Letter of Recommendation: Fortean Times

Fortean Times (C) Dennis Publishing

Many a disinfonaut loves the print magazine Fortean Times, but let’s face it, it’s a niche publication for questioning, open-minded people like us. When a “Letter of Recommendation” appears in the New York Times Magazine, it makes you wonder if maybe, just maybe, the world is becoming a little less skeptical…

I was 30,000 feet in the air and halfway through the November issue of Fortean Times before I considered what it must look like to the woman sitting to my left. On the cover of the magazine lurked a giant Lizard Man, with a rippling reptilian 14-pack, orange eyes with vertical-­slit pupils, a forked tongue, a jaw lined with needle teeth. He was wading between lily pads in standing water, before a moonlit, misty backdrop. There was a tangle of seaweed draped over his scaly biceps. To the left of his head, in a typeface straight off a B-­movie poster: “Attack of the Lizard Man! The Car-­Chewing Monster of the South Carolina Swamps.” My neighbor and I had exchanged pleasantries at the beginning of the flight, but after the magazine came out, we didn’t speak again.

Let me be clear: I am not, as a rule, a believer. I’ve long since parted ways with Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and most everything I learned in Catholic school. But that has only made me more attuned to the tucked-­away part of my brain ruled more by instinct than by logic — the part that lights up at the creak of a footstep from an unoccupied room, the stranger on the train who looks exactly like your mother and just about anything that happens in the nebulous place where your peripheral vision ends and the unknown begins.

It’s these neurons that fire ecstatically when I read Fortean Times, a 43-year-old British magazine that describes its focus as “the world of strange phenomena.” The name refers to Charles Fort, an influential early-20th-­century writer best remembered for his meticulous research into bizarre happenings that resisted, or defied, scientific explanation. He was a real-life Fox Mulder, if you subtract the bone structure of David Duchovny and add the walrus mustache of Teddy Roosevelt…

[continues at the New York Times Magazine]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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