He calls himself “Mr. UFO,” and chances are you have one or more of his books in your library. He’s written about 50 works on UFOs, the paranormal and a tome or two on celebrities like John Lennon. In addition, as a publisher of some renown, he has made available a total of approximately 250 titles by other authors, such as T. Lobsang Rampa, Brad Steiger, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and, of course, yours truly, Sean Casteel. They are all available Amazon.com.
Timothy Green Beckley, president of Inner Light – Global Communications, has recently released an updated version of “Strange Saga,” an eclectic collection of his earliest writings that spans a period beginning in the 1960s and running through until the 1980s. Beckley has also included a smattering of the newspaper articles written about him during that same period, mostly in small town local papers that covered his radio and television appearances as he traveled the country spreading his views on UFOs and the Ultra-Terrestrial presence, as he prefers to identify the energies behind the UFO puzzle. An energetic researcher, Beckley often spent weeks “On The Trail Of The Flying Saucers,” which just so happened to be the title of his regular column in a popular newsstand magazine, “Flying Saucers From Other Worlds,” published by one of his mentors, the late Raymond A. Palmer. (Palmer is often credited as having created the flying saucer craze in the late 1940s. He was one of the original editors of “FATE Magazine” and a friend of the original flying saucer observer Kenneth Arnold.) Truth is, Beckley was pounding the pavement in the era before Budd Hopkins and Whitley Strieber arrived upon the scene to take away some of his thunder. Beckley was even invited by his friend the Earl of Clancarty, Brinsley Le Poer Trench, to speak before a closed session of the House of Lords on the emerging global UFO phenomena.
The obvious temptation is to call this sort of “shameless self-promotion” extreme vanity, even hubris, but that would be to overlook how interesting, even more, how exquisitely assembled the overall package is. We are given an excellent time capsule, a look back that is admittedly nostalgic and sentimental at times, but which also functions as an historical primer in what the UFO culture was really like back then. Interestingly enough, Beckley sees himself as being highly objective in this field, thus overcoming all the bias that would shape his and others’ views. He managed to befriend the early contactees despite the fact that he was never a full-fledged cheerleader of their often farfetched claims, while at the same time remaining on fairly even terms with the more serious students of the subject. This despite his often awkward friendships with controversial figures like Jim Moseley and Gray Barker, who were often up to no good shenanigans in creating fraudulent scenarios in the guise of disinformation and having a bit of fun at the expense of others.
Beckley is in his mid-60s and has suffered health problems recently, which are discussed in the new edition’s preface. He writes of how staring down death as he awaited heart surgery made him realize his own mortal impermanence, but also reinforced for him how the UFO phenomenon existed long before he arrived on Earth, and would live on long after his demise, likely forever. He then pays tribute to his fallen comrades, men like Ray Palmer, Richard Shaver, Donald Keyhoe and Jim Moseley. Like him, they never learned the full truth, but also like him, they went on searching to the end.
The next section of the book is an introduction I wrote for the first edition of “Strange Saga,” which is an only partially successful attempt to tell Beckley’s complex life story in a mere eleven pages. A great many of you reading this article may have already heard of Beckley, but it is doubtful that most of you know much about his personal history and what he often calls the “long, strange trip” that has been his earthly existence.
Beckley began to publish material on UFOs at age fourteen, using a mimeograph machine he purchased with money he had made doing odd jobs. His interest in the subject began a few years earlier, when he was ten, and saw two UFOs rotating in the sky over his home in New Jersey. The fact that other neighbors had seen the UFO as well but that the local media completely ignored the sighting made him determined to bring the truth of the phenomenon to an unsuspecting world.
Famous names in paranormal journalism like Ray Palmer and Gray Barker were sufficiently impressed with Beckley’s early efforts to give him a leg up by publishing his writing. The bulk of the columns Beckley wrote for Palmer’s publications are included in “Strange Saga,” such as Beckley’s account of attending the Third Annual Congress of Scientific UFOlogists conference in Cleveland in 1966. The amiable camaraderie Beckley describes as he greets old friends like Allen Greenfield and others who shared his passion for the subject is a joy to read about and restores one’s faith in the notion of our belonging to a UFO “community,” and not simply an aggregation of competing, ambitious researchers and writers trying to exploit flying saucers to make a fast buck.
The fact that the UFO subject was also an impoverished element of pop culture was not lost on Beckley, and he often brought a kind of rock-n-roll chic to these public events that is evidenced in his writing as well, making the connections between UFOs and rock music not only more apparent but very entertaining. In the 1970s, he promoted concerts and dances in his adopted New York City and made the acquaintance of rock superstars interested in UFOs, such as David Bowie and John Lennon.
Before going on to discuss Beckley’s early writing in more detail, I’d like to talk about some of the reporting about Beckley from those aforementioned local newspaper articles. For example, in an article in the “Sunday News,” a newspaper that billed itself as “New York’s Picture Newspaper,” (the “Daily News” at this time had a circulation of over three million copies a day) dated Sunday, August 31, 1969, writer Alex Michelini asks Beckley about his feelings on the Apollo 11 moon landing, which had taken place the previous month.
