The Passing of Mike Luckman, January 30, 2015
Michael C. Luckman, an author, lecturer and media personality, died Friday, Jan. 30 in New York City from complications following a stroke. He was 72.
While the notice above is three years old, I read it for the first time this week when I went to one of Mike’s websites, something I haven’t done, obviously, for some time. I was shocked for two reasons; firstly, because Mike was a long-time professional friend, co-worker and one of the most creative minds I have ever known, and, secondly, because the passing of a man like Mike certainly deserves much more than a one-sentence notice.
Although Mike and I were almost at the polar opposites of the political spectrum (he was the first person I ever saw wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt), we became fast friends from the moment we met in 1964, when I was a reporter for the New York Journal-American and he was editor of the weekly newspaper, The Forest Hills Post. Instantly recognizing each other’s professional skills, we agreed to partner a part-time public relations agency, and came up with the name “Creative Encounters.” Our first clients were strictly local, including county and state politicians, as well as the Forest Hills Art Exhibition and the International Society of Wine Tasters LTD. While our combined creative abilities enabled much success, our political differences led to long debates, sometimes continuing for hours on subjects such as Black Power, the Vietnam War, and the existence of alien life . . . sort of like the classic David Susskind - William F. Buckley television debates.
In the late 60s, we dissolved Creative Encounters as I went to work for the Long Island Rail Road and Mike became public relations director and professor at the New School for Social Research in Manhattan, where he designed and taught the nation's first college course on rock music. I was thrilled when he asked me to be a guest lecturer for the session covering the 1950s, due to my extensive record collection of early rock.
In the mid-70s, when I opened my own full-time public relations and advertising agency with offices on 33rd Street and 3rd avenue in the Murray Hill section of Manhattan, I resurrected the name “Creative Encounters” and recruited Mike, who had been living in Greenwich Village since the 60s, as the agency’s Creative Director. The agency’s continued success with clients such as Stadler Shoes, the United Cigar Company, the Austin Drug Store chain and many others, was due in no small part to Mike’s uniquely creative mind. In fact, when creating campaigns, we brought out the best of each other,
When, in 1985, I sold the agency and headed for Crete, Mike decided to pursue a career in a different direction -- or, rather, several. Among his many accomplishments, he was founder and editor of the Daily Planet, an underground New York newspaper noted for publishing the first-ever "racy" photos of then unknown Punk singer Patti Smith. Later, Mike became director of the New York Center for Extraterrestrial Research and founder of the Cosmic Majority, an organization that seeks to advance the views of the majority of people living on planet Earth who believe in UFOs, life on other planets throughout the Universe, the paranormal, the New Age and the sanctity of the environment. Mike created the infamous "Underground Tonight Show" live on cable television in New York City. He also produced several major UFO conventions in New York featuring rock and folk musicians and was the visionary behind the Signal to Space Concerts, historic events that were said to have beamed live rock and pop music to Mars, the Moon and other locations in this Solar System and beyond in the hope of making contact with extraterrestrials.
In his role with the New York Center for Extraterrestrial Research, Mike announced the discovery of two human-like faces on Mars photographed by NASA's Global Surveyor, was the first investigator to expose television's infamous "Alien Autopsy" footage as a hoax, and broke the story of a special initiative by billionaire philanthropist Laurance Rockefeller to open the government's secret X-files.
Mike, who was the cousin of Pro Football Hall of Famer Sid Luckman, and I remained in touch after I moved to Crete, mostly by phone, but almost every time I returned for a visit, we would meet for lunch at our favorite eatery – Katz’s Delicatessen on Houston Street. We last broke bread – with pastrami in the middle – in 2014.
Rest in peace, Mike – or, if you’re out there somewhere in the cosmos, teach those ETs a thing or two about creativity