As part of the research for the new book I am crafting out of parts of the one that didn’t garner much interest, I have been researching government persecution of queer people in the postwar era. In so doing, I came across a rather dramatic fact that led me down a statistical rabbit-hole as I hunted the source of a seemingly dramatic fact that turned out not be what it seemed.
Undoubtedly, you saw the news this week, from the ongoing national media stories about UFOs, to Sen. Martin Heinrich’s declaration that he believes recently leaked Navy UFO videos depict craft not of this world, to the launch of UFOPAC, the first-ever UFO political action committee, run by Gavin Newsom’s spokesman and a Republican consultant to push for UFO transparency.
I am pleased to announce that I will have an article on the current UFO flap in The New Republic in the coming days. I will post a link as soon as the article is available.
I have a new piece about the 1978 Incredible Hulk TV series and its weird connection to homophobic language policing over on my Substack newsletter. Read it here.
Because so much traffic has moved away from blogs and toward new platforms, particularly Substack and its competitors, I launched a Substack newsletter channel this past week to provide an additional outlet for my writing. I cross-posted my previous blog post there and received nearly four times the traffic as I did here on my blog. Given the disparity in audience size, for the time being I will be cross-posting archaeology and alien content both here on my blog and on my Substack newsletter. I will also offer on Substack cultural pieces that are not directly relevant to the topics that are covered here on my blog. You can read a Substack-exclusive article, "The Curse of the Black Widow Spyder," about the recent recovery of a piece of James Dean's Porsche 550 Spyder here.
If you subscribed to my old newsletter prior to Wednesday, you have already been invited to subscribe to my Substack newsletter. If not, you can visit jasoncolavito.substack.com to sign up.
I wanted to let you know briefly that I will not likely be posting much for the next week. The publisher of my Legends of the Pyramids has returned the typeset manuscript to me for proofreading and indexing. This is a time-consuming process, and they have given me far less time than comfortable to complete this work while also doing my actual job. Since I need to complete at least 15 pages per day to make the deadline, I will not have time to write blog posts on top of everything else. I hate indexing, but I loathe the idea of hiring an indexer who will charge more money to index the book than I will ever make back in royalties.
After some final discussions with the last people on my team to weigh in on the title for my new book, we have come to an agreement on the working title we will be using:
Yes, it's different than the one I though we would be going with just this morning, but I like it. It recalls the sort of melodramatic titles that 1950s movies had: Rebel without a Cause, All That Heaven Allows, The Day the Earth Stood Still, etc. The next step will be sending the proposal and manuscript to editors, which should take place this week.
As part of my book research, I came across several references to the suicide of either one or two girls in Hamburg, Germany sometime between 1959 and 1964, connected in some way to James Dean. They were said to have killed themselves, as David Dalton put it in his 1974 biography of James Dean, "on the anniversary of his death, leaving a note to their parents that 'this was the anniversary of the day Jimmy died and life was intolerable without him.'" James Howett repeated the story, in briefer form, in his 1975 biography, obviously copying from either Dalton or their common source. The lack of primary sources and citations led me to think the story was an urban legend, but it turns out to be true (though Dalton recounts details incorrectly), and worse than Dalton summarizes. Since no English source seems to have reported the account given by the Germans, I want to make it available after reading it today.
For years now, I have ended each trip around the sun with a summary of the preceding twelve months in fringe history, space aliens, and the weird. Most years, these summaries run into the thousands of words because so much happened. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic and the American presidential election severely curtailed the number of extreme claims made about ancient history, as conspiracy theorists turned their attention toward disease and politics. Last year, I said I was ready for a long, difficult year to end, and now those look like the good old days. This year I published a new book and wrote two more, and I look forward to what I hope will be big things next year when publishers get a look at my newest manuscript. In the meantime, we can look back in sadness and anger.
After so much work and so much effort, it’s hard to believe that I am closing in on the end of my new book. As I come to the end, though, I have a few areas where I have to come to some decisions about how to present contradictory information. One particular question that keeps coming up revolves around the role that books played in James Dean’s life. I’ve mentioned this before, but the insistence in the literature that he didn’t actually read books sticks in my craw. I’m not sure why. It doesn’t really make a lot of difference, but the insistence against what seems to me to be plain fact bothers me. Since I can’t reconcile quite clearly opposed testimonials, I had to decide which to throw out.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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