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November 25th, 2012

On November 18, cryptozoologist Loren Coleman wrote:
‘Fortean friend, ufology humorist, and writer James W. Moseley, 81,
died Friday night, November 16, 2012. He passed away at a Key West,
Florida, hospital, several months after being diagnosed with cancer of
the esophagus. Upon hearing of the death of Moseley, Anomalist Books
publisher and editor Patrick Huyghe said: “He was one of the last remaining old timers from the golden age of flying saucers. Goodbye, Jim.”’


Remembering Jim Moseley (1931-2012), the Voltaire of American Ufology

Friday, November 23, 2012 23:22

openminds.tv



Jim Moseley the way he would want to be remembered: somewhat mysterious and somewhat funny. (Credit: Antonio Huneeus)


Just as I returned from a two-week trip to Chile I found the sad news
that my old friend the “Supreme Commander” James W. Moseley, better
known as Jim Moseley, had passed away from cancer on Friday November 16
in Key West, Florida, where he lived for the last few decades.
Fortunately, I spoke on the phone
with Jim right before my trip; he was still alert and interested in all
sorts of ufological gossip, even as he was getting ready to go to the
hospital for a complicated cancer surgery. I’ll write a more formal
biographical profile of Jim in the next issue of Open Minds magazine, of
which he was a fan, keeping this piece more personal and informal,
which is the way Jim liked to do things, including his relentless but at
the same time hilarious critique of American ufology and ufologists.


Jim Moseley was born in 1931, the third son of Major General George
Van Horn Moseley, who was a prominent U.S. Army officer but also a
notorious right wing and anti-Semitic figure during the FDR era. Jim
didn’t get along with his father and so became a rebel, quitting
Princeton University after a couple of years and pursuing a number of
independent activities which included real estate deals, antiquarian
pursuits in South America and of course ufology. Until the last few
years when his age and health
slowed him down, Jim was a permanent fixture at all major American UFO
conferences. You could always find him at the bar drinking martinis and
collecting gossip, which would then appear in his longstanding
newsletter Saucer Smear. This was the only American UFO publication
devoted not to UFO cases per se but to the discussion of the
personalities of ufologists. It was technically “non-scheduled” and
free, although Jim was glad to receive donations which he called “love
offerings.” In the last few years it became his main intellectual
activity since he always had a lot of fun editing it and making fun of
people.



Jim Moseley having some fun with arch-debunker Philip Klass at the
MUFON Symposium in Albuquerque, NM, in 1992. (Photo: A. Huneeus)


Many in the UFO community considered Moseley a skeptic because he was
always reluctant to accept the validity of some of the more famous
incidents like the Roswell crash, the abduction cases researched by Budd
Hopkins and others, and the ET theory in general. But Jim was also
equally skeptic and sarcastic of the debunkers, making fun of many of
the explanations proposed by the late Philip Klass and maintaining a
longstanding feud with the magician James the Amazing Randi. He could
also keep a good friendship with some witnesses and researchers, even
though he didn’t believe in their cases, as it happened with Ed Walters
of the Gulf Breeze, Florida, UFO saga in the late eighties and early
nineties. That’s why someone (I don’t remember who) called him once the
Voltaire of ufology in the letter section of Saucer Smear. Like the
famous 18th century wit, who used his pen to ridicule the Catholic
Church, the French monarchy
and everything else in the society of his time, Moseley was critical
and sarcastic of just about everything and everybody in ufology. Yet Jim
did believe a core of the UFO phenomenon was real and truly unexplained
after filtering out all the hoaxes, conspiracy theories,
misidentifications and just plain nonsense that pervades much of the
field. Philosophically he was closer to Jacques Vallee and Col. John
Alexander, about whom he expressed admiration in some of our last phone
conversations.


Moseley, the time machine



Moseley shaking hands with President Harry Truman at a press
conference in Clarksburg, West Virginia, in 1962. (Photo: Gray
Barker/James W. Moseley)


Moseley’s investigation of UFOs began in 1953, when he traveled
throughout the USA trying to elucidate what was then the new mystery of
flying saucers. He visited the Project Blue Book facilities at
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, meeting Col. Bob
Friend. He attended the famous “Giant Rock” contactee convention and
interviewed many witnesses, researchers and officials. He even met
former President Harry Truman at his office in Independence, Missouri,
and asked him about flying saucers. In what became one of Moseley’s
favorite anecdotes, Truman responded, “I’ve never seen a purple cow, I
never hope to see one.” This was the serious period of Moseley’s career,
when he published Saucer News, which was a critical publication devoted
to real cases and investigations and not just gossip.


