INTERVIEW WITH KENN THOMAS
By Dean Genesee
The "summer session" UFO conference in Laughlin, Nevada took a conspiratorial turn this last August, proving that there is a connection between genetically engineered viruses, the JFK assassination, and flying saucers. Conference organizers showed rare insight when they invited Steamshovel Press editor/ publisher Kenn Thomas to present his latest research and writing. Steamshovel is arguably the conspiracy research journal of record, and has for the past few years kept interested citizens abreast of the latest revelations about the power elite and its Machiavelliean machinations. Thomas has written three books and is preparing to deliver a manuscript on the 1947 Maury Island UFO case to his publisher. Goaded by sleep deprivation and hunger, Thomas and the interviewer ranted late into the night on August 13, with giant bats fluttering by the hotel window and retirees slamming the slot machines downstairs.
Q: How and why did you start Steamshovel Press?
A: It had to do with an interview I conducted with Ram Dass [Richard Alpert.] We got along famously. I had an agreement with one of the local [St. Louis] newspapers that they would publish the interview. They reneged on the agreement, and I didn't know what to do, since I don't do anything unless it's already "pre-sold." What I did was billed the accounts payable department anyway and took the interview and made it the first issue of Steamshovel Press.
Q: What was the genesis of your interest in conspiracies?
A: It goes back really far. I had a great interest in Lenny Bruce in high school. Paul Krassner had written Lenny's autobiography. Krassner was always connected with Mae Brussel and so I had read Mae Brussel's stuff as early as high school. I was mainly a reader and consumer of the information.
After I did the Ram Dass thing, I did another issue on Wilhelm Reich, and this was all done on the office photocopier after hours. Then I started to send them around to publishers to get free books to review. If you can convince publishers that you are a viable magazine, you can get review copies and save lots of money. I've got about a 90% success rate with getting publishers to send books for review. That was it's sole function until the third issue, when at that time Bob Banner was doing Critique - the quintessential conspiracy zine. But the conspiracy stuff depressed him so much that he joined a self-help cult -- Robert Le Masters' group -and he changed the name of the zine to Sacred Fire, and published the homilies of his guru. It was a disaster in terms of those of us who liked the conspiracy stuff. Then Mae Brussel died, and John Judge and Dave Emory started their competition. [Fighting over her files]
Q: So it grew out of a need to keep the information flowing, and was basically a selfish impulse? The Excluded Middle certainly was.
A: That's what it was. I'm a reader, a consumer of this material and to feed that need, I felt I had to do more with Steamshovel instead of the literary zine it was until the third issue. At the end of that issue, I called for papers, and we got some conspiracy stuff. Issue #4 was a donated print job. This was actually done on photocopy equipment at Monsanto Chemical.
Q: How did the name "Steamshovel Press" come about? Wasn't it from a Bob Dylan song?
A: How did you know that? It was supposed to be a secret!
Q: You printed it, or I read it somewhere.
A: I never printed that or told anyone who wrote about it.
Q: Well, maybe I remote viewed it.
A: Maybe so. There's a line from the song From A Buick Six from Highway 61 Revisited: "It takes a steamshovel, baby to unload my head/ Takes a dumptruck to keep away the dead" something like that. It's an absurd thing - people think the magazine is about industrial farm equipment. And it's not even absurd in a good way, like Dharma Combat. It's just dumb. I've been thinking about calling the enterprise Steamshovel Press, and calling the magazine Popular Alienation, but everyone knows it by that name, and I might not even do another issue! [Due to Fine Print Distributors bankruptcy.]
I hate to say "this means that" and be so linear. It's like John Lennon trying to explain "Beatles." Even the word "beat" came out of the beats and the beatniks, and that came from the Commie smear using "Sputnik" and appropriating it in phrases like "no-goodniks." In the '50s, everything was a "-nik." Allen Ginsburg said "Isn't it beatific?" It also had to do with music and beats and rhythms. Kerouac said that it meant "be-attitude." So it's not just one thing.
Q: It was a return to what "freedom" means in America. People were horrified by WWII and the soldiers came back and wondered what was going on in the world.
A: One of the unique things about Steamshovel Press is that it has that perspective of the Beat movement. A lot of the conspiracy culture is driven by right-wing extremism and militia movements and other groups that don't really connect with that creative underworld.
Q: It seems the Beat aesthetic drives your perspective in that the reason for the discussion of these subjects is not out of a selfish motivation. It's more altruistic.
A: All these things are connected. What does the Kennedy assassination have do with the Beats? Some of the things that were responsible for the assassination from the "straight" world were referred to as "Moloch" in Ginsberg's Howl.
Q: Like Phil Dick said; "The empire never died" meaning the Roman empire, but also that that imperialistic, materialistic, and controlling impulse survives to this day.
A: Popular Alienation has that quote right at the beginning from Ginsburg: "Recent history is the record of a vast conspiracy to impose one level of mechanical consciousness on mankind." I'm sure that to many people involved in conspiracy zines and the community, the mention of Allen Ginsburg would make them retch. In fact, when he died, half of the discussion in the Conformist newsletter was that he was a member of NAMBLA [North American Man-Boy Love Association] and that he was a pedophile.
