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  • Writer's picturePeter Fuller


In 1997, a film was released called, “Men in Black.” It was based on a comic book written by Lowell Cunningham and illustrated by Sandy Carruthers. It was a bit of a play on words really, because, well, uh, the lead actor, Will Smith is … black. I guess you could say he was the “man in black.” Regardless, it brought the subject of a group of enigmatic individuals into the public eye, albeit in a rather comical way. The term “men in black” (or MIB) became a household phrase, but not in the way they should be portrayed.

Quite the opposite.

The first recorded instance of a man in black was after the Maury Island Incident in June of 1947. Harold Dahl, a harbor patrolman, claimed he saw several doughnut-shaped UFOs fly over his boat when one began spewing forth some unusual debris. The first was light metallic material that floated to the ground like paper, but there was also some kind of heavier material resembling lava rocks that struck his boat, breaking his son’s arm and killing his dog. The next day, Dahl was confronted by a mysterious man in a black suit who took him to a café and bought him breakfast. There, he warned Dahl not to speak of the incident to anyone. This set the stage for the concept of the men in black–they always arrive after someone witnesses a UFO incident and warn them not to speak of the experience to anyone.

And here’s where the narrative turns sinister.

In 1953, Albert K. Bender was living in the attic of his parent’s Broad Street home in Bridgeport, Maine. To say Albert was an occultist is an understatement. He reveled in all things paranormal, including the burgeoning UFO phenomena. In 1952 he founded the International Flying Saucer Bureau, producing a quarterly journal, the Space Review. The newsletter recorded UFO sightings and speculated on their nature and purpose.

In the midst of fake skulls, shrunken heads, weird sound effect records and disturbing paintings on the walls of his attic enclave, Bender began to feel as if he was being observed and followed. This was combined with the stench of sulphur in his attic, and at times, a yellow mist that would fill the space. Bender claimed he also received telepathic messages to shut down the IFSB and discontinue to “delve into matters that were none of his concern.” Undeterred, Bender continued his research.

Some believe because of his occult activity, Bender had opened a portal to an otherworldly realm, ala Alister Crowley. In July of 1953, he received a visit from three “men in black.” These were no FBI or CIA agents–according to Bender in his book, Flying Saucers and the Three Men, “they “floated about a foot off the floor and wore black clothes, their eyes glowing.” According to him, through telepathy, they gave him a simple ultimatum– “Stop publishing.” With the smell of sulphur and yellow mist filling the attic, they confiscated issues of Space Review as they left. Shaken by his paranormal visitation, his ordeal was not over. Bender was visited again on numerous occasions by the otherworldly MIB.

After his visitations, Bender moved to California where he died in 2016. His entire neighborhood in Bridgeport was bulldozed to make way for an interstate highway in the 1960s.

In 1956, IFSB member Gray Barker in his book, They Knew too Much About Flying Saucers, penned the phrase, “Men in black.” Since then, there have been countless encounters with these mysterious entities. I say entities because many of them, like those who visited Albert Bender, exhibit characteristics and behavior that is not human in nature. They always approach individuals who have had a recent UFO encounter and demand the individual keep silent about their experience. They are usually very tall, their skin pale, their black suits over-large, hanging off skeletal bodies. An interesting note that lends credence to their otherworldly nature is the fact that they need permission to enter the person’s home. There have been a few instances where the recipient has refused their request, and they either disappear or turn and walk back to their classic, black hued car and speed away. However, there have also been numerous occasions where the men in black appear fully human and impossible to rebuff.

Then there are cases of the “women in black” and the “black-eyed children.” According to Nick Redfern in his book, The Real Men in Black, these are purely paranormal beings. Again, they need permission to enter homes, and the black-eyed children, weird teenager-types, usually approach a person in their car and request a ride. Once they gain entrance to house or vehicle, all sorts of eerie actions begin to take place, indicating that something otherworldly has gained access into the victim’s life. Extricating them is then extremely difficult.

It would be bad enough to be visited by a government official who then proceeds to threaten you to remain silent about your close encounter. Many military types have been intimidated by these human MIB who appear to have authority over captains and colonels, even generals and admirals, who make it clear that very bad things will happen to the soldiers, sailors, airmen and their families if they disclose the details of their UFO experience. Whether normal or paranormal, this is serious business.

This is where Hollywood has done a great disservice. They satirize the MIB experience, when countless people have been threatened and tormented by what appears to be both human and non-human entities. Will Smith doesn’t show up at their door to offer a light-hearted quip, or “ay-thang,” and Tommy Lee Jones doesn’t don his special MIB sanctioned sunglasses and pull out his neuralizer.

Something much more sinister is at play here.

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