Lettergraphic by Georgia Deaver
Just about everywhere Mae Brussell
looks, there's a plot or a conspiracy.
What really caused those airplane
crashes? Are the Nazis taking over
America? Who shot JFK? Mae thinks
she has the answersand she's
broadcasting The Truth to thousands
of eager believers.
By Jill Wolfson
It is early in the morning, and Mae BrussellAmerica's number-one conspiracy theoristis about to bring her red coffee mug with the white hearts to her lips. But just before it reaches them, her notorious mouth is off and running. To the uninitiated, it sounds something like this: "Kennedy-Hitler-Jones-Khadafy-Kissinger! Canyoubelievethis?" To the partially initiated, especially one who is only half-awake, her jumble of words comes across like some incredible plot from a pulp spy novel: Manson-Oswald-Hoffa-Lennonvictims of the Plot with a capital P. Vatican-White House-Supreme Court-the airlinesguilty of the most unspeakable horrors. Hitler-Hiss-Hearst. Mafia-Manson-Malcom X. With Mae, it's the strangest assortment of the same names over and over again. You'd swear the woman had developed hiccups of the brain. Finally, she pauses to butter an English muffin.
"And that's the beauty of it. There's a linear connection," she explains. "There's a pattern to these murders, to these so-called 'unplanned' disasters."
Then taking a bite of the muffin, Mae goes into an explanation of the hidden powersthe pockets of fascismthat are manipulating American history by bullets and blackmail. Kopechne (crunch!), Agnew (chew), Sirhan (swallow), Nicaragua (sip). Sowaddayathink? Interesting, you have to admiteven if you can't quite follow the logic.
There's something about listening to Mae Brussell take herself further and further along that is reminiscent of the highest art: The passion, the tying together of heretofore unrelated incidents. No matter what you may think of Mae and her cockamamy political theories, you have to admit that this 59-year-old, twice-divorced mother of five, needlepoint enthusiast, rabbi's daughter and housewife-turned-researcher, is the consummate conspiracy artist.
Mae has been only too eager to share her unique view of life and suspicious deaths. Her articles in The Realist have pointed out nefarious relationships between politicians, limelight lawyers, the CIA and the FBI. Her version of "The Final Words of Lee Harvey Oswald" appears in the People's Almanac. She has taught community college classes on how big businesses are economically sewing up the country, and how power-crazed Nazis are still on the loose.
Since 1971, Mae's main method of getting her message to the people has been through a broadcast originating at station KLRB in Carmel, and then syndicated to other Bay Area stations, like KKUP and KFJC, as well as stations around the country.
"The purpose of the broadcast, World Watchers International, is to explain the ways in which the government and society have been controlled through assassinations and mind control," she explains. "I try to take the news of the week and show how it pertains to past political murders and methods of control."
And it is in this regard that Mae has risen to become the country's self-proclaimed top conspiracy yenta, keeping tabs on political goings-on in much the same way that a gossip watches over her neighborhood.
Once a week, she broadcasts intriguing tidbits about the Syndicate, the aerospace-industry, the multinationals and the Nazis. She offers a litany of well-known and half-familiar names, and chuckles to herself as she connects them to cover-ups and overthrown governments. To Mae, it's all so credible. To others, well...
"I guess my most far-out idea is that Hitler is alive," she says. "I've traced him to a sanitarium in Switzerland. People can handle a lot of things about the president and about the CIA. But when it comes to Hitler, that's when they think that Mae's off the wall, that I've gone too far."
But some of her outrageously irreverent allegations have proven too accurate to simply ignore. Three weeks after the original Watergate break-in, Mae published a lengthy article in The Realist which pretty much stated what the rest of the news media would be saying a year later. She was talking about the political use of mind-altering and mind-control drugs, long before a report revealed that the CIA had been dabbling in LSD research with unsuspecting citizens.
Journalists have traveled to her Carmel home to use her clip file because, on so many topics, it's more extensive that any newspaper library.
Mae Brussell's radio broadcasts are designed to exorcise the lazy thinking brought about by the public's reliance on the traditional news media. But for new listeners, understanding what she says is not easy. Her raspy voice blasts rapid-fire on the oddest subjects, often at the oddest hours. The radio program is a long, entangled, mystifying list of people, places and events: "Good evening. This is Mae Brussell from Carmel, California. It's program number 528." And then it's an hour of putting Braun-Brazil-Yoko-Hinkley into proper prospective.
"I talk fast because my listeners expect it," she says. "Some of them have been with me for 11 years, and they keep their own files. I have only an hour, and I want to give out as much information as I can."
Getting a fix on the number of bona fide World Watchers is like asking a government official how many military advisors the U.S. has in Central America. Mae herself can't estimate. First thing Monday morning, she drops off the master tape at the Tape Center in Pacific Grove, an independent tape-duplicating service, where copies are made and mailed to subscribers. But from that point on, other copies are made of copies and an underground network is formed. Friends pass their tapes on to friends, who do likewise. She doesn't keep track of which radio stations air her show. The only indication of her impact is her mailshe receives 30-40 letters a week with postmarks from all over the United States, Germany, England and Holland.
