Tag Archives: tom delonge

207 – More Punk Rock and UFOs: True Believers with Mike Damante

We first met Mike Damante from the Punk Rock and UFOs blog last year when he released his book Cryptozoology Meets Anarchy. Since then he’s been regularly interviewing paranormal and UFO experiencers, reviewing the latest alien-adjacent films and TV shows, and exploring a lot of the pop culture side of anomalous phenomena from pro wrestling to 90s pop-punk bands. It’s a blog after our own media-saturated hearts!

mike damante punk rock and ufos
Mike Damante with the completely non-controversial Tom DeLonge from Blink-182 and To The Stars Academy

Mike’s new book, Punk Rock and UFOs: True Believers takes it’s title from a classic Bouncing Souls track. While that song isn’t about ghosts or UFOs or anything, it is about the comraderie and the solidarity of the friends you made in youth and how that never really goes away, even when you get old. To some extent, I’ve seen that in the UFO and paranormal experiencer community. Once you’ve seen something literally out of this world, there isn’t any going back. You’ve had a personal glimpse into what lies beyond, something unexplainable. It’s like trying on the glasses from They Live for a few minutes. Empirical evidence is the most convincing kind, but it’s only convincing to you because it’s so individual to you. You’ve been touched or blessed or just in the right place at the right time, and other people might think you’re crazy. Once you’re in that group, there’s a kinship to it, a Fellowship of the Weird.

There’s of course, a real kinship to the punk rock culture as well. Whether or not you think it all sprang from the mind of Malcolm McLaren as manufactured rebellion, at least rebellion is built into it. It’s a feature, not a bug. It’s a social movement built on the the outcasts of the current young generation offending the sensibilities of the previous generation. Grizzled old punks with greying mohawks arguing that new punk music and fashion isn’t the real deal (“Punk is dead”, “Hot Topic killed Punk Rock”, “[Your favorite band here] isn’t real punk rock”, etc…) has been going on since at least 1978, so the rebellion is meant to happen inside the movement as well.

It’s like in Star Wars where Sith apprentices are supposed to eventually kill their master and take over. It’s DIY creative destruction. I don’t fit in with your thing, so I’m going to make my own thing. It’s generational conflict at a microcosmic level and while it often for silly internecine conflicts and self-destruction, it also makes for great music and art.

rollins band henry rollins

Questioning anything and everything, to me, is punk rock. – Henry Rollins

Well, that’s something that happens in the parnormal community as well. There are plenty of similarities between these two groups that exist on the fringe of the mainstream. As a musician who’s played punk rock and in punk rock dives for twenty years as well as a paranormal enthusiast and ghost hunter, I can certainly attest to that! So that’s where we go in this conversation with Mike Damante about his new book. We discuss:

  • Some of Mike Damante’s favorite UFO stories and interviews
  • What’s Tom DeLonge been up to and what’s To The Stars Academy about?
  • How Mike has changed since diving in headfirst into the paranormal community
  • Why taking UFO and Bigfoot sightings seriously is important
  • How research into strange phenemona can get more of the respect it deserves

Punk Rock and UFOs: True Believers by Mike Damante is available now and you can get it right here.

In the spirit of Henry Rollins’ quote about “questioning everything” and listening to the Bouncing Souls song that inspired the title of Punk Rock and UFOs:True Believers, we went for a late 90’s-style punk song with this week’s paranormal tracks. Here’s our anthem for not just regurgitating accepted dogma and thinking for yourself: “God Bless The Heretics”.

I did my best to get along
and I was so scared of being wrong

Well my head needed a swift kick
agnostics and skeptics

don’t let the power pull your strings
you need to question everything

I don’t need to be redeemed
We have the right to choose what we believe
And all you need is in yourself
Blow up the past and make it quick
God Bless The Heretics

We’re so afraid to rock the boat
you might pick wrong and they’ll cut your throat

Would you dare be a polemicist
Empiricist or materialist

don’t let the power pull your strings
you need to question everything

I don’t need to be redeemed
We have the right to choose what we believe
And all you need is in yourself
Blow up the past and make it quick
God Bless The Heretics

176 – New York Times UFO Bombshell: Debriefing With John E. L. Tenney

 When the New York Times UFO story came out online on December 16th, it was the very definition of a bombshell in the paranormal community. When the “Paper of Record” decides to write about heretofore unknown government program out of the blue on a Saturday in December, several questions immediately spring to mind…

  • Are they finally coming clean on what they really know?
  • Who saw this coming?
  • Why is the story coming out now, 5 years later?
  • Is that the guy from Tom DeLonge’s To The Stars Academy?
  • Wait, is the guy from Blink-182 right about this?

