Welcome back to CT&C, on this episode we are going to look into a very fascinating conspiracy theory that originates from a tiny village with the odd name of Ong’s Hat in New Jersey where some say that a duo of rogue scientists who were living off-grid in a small commune created a portal to another dimension that still exists there hidden today
Decoder Ring is a podcast about cracking cultural mysteries. Every month, host Willa Paskin, Slate’s TV critic, takes on a cultural question, object, idea, or habit and speaks with experts, historians and obsessives to try and figure out where it comes from, what it means and why it matters.
On the early internet, a conspiracy theory known as Ong’s Hat flourished. It combined real physics, speculative science, mysticism, and radical politics, to tell a tale about a secret cult of interdimensional travelers. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, clues would emerge about the travel cult: brochures, book catalogs, mysterious interviews, buried artifacts, and more. For years, users worked together to solve the mystery of Ong’s Hat and the man who masterminded it all.
Decoder Ring talks to those seekers and the man behind the curtain, to find out the truth: What is Ong’s Hat?
Topics include: Crimbus gifts, planning our funerals, Scary German Lady, Philly Legends: The Bubble Fairy, Josh is home alone, Alien Alloys, BFS Road Trip, Corrections and Josh’s Chaos Dimension: Ong’s Hat, the Pine Barrens, and Joseph Matheny
Characters: Sammy Squarespace (the CEO of Square Space)
This episode is part two of our interview with Joe Matheny. Part one, The Digital Underground, covered Joe’s experiences running The Grey Lodge, an early, underground private torrent tracker used by millions of people per month. Part two covers Joe’s groundbreaking ARG & literary work, Ong’s Hat, and its place in early internet culture, before we veer off into a discussion about how the ‘fakelore’ methods Joe used in the development of that work connect to the meme wars of today and the increasing political importance of memes (e.g. Kek, the ‘alt-right’ appropriation of Pepe The Frog.) We also discuss the very improbable connection (it really is) between Joe and Jamie, and how Joe became a patron of the show himself; PLUS, the potential for Kodi addons as a distribution point for indie creators.
The Grey Lodge was an underground private torrent tracker used by millions of people per month in their quest to uncover the esoteric, strange and the downright weird. In this episode we hear from Joe Matheny, one of the founders of the site, about how it kicked off in the very early days of BitTorrent, online culture in the early days of the Internet, proto-copyright trolls, how even weirdos eventually get pursued by the MPAA, and how the demise of indie trackers from Grey Lodge to What.CD mean a net loss for our culture.
Coming soon: the second part of this interview, in which Joe discusses his work as an early creator of “this is not a game” ARG experiences and his well-known work Ong’s Hat, The Incunabula Papers. We’ll be making that available for supporters on the Patreon (and maybe more widely) in due course. In the meantime, if you’re curious to take a look at some of Joe’s work, he’s been kind enough to give us a free pack including Ong’s Hat and some samples from his ARG! Enjoy.
A few collected Ong’s Hat literary references from 2014. Other references pre-2014 can be found on the Reviews page. I only include the ones which directly relate to the legend as told in my works, not the historic references about the lost town itself.
Notice: Inclusion in this list in NO WAY IMPLIES AN ENDORSEMENT
My friend D.R. Haney: Room 32 – A great story all on it’s own, but with the strange appearance of a picture from room 32 where the phrase “Jim is in Ong’s Hat” can clearly be seen. (also ran on Salon) The rest of “Room 32″ is now available as an e-book in the Kindle Store. To get it, please click here.
News and Popular Media
A political post from Salon, , AUG 26, 2010 which has the quote: “The summer of 1963, then, was marked by graduation from the liturgical approach of loose, liberal Christianity to the crazy quilt Moorish Orthodox Church of America, my natural next home. An offshoot or perhaps incarnation of the Moorish Science Temple, the MOCA comprised a group of jazz musicians, poets, artists, improvisational comics and a few deeply weird people like the guy with the mustache and cape (that’s all I ever knew of his identity — he much resembled Brian Stack’s “The Interrupter” from the Conan O’Brien show decades later). As an acolyte of Salvador Dali (along with one of my close friends from school, who also taught martial arts and built explosive devices), the MOCA was a natural magnet for someone like me. It’s served me well off and on over the years as it has waxed and waned as a force. The nominal headquarters still operate in Ong’s Hat, N.J., in case anyone might conceivably be interested.”
In a no holds barred interview exclusive onDisinfo.com, Jason DeMarco, the “Creative” Director for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swimprovides a shocking revelation:
THEY’RE JUST A BUNCH OF BORING EXECUTIVES WITH A LOT OF HYPE AND NO INSPIRATION!!!
All of this speaks to a question asked by media pioneer Joseph Matheny when he was reflecting on what happens to transmedia once it reaches the cold dead hand of corporate corruption: Who invited the Lobsters anyway?
Matheny describes the intentions of early transmedia as an attempt “to broaden and open up the storytelling process to mediums outside of the traditional publishing platforms, i.e. text/images. It was part Borges, part George Coates, part The Game (the move with Michael Douglas) and part other things.” Digital media has opened up the doors for a wide array of integral expression that can deeply accentuate our shared heritage of human endeavor. When the Creative Director for Adult Swim can’t cite much more than Instagram as an inspiration, and mentions the guiding philosophy of “wow that’s interesting to look at,” we know we’re in Lobster’land.
Christopher Hyatt interviewed by Joseph Matheny from the Black Book Volume III Galts Ark Vol 01- Joseph Matheny talks to Christopher Hyatt and Hyatt opens up to his friend taking us all on a rollicking ride through his mind. This is one of the last interviews Hyatt did before his untimely death in 2008.
I’m cited as an “expert” in this article by my old friend David Jay Brown. It’s about Bitcoin and Silk Road.
Read it here: The Silk Road website uses an anonymous browser, untraceable currency, shifting servers and an encrypted Web address to allow for a thriving illegal drug trade on the Internet.
To learn more about Silk Road, and about the Bitcoin economy that fuels it, I interviewed transmedia writer/artist Joseph Matheny, who is an expert on computer encryption and the underground Internet economy. According to Matheny, ordering from Silk Road is generally safe, if you know what you’re doing and take the proper precautions.
A Transmedia Litany Genesis P’Orridge with XKP Taken from cassette tape-Genesis P’Orridge’s Transmedia lecture and musical/visual litany, recorded in San Francisco, at the legendary MediaKaos/Future Cult Project Space.