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Mr. John A. Keel, R.I.P.

Mr. John A. Keel

John Alva Keel
March 25, 1930 - July 3, 2009


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Posts Tagged ‘introduction’

Fortean societies have existed before, but…


It’s not that the phenomena that Charles Fort so diligently catalogued is rarer these days–quite the opposite! Living in the schizoid 21st century, we have galaxies of information at our fingertips-and to me, it’s a wonder that few have taken up Fort’s gauntlet in modern times.

Who am I, you ask?

I would say I was a Fortean in the womb, but truth is, I didn’t see my first UFO until I was six. I could say I was a Fortean in a previous life, but too many people have debated whether I am a very young soul, or very old, so much so that I quit the debate team. (No, I wasn’t Cleopatra in a previous life, but I have an inkling I once leapt to my death.)

Starting L.O.W.F.I.-I call it a wire service of the weird, serving the great western states of our sometimes-great nation-has been a long-standing wish of mine. It wasn’t a dream, because I knew it would happen.

The western states, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, number lucky 13, and are California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Hawaii, Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.

That’s quite a mouthful. Presently, L.O.W.F.I. has seven of those states represented by a “Bureau Chief”-a regional Grand Poobah of weird phenomena. My stars are blessed, because I’m surrounded by some of the sharpest minds in Forteana. I envision L.O.W.F.I. as a network of urbane explorers comparing data, collecting anomalous reports, going on Fortean expeditions-and having a damn good time while they’re doing it.

Literally and figuratively, the byways of our great western states reek, stink, and verily, almost ooze-the weird, the inexplicable and the unexplained. The east coast has boasted the Fortean Society since 1931, and the International Fortean Organization (INFO) has been around in Maryland since 1965. But they’ve largely neglected our wild and wooly west!

Our states boast Thunderbirds and Tesla and cemeteries for vampires; everyone knows Sasquatch makes his home in the Pacific Northwest. Ancient Egyptian tunnels fan out from the Grand Canyon. The ancient lizard race known as the Lemurians built their own network under the west coast. Skinwalkers shape-shift over our desert sands, and redheaded Native giants have roamed Nevada and the Utah basin. Haunted old west saloons dot the landscape; illuminated by the glare of a thousand UFO crashes.

While there are a handful of UFO organizations, and lots of ghost-hunting gangs out here-a tip of the hat to all of them-what exists for the lone crypto hunter? The conspiracy theorist with an interest in the paranormal? The UFO buff with a cracked, black sense of humor?

Or those of us who know that reality is like the contents of a rearview mirror-things in it are often distorted, much bigger than they appear, or can only be glimpsed out of the corner of your eye?

We are greater than the sum of our parts.

In Los Angeles, I’ve already had L.O.W.F.I. up and running for the better part of a year. One of the best things about it have been the wacky expeditions I’ve gotten to take people on. It’s been a gas to share a weird, musty Bible museum with pagans, hunt for the ghost of Richard Nixon with a posse of true independents, and explore the origins of tiki with people who listen to punk rock and Scarlatti. Forteans, I think share a particular mental aesthetic.

I’m shy. Actually, I’m a misanthrope with a heart of gold. But I’ve never been a joiner, and we’ve got something of an anti-club going on here. But it’s not all fun and games. L.O.W.F.I. is specifically interested in collecting and disseminating damned data, and for too long have we been deprived of a connecting force.


David Bowie left Los Angeles after becoming convinced that his swimming pool was possessed by demons. In the documentary, Cracked Actor, he commented on the city: “Fancy building a bleeding wax museum in the middle of the desert. You’d think it would melt! Ha, ha, ha ha!”

It is my contention that, although an ever-shifting mirage, Los Angeles has an old soul, that the asphalt here is wise beyond its years.

Southern California is so central to the planet’s existence, that not one–but TWO-locations here have been christened the absolute apex of everything. Guru Krishnamurti proclaimed the “Center of the Universe” could be found in Ojai. But “The Center of the World” was drawn from the novel, Coe the Good Dragon, and is set at Latitude 32º 45′ 01″, Longitude 114º 45′ 55″, and is marked–for all to see–just off the I-8, with a bronze star and granite pyramid.

As a native Angeleno, I have spent my entire elfin life exploring southern California, its oddities and daemon-haunted spots. I track down eccentrics, or more often they find me in a crowd. I love my town, even though it has multiple personalities, and I vow to you, dear reader, to do the best possible job of bringing you all that’s weird, cosmic, and phenomenal about southern California.

Skylaire Alfvegren

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