Monday, March 8, 2010

I Am the Eggman: The Geller/Lennon UFO Connection.

I've always tended to regard Uri Geller as little more than a tacky anachronism - a long tarnished icon from the dusty attic of 1970's paranormal fads and obsessions. While that judgement stands for the moment, I have to admit that Uri's story is a strange kettle of fish indeed. Whatever the true nature of his relationship to metal - whether or not some form of congress was really attained betwixt his mind and the internal constitution of watches and spoons - there is no doubt that Uri had his psychokinetic fingers in more than a few celebrity/paranormal pies down through the years, right down to his more recent friendship with the most puzzling archetype of all: the Prince of Pop. However, perhaps the most intriguing of these tales of celebrity surrealism involves John Lennon and alien abduction.

In the early seventies, John Lennon's head was no doubt in a strange place. The Beatles, like the decade with which they are indelibly associated, were a long, strange trip into unfamiliar territories: a prolonged experiment in beat music, global mass media, and psychedelic boundary-pushing. Once dubbed "evolutionary mutants" by Timothy Leary, the Beatles had simultaneously steered, and been swept away by the cultural stream that carried a generation from monochrome to colour, and from colour into the absurdist hyperspace animations of Yellow Submarine. Fittingly, the Beatles endured an acrimonious split in 1970; with the mercurial bloom of their youth departing, the supermen of the Fab Era came crashing down to earth. A harsher era loomed ahead, a hang-over decade in which the adventurous hedonism of the sixties would be stripped of all its idealistic and ideological trimming, and reduced to the mechanical pursuit of sensation, with the space men of the Golden Age lost in a funk of middle-aged torpor and sleaze. This is a decade best evoked by the amphetamine horrors of PKD's A Scanner Darkly, by Lester Bang's melancholy ruminations on the death of affect that lay at the end of all tomorrow's parties, and by what is perhaps the greatest betrayal of noble aspiration since the Terror that followed the French Revolution: the emergence of the Eagles. "Don't let me down" the Beatles had sang poignantly on the rooftop of the Apple building in January 1969, but everybody knew the fix was already in. All the gurus were settling into the clownish nightclub routines that would see them through the next decade, into a nostalgic performance piece of what they had once represented.

As the most intelligent, acerbic, and deeply neurotic member of the Beatles, Lennon's progress into the seventies was particularly rocky. Following the split in '70, Lennon and Yoko Ono underwent Primal Therapy under Professor Arthur Janov in Los Angeles. (Primal therapy has been derided as New Age pseudo-science by the psychiatric mainstream for years. Nevertheless, it has its advocates; Darth Vader actor James Earl Jones claimed that it cured him both of smoking and haemorrhoids. The actress Dyan Cannon was so impressed with her experience of PT that she had a special scream room built into her house in West Hollywood.)

Many of Lennon's songs from this period, including the portentously titled Isolation, God, and Mother, reflect Lennon's struggle to come to grips with his identity. Along with the soul-searching, there was also a deep fog of paranoia, some of which was related to the toxic headspace of intense celebrity and drug use, and some that had a firmer basis in reality. In 1971, Lennon moved to New York, and commenced a long struggle to secure a Green Card. The move had been duly noted by American Beatle fans, and by somebody who almost certainly wasn't a fan of the Fab Four: Mr J Edgar Hoover. In 1971, the FBI opened a file on Lennon, and began questioning M15 about his possible affiliation to radical underground groups. Obviously, singing songs like All You Need is Love and Give Peace a Chance was no way to endear yourself to the Nixon Administration.

Lennon, Leary, Ono: Enemies of the Silent Majority.

