Stranger Things: Montauk Timeslip | Stillness in the Storm

Friday, August 5, 2016 by The Secret Sun

Stranger Things has tapped into a very deep vein in the American psyche, especially for people of my generation who are seeing a strange reflection of our lives and our culture play out on the screen. 

It’s struck a very deep chord with younger generations as well, who sense that they missed something, that something passed them by.

It’s had a entirely different effect on me.
I’ve talked about some of the connections I’ve been making to this series but I don’t think I’ve put them in the proper context. My first impression on my first run-through of the series was that someone involved had been reading this blog and picked up on the piece I did on Wavelength, the very obscure 1983 film.

But this isn’t any big revelation. Spotting the “tributes” in Stranger Things has become a major internet sport. The producers have admitted they raided the popcult vault for this series, which is kind of part of its genius.

But there are other things that I’ve noticed as well. And since this is a blog dealing with synchronicity and pop culture it would be a matter of professional misconduct if I didn’t bring them to light.

You see, the more I look at this series the more of a Philip K. Dick effect it seems to have, a kind of “Montauk Timeslip”, if you will.

And I don’t know if I have any connection at all to anyone involved with Stranger Things, but as it turns out I have a very deep, direct and verifiable connection to the real-life program it was based on.

That was a surprise, believe me.



My antennae first went up when I recognized parallel elements from my 1999 treatment for Snow appear in this series, a treatment which I had published online in 2012. 
The treatment for Snow also dealt with a super-powered girl, who escapes from an underground facility after being subjected to mind-control experiments and is taken in by a group of nerds. 
Kind of a specific theme there.† The ages are different but it’s the same essential idea.
The Snow treatment also has these little details in common with
Stranger Things:

• Snow opens with a distressed girl in an upright isolation tank. She’s fitted with all kinds of equipment. We see this same exact visual throughout Stranger Things.
• Eleven lapses into memories and alternate realities throughout the series. The same motif repeats in the Snowtreatment.
• Less significant but interesting: Snow’s nerds escape in a beat-up old Winnebago while being pursued by her captors. We see El and her nerds hole up in a beat-up old school bus while El’s handlers pursue her.

Now, I’m not calling my lawyer over any of this. It’s nothing like the Hanna situation.

It’s just kind of interesting.

Yeah. This whole Clash thing.
It may not mean anything to you, but I should remind those of you who don’t know that my first book was on The Clash, collecting writings from my old Clash website. The Clash were a long-running OCD thing for me, burning up an enormous amount of time, money and energy.
But there’s a reason for that. And it’s a reason that ties directly to our Stranger Things discussion. In ways that will become apparent to longtime readers of the blog.
You see, I was a lot like Will Byers at his age and a lot like Jonathan Byers at his age. Though not nearly as alienated, because I was lucky enough to fall in with a large crowd of people who shared my interests in alt.rock (The Clash, particularly) and comics.
That made a huge difference.
But that scene with Will sitting at the kitchen table drawing scenes of wizards shooting green fireballs could have been me at any point up until the middle of 1979. 
In fact, I can remember spending hours drawing out this whole fantasy world of wizards and the rest of it, complete with maps and diagrams of weapons and the whole hand-me-down Tolkien thing (my grandparents had just taken me to see Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings adaption in East Milton and I was on an absolute tear).

I called my fantasy world “Rhye”, based on the Queen song. In fact, I was dubbed with the unfortunate nickname “Queenie”, because of my love for the band.

Queen was not a band it was OK to like in Braintree.

But I actually started to grow disenchanted with Queen after the risibleJazz album and their general move away from the hard rock and fantasy-oriented lyricism of their early albums. All of the bands I loved in sixth grade were starting to suck (Love Beach, anyone?) or go soft by eighth grade and starting around 1978 I spent a lot of time listening to “New Wave Radio”, a DJ-less music feed at the end of the FM dial.

For some reason they played a lot of Tom Petty.

From Clash City Showdown

A strange confluence of events entered my life at the same time as The Clash: my (divorced) mother was teaching at a public school and befriended a Wiccan art teacher, my first exposure to this lifestyle.
Then I got sick. Really, really sick.  Some kind of bacterial infection. I was running 105/106º fevers for more than a week, couldn’t move from the couch and I’m not exactly sure how I didn’t die.

