The Men in Black are still around


As Above So Below

The Real Story of the Men in Black: A History of Horror

By: Nick Redfern

Make mention of the Men in Black to most people and doing so will likely provoke images of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. After all the trilogy of Men in Black movies were phenomenally successful and brought the subject to a huge, worldwide audience. Outside of Ufology, most people assume that the Men in Black were the creations of Hollywood. This, however, is very wide of the mark: in reality, the movies were based upon a short-lived comic book series that was created by Lowell Cunningham in 1990. Most important of all, the comic-books were based on real-life encounters with the MIB – which date back decades. In fact, in the movies, the characters portrayed by Jones and Smith are known as J and K. There is a good reason for that: they are the initials of the late John Keel, who wrote the acclaimed book, The Mothman Prophecies and who spent a lot of time pursuing MIB encounters, and particularly so in the 1960s and 1970s. In that sense, the producers of the Men in Black movies and comic-books were paying homage to Keel. Now let’s get to the heart of the matter, namely, the real Men in Black; not those of Hollywood. Who are they? Where do they come from? What is their agenda? If there is one thing we can say for sure when it comes to the matter of the MIB, it’s that they are the ultimate Controllers – they threaten, intimidate and terrify those into silence who they visit. Let’s see how the mystery all began.

It was in the early 1950s that a man named Albert Bender created a UFO research group called the International Flying Saucer Bureau. The group was based out of Bender’s home town of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Bender was someone who quickly became enthused by the UFO phenomenon when it kicked off in earnest in the summer of 1947, with Kenneth Arnold’s acclaimed and now-legendary sighting of a squadron of UFOs over the Cascade Mountains. The world was changed and so was Albert Bender. As a result of the establishment of the IFSB, Albert Bender found himself inundated with letters, phone calls and inquiries from people wanting information on the UFO enigma. Bender was pleased to oblige and he created his very own newsletter – Space Review. It was a publication which was regularly filled with worldwide accounts of UFO activity, alien encounters, and sightings of flying saucers. And on the worldwide issue, it’s worth noting that so popular was Bender’s group and magazine, he found himself inundated with letters from all around the planet: communications poured in from the U.K., from Australia, from South America, and even a few from Russia. Bender was on a definitive high: the little journal that he typed up from his attic room in the old house in which he lived, was suddenly a major part of Ufology. It’s most curious, then, that in the latter part of 1953, Bender quickly shot down the International Flying Saucer Bureau, and he ceased the publication of Space Review. Many of Bender’s followers suspected that something was wrong, as in very wrong. They were right on the money, as it happens.

When Albert Bender brought his UFO-themed work to a hasty end, a few close friends approached him to find out what was wrong. After all, right up until the time of his decision to quit, he was riding high and had a planet-wide following. It didn’t get much better for Bender. So, his decision to walk away from all things saucer-shaped was a puzzle. One of those who wanted answers was Gray Barker. A resident of West Virginia and both a writer and a publisher who also had a deep interest in UFOs, Barker had subscribed to Space Review from its very first issue and had developed a good friendship and working relationship with Bender – which was an even bigger reason for Barker to question Bender’s decision.

At first, Albert Bender was reluctant to share with Gray Barker his reasons for backing away from the subject that had enthused him for so long, but he finally opened up. It turns out - Barker wrote in his 1956 book on the Bender affair, They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers – that Bender had been visited by a trio of men – all dressed in black – who warned him to not only keep away from the subject, but to completely drop the subject. As in forever. Somewhat of a nervous character at the best of times, Bender hardly needed telling once. Well, yes, actually, he did: despite having the fear of God put in him, Bender at first that what the Men in Black didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them. So, despite the initial threat, Bender chose to soldier on. It was a big, big mistake. When the MIB realized that Bender had not followed their orders, they turned up the heat to an almost unbearable level. Finally, Bender got the message.

