Tag Archives: disappearance

268 – What Really Happened To Jimmy Hoffa? Psychics, UFOs, and The Irishman

July 30th, 1975. Former Teamsters Union President James R. Hoffa is scheduled for a 2PM meeting at the Machus Red Fox Restaurant in Bloomfield Township, Michigan with reported Mafia members, Anthony Provenzano and Anthony Giacalone. At 2:15pm he calls his wife and expresses his annoyance that no one is there. At 3:27pm, he calls his friend Louis Linteau and says he was stood up. After that, no one hears from him again.

Jimmy Hoffa

In a mystery that has never officially been solved by law enforcement and has been the basis of massive speculation as well as the source of a million late night comedy jokes over the years. Jimmy Hoffa, one of the most well-known figures of all time in organized labor politics, just vanished without a trace.

He wasn’t an angel. Hoffa had already been convicted of fraud and illegal wiretapping and had served several years in prison, and he several of his associates had admitted that they were in the mafia. In order to unify local trucking unions and rise to power, he had to cut deals with organized crime figures who were central to the running of the unions. He was the focus of Robert F. Kennedy’s corruption investigations in the early 1960s. Jimmy Hoffa was surrounded by criminals and eventually he angered the wrong people. But who did he anger and how did he disappear? That’s the mystery.

And the story is back in the news because it’s one of the central tales in Martin Scorcese’s new film, The Irishman, coming out this month. It’s based on the life of Frank Sheeran, a union leader, Hoffa associate, and a hit man for the Bufalino crime family. Sheeran claims to have killed Hoffa in his book, I Heard You Paint Houses (which was the code phrase people used to approach him to perform an assassination.) While that’s one theory of what happened to him, we delve into far-out ones in this episode. Some topics we cover:

This week’s track, inspired by the idea of vanishing without a trace is called “The Disappeared”.

When I say your name
There’s no answer on the way
I forget you were erased
because you were here one day
and it’s almost like I imagined

It’s a mystery
how you disappeared from my history
Oh It’s like you never existed
Oh It’s like you never existed.

Exit reality
to only remain in my memory
oh It’s like you never existed
Oh It’s like you never existed.

Just a fantasy
a phantom limb that itches me
Just a missing piece of meat
a sailor lost at sea
vanished and abandoned

It’s a mystery
how you disappeared from my history
Oh It’s like you never existed
Oh It’s like you never existed.

Exit reality
to only remain in my memory
oh It’s like you never existe

232 – Shiny Space Pancakes: Big Bands, Assassination Conspiracies, Smiley Face Killers, and Oumuamua

When The New Yorker runs an article called “Have Aliens Found Us? A Harvard Astronomer on the Mysterious Interstellar Object ‘Oumuamua'”, people are going to listen. It’s one of America’s most prestigious magazines, which is probably why they were a little combative in their discussion with Avi Loeb (who’s been popping up all the time lately) about the possibility that the interstellar Oumuamua object is artificial, perhaps created by an alien race to probe the universe, much like our Voyager and Pioneer spacecraft. My sister Allison was so excited about the article, she couldn’t wait to talk about it in this episode.

Of course, Avi Loeb is no slouch, he’s the chair of the Harvard Astronomy Department stranger to aliens, he is also involved with the Breakthrough Initiative, the $100 million search for alien intelligence founded by a Russian billionaire which we discussed in episode 50. In the past year, he’s become the poster child for real scientists talking about the possibility of alien life in the universe. He’s tenured, so they can’t fire him for having these ideas. And he’s well-respected, so he’s not coming out of left field.

Painting of Oumuamua as a pancake-shaped object. Copyright 2018 William K. Hartmann

Since we discovered it after it was already out of range to get an actual picture of it, all the details have to come through what we can observe and mathematically derive from the data coming through the radio telescopes. So, why do they think that it might be artificial and what’s interesting about it?

  • As it spends every eight hours, it’s brightness changes by a factor of ten, that means it’s probably ten times longer than it is wide
  • That means it might be cigar shaped OR pancake shaped!
  • It deviates from an orbit that physics would dictate for a normal object around the sun
  • There are no gases coming off it like a comet, so it’s not being propelled by anything

Here’s one of the best quotes from the article:

I do not view the possibility of a technological civilization as speculative, for two reasons. The first is that we exist. And the second is that at least a quarter of the stars in the Milky Way galaxy have a planet like Earth, with surface conditions that are very similar to Earth, and the chemistry of life as we know it could develop. If you roll the dice so many times, and there are tens of billions of stars in the Milky Way, it is quite likely we are not alone.

Professor Abraham “Avi” Loeb

Avi, you’re my man! He’s the guy who’s saying that it’s unscientific to completely rule out the idea of extraterrestrial intelligence. He even brings up the old Sherlock Holmes chestnut “When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” I like him and if he ends up being a disinformation agent, I’ll be super sad,

The real Dr. Hynek and his TV counterpart J. Allen Littlefinger

Something I found really interesting this week was all the talk about the new Project Blue Book TV show on the History Channel starring Littlefinger from Game of Thrones (and Tommy Carcetti, I haven’t forgotten about you, The Wire fans!) Everyone on my Facebook feed is talking about it because it uses the real-life character of Dr. J. Allen Hynek (who we talk about extensively with author Mark O’Connell who wrote a book about him called The Close Encounters Man) who investigated UFO reports for the real Project Blue Book and turns it into X-Files style fiction.

