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Bob Dean

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(This page is not about Bob Dean, the UFO expert. He can be found at this page at Wikipedia, while his own entry at the High Weirdness Project can be found at Robert Dean.)
See also: Carolyn Dean

If you're researching the ancient history of the Church of the SubGenius (or at least looking at its activities over the past twenty years), you might stumble across a curiosity: Bob Dean, the so-called "Canadian Bob Dobbs." Bob Dean has repeatedly spouted the line that he was the "inspiration for the J. R. 'Bob' Dobbs character of the Church of the SubGenius." This is stated on his home page.

Since the 1980s, Dean has been spinning elaborate fairy tales about himself, based on the theories put forth by Canadian scholar Marshall McLuhan. He's woven a convoluted history involving himself, and he plays the role of a guy born in 1922 who has personally met Adolf Hitler, assisted in launching the career of Lyndon LaRouche [1], had inside knowledge of JFK's assassination, and introduced Prince Charles to Lady Diana. All this is part of his long, ongoing, incomprehensible talk of the deep, heavy symbolism involving James Joyce's Finnegans Wake (which was a heavy source of inspiration for McLuhan). Lately he's become a fan of the Matrix movies, and he works them into his writing and speeches frequently. He's also fond of using invented terms such as android meme, phatic communication, tetrad (these last two taken from McLuhan), xenochrony (taken from Frank Zappa: [2]), and Menippean (as in "Menippean satire:" [3]). Good luck trying to understand what these terms actually mean according to Bob Dean, however: Dean can (and often does) preach about them for hours and hours at a time. See his home page for examples of this.

Bob Dean claims to be the intellectual heir to Marshall McLuhan, and as proof of this he's likely to direct you to a fancy-sounding Web site called the Marshall McLuhan Center on Global Communications. This site states that it was "founded by McLuhan's daughter Mary shortly after his death in 1980," and on the list of its Board of Directors it includes Mary Corinne McLuhan, several other names, and both the names of Robert Dean ("McLuhan Archivist & Scholar") and Dr. Carolyn Dean M.D. N.D. ("Doctor, Naturopath, Author"). The site gives a long list of "corporate sponsors," but it doesn't actually describe anything that it has actually done or contributed to the field of media research; its calendar of upcoming events is completely empty. (Eric McLuhan, Marshall McLuhan's son, made a short statement regarding Dean: [4] )

This is all so metaphysical and detached from reality that in any other context, Dean would be an unknown, harmless kook. Except for one thing: he stole from the Church of the SubGenius.

Unlike the idea of Slack as revealed to the world through J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, Bob Dean's philosophies are different from actual SubGenius dogma. In fact, Dean has spent the years since 1987 trying to convince the world that the Church of the SubGenius is actually based upon him – himself, personally. He states that Rev. Ivan Stang and Philo Drummond "invented" J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, and actually based it on a meeting that supposedly took place between Stang, Philo, and Dean at a bar in 1978. Dean allegedly "taught" them some cosmic wisdom and showed them a picture of his father, and it inspired them to create an entire religion and base it on him. The only "proof" he has ever offered is this so-called "diary entry" that he wrote himself: [5]

In this interview, Dean repeats the same fake story outright, "He [Stang] and Philo met me in 1978, in Dallas; when I was stationed there for the Secret Council of Ten. And, as young kids, they met me in a club. We had a couple of accidental (from their uninitiated view) meetings. But, in retrospect, they were preordained meetings, where I gave ‘em some info. As young, imprintable minds, they lapsed into this whole baroque spiral and creatively evolved Bob into this joke church, and joke religion and joke business; their psycho circus for the endtimes! All inspired by me!" [6]

Except that this never happened.

A concise listing of Dean's so-called autobiography can be found here: [7] Dean insists this chart is "proof" that he is telling the truth about himself. For an example of Dean's idea of the truth, look at the beginning entries that show him meeting James Joyce at the age of 13, predicting ("flashes on") the Sputnik satellite at the age of 14, and predicting JFK's assassination the very next day after his Sputnik revelation. The entry that "proves" his meeting with Stang and Philo Drummond is listed under February 2, 1978.

