Monday Round-Up: Frank Joseph Out, Dracula's "Jewish" Medallion, and Bob Dylan's Secret Roswell Knowledge
I have three brief things to discuss today. First, citing his wife’s illness, former Nazi party head Frank Joseph withdrew from the Ancient Artifact Preservation Society conference scheduled for next month, where he was to deliver a memorial speech and appear on a panel with the founder of Xplrr Media, LLC. It marks the first time in many years that the AAPS conference did not feature a speech from the former Nazi leader. Oddly, in making the announcement on Facebook, Judy M. Johnson declined to use Joseph’s name, referring to him only as “our first speaker.”
While on the subject, I wanted to call your attention to a piece appearing in the Los Angeles Review of Books about the rise of zombies. In the piece, deputy editor Tom Fleming offers a strange claim about anti-Semitism in the Bela Lugosi movies White Zombie and Dracula:
[White Zombie’s] Legendre, with his non-specific Eastern European accent, devilishly effete facial hair, and spiderlike control over the regional economy, is nothing if not the classic demonic Jew; in Dracula, the anti-Semitism was even more explicit, with Lugosi, as the titular vampire, wearing the Star of David in a number of scenes.
That last line threw me for a loop. I can’t recall Bela Lugosi wearing a Star of David. It seems that Fleming has misremembered, or perhaps didn’t care to research, the neck order Lugosi’s Dracula wears in early scenes of Dracula. Neck orders were de rigueur for European nobles of the early 1900s, and the Count was costumed in the evening wear of an aristocrat. The neck order bears a superficial resemblance to the Star of David in that it is a sun burst on whose rays six crescent moons hold six stars. It is not the Star of David, despite claims by both anti-Semites and Jewish activists to the contrary.
Fun note: In 1987, Jewish activists protested General Mills’ Count Chocula breakfast cereal because the company used a clip from Lugosi’s Dracula in an advertisement and a picture of Lugosi as Dracula on the box. The activists mistook Dracula’s neck order for the Star of David and assumed that the cereal giant was insulting Judaism. “We are not anti-Semitic,” the company’s PR director had to explain. General Mills airbrushed Dracula’s neck order from boxes of the cereal for the remainder of the campaign.
In keeping with the ridiculous, in the September edition of the Fortean Times, I read a bizarre account of “UFO journalist” Sean Casteel’s odd ideas about how Bob Dylan has secretly encoded alien abductions into his music. Normally, I wouldn’t write about so bizarre a claim, but the more I thought about it, the more clearly it seemed to illustrate the faulty maxim of “looks like, therefore is” that animates so much of fringe culture. Sadly, I am not able to link directly to Casteel’s claims because his website was removed from the internet sometime before Peter Brookesmith published his piece a few weeks ago. The Internet Wayback Machine suggests that the site went offline sometime in 2014. Before Its News has a copy of a small part of the Dylan piece from 2013, and the Wayback Machine preserves the whole text here.
I am not sure why Brookesmith considered Casteel’s essay to be news now, indeed going so far as to recommend that readers visit the webpage for the essay, which has been offline for several years. He also criticized a 2006 online explication of “Hotel California” as an alien abduction narrative.
According to Casteel, he discovered the secret alien meanings in Dylan’s songs because he of his twin teenage obsessions with both subjects. It’s rather astonishing how many people form intense interests in their adolescent years and never really move beyond the worldview and opinion they formed of the subject during those years.
So, what about Dylan? Well, when I first heard the song “10,000 Men” from the “Under A Red Sky” album, I was struck by the appropriateness of the line “10,000 women in my room, Spilling my buttermilk, Sweeping it up with a broom.” Using “buttermilk” as a euphemism, Dylan gives us a fairly straightforward account of a sperm sample being taken. Even the female nature of his alien attending physicians squares with many other UFO abduction accounts in which human subjects are matched with aliens of the opposite sex.
Casteel went on to suggest that an alien abduction had made Dylan spiritual and gave his songs their social consciousness. This is because, in the later 1970s and 1980s, alien abduction led to rapturous spirituality. In the 1950s, alien abductions tended toward the political, with the Aryan “Space Brothers” babbling on about federations and legislation. In the 1960s, the aliens preferred outright terror, if Betty and Barney Hill are to be believed (and they can’t). It would be odd if Bob Dylan happened upon the spiritual hippie Earth-saving aliens decades before anyone else!
But what takes the cake for Brookesmith is this passage in which Casteel alleged that Dylan had secret knowledge of the Roswell Incident!
"The farmers and the business men, they all did decide, To show you where the dead angels are that they used to hide . . ."
How can one even begin to argue with that bit of logic? Certainly not the critics who note that the song is actually a description of Dylan’s wife. Or, for that matter, we might just as well take it literally and claim that it’s actually an account of how the shadowy elites cover up the existence of Nephilim by stashing away their hybrid angel bones in secret museum archives.
There is, though, ironically a small consolation that Casteel wasn’t aware of: The song is laced through with references to the Book of Ezekiel, and Ezekiel was famously employed by ancient astronaut theorists as witness to a UFO. Casteel recognizes that Dylan used Biblical imagery (though not Ezekiel), but because Casteel is soaked through in UFO lore, he can’t see that for what it is. Instead, he interpolates an added layer, claiming that Dylan’s Biblical imagery derives from aliens because the Bible is itself an account of space aliens! “In fact, the Bible is sometimes called ‘the worlds’ (sic) greatest book of Ufology’ because many of the miracles described by the ancient Hebrew writers have been duplicated in the 20th century by UFOs. Dylan’s immersion in the Bible from his childhood on is certainly no coincidence in this context.” The trouble is that the space aliens are extraneous here, and can be safely excised with no impact on the argument. In other words, they have been added because of Casteel’s obsession, not Dylan’s.
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.
Enter your email below to subscribe to my newsletter, The Skeptical Xenoarchaeologist, for updates on my latest projects, blog posts, and activities, and subscribe to Culture & Curiosities, my Substack newsletter.
Terms & Conditions
Please read all applicable terms and conditions before posting a comment on this blog. Posting a comment constitutes your agreement to abide by the terms and conditions linked herein.