Q: Getting back to the conspiratorial side, one of my friends was talking to a colleague at work about the Kennedy assassination, and this person finally asked if he was "some sort of conspiracy nut," and my friend shot back, "Well, maybe, but are you some sort of coincidence nut?"
A: Well, being called a "conspiracy theorist" to me is like calling a black person a "nigger." What people are seeing right now with that movie Conspiracy Theory is a caricature of someone who is a stereotype. It's as bad as Stepin' Fechit or the Yellow Kid.
Q: It puts the person in a box so he can be categorized and no one has to deal with it. That would involve thinking and work. Although something like that kind of conspiracy wacko does exist.
A: People need to laugh at it because they just can't handle it. Not that it isn't true, not that you're insane because you're into it, but that it IS true, and it's a rational thing to be concerned about the kinds of things we're concerned about.
One of the things about the monolithic mainstream culture is that it's always right. I would be the first person to tell you that half of what I say is wrong. It's as much as I understand it. This is what I think distinguishes what we do from what the militias or other such groups publishing this material are doing.
Q: The Crossfire hosts [John Sinunu and Geraldine Ferraro] were just on during the Roswell event and they generally sneered at the whole thing while looking at it in such a cursory manner. No substance and all emotion, essentially.
A: Yeah, they always have an agenda there. Jonathan Vankin was on that recently and he wrote me back and he asked me why I didn't contact him earlier with the info because he wouldn't have looked like such a fool on the air. He was identified as an "internet researcher" because they were trying to blame it as a product of the internet. The internet is of course a threat to entities like Crossfire and CNN, since it allows people to access information on their own.
Q: Oh no! Now people have to work to find their own truth if they choose! Can't have that! Their hypocrisy was contained in the statement that was made on one of these news analysis shows about "How can we trust anything when anyone can look like Time magazine?"
A: They always have a bunch of "facts" and package it and make it look pretty, and the complaint is that anyone can now take a bunch of crap and make it look pretty, but they've been able to get away with it forever.
Q: What do you think the major news services are doing to co-opt this new access technology, and possibly circumvent it?
A: I think in addition to PROMIS software and things like it, that the powers that be are trying to make everyone alarmed about the power and the freedom to be able to communicate in that way, and also to use it to spy on people in various ways.
Q: Do you have problems in your public appearances with people who are unfamiliar with the material? In other words, how much backgrounding do people need?
A: At times, I think that an audience should know a lot more than it does. This morning at my presentation I brought up the Maury Island case, which is my next book, and I was surprised that many people in this UFO audience seemed to draw a blank. This book has to come out this year because it's the 50th anniversary of the case.
Q: Why was Jim Garrison interested in a subpoena on Fred Crisman?
A: Because of this fact that he was harboring Gayle or a number of other Minutemen at his ranch in Oregon. Anthony Chimering, who did the article for UFO said that Crisman was connected directly to Clay Shaw, and thereby connected to operation Paperclip. Shaw was part of the Permindex Centro Mondiale Commerciale group in Italy which helped with Paperclip.
In this Maury Island book I'm doing right now there's going to be a whole section that focuses on Crisman. It appears very probable that some kind of strange event happened at Maury Island, and that Harold Dahl actually saw these six doughnut-shaped saucers.
Q: Why is this probable after so many UFO researchers have concluded that it was a hoax?
A: There are certain parts of it that are hoaxed, and all of this has to do with Fred Crisman, who was a notorious liar. He involved himself in the episode after Dahl had come and reported his experience. Then Crisman said he went out there by himself and saw a saucer too, and then he's the one who's holding on to all the "metal slag" that he says fell from the object.
Before all that happened he had letters published in Ray Palmer's magazine [Fate] about he was fighting the Deros in Burma as part of that Shaver mystery. And later, Palmer hired Kenneth Arnold to go out and investigate Crisman and Dahl and paid him 200 bucks to go out and talk to them, saying he'd never heard of either of them. He knew all along that Crisman had written him letters about the Dero and a wound he'd suffered to his arm that was a very prescient description of a laser wound, before the laser was invented. So Palmer knew who Crisman was, and here he is asking Arnold to go out and check him out. Then there's a whole element of intrigue here as well with pseudonym that Shaver used which was "Robert Webster," which was the name of one of the Oswald doubles!
Q: Why is this significant?
A: Maybe I'm making more out of it than I should, but it's just that Crisman has so many different connections to the Kennedy assassination. Also that brings in the whole idea of the Oswald doubles in the first place. This guy Robert Webster was one of several, and he went over to Soviet Union and defected and came back. And he's the spitting image of Oswald.
Q: "Food for thought and grounds for further research" as our friend Dave Emory says.
