Shelley Carney Interviews Tomas Leach, Director of “The Lure” | Santa Fe Center for Contemporary Arts | May 18, 2017

“The Lure” is a feature length documentary about some of the men and women enchanted by Forrest Fenn and the treasure he’s hidden “…someplace in the mountains North of Santa Fe.”

The interview was conducted in a classroom very kindly provided by the Santa Fe Children’s Museum, which sits adjacent to the Santa Fe Center for Contemporary Arts, where the film was screened to a full house on the evening of Thursday, May 18, 2017.

Mr. Fenn, several of his family members, and at least three of the searchers in the film were present.

Shelley and I give the film a hearty “thumbs up,” as Leach navigates his way, equally adeptly, through the various wilderness areas to which he’s taken, and the strongly felt (and expressed) emotions of the searchers. He seems to have found a healthy balance between the two.

Leach’s cinematography was subtle and thoughtful, and the audio was enviable, as it was as good, if not better, as I have heard on any film of this genre (and budget). The film was well edited with only a couple of scenes that could have used a little extra cutting but moves along smoothly, and at a consistent pace. In all, it was a very engaging story, well told, in a technically astute manner. Our compliments to Mr. Leach.

In conclusion, should you get the opportunity, see the film. If you’re not searching for the treasure before, we’ll bet you’ll be after.

Click here for more information on Tomas Leach and his film.

Where, Exactly, Are the Clues in Forrest Fenn’s Treasure Poem?

Forrest Fenn's Treasure Poem in "The Thrill of the Chase."

Forrest Fenn’s Treasure Poem in “The Thrill of the Chase.”

Three things.

First: I have, and perhaps not for the last time, come to a conclusion that the nine clues in the poem are exactly in the following order, and that each complete sentence represents a single clue, i.e., “Begin it where ware waters halt and take it in the canyon down, not far, but too far to walk.” is one clue, not three. To wit:

  1. As I have gone alone in there and with my treasures bold, I can keep my secret where, and hint of riches new and old.
  2. Begin it where warm waters halt and take it in the canyon down, not far, but too far to walk.
  3. Put in below the home of Brown.
  4. From there it’s no place for the meek, the end is ever drawing nigh; there’ll be no paddle up your creek, just heavy loads and water high.
  5. If you’ve been wise and found the blaze, look quickly down, your quest to cease, but tarry scant with marvel gaze, just take the chest and go in peace.
  6. So why is it that I must go and leave my trove for all to seek?
  7. The answers I already know, I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak.
  8. So hear me all and listen good, your effort will be worth the cold.
  9. If you are brave and in the wood I give you title to the gold.

 


Second: The first clue in the poem indicates that Fenn hid the treasure in New Mexico.

Third: The poem is not a map.

Shelley and I will explain it further in our next vlog, due on April 26, 2017. I’ll add the link to the video on this page, once the vlog is published.

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Follow our hunt for the Fenn Treasure:

To see Fenn at Moby Dickens, and get bonus materials, click here:

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Fenn’s Tactical Offensive Counterintelligence Operation

As the result of our visibility due to our investment in time and effort given to our Internet properties, including this one, we are often in receipt of emails from searchers who describe some or all of their solutions to us.

The most recent one included this sentence, “Forrest wrote 2 books, numerous scrapbooks, vignettes, etc.  There are featured questions, weekly words, etc.  He has given us a lot of information.”

Needless to say, that got our attention.

We respectfully disagree with the assertion, “He has given us a lot of information.” Amongst all that Fenn has provided, there is only one item of information that has provided any value to us.

This one – “I haven’t given a clue (that) I think was going to help anybody substantially.”

Those exact words were spoken by Fenn at the Collected Works Bookstore in October of 2013. I have (because I made) the video recording.

Thus, we do not believe Fenn has provided us even the most fundamental “actionable intelligence.”

If anything, he’s implemented a casual program of what we in the intelligence community would have referred to “tactical offensive counterintelligence, with intent.” That’s information promulgated intentionally to confuse an issue.

(It should be noted, though, he’s not doing it in an intentionally hurtful way – he’s doing it because he’s Forrest Fenn, he’s 86, he’s naturally mischievous, and he likes attention.)

Why does that make sense?

Because it is far easier for Fenn NOT to give us any information beyond what he’s written in The Poem.