One of Saucer News’ most famous issues was an exposé of the colorful
contactee George Adamski, who was then at the peak of his fame. Later,
Moseley produced a famous hoax with his compadre Gray Barker (an open
promoter of ufology who was not shy of “inventing” cases when needed),
the so-called “Straith letter” mailed to Adamski by an alleged official
from the “Cultural Exchange Committee” of the U.S. Department of State,
which confirmed and encouraged Adamski’s claims of contact with benign
blondes from Venus and elsewhere in the solar system. Adamski was
delighted and paraded the “Straith letter” as proof of his claims, which
led to an FBI investigation. Only after Barker’s death in 1984, did Jim
Moseley publish the full inside story of how he and Barker created the
letter using real U.S. government stationary that Barker had obtained
from a friend.



Jim Moseley in his “Indiana Jones” period in Peru in 1954. (Photo: James W. Moseley)


I don’t remember exactly the year I first met Jim Moseley, it must
have been around 1978 or 1979, but I do recall the circumstances. It was
at a party in the Manhattan apartment of his close friend Tim Beckley,
the well known publisher of many paranormal and UFO-related books, whom
I had met recently and who was publishing some of my early UFO
articles. Jim and I struck a good friendship immediately, as he was very
knowledgeable of the field and had a great sense of humor. We also had a
common interest for all things South American, as one of Jim’s most
cherished periods was the few years in the late fifties when he went
back and forth to Peru and to a lesser extent Ecuador and northern
Chile, purchasing and digging pre-Columbian antiquities. Moseley was
unabashed about his grave-robbing activities, his adventurous days as a
huaquero (from the Quechua word ‘huaco’ for pottery, found frequently in
tombs) as they are called in the Andean countries.


One of Jim’s funniest anecdotes he told me personally many years ago
is when the Peruvian Ambassador to the UN in that period came to dinner
at Moseley’s apartment in Gutenberg, New Jersey (he owned the building
back then). To avoid any possible legal problems in Peru (the black
market antiquities trade is now enforced strictly in South America but
back then was a different story) Jim gave the Ambassador a $2,000 bribe
in cash inside a paper bag. When Moseley moved to Key West, Florida,
sometime in the eighties he opened a pre-Columbian art gallery. His
prized collection (which I once saw at his Gutenberg apartment in a
locked glass cabinet) was eventually donated to the Graves Museum of
Archaeology and Natural History in Dante, Florida, near Fort Lauderdale.



Cover of Moseley’s UFO memoirs, coauthored with Karl Pflock,
Shockingly Close to the Truth!, published in 2002. (Photo: Prometheus
Books)


It would take a whole book to narrate all the funny, sometimes
insightful, sometimes banal and occasionally outrageous, anecdotes of
Jim Moseley’s unique pursuit of ufology. He kept complete diaries of his
early investigations in the fifties with the intention of publishing a
book someday, but he needed a partner to sort them out. This finally
happened in the late nineties when he teemed up with the late Karl
Pflock. Karl had an interesting background which included a professional
career in the CIA and the Department of Defense and also a longstanding
interest in UFOs (he had been a member of NICAP). After his retirement
from government service, Pflock became a Roswell researcher (he started
believing in its ET origin but in the end accepted the government
official explanation of the Mogul balloon). Pflock and Moseley thought
alike in most ufological topics and they struck a great partnership.
Pflock had called Moseley “a time machine” because of the huge number of
UFO personalities and stories he had seen or investigated first-hand.
The result was the 2002 book, Shockingly Close to the Truth! –
Confessions of a Grave-Robbing Ufologist. Jim was very proud of this
book, as opposed to his earlier The Wright Field Story, which was a hack
job produced by Barker (it was later reprinted by Tim Beckley as UFO
Crash Secrets at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base).



Moseley and friends attending a Conference in 2001 at the Gray Barker
Collection, housed at the Clarksburg-Harrison Public Library in West
Virginia, where historical records are kept. (Left to right): Tom
Benson, Jim Moseley, Antonio Huneeus and librarian David Houchin,
curator of the Barker Collection. (Photo: A. Huneeus)


Moseley played as well an important role in organizing UFO
conferences in the period between the sixties and mid-nineties. He put
together an outfit called the National UFO Conference (NUFOC), which was
not a formal members organization but basically a vehicle to put an
annual conference in different parts of the country. His most famous
conference was a huge one with well over a thousand attendees in 1967 at
the Commodore Hotel in New York City, at the peak of the flying saucer
controversy in the sixties. He put another one in New York in 1980 which
I attended as a journalist. One of NUFOC’s highlights was the
“Ufologist of the Year” award given to a researcher every year. I was
honored to receive that award at the NUFOC Conference in Miami Beach in
1990.



Antonio Huneeus receives the “Ufologist of the Year award” at the
National UFO Conference in Miami Beach in 1990. (Photo: Huneeus
Collection)


There can be little doubt that the “Supreme Commander” (as stated on
the masthead of Saucer Smear) Jim Moseley was a unique personality that
will never be replaced. He played the role of the joker, making a
permanent social commentary about the state of ufology in America. He
was an equal-opportunity cynic as the debunkers and skeptics were
certainly not immune from his barbs. But underneath it all he was a good
guy and he was also truly fascinated and baffled by the inside core of
unexplained UFO incidents. His iconoclast style will certainly be missed
and let’s hope that he doesn’t teem up with Gray Barker again and begin
to produce hoaxes from “the other side.”