If you missed it, the New York Times UFO  story is about a now partly-declassified government program initiated in 2007 by Nevada senator Harry Reid. Much of the money went to the aerospace company of Robert Bigelow, a billionaire and friend of Reid who has been interested in UFOs for a long time. The funding was called “Black money” because it wasn’t debated the floor of the Senate, but with a meager budget appropriation of 22 million dollars and its security-sensitive nature, it was able to slip under the radar.

new york times ufo luis elizondo
Here’s Luis Elzondo. You trust a guy with a beard like that?

Featured in the article is Luis Elizondo, who worked for the Pentagon investigating these cases until he resigned in October of this year and joined Tom DeLonge’s To The Stars Academy. The story basically states that yes, pilots have seen craft flying that they cannot explain, some elements of the government believe that they are extraterrestrials, and there has been research into “mysterious alloys” that might be related to the UFO sightings.

new york times ufo john tenet
John Tenney

Our guest this week, John E.L. Tenney is a supernatural shamus who has been studying paranormal phenomena for over thirty years. He is the host of the excellent Realm of the Weird podcast as well as a noted lecturer. We first met John in person at this year’s Michigan Paranormal Conference after being a fan of his podcast and writing.

John wrote an excellent blogpost with a very sober analysis of the New York Times UFO story and we knew we had to feature him on the show for an in-depth exploration of that same topic, so this episode Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts and I had a long and fun discussion with John focused on this story but also touching on ghosts, UFOs, and the cyclical nature of paranormal investigation.

For more on John Tenney, please visit his site at http://www.weirdlectures.com

Since our conversation with John, there’s been some more discussion of the story, with scientists chiming in on these “mysterious alloys” hinted at in the article. Scientific American has a decent clarification that any strange metal wouldn’t remain strange for long using modern but basic scientific methods and that we have a lot of experience with objects that have crashed to earth from space. The article states that the real research was into the physiological effects that people claimed happened to them after coming into contact with the objects. So the jury is still out on that one.

Well, since we’re talking about Blink-182 and Tom DeLonge, we thought it was a perfect opportunity to write a Blink-style 90s pop-punk track. We laughed about their music being mostly “Power Chords and Poop Jokes”, but that we enjoyed it anyway, and really we just couldn’t resist naming a song that!

They came in a dream
when I was thirteen
They said I was the chosen one.
To lead the human race
out of this lonely place
to meet spacemen beyond the sun

Only a Top Ten Hit
can expose the government.

You just need guitars
To go to the stars
with power chords and poop jokes
if you’ve got power chords and poop jokes
Even a poser,
can get disclosure
with power chords and poop jokes
you need power chords and poop jokes
and when the aliens finally come they’ll know our band is number one.

Just because you’re famous,
You’re not an ignoramus
even if you are a bit uncouth
Have an X-Files fiesta
Hangout with John Podesta
and you can finally learn the truth

I heard that UFO buffs
just love to buy more stuffs

You just need guitars
To go to the stars
with power chords and poop jokes
if you’ve got power chords and poop jokes
Even a poser,
can get disclosure
with power chords and poop jokes
you need power chords and poop jokes
and when the aliens finally come they’ll know my band is number one.

149 – UFOs: Reframing The Debate Part 2 with Robbie Graham and Mike Clelland

Last week, we covered the concept of “high strangeness” with Robbie Graham and Mike Clelland as we talked about the book, UFOs: Reframing The Debate, a collection of essays on modern UFOlogy conceived and edited by Robbie.

UFOS Reframing The Debate
Try checking this image out with 3-D glasses!

This week is the second half of that conversation between myself, Robbie Graham, Mike Clelland, and  Allison Jornlin from Milwaukee Ghosts and we talk about healthy skepticism. I think that skepticism is just as important as belief when it comes to handling therse phenomena.

If you’ve seen a UFO, it’s always going to be a “your word” vs. “someone else’s beliefs and experiences” kind of thing. If that person hasn’t had a UFO encounter, they’re going to have a more difficult time believing yours. So, what are we trying to do? Make it more believable to convince skeptics that this stuff isn’t just hoaxes and hallucinations? Or help people who have had these experiences come to terms with them and be able to handle when they believe something has happened to them that they cannot understand.