Most if not all of the entries of this "diary" are completely made up: Dean claims they are "interviews" with the subjects in question. Several of the subjects of these "interviews" (Frank Zappa, James Joyce, and Marshall McLuhan himself) are dead, which means Dean is supposedly engaging in channeling sessions, communicating with their spirits and claiming they are talking to him. In other words, he makes it all up. (Some of the entries in this "diary" are real howlers, as well: in these entries, Dean claims to have met James Joyce [8]; that a sit-down conversation took place between McLuhan, Lyndon LaRouche, Frank Zappa, Peter Beter, and himself [9]; and that McLuhan supposedly praises Dean's remarkable insight into his works [10].)

(As of June 2008 Dean has made claims that the recently deceased George Carlin has something to do with him, reinforcing Dean's pattern of making claims about people who can't possibly refute them.)

Bob Dean has never been one to shy away from "interviews" where he talks about himself, his grand accomplishments, and what a wise and great teacher he is. Here ( ) Dean tells another story, one that is closer to the truth: "I was in Toronto at CKLN in 1984 and some guy comes up to me and asks, ‘Ever heard about these guys, Church of the SubGenius?’ He handed me some booklet or something and I read it. Then I knew, I realized this is based on fucking me! They're describing the whole thing they got from what I told them.” He claims again that he met with Ivan Stang and Philo Drummond in 1978, and that this meeting "inspired" them to found the Church and create J.R. "Bob" Dobbs as a tribute to him. (Strangely, Dean's "diary" describes Stang using his real "human" name at this meeting, while Philo only names himself with his pseudonym of Philo Drummond.) Of course, he also claims that he was actually born in 1922. You've seen the pictures: does that guy look and sound like he's 85 years old? There has never been any indication that he ever met Stang and Philo in 1978.

Dean has also claimed that the image of J.R. "Bob" Dobbs is based on a picture of his own father, "Rene Dobbs," who was a member of the Priory of Sion. However, since Dean was not born in 1922, the Priory of Sion does not exist (see: ), and there is no such person as "Rene Dobbs" (any more than Dean's real name is "Bob Dobbs"), then the identity of the person shown on Dean's Web site as "Rene Dobbs" is questionable. For all that anyone knows, he could be a person that Dean photographed himself, in an attempt to "prove" that the Church of the SubGenius is somehow based upon him. To counter this, we ask the following: Is Stang's Dad really "Bob"?

Stang further comments: "He attracts some REAL WINNERS, though, doesn't he? 'Octavian' is the scholar whose blog page "proves" Dean flashed a photo of his dad to me and Philo in a bar in 1978 and that we swiftly RE-DREW it (??), added a PIPE to it for some reason (??), and then built a whole fake religion around it… with us, oddly, totally ignoring all the McLuhan and other kook stuff that Dean is obsessed with. I guess if the photo of Dean's father was the ONLY PREVIOUS EXISTING PHOTO of a MAN SMILING, then that story would make PERFECT SENSE." [11]

(In contrast to this story, the original "Dobbshead" image used by the Church as the image of J.R. "Bob" Dobbs" has been available at the official SubGenius Web site at this location: [12])


However, there's a bit more to this story than Dean is willing to tell. Before he discovered the Church of the SubGenius, Dean used the name "Bob Marshall." He named himself after Marshall McLuhan (original, yes?) and it was with this name that he began calling this radio talk show on CKLN in Toronto hosted by Mike Dyer (and produced by Nelson Thall). He bamboozled them enough with his "android meme" double-talk that they brought him on as a co-host…which wasn't hard, considering it was a tiny independent station. (He probably wasn't paid for it, either.) CKLN aired his radio show in the mid-1980s under the name "International Connections with Bob Marshall," and it focused on conspiracy theories, Peter Beter, Lyndon LaRouche, and similar loons and loony topics.

One of the show's co-hosts, Greg Duffell, further blurred the line between Bob Dean, "Bob Marshall," and "Bob Dobbs" in a blog interview: "Regarding the Dean-Marshall-Dobbs debate; all I can say is that I hosted an IC show, I believe in 2002, where I tried to get both Bob Dobbs and Bob Marshall on the phone together. While I was prepared to phone two different locations in order to facilitate this interview, Bob Dobbs said that Marshall would come over to his house so they could be together. During the course of this on-air call, Dobbs passed the phone to Marshall when it was time for him to speak." [13] It certainly was convenient that both "Dobbs" and "Marshall" happened to be living in Manhattan at the time.