And then as longtime Secret Sun readers may remember, my own living room became a doorway to another dimension. 

And I had a…visitor.

I didn’t realize it but there was also a UFO flap going on in the area at the time. I’d only find that out in the past couple years.

Now, I was painfully thin, which was like chum in the water for bullies, which seemed to grow like barnacles in Braintree (to this day I blame the lead in the gasoline- there was a major gas depot in the area).

To make matters worse, I broke my arm that summer. The day Skylab fell, to be precise. I wrote “I broke my arm the day Skylab fell” on the equipment locker at the park where the accident happened.

So after my cast came off I made a decision to put the comic books and the fantasy away (that didn’t last long, but still), hit the weights and make The Clash my new avatars. A few months later I’d have a genuine out-of-body experience at a Clash concert at The Orpheum Theatre.

I was 13.

So looking back that encounter in my living room looks more and more like a portent, a signal everything was about to change.

Ironically, The Clash soon became Queen
So watching the whole Clash thing mixed in with a living room turned into an inter-dimensional doorway on Stranger Things? 

That was… interesting.

And that big moment, when we see the veil pierced…

From the 2011 Secret Sun post, “My Favorite Nightmares”. 

the lightning is flashing in her room, and she screams at me when I tell her there’s someone in my room. I can’t hear her over the sound of the storm. Suddenly a hand comes out of the hole in the wall…



Last year I told readers about a project I’ve been working on, a fiction project that’s been delayed because of other commitments but still very much alive. 
After talking about the realities of publishing I talked about the kind of subject matter the book was dealing with:

What’s it about? Probably what you might expect. I’m a big believer in the concept of “dance with the one what brung ya.”I’ve spent the last 8 years blogging about the topics that most interest me so you can expect to see a lot of them in the book.

In the post I talk about what inspired the project:

So what brought this all on? Appropriately enough, a VALIS reread. Somehow it hit me at the right time, the idea that Dick chose to tell this magical story, that was only barely fictionalized and so ripe with power.  

And then I went and said this:

My story is entirely fictional, there’s nothing of a kind like VALIS in it. 

Whoa, hold your horses, son.

In VALIS, Philip K. Dick talks about the disorienting experience of seeing The Man Who Fell to Earth, which dealt with a lot of the themes he had been exploring and may have more closely mirrored an early version of his manuscript (a thinly-disguised Bowie becomes a major character in VALIS).
Dick felt as if his still-unpublished story- or important parts of it- had played out on the screen in front of him.
I know the feeling.
Like Stranger Things, my unfinished (and uncirculated) story opens and centers around theinvestigation of person who goes missing concurrent with a paranormal event:
“Well, there was a bright flash, we’re still trying to trace the source of it. Didn’t seem to come from that light.”
“All kinds of equipment around here.”
“What I’m thinking. We’re not putting in a lot of OT on this one, if you get my drift.”
“The singer’s missing?”
“Well, not officially. It hasn’t been 72 hours yet. There was a lot of confusion here last night. The general consensus is that he split when he saw the shooter and holed up somewhere, probably with a girl.”
“Reasonable assumption.”

“What we’re thinking. Lot of girls followed this bunch around.”

Like Stranger Things, the central mystery in my story is the discovery of a MK Ultra program that experimented specifically on children:
“Rainbow People School. Now there is a name I haven’t heard in a long time.”
“You know it?”
“Of course. Everyone in the business did. It was one of those unique institutions that arose out of the 1970s.”
“What was it exactly?”
“It was an attempt to engineer young minds.”
“To do what?”
“ESP, telekinesis, precognition, you name it. There was a standard curriculum, if you can call it that, but its real purpose was pushing the envelope.”

OK, law of averages, right? Plowing the same fields, etc etc? 

Read on.

Like Stranger Things I have a scene with a young female remote viewer and communication via electronics.

Or I should be more precise- a remote viewing session with a young girl, a speaker system and a surprising outcome.

