For those of you involved in ufology—or at least with a passing interest in the subject—the name Gene Steinberg might ring a bell as the host of the semi-popular Paracast podcast, the self anointed “Gold Standard of Paranormal Radio.”
Back in those halcyon days of pimpled-faced saucer watchers, Steinberg became a protégé of sorts of the late, great clown prince of u-fool-ogy, Jim Moseley, working on the staff of Moseley’s Saucer News.
Moseley, a long time ufological prankster, could be considered an early Discordian (at least in spirit) due in part to his involvement with the infamous Straith Letter Hoax.
In the ‘70s and ‘80s, Steinberg was involved with the UFO zine Caveat Emptor edited by his then wife, Geneva Steinberg.
Recently—while rummaging through the Discordian Archives—I came across a couple zines called Crossroads Quarterly: An Erisian Journal, and was surprised to see these were a Gene/Geneva Steinberg production, featuring not only UFO related articles, but also Discordian material—hence the Erisian title—with contributions from Discordian Society founder Greg Hill, and fellow Discordian Robert Anton Wilson (aka Mordecai the Foul), including such gems as “Discordian Politics,” “The Sacred Chao” and “Dropping In On The Invisible College.”
All of this I found mildly amusing as I’ve never heard Steinberg discuss Discordianism, and the distinct possibility that Mr. “Gold Standard” himself is…wait for it… a closet Discordian! (As opposed to a pantry Discordian.)
Crossroads Quarterly: An Erisian Journal
Crossroads Quarterly was published during the same time frame Greg Hill was living in NYC in the mid ‘70s—where the Steinberg’s were likewise located—although when asked about possible Discordian associations recently on the Paracast forum, Steinberg was excruciatingly obtuse regarding the matter. Granted, his ex Geneva seemed to be the brains behind Caveat and Crossroads, although Gene certainly played a role in the production of these zines.
Back cover of Crossroads Quarterly
In 2004, Steinberg joined forces with David Biedny to launch the aforementioned Paracast, which streams live once a week (in the middle of the night) on the GNC radio network that features programs hosted by conspiratorial minded Christian “patriots” dedicated to overthrowing the New World Order with alternative health cures like beet supplements and colloidal silver, whatever that is.
Back in the day (the “day” being about ten years ago or so) the Paracast found its niche primarily due to the influence of then co-host Biedny’s penchant, upon occasion, for outing ufological hucksters, and one of the more memorable episodes in this regard featured a sketchy flim-flam man named Bill Knell, who created an entire false history for himself as a supposed UFO expert, claiming he’d lectured at universities and investigated all kinds of UFO cases, when he’d actually done nothing of the sort.
Although Steinberg exudes the persona of the wise old ufological sage, his contributions to the Paracast (the dozen or so times I’ve listened) seem somewhat minimal, and the heavy lifting, by and large, has been done by his previous co-hosts, first David Biedny, and more recently Chris O’Brien, who eventually got tired of Steinberg using the Paracast platform for a never-ending string of email solicitations and wisely bowed out, leaving Gene to bring on other co-hosts to keep the Paracast boat afloat as it increasingly takes on more water due to fallout from a series of recent exposés courtesy of Jack Brewer’s UFO Trail, which includes these zingers:
The Paracast’s history of busting the balls of certain ufological figures now rings exceedingly hollow in light of these revelations. Steinberg’s email solicitations—which must be well over a thousand by now—presumably started way back in 2004 as a way to raise money for his brother in law (BIL) who had incurred certain “legal expenses.” According to Steinberg, he (allegedly) forked over his life savings to help the BIL with the promise that BIL had some sort of stock sale that would soon happen and Gene would be paid back in full once it went through (which apparently never happened.) This in turn precipitated Gene’s on-going financial woes, and these weekly—and sometimes twice and thrice weekly—emails with such doom and gloom titles as:
“Living on Fumes!”
“The Landlord’s Warning!”
And the ever popular,
All punctuated with exclamation points!
Once again if you want to get deep into the weeds on all of this, check out The UFO Trail, but the long and short of it is that Steinberg’s perpetually teetering on the edge of financial ruin, basically because he can’t catch a break, and that the Man is keeping him down. On top of that, there’s always some calamity going on in his bad luck Schleprock life—from medical emergencies to evictions to tripping over dog toys—although none of this has ever affected his ability to produce the latest episode of The Paracast.