Wherever we witness the machinations of the US National Security State at work, we can be certain that its enigmatic companion/antagonist the UFO is not far away. On the 23rd of August, 1974, John Lennon was relaxing in his New York apartment with his assistant/lover May Pang. (The significance of the date need scarcely be pointed out to anybody which has gotten thus far in this narrative.) They had ordered pizza; Pang was in the bathroom, and Lennon went out on the terrace. Suddenly, Lennon started screaming at his companion to come outside immediately. According to Pang, "As I walked out onto the terrace, my eye caught this large, circular object coming towards us. It was shaped like a flattened cone, and on top was a large, brilliant red light, not pulsating as on any of the aircraft we'd see heading for a landing at Newark airport. When it came a little closer, we could make out a row or circle of white lights that ran around the rim of the craft - these were also flashing on and off."

Lennon was obviously deeply impressed by his UFO sighting. He spoke about it on various radio interviews, and referred to it in the lyrics of Nobody Told Me ("There's UFOs over New York, and I ain't too surprised..") and Out of the Blue ("Like a UFO you came to me, and blew away life's misery"......well, I didn't promise eloquence.). It wouldn't be the only time that Lennon claimed to see a UFO over New York, and some have suggested that the singer would later believe he was being stalked by one, along with various shadowy agents from the disparate branches of the National Security apparatus. Thus far is what is widely known about Lennon's encounters with the unknown. What if, however, there was something far stranger, far deeper to Lennon's involvement with the UFO Enigma? Enter Uri Geller.
John and Uri met once a week in the Sherry Netherlands restaurant to discuss UFOs and the Paranormal.

Geller was born in Tel Aviv in 1946, to Hungarian Jewish parents. (He claims a distant relationship to Sigmund Freud on his mother's side.) He had been both a paratrooper in the Israeli army and a fashion model before he started preforming in Tel Aviv nightclubs in 1969. From the beginning, there seems to have been something peculiarly mesmeric about the lean, long-haired paranormalist. By the mid-seventies, he was well-established in America and Europe. Trailed by curious scientists and academics, Geller began to move in the super-stratosphere of rock stars and Hollywood actors. In fact, he plugged himself quite early on into that weird matrix of fame and wealth where virtually anything seems possible. The surreal outer-limits of human possibility, best exemplified by the mansion/prisons of Graceland and Neverland, seemed to be Geller's natural environ. (An advertisement for motivational speaking engagements on his website features the following testimonials: "Absolutely amazing" Mick Jagger, "The world needs your amazing talents....I need them" Michael Jackson, "Truly incredible" Sir Elton John, "Astonishing" Gillian Anderson.....yep, he even vowed Agent Scully, of all people.)

In December 2004, Geller is being interviewed by the London Telegraph. He has a weird, egglike object in his pocket. When asked where it came from, the following narrative emerges. At some point back in the seventies, Geller was having dinner in a New York restaurant with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Yoko is pregnant with Sean, her first child by John. At first, Lennon talks excitedly about watching the child grow up. Abruptly, however, the conversation turns to the subject of UFOs. Taking Geller to a quieter table, Lennon insisted that life from other planets had visited us, and was observing us right now. "You believe this stuff, right? Well, you ain't gonna fuckin' believe this!" (The following quotes are attributed to Lennon by Geller.)

"About six months ago, I was asleep in my bed, with Yoko, at home, in the Dakota building. And suddenly I wasn't asleep. Because there was this blazing light around the door. It was shining through the cracks and the keyhole like somebody was out there with searchlights, or the apartment was on fire".
"That's what I thought - intruders or fire. I leapt out of bed, and Yoko wasn't awake at all, she was lying there like a stone, and I pulled open the door. There were four people there."
Fans? Geller asked.
"Well, they didn't want my fuckin' autograph! They were, like, little. Bug like. Big bug eyes and little bug mouths and they were scuttling at me like roaches. I've told this to two other people, right. One was Yoko, and she believes me. She says she doesn't understand, but she knows I wouldn't lie to her. I told one other person, and she didn't believe me."
"She laughed it off, and then she said I must have been high. Well, I've been high, I mean right out of it, a lot of times, and I never saw anything on acid as weird as those fuckin' bugs. I was straight that night. I wasn't dreaming and I wasn't tripping. There were these creatures, like people but not like people, in my apartment."
What did they do to you? Geller asked.
"What did they do to you? How do you know they did anything to me, man? You're right, they did something, but I don't know what it was. I tried to throw them out, but, when I took a step towards them, they kind of pushed me back. I mean, they didn't touch me. It was like they just willed me. Pushed me with willpower and telepathy."
And then what?
"I don't know. Something happened. Don't ask me what. Either I've forgotten, blocked it out, or they won't let me remember. But after awhile they weren't there and I was just lying on the bed, next to Yoko, only I was on the covers. And she woke up and looked at me and asked what was wrong. I couldn't tell her at first. But I had this thing in my hands. They gave it to me." Lennon produced the small metallic egg, and gave it to Geller, saying "It's too weird for me. If it's my ticket to another planet, I don't wanna go there."