"There are plenty of 'closet' World Watchers out there who don't want their names on a subscription list," Mae explains. "It's a way of protecting themselves. Some people don't want others to know that they know."
Conspiracy hounds come from a variety of backgrounds. Longtime fans include a bank president, cab drivers, students and politicians. A group in Philadelphia calling itself the Brussell Sprouts meets regularly to discuss her newest theories. And strangers are always asking her children if they are related to the Mae Brussell.
Around Carmel, Mae has become a supermarket celebrity of sorts, with people asking her opinion of Ronald Reagan while she's looking over the lettuce. "Flip on your radio," she usually tells them.
In order to prepare for her weekly discourse, Mae consumes at least eight daily newspapers, medical magazines, underground papers, court affidavits, UFO magazines, anti-Catholic comic books, documents from the FBI and CIA, neo-Nazi propaganda and the National Police Gazette, all in the hopes of catching something fishy. Other researchers send her articles on mind control and medical experiments that they are sure will be of interest. Suspicious findings are clipped, filed and cross-referenced. Almost her entire day revolves around the convoluted intricacies of who's doing what to the American people.
Brussell fans are eager to know the same three things:
Question 1: How can she get away with saying such outrageous things without being sued? "The only one who ever threatened to sue me was James McCord, when I talked about his role in killing Kennedy. I thought it was a wonderful idea because the government would never bring it out, but a private suit might get the information out into the open. But, of course, McCord changed his mind."
Question 2: If Mae's so smart and knows so much, why hasn't she wound up in the bottom of a river? "I was killed. Who do you think you're talking to? I'm a double. Seriously, I'm not out to lead a movement. I'm not reaching that many people. The way the powers handle you is to ignore or discredit you. When you're very visible, you have to be killed. If I had a big audience, then maybe I wouldn't be alive today."
Question 3: What's Mae like in her spare time? The more revealing question is, "What is her house like?" "Excuse the mess," she says.
Mae's surroundings are as cluttered with conspiracy as her mind. Every room is overrun with newspapers, files and knick-knacks dedicated to her passion. Her books start in the living room and make their way into every corner: To the right in the guest bedroom are the Nazi books; down the hallway we find the conspiracy and mind-control section; 300 books on the John Kennedy assassination line an entire wall; books on food and weather control take up their own shelves. There are books on the news media and the lawyers who manipulate the courts; tomes on the rich for whom the grabbing is done; and volumes on the public servants, "the schleppers who do all the dirty work." "Over here, I've broken Richard Nixon down into three sections," she explains.
Everywherelike she's fighting a private war against all that's impersonal and colorlessthere are mementoes, art work by friends, and photographs of her children through the years. One son painted this picture. One of her daughters embroidered that. A candy dish has been set out so visitors can help themselves to an anti-Nazi button patterned after the "No Smoking" version. Nixon-Warren-Gray-Hunt, she says, while peeling a carrot. Warren-Gray-Hunt-Nixon, as she shows off her latest needlepoint.
After taking a tour of her home, the obvious question remains: How did a lady who hangs old-fashioned samplers on her wall come to see Nazis everywhere but under her own bed? Mae was born in Los Angeles, a fourth-generation Californian whose great-grandfather founded the posh I. Magnin clothing stores. In addition to having a well-known maiden name, she grew up with the added benefit of being the daughter of a well-heeled, respected rabbi. The family guests ranged from Jack Warner to Thomas Mann. Her father used to go bike-riding with Albert Einstein. Mae attended Stanford as a philosophy major, but quit a few weeks before graduation to marry.
Her life BKA (Before the Kennedy Assassination) was "tennis courts, dancing lessons and orthodonture for my children." Her biggest interest in politics was knowing enough to get through a cocktail party. But then John Kennedy was killed, and her life changed.
"It started out as a hobby," she says. "Then I bought myself the entire Warren Commission hearings and started reading. That was OK with my friends, until I stopped playing bridge at night."
The 26-volume report took her eight years to study, cross-reference and outline. The discrepancies between the evidence and what was written, she says, is staggering. And what was even more staggering was seeing how the assassination related to other worldly events. She began tracking the same names and methods in the daily newspapers. The Warren Commission hearings turned out to be Mae's Rosetta Stone, a key to deciphering conspiracies to come.
"Eight years of preparation is equivalent to a law degree or a medical degree, so the studying (of the hearings) was like becoming an attorney or a brain surgeon," she says.
The Brussell family eventually moved to Carmel Valley to "get the kids out of the shallow L.A. atmosphere." And as Mae continued studying, there was more than physical distance between herself and her former friends. Their "shallowness and fun-seeking" grated on her. And her own obsession with Oswald-mind control-Warren didn't exactly fit well into the cocktail-party circuit.
Things have changed for her personally since those first days of Kennedy-Warren-Garrison. She separated from her second husband of 17 years and moved from their spacious home into a smaller house that she affectionately calls "Mae's little place." King-Kennedy-Wallace. Her children grew up, went away to school, married. They became actresses and musicians. One became a lawyer; another died in an automobile accident. Watergate-Manson-SLA.