It was in April of 2015 where we interviewed UFO researcher, Don Schmitt, about the “smoking gun” that was supposed to be the Roswell Slides released on May 5th of that year at a special pay per view event in Mexico City. If you didn’t see it, the slides were supposed to be a 1950s photograph showing a dead alien body, but really is just a mummified human. A small group formed on social media to take the investigation into their own hands and debunked the slides in a matter of a few days. Cliff Collins writes about it in UFOs: Reframing The Debate.

It’s an awesome example of why skepticism is so important. This small group ended the debate on the Roswell Slides. We’re not subjected to endless TV specials or internet sites dedicated to discussing the “controversy”, people won’t be writing books about the slides in 50 years and talking about “the unsolved mystery”. It’s debunked and now we can move on to the next thing.

But even if we could make UFO experiences more “believable”, does it matter? While Internet discourse has created an atheist skeptic vs. religious believer debate where you either fall on one side or the other, the skeptics have already lost.

A 2015 poll shows that 56% of Americans believe in UFOs and 45% of them believe that extraterrestrials have visited earth. That’s a majority of Americans who think that there is something real to that UFO phenomenon and just a little less than half believe in the “Extraterrestrial Hypothesis” (that it’s aliens coming to visit).

Carl Sagan popularized the saying “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Healthy skepticism and scientific rigor is important, not just to debunk and rain on everyone’s parade, but to find out the cases where things that are happening are truly unexplainable and are truly weird. It’s been seventy years since Roswell and are we any closer to the truth? It’s been over fifty years since Betty and Barney Hill were abducted, over forty for Travis Walton, almost thirty since Communion

Nothing has changed. We’re not any closer to the truth. Maybe we’ll never be – in this discussion, we talk long and hard about the futility of disclosure and at length about Tom Delonge’s Sekret Machines project that’s supposed to blow the cover of the whole UFO thing.  

We have a good laugh about disclosure as well, talking about how Donald Trump would never pass up the opportunity to be the one to let the world know about extraterrestrial and giggle about an alien wearing a Make America Great Again hat.

But how we deal with the aftermath of experiencers can improve. That is something we can change. I don’t think everyone is lying or hoaxing and if we can help people come to terms with the experiences, to process it in a healthy way, then we’re doing something tremendously important.

That’s where modern skeptics can really improve. Sympathy, understanding, a psychological perspective. That’s something that the Church has a superior handle on as compared to psychiatrists. The Catholics have been trying to figure out whether miracles have actually happened for two millennia and even have a system for it, it’s certainly not completely applicable here, but it’s much more sympathetic than the Phillip Klass or James Randi approach, that just suggests experiences are deceiving or delusional.

UFOs: Reframing The Debate challenges the core notions that I had about UFOs, ETs, and even faeries and owls that I’ve had all my life. It’s the kind of book that this field needs to break out of The X-Files mindset we’ve been living in (at least until Tom Delonge proves us all wrong!) It doesn’t take sides or come in with an agenda. And if your ideas about UFO phenomena are the same when you’re done reading the book as when you started, then you’re just as closed minded as any skeptic.

One of the themes of this week’s conversation is disappointment. Whether it’s the blowup with the Roswell Slides or the fact that so many have waited with baited breath for full government disclosure to no avail, disappointment is as much a part of UFOlogy as little green men. This week’s Sunspot song is called “The Breach”, when something important to you, and breaks and it hurts, but you keep going back.

I can still taste you on the tip of my tongue,
I’m trying to hold your breath inside my lungs,
Draw me away.
Draw me amazed.
We stand outside ourselves,
so please don’t move
When I scream fire inside a crowded room.Mediocrity surrounds me,
To the point of tragedy.
And we can walk along the breach,
walk along the breach.Consumed by a devouring,
Convinced by an overwhelming.
Draw me afraid,
I watched you draw me flayed.We stood outside ourselves,
and then you moved.
When I screamed fire inside a crowded room, a crowded room.

Mediocrity escapes me,
when I hear your voice.
Barely avoiding tragedy,
We made that choice.
I closed my eyes so hard,
I didn’t know the water from the sea,
As we walked along the breach.

The crack was deeper than it seemed,
I could not cross the yawning,
that opened in my chest cavity,
The frailty that tore,
Still led us once more unto the breach.

Mediocrity escaped me,
When I heard your voice,
To the point of tragedy,
When you made your choice.
I closed my eyes so hard,
I didn’t know the water from the sea,
As we walked along the breach.

Mediocrity escaped me,
When I heard your voice,
To the point of tragedy,
When you made your choice.
I closed my eyes so hard,
To shut out the uncertainty,
Against the husk of a dream,
As we stand astride, stand astride the breach.