Asked while still a Beatle how he thought he might die, Lennon responded "I'll probably be popped off by some loony." In December 1980, Lennon joined the pantheon both of dead rock stars and of sixties icons who were gunned down by lone assassins. Uri Geller's strange tale raises a significant question: was one of the most famous and influential singers of the twentieth century an abductee?

There is no doubt that the testimony of a spoon-bending psychic (or "mystifier" as he now labels himself) regarding what was related to him by a heavily drug-experienced rock superstar in the seventies hardly constitutes the gold standard of hard evidence in anybody's book. Nevertheless, there are many intriguing aspects to the story. If it was an invention on Geller's part, then we would have to question his motive. He clearly had very little to gain, in 2004, from spinning outlandish tales about his famous friends of yesteryear. Similarly, while his recollection of the conversation at first seems suspiciously detailed, many of those details lend a certain plausibility to the story. Geller captures Lennon's cadence very well, and Well, they didn't want my fuckin' autograph! sounds exactly like something Lennon would say about alien entities.

If the story did initially come from Lennon himself, one might be tempted to write if off as a hallucinatory by-product of Lennon's hard-living and unconventional world-view. But Lennon's account is a quintessential abduction narrative - including intense light, Greys, lost time, and a partner who remains asleep, peculiarly oblivious to the abduction as it progresses. This pattern wasn't established, even in ufological circles, until the eighties. Bud Hopkins' book Lost Time, crucial in establishing the template, was only published in 1981.
Another element which makes the story intriguing is the location: New York city. In the late seventies and throughout the eighties, the greater New York area witnessed a pattern of unusual activity which was often very difficult to dismiss. The volume of strange events in this period has always suggested to me that something - probably military rather extraterrestrial - was really afoot in New York in this period. Hopkins himself, who started studying abduction seriously in the mid-seventies, had lived in New York since 1953. In 1981 in the Hudson Valley, witnesses in their hundreds started to see massive boomerang and triangle shaped crafts hovering silently over highways. According to local journalist Stephanie Ramp: "It was seventeen years ago this month when the phenomenon known as the Hudson Valley UFO commenced its high-profile tour through the Northwest. Particularly fond of Westchester county, it was nicknamed the "Westchester Boomerang", though it spent a great deal of time in Connecticut as well."

"Hundreds of local citizens reported sightings to the police and numerous police officers witnessed the spectacle first hand. According to Philip Imbrogno, a UFO investigator and co-author of Night Siege: The Hudson Valley UFO Sightings, more than 5,000 people have reported seeing a triangular- or boomerang-shaped object larger than a football field hovering in our skies." Popular horror author Whitley Streiber owned a secluded cabin in the woods of upstate New York. In December 1985, in the midst of the Hudson Valley sightings, he began to have a series of encounters, remarkably similar to that attributed to Lennon in '75, which would form the basis of abduction classic Communion. Certainly New York seems to play an usually prominent role in the emergence of both black triangles and the alien abduction mythos. As to whether John Lennon constitutes yet another vector in this strange grid, I will leave further conclusions to the reader.


Michael Garrett said...

You seem to find paths others might never think to follow and that is a most wonderful habit to pursue.


Tristan Eldritch said...

It is a great habit to pursue. I only wish I could I could do it fulltime!