Following his move to Key West, Moseley would still visit the New
York area often to meet old friends and local ufologists. (Left to
right): Tim Beckley, Moseley, Harold Salkin, John Keel and Carol
Rodriguez. (Photo: A. Huneeus)



Jim Moseley and his daughter Betty in 1993. (Photo: A. Huneeus)



[see more scroll down]In Memoriam: James W. Moseley -- 1931-2012

November 25, 2012 (NOW PLAYING!): The Paracast is a paranormal radio show that takes you on a journey to a world beyond science, where UFOs, poltergeists and strange phenomena of all kinds have been reported by millions. The Paracast seeks to shed light on the mysteries and complexities of our Universe and the secrets that surround us in our everyday lives.

Join long-time paranormal researcher Gene Steinberg, co-host Christopher O’Brien, a seasoned field investigator, and a panel of special guest experts and experiencers, as they explore the realms of the known and unknown. Listen each week to the great stories of the history of the paranormal field in the 20th and 21st centuries.

On this week's show: Gene and Chris remember Jim Moseley, the UFO field's court jester and editor of "Saucer Smear," who died on November 16. His close friends join us with their anecdotes about Jim's amazing life, including Tim Beckley, Jerome Clark, T. Allen Greenfield, Geneva Hagen, and Bob Zanotti.





JIM MOSELEY AT NATIONAL UFO CONFERENCE




L-R Bob Easley,  Allen Greenfield, Jim Moseley, Curt Sutherly, NUFOC circa 1994 Cleveland, Ohio

Jim, who never owned a computer, ran a factual, skeptical, funny, sarcastic and wondrous publication from 1954 until this year, under the names Nexus, Saucer News and finally, Saucer Smear.

In the 50th Anniversary Roast I commented,
I began reading Saucer News in 1961 or 62, first corresponded with Jim about then, met him at the FIRST National UFO Conference in Cleveland in June of 1964; we chatted in my room after the big public session til Jim was too smashed to talk, and have considered him a friend ever since. We visited Ray Palmer together in '65, chased the Brown Mountain Lights together, ghosts on the Georgia Coast etc in the late '60s, and at his GIANT SAUCER SHOW at the Commodore Hotel in NYC I chaired his delegate sessions, went on The Amazing Randi's show with Tim Beckley, and - uhm - we'll skip the '70s, but I lived for awhile in Key West after Jim "retired" there and we hung out a lot. I've known him since my teens, and I consider him one of the funniest, most intelligent, most complex and worthwhile people I have had the pleasure to know. I once owned something like a complete set of Saucer News, back to NEXUS "Book One Tome One" (whatever that means, and I do hope to see him at least once more in this present incarnation. I really wish someone would post the picture here of Moseley and the late GA governor Lester Maddox, as Maddox pretended to read what he called "Sausage News" telling JW how much he loved sausage. Take that however you want. Smear on Jim!
(posted: Fri Jul 23 03:38:28 2004)The Wikipedia piece on him is almost as off point as the entry on me, so I won't send you there.  Look it up, but grains of salt.The Key West Citizen's on line Obit is fairly accurate and quite respectful
Thursday, November 22, 2012

JAMES MOSELEY

James Moseley, known as Jim, was born Aug. 4, 1931, in Brooklyn, N.Y. He was the only child of the famous Gen. Van Moseley and Florence Barber, one of the heirs of the Barber Steamship Lines of New York City. Jim loved travel most of all. His fondest memories were of his youthful days in Peru and the excavating of various Incan pottery and gold.

He loved the excitement, danger, and his girlfriend Josephine, and the Spanish culture and language. He returned to the U.S. to New York City and started Saucer News magazine after getting involved with the offbeat crowd in Greenwich Village. It was there that he met his wife, Sandra.

He then established the National UFO Conference and managed the first N.Y.C. convention. He had one child, Elizabeth, in 1963. He later became a landlord, which he hated, saying "everyone hates the landlord."

He moved to Key West in 1983 with his girlfriend Anna and her son, Patrick, and owned Rose Lane Gardens, a motel behind Fat Tuesdays, in downtown Key West. He had an antique gallery with some remaining antiques from Peru. He owned an apartment building, also on Duval Street.

Jim was a Key West character who was an original. He made a lot of jokes about life and death, and the unknown.

He was a pioneer in the UFO field of investigation. He did radio and TV interviews, and some film. He continued to lecture on the existence of UFOs. He thought both sides of the story were fascinating. He was interested in the serious investigation, or even if it was a fake, but more importantly, he put a humorous twist to it. That was clear in the Saucer Smear magazine he published for many years until his death.

He had his daughter, Elizabeth, by his side at the hospital. He spoke of his love for her and his seven grandchildren. He also had his friends Nick and Bob there. His cat was named Lucky, which says it all. He was proud, on his last day, of his loved ones.

He died at 81 years old on Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, at 5 p.m.

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