completely ill Nicolas Claux is truly disturbing – asking that man to illustrate a book on vampire killers is in no way subversive or in the spirit of Discordianism – just exploitative and completely callous). That Brother-in-law set off Thornley’s creepometer but London did not speaks of deep psychological pathology on his part. Gorightly had her number though, stating that even though London has recordings of Thornley important for any biographer, her status as his one true love prevented her from sharing them. Until she was offered money. And poor Thornley, to be on that woman’s list of “true loves”: Gerard Schaeffer, Danny Rolling, Keith Jesperson… Interesting that even they revile her now.

Back to Thornley: No matter what your opinion is of the JFK assassination, or even Thornley’s role in it, it is safe to assert that the madness and paranoia that plagued him in his later life was sparked in no small part by those who were either involved in the assassination or used the assassination to push their personal agenda. He started off as a sparkling trickster and died sick and paranoid, a very sad ending to be sure. I think this was one of the finer biographies and conspiracy books I have read in a while. Complex, interesting, mildly skeptical and interested in the truth but willing to admit it may never be known, and most importantly, evenhanded, open, scrutinizing yet ultimately kind to its subject. I highly recommend it. Gorightly has a book about the Manson Family that I think I will give a go soon.

The Franklin Cover-Up by John W. DeCamp

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: The Franklin Cover-Up: Child Abuse, Satanism, and Murder in Nebraska

Author: John W. DeCamp

Type of Book: Non-fiction, conspiracy theory, Satanic Panic, politics

Why I Consider This Book Odd: Okay, this is circuitous, but this book came across my radar in the following manner: When Jeff Gannon, porn star and male escort cum White House reporter/Bush apologist was outed, I was interested in finding out how such a man got high clearance press credentials. A web search on his name turned up a website devoted to a kidnapped child from Nebraska. Evidently, there are those who think Jeff Gannon is Johnny Gosch, whose mother Noreen maintains that after he was kidnapped in 1982, he was forced into child porn and prostitution (and no matter what, this is not going to be a discussion on poor Noreen – just don’t do it, okay?). The case of Johnny Gosch is as fascinating as it is sad, and on a conspiracy site, I found a thread accusing Hunter S. Thompson of being linked to the Gosch kidnapping because a “reputable” source said he filmed kiddie porn snuff films. The reputable source was this book. Yeah… When a book has you yelling, “Oh my god!” before you even read it, it’s gonna be odd.

Availability: This book was updated and is still in print. You can get a copy here:

Comments: Hoo boy. This is some excellent conspiracy theory, in that it is amazingly insane and involved. On one level, I actually believe about 1/8th of this book. The rest is just so whacked and beyond the realm of reason but with just enough grains of truth here and there that you can’t help but get sucked in.

First, let’s eliminate the whole Hunter S. Thompson thing. There were two sentences in the book that referred to Hunter Thompson as someone who filmed kiddie snuff porn. The person making the accusation is a man who evidently suffered from Dissociative Identity Disorder (or Multiple Personality Disorder as it was called when this book was initially written). I have no idea what DeCamp really knows of Thompson, but he calls him a “well known sleaze-culture figure,” whatever that means. It does not appear as if Thompson was ever visually identified by Paul Bonacci, the man making the claim, and no greater research went into proving it. (ETA: A commenter below pointed out that it was Anton Chaitkin who called HST a “wellknown sleeze-culture figure. I re-read and sure enough, I had misattributed the quote.)  Evidently another young woman claimed Thompson tried to make her watch a snuff film but she didn’t watch whatever she claims he wanted her to see.  Was it the horror film Snuff?  Was it Cannibal Holocaust, which some still believe qualifies as a snuff film because of the live animal deaths included in it?  Was she making it up, did she misunderstand?  We don’t know.  All we have is an unverified statement from some woman and two lines in this book attributed to a young man whose origins no one has been able to trace and whose lies/fantasies have fueled a bizarre conspiracy theory.

This book was initially released in 1992. Had anyone any evidence that Thompson filmed children being killed during sex, he would have been investigated thoroughly. Thompson was a man who showed no proclivities towards abuse of children or respect of authority to the extent he would have kept quiet about such a horrific thing out of fear of what would happen to him.  Thompson was a thorn in the side of the government and authority in general – had he been involved in something so vile police would have been only too glad to investigate, as glad as he would have been to expose anyone who killed children on film. That all that seems to be out there to support this claim are the two lines from this book and some unclear claim from someone else sort of closes the case. But if that is not enough, bear in mind that Bonacci claims Thompson filmed kiddie snuff porn in the 1980s. Thompson already had a very successful career as a journalist and an author then. He didn’t need the money, had it been a part of an investigation into political corruption he would have reported on it gleefully, if not paranoiacally, and given his nature, had he been in the wrong place at the wrong time, he would have blown a whistle long before he took his own life.