Think about this: What, in terms of time and effort, would it take for Fenn to manage the process of providing an additional six years’ worth of “hints” or “clues,” enough to keep the effort going, but not enough to spoil his dream of being a topic of conversation a thousand years from now?

Remember what a big deal the “unintended clue” in TFTW turned out to be?

If you’ve managed to conclude (as a result of all that additional information he’s provided) that Fenn would like someone find the treasure before he dies, you’re wrong.

From Fenn’s perspective, there is no rational reason to provide any information beyond what he has in The Poem.

So, here’s a test.

Erase all your solutions from your mind.

Instead, start with this: You have The Poem, access to GMap4, and you know the treasure is hidden someplace north of Santa Fe in the Rocky Mountains. Bonus: You found the TFTW map online.

No books, no scrapbooks, no videos, no Fenn blog, no ChaseChat, no Dal Neitzel, no A Gypsy’s Kiss, no “Forrest gets emails.”

Now, answer this question: Where, exactly, do the warm waters mentioned in The Poem halt?

 

Images: AGK Vlog Ep 004 | Actionable Intelligence

Here are the image I used in this week’s Vlog Segment on “Actionable Intelligence.”

 

The Intelligence Process – As Applied to the Search for Fenn’s Treasure

A Beautiful Mind

I spent five years in the United States Army from 1969 to 1974. Two of those years were spent in Viet Nam assigned to a firebase near the (then) town of Ca Mau, but I traveled all over the Mekong Delta in IV Corps. I volunteered for, and was assigned, to the U. S. Army Security Agency (ASA), a branch of the National Security Agency (NSA), and I held a Top Secret Crypto clearance. My primary Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was 98C – Traffic Analyst. I say primary, because I went through far more training in other courses and schools before going overseas. The traffic I analyzed and acted upon had nothing to do with cars or trucks. I wrote that so you know I have a good sense of what I’m about to suggest to you.

Intelligence is a process. It includes targeting, collecting, collating, analyzing, formulating, reporting, planning and action.

The most often heard phrase in that community is “actionable intelligence.” That means “intelligence in which the confidence in its accuracy is so high, that you’re willing to put American lives at risk.”

As an analyst, that concept significantly affects the way you work.

It means that you put each one of the above steps in context. But, eventually, there comes a point in the process where you have to decide whether or not you have to present your findings, conclusions and recommendations to the people who make decisions.

I have lost sleep over those matters. In times when expediency counted, I spent hours worth of self-reflection and in discussions with other analysts on whether to present my work. Being wrong, or not presenting a well-thought-out case, is not something you want to do. At best, it costs credibility. At worst, it costs lives.

But, this is just a treasure hunt, isn’t it? No lives at risk. No big price to be paid for a mistake in analysis and judgement.

So, what’s my point?

As a result of our vlog, we have received “intelligence” on where we should consider conducting searches for the treasure. Nothing really firm, mind you – mostly strings of random ideas and attempts to weave them together into coherency. Certainly, in my opinion, not actionable.

That’s my point.

We look at every one of our solutions we devise from the perspective of “would it pass the actionable intelligence” test? Could I present this solution to a group of people who have my best interest at heart, and expect them to, not only agree with my assessment, but, then, to take action on it?

Next time you find yourself in the midst of a “Beautiful Mind” attempt at determining where and how to finds Fenn’s treasure, stop.

Ask yourself, “Is this good enough to present it to a group of people whose decisions based on my analysis will put lives at risk?”

I know. There are no American lives at risk. It’s just a treasure hunt.

But, here’s a fun way to look at it: let’s say the treasure is a small nuclear device, and your job is to find it, and disarm it before it blows up part of the Rocky Mountains. How good would your solution to the nine clues be then?

Connections, Synchronicity & Segues

Fenn writes like he thinks.

And, he thinks in compact, self-contained packages (CSCPs*), the current one connected to the previous one as much as it is to the following one. Then, as he moves through his line of thought, he builds cross connections. Eventually, each CSCP is virtually connected to all the other CSCPs. As they age, some of them float out to the edge of his cranial universe, far away enough from the center of mental gravity that they escape, never to return. Some hang on near the edge and are modified by it. They become memory anomalies, or as he calls them, “aberrations.”

