The Rise and Fall of Zen Gardner

People who follow the so-called ‘alternative media’ know Zen Gardner and his popular eponymous website. From the site’s beginning, it  attracted a loyal readership and fan base. When I first happened upon Zen’s site back in 2012, I was immediately drawn to it. I was impressed with the elegant design and  the articles.

The articles were drawn from a broad range of writers, bloggers, vloggers, and free thinkers. Most of them took an unconventional perspective on the issues facing our planet and species and were edgy enough so that the site couldn’t be dismissed as New Age escapism.

I really liked the streamlined design, with a bare minimum of advertising and  click bait. Many of the writers whose articles I read stretched my mind and enlarged my view on world events. During the first couple of years I visited the site, I wasn’t even aware that there was a person named ‘Zen Gardner.’  He didn’t post his own articles at that time and I thought the name of the website was just a homage to Zen Buddhism.

However, by late 2014 and into  2015, a noticeable shift began to occur. First, the website  underwent a dramatic redesign. The streamlined design was jettisoned in favor of one with far more advertising; furthermore, the advertising was sponsored by that evil Israeli-run company, Taboola,  After reading through the list of articles on the home page, readers were confronted with a TMZ-esque smorgasbord of celebrity gossip stories. To see this advertising on Zen’s site was jarring, and I was shocked to see that few of his readers objected to it in the forum section.

The next major shift to occur was the appearance of Zen Gardner himself from ‘out of the shadows,’ so to speak. Suddenly, his articles were at the top of the homepage, and he began to write prolifically. Although many of his supposed fans in the forum were effusive in their praise of his writing ability, I never thought much of it. All of the articles were a rehash of the same theme: ‘the shift of the ages is occurring, we are ‘riding the waves’ of seismic change, hold on to your hat, stay centered, blah, blah, blah. ‘The content was uninspiring, derivative, and repetitive. The writing itself was of poor quality, though again few, if any, of the readers seemed to notice. Zen also started doing dozens of interviews, all of which were of course posted on the top menu bar. When I first heard his voice, I had an uncomfortable feeling. His voice just didn’t resonate with me; it was high-pitched- almost feminine- and didn’t sound like an enlightened man in his late 60s.

Next, the content of the aggregated articles changed markedly. The hard, edgy content of the previous years was replaced by hundreds of gloppy, syrupy, new-agey fluff pieces. Most of the newer articles  focused on how to meditate and what foods to eat. Linked videos of George Carlin and Bill Hicks appeared almost daily, apparently to attract hipsters.

The appearance of in-your-face advertising and  new age writing, coupled with  the  deliberate cultivation of the cult around ‘Zen Gardner’ set off alarm bells in my mind. I sensed something very wrong was happening and surmised that perhaps the site, and its founder, had been co-opted by Intelligence. Here and there, a few thought-provoking articles still appeared, but the new direction was clear.

When I read Zen’s revelations last month about his time spent in a pedophile cult, I was shocked and disturbed, as was everyone. I read his utterly unconvincing explanations for this episode of his life. I also followed the subsequent articles he wrote where he attempted to douse the flames and claim that those who were exposing him were merely on a witch hunt  and should examine their own skeletons instead of lambasting him. To see so many of his groupie fans defending and coddling him, including Jon Rappaoport, was disheartening and disgusting.

There is much food for thought here in this sad drama and some hard lessons to be learned for everyone who participates in the alternative media, whether as a producer or consumer. Was ‘Zen Gardner’ , aka Don Ferguson, a CIA plant who was set up from the beginning to fail, and bring his followers down with him?  I think it’s quite possible. In fact, until I see a more plausible explanation, that is the one I am going with.

It’s also a possibility that he began with good intentions but was turned to the dark side by the powers-that-be. As I have shown above, it’s quite easy to trace the arc of the site’s downward spiral and see when and how it lost its way.

For those of us who wade daily into the realm of truth-seeking, we need to be ever on -guard. Those who at first glance appear to be on our side often turn out to be gatekeepers, shills, double agents, spooks, and monsters. We must use our intuition at all times and bring people to task when they fail to live up to their rhetoric. We have seen so many big names come crashing down in the last few years: Alex Jones, Joe Rogan, Mark Dice, Jesse Ventura, Gerald Celente, Jeff Rense, Jeff C, and many, many more have been exposed. Zen Gardner has now joined this infamous club of shame. We should have seen it coming.

