Beyond Nuts And Bolts: Aliens, The Polar Vortex, Nukes, and Paranormal Art

233 – Beyond Nuts And Bolts: Aliens, The Polar Vortex, Nukes, and Paranormal Art

This week, Wendy and I are once again joined by my sister, Allison Jornlin from Milwaukee Ghosts as well as Steve Ward, a paranormal enthusiast, frequent podcast guest, and weekly contributor to Mack Maloney’s Military X-Files. I met Steve last year at the Michigan Paracon and we bonded over the fact that we both had the same They Live-inspired t-shirt!

Told you it was a cool shirt!

So, we’re currently in the middle of a Polar Vortex and it’s -20 degrees Fahrenheit as I’m typing this. In fact, Wendy had to join us from Chicago because of travel delays due to the crazy weather. And if you were online this week, you saw that the theme was the 2004 climate change apocalypse film The Day After Tomorrow, where Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal try to save the world from being iced over due to global warming.

Global warming… but wait, I thought that we were freezing? Right, so the first thing that Allison does is explain how the warming of the oceans is changing the jetstream so that the winds that normally never make it below the Arctic are slowly drifting southward, making winter temperatures colder. And indeed, today was the second coldest day in Chicago history, so this is a real deal cold snap. School has been closed for four days here in Madison already.

So, let’s take the culture war/political debate out of it, because the Earth does not care about our bumper stickers or our Facebook memes. My opinion? I just spent several days in Southern California, air pollution is a real problem and we should do at least something about it. I don’t know if the greenhouse gases that we’re sending into the atmosphere through cars, factories, and massive cow farming are destroying the planet but they’re certainly making it unpleasant to breathe in some places. Whether you believe it’s man-made or not (and plenty of people don’t), we can’t change the fact that the average global temperature has risen over the past century and that’s going to affect all of us.

So how is that paranormal? Well, in 1999, the man who gave us Coast to Coast AM, Art Bell wrote a book with the man who gave us the modern image of the alien grey with Communion, Whitley Strieber. The book was called The Coming Global Superstorm and it was the direct inspiration for the movie, The Day After Tomorrow.

Directed by Roland Emmerich, the dude behind Independence Day and Stargate, it’s surprising that he left out one very significant fact of Strieber’s book… that aliens told him that the rising temperature of the oceans is going to lead to massive climate shifts and the destabilization of human civilization. Whaaaaaaat?! Awesome.

Now Steve is near Battle Creek, Michigan and he’s facing the Polar Vortex just like we are, but he’s keeping warm through reading about the cases of “high strangeness” that often come after UFO sightings. Even the Mothman case (and Steve is a John Keel aficianado!) was much more the just sightings a of flying humanoid, it was Men In Black encounters and UFO sightings, and then of course the collapse of the Silver Bridge (and some people are saying that there are still strange events stemming from those initial incidents.)

It seems like once people start having an experience that we could explain away easily through science, like a UFO encounter (we’re not stretching into the paranormal realm to say that life on other planets is feasible), it’s strange stuff that happens afterwards. There seem to be more than just nuts and bolts materialism involved here.

Steve brings the stories of two great cases that he finds somewhat related. One is of the Welsh UFO contactee Gaynor Sunderland, who claims to have seen a flying saucer land and met two creatures who came out of it. Gaynor seemed to have repeated contact with the aliens, but it wasn’t through physical-as-we-think-of-it encounters, it was through some kind of mental communication where she would go into a trance and seemingly leave her body.

Which sounds a lot like a Seventeenth Century faerie contactee Anne Jefferies who lived down the island in Cornwall. Anne was a 19-year old servant girl but she claimed to have met multiple faeries and was even kissed by them and taken to their magical land. However, after the first encounter which she said happened outside, this all happened while she was having some kind of fit (as they called it, people have speculated it was actually an epileptic seizure) and she never left her room. It sounds like she made it up, but the family that employed her was convinced that she came back from faerieland with magical powers.