Gene’s apologists would argue that he’s simply the hapless victim of a series of financial fubars that have placed him in this never ending-Sisyphean cycle; whereas Steinberg’s detractors peg him as a shameless grifter using the Paracast platform to reel in marks to help him “get across the finish line” for the umpteen time. Personally, I think both propositions could be true, and that (perhaps) Gene’s just not real good at the grifting part, but is quite accomplished at mismanaging his finances.
But perhaps, just perhaps, there may be a third explanation: that’s where my closet Discordian theory comes in, and that what we’re witnessing—those of us who pay attention to Steinberg’s persistent dramas—is all just an elaborate Discordian put-on, the sort of sociological experiment Discordians back in the day became famous (and infamous) for.
You could equate Steinberg’s emails to the spoof letters of his mentor Jim Moseley a la the Straith Letter Hoax—or letters the early Discordians concocted as part of “Operation Mindfuck”—just to see how the recipients would react; to perhaps enlighten and/or blow their minds, and as a method to test critical faculties; to see how much and how long people could possibly buy into the scam, with a storyline that gets increasingly preposterous with each new email detailing Steinberg’s life and death battle against dystopian forces, or what he melodramatically refers as the “faceless corporation” that has kicked him out of no less than four apartments in the last three years, not to mention a certain heartless Constable that’s constantly on his case. Of course none of this is ever his fault—that’s where the “faceless corporation” comes in—who seem unsympathetic for some reason that Steinberg’s always stiffing his landlords.
Steinberg’s latest gag is that he’s now under around-the-clock harassment by a gang of online “stalkers and haters” who have orchestrated a so-called “hate campaign.” Steinberg recently made the seemingly spurious assertion that these stalkers hacked his social media accounts as well as his bank accounts, all of which appears to be dust kicked up to cloud his own ongoing series of misadventures, one of which was chronicled by a commentator at the UFO Trail about an incident that occurred last year when Steinberg blundered his way into the type of Internet scam you’d expect your computer illiterate grand-folks to get suckered into—not someone like Gene who’s supposedly an AOL pioneer, Apple products guru and all around computer whiz.
Long story short, Steinberg apparently got bamboozled by someone with the Twitter handle (you’re gonna love this) of @TonyGynnSex. Yes, you read that right —@TonyGwynnSex—who contacted Gene with a promise of “a huge wad of cash” in his immediate future. In response, Steinberg posted his bank routing number on his Twitter page when, it appears, what he really intended to do was DM it to this TonyGwynnSex character.Thus began what has now become known as the “merry chase” that included Steinberg wandering around a McDonald’s in Mesa, Arizona asking if anyone had seen “TonyGwynnSex.” You can read about the whole crazy caper here.
Screenshot of the nefarious Tony Gwynn Sex Tape caper
(Word to the wise, if someone named TonyGwynnSex asks for your personal information, well…)
While all of this craziness has been playing out the last year or so, a Twitter group surfaced called the Scheme Gene Research Community (SGRC) that monitors Steinberg’s “emergency messages” and dishes out hot takes, not only commenting on structural style and the literary merits of his email solicitations, but also Steinberg’s many inconsistent statements, all of this delivered by the SGRC crew with a high degree of snark. I must admit that much of it is lost on me; you sort of have to be a Scheme Gene-ologist to understand a lot of the in-jokes that go on there, as well as references to the many oddball characters that inhabit the SGRC universe, such as Paranormal Davey, Porno Bob, and the Steinberg’s beloved pooch, a bichon poodle named Teddy Bear.
Apparently the SGRC is planning an awards ceremony (to be held later this year in the banquet room of the Extended Stay Hotel in Mesa) called the “Schemeys,” which sounds like it should be a hoot, and basically a way to recognize the many contributions of Schemegeneologists, far and wide.
Promo logo for “The Schemeys.”
What’s really wacky is that the SGRC has spawned a whole subculture of Scheme Gene enthusiasts—or “Scheme Gene Heads,” as they like to call themselves—including a handful of spinoff Twitter accounts like Teddy Bear Steinberg, and Scheme Gene the Musical, not to mention Youtube parodies like this one where Scheme Gene Heads croon their little hearts out.