Mar 09, 2023 I Nick Redfern

The Trickster Portion of the Crazy Side of our World: And With the M.I.B. Looming

Today's article serves to demonstrate the extent to which belief systems in the world of UFOs can change. You may recall that last week I wrote an article on how Gordon Creighton (a long-time editor of Flying Saucer Review magazine) came to believe, by the latter part of the 1970s, that the UFO phenomenon had nothing to do with real, living and breathing extraterrestrials. In his final years, Creighton was absolutely convinced that the UFO phenomenon was driven by the activities of the ancient Djinn. Rather than have me go over again what I said recently about Creighton, here's where's you can find that aforementioned article. After writing the feature on Creighton, I decided to take a look at the works of a number of friends and colleagues in the UFO field whose views on the nature of the mystery had changed to noticeable degrees. One of them was the late Brad Steiger, who died in May 2018. I had some correspondence with Brad back in 2010. Two years later, we were working together on The Zombie Book, for Visible Ink Press. It was a combined effort from me and Brad, one that proved to be quite popular. It was, after all, when The Walking Dead was flying high and zombies were big news.

It was during the process of putting The Zombie Book together that me and Brad really became good friends. And we stayed good friends up until when the tragic news surfaced that Brad had passed away. With that said, I'll now show you another example of how a UFO-themed belief system can change - and change to a significant degree. And it revolves around Brad. Like me, Brad had a deep interest in the mystery of the Men in Black - those creepy, pale-faced, fedora-wearing creatures that began to surface in the UFO research field in the early 1950s. And who, to this day, continue to intimidate those who have had close encounters of the UFO type. In the early 1960s Brad was pretty sure the Men in Black were government agents - maybe our agents or, possibly, foreign agents. By the 1970s, however, Brad had come to realize there was something very weird about the MIB - namely, that they didn't seem to be entirely human. At least some of Brad's changes of opinions were provoked by the MIB-themed writings of John Keel in Keel's The Mothman Prophecies. There's more, though.

(Nick Redfern) The Mothman: A definitive Trickster.

It was only a handful of years before he died that Brad's views on the Men in Black controversy changed to a major degree. I'll share his words with you. They show that when it came to the M.I.B., Brad had most definitely moved on from both secret agents and aliens. He said: "Now days whenever I review those days of encounters with the Men in Black, I am led to think of the mythological figure common to all cultures and known generically to ethnologists as the Trickster. The Trickster plays pranks upon man­kind, but often at the same time he is instructing them or transforming aspects of the world for the benefit of his human charges.ost cultures view the Trickster as a primordial being who came into existence soon after the creation of the world. A number of Amerindian tribes referred to their Trickster figure as 'Old Man,' because they saw him as someone who was ageless, as old as time. The Trickster is usually viewed as a supernatural being with the ability to change his shape at will. Although basically wily, he may behave in a very stupid, childish manner at times, and may often end up as the one who is tricked. The Trickster lies, cheats, and steals without compunction. He seems often to be the very essence of amoral animalism."

Brad concluded: "The Trickster figure is often credited with bringing death and pain into the world; yet, in some recitations, his own son was the first to die as a result. Perhaps one day we will learn the positive aspect of the MIB, the Trickster, the UFOnaut. As strange as it may seem, the MIB may merely be attempting to teach in their own strange ways the knowledge, or awareness, of powers that today exist only in our dreams of the future." Now, to another aspect of the Men in Black and their connections to matters relative to the Trickster mystery. For me, it’s always a good day when I put the finishing touches to a manuscript. And, June 16, 2015 was the date on which I completed the writing of my book, Men in Black: Personal Stories and Eerie Encounters. Of course, the manuscript still had to go through the editing and proof-reading stages. And I had to dig out a bunch of photos to go with the book, too. But, there’s a good feeling of satisfaction, while sitting at one’s desk, knowing that the bulk of the work – in terms of the content of the book – is done. Plus, it was a hot and sunny day, the birds were singing in the trees outside my apartment, and that night I was due to see a Motley Crue tribute band play in a local beer and junk-food dive. It was all good! Except, that is, for one thing which occurred around 9:45 a.m. That was roughly the time when I made the final change to the manuscript, hit “save,” and closed the document. I was ready to email it to Lisa for review.

(Nick Redfern) Sinister characters dressed in black.