See for Dean's explanation of this: he claims "Bob Marshall" was an "young and impressionable when he worked with me at CKLN from August, 1984 to 1989, and acquired a voice like mine through natural osmosis due to my charisma and his excellent miming talents." The Toronto Globe and Mail also stated "The guy is Bob Dean, otherwise known as Bob Marshall" in its March 30, 1993 article on the Stang-vs.Dean controversy…back when it was a controversy. (Now it's just a sideshow.) [14]

It was while playing his Bob Marshall persona that Dean stumbled across literature from the Church of the SubGenius. Upon making this discovery, Dean was struck by a revelation. Even though he was in Canada, the Church of the SubGenius was in Dallas, and no one had ever heard of him before, he immediately had the idea that they were basing a religion on him. This amazing revelation was what led him to call himself "Bob Dobbs" and claim the Church is all about him.

In 1987, something happened that shook Dean up: the International Connections show was taken off the air for (allegedly) airing anti-Semitic rants by Peter Beter. Dean apparently figured that if he wanted return to the air and avoid the problems that resulted in his being kicked off, he should adopt a brand-new identity and start over from scratch. So, shortly after this, he began calling himself "Bob Dobbs" instead of Bob Marshall. Furthermore, the name of the radio show at CKLN became the Church of the Subgenius Hour. A little while after this epiphany, Dean showed up at Stang's door in Dallas and introduced himself. He was apparently expected to be welcomed with open arms – but instead, Stang suggested he not call himself "Bob Dobbs," and go do his own thing instead. Stang describes the meeting in this interview: (Do a search for the word "dean" and you'll find it.) In one posting to alt.slack in 2003, Dean acknowledged this meeting, claiming that "Bob Marshall" was the one who visited Stang. [15]

Dean's radio lectures under his new persona of "Bob Dobbs" contained the same unending conspiracy-laced rants about McLuhan and Finnegans Wake, but he threw in SubGenius terms such as "Slack," "pink," and "the Conspiracy" on a regular basis. And by calling his show the "Church of the Subgenius" (sic – the G was lower cased), he found that he suddenly had an audience! People actually called because they thought they were talking to J.R. "Bob" Dobbs himself, the founder of the Church. It was here that Dean committed the sin that turned the entire Church of the SubGenius against him: he told his listeners he was the "real" "Bob." He did nothing to dissuade them from the fact that he is not the true J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, and he repeatedly pronounced that he was the true founder of the Church. Despite all the work that the SubGenius foundation had done in the years before he came on the air as "Bob Dobbs," Dean pretended the Church of the SubGenius was all about him, and that his blatherings about McLuhan's theories of media were what the Church was based upon. At no time did he give Stang or the Dallas-based SubGenius Foundation any mention or credit for this show.

The new radio show lasted for four years, until the plug was pulled in 1991. The show's producer, Nelson Thall, was able to get two CDs of his material recorded, Bob's Media Ecology and Bob's Media Ecology 2. It was at this time that Thall and the CDs' producer, Dave Newfeld, used his name of "Bob Dobbs" to get Negativland to contribute to the second CD, which they have since disavowed because they feel they were cheated by the fake use of the name "Bob Dobbs." ( - scroll down to the entry for "Tribal Mandate.") Dean has endorsed these CDs and mentions them frequently in his subsequent writings and interviews.

Mark Hosler of Negativland comments on the incident:

Negativland's experience many years ago with the fake "Bob Dobbs" you speak with on your site was very bad, unethical, and we were sorry we worked on that re-mix project with him. At the time, we were told he was officially endorsed by the real Church of the SubGenius, had no reason to be suspicious, so we did the project. That, of course, was false. Now, we are all for smart and funny hoaxes and pranks and jamming (and have done more than a few ourselves, as you know), but this guy's "jam" serves no bigger purpose at all that any of us can tell. So why does he do it? Unclear. While this fake Bob does indeed have some smart things to say at times, we've no idea why he insists on presenting himself as being the actual "Bob" Dobbs or that he started the Church. I've known the actual founders of the Church of the SubGenius for a very long time, and they have nothing to do with this guy and don't endorse him. Heck, the very nature of the Church is that you only ever talk about "Bob," you can't actually BE "Bob," for "Bob's" sake! Nobody can. This fake Bob could have easily done his McCluhan-esque shtick without resorting to piggy backing on the SubGenius's. A very strange and creepy guy. And, unlike the true SubGenius "Bob", he's not even funny. Perhaps his worst sin of all. [16]

