Ron Bonds, Illuminet Publisher,
Dies Under Strange Circumstances
By Kenn Thomas

This column started out to be about Charles K. Johnson of Lancaster, California, who died last month at the age 76. Johnson had served as the president of the Flat Earth Society since 1972. "If Earth were a ball spinning in space, there would be no up or down," he once told Newsweek. His New York Times obit said Johnson looked at scientists as "witch doctor" hoaxters trying to put science in the place of religion. Despite the hollow-earth theory being almost universally scoffed at, most people to whom I read the "witch doctor" quote said they agreed with it. Coming off a debate with Martin Cannon that included some discussion about the religious component of many of the mind-control speakers out on the circuit, I thought Mr. Johnson, a fundamentalist minister, provided a good example of one of my points. Without affirming or condemning his religious beliefs, the passing of this unique individual and with it virtually the entire "hollow earth" perspective should be acknowledged as a great loss.
Then I suffered another great loss with the death of Ron Bonds, the head of Illuminet Press and the publisher of two of my books, Maury Island UFO and Popular Alienation. Ron died by some mysterious means still not fully understood, perhaps involving food poisoning. Stunned by the news for days, I finally wrote this note to Timothy Beckley, who was prominent among the people circulating the news:
"Tim, I hope I'm not too late in sending a note about Ron Bonds. Like Jim Keith, I regarded Ron as a close friend and have been grieving his passing since I heard the news. Also as with Keith, I am more than a little alarmed at the circumstances. I have been assured that none of Ron's friends or relatives believe he died as a result of a "conspiracy", but it seems clear that it was the result of food poisoning. Keith, as you recall, had an innocuous blood clot.
I am perfectly willing to accept these mundane explanations, but I am also duty bound to point out the pattern of coincidence in that neither had their full four score on this earth. We have seen this pattern in the deaths of many UFO researchers; with witnesses to the Kennedy assassination; among scientists connected to SDI research; elsewhere. And the people most interested in doing a full investigation, and not just accepting the word of hospital and police authorities, for the most part do not have the means to conduct one.
Having said all of that, I want to acknowledge the great role Ron Bonds played in keeping alternative publishing alive in America. He doesn't need a conspiracy theory about his passing to make him a legendary figure in the conspiracy research community and the information underground. Ron saw and understood the vast body of writing and knowledge that was for the most part ignored and marginalized by the newsstands and publishing houses, and he shaped a career for himself that brought it to more people. Hey, he published two of my books--Popular Alienation and the current one, Maury Island UFO! That gained him sainthood right there, that and the fact that he was more dependable in paying royalties than anyone else in the small press. Ron also published the late, great Kerry Thornley, Oswald pal and founder Discordian; he brought John Keel back into full focus to a new generation and a newer one now with the Mothman movie coming up; great writers like G. J. Krupey, X. Sharks DeSpot and Matt Love would have never been published without Ron; "Arch Conspirator" Len Bracken first appeared for many people in the Gemstone anthology Ron published; and, of course, he had a long and very successful partnership with my old bud Jim Keith. Ron Bonds really was a hub of this world, and he will be missed on more than just the personal level, where he is missed very much indeed.
Since then, I have learned many details about Ron's death but nothing that lifts it out of the fog. He died of massive internal bleeding of the colin. It is still not certain if the hemorrage had anything to do with food poisoning. An autopsy was performed; there was no bleeding ulcer; there is still no official cause of death on a death certificate. Ron was sent to Grady Hospital in Atlanta, not nearby DeKalb General, ostensibly because it has the best trauma unit. It may take another eight weeks to get Dr. Henninger, the Fulton County coroner, to issue an official death record. An inevstigation of the food Ron ate the previous week is under way, but it is unclear if if other patrons of the Mexican restaurant he patronized became ill. Ron's wife did become briefly ill also after the Mexican meal, but that passed quickly.