A: I should also make it clear that Crisman was also a business partner to Marshal Riconoscioutto, who was Michael Riconosciutto's father. So this connects back to the Danny Casolaro case, and underscores the pattern of financial abuse. The idea of presenting bogus receipts in order to get collateral for loans is the exact thing that Earl Brien was convicted on last October. He was the guy who was given the PROMIS software in exchange for his role in paying off the Ayatollah Khomeni in the October Surprise. He was convicted of fraud because he had holdings in the Financial News Network and United Press International, and he exaggerated those holdings to get loans. Earl Brien was a brain surgeon in the first place, and the argument is that the Salad Oil Swindle had something to do with mind control that had to do with brain surgery because they were talking about electronic implants. All this stuff based on the work of Josˇ Delgado: "the man who stopped a charging bull with the press of a button."
Q: How does someone draw the conclusion that someone would be able to control someone remotely well enough that they would do what DeAngelis or even Oswald or Ruby did?
A: The kind of technology for this had existed for many years. The book [Oswald, Mind Control and JFK] traces the history of it to Germany going back before the 1930s. The Maury Island manuscript is about 700 pages right now, and I haven't written the chapter on Fred Crisman yet! Part of the problem with that is that there is a long appendix because I want to present as many documents as are available.
Q: Unlike Philip Corso... A: Hey, he has the project Horizon stuff in there. [Laughter]
Q: So what, right? Plans for army moon base to mine minerals and incidentally as an outpost to "guard against alien attack." Of course the documents he provides don't mention this alien stuff.
A: Well the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. They wouldn't put that in the [Horizon] report. Did he request those through the FOIA?
Q: Well, you know people like Corso don't need to go through the channels that the rest of us do. I've actually seen documentation of some stuff he has in there that he doesn't provide. The thing really sounds like a setup, whether Corso is aware of it or not.
A: Let's assume for a minute that everything that Corso said is a total lie, or maybe it' stuff he believes? Then how is it that all sorts of people (like Ronald Reagan) believe in extraterrestrials that don't exist? Corso, being some sort of military bureaucrat all his life believes that he's in charge of the "Roswell File" and maybe higher-ups are pulling his leg and having some kind of joke.
Q: You could assume that, but I think that as far as the totality of the book goes, it's probably 80-90 percent disinformation. That's my personal gut feeling. If this is true, I don't know if Corso even knows that though. Of course, this means that the other 10-20 percent has a core of truth to it. I can't even begin to guess what it is, though.
A: It is a discipline to separate the wheat from the chaff, or even trying to imagine an alternative scenario. I'm so used to thinking that there are extraterrestrials that the government is dealing with. I presume it. I've lived with that so long that it's hard for me to get in touch with what would be real if that isn't real at all.
Q: I guess our thinking is alike in that we have sort of a mental bulletin board where we are constantly examining things.
A: That's part of the Steamshovel metaphor, actually. The "bulletin board" model becomes a "desk" model after awhile: there's piles and piles of research, none of which you can reach any real conclusions on. That's why I did the magazine, and why a lot of it is so scattered. The "Things Are Gonna Slide" section is just because I can't deal with it anymore. I have to create the steamshovel to push it all out there for everybody. I believe UFO stands for "U Figure It Out."
So what if there is no such thing as extraterrestrials? I am satisfied that there was such a thing as MJ-12 because of the Lou Douglas memo. The Lou Douglas memo supports the Cutler-Twining memo. Jim Martin won't let me say much about it. To me it's the smoking gun to prove there was an MJ-12. If there was an MJ-12 and there were no aliens, does this mean that there was a secret group of geeks who believed that there were aliens when there weren't any?
Q: Maybe this is the sort of thing that Jaime Shandera is talking about: This scenario with aliens is for him supported by a web of evidence that includes documents that are time-specific and person-specific, and unaltered. There are as many as he could possibly find, and then there's one that might be the key, like your Lou Douglas memo.
A: The one that convinces you that there is no way it could have been altered or even made up.
Q: It's not worth most people's time to look into this stuff, but what follows immediately is that that type of person should shut up with the ad hominem attacks.
A: Or don't marginalize me because I'm trying to use my common sense to look into these things. You know, it's kind of weird that anyone wouldn't be interested in this stuff, I mean, it's really intriguing. It's common sense to ask these questions, once you look at the evidence. William Burroughs said that "People believe that the Scientific paradigm came along and all human evolution came to reverent halt." The one way you can't go, biologically speaking anyway, is back. There's still more changes to come, and still more paradigm shifting that people will need to go through.
Q: That's why this remote viewing thing excites me, because it has been just about conclusively proven that people can do things that most scientists say is bullshit. So what was put to rest by the scientific revolution might be coming back to give science a kick in the ass.
So do you want to keep Steamshovel going, or go into writing books, or anything else? What do you see for the future?
A: Well, I really want to keep the magazine going because I enjoy it, but I've been really frustrated by this Fine Print distributor problem. I should be making enough money off of it, at least enough to produce the next issue. I can't do what Gnosis magazine did and send out all these notices asking for money to people who have already paid their subscription price. I don't really know what the future for Steamshovel is. Probably the next issue will be more like a tabloid with more editorial space.
Doing a book, you really get the opportunity to get into something for awhile. There's all kinds of things that I don't want to do that with-all kinds of interesting information-that other people can pick up on and do something with, so I want to keep the zine as an outlet for that.
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