Okay, so that is a lot of fun, but The New York Times this week also wrote an article about the real life Project Blue Book and how it was nothing like it’s described in the TV show. Those are the same authors who wrote the 2017 article that blew the lid open on modern military research into unexplained aerial phenomena. Okay, we know Hollywood is gonna Hollywood, but why are we so predisposed to believe that the government is okay lying to us?

David Crosby is one of The Truth and Reconciliation Committee members looking for new answers to the political assassinations of the 60s.

Well, I think we can thank the government of America’s Golden Age, the Happy Days of yore, because they were super good at lying to the American people. From the Tuskegee experiments to the Gulf of Tonkin, the Mid-20th Century US government wasn’t afraid to deceive its own citizens to accomplish a goal. And it’s one of the reason that on Martin Luther King Day this year, a group of 60 activists who are calling themselves the Truth and Reconciliation Council are demanding a new investigation into the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr, and Malcolm X.

Celebrities include Alec Baldwin, Oliver Stone, Martin Sheen, Rob Reiner, famous walrus-man and musician David Crosby, as well as relatives of both Robert Kennedy and Dr. King. King’s family has long believed that James Earl Ray did not act alone and RFK Jr. himself has said that Sirhan Sirhan’s trial was a “mockery”.

There was just an invincibility and an impunity about that era of government that’s almost terrifying. From J. Edgar Hoover’s personal fiefdom of the FBI to the CIA’s mind control experiments, how many unelected officials wreaked havoc on American citizens “for our own good”? Might these assassinations be another example and we can’t learn the truth until the Boomers finally pass on?

Glenn Miller says “I gotta trombone for ya, baby.”

Wendy this week thought that it was fascinating that they think they might have found the wreckage of Glenn Miller’s airplane. One of the most popular musicians in America during Word War II, Miller’s plane disappeared over the English Channel on December 15th, 1944. There have been several theories to the disappearance:

  • Because of the freezing conditions, his plane’s engine iced over and they crashed on the way to Paris
  • British bombers returning from an air raid were told they needed to jettison their unexploded bombs over the Channel and Miller’s plane was accidentally in the way and killed by friendly fire
  • Miller made it to Paris, but had a heart attack while in a brothel, and they “disappeared” him to save the famous musician’s family embarrassment

Well, a fisherman now claims that he pulled up the remains of Miller’s plane in 1987. He says that he was advised to let it back into the deep, but he recorded the coordinates of the exact spot. What I wanna know is WHO TOLD HIM TO PUT IT BACK?!? That seems to be the missing piece in this journalism for me.

The good news is that he’s given a team of researchers the coordinates, so that if they can get the money, they can send divers down there to investigate. Because Miller’s plane is the last of its manufacture in the world that’s unaccounted for, if they find it, they’ll know it’s his and maybe the mystery can be solved.

Why so serious?

The first time we had Scott Markus on the show, we were featuring his documentary, The Hidden Truth?, which was about a series of mysterious drownings that happened in La Crosse along the Mississippi River from the 90s to the Aughts. Police claim it’s probably just drunken misadventure, but La Crosse’s Deputy Chief Medical Examiner had some other ideas and he wanted to see if their might be a paranormal explanation.

Which leads us to Scott’s topic for the week, the premiere of Smiley Face Killers: The Hunt for Justice on the Oxygen Network. In 2008, retired New York City police detectives Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte proposed that these drownings were the work of a “Murder Club” that they nicknamed “The Smiley Face Killers” because they seemed to find smiley face graffiti near where each of these poor victims went into the river. They postulated that these murders were planned and organized by a dark web of thrill killers throughout the country.

Their ideas made some news for a little while, but it was a popular theory to debunk because of the sheer audacity of it. The FBI even made an official statement about it. However, do you think that’s going to stop the producers of reality TV?! Hell no. Oxygen has developed a series about the detectives’ continuing investigation into more mysterious drownings. What did they find and do you find their evidence convincing? Well, you can be the judge by watching the first episode online right now.

Hush now baby baby don’t you cry…

Finally, this week’s Sunspot song inspired by the conversation is just a straight up punk tune about how easily we’re manipulated. From Vladimir Lenin’s “useful idiots” to the latest stories like the Covington High School video fracas, interest groups and factions vying for power and wealth have worked over the narrative so that the “common people” will come to their way of thinking. We fully expect propaganda in advertising, but we hope that our news sources at least attempt objectivity and our elected officials are at least telling us the truth sometimes… but we know that’s not true. Sometimes, you just get sick of people in authority saying they know what’s good for you and “Father Knows Best” is just a load of bollocks.

It’s a little story that story that they wrote for you and me,
keeping out the best parts for our own good, don’t you see?

