November 1990: First record of Tracy in academia, when he has to pay a fine for book he lost while attending SUNY, so that he can transfer to San Jose State University (see 1994 article from SJSU newspaper re: book fines where he talks about this)
Sometime later in 1990: Starts attending San Jose university (per Linkedin) – he notes later that it is part-time. He doesn’t graduate until 1995.
The campus is located in Santa Clara County, and so presumably he is living somewhere in that area during this time.
December 1993: San Jose adopts smoking ordinance (Tracy later credits it with leading him to quit smoking)
Upon returning from vacation one January, I was at my favorite brew-pub and, having consumed a drink, I naturally reached for my cigarettes. The bartender came over and said, “Jim, that’s no longer permitted inside. Sorry.” […] I was indignant for several weeks. But, however much I initially disliked the law, it enabled me to extricate two very powerful rituals from each other and put me on the road to quitting.”
September 20, 1994 – In a letter to the editor of San Jose State University’s newspaper, Spartan Daily, Tracy notes has been attending SJSU part time for 3 years:
September 27 1994: In a letter to the editor of San Jose State University’s newspaper, Spartan Daily, Tracy criticizes the state’s Republican then-governor, and anti-immigration hardliner, Pete Wilson:
October 10 1994 – In a letter to the editor of San Jose State University’s newspaper, Spartan Daily, Tracy weighs in on the recently-released film about the Holocaust, Schindler’s List. The view that he expresses regarding the Holocaust itself – that it happened, and that millions were killed – is one he would keep to himself later in life, when associating with Holocaust-deniers like Jeff Rense and Jim Fetzer (and even when they denied the Holocaust during live interviews with Tracy; see January 2016 appearance on Rense’s show)
Late 1994: Roughly the last time James Tracy sees his mother, as he describes decades later in the Youtube upload “Gangstalking Mom.” According to Tracy, she commits suicide in February 1995.
While there is no way to verify the specific claims Tracy makes in the video, the available documentation about his mother (more on that after this section) is consistent with the story he presents, and his own behavior – and focus on the “targeted individuals” community – in later years is also consistent with this story being at least partially truthful.
A summary of what Tracy says in the clip about this event:
“I recall one day speeding up highway 280 in California, taking my mother to my favorite restaurant in Palo Alto for lunch. She told me how the best song she’d heard in years was Tracy Chapmans ‘fast car.’ And that was the story of her life then: A ticket to anywhere, to feel like she belonged. To be someone.”
(Tracy then talks about giving his mother a ride to the bus station, in San Jose, unclear if the same visit)
“She was wearing a wig, to disguise her appearance, as she crouched down in front of the passenger seat well. Half-laughing at her son, as I rolled my eyes and shook my head at her – and we spent our last moments together.”
“And then, my mother repeated the same mantra, my father her siblings and I had become accustomed to hearing, over the years: ‘They’re after me. Those people – no matter where they go they always find me’”
(At the time, James and his father lived on opposite sides of the country – upstate NY and San Jose CA. James and his uncles/aunts would trade off taking care of James’ mother and at some point try to find her a job.)
“She would be okay, for a month or two, then she would inevitably tell us how the people following her had caught up with her once again, and how they wouldn’t let her be, and how she had to move on. It was a terrifying reality that only she was able to perceive; she claims it began with her employers at a nursing home, where she worked as a nurse’s aide. How she was privy to some information she wasn’t supposed to know.”
“One night, in the early 1990s, mom called me in a panic, from an apartment in upstate NY, where she was living a few blocks from her sister. She told me how she could hear people on the roof of her apartment; how they were following her, how much she feared for her life. She went on like this for several years, fleeing from one place to another. Becoming homeless, and staying in shelters. Then, allowing for one of us to take her in
Then, she would be on the run again. It all ended when In got the call, that February morning.”
(Tracy describes receiving a phone call from a coroner in St. Louis in February 1995, advising him that his mother Ethel had jumped to her death from a parking garage in St. Louis, Missouri.)
“At the time, our family attributed her death to mental illness, even though the last time I saw her, several months prior, she appeared to be her usual, heartening and coherent self. She was the same mom that I always knew.”
NOTES ON VERIFYING THIS: Missouri does not offer death records to the public. Searches for Ethel Tracy do not return anything that seems to match. However, a likely match for her is under the name Ethel Marie Wallin Mederos (born 1942 in NY and died in 1995 in St Louis, middle name Marie, spouse with last name Tracy.)
Tracy, in November 2020, would go on to explain how his thoughts about this tragic loss changed over the years, to the point where he would question that his mother had any mental illness at all.
“Over a decade after my mother’s passing, when I was a professor at Florida Atlantic University, I came upon the notion of Organized Gang Stalking, and people that refer to themselves as “targeted individuals. Slowly, I began to see my mother’s crisis, and multi-year death in a different light. What if what she had repeatedly attested to, for years, was true? What if my dismissiveness of her plight drove her, or contributed to driving her, to take her own life?”