For Gray Barker - who recognized the dollar-value in the story of his friend – this was great news, in a strange way, at least. The scenario of a mysterious group of men in black suits terrorizing a rising UFO researcher would make for a great book, thought Barker – which it certainly did. Hence Barker’s 1956 book. The problem was that although Bender somewhat reluctantly let Barker to tell his story, Bender didn’t tell him the whole story. Bender described the three men being dressed in black suits and confirmed the threats, but that was about all he would say. As a result, Barker – quite understandably assumed that the Mein in Black were from the government. He suspected they were from the FBI, the CIA, or the Air Force. Barker even mused on the possibility that the three men represented all of those agencies. When Barker’s book was published, it not only caught the attention of the UFO research community of the day: it also, for the very first time, brought the Men in Black to the attention of just about everyone involved in the UFO issue. A legend was born, a legend which continues. While Albert Bender certainly didn’t lie to Gray Barker, he most certainly did not share with him the full story. In fact, Bender had barely shared the bones of it. There was a good reason for that: the real story was far, far stranger than Barker could ever have imagined. Yes, he was visited by three men in black, but they were not of the kind that the U.S. Government of the day might have been expected to dispatch. Rather, they fell into the domain of the supernatural, the paranormal, and the occult.

According to Bender, late one night – after toiling away on his old typewriter in his attic environment – he suddenly started to feel sick. He was overwhelmed by nausea, dizziness, a sense that he might faint and, most curious of all, the room was filled with an odor of brimstone – or sulfur. Both odors are associated with paranormal activity and have been for centuries. Bender lay down on the bed, fearful that he might crash to the floor if he did not. In seconds, something terrifying happened: three shadowy, ghostly, spectral beings started to materialize through the walls of Bender’s room – yes, through the walls. They didn’t need to knock on the door and wait for it to be opened. The silhouette-like trio then started to change: their shadowy forms became more and more substantial and they finally took on the appearance of regular men. Apart, that is, for several, notable differences: their eyes shone brightly, like a piece of silver reflecting the sun. Their skin was pale and sickly-looking, and they were thin to the point of almost being cadaverous. They closely resembled the deadly vampires of old, which Bender loved to read about in his spare time. Using telepathy, rather than the spoken word, the three men warned Bender that now was the time for him to leave the UFO issue alone – leave it and never return. Or else. When Bender began to shake with fear, the Men in Black realized that they had got their message across, and they duly departed the way they had first arrived – through the walls. For days, Bender was in a state of fear that bordered upon hysteria. Finally, though, he thought: why should I quit Ufology? After all, I’ve done so much work, I’m not going to stop now. So, Bender didn’t stop, he decided to take on the MIB and stand up to their threats. That was a very big mistake on the part of Bender.

In the days ahead, Bender saw the MIB again. On one occasion, late on a Saturday night, Bender was sitting in his local cinema, watching a new movie, when one of the Men in Black materialized in the corner of the cinema – his blazing eyes focused on terrified Bender. He didn’t hang around and fled the place. On the way home, though, Bender was plagued by the sounds of footsteps behind him – which seemed to be disembodied, as no-one was in sight. In the further days ahead, the MIB returned to that old attic, which yet again caused Bender to fall seriously ill. Finally, after another week of all this terror and mayhem, Bender really was done. His time in Ufology was over. For the most part, anyway. Albert Bender’s story, as it was told in the pages of Gray Barker’s 1956 book, They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers, was substantially correct – in the sense that it told of how Bender was visited, threatened and ultimately driven to leave Ufology. Through no fault of his own, though, Barker was unaware of the supernatural aspects of the story and assumed that Bender had become a victim of the U.S. Government. Finally, though, Bender came clean with Barker. Far from being disappointed, Barker was overjoyed, chiefly because he realized that he could spin the Bender saga into yet another book, which is exactly what happened. This time, though, Barker let Bender write the story himself, which he did. Yes, despite being warned away from the flying saucer issue by the Men in Black, Bender, somewhat reluctantly, reentered the scene and wrote his very own story: Flying Saucers and the Three Men, which Gray Barker eagerly published in 1962. Many people in Ufology were put off by the overly supernatural aspects of the story and, as a result, the book was relegated to the realm of obscurity for many years