Dean also wrote a book entitled Phatic Communication with Bob Dobbs, allegedly published in 1992. There have been rumors on alt.slack that this book appeared in the New Age section of a bookstore or two [17], but it has never been seen otherwise. It's worth noting that Phatic Communication with Bob Dobbs is credited to a publisher called "Perfect Pitch Editions" (ISBN 0-9694528-1-0 (alternate, search)). However, as a Google search for "Perfect Pitch Editions" reveals, the only persons affiliated with this publisher are Bob Dean and his wife, Dr. Carolyn Dean [18].

After his wife lost her license to practice medicine in Toronto [19], Mr. and Mrs. Dean moved to New York City, where they resided until 2008. Living in New York gave him the opportunity to stalk Rev. Nickie Deathchick when the Church held a Devival there in 1996 [20]. Since then, Dean spent the past ten years getting the occasional article published in fringe magazines like Flipside and Paranoia, at the rate of about one article every couple of years or so. He's also been able to get onto a few podcasts, such as the "Nardwuar" show that was proudly pointed to in his short-lived Wikipedia article.

(In May of 2008, Bob Dean and Carolyn Dean relocated to Hawaii: [21]; plus Dean's own post to alt.slack: [22])

Dean on alt.slack

But what really made Dean a pariah was his arrival on alt.slack. Before he actually appeared on the newsgroup full-time, the folks here had heard of Dean and a few wondered whether Stang's being pissed off at him wasn't just jealousy of a sort. But once he showed us how creative and original he is, his supporters quickly disappeared. (Google Groups search of alt.slack for "Bob Dean:" [23])

Dean has been repeating his single sermon about "the android meme," throwing in such McLuhan-esque terms as "phatic communication," "xenochrony," and "menippean" since the beginning. All of his speeches and writings keep returning to this same subject, and everyone who's ever dealt with him became bored to tears with it long ago.

Some samples:

Zapanaz (Joe C.): "The person who posts as 'purple' is a moron, and makes this stuff up to annoy people. Really, no joke." [24] (See also: [25])

Governor Rocknar: "You can't come up with an ORIGINAL name so you choose to STEAL THE NAME OF OUR SAVIOR!" [26]

Boddhisatva Troutwaxer: "Having met you, I can assure everybody here that you're not 79 years old. In fact, I would be surprised if you were much over forty. This is only one of your vile and odious lies. Please take your self serving bullshit and go away!! " [27]

Doc Martian "Where will he strike next? Conan O'Brien? Adult Swim? Jello Biafra? KISS? Purple is the real estate infomercial of alt.slack. When he's not being dull he's repeating his name and phone #."

nu-monet: "All he seems to do here is try to put the words 'Bob Dobbs' at the end of every one or two word post he makes; or, conversely, he posts a few paragraphs of some seemingly random nonsense from some dead minor philosopher-poet nobody cares about." [28]

Melinda Smith: "Gary Null pretends to be a doctor and you pretend to be 'Bob'." [29]

Sister Decadence: "Now fuck off. Moron." [30]

Here's an interesting message from Reverend Susie the Floozie in which she tears Dean a new hole (June 15th, 2009): [31]

This message is amusing: Here, alt.slack user SubSpecies23 calls Purple (Dean) "a complete idiot and mental defective." The regulars on alt.slack should quickly realize why this is funny.

As far as the denizens of alt.slack are concerned, Dean can rant and ramble on about Marshall McLuhan, Frank Zappa, James Joyce, and Lyndon LaRouche for as long as he wants. We simply want him to do it as Bob Dean and not as "Bob Dobbs," and we especially want him to do it far away from alt.slack.

Bob Dean Today

Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, Dean has actually managed to find three or four people who believe his rambling nonsense and think he's an intelligent, wise teacher. (I'll leave it to you to decide what that says about their own intelligence, and gullibility.) They spend most of their time over at Dean's message board, reading his rants about himself, McLuhan, himself, and himself, and agreeing with every word he says. It's mildly ironic (in a pathetic kind of way) that Dean has a presence on the Internet at all, because his message board, his Web site, and the YouTube channel dedicated to him were all built by his three or four fans; he didn't make them himself. I doubt he knows how to create a blog or a podcast, which is why he continually calls up his favorite Web podcasts rather than make one himself. So when it comes to the YouTube channel dedicated to him, I'm certain that "BuzzCoastin" and "BobDobbsTown" are the work of his fanboys. The self-proclaimed "master of media" doesn't understand how to get around on the Internet, and he lets them do the work for him.