“I delved into research on a topic that at the time I could scarcely come to grips with. It involved people who steadfastly believed they were at the center of a conspiracy. That they were enemies of the state. I would eventually reach out to numerous people who claimed to have been targeted. And who shared their own nightmarish stories with me personally, and on my podcast. I saw how easily their experiences could be categorized, and dismissed as mental illness.”
“Like my mother, apart from their seemingly incredible personal experiences, fear, and trauma, they were otherwise normal, everyday people. In other words, in my view they were neither suffering from clinical schizophrenia or paranoia. I discovered how gangstalking is not merely a topic for conspiracy bloggers. It’s a real phenomenon that has developed a body of academic and law enforcement research literature.”
Tracy spends most of the last half of the video delving into the Myron May shooting of 2013 and how it deepened his belief in the “gangstalking” theory. (For more info, see January 2015, when Tracy begins covering the case on his podcast and blogs.)
October 11 1994: Mentions in article that he attended SUNY, had a fine for an overdue book:
March 20 1995: In another Letter to the Editor printed in Spartan Daily, this time Tracy further demonstrates his leftist political stance concerning California politics of the time:
(No exact date, but when he was an undergraduate at age 29, so roughly here): Tracy first becomes interested in conspiracy theories while reading about Malcolm X. He goes on to develop a deep interest in the JFK assassination during his University of Iowa years.
Tracy flipped through the pages of a biography of Malcolm X in an African-American history class.
He was 29 at the time and an undergraduate at San Jose State University.
“I was fascinated by it. It was one of the best books I’ve ever read,” Tracy said. “That’s actually one of the first kind of conspiracies I looked at. I think that he was regarded as being a nuisance to say the least by the establishment. I think that he was likely killed as a result of it.”
After that, he began looking critically into media coverage of major events such as the assassination of Malcolm X. And he didn’t stop there.
Throughout graduate school at Iowa State, Tracy explored a controversial shot in history — the death of JFK.
“[The assassination of John F. Kennedy] seemed unusual — the circumstances,” Tracy said. “Probably coordination between the mafia and the intelligence community.”
Tracy presented a range of theories about events like 9/11, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and even a theory on why he questions everything in the first place.
“I think that there’s something about being Irish, where people are paranoid,” Tracy said. “We experience oppression by our forebears that actually pass down to [us] genetically: that sense, that awareness. I think that’s the case with the Irish.”
September 8 1995: letter printed re: Sports
September 20 1995: Another sports letter
1995: Graduates from San Jose University with BA in Radio, Television and Film
Oct 1995: turns 30
1996: Starts at University of Arizona: MA in Communications and Media studies (per Linkedin)
The campus is located in Tucson, so he presumably is living in Pima County during this time.
1997: attending University of Arizona. In a December 2020 podcast appearance, Tracy would remember his political views and academic life during this period, and the years that follow while he was earning his PhD:
I entered academe as, I guess, an ideologically or politically correct liberal, or lefty radical. In graduate school, my advisors in my masters at University of Arizona and then in my doctorate at University of Iowa were both, you know, very much left-of-center. I mean, Marxists. And…[there was the] polite idea of critical theory, and were gonna subvert the establishment and the system through our radical scholarship, and get tenure at the same time, and have a state-subsidized, you know, sinecure.
June-October 1997: Apparently, a Divorce/annulment back in California: A review of state records from California shows that a “James F Tracy” was served with papers for a “Nullity of Marriage” by another woman in June of 1997, and the case was processed in San Jose later that year.
(“Lim” is also a common Cambodian surname; this may be the same person that was the Cambodian immigrant “mum” that Tracy writes about in September 23 1999 Daily Iowan op-ed, and whom Tracy confirmed “dating” in an August 13 2020 video blog.)
When interviewed by Elizabeth Williamson, (pg 109) he says that he met his current wife at the University of Iowa. However, it is known that she also attended University of Arizona during the same period as Tracy (1996-1998) and so he may have named the wrong institution (or perhaps their paths never crossed in Arizona, and it’s a coincidence that they both proceeded from that school to the same school in Iowa, at the same time…)
Also, while in Arizona, sometime in 1997, he goes to a Military Aircraft Museum somewhere outside of Tucson, according to his op-ed 11/16/2001. They have a conversation about his father’s WW2 service. Tracy is jaded about American hegemony.
“We stepped from the hangar into the desert where acre upon acre of fighter jets and bombers were on display in the arid February sun. In so doing, we crossed a precipice that not only separated the handful of comparatively simple World War II aircraft from their Cold War counterparts but was also history in an acutely political sense. By 1950, the United States embarked on what GE CEO Charles Wilson termed a “permanent wartime economy.” […] If even a fraction of this money had been invested in human beings – rather than fighting the chimerical “Red Menace” – imagine how different the world might be today. Indeed, what my father’s generation fought for in World War II – making the world ‘safe for democracy’ – has since been emphatically and systematically denied by our country’s ruling elite.”