It’s interesting to know, though, that behind the scenes there was another group of men in black suits – and black fedoras –who were secretly following the Bender saga. It was none other than the FBI. In other words, although the FBI were not literally Bender’s MIB, the FBI certainly wanted to find out who they were. Thus, in a strange way, there were now two groups of MIB, both distinctly different: the supernatural ones encountered by Bender and the MIB of government officialdom. The provisions of the Freedom of Information Act have shown that both Albert Bender and Gray Barker had files opened on them. Those same files make it clear that none other than the legendary FBI boss, J. Edgar Hoover, ordered one of his special-agents to get hold of a copy of Gray Barker’s They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers. After promoting his book, Bender yet again walked away from the UFO issue. This time, it was for good. Bender died in March 2016, at the age of ninety-four, in California.

In the years that followed Bender’s encounters, the U.S. Government would become determined to uncover the truth of the MIB. During the course of his research into the issue of the Men in Black, John Keel arranged a meeting with one Colonel George P. Freeman, of the United States’ Air Force. Keel’s interest was driven by the fact that Colonel Freeman had circulated a memo throughout the Air Force, ordering everyone to be on guard for the Men in Black. Colonel Freeman’s memo read as follows: “Mysterious men dressed in Air Force uniforms or bearing impressive credentials from government agencies have been silencing UFO witnesses. We have checked a number of these cases, and these men are not connected to the Air Force in any way. We haven’t been able to find out anything about these men. By posing as Air Force officers and government agents, they are committing a Federal offense. We would sure like to catch one – unfortunately the trail is always too cold by the time we hear about these cases, but we are still trying.”

Only a few weeks after Colonel Freeman’s memo was widely circulated, there was this one from Lieutenant General Hewitt T. Wheless, also of the U.S. Air Force: “Information, not verifiable, has reached Hq USAF that persons claiming to represent the Air Force or other Defense establishments have contacted citizens who have sighted unidentified flying objects. In one reported case, an individual in civilian clothes, who represented himself as a member of NORAD, demanded and received photos belonging to a private citizen. In another, a person in an Air Force uniform approached local police and other citizens who had sighted a UFO, assembled them in a school room and told them that they did not see what they thought they saw and that they should not talk to anyone about the sighting. All military and civilian personnel and particularly information officers and UFO investigating officers who hear of such reports should immediately notify their local OSI offices.” It was this period of interest in the MIB on the part of the government that led to an extraordinary, and almost surreal, development.

Although the U.S. Government had no real idea of who, or what, the real Men in Black were, there was a realization on the part of the government that the phenomenon of the MIB could be used to the advantage of the likes of the NSA, the CIA, and military intelligence. It wasn’t just the MIB who wanted UFO witnesses silenced: the government did, too. But, the government was concerned about threatening UFO witnesses – American citizens, in other words – and being outed in the process. So, the government came up with an ingenious idea: they created a group within the heart of officialdom whose job it would be to keep people away from the really important parts of the UFO phenomenon. Threats, silencing and intimidation were the orders of the day. But, how was that successfully achieved? By having their secret-agents dress and act like the real MIB that had terrorized Albert Bender and who had intruded on the life of Brad Steiger. In other words, they wore black suits, black sunglasses and black fedoras, and acted in a distinctly odd, emotionless fashion. The government really did not know (and probably still does not know) who or what the MIB really were, but that same government knew that they could exploit the phenomenon to their distinct advantage. Dressing as the MIB would offer the government an ingenious form of camouflage. And it did. It was a case of using fear to provoke the ultimate form of control.

As the 1960s became the 1970s, and then the 1980s and the 1990s, and now the 21st century, the issue of their being two different types of MIB – government agents and something supernatural – continued. Let’s now take a look at some latter-day cases. In 2011, the following, extraordinary account was provided to me by a British man I'll name Tim C, who is a freelance videographer and who has been filming professionally since 2008. He has a Bachelor of Arts Honors degree in Film, Television and Advertising from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. His filming credits include Fashion TV, corporate businesses, Wrexham council, the education sector and various documentaries. Alongside his freelance work he is currently studying for his second degree in Creative Media Technology at Glyndwr University. He also volunteers his photography skills to Wrexham County Borough Museum and Archives. Mr. C’s account demonstrates that whoever, or whatever, the Men in Black may be, they were as active in the 1990s as they were when the likes of poor Albert Bender were being terrorized back in the early 1950s. Notably, as our correspondence progressed, Tim revealed that – MIB aside - he had lifelong experience of strange phenomena, including encounters of both a ghostly and a Ufological kind. Just like Albert Bender, in fact…

