What is the New York Center For The Strange?

WUvians, perhaps you can help me solve a mystery which has been perplexing me for the past few days — what is the "New York Center For The Strange"?

Here's the info I've gathered so far:

In 1972, an organization by this name began an annual tradition of issuing predictions for the following year. It claimed to have obtained these predictions by conducting a survey of American witches.

Year after year, around Halloween, these predictions have appeared in papers. (For instance: 1977, 1979, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990.)

Sometimes the predictions sounded serious, such as when, in November 1974, the NYCFTS predicted that "Henry Kissinger will resign as secretary of state before next July" (wrong!). But more often the predictions were just bizarre and seemingly tongue-in-cheek. For instance, in 1974 the witches also predicted "a nationwide shortage of Scotch whiskey, shoe polish and lighter fluid." And in 1978 they predicted "a nationwide shortage of Beluga caviar, earmuffs, bagels and automobile dipsticks."

Throughout the 1980s and 90s the witches' predictions continued to appear in papers. In the 21st Century they become harder to find, but as recently as 2013 the NYCFTS issued predictions, though I can't find any predictions issued in 2014 or 2015.

In all this time, no one seems to have questioned what exactly is this organization. Is it real, or is it someone's long-running joke? Is there really a "Center For The Strange" with offices in New York City?

Various NYCFTS spokespeople have told reporters that the organization's mission is to help correct "the widely-held image of witches as evil, gnarled hags who fly across rooftops astride brooms." This makes it sound like it might actually be a genuine society of witches.

But on the other hand, the NYCFTS officially describes itself as "a non-profit organization involved, basically, in research." This, to me, sounds like a joke.

In 2013, someone created a website for the organization, at www.nycenterforthestrange.org. But they only kept it active for a year. (It's preserved in the wayback machine.)

On this website, an address was listed: 555 Fifth Avenue, 17th Floor, New York, NY 10017. Currently, this address seems to be occupied by one Himanshu Rajan Sharma, Corporate Lawyer.

I strongly suspect that the syndicated humor columnist Don Maclean was somehow involved in the NYCFTS, since in the early 1970s he wrote about it frequently (such as here and here). He even claimed to have visited its headquarters and knew its officers. Perhaps the organization was his satirical creation and he issued press releases every year on its behalf, to amuse himself.

However, Maclean died in 2005, so obviously someone else has been keeping the joke alive — if it is, in fact, a joke.

And that's all I know about the New York Center For The Strange. I'm hoping someone out there might have more info about it.
     Posted By: Alex - Wed Dec 02, 2015
     Category: Clubs, Fraternities and Other Self-selecting Organizations

Um . . . don't really know how to say this . . . thought everyone knew . . . it's, well . . . those 'predictions' are to assist time travelers stranded herewhen. If you're at all familiar with the Sino-German slapstick comedies of the early 22nd Century, it's easy to work out how to win bets (earning money is always a problem when you're stuck in the past) and wherewhen to meet other travelers who might be willing to give you a ride back to your hometime.

Anyone who's seen Hans Wang's "99 Lawyers Looking for a Conscience" routine will interpret 1979's "Old man on raft claims to be survivor of Titanic" prediction as "Pittsburgh will win Super Bowl by 12 points. "

"Blindfolded American will fail to scale Mt. Everest" is obviously "First station of first line of London Underground on first of January at 1 a.m., will be wearing white and black hat, can take three people back to late-23rd (Century)" if you've seen 'Yao and Gunther Share a Brindlestaff' (2107) (and you really should see it -- it's absolutely hilarious! My favorite part is when the penguin . . . no, I won't spoil it for you.)
Posted by Phideaux on 12/02/15 at 11:48 AM
Florida in my eyes has held the lead in strangeness for the last 33 years, that's how long I have lived here at least. Alligator capturing and eating a fleeing criminal, A anti-drug rally being bombed by bales of cocaine from a plane, a drug crazed person chewing off a homeless persons face while he is alive. The Facebook killer, ( just recently convicted), and home to writer Carl Hiaasen who's works of humorous, sick and strange fiction are often based on or contain very real events. No we don't have to make things up in Florida because they really do happen. Currently our state park are for sale and Miami Beach will soon become a snorkeling attraction. Just ask Chuck he lives here.
Posted by Gator Guy on 12/02/15 at 05:39 PM
Posted by AJfixit on 12/02/15 at 06:21 PM
Well... you could leave a review for them on Yelp:


That address does come up as a Barnes and Noble book store.

There's this:


From the article... you can contact the author(who is also the director):

Contact Author
Richard Blaine
New York Center for the Strange
+1 212-856-7213
Email >

I called it, but had to hang up(I'm at work). A lady answered with a tired 'hello'
Posted by S. Norman on 12/03/15 at 08:57 AM
S. Norman -- For some reason, I hadn't paid attention to that phone number. But I just called it also. Reached an answering service. The lady there told me that the "Center for the Strange" was no longer using the service, but she took my contact info and said she would try to reach Richard Blaine. So we'll see what happens.

Blaine was described as the director of the Center for the Strange as far back as 1975. So I figure that, at a minimum, he must be in his 70s now.
Posted by Alex on 12/03/15 at 10:24 AM
Looking at some names on the Wayback shots there are two interesting hits. I'm sure just coincidence.

Thomas Bradford leads to this:

But Susan Miller hits as a psychic/astologer which does tie in with the predictions.

Lewis Scott leads to "Mitchell Scott Lewis professional astrologer in New York City "
http://www.coasttocoastam.com/guest/lewis-mitchell-scott/53925 but that seems very tenuous.
Posted by S. Norman on 12/03/15 at 11:36 AM
Here Richard Blaine is listed as having been a guest on a radio show in 2009, discussing the Center for the Strange:


Which supports the idea that Blaine is a real person, though I initially had some doubts.
Posted by Alex on 12/03/15 at 02:55 PM
Perhaps someone in the witch town in Florida (never have been good remembering names, hence, my name on my undies) might have some insight.
Posted by GFinKS on 12/07/15 at 02:12 PM
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