The program is designed so that the masses will obey.
We’re all the same, it’s just a game, and we don’t get to play.
Worse than Illuminati or lizard conspiracy
for who controls the narrative, controls all the money.

Father Knows Best and our trust becomes a weapon.
Mommy’s bedtime story is mind control and thought suppression.
You can’t fight the power while you’re busy getting screwed
Hey Rube, sometimes the truth ain’t good enough for you.

I guess we’re just not smart enough to grasp at the big picture,
we just get the Cliffs Notes and they tell us that it’s scripture.

They’ve got the dials all set to outrage no matter what side that you choose
When it comes to facts, no one retracts, they just play fast and loose
It’s pissed-off vegan communists or truck driver redneck hicks
It’s about the bottom line, and everything is fine, as long as they get the clicks.

Father Knows Best and our trust becomes a weapon.
Mommy’s bedtime story is mind control and thought suppression.
You can’t fight the power while you’re busy getting screwed
Hey Rube, sometimes the truth ain’t good enough for you.

201 – Lost Over Lake Michigan: The Disappearance of NWA Flight 2501

On June 23rd, 1950 there were 55 passengers and 3 crew on North West Orient Airlines Flight 2501 flying from New York City to Seattle. It was scheduled to stop over in Minneapolis but air traffic control lost communication with the plane shortly after it left Michigan and the plane was never heard from again.

An oil slick was found a few miles from the coast and some “shredded wreckage” and human body parts eventually wound up washing to shore (enough to form a mass grave, even if the identities were never revealed), but nothing else of the plane was ever found. It was the worst aviation disaster in American history up to that point. There was a horrible thunderstorm that night over the lake and it was also a busy night for air traffic.

Could it have been lighting that hit the plane? Could they have flown too low to avoid traffic and crashed into the water? What happened? Valerie van Heest of the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association thinks she has some answers to why the plane went down, but without finding the rest of the plane, can never be sure.

Author Clive Cussler (the guy who wrote Sahara, which in my opinion is a fun underrated popcorn movie!) has formed the National Underwater and Marine Agency and has helped fund a yearly search for the past 15 years.

Matthew McConaughey getting ready to dive in himself and look for NWA Flight 2501

However, there’s more to this than meets the eye. Major Donald Keyhoe, one of the original flying saucer authors had claimed to have a government source that it might have been a UFO that the flight crashed into. Indeed, there were dozens of reports across the United States of UFOs that night. Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts has done lots of research on the paranormal possibilities here. As we reach the 68th anniversary and the search begins again, was the fuselage removed because there was something that we weren’t supposed to find? In this episode, we dig in deep.

And since we’re discussing one of Lake Michigan’s greatest disappearances, we thought we’d use a Sunspot song this week about one of our own great disappearances. In 2002, we played some shows with a band in San Antonio and Austin, Texas called Racketbox. They were all military guys  from Fort Hood in Killeen and played loud fun in-your-face punk rock. Anyway, their guitarist was mysteriously only known as Mr. Foff. That’s it. The only thing we could find on Racketbox was an incomplete Purevolume profile and even then it only listed a guitar player as Michael Jackson (and they said it was THE Michael Jackson, who was still alive in 2002).

From sharing Jack Daniels with him in his band van to seeing him rock out onstage, we never had a chance to learn his real name but we spent a lot of meaningful time with this Texas Wildman, even partying with him and his band members until the wee hours of the morning as 2002 passed into 2003 at some afterbar in Austin where it was impossible to find a cab and these were the days before GPS and Uber anyway. We went back to Wisconsin and in March the Iraq War started (on a night we were playing in Springfield, Illinois was when the Shock and Awe campaign began). Next time we went back to Texas was in May and we couldn’t find anything more on Racketbox or Mr. Foff. Four years later, we wrote a song about him on our album Neanderthal. 

Good night, Mr. Foff. Wherever you are.

Another night, 12 other $h!tt* bands,
Nothing to do, just sitting on our hands.

Then somebody new came into town,
He got us drunk, yeah, he turned the beat around.

And I’d like to know what happened to you Mr. Foff,
Did you leave the band? Do you still drink in the van?
And I’m happy to say I met you that day, Mr Foff,
Will we ever meet again?

Illustrated man, the ink on his skin tells the tale.
Teen runaway, he’s done some time in jail.

Even though the show was pretty lame,
He earned our respect, but we never knew his real name.

And I’d like to know what happened to you Mr. Foff,
Did you leave the band? Do you still drink in the van?
And I’m happy to say I met you that day, Mr Foff,
Will we ever meet again?

And I’d like to know what happened to you Mr. Foff,
Did you leave the band? Do you still drink in the van?
And I’m happy to say I met you that day, Mr Foff,
Will we ever meet again?

(What happened to you, Mr. Foff?)
I’d like to know what happened to you, Mr. Foff.
I’m so glad we met that day, Mr. Foff.
With that long black hair and that bada$$ leather jacket,
You’re my man,
You’re my man,
You’re my man with Jack in the van,
Mr. Foff.