“Dear Mr. Redfern, The reason I am writing to you is with regards to a strange experience I had back in 1997 when I was 17 years old. Whether you may be able to shed light on my experience I’m not sure, but I came across your name and ‘real men in black’” article on the web a few moments ago and felt that your expertise on the subject might lift a nagging uncertainty that I have had for fourteen years. “Firstly I would like to say that I have not read your “men in black” book as yet (I do intend to) but I do have an interest in the unexplained and have read many books on these subjects since I have had multiple strange experiences in my past and present. That being said, the experience I wish to convey to you has not been contaminated with any theories of others or my own.

"I am very open-minded but at the same time possess a healthy skepticism with any unexplained phenomena. However, I have not found any logical reason for what I am about to tell you (although there is always the possibility that there is one). The following account is complete truth and I have not embellished any part of it. All I hope is that you might have an explanation for what happened, be it strange or mundane, as I am uncertain as to whether this account depicts the behavior of the ‘Men in Black?’ At the time of the experience I was 17 years of age and was ‘bunking off’ from a college lecture to meet my then girlfriend later that afternoon...

“My Account: I was walking from my college and into town to get a coffee to while away the hour until I caught the bus to my girlfriend. I was young and newly ‘in love’ and walking quite happily down the main street when I had a strange feeling that I was being followed. This feeling led to an instinct of looking behind me and as I did, a few feet away, I saw a couple of men close behind. As I looked they both emitted a “blank” smile. Being young and - dare I say it - possibly naive, I had the thought that maybe they were from the college and following me because I bunked off. (On reading this whole account you will see that what happened is not the normal procedure any college would take.)

“After I witnessed this ‘blank smile’ I continued to walk at my normal pace down the long main street towards my destination. I was now wondering to myself if they smiled at me because I looked at them (the old ‘you look at me so I look at you’ scenario). I looked behind me a second time and again they offered, in unison, that same “blank smile”. I also noticed their appearance and whilst they were not wearing black suits and black fedoras, they were wearing an attire that didn’t seem to fit in. Dark brown tweed suits with matching long overcoats and fedora-like hats. Without sounding clichéd (as I now know the usual nonconformity of these guys) they did appear to be from an earlier era than the ‘90’s, to say the least. I decided to quicken my pace and noticed that their pace also quickened. Feeling a little paranoid I quickened my pace again; and again they also matched my speed. So now I’m almost speed walking towards the cafe to get my coffee. A third look behind me before I entered (the then) ‘John Menzies’ [a British store-chain] confirmed that they were still walking my way so I entered the store but waited inside a little for them to pass by. They didn’t, so I ventured into the street again but they had disappeared. I immediately assumed that they had turned off or entered another shop and put it down to myself as being a paranoid college bunker.

“I re-entered the store and proceeded to walk upstairs to the cafe area. It is worth mentioning here that whilst I chose this cafe for its quietness it did always bug me that the cafe attendants rarely gave you enough time to choose what you wanted without being quickly pestered into hurrying up with your order. (The reason for this note will become apparent soon). Having being quickly served at the counter, I found a place to sit at a table facing the cafe entrance and began to read a letter that my girlfriend had sent me (sickening I know). “Anyway, a few moments later I looked up from the letter whilst taking a sip of my coffee and froze on the spot. The two distinguished gentlemen were a few feet away at the food counter staring at me blankly. After what seemed like an age of staring one of the men placed a large leather-like satchel that I had not noticed before on the floor. With the other man still looking at me, the other bent down, opened the satchel and pulled out a very large and old looking camera, complete with large round flash. He proceeded to point the camera directly at me and took my picture. On doing so he placed the camera back in the satchel and both men turned and slowly walked away towards the stairs.