So let there be no more said on this topic. Anyone who wants to discuss it here can, but I won’t reply. On your head be it if you decide to smear the name of a man whose career completely belied any association with such deviance without any proof other than hearsay from a fragile man who makes all sorts of extraordinary claims because one suspects he may be too mentally ill not to make such claims.

Back to the book… This book has it all, for the seasoned conspiratologist. It has Satanic Panic, with cabals of Satanists killing children, burning their bodies and grinding up their bones and teeth. It has a ring of pedophiles all the way up to the White House, flying out kids from Nebraska for sexual purposes. It makes reference to militias, Oklahoma City, the Montana Seven, the Monarch Project, Bohemian Grove, the Gosch kidnapping (but no Jeff Gannon, alas – perhaps DeCamp will issue a new edition?), the utter shittiness of Bob Kerrey (a subject on which I whole-heartedly agree with the author, because I can easily see a man who lied about being a war criminal for so many years lying about all the other things DeCamp claims), Iran-Contra, LaRouche, a conspiracy to murder witnesses and more and more.

Honestly, there is too much to go into even for my verbose nature.

But on the most basic level, there is a kernel that can be believed in this book, though like I said, 7/8 of it, if not more, should be dismissed. The Franklin Credit Union in Omaha was run by a man named Larry King (no, not that Larry King), who embezzled approximately $40 million and undoubtedly molested children. The credit union was probably involved in the Iran-Contra scandal. Though no real trace seems to have been done on the money he stole, it would appear most of that money embezzled went into parties, stretch limos and access to private planes. King probably did have the sex parties described in the book, though I think the truth of the situation probably ended at flying some of the older kids to other locations to have sex with King. I can see that happening, though most of the other stories are implausible.

Not all the kids were in complicit foster homes or kids of the street – didn’t the orphanages or parents notice when the kids, some youngsters, went missing for days on end as they were carted from one locale to the other for sex. Additionally, some of the things that the chief witnesses described could have caused grave harm and certainly permanent scars or physical damage. There is no mention of a physical examination given to any of the witnesses. Moreover, one of the witnesses claims she gave birth to a police chief’s child. A paternity demand to this day could prove her side of the story, and since she is serving years and years of jail time for perjury, that this step has not been taken is baffling. (ETA: Alisha Owen’s child has been definitively proven not to be the result of any sort of sexual activity between Alisha Owen and police chief Robert Wadman.  That is a huge problem for anyone who wants to believe Owen’s tales of institutionalized and systemic child rape condoned and committed by Omaha police.)

You have to keep in mind that DeCamp, while clearly holding some wacky beliefs, also fell down the rabbit hole in the 1980s when Michelle Remembers was still believed to be factual and not even psychologists knew how to question genuinely abused children without leading them to say all sorts of things that never happened in order to please the questioner. He is a true believer, and as such, dismisses lack of evidence as law enforcement involvement in the conspiracy, a media reticence as a form of institutionalized stonewalling (as if the media would really turn away a chance to score a scoop on a salacious story if there was any truth to it), and any evidence that disproves the Panic is a complicit act to encourage abuse of children. I don’t know exactly how men like DeCamp fall down the rabbit hole, and though they ultimately do more harm than good, I understand how it happens. So while I find DeCamp a little icky in other respects, his intent belief in the unbelievable does not surprise me.

Nor was it a surprise to find the unpleasant, sticky presence of Ted Gunderson, former FBI agent, in this book. The man believes in Satanic Panic to this day, but he also believes all kinds of bizarre things, as I will discuss in a moment.  He is either a loon or crazy like a fox and either way, he is dangerous. He is also lawsuit happy, suing people whom he thinks slander him, including people who have clear screws loose and should be pitied rather than sued. (Google Ted Gunderson and the name Barbara Hartwell and just marvel at the sadness of it all.) I can say without any hesitation that his investigative presence in the Johnny Gosch kidnapping (and sadly, as most believe, murder) has kept the vulnerable Noreen Gosch in a realm where she will believe anything as long as it means her son is alive. It has made her prey to con men and people who torment her. I dream of seeing Gunderson in a whacked-theory cage match with someone – I just can’t think of whom I would inflict Ted on. Art Bell has already won an out of court settlement against him for calling him a child molester so it will have to be someone else (and since it was an out of court settlement with a gag order, there are no firm facts and all the information out there comes from sources that I would rather not link to, lest I become overrun with avid true believers from the whole rainbow spectrum of conspiracy, and if you think I’m verbose…). Gunderson to this day believes the McMartin preschool molestation/Satanic ritual abuse case happened and has been a force behind sending innocent people to prison.  He is wicked, nasty and preys on the unstable and it’s not entirely logical for me to say that I automatically believe the opposite of anything he has to say, but that’s actually close to the truth.