Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Where Seldom Was Heard an Encouraging Word

Information stone walls popped up regularly, but I was grateful for anything directing me toward the movie's production qualities, and kind words were always welcome. Even author John Keel, flying high with his book, The Mothman Prophecies, took a few minutes to advise me about finding Al Chop (see letter) and his own opinion about the motion picture ("amateurish" was by no means an unusual description of the acting in the film).

Bernard O'Connor, the first editor of Official UFO, had given me the go-ahead to write the article on "U.F.O." Bernie tried from the start to make the magazine a diamond of UFO journalism and speculation, reaching out for the best that UFO research had to offer. Earlier, I was thrilled when he published a piece I wrote about UFOs and their possible relationship with ultrasonics, for this was my first national magazine article.

In January of 1976 he wrote (see letter) with encouragement about the movie project, though sorry that he had a small budget and not much that he could share toward my research. However, this would be the last time O'Connor could be upbeat about his magazine, for just weeks later he sent out a letter to all of his writers, stating that he was resigning from the magazine. His reasons were unclear at the time, but as a succession of editors who assumed his position for brief periods quit themselves, the problem became clear: The publisher wanted to raise magazine circulation by injecting wild and fictitious stories dressed up as fact into the magazine. Official UFO began printing fantastic garbage even before my movie article appeared on the newsstands, and every editor with a sense of integrity resigned in a huff once they realized what utter nonsense they were supposed to pass off as truth to a UFO-hungry readership. Throughout this unsettled period my movie article's chances were placed in jeopardy, and at one point I even contacted a competing publication when Official UFO temporarily kicked my efforts to the curb and a further editorial relationship seemed impossible. But the article, " 'U.F.O.' Revisited," ultimately did find a home in the eventually otherwise sullied pages of Official UFO.

Incidentally, Bernie O'Connor's mention of classes references a non-credit course about UFOs I was teaching at a small college during this time.