All I really know is that I lost another friend and the alternative press lost another great talent; in fact, it lost a pillar of its existence. Without a real investigation, nobody knows, and it is of course utterly contradictory to examine conspiracy in everything and not to consider it in the lives and deaths of people like Ron.
At the Dylan concert last week, listening for words from the bard that would give the circumstances of Ron' death an additional resonance. They came in the songs "Desolation Row":
"The only sound that's left After the ambulances go Is Ciderella sweeping up in Desolation Row..."
Ron's widow Nancy has now inherited a great business responsibility. Although she has stopped the IllumiNet web site, she told me that she will continue processing book orders, individual ones but primarily to the distrubutors, and that IllumiNet will stumble along until more permanent arrangements can be made. Perhaps some shadow of Ron's great publishing effort will remain--I'd love to take it over myself!--but it's like with Jim Keith and Charles Johnson: when they're gone, they're gone, and the earth wobbles less now because the spin they put on it is gone as well.
Kenn Thomas Steamshovel Press
Here's a review of my speaking schedule at the moment. The next one is this coming weekend. I hope readers in the Chicago area will take a look and consider coming:
NEW SCIENCE & ANCIENT WISDOM, May 5-6, 2001; A three-day gala event in Kempton, Illinois. Guest Speakers David Hatcher Childress: Atlantis, Ancient Technology & the New Millennium; Christopher Dunn: The Giza Power Plant, Latest Discoveries; Kenn Thomas: On the Trail of the Octopus; Acharya S.: Ancient Mystery Schools and the Christ Conspiracy; Jerry Smith: Tesla Beam Weapons and HAARP; and more discussion between speakers. The conference will be held at the Adventures Unlimited building at One Adventure Place in downtown Kempton, Illinois. The One Adventure Place building houses the Adventures Unlimited Bookstore/Cafe as well as the catalog sales division and the conference center. Across the street is the Peppermill Restaurant and Sgt. Pepper's & Grill. Kempton is located in northern Illinois about 65 miles from Chicago's major airports. Cost of the Complete Conference: $90 before April 25, 2001, $100 thereafter. Motels can be found in the nearby towns of Dwight, Kankakee and Pontiac, Illinois. Call your favorite motel chain for their nearest location in this area. Call for more information: World Explorers Club Tel: 815-253-9000 or Fax: 815-253-6300 or Adventures Unlimited at Tel: 815-253-6390.
NORTHWEST UFO/PARANORMAL CONFERENCE, May 25-28, 2001: Seattle, Washington Memorial Day weekend. Doubletree - Seatac, Seattle Airport. Come Join us for an "Out of this World" Vacation! UFOs, Bigfoot, Egyptian Lore, Nostradamus, Ancient Manuscripts, Near Death Experience, Archaeology, Disclosure, New Technologies.
Speakers in order of appearance: Peter Davenport, Kathleen Anderson, Lloyd Pye, Karena Bryan, Dr. Melvin Morse, Jose Escamilla, Kenn Thomas, Glenn Kimball, John Hogue, Michael Tsarion, Michael Cremo, Pamela Stonebrooke, Dr. Heather Harder, Peter Gersten, Dr. Roger Leir, Dr. Nick Begich. Featuring a Jazz Singing performance by Pamela Stonebrooke (as heard on Coast to Coast bumper music) and local Northwest group. Quichua Mashis - authentic music from the Andes.
...and if you plan way far ahead, I also will be appearing in the fall at:
The 38th Annual National UFO Conference, NUFOC, Austin, Texas, September 14 - 16 2001. Famous Writers / Researchers Present New Evidence of UFO Reality, Special Events & Workshops; Focus On Balancing Encounters Research and Experiencer Therapy, After-Dark Saucer Culture Film-Fest featuring UFO movies, documentaries, film trailers, television shows and commercials with Special Guests! To be added to the conference update e-list, please send email to: NUFOC@ELFIS.NET .

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