The YouTube channel for Dean is here: . Recently, the user "BobDobbsTown" restricted the comments there so as to prevent SubGenii from posting their own insights on Dean; as a result, the newer videos have only a few comments, all of which give glowing praise to our friend Dean. Interestingly, the person managing this account has some deep, insightful criticism of this very page about Bob Dean: [32]) (Update, June 2009 – click on that video and you'll get a message saying, "This video is private." Fortunately, you can view it here: [33] For the record, I will state that I have never sent a complaint to YouTube about that video.)

In a further attempt to get attention, Dean himself points out that he has been using yet another moniker called "Bob Neveritt." [34] Under this surname, he's made a couple of guest appearances on an Internet podcasting site, Cash Flow with James Martinez. The guy who manages this podcast, James Martinez, is a self-proclaimed financial specialist who specializes in debt reduction and banking conspiracy theories. Interestingly, the Web page for this podcast has a big blurb noting that these shows "are for entertainment ONLY," which means they are not officially licensed for any kind of legal advice or financial workings other than mere talk. (It's the same disclaimer many "psychics" and tarot card readers use to distance themselves from any incorrect predictions they may make.) Dean proudly announces "Bob Neveritt's" connection to this podcast here: [35]

As of 2009, Dean has been busy working with his wife, Carolyn Dean, on a major pet project of hers: they are planning to take part in the opening of a "5-star" resort "medical spa" in Costa Rica called the VidaCosta Media-Plex. According to its Web site, this facility will "house a 100-seat screening room and full recording studio designed by the award-winning producer/engineer, David Newfeld. It will feature a multimedia broadcasting center for medical and related topics under the direction of Robert Dean, Archivist for the McLuhan Center for Global Communications."


Having said all that, let me clarify why Dean angers so many members of the Church of the SubGenius. It has nothing to do with him calling himself "Bob Dobbs" – heck, anyone can call themselves that, and there really are people out there named Bob Dobbs. What upsets us is this: if you read any of the SubGenius books, watch the videos, listen to the Hour of Slack, or read alt.slack or any of the blogs out there, you'll see that Ivan Stang is a guy who goes out of his way to credit people for the hard work they've put into their contributions to the Church – often for free. People post stuff to alt.binaries.slack or send him packages, tapes, books, and whatnot, and rarely if ever ask for anything in return; and in return he gladly acknowledges their efforts and plugs their stuff. (I was surprised recently to look at and see a link to my own blog placed prominently on the front page – something I had not asked for, but am very grateful and flattered by.)

All Dean has ever done is try to get attention for himself. Every word that comes out of his mouth is "Me, me, me!" Everything he ever writes is "Me, me, me!" He's spent twenty years trying to grab credit for the Church of the SubGenius, even though he has not contributed one whit towards it. Without this charade, he would be nothing more than a completely unknown kook who shows up at Marshall McLuhan "media" events and calls talk radio shows. All of his attention has come from his claiming to be "Bob Dobbs" and lying about his so-called "inspiring" the Church, which is why he keeps it up. His reputation, what little it is, consists entirely of material stolen from others. And that's why I see no reason to give him the attention he so desperately seeks.

However, new online venues like Wikipedia, YouTube, podcasting, and blogs are giving kooks like Bob Dean more avenues to spread their word online. This is great if you're an unknown kook trying to inform the world about your importance and self-worth. But if you're trying to take credit for someone else's work, then you'd better be ready for when you are called to prove that your claims are no more than a puff of hot air.

After asking Dean numerous times on alt.slack to comment on this entry, he finally replied on December 13, 2007. His reply consisted of one entire sentence: "It's all incorrect as I've clarified many times over the last 15 years." [36] (It was later expanded into a message thread on alt.slack, in which his rebuttal to this page consisted of two sentences: "I said there's not one sentence of accuracy in your screed. Now prove me wrong." [37] The newsgroup regulars proceeded to prove him wrong, though he denied everything.)