Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Friday, October 28, 2005

More Shameless Plugging

I will treat the comment that someone posted on this blog that "Like so many others - this blog seems to have 'fizzled out'... a typical CFZ related venture!!! " with well bred contempt. After all, the fact that there are several postings today is proof that he/she is talking nonsense. However, I would like to take this opportunity to stress that this bloggything is never gonna be a daily occurence. I try and do three or four postings a month if I can, but I am sure that you would all agree that running the CFZ and doing my best to look after a dying parent is somewhat more important than maintaining the blog..........

However, griping apart, I am pleased to announce that the latest in our series of perfect bound reissues of my books is now available: Only Fools and Goatsuckers.

(There seems to be some technical problem forbidding me to upload pix today :( so no cover shot for the time being)

In the eight years since I wrote it, I have often regretted the title—which, after all, makes no sense to anyone not familiar with the BBC TV series from which I cribbed the name (which means basically everyone outside the UK). But one - long forgotten - wag christened our younger, `Jack-the-lad` selves “the Rodney and Del-Boy of cryptozoology”, and the joke seemed appropriate.

The book should also, I think, be seen within its historical perspective. I was only 37 when I wrote this book, and although I had been working within cryptozoology for some years, I was still really a novice. This was my first expedition, and—with hindsight - I wish that I had done a lot of things differently. But I was then in the middle of a horrific divorce, and so when given the chance to let our hair down in foreign climes, Graham and I did so.

I look back at this book with fondness because, not only was it my first `expedition book` but it was written at a time when the Centre for Fortean Zoology (now an imposing edifice of an organisation, which is unarguably the biggest cryptozoological research organisation in the world), was just `The Last Gang in Town` (as Joe Strummer would have put it). It was a brave new world for Graham, Richard and me, and we were determined to take it by the horns and wrestle it into submission.

Nearly ten years on, we are older, wiser, and more professional, but this account of our younger, stupider, and wilder selves still has much to recommend it.

Do they owe us a living?

My Punky past has been somewhat in my thoughts lately. I suppose it all started when I bought a copy of Penny Rimbaud's autobiography Shibboleth: My Revolting Life on Amazon. For those of you not in the know, Rimbaud (t/n Jeremy John Ratter) was one of the founder members ofthe Anarchist punk band CRASS in 1977. The biography is everything I would have wanted; moving, irritiating, uplifting and angry in equal quantities. Then, I received a letter from one of the CFZ Corps of Volunteers - Suzi Marsh. She is organising a benefit concert for the CFZ featuring punk and rock bands from Barnstaple. However, she had a problem. She neded a connection between the CFZ and punk, in order to persuade the bands to volunteer their services.

So I wrote this:

"To me, punk was and is as much about the attitude and the politics than the music. I was a punk the first time round, and the libertarian do-it-yourself ethic of the movement has influenced me - and the CFZ - ever since. Even the name of our journal comes from a track by Adam and the Ants from their 1980 album 'Dirk wears White Sox'. A quarter of a century ago it was my privelige to meet CRASS on several occasions. They were an Essex based anarchist collective who were not only responsible for a string of gloriously nasty albums but managed to sell over 2 million of them. Not only this, but they managed to do it all themselves without the backing of record companies or the music industry. When I visited them I was impressed how the whole family worked together to run the office, and how - despite the lack of
professional involvement - they not only managed to get all their product assembled and sent to the retailers, but they managed to be cheaper (and better) than anything coming out of the mainstream music industry.

Nearly fifteen Years ago I founded the CFZ. I did so for precisely the same reason that Penny Rimbaud and Steve Ignorant founded CRASS in 1977. The cryptozoological establishment was moribund, boring and - worse of all - becoming increasingly corrupt. It was time for a new broom. Everyone from the old guard sneered at me when I told them what I was gonna do. "You can't start a scientific organisation without the backing of either industry or
one of the universities" they said, as they carried on planning research whose only real motive was self aggrandaisment or to make rich people even richer.

I remembered the tumbledown Essex farmhouse full of punks tirelessly stuffing LPs into envelopes and grinned to myself. I went on with my plans and now we are the biggest cryptozoological research organisation in the world...and we are still not, nor will we ever be in bed with any multinational corporation or establishment university if it means that the
integrity of our work is threatened.

Cryptozoology is the study of unknown animals, but what we do is more than just looking for new species. Knowlege should be free and available to all. All too often these days it isn't. Not only are we untainted by association with major establishment figures, but our research is available to EVERYONE - whether or not they are members of the CFZ. We are working
towards building a full time Visitors Centre - a truly global community resource and a place where researchers from all over the world can meet and work together.

I haven't really thought about it before, but I guess that not only was I a punk the first time round, but I still am!



Roll on Friday 16th December at the Exeter Inn, Barnstaple. I'm the fat bloke at the bar wearing an anarchist T Shirt and black leather jacket.......