Sooner or later, when he needs them, he pulls some of the related CSCPs together to form a new, complete thought.

Then, he writes.

The Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung gave the process a name. He called it synchronicity.

Synchronicity is what leaves Fenn’s audiences with a sense of a mind that’s in constant motion. Eclectic, yet organized. Artistic, yet logical. Organic, yet mechanical. Cunning, yet caring. Twisted, yet aligned.

To me, the synchronous manner in which he thinks, then writes, is what leads to what I refer to as “The Fenn Segue.”

(Segue: pronounced seg-way. Definition: to make a transition without interruption from one activity, topic, scene, or part to another.)

I noticed it the first time in my reading of the chapter entitled “First Grade,” subtitled “Lanier School,” beginning on pg 16 of “The Thrill of the Chase.”

It begins, “My father was a teacher at Lanier School…” There’s a photo of his father captioned, “Mr. Fenn, Principal” on the opposite page.

One could assume that this chapter was going to be about his father. And, for the most part, it is.

olivejarkeyIt is, except for the SEGUE about John Charles whatever, who would sometimes “…bring a little jar of green olives to school and wave that thing…” in Fenn’s face. Description of the jar of olives follows. The first time I read the chapter, I was so distracted by the olive jar segue, that I had trouble concentrating while reading the rest of the chapter. Instead of following my eyes reading, my mind was asking itself the same question Fenn asked the readers, “What was that all about anyway?”

Why would you segue out of a perfectly good story, to tell a completely unrelated one?

Synchronicity. It was not unrelated. It was connected. The olive jar, a CSCP that had traversed some distance out into the universe in his mind, was snapped back into his current CSCP of thought. Lanier School? Probably.

(As I am writing this, I recalled a CSCP of A****** Garcia, the overweight, abused bully two grades ahead of me at St. Anne’s Elementary School in Santa Fe, who would seek me out on the playground and beat the crap out of me. On one of my leaves from the service, I was informed he had killed himself in a car accident on I-25 between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. He was drunk. He killed his girlfriend in the process, and left his wife and daughters with almost nothing, except unpleasant memories.)

By the way, the previous paragraph was a classic example of a segue.

I’ll bet some of you had the olive jar kid in your lives too. I’ll bet just reading this elicits the memory of your olive jar kid. Don’t have that kind of memory? Then you were probably the olive jar kid.

That, of course, is not the only Fenn segue in the book. The “horseshoe” segue in “Dancing With the Millennium” on pg 135 is a good example. There are several others. Even the “Treasure” chapter beginning on pg 127 entitled “Gold and More,” subtitled “Somewhere North of Santa Fe,” contains a couple, including the dream about Captain Kidd and Gardiner’s Island. He also, in the same chapter, writes that he placed his 20,000 word autobiography in a glass jar, sealed with wax, into the treasure chest.

I felt like there was something important about the Fenn segues. Upon completing my first reading of the book, I returned to its beginning and made notes of each of the Fenn segues.  I especially noted the mention of the olive jar at the beginning of the book and his mention of the jar containing his autobiography near the end.

Focused on finding the treasure, I didn’t think much about it. In the grand scheme of value…well – his autobiography wasn’t an egg-sized gold nugget. Was it?

I didn’t think much about the jar until one day I heard him talking about his autobiography in the jar.

A jar he sealed with wax.

And, a jar he put in the treasure chest before he hid it.

An olive jar.

Yes. He said it was an olive jar.

They key, I believe, to understanding the Fenn Segue is in the olive jar.


* You won’t find Compact Self Contained Packages (CSCPs) in the literature. I made up the phrase to describe how I think Fenn thinks.

Fenn’s Clues and Hints: Intentional, Accidental or Incidental?

I copied the following lines from the “Cheat Sheet” page on Dal Neitzel’s Blog:

Q: Are there clues in “The Thrill of the Chase?”

Fenn: “Yes, because the poem is in the book.”

Q: Are there clues in “Too Far to Walk?”

Fenn: “Yes, because the map is in the book.”

Q: Are there subtle hints in “TTOTC?”

Fenn: “Yes, if you can recognize them.”

PIC_0080Fenn has also said, “The chapters in my book have very subtle hints but are not deliberately placed to aid the seeker. ”

And, on more than one occasion, Fenn has said that there are hints (he’s careful not to use the word “clues”) sprinkled throughout the book.