“Now that man has stepped foot on the moon,” Michelini begins, “and found no signs of life, can we safely write off all those tales about flying saucers as pure bunk? ‘Not so fast,’ says Timothy Green Beckley. He’s one of the nation’s leading authorities on Unidentified Flying Objects and he insists it’s too early to discount the existence of life on the moon.”
The writer then quotes Tim as saying, “I don’t really know how we could expect to find any signs of life when such a small portion of the surface of the moon was explored. In fact, there is ample evidence to indicate that the lunar surface is being used as a base by alien beings.” It should be noted that theories such as Lunar and even Martians bases are pretty common among even the “straight” UFOlogists in this supposedly more enlightened era.
Tim continues by telling Michelini that he has spoken to several contactees who say they have been warned that – if earthlings attempt to colonize the moon – there will be serious repercussions on Earth, like earthquakes, fires and power failures. The space beings’ primary intent is to keep earthlings from using the moon for military purposes, and more specifically to prevent our misuse of nuclear weapons in space.
Again, it is important to remember that these comments were being made in 1969, but using the moon for military purposes is still being discussed today, and the race to exploit the moon for numerous reasons continues to be a reality.
A couple of the articles Beckley reprints refer to him as “moon-faced.” A newspaper in Tacoma, Washington, says, “Timothy Beckley is a good-natured, moon-faced man who has written half a dozen books about UFOs,” while a paper in Norfolk, Virginia, says, “A moon-faced man wearing rose-tinted sunglasses and purple tennis sneakers, [Beckley] considers himself the country’s expert on UFOs, space creatures, flying saucers and unexplained things that blink, bump or thump in the night.” I don’t know why exactly, but it struck me as sort of amusing that even the shape of Beckley’s face has a loose outer space connection, as though it were a kind of alien-imposed karma. Like most people in the world, he hasn’t been getting by on his good looks, which of course has no relation to his 50-year body of work, but he continues to employ his characteristic tongue-in-cheek approach to the subject and those associated with it as perceived by the media. The publishing of this sort of “On the Road” collection of newspaper and magazine clips makes him sound like the Jack Kerouac of UFOlogy, which Beckley says he has no problem with because it portrays him as a somewhat sexy, hipster figure in an otherwise straight-laced field of endeavor.
At this point it is perhaps essential to point out that the title “Strange Saga” has a special meaning and plays a part in the roots of Beckley’s journalistic career.
In addition to being a freelance stringer for several sensationalistic national tabloids, such as the Enquirer, the Tattler and the Star (now a glossy celebrity weekly sold at most supermarket checkout counters), Beckley also penned articles for many of the multimillion-selling men’s magazines, including the monthly “Saga Magazine,” which published a combination of adventure and UFO articles as well as a heavy dose of girly cheesecake photos Seeing that the UFO topic was garnering them a new stable of readers they would not have attracted otherwise – and doubling their circulation – the owners of “Saga” decided to publish a spin-off pulp magazine called “UFO Report,” which paid its writers enough to attract a formidable stable of authors like John Keel, Otto Binder and, of course, Tim Beckley. The magazine is generally credited as having published some of the best-researched pieces on the subject of UFOs up until it went out of business in the 1980s. Since Beckley feels the articles he wrote for “Saga’s” brainchild are among his best ever, he decided to pay homage to the publication’s title and incorporate it in the title of the collection we are discussing. Truth be told, some of that work was, in its time, truly groundbreaking and fascinating and it holds up decades later, as you will see when you peruse such contributions from the best of the “Saga” and “UFO Report” articles as:
• Apollo 12’s Mysterious Encounter.
• Calvert, Texas: Flying Saucer Way Station.
• Invasion of the Space Giants.
• Warminster UK – The Town Haunted By Flying Saucers.
• Scientists’ Changing Attitude Toward Flying Saucers.
• Flying Saucers Over Our Cities.
• Carl Higdon, Kidnapped By Aliens – The Most Credible UFO Abduction Of All Time!
• UFO Base Just 40 Miles From The White House.
• UFOs Along California Fault Lines.
In what I consider to be one of the most groundbreaking pieces in the book, Beckley writes about alien mind manipulation. The article is titled “The New UFO Terror Tactic.” Beckley begins by telling the story of Paul Clark (a pseudonym), who had a UFO encounter as a teenager. In the aftermath, Clark began to gradually fall apart, developing symptoms of mental illness that cost him his wife and his job, and made relationships with his family and coworkers extremely strained and eventually impossible to maintain at all.
Clark described a later encounter that took place when he was still married. He and his wife were returning from visiting relatives in a nearby town at around 1:30 A.M. A UFO resembling a large, yellowish ball of fire appeared on the road ahead of them, and Clark slammed on the brakes to avoid colliding with it. He felt irresistibly directed to get out of the car and walk toward the UFO, leaving his pleading and frightened wife in the vehicle.
When he returned, his wife said he looked as though he had been transformed into a monster, his features having changed into something grotesque, like special effects makeup had been used on him. She said she wanted to drive him to a hospital, but he shoved her aside and got into the driver’s seat. He grabbed the steering wheel in a rage and it bent out of shape, as though it was “made of putty.”
Part II of this article continues tomorrow Tuesday, January 14, 2014!
[To read more by Sean Casteel, visit his website at www.seancasteel.com]
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