“An Immoral Experiment”: The Spiritual, Political, and Ufological Significance of the UMMO Letters

In the late ’70s and afterwards, UFOs hit the big time in pop culture with countless books about abduction experiences, major Hollywood motion pictures, and quickie B-movie documentaries. But before this turn into widespread exposure, ufology was largely a field defined by tightly-circulated, sometimes even self-published, written and photographic evidence…

California Dreams: Our Cyberpunk Future According to ‘Wild Palms’

By Michael Grasso

The 1980s saw the gradual ascendancy of cyberpunk narratives in popular science fiction. The genre projected Western societal trends seen in the decade—corporate conglomeration, the rise of computer networking and global media, and the ascendancy of Pacific Rim economies, most prominently Japan—into a vision of the future bursting with high technology controlled by a few neo-feudal corporate interests…

Platform of Dreams: A Lonely Kid Covets G.I. Joe’s U.S.S. ‘Flagg’

“Unwrapping” the G.I. Joe U.S.S. Flagg aircraft carrier playset that Kelly put under the (virtual) tree for me this Christmas is a bittersweet reminder of childhood desires scuttled. I think, even at age 10, I knew that I’d never receive this giant (seven and a half foot long!) Nimitz-class aircraft carrier that retailed for $110 in 1985 (that’s over $250 in today’s dollars). But, ahem, I did actually end up getting the Cobra Terrordrome for Christmas ’86, which retailed at about half the cost…

All Graphite and Glitter: ‘Down the Rhodes: The Fender Rhodes Story’

By Michael Grasso

Earlier this year, while on a YouTube nostalgia tear through NBA highlights from the late ’70s and early ’80s, I made the following observation on Twitter after watching a live performance of Grover Washington, Jr.’s “Let It Flow (For ‘Dr J.’)” set to vintage hoops footage: “The sound of my early childhood is ineluctably a Fender Rhodes electric piano”…