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Feature Stories

Christmas Controversy at the Triangle

From Issue: Volume XX - Number 26
12/28/2012


By Steve Propes

Before there were terms like New Age in our everyday parlance, a Long Beach artist and sign painter was giving talks about New Age beliefs at venues like the Northern California Space Craft convention held at the Hotel Claremont in Berkeley.

Allen Noonan was born in 1916 in Britt, Iowa. It’s not clear when he came to California or when he began his sign painting/art studio business located at 1700 Anaheim St.

In 1947, Noonan underwent a life changing experience he described as “a cosmic initiation.” While painting an outdoor signboard, Noonan says he was suddenly enveloped in a bright light, and found himself transported up into what he later realized was a “Galactic Mothership.” Upon materializing onboard the spaceship, he says he appeared before a great Light. And a Voice spoke to him out of the Light, telling him that he was chosen to be the messenger who would fulfill the role of being the New World Comforter and channel of the prophesied Everlasting Gospel.” Others contend he fell off a ladder and landed on his head.

With his assignment as galactic messenger in place, in 1962, Noonan was hired by the Triangle shopping center – now known as Parkview Village – at the northwest corner of Carson and Bellflower to create a series of outdoor Christmas decorations.

When these decorations were erected, the complaints began, the most serious of which was that they were “communistic.” An example given in the coverage by the Press Telegram was on a U.S. Flag with the caption, “There is one star yet to go in the flag. It is the lone star of the red banner,” a reference to the Soviet flag. “It will be done, not by conquest, but by uniting.”

Noonan was also accused of being “irreverent” in his captions. Almost immediately after the complaints began rolling in, on Dec. 11, 1962, Lakewood Triangle Businessmen’s Association President James Dawson, co-owner of Triangle Jewelers “hauled down” many of the 50 paintings, which Noonan described as ‘’thought provoking.”

“The explanation was that too many customers complained the captions were ‘way out.’

‘The merchants had said they wanted something a little different,’ Noonan said. ‘I told them it would be provocative.’”
That probably described the painting of six cartoons of kings, one of whom is saying, ‘Looks like J.C. is a Democrat, a free enterpriser and a Communist as well.’”

“Noonan’s views, he explained, were ‘that Christ stood for brotherhood and emphasis of the spiritual over material qualities.’ A caption suggested that only a resolution of the differences of communism and capitalism could bring man safely ‘out of the frying pan.’

“He said he appeared an emergency meeting of the businessman’s association to explain that he thought people could learn from the exhibitions. ‘But they said ‘we don’t want to educate people. Why you just do something like Christmas cards that go with the season?’

“’That’s pretty far from ‘O Little Town Of Bethlehem’” commented one of the merchants.

“The businessmen’s leader said the controversial captions would probably be replaced with verses from the Bible. ‘The pictures probably will stay up.’”

Just as a resolution to this problem appeared in sight, Noonan dug in. “I am making some signs and posters of protest and I’m going to get those captions back up.” Noonan explained he had worked night and day for two and a half months on the project.

The merchants responded they had been “threatened with boycott by some customers unless the displays - particularly the captions - were removed.” Though Dawson removed the most incendiary captions, he kept the artwork in place.

Some of the messages like “Densities Cosmic Consciousness Etheric Astral Material” were mystifying. Another message was clearer. “True democracy and true communism are the same thing. They are evolving together by natural law to a point of equalization.”

“What we are seeking,” Noonan was quoted as saying, “is one-word democracy where everybody has peace and abundance.” He was possibly referring to a “one-world democracy.”

To counter Noonan’s protest, a ministerial group was brought in to mediate. Even the John Birch Society chimed in. Though the ministers said they didn’t want to censor, they decided some of the captions had no connection to Christmas and could be removed and the brouhaha ceased with no additional press coverage.

Noonan then changed his name to Allen Michael, and in 1967, moved to San Francisco, formed the One World Family Commune and in 1973, he established the Universal Industrial Church of the New World Comforter, fusing UFOs with New Age consciousness and also began a chain of health food stores. In 1982, Allen Michael campaigned for governor

According to a website (www.galacticmessenger.com) that tracks such things, “On March 25, 2010, after an extraordinary lifetime of 93 years, the Galactic Messenger, Allen Michael, left the planet.”

steve@longbeachcomber.com