He’s also written (in emails), “All of the information you need to find the treasure is in the poem.

Therefore, I have come to following conclusions:

  1. When Fenn intentionally gives us a clue, it’s…well…bull puckey.
  2. Any other clue or hint to finding the treasure, outside the poem, are accidental or incidental to the written word or the conversation.

Here’s what I mean.

If I go over any of the clues of which Fenn has preceded with any variation of the phrase “I’m going to give you a clue (or hint),” they have no real value. At least to me. I could go on searching, following the clues in the poem, and knowing none of the following would have made a difference to me:

  • It’s not on top of a mountain.
  • It’s below 20,000 feet.
  • It’s above 5,000 feet.
  • It’s not in Idaho, Nevada, Utah or Canada.
  • It’s 300 miles west of Toledo.
  • It’s at least 8.5 miles North of Santa Fe.
  • It’s not in a graveyard
  • It’s not associated with any structure.

…yada, yada, yada.

I believe:

  • There are at least hints, and maybe clues, in everything that Fenn has written or recorded.
  • Those hints and clues were purely accidental or incidental to what he was writing or the conversation he was having at the time.
  • He was surprised to have noticed them or to have them pointed out to him, post hoc.

For, a classic, example, associating the phrase “too far to walk” with the phrase “about 10 miles” in the preface of “Two Far to Walk” was purely accidental. It also, in the grand scheme of things, may be totally meaningless. But, it wasn’t intentional.

I also believe that there are incidental hints or clues in may of the recorded interviews, with value, as long as they are not preceded by the phrase cited above.

I find nothing written or spoken by Fenn in which he has said the equivalent of “I intentionally placed hints (or clues) (in anything) other than the poem.”

So, where does all that leave me?

Here: Fenn hid a treasure someplace in the mountains North of Santa Fe and wrote a poem containing nine clues that, when correctly interpreted, will lead me directly to the treasure.

On Postmarks in TTOTC

Postmark Graphic: "The Thrill of the Chase" by Forrest Fenn, pg 22.

Postmark Graphic: “The Thrill of the Chase” by Forrest Fenn, pg 22.

Having spent 10 years of my life with the National Security Agency, it is difficult for me not to look for ciphers of various sorts in everything from company logos to Fenn’s Book. (Logos? Really? I once spent a week with EXXON. Take a good look at it the next time you see it.)

Here is a potential cypher in Fenn’s book I find intriguing. (Although I have yet to make anything of it.)

Counting the Epilogue, Fenn’s book, “The Thrill of the Chase,” which includes a chapter on the story of the treasure he hid, is comprised of 26 chapters. (Coincidentally, the same number of letters in the English alphabet.)

Most of the chapters in the book are preceded by a photograph recorded in, what seems to me, a time contemporary to the subject of the chapter that follows. I say most, because not all of the chapters are preceded by photographs, e.g., pg 20 “No Place for Biddies.”

Of the chapters which are preceded by photographs, 20 of them include a postmark as a graphic device, similar to the one in the attached photo from TTOTC/pg 23.  Several of the postmarks are duplicated on the inside front and back cover of the book.

There are 6 chapters which do not  include a postmark at the beginning, even though some of them include a contemporary photo. They are:

  1. Pg 1 Important Literature
  2. Pg 20 No Place for Biddies
  3. Pg 32 My Spanish Toy Factory
  4. Pg 104 Blue Jeans and Hushpuppies Again
  5. Pg 134 Dancing With the Millennium
  6. Pg 144 Epilog

Of the 20 postmarks, the YEAR of the postmark is illegible on 6, (e.g., pg 46) and there are 6 that are “embellished” with additional information, (e.g., pg 56). (The embellishment on pg 121 is difficult to see without an eye loupe.)

(I’m not going to make a big deal out of 6 of this, 6 of that, and 6 of something else. And, if you comment on it, I won’t approve it.)

The postmark that intrigued me the most, and was the basis for this blog post, is the one on pg 72, preceding the chapter entitled “My War for Me.” (This chapter contains 31 pages of the 146 page book, taking more 20% of the book for itself.)