Mae's World Watchers broadcast doesn't make her any profits, she claims; in fact, she says that her exhaustive "search for the truth" actually costs her money. So she lives off "my ex-husband, dividends and insurance policies," and occasionally writes an article or gives a lecture. When the bank account runs low, she takes part-time jobs cooking and tidying up for the wealthy, lonely elderly in Carmel. Reagan-Haig-Hinckley.
Despite all the changes, one thing has remained the same for Mae Brussell over the past 17 yearsshe is an ardent World Watcher. "Two guys from the Secret Service came to the door the other day, after they saw me handing out anti-Bush pamphlets at a Republican convention in San Francisco," she says. "They wanted to know what groups I belong to. So I said, 'I belong to World Watchers International and to the Embroidery Guild'a very radical group."
It is nearly midnight on a recent Sunday, and Mae has returned home after taping her broadcast. She is about to bring the red mug with the white hearts to her lips. But before the Sleepy Time herb tea reaches them, that notorious mouth is going again.
But she spends only a little time going into more detail about Air Florida-Dulles-Khadafy. First thing tomorrow morning, she must drop the tape off at the copying center, so her listeners across the country can get their weekly dose of collusion. And she still must type up the reference sheet sent out with every tape.
Kissinger-Haig-Western Airlines, the typewriter sings long into the night. And then it's off to sleep, with visions of Kennedy-Khadafy-King dancing through Mae Brussell's head.
The history of modern times according to Mae Brussell has not been a series of unrelated disasters and deaths. The air crashes, break-ins and druggings have all been well-planned steps in turning this country into a fascist state.
To Brussell, the deaths of Kennedy, Oswald, King, Hoffa, Dag Hammarskjold, George Moscone, Elvis Presley, Mama Cass, Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon are all chapters in the same book. History according to Mae reads like this:
Nazis"I'd like to see a directory of everyone who came to the United States from Germany after 1943those who became professors, doctors, and members of the Pentagon, National Security Council and Navy Intelligence. I'd like to know how they influence foreign policy today. Are these Germans running our country? Is mind control, the build-up of arms, inflationthe very things bankrupting our countrya repetition of Germany of 1933? I believe they are."
The John Kennedy Assassination"The murder of John Kennedy was not an isolated world assassination. It was a large plot where people were murdered before him and after him, up until the present date. The sole purpose is to remove any person from office or power who intends to have world peace. The actual Kennedy shooting was a cross-fire with silencers, organized with the assistance of top Nazis, including Martin Bormann in Argentina."
The John Lennon Assassination"His death was a well-constructed plot that involved careful manipulation of Mark David Chapman through hypnosis and mind control, starting with anti-Beatles propaganda when he became a Fundamentalist Christian. The church sucked him in, then the CIA took over. During Chapman's travels to London, Hawaii, Israel, Hong Kong and Korea, he was in the specific cities where the people identified with the Kennedy assassination all have bases.
"Why Lennon? The Reagan administration intends to make war on various soils, and John Lennon's energy was the greatest force for peace demonstrations. It was their desire to prevent and repeat of the demonstrations of the '60s."
Patty Hearst & the SLA"The Symbionese Liberation Army was created by the CIA as part of its 'Operation Chaos.' The purpose was to break up the anti-war, black, gay, youth, and Indian movementsall the radical and liberal movements for social changeby involving these elements in the kidnapping."
Charles Manson"The Manson family was set up by counterintelligence, protected by law enforcement and prepared for the kill. The purpose was to scare white Americans out of their booties. They used a man who looked like Rasputin, and made him appear like the guru of the young anti-war people who were leaving home.
"Intelligence agencies supplied him with drugs, weapons, stereos, money; they gave him all the guns and women. The idea was to try to identify all music and all youth with the Manson family."
Hitler"He was created by all the organizations and institutions that needed a mouthpiece for their hatredthe Vatican, churches and educational systems who are afraid to appear racist or prejudiced on the surface. Hitler never died in body or in action. He's stronger today than he ever was. People are still willing to kill and die for the same lies. There's a lot of controversy about his death. The last I heard, he was in a sanatorium in Switzerland."
Jonestown"I think it was a test program to round up the undesirables in society and cart them off. It was an experiment in drugs, torture, mass psychology, and medical and mind-control experiments.
"Every law-enforcement agency in California and Washington, designed to protect the citizens, was involved in the cover-up. The horror is that the CIA won't open up the case. If they don't open it up, that means they have plans to use it again."
The Prison System "The prison system encourages violence and gangs, pitting minorities against each other so they won't go against their real oppressor. The prisons are also used for experiments on drugs and mind control. It's a scandal. I've spoken to prisoners who were allowed to leave Soledad if they agreed to murder someone on the outside."
Reagan"The president, like Adolf Hitler, represents the wishes of the same group of people. They created Reagan from the time he was an actor, because they needed a front man while the real decisions are made by others."