I’ve known Greg Taylor, owner of The Daily Grail and editor of Daily Grail Publishing, since 2007. As these things tend to happen with us Forteans, I stumbled upon his website quite serendipitously: Back in those days I used to read a lot of articles on MSNBC, especially the science column by Alan Boyle. Boyle didn’t show the close-mindedness characteristic of ‘serious’ science journalists, and would often link content from The Grail in his column, and that is how I began to spend more and more time on this site which, in spite of the fact that it dealt with paranormal topics and esoteric material, did so with a rather rare ‘centric’ approach. As a result of this, the (then) vibrant community of TDG was composed of true believers, hardcore skeptics, and everything in between.
I felt I had finally found my tribe.
FB quarrels and Twitter fights ain’t got nothing on the level of discussions we used to engage in the Grail’s comment section, and in the personal blogs –a feature Greg graciously provided for free to any member, even before Blogger was a thing. Sometimes these interactions lasted DAYS and involved dozens of individuals willing to throw their 2 cents on the topic at hand (the age of the Sphinx, the Roswell crash or the Patterson-Gimlin footage, etc). Yes, we had the occasional troll, but they were the exception to the rule in a community in which ANY point of view or statement could be challenged, provided the matter didn’t get personal –I sure wish people nowadays still understood the true meaning of ad-hominem, and that saying you find an idea ‘stupid’ does NOT mean you think the person behind it is also stupid. “Hate the sin, but love the sinner” as Catholics say…
It was one of those quarrels between myself and another member which dealt with the controversial Bosnian pyramids, when things were beginning to get too heated. Fortunately, I managed a way to offer an “olive branch” to my dialectic opponent, as it were, and we ended up the discussion in amicable terms. I’ve always suspected this was one of the reasons why Greg took interest in me –aside from the fact I used to spent many hours in the site whenever I had a free time in my day job (don’t worry, this was mostly during the long nights when I was alone working on computer renders)– and so eventually I received an email from him inviting me to become a news administrator on TDG.
I reacted to his generous offer the way I always do when presented with something new and unexpected: I panicked. I began to make a list of all the reasons why it wasn’t a good idea –my English was atrocious back then, I didn’t know how to look for interesting content, my knowledge in certain areas was too limited, etc, etc. Greg suggested I took some weeks to think it over, which I did. It was the end of the year and I spent the holidays with my family in some beach resort, and as I found myself alone on my room’s terrace one night, pondering about my life and scrutinizing the origin of my hesitance, I looked up to the moon and said to myself, “Fuck it, what do I have to lose?”
Best decision I’ve made in my life.
Being a news admin for The Grail introduced me to people who have become some of my best friends. It also opened me up to ideas and points of views I had never entertained before –back then I was STILL a believer in the extraterrestrial hypothesis. Need I say more??– but perhaps the thing I’m most grateful for is that The Grail gave me a purpose and direction for my life I didn’t realize I needed.
For as long as I can remember, I have dealt with issues of depression and suicidal tendencies. I chose a professional career (interior design) which deals with a lot of stress and very little in terms of recognition and economic compensation –smart move there, Miguel!– and before I joined The Grail a good week was one in which I fantasized about doing something really to myself only once or twice; a bad day is when those self-destructive thoughts buzzed around my head constantly.
I’m not claiming TDG helped me beat depression entirely, but the buzzing definitely became more manageable. So I’m not really exaggerating when I say Greg Taylor and The Daily Grail probably saved my life.
Which is why when his wife Tonita emailed me in late October to ask me to write a message for a special birthday surprise she was preparing for him, I knew it was high time to show my appreciation to this man I’ve met since 2007 –whom I’ll probably never get the chance to shake his hand, on account of having almost the whole planet separating us.
Okay, now that I’m done with the mushy stuff (sure got dusty around here real quick) let’s get to the concept of the birthday card!
As you may or may not know, Greg is an expert in parapsychology and near-death studies. In 2013 he released his book Stop Worrying! There Probably is an Afterlife, and the title itself already hints you on the approach Greg takes towards this type of information –he builds a compelling case, but remains honest enough in admitting no one, NO ONE, really knows what happens to us after we die. Of course, even this level-headed approach is enough to incite the ire of the militant debunkers and hardcore skeptics who list James ‘the Amazin’ Randi, who curiously happened to have shed his mortal coil –complete with his Darwinian beard– in 2020, of all years.
Greg butted heads with Randi plenty of times, so that gave me the initial idea of having a bit of fun at the expense of the long-time nemesis of spoon-bender Uri Geller, by having Randi deliver a message from the afterlife admitting Greg had been right all along.
(“Grubby,” in case you were wondering, was the nickname Randi gave to Greg, because that’s apparently the extent of the wit a once-winner of the McArthur ‘genius’ grant displays when dealing with people who are willing to challenge materialistic assumptions and defend the work of researchers like Rupert Sheldrake)
But that was just too… easy, I thought to myself. The second flash of inspiration came in the form of the most popular book in the Daily Grail Publishing’s catalog: the reprinted Passport to Magonia by Jacques Vallee, which shows an alien entity cloaking its true nature behind many masks concocted by human myths and religions –few people know that in the original version of the illustration adorning the front cover, the alien itself is a hand puppet.
The punchline on the third panel is also directly extracted from the iconic Shaver Mystery. Richard Shaver, for those unfamiliar with his story, was a man who began sending deranged letters to magazine editor Ray Palmer. Shaver claimed he had visited the deep caverns of the inner Earth where malevolent entities called Deros (Deranged Robots) delighted in controlling human beings by ‘beaming’ directly into their minds all sorts of thoughts and dreams through machinery left from the ancient times before the fall of Lemuria and Atlantis. Knowing a good tale when he saw it, Palmer polished Palmer’s writing and published it in Amazing Stories, turning the Deros into an instant sensation, and paving the way for the flying saucers that were just about to invade Americans’ consciousness.
So, as you can see, no Randi sycophant could accuse me of unjustly exploiting their idol, since in the end I’m making more fun of UFO mythology than of the old magician who believed in Social Darwinism –oops!
And as for the birthday card, I’m happy to report it now sits properly framed somewhere in the Taylor home, which fills me with great pride.
So happy birthday, amigo! and don’t be in any rush to go and figure out for yourself whether you or Randi were right about the afterlife 😉