 

 

 

Surviving the mid-life crisis

While some might debate whether the transition from young adulthood  to middle-age is traumatic enough to be labeled a ‘crisis,’  there’s no doubt  that for most of us, saying ‘goodbye’ to our youth is not an easy task.

I was the youngest child with three siblings, two of whom are considerably older than me. Hence, I was always and constantly referred to as ‘my younger brother.’  My parents, of course, called me ‘our youngest son.’ I must have heard the words ‘youngest’ and ‘younger’ tens of thousands of times. By and by, I began to think that being the young one was part of my identity, that I would always be younger than everyone else in the room.

Furthermore, many of my friends during my teenage and young adult years were older than me by quite a number of years. I enjoyed going to parties and events where I was the ‘kid’ in the crowd.

Physically, I had a youthful face throughout my 20s. I kept myself in good shape through running, biking, and martial arts during my 20s and 30s. When I was 35, people were guessing that I was 25.  I had no problem keeping up with my 20-something friends. I began to feel that this situation could go on indefinitely. Nature, however, had other plans.

I remember clearly when ‘it’ happened. In my 37th year, my  hormones began to perform their pre-programmed function, and the switch was flipped. Nature is so ruthless and dispassionate in the way it goes about changing our bodies. It  doesn’t give us any warning signs, nor does it  go about things gradually, step by step. NO. The changes come all at once. 

I remember in my 36th year, I noticed a couple of white hairs in my beard, but I wasn’t unduly alarmed. “Oh look, a couple of white hairs, how interesting,” was my attitude. A year later, those few white hairs covered 60-70 percent of my beard. What the hell was going on? Then the thinning of my hair began and I developed the classic bald spot on the crown of my head. A kind doctor suggested to me that I should start wearing a cap during the daytime so that I wouldn’t get ‘sunburned’ on the top of my head. I wanted to smack him.

Strangely colored  and unsightly moles sprouted like mushrooms on my back, arms, torso, ears, and every other spot on my body. This concerned me so much that I felt I had better visit a dermatologist. (Everything was benign.)  The hairs that I was rapidly losing on the crown of my head and my hairline were mysteriously reappearing inside my ears, where I could neither see them nor trim them. I had a new request each time I visited the barbershop: “Please don’t forget the ears.”

I had always been slightly underweight, hovering around 160-170 pounds, but now suddenly belly fat accumulated around my waist. My pant-size increased noticeably. Gravity had taken hold of the skin under my chin. The white hair virus reached into my nose hairs and even my eyebrows, for chrissake.

All of these changes occurred over the period of one year. I recall waking up one morning, going to the mirror, gazing at myself, blinking, and thinking, “Who the hell is that person?  That pudgy, white-haired, middle-aged man can’t be me.” The first of the five stages of death and dying had arrived- denial. ‘This can’t be happening. There’s no way.  There must be some mistake. This is all happening too soon. Isn’t this supposed to happen in my 50s?’ And so on.

After a  couple of months of denial, anger soon erupted, mostly at God. Who else to blame? Luckily, at the time, I had a big punching bag hanging from the tree in the backyard and I went outside nightly to pound on it with punches and kicks.

Adding to my misery during this dreadful time, I had a number of teeth problems that needed to be dealt with. In the following years, I  made numerous  visits to the Emergency room for a variety of freak accidents, food poisonings, eye infections, and a bout with walking pneumonia. I started to use phrases like, “My doctor.”

I became jittery and nervous every time I felt a weird sensation or feeling anywhere in my body; I was a bit neurotic.  At this time, I started work on the night shift at the hospital. I read articles that showed statistics of how much more often night shift workers died of heart attacks. Two years later, my friend and colleague died of a heart attack. I knew it was time to get out of that job.

I’m 50 now, and the phrase ‘middle-aged man’ no longer bothers me. I’ve learned, finally, how to savor and appreciate this time of my life.  I appreciate the perspective that  the advancing years gives me and have no wish to relive those difficult years of my 20s and 30s. It’s been said that life never gets easier as you get older- your strength and ability to deal with problems just gets stronger. I think that is true.