Only seconds after I closed the document, I heard a sudden bang coming from one of the rooms in my apartment. I frowned, stood up, and probably said something to myself along the lines of “WTF?” And, since my apartment home is a relatively compact one, it didn’t take long at all for me to find the cause of that bang; seconds, in fact. On walking into my bedroom, I saw that one of the many pictures I have on my walls had fallen to the floor. Despite the floor being carpeted, the black picture frame was broken and the glass had shattered, with pieces and shards all over the carpet. Dammit. Time to get out the vacuum-cleaner. What was particularly eye-opening, however, was the specific item which had fallen from the wall. It was a framed letter written back in 1953 by none other than Albert Bender. He was the man who, arguably, birthed the mystery of the Men in Black. It was all as a result of his early-1950s-era traumatic experiences with a trio of glowing-eyed, vampire-like MIB in his hometown of Bridgeport, Connecticut. The strange tale was chronicled in Bender’s 1962 book, Flying Saucers and the Three Men. It wasn’t long after that initial encounter in the fifties that Bender, who had got into UFOs in the late-1940s, and who created the International Flying Saucer Bureau, couldn’t take anymore mayhem and menace in his life and quit Ufology for good. He did not look back. Well, maybe a glance or two, but certainly not much more.

At the time the frame hit the floor, the maintenance guys at the apartments were working outside, hammering away at something. So, one could make a case that the vibrations from their tools dislodged the picture and – hey, presto - I’m left with a broken frame and glass everywhere. Maybe that’s all it was. On the other hand, though, it’s worth noting that the wall in question has around fifteen or twenty small framed images hanging from it. Of all the ones that could have fallen (and which range from images of Bigfoot to the Loch Ness Monster, and from the Chupacabra to 1950s über-babe Betty Paige, and much more), it was one with a direct connection to the Men in Black. And, I could hardly fail to note that it fell at the same time I not only closed the Word document, but when I had just completed the Men in Black book, too. I got a distinct and sudden feeling that invisible, manipulative entities were watching – and coldly basking in – my every move. When I told a few people about this, they all said that, in essence, it was a sign. But, a sign of what, exactly, was the important thing that no-one could fully agree upon. There were those who viewed it as a warning to me to stay away from the matter of the MIB. Others suggested I was under some kind of dark, demonic attack. My view? It was just another day of high-strangeness. And, there's one more saga that revolves around Men in Black and the Trickster.

On the night of November 8, 2016, Denise Rector flew into Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Texas to spend seven days with me. It was a week dominated by a fun road-trip that took us from Arlington to Austin, from Austin to San Antonio, and back to Austin. One of the things I did was to take Denise to see what I call The M.I.B. Grave.” You may well wonder what it is! No, it’s not the final resting place of a pale-faced, fedora-wearing Man in Black, but you might be forgiven for thinking that’s exactly what it is. Western Heights Cemetery is located at 1617 Fort Worth Avenue, Dallas, Texas. It’s a tiny, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-type of resting place for the dead that is sandwiched between two small, old roads. Not particularly well looked after, the cemetery has most definitely seen better days. It has, however, a notable claim to fame. It’s the final resting place of Clyde Barrow – as in Bonnie and Clyde, the infamous gangsters who lived and died by the bullet. Actually, by a hell of a lot of bullets. As for Bonnie, she’s buried in Dallas’ Crow Hill Memorial Park Cemetery, which is a fairly short drive from Clyde’s grave. Buried next to Clyde are the remains of his brother, Marvin, who also came to a bloody end.

(Nick Redfern) "The M.I.B Grave" A really wild case of Trickster activity.

As we drove to the cemetery, I explained to Denise why I call it “The M.I.B Grave.” The answer is very simple: Marvin’s full name was Marvin Ivan Barrow: MIB. And, there is a small headstone at the grave which reads, in capital letters, “M.I.B.” When we arrived, we found that –as is normally the case – the cemetery was locked with a large, metal lock. Fortunately, we were able to pull the gates wide enough to allow us to squeeze through the gap – something I am forced to do every time I take someone to see the grave. It’s either that or jump the fence – when the cops aren’t around to see. As we stood around the graves I told Denise how, on several occasions, odd synchronicities had occurred in relation to Marvin’s grave and the real MIB. Back in the mid-1980s, for example, the Dallas police had responded to a number of calls – covering a four-day-long period – of a man in a black suit and a black hat who stood in the cemetery and stared at passers-by in a stone-cold, eerie fashion. He was never questioned, or caught, and had a strange ability to disappear and reappear. 

On top of that, on the morning of the first time I went there – in December 2012 – I had been working on a MIB-themed article that involved a Man in Black seen at a cemetery in Dorset, England in 1992. Imagine my surprise when, on reaching the cemetery only a few hours later, I stumbled on Marvin’s grave. This all struck me as some kind of classic “Trickster”-type phenomenon at work. Fortunately, that deranged atmosphere was absent when Denise and I were wandering around the old gravestones. Or, maybe, unfortunately should be the case, as Denise is quite partial to all things supernaturally-based. All of this tells us that there is a strange, manipulative, somewhat amusing, and sometimes dangerous thing "out there" - and it's a bit of everything. I don't say that I know the answers. I certainly don't. But, I do know there are certain creatures out there that like messing with us. So, be careful.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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