They said she never had to eat, that the “Good People” nourished her. She had the power to heal and as the word spread, people would come to her to see if she could cure their ailments. She would predict the people who were coming to visit and apparently to such an accuracy that she not only developed a reputation, but a criminal history because the local Justice of the Peace charged her for communing with evil spirits.

So, there we have two similar young women with strange stories, who are dealing with fantastic creatures without ever having to step foot on a spaceship or actually into faerieland. Some people would say that’s entirely possible with astral travel but to the average UFO researcher, it starts stretching the realms of plausibility. It really is one thing to believe in the possibility of life on other planets and another to believe in faeries. But it called “the unknown” for a reason. Who’s to say those stories aren’t a lot more related than we think.

Psi-Girls by Susan Hiller

Which brings us to Wendy’s story of the week, the death of American-born but England-living artist Susan Hiller, who just passed away this week at age 78. Now Susan was inspired by paranormal themes and incorporated them into all her art.

I’m interested in occult powers, and if people find this ludicrous that is their problem. I’m not a true believer but these things are there and to say they aren’t is ridiculous. I’ve recently made a piece called Channels about people relating their so-called near-death experiences. I am interested that these stories occur all over the world and always have done, and if we don’t think that is interesting then we are very boring.

Susan Hller, 2015

One of her most famous works was called the “Sisters of Menon” which was based on a telepathy experiment that she was working on with several other female artists. The idea was that they would all do art at the same time and try to “send” each other messages and images telepathically.

But what happened is that Susan seemed to channel this group of Ancient Greek women who wanted to speak through her in her art. She found herself possessed by them to start “automatic writing”, where you just put your pen down and start writing something that isn’t coming from you, but seemingly another source. She found herself possessed by the group, so her telepathy experiment turned into something very very different.

I’m embarrassed to say I’d never heard of her before seeing that she passed and I lived only two blocks from the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis where the Sisters of Menon was being displayed. I was even there a few times and never saw it, but at least now I can appreciate it.

Sisters of Menon, 1972 -79
Section I: 4 L-shaped panels of automatic writing, blue pencil on A4 paper with typed labels (1972)
Section II: 4 panels, typescript and gouache on paper (1979)
35 7/8 x 25 1/4 in. / 91.2 x 64.2 cm 12 1/2 x 9 1/8 in. / 31.8 x 23 cm

What I thought was the most interesting this week however, was the strange high speed chase through the Nevada Nuclear Test Site on Monday. Now, the test site has been dormant for almost thirty years now, but starting in the 1940s, the US Air Force detonated hundreds of atomic bombs there. Remember Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull‘s infamous refrigerator scene? Yeah, that’s where it took place.

It’s not quite as famous as its neighbor, Area 51, and it’s now called the Nevada National Security Site (probably because we’re not blowing as much stuff up there now) but it certainly is a pretty secretive place, complete with a mile-long air strip that’s above top secret. So, what exactly happened?

According to the official statement from the Department of Energy, the driver drove past the security gate on January 28th, 2019 at 5:18pm and was quickly followed by local law enforcement as well as the private security firm that the NNSS hires to do the investigation. They chased him for 8 miles before he stopped an approached the officers with a “cylindrical object in-hand”. When he wouldn’t drop the object or comply with their commands, they shot him fatally. There’s a no-record policy on the site because of national security, so the officer didn’t have a body cam on.

We talk about this a little flippantly in the podcast, but as I’m writing this, they announced the name of the guy that was killed. Nekiylo Dawayne Graves was a 27-year old from Iowa. I’m looking at his Facebook profile and there hasn’t been any updates since 2014 (unless that’s all Facebook is leaving up), but he basically just looks like a kinda nerdy black guy. He’s into rap music like Jadakiss, has a couple tough-guy pics up, but nothing too weird. He has opinions about Captain America and Batman and calls himself the pretty sweet comic book-y name, Kilo The Conqueror. His last post from 2014 is a link to a store called OPSGEAR, which looks like it’s combat-style clothing .