“Completely in shock and bemused as to what just happened I was still frozen in place trying to wonder what the hell had just happened. I quickly decided to follow them (the time taken for this decision, taking into consideration the casual speed at which they exited, I calculated that they would still be going down the stairs or at least at the bottom by the time I got to them) and literally ran down the stairs. There was no sign of them so I decided to go to the store exit first and looked outside but they weren’t anywhere to be seen. I then turned to look into the store again due to the fact that I might have missed them inside and that they would have had to pass me to leave. But again they were nowhere to be seen. One thing that was apparent to me was that whilst they were upstairs by the counter they were never attended to by the very needy cafe staff and believe me they used to pester you. To be honest, without sounding stupid it seemed like no-one could see them. I know how that sounds but all I can do is explain the account in the same way I experienced it.

"Now, as a 17 year old bunking off college I was hesitant to tell my mother of this experience (not because of the ludicrous way it would have sounded - she actually took that part in her stride as she has also experienced strange phenomena in her life), but because I thought I would have been grounded for bunking off. Least to say, when I did arrive home later that day I told her the exact same thing I told you now, including why I was not in college. The intrigue of my experience swayed the ‘grounding’ and to this day I have no logical reason as why something like that would happen to me. Obviously with my interest in all things weird becoming increasingly larger over time with other experiences and the ease as to which information about ourselves can be found out via the Internet, this aspect couldn’t have been the reason for this strange occurrence as I was rarely on the new “Internet” back then.

“Anyway, what happened that day is a mystery and there could be a mundane reason for it. But there are little things that bug me. Why did I feel I was being followed only to see that I was? Why did they seem out of place in both their clothes and their blank demeanor? Why take a picture of me at all, let alone with the most old-fashioned of cameras? And how did they disappear so quickly? Is this the type of behavior that you would deem to be of ‘Men in Black’ origin? “I know that account sounded a little ‘wacko’ but I assure you I am of sound mind. I simply have an experience that I have no answer for. Thank you for taking the time to read this long-winded email and I hope to hear from you soon. Kind regards, Tim C.” I wrote back to Mr. C and asked a few questions regarding the specific location, and received the following in response: “Hi Nick, Thanks for your reply. That experience was in my home town of Wrexham, North Wales. Like I said, it’s something that I recall from time to time with a nagging uncertainty as to what it actually was and why.

“Because I have had many paranormal experiences I had wondered if there was any link between them. Most of these have been placed in the more ghostly category but there was an incident when I was even younger that myself and grandma witnessed a UFO sighting. The same night of the sighting I was sharing a bed with my cousin (we were being babysat during a weekend) and when I awoke in the morning my Gran found us ‘artificially’ laying in the bed...myself lying on my back with arms crossed neatly over my chest and my cousin upside down, feet on the pillow and head under the quilt at the bottom. Not a normal way to sleep and the bed sheets were as if they had been made whilst we were already in them. Strange.

“All through my life I’ve seen, felt and heard ‘ghosts’ or whatever in my family home and even more recently encountered paranormal resistance whilst living and working in Malta which required the help of a catholic priest! I’d love to write a book about my experiences but don’t know the first thing about publishing. Anyway, whilst I have and continue to experience strange things I simply had no explanation at all as to who those strange men who followed me were. The only reason I have regained interest in that strange day was thanks to a movie that I had recently watched call The Adjustment Bureau. In the same way that smelling a scent can transport to back to a memory I had the same jolt of surprise when I saw these ‘adjustment men’ in that movie as their appearance instantly reminded me of that day back in 1997. Thus thrusting me back onto the internet to try and find anyone with an answer or similar experience to mine. "

Now, let us address the matter of the Men in Black being biological robots. Now, we’ve seen the origins of the Men in Black, let’s focus our attention on the possibility of the Men in Black being biological robots. In his excellent catalogue, "MIB Encounters," Gareth Medway includes a story that suggests the Men in Black might be nothing less than biological robots. Before we get to the matter of the MIB being something far removed from the human race, let's take a look at biological robots in today's world of science. On January 13 of this year, the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper ran an article titled "Scientists use stem cells from frogs to build first living robots." In part, the article stated: "Researchers in the US have created the first living machines by assembling cells from African clawed frogs into tiny robots that move around under their own steam. One of the most successful creations has two stumpy legs that propel it along on its chest. Another has a hole in the middle that researchers turned into a pouch so it could shimmy around with miniature payloads. 'These are entirely new lifeforms. They have never before existed on Earth,' said Michael Levin, the director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. 'They are living, programmable organisms.'"

