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Key figures in mid-20th century UFO "contactee" scene get their due in "'A' is for Adamski"

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BOOK REVIEW: “A” is for Adamski: The Golden Age of the UFO Contactees by Adam Gorightly and Greg Bishop (Gorightly Press) 2018

A couple of days upon completing Adam Gorightly and Greg Bishop’s engaging, informative and, at times, utterly hilarious guide to the key figures of the so-called UFO “contactee” phenomenon - "A" is for Adamski" - which took place, roughly, between 1947 and 1978, I met a guy hailing from Weslaco, Texas.

I mention it because it was in this guy’s hometown, not far from the Mexican border, where a curmudgeonly lumberyard owner named Orville T. Gordon operated his business, at least until the early 1960’s when Gordon was allegedly contacted by extraterrestrials who warned Gordon that they were upset at how humankind was treating the Earth. But, these irritable “space brothers” told Gordon – who would soon call himself “Nodrog,” which is “Gordon” backwards – that he was among the chosen and that his “Armageddon Time Ark Base” there on his property in Weslaco, also featured an “invisible flying saucer,” hidden from view, and that when the End Times come, he and the other chosen folks will be whisked away while Earth is punished for its sins.

A wild tale, right? Well, my new friend from Weslaco told me it was all true. He nodded in that weary-sort of way of someone who has just seen about everything as he talked about Nodrog and his annoying antics and his refusal to sell out to Walmart, who had coveted Nodrog’s property, which had become an eyesore. The Nodrog land became a magnet for anti-government types, racists, saucer cultists and assorted riff-raff and after some legal trouble, Nodrog, who was elderly by the 1990’s, had disappeared. Perhaps the space brothers had spirited him away?

The Nodrog story, as told in this hefty book, with plenty of contactee pictures, is one of many fascinating tales about real folks from this “golden era” – before the darker, post-1980, X-Files-styled “abductee” stories of the Whitely Strieber Communion variety and the human/alien hybrids seen in greenish-tinged “burbling vats,” emphasizing something more sinister about the phenomena. That’s kind of where we still are.

But it was the earlier contactee movement that embraced the sunny and optimistic angle that had so accompanied that era, even amidst the dangers of the Cold War and nuclear apocalypse. The space brothers were about saving humanity, by sharing messages of  universal brotherhood and galactic peace – if only the humans would listen to their often vague bromides and promises.

Right.

In any event, I have long loved the writings of both Adam Gorightly (Historia Discordia, The Shadow Over Santa Susana, James Shelby Downard’s Mystical War, etc.) and Greg Bishop (Project Beta, It Defies Language!), both of whom know their material backwards and forwards and have a real interest and love for the UFO topic, with all of its peripheral zaniness, fringe qualities and unorthodox data and reports.

And these folks are characters, in the truest sense, just like Nodrog, noted above. But not all are potentially violent or prone to expletive-laden rantings. Yes, some are creeps and even criminals and con artists, but at the core of the contactee movement there is a certain yearning for a better day of human advancement and enlightenment. But many went to their graves realizing the aliens were not including Earthlings in the Galactic Federation – at least just yet.

Many of the contactees here were average guys and gals who genuinely believed that they had been picked by the space brothers – Nordics and others – and that these “contactees” had been directly contacted “either physically or mentally – and essentially viewed their ET brethren as benevolent ascended masters that travelled to our planet in an attempt to elevate human consciousness and promote interplanetary good will.

And it was that message that so interested the man whose name is noted in the title of this book, famous contactee George Adamski.

It was this initial chapter (penned primarily by the pranksterish Gorightly, I suspect) that had been nearly popping some stitches I had recently received because I was literally laughing so hard at the overview of Adamski’s contactee experiences and his friendship with a beautiful Venusian man with long blond hair (not unlike that of actress Veronica Lake!!!) who introduced himself to Adamski as “Orthon.” It was love at first sight!

Adamski would write about his experiences and his ET pals would chide the human race for their naughty behavior while essentially patting us on the head, knowing we just weren’t ready for the big, broad universe. We still had a lot to learn.

Controversial characters like Gray Barker and Jim Moseley – both viewed as mischief-makers in the scene – are noted, as are the Forrest Gump-like spook Fred Crisman. Also featured is contactee Truman Bethurum, who got to know a sexy alien lady named “Aura Rhanes” who was “tops in shapeliness and beauty." These buxom bombshells from beyond the stars are a common theme in the book, and reflect the era in a sense.

Known for his work with the "Council of Nine," Andrija Puharich is noted and with good reason. There was clearly more going on with Puharich and his research and findings than meets the eye. 

Women contactees are highlighted as well, from Jack Parsons’ lady friend Marjorie Cameron, Barbara Hudson and Dorothy Martin, the later who became a channel for an ET known as the “Elder Brother of Venus.” Ruth Norman, aka “The Archangel Uriel” of the Unarian group is featured as well, and at the end of the chapter the Unarians had predicted a mass UFO landing in 2001. But the events of September 11th of that year, the authors tell us, “convinced many that the Earth was not ready for open contact with the space people.” Indeed.

Swiss “Pleiadian beamship” photographer Eduard “Billy” Meier get some space here while I took particular interest in the inclusion of both Meade Layne and Trevor James Constable, two of my favorite writers/researchers/contactees of the era, both of whom took rather unorthodox views on the UFO topic, with Layne promoting an “interdimensional” theory that is more in line with the “superspectrum” and “ultraterrestrial” positions taken by investigators like John Keel and Jacques Vallee.(Both Layne and Constable were noted in my Dust Devil Dreams post "On the border," just yesterday). Wilhelm Reich, creator of a 'cloudbuster" and discoverer of "orgone" energy, is also featured, is often linked with these two as well. 

Richard Shaver's outlandish beliefs about creatures living far underground were unsettling, but were believed by many of the era. And Dr. Frank Stranges, whose work I accidentally discovered on a secret track by the alt-noise rock band Sabalon Glitz on their Ufonic album, is compelling, as his book Stranger at the Pentagon, a story about his Venusian bestie Valiant Thor and his communications with America's military. It's worth picking up. 

And what would this book be if contactee George Van Tassel were not included?  “Van” is a legend in the scene and known for his annual “Spacecraft Conventions” held at Giant Rock in Southern California between 1953 and 1977, an event the authors describe as a “Burning Man for saucer heads.” He would later build the Integratron, a “machine” building constructed – but never fully completed before Van Tassel’s death in 1978 – that was supposed to help people lieve well past their expected lifespan, while helping people to also evolve spiritually. It remains out there in the desert to this day, a relic of a bygone era.

I highly recommend "A" is for Adamski, if only to better understand who these oft-forgotten people are and were and their contributions to the fringy folklore and patchwork quilt of American high weirdness and wonder.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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