Thursday, February 22, 2024


A List of Eminent People, Living and Dead, Who Will Be Vindicated

  • Robert Bigelow
  • Ralph Blumenthal
  • Jeremy Corbell
  • Ross Coulthart
  • Richard Dolan
  • Lue Elizondo
  • James Fox
  • David Fravor
  • Ryan Graves
  • David Grusch
  • Budd Hopkins
  • David Jacobs
  • Michio Kaku
  • Leslie Kean
  • John Keel
  • Darren King
  • Kenneth Knuth
  • Jeff Kripal
  • John Mack
  • Christopher Mellon
  • Diana Pasulka
  • Hal Puthoff
  • Jim Semivan
  • Whitley Strieber
  • Travis Taylor
  • Jacques Vallee
  • Bryce Zabel
  • Michael Zimmerman

Wednesday, February 21, 2024


Final Jeopardy

It caused only a mild stir when it was revealed that Alex Trebek died not in his home, surrounded by loved ones, but on the set, in what wags quickly labeled his "Final Jeopardy Collapse."

Lionel Porfiry of Youngstown, Ohio had just chosen "Hip-hop for forty."  Alex was going to say "That's incorrect.  The correct question is 'Who is Will da Beast? ... Who is Will da Beast?'"  But just as he was about to say the first "Will," his right hand reached for his throat.  He toppled back from the podium onto his haunches and smacked his head hard against the floor.  By the time they reached him to loosen his tie, he had no pulse at the carotid artery.

When Will da Beast himself saw the clip weeks later, he sent a floral display to Jean, Alex's widow.  It filled an entire small room, the room that served as Alex's first-floor office.

Monday, February 19, 2024


The Pied Piper of our Modern Dystopia

In hindsight, 13 years after his passing, that honorific would have to go to Steve Jobs.  A friend gave me Walter Isaacson's biography of the man some years ago.  I did not crack it, fearing that I would find him to be repellent and perhaps not very interesting at the same time.  No doubt that was unfair to him.

His ambition for a particular form of power seems to have been greater than his ambition even for money and celebrity.  That would be the power to pull on the puppet strings of humanity at a very large scale, and thereby to influence the zeitgeist as few had done before him (Edison, Henry Ford?).

I don't claim to be immune.  Yesterday I got bored in the late afternoon, as I often do. I resorted to scrolling my endless Facebook feed.  A clip lasting no more than 25 seconds.  In remarkable scale and clarity, a dung beetle rolls a perfectly round ball of dung that is about 100 times larger than itself along a flat plane.  Without malice aforethought (it can't see what lies in the ball's path), it rolls the ball over a very cute tiny frog.  When the frog reappears, it is squished, but not quite dead.

Is this supposed to be funny, like a cat chasing a laser dot on a wall?  Or is it supposed to be a metaphor for our own lives?  One day we are the dung beetle, and thereafter we resent the fact that we must make excuses for our own cruelty.  On another day we are the frog, annihilated in the most undignified way imaginable.  (There is no David Attenborough intoning that our demise contributed to the Great Circle of Life.)

We are all being drawn into a vortex.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024


In My Seafaring Circle, the Most Storied Name

is ... Harvey Schwartz.  By trade Mr. Schwartz was a litigator, and a good one.  (I hired him on one occasion to represent a work colleague who was burdened with a frivolous lawsuit, and he handled the job with skill and high humor.)

For a while Harvey had a big sloop at our yacht club, then he had a catamaran that he had named "Trial."  When a client bugged him in the summer to set up a meeting, he would say "I can't do it that week; I'm on Trial."  He was our Borscht Belt Horatio Hornblower.

Harvey was very friendly with the man who edited Wooden Boat magazine, which is published up in coastal Maine, which is to say "Downeast."  (The prevailing winds in summer blow from the southwest, so the coast of Maine is downhill, or downwind, from the more populated parts of New England.)  The editor would hand the keys to the magazine to Harvey for a month in the summer.  It was a barter arrangement; Harvey was paid nothing in cash, but he was given a slick sloop to live aboard and to sail for the duration.

After he retired from the practice of law, Harvey decamped to Paris, where he bought a big barge to live on, echoing in my mind, I guess, the celebrated old French film "L'Atalante."

I heard nothing of him for years.  But just a couple of weeks ago, he surfaced as a recommended Facebook friend, looking in his photo every bit the octogenarian that he is.  

Having pushed the virtual button, I was regaled this week with Harvey's fulfillment of a long-held dream -- to cross the Drake Passage from Tierra del Fuego to Antarctica.

Of course it's high summer in Antarctica.  But at latitude 60 degs S, there is no landmass to break up the prevailing westerlies that Melville and Richard Dana wrote about way back when. On this passage, on a stout cruise ship, the waves were 45 feet and the winds gusted to 47 knots.  Virtually no one ate.  Few had the stomach for it, and those who did went flying across the floor juggling plates as if they were vaudevillians.

Harvey says that it was worth it.  Nothing in his decades of nature travel prepared him for the abundance of life on the edge of the continent.  Donning rubber boots to wade through penguin guano is not a Disney experience, just the experience of a lifetime to hear Harvey tell it.

One of the most beautiful of the 12-metre boats that competed during the heyday of the America's Cup was called "Intrepid."  One of the lumbering ships-of-the-line in Nelson's Navy was called "Indefatigable."  Harvey, in his 80's, remains intrepid and indefatigable.  I, whose default mode at a younger but still advanced age is "listless and listing," bow down to him once more.

Thursday, February 8, 2024



If I were a writer of mid-length fiction, I would focus on a sole man in his 60's, named Christian, who walked, and then rode in a donkey cart, from Poland to Alsace-Lorraine in the summer of 1946.  (What the women generally went through I find too horrifying to articulate.  Others, of course, have done it well.)  

How he found the better part of a gold tooth in the underbrush by the side of the road.  The boy with the entrenching tool who did most of the hard work in burying the dead, while the common role of Christian was to say a nondenominational and perfunctory prayer.  The general disappointment among the surviving women that the war had emasculated him.

A pheasant for dinner!  A soup of dandelions and wild berries, boiled in an overturned Wehrmacht helmet nestled in some hot coals.  A weasel, and later a feral cat.  The donkey Ulysses himself at the end of the road, with the rest of him traded to villagers for some clean clothes.

His body strong enough to fend off typhus during the trek.  But, from 1948 according to the locals, half of his handprint in blood on a slab of cement, non-structural, in the root cellar of a minor aristocrat.  Not from an act of violence, but a sudden generalized hemorrhage of the lungs that was attributed to Silesian coal dust and other assaults common to the age.