Do the Men in Black fall into the category of those "programmable organisms"? Let's have a look at what we know about the MIB. We'll begin with that aforementioned story that Gareth Medway highlights. It reads as follows: "The Christiansen family of Wildwood, New Jersey, who had seen a UFO on 22 November 1966, were interviewed by 'the strangest looking man I’ve ever seen,' wearing a thin black coat, who introduced himself as ‘Tiny’ from the ‘Missing Heirs Bureau.' He spoke in a high, 'tinny' voice, in clipped words and phrases like a computer, 'as if he were reciting everything from memory.' His black trousers were too short, and 'they could see a long thick green wire attached to the inside of his leg, it came up out of his socks and disappeared under his trousers.' John Keel commented that he had not heard of this feature in other MIB cases: 'Was Tiny wearing electric socks? Or was he a wired android operated by remote control?' He departed in a black 1963 Cadillac."

Now, further to the theme of this chapter. First and foremost, the MIB are nothing like Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. The MIB-themed movies were good fun. They still are. But, by presenting the Men in Black as the employees of a secret organization that wipes out dangerous aliens, the assumption is they are human. They are not. There are so many weird issues surrounding the real MIB phenomena. Those same issues strongly suggest the Men in Black are something else entirely. Over the years I have addressed more than a few different theories for what the MIB might be. The list includes time-travelers, Tulpas/thought-forms, demons, extraterrestrials, inter-dimensional creatures, and more. But, let's stay focused on that biological robot angle.

The fact is that the MIB do seem to act in a strange and robotic fashion. There is the matter of their skin. More than a few people who have been confronted by the Men in Black close-up have noticed something very strange. Eerie, in fact. In many cases, their faces appear to be plastic-like. Not unlike a nightmarish, hideous mannequin. Or a creepy old doll come to life. Moving on, Gareth Medway notes that the MIB talk in a very odd way. He mentioned they seem to recite “everything from memory.” I have several such cases in my files. In one case, the witness said the MIB appeared to have no actual understanding of what he/it was saying. The wording, the witness suspected, was programmed. On top of that, there's the matter of the somewhat clumsy, jerky fashion of walking that the MIB have. Certainly, this is not described in every case, but there are more than a few such reports. Finally, there is the angle of food. Or, rather, from the perspective of the Men in Black, a distinct lack of food. That's right: the MIB have a distinct aversion to food. They don't even seem to know what food is. Perhaps, if the MIB are biological robots, they get their sustenance in a distinctly different way to us. None of this proves that the MIB are biological robots. But, specifically as an extremely controversial theory, it's not a bad one.



As Above So Below


Doorbell Camera Captures Visit from Men in Black

A peculiar video captured by doorbell camera in California shows two mysterious suit-clad individuals knocking on the front door a home as what appears to be a UFO hovers in the sky outside and some suspect that the puzzling pair could be the infamous Men in Black. The very weird scene reportedly unfolded last Wednesday afternoon when a woman's Ring system alerted her to the presence of some mysterious strangers at her doorstep. The visitors in question, one of whom was knocking on the door, were two men wearing suits and dark sunglasses. Uncertain as their identity, she texted her children to see if they might know them, but they did not, though when they later looked at the video they noticed something rather strange in the background.

As the two men linger at the woman's doorstep waiting to see if they will answer them, a dark orb can be seen hovering in the sky behind them. The mysterious strangers combined with the curious-looking UFO have led many to wonder if perhaps they were Men in Black or perhaps even aliens visiting the woman's home for reasons unexplained. Of course, more skeptical viewers argue that the two men probably had an innocuous reason for the house call and that the 'UFO' in the background is a balloon or some other prosaic object that just so happened to film at the 'perfect' time.