“OK, Angie, we’re going to start with something simple. I have six cards laid out in front of me. Read the cards, from my point of view, from left to right. OK?”
Angela closed her eyes and lowered her chin to her chest. “From your vantage point, Two of Swords, Ace of Wands, Three of Wands, Nine of Coins, Four of Cups and…I can’t. I can’t see the sixth card.”
“Keep trying, Angie.”
“It’s not clear.”
“Keep looking.”
“Umm…ahh, it’s the Fool.”
“Very good.” There was the muffled sound of applause coming from the speaker. There was obviously an audience on the other end as well.
“What was the problem, Angela?”
“I had my hand over it, Bob.”
Like Stranger Things, there’s an encounter with a shaven-headed supersoldier (and part of the MK Ultra program) in the rain…
Porter gingerly put down his mug and turned to the back porch. He fumbled with the lock to the sliding glass door for a moment and then finally got out onto the deck, which was slick with drizzle. It was cold enough that Porter could see his breath, which made Kevin’s nakedness all the more unsettling. Where were his clothes? Where had he come from? How had he made it to his mother’s house without the neighbors noticing a naked, bald, stick-figure of a man running through their yards?

The surgery scars on his bald head looked red and inflamed with infection. The entry points of the staples were swollen and purplish, with a sickly pus oozing from several of them.

And then there’s a super-specific plot point in my story that shows up in Stranger Things: the fake corpse of the missing person fished out of the water and found out by an identifying mark on the arm. 
Note here the similarities in names- Will’s mother is Stranger Thingsis named “Joyce” and my character’s stepmother is named “Grace.”
“It’s not him.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that’s not Gary.”
“How do you know?”
“About a year ago there was a fight onstage at a show in Hartford. Gary got buried underneath a bunch of guys. Only there was a broken beer bottle underneath his left arm. He needed 32 stitches- they were more like staples- to close the wound. It was the most disgusting thing I’d even seen. He needed a transfusion to replace all the blood he lost. It’s why he always wore those long gloves- he was embarrassed by the scar.”
“Did you know about this, Grace?”
“His mother paid for it all,” the Screamer said, with palpable disdain.
Grace winced slightly.
“And there are records of it?”

“I can show you photos of it.”

Not exactly a trope there.

Now bear in mind we’re still just talking weird PKD timeslip stuff here, but even at the very extreme end of possibility no one is reading anyone’s mind here. We’re dealing with material that’s either been published or otherwise recorded on my hard drive. 

Well, that takes us into PKD territory too.

Just in a different way.

Where’s Waldo?


The death in the quarry ties back to my own 1983 as well: the deaths at the Quincy quarries were so notorious they made The New York Times. More than once. So we’re talking national news here.

The death of a kid in 1983 finally convinced local authorities to drain the lake at Quincy, where mobsters used to dump their victims. (The quarry there was called “Swingle’s”- the quarry in Stranger Things is called “Satler’s”).

But a kid from my high school died there the next year anyway when he fell hundreds of feet and landed on an old car while running from the cops. He tied his shirt around his middle to keep his broken ribs together and died dragging himself across the lake bed.

Horrible story.

Now, if you were a researcher for a TV show and were asked to do a search for “quarry” and “1983”, Swingle’s would come up pretty high on your list. Bet on it.

Just to make it totally surreal I live within a short walking distance ofanother quarry and lake today. And I was talking at length about Swingle’s with an old Quintree homeboy three days before Stranger Things premiered.

Yeah, I know how PKD felt, believe me.

But we’re still not done yet.

A lot of you are aware that Stranger Things is based in large part on the Montauk…what? Theories? Mythos? Legends? I don’t know what to call it.
But the theories are in fact based on actual working projects, even if they’ve been wildly embellished by some authors.

Stranger Things’ original title was Montauk, named after the sleepy fishing village on Long Island’s easternmost tip. Among so many tales, local lore tells of young boys being abducted and forced to participate in an assortment of psychological and paranormal experiments on a nearby secret military base, including time travel, telekinesis, teleportation and mind-control (the 1992 book The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time documents some of these studies, as does its independent film adaptation, 2014’s Montauk Chronicles).

For those of you who can’t sort through all the Montauk literature,here’s a napkin sketch of the basis of the conspiracy theory for you:

Key to the Montauk Project allegations, the SAGE radar worked on a frequency of 400 MHz – 425 MHz, providing access to the range of 410 MHz – 420 MHz signals said by theory proponents to influence the human mind. 

