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Your Paracast Newsletter — November 14, 2021

Gene Steinberg

Forum Super Hero
Staff member
The Paracast Newsletter
November 14, 2021

Mark Sceurman, of WeirdNJ Magazine, Explores the Amazing Mysteries of the Garden State on The Paracast!

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This Week's Episode: Gene and special guest cohost Bob Zanotti feature Mark Sceurman, who has been investigating the weird and unusual in his home state of New Jersey for over 30 years, compiling over 57 volumes of travels through haunted homes, abandoned factories and underground tunnels entitled Weird NJ. Not only traveling in the paranormal realm, his search to seek out the truth between local legends, mysterious areas and the darker side of history has been an ongoing theme. Sceurman has also traveled across the United States to seek out similar legends and paranormal hot spots, co-authoring 36 Weird State books proving that each state has its own share of strangeness to be told. He was the host of the television show “Weird U.S.” on the History Channel and currently is a panelist for the television show "Paranormal Caught On Camera” on The Travel Channel.

After The Paracast — Available exclusively for Paracast+ subscribers on November 14: Gene and special guest cohost Bob Zanotti explore the mysteries of the Garden State. But first Gene recalls a possible premonition about 9/11 that he felt when he and his family toured the World Trade Center in the summer of 2001. Also explored: The strange case of contactee Howard Menger, a sign painter from High Bridge, NJ who claimed to be in connect with human-like extraterrestrials from nearby planets, or was he the victim of a government mind control scheme? Bob presents a set of exclusive interviews he and the late UFO photographer August C. Roberts recorded days after the first Wanaque Reservoir UFO sighting that occurred on a cold winter night on January 11, 1966. And did infamous UFO jokester Jim Moseley really call the police in that area with a fake UFO story days before it happened?

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History Repeating Itself?
By Gene Steinberg

Over the years, The Paracast has featured reports of paranormal events from a number of places around the world. Obviously we focus on our home areas in the U.S., but we’ve also introduced guests from Europe, South America, Australia and elsewhere. It just indicates that no single country is free of strange encounters.

So on this weekend’s episode, we brought on a guest who first joined us back on May 27 2007, Mark Sceurman, one of the publishers of Weird NJ.

Now Weird NJ has been around for over 20 years, publishing one of those few surviving print magazines. It specializes in the strange and unusual around the Garden State. It’s not just haunted houses, Bigfoot and UFOs, but anything off the beaten track that they consider of interest.

As many of you know, I lived in New Jersey for a number of years, first as a teenager and later, in the 1980s. But I have to admit that I didn’t travel to many of the places Mark and his crew routinely cover.

Maybe I just got too involved at my regular job and, after arriving home, Barbara wanted us to chill, go out for a great meal or catch a movie. When we wanted to see a tourist attraction, it was usually one in another state or another country.

In any case, I doubt that any of you live in an area that’s free of paranormal activity. Maybe there’s that old house on an old dirt road that’s reputed to be haunted, and maybe there are tales of strange sounds and strange apparitions at a nearly cemetery.

Bigfoot may have a penchant for hanging around forests and mountainous regions, but UFOs are observed just about everywhere, or so it seems. Well maybe they don’t choose to fly over my apartment when I’m out and about, but I live in Arizona, near Phoenix, which is a notorious (or famous) area for mysterious activity. And not just the 1997 Phoenix Lights sightings.

Indeed, on that night, March 13, I was probably relaxing with Barbara, or perhaps our son, Grayson, was trading sci-fi stories with me. In fact, by the time he was 13, just two years later, we were busy writing a real sci-fi novel.

UFOs? Well, I was surely as interested as ever, but I didn’t pay much attention to the local news, so I didn’t notice. I did write a weekly technology column for the Arizona Republic, the largest newspaper in the state, but I didn’t actually read the paper all that much in those days, since it was always somewhat thin on national news.

Now when I was involved in creating The Paracast in late 2005, ahead of our 2006 debut on February 28th, I spent a lot of time playing catch up. I had been somewhat lax in keeping up with the UFO-related scuttlebutt for much of the previous decade, except for listening to Art Bell’s “Coast2Coast” radio show when I couldn’t get to sleep. But it didn’t take long to reconnect with the field and get a handle on what was going on.

Having gotten started chasing after the flying saucers in 1956, seriously, I could see the patterns of interest and disinterest over the ensuing years.

I was especially curious about efforts to bring about disclosure, all based on the belief that the U.S. government was chock full of compelling evidence about UFO reality, and it was high time to convince them to let us in on the secret.

Hopeful? Encouraging?

Not to me, because I had heard about such efforts before, in the pages of several books from early UFO author Major Donald E. Keyhoe. His 1955 title, “The Flying Saucer Conspiracy,” presented what, to me at least, appeared to be compelling arguments that the Air Force, charged with investigating the phenomenon, was concealing evidence that we were being visited by extraterrestrials.

In writing about an alleged Silence Group, Keyhoe made me almost believe that the truth was not only out there, but that it would be revealed before long. It would just take persistence to convince the authorities to do the right thing.

So when, in 1966, the U.S. Congress held hearings on the matter at the urging of then House Minority Leader Representative Gerald Ford, based on the furor over compelling UFO sightings in Michigan, there was hope.

It wasn’t due to the efforts of Keyhoe or his UFO club, NICAP, which proclaimed itself a lobbying organization seeking UFO disclosure. It was public pressure on the Congressman by his constituents.

These paragraphs from the press release said it all:

“Ford is not satisfied with the Air Force explanation of the recent sightings in Michigan and describes the ‘swamp gas’ version given by astrophysicist J. Allen Hynek as ‘flippant.’

“Ford bas received a number of telegrams and letters from individuals anxious to see a congressional investigation of UFO’s.”

We got the hearings. But we also got the Condon Report, which proceeded to fulfill its mission to bury the topic, or at least it gave the Air Force the excuse to shutter its UFO investigative group, Project Blue Book, and get out of the business of tracking the phenomenon.

The disclosure efforts of the 2000’s may seem more successful with the establishment of a Pentagon UAP Task Force that appears to be taking the matter seriously. But it wasn’t the efforts of lobbyists that made it happen. It was actually a series of newspaper stories, which first appeared in The New York Times beginning in 2017, that revealed the existence of a $22 million project that evidently included investigating UAPs as part of its mission.

It almost seems as if we’ve come full circle, except that the first brief report from the Task Force didn’t try to debunk the reality of the phenomenon. It did not dismiss the possibility that ET was here, although it didn’t confirm it either.

But with the promise of a serious investigation into the UFO/UAP/flying saucer mystery, there is hope that things will be different this time.

But I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. I haven’t forgotten the hopes and unrealized promises of the past. It’s one reason why I often focus on that past on The Paracast. There are lessons of history that we must not forget.

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