Nekiylo Dawayne Graves

Looking at his pictures and his family on there is depressing because you realize you’re looking at a young life that ended tragically. Sure there’s a couple “thug-style” pictures on there, but there’s also normal selfies, pics with his family and friends, and nothing more than the kind of thing that I would’ve done to look tough or play a character, especially when you’re into comics. It does look like he did some time in jail in 2015, which might explain the Facebook disappearance around that time. And there is a depressing Change.org petition he signed because his father was locked up and missed his childhood.

But what would compel him to make that drive when he knew he was risking his life? Was he trying to learn some secrets and it just went too far? Was he disturbed and just wanted a “suicide by cop“?

I don’t know, but I hope we learn more about this sad story and get some answers, because the Nevada Testing Site has already killed hundreds of thousands of Americans through nuclear fallout (including famously being implicated in the cancer death of John Wayne) and now it has sadly claimed one more life and we have no idea why.

If you think Vegas is tacky now, picture it back in the 50s, when tourists used to come there to see atomic bombs go off…

And speaking of the “Nevada Proving Ground” as the NNSS was originally called, I find it a little hard to believe that almost eighty years later and we’re still dealing with the legacy of the Cold War. We look back to WW2 as some kind of Golden Age (the Greatest Generation and all that). Like the fact that we had the moral high ground over the Nazis made life simpler. And it might have when it came to the war effort. We were unified, we had the draft, 40 year old guys were going to war. We haven’t see that kind of thing since.

I mean, everyone in America hates the Taliban because of terrorism and female oppression (if you haven’t read The Kite Runner, which is about pre-Taliban Afghanistan, it’s worth it just to see how even a modern country can quickly devolve into medieval barbarism), but after 17 years and nothing much changed in Afghanistan, I doubt most regular people would feel some kind of moral twang if we just left right now. There wasn’t the same kind of ambiguity after Pearl Harbor.

Allison and my uncle might have lied about his age because he was eager to fight for his country, but he still didn’t want to serve with any “Negroes” in his unit. It was a different time and there were just as many problems as there were now. The creators of the atomic bomb were desperate to beat the Nazis to the secret of nuclear war, but once we had it, we didn’t need it. Dresden proved that we had the will to kill, Hiroshima just did it with one plane instead of many.

Truman wanted to show Uncle Joe Stalin that we were ready for the world after the Nazis where America finally assumed its place as the most powerful nation on Earth, where the balance of power finally shifted continents. Stalin was a murderous bastard, but their dick-swinging contest ended up costing the world millions of lives. Mostly innocent ones in proxy wars, because everyone knew what it all-out war would mean between two real nuclear powers (The Day After showed us that in the 80s.)

The Doomsday Clock was set at Two Minutes to Midnight in 1953, when the Soviets and the Americans both tested thermonuclear weapons within ten months of each other. We no longer had a monopoly on mass destruction. In 2019, the clock is set there again and we still hear about the “manipulative” and “evil” Russians in the news. The more things change, the more they stay the same and we’re still living with the legacy they powerbrokers left for us in the Atomic Age. We’re still haunted by “The Ghost of Los Alamos”.

A generation’s fear
poisoning the atmosphere
blowing up some godforsaken burning cursed place

Building a doomsday device
Progress demands sacrifice,
We just can’t afford to fall behind in this race

Out in the no-man’s land,
Playing God in the desert sand
Salt the earth and bomb it all to hell
When war goes all out
We’re left living in the Fallout
the ghost of Los Alamos
will haunt us still

A burning horror
for the children of Gomorrah,
Firestorms of nightmares and cities made of ash.

Secrets crawling out of caves
There’s no bodies left for graves,
Cover up the sickness with a blinding brutal flash

Out in the no-man’s land,
Playing God in the desert sand
Salt the earth and bomb it all to hell
When war goes all out
We’re left living in the Fallout
the ghost of Los Alamos
will haunt us still

Out in the no-man’s land,
Playing God in the desert sand
Salt the earth and bomb it all to hell
When war goes all out
We’re left living in the Fallout
the ghost of Los Alamos
will haunt us still

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