By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
The Nut lives just outside a small town called Paradise, a few miles northwest of Fort Worth. With his wife of more than 30 years, The Nut inhabits 25 acres of land deserving of its proximity to a town called Paradise, because even the still, damp air of summer feels light and sweet here. The sunsets are a brighter shade of pink in the Wise County town of Springtown; the grass grows a little greener. The Nut's home resembles a log-cabin bohemian retreat, with a gurgling fountain, sky-high sunflowers, a greenhouse and garage out back in which The Nut houses a cannon and a 1930s Mercedes-Benz, and a pointed roof making it look like something out of Hansel and Gretel.
Walk out the front door, and you will find yourself on a mile-long path that snakes through lush, untouched woodlands. Grasshoppers leap and bound by the thousands; the knee-high grass, still damp from late-spring and early-summer rains, is alive. About halfway on this walk, you stumble out of the forest and find yourself perched atop what can only be deemed a cliff, which overlooks solid fields of neon green, each divided by straight rows of trees that look like fences. Somewhere down there among the brambles and bushes, says The Nut, is a creek that divides this land, which exists to disprove the notion that North Texas' countryside is nothing but arid flatland and barbed-wire fences.
The Nut--with his short pants and denim shirt and hiking boots and straw hat and walking cane--and his four dogs walk up here when it's time to think, to clear the brain and focus on shadow governments and assassinated presidents and spacemen who live among us.
"This," says The Nut, pointing toward the spectacular horizon, "is where I come to be alone."
It is hard to reconcile such a placid, idyllic setting with the man who has lived on it since 1979. For a decade, The Nut--who has a name, Jim Marrs, a most appropriate moniker for a man who not long ago wrote a book titled Alien Agenda: Investigating the Extraterrestrial Presence Among Us--has been among the most high-profile of conspiracy theorists, though he would prefer you refer to him as a "truth seeker."
Ever since the publication of his first book--1989's best-selling Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy, a compendium of theories about who really murdered John Fitzgerald Kennedy in Dallas--Marrs has been the poster boy for those who believe, and those who do not. His reputation was cemented in (Oliver) Stone in 1990: When the director bought Crossfire and hired Marrs as an advisor on JFK, the author became the go-to guy for True Believers in search of a totem.
Yes, Marrs is given to rambling monologues about all manner of subjects--from the government's cover-up of the Branch Davidian torching in Waco to the crash of TWA Flight 800 to doubts about William Shakespeare's authoring of his plays. But he remains a good ol' boy from Fort Worth who speaks with the soft, warm twang of a man born and bred and bound to the land on which he was raised. Marrs charms with a friendly grin. Talk to him long enough, a few hours, and he will make you doubt your own existence.
"Jim is a very affable, likable guy," says one old friend of his. "He reminds me of Santa Claus."
Marrs, a former journalist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, has been vilified in the mainstream media and glorified on the Internet. Depending upon whom you believe, he's either a man who views the world through "the warped prism of conspiracy theory" (Publishers Weekly, in March of this year) or who writes "must-read[s] for the entire population of America." The latter comes from a fan on amazon.com reviewing Marrs' latest book, the just-published Rule by Secrecy: The Hidden History That Connects the Trilateral Commission, The Freemasons, and the Great Pyramids.
Either way, Jim Marrs can't be ignored. Few in this country shout about The Truth louder than he.
"Years ago, when I was trying to tell people there was a big conspiracy to kill Kennedy, I was the nut, the fringe guy, the conspiracy theorist, the buff, but I'm used to it," Marrs says, sitting at a table in his dining room. He is surrounded by trinkets from trips to Tibet, a page from the Gutenberg Bible printed on the Gutenberg press, family portraits of wife Carol and the couple's two grown daughters, Civil War memorabilia, a piano that goes untouched most of the time, and an old coal stove that heats the home in the winter. No Kennedy autopsy photos or drawings of giant-headed aliens adorn the walls.
"Now, almost everybody that's awake and has paid attention knows there's something going on with the Kennedy assassination," he continues. "There's still a lot of argument about who, what, when, where, and how, but everybody understands that something went on other than some lone nut got off a lucky shot. So that's all pretty accepted, so now, of course, I'm on to other things, and now I'm still the nut, the conspiracy theorist, so I guess I'll just be branded with that for life." He chuckles, as though to prove how all right with it he really is.