The postmark reads, SATURDAY 27 DEC and the YEAR is illegible. There is a photo on the same page of the Fenn’s the  date they were married, with the caption, “Our wedding, Dec. 27, 1953,” There were obvious differences in the manner in which the two dates were presented, one making the YEAR illegible, and the other not including the DAY.

That curiosity led me to a www.dayoftheweek.org where I entered “December 27, 1953” and clicked “Go.”

The response was “December 27, 1953 is the 361st day of the year 1953 in the Gregorian calendar. There are 4 days remaining until the end of this year. The day of the week is Sunday.”

Who gets married on a Sunday?

Apparently, Fenn. I wrote him to ask about it, and he graciously replied that, indeed, he and Peggy were married on a Sunday, according to her mother’s wishes.

So, why “SATURDAY” on the postmark? One of Fenn’s intentional mistakes to see if we noticed?

I entered the information for the 13 other postmarks in which the YEAR was legible.

Not one of the DAYS are correct, according to the DATE and the YEAR.

Could Fenn’s graphic artist have not been interested enough to check? Well…yes. It’s possible.

But even then, you’d think there would be at least one of the postmarks in which the DAY/DATE combination was correct.

My opinion: the placement of the postmarks, the illegibility of some and embellishment of others, and the DAY/DATE errors are intentional.

I’ll leave it up to you to figure out why.

Secret Fenn Treasure Map Discovered!

One last post before I depart. I couldn’t help myself.

Fenn's Treasure Map

Fenn’s Treasure Map

Much has been written, and spoken, about the image of the map ghosted onto page 133 of TTOTC. It is rather enticing, and many, including me, have spent hours with magnifying glass and eye loupe over it hoping it would be rife with hints, or clues, and perhaps an “X” that marks the proverbial spot.

One of the easier-to-read articles on the subject is found in Richard Saunier’s blog, “Mountain Walk,” entitled, “Forrest Fenn as Cartographer.” Saunier is not what I would call a prolific blogger, but when he writes, I read. His entries are interesting, informative, entertaining, thought-provoking, and witty.

(As I write this, I am reminded that one of the characters in Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code,” is Jacques Saunière, one in the long royal blood line of Christ…in the movie.)

Like everyone else, I took more than a passing interest in the map.

Although hardly legible, the “N” shape in the road leading from South to North is easily recognized. If you open a current map of New Mexico you’ll see that the route in the center of the TTOTC Map tracks along current Interstate Route 25 from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, segues Southeast through Glorieta Pass, then North again through Las Vegas and towards Raton and the New Mexico/Colorado border. If you have made the trip from Albuquerque to Denver as often as I have, you curse the damned switchback every time you take it. (There is another, shorter by 40 miles, more Western route North to Denver via US 285, but it’s slower, since most of it is two-lane road rather than interstate. It is, though, far more scenic.)

The route dates back at least to the Spanish explorers, and likely before them, to the Ancient Pueblo Tribes since Glorieta Pass is the Southernmost (in New Mexico) West-East traverse of the lower Rocky Mountains.

New Mexico 1895

New Mexico 1895

Knowing a little about graphics, publication design, the Google machine and maps, I quickly found a copy of the map onlne. You can see it here. Right click on the image and you can download it to your desktop.

I printed it out, and played with it for awhile to see if there was anything helpful in it. It defines the Rocky Mountains very clearly and shows many of the geographic features uncluttered and unencumbered with contemporary map imagery. It puts a whole new perspective on the phrase “in the mountains North of Santa Fe.” And, as far as I can tell, the only “X” North of Santa Fe is at the end of “Colfax,” and I think it’s outside the search area anyway.

I pinned the map (magnetically) to my search mission whiteboard.

It reminds me that this search is about simplicity rather than complexity, and imagination rather than thought.

And, that could have been the end of the story.

Until today, when I went to visit with a friend and client at the  Flying Star Cafe at the corner of 8th and Gold in downtown Albuquerque. There, inside the front door was the same antique map, enlarged, used as a foundation for the restaurant’s promoting its “local” resources.

I’m sure you can understand my concern when I realized one of their red-flagged pushpins not only answered the question “Where’s the beef?” but pointed DIRECTLY at one of my search solutions.

Where’s the beef?

Flying Star Cafe Map

Flying Star Cafe Map

Pooping somewhere near the infamous Fenn chest.

It gives new meaning to the phrase “buried treasure.”