During the course of the project, the researchers acquired ‘the chair’ which was allegedly recovered from a crashed alien spacecraft by the US military (possibly even from the Roswell Incident).

The chair was reportedly used to tune in to and amplify the alien’s own thought patterns in order to pilot the craft.

At Montauk, the chair was connected to the SAGE antenna and the thought patterns of the occupant of the chair could be amplified and transmitted at the 410-420 MHz range in order to influence the minds of anyone within range of the transmission.

Again, this is not all manufactured out of whole cloth. The SAGE program was a real project and a major piece of the Cold War defense posture puzzle.

During 1958 Montauk AFS joined the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system, feeding data to DC-01 at McGuire AFB, New Jersey. After joining, the squadron was redesignated as the 773d Radar Squadron (SAGE) on 1 October 1958. It was also a major part of the NORAD defense system, so security was very tight. Montauk AFS was state of the art and many new systems were developed or tested there including magnetic memory for storage, light pens, keyboards, WANs (Wide area networks) and modular circuit packaging.

Under the leadership of C. W. Halligan, MITRE was formed in 1958 to provide overall direction to the companies and workers involved in the US Air Force SAGE project. Most of the early employees were transferred to MITRE from the Lincoln Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where SAGE was being developed. In April 1959, a site was purchased in Bedford, Massachusetts near Hanscom Air Force Base, to develop a new MITRE laboratory, which MITRE occupied in September 1959. 

And here another bell may go off for longtime readers of this blog. My grandfather worked at MITRE. I talked about that on one of the very first posts on this blog. I just never knew exactly what it is he did.

I did always wonder why Ronald Reagan wrote my grandmother a condolence letter after he passed away though.

Well, as it happens my grandfather not only worked at MITRE, he was part of the group that came over from Lincoln Labs (he actually graduated from Harvard), meaning he was working on the SAGE program.

Meaning my grandfather- who I probably saw more than I saw my own father*- was working on the Montauk Project. 

The real-life Montauk Project.

Can someone work out the odds of probability on all these coincidences here?

But it goes deeper. I’ve talked about this before but one of my uncles- who would know, believe me-  found out that my grandfather worked black projects for MITRE.

We always knew he couldn’t talk about his work at home but it turns out he couldn’t even talk about his work with senior management outside his group. 

When they had staff meetings to review each group’s progress a member of his group would stand and say “present” and sit down. So not only was he linked to the SAGE project and its maker he was doing black budget work for them to boot.

God knows what it was.

So, as you can see, I have a direct, documented, familial connection to the Montauk Project- the thing on which Stranger Things was based- whatever in fact it may have been.

I always dismissed the Montauk stuff out of hand but I’m seriously starting to wonder now.

So. How’s your rewatch going?

†A member of the Secret Sun FB group offered that they were really borrowing from the Japanese comic book Mai the Psychic Girl, but there are substantial differences here. Mai doesn’t escape from anything, and she’s not being subjected to experiments before she’s taken in by a group of party-hearty college students who are distinctly un-nerdy.
* My father also worked for a defense/NASA contractor.

Source: Stranger Things: Montauk Timeslip | Stillness in the Storm

2 thoughts on “Stranger Things: Montauk Timeslip | Stillness in the Storm”

  1. I’ve done a lot of research into the Montauk Project over the years. I have not written nor contacted anyone about what I have found. The craziest thing about Stranger things is the casting of Winona Ryder. Look into who her godfather is (Timothy Leary) and the people her parents associated with. Look into the book “Ecstasy Club” by Douglas Rushkoff and also into who Douglas Rushkoff is. Another lead is the Dr Frank Olson story everyone knows it, but not many talk about where they were going to take him when he died. He was supposed to go to a mental facility on long island. There were three major facilities on the island at the time with thousands of patients. There was a lot of experimentation going on at these facilities. I know because a close family member was on the lobotomy team. The project wouldn’t need to kidnap anyone. They had access to all these patients and all these patients were not insane. Many were held there for unknown reasons. There is more but too much to type here.


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