Roswell: That B**tch Ain’t Dead Yet! (Part 1)
As I was waiting to board my flight to San Francisco International, enroute to Roswell, a guy in dark shades, dressed in casual attire, took a seat in a row of chairs across from me and soon became engaged in a cell phone conversation that immediately aroused my curiosity, as he repeated “Roger that…roger that…” a couple times in succession, scattered among a few other covert sounding words spoke in a low volume monotone.
At first, I didn’t give it all that much thought, but soon the conversation became progressively more curious. At one point this fellow (let’s call him Captain Covert) recited a string of numbers to whoever was listening on the other end, apparently some type of code, which went: “Delta 000795XrayTango0709–Deploy F-18…”
Throughout the course of Captain Covert’s curious conversation, he uttered things like: “Deploy stealth bomber…” and at another point, “Deploy your men at 1500 hours…Negative, sir… Negative, sir, re-patch me through to air force command…”
Even as we were boarding the plane, Cap Covert still had the cell phone pressed to his ear, chattering away and apparently receiving further orders. As fate would have it, he ended up seated directly behind me on the plane, which triggered an immediate imagined conversation in my head: “Affirmative, sir, subject Gorightly has been located—will terminate immediately” followed by grisly visions of piano wire looped around my neck from behind…then a struggling gurgle as light fades to black.
As I continued to eavesdrop upon Captain Covert’s conversation (of course, I had no other choice) I wondered if perhaps some major international incident was imminent. Later–as I made my way through the San Fran Terminal–a television monitor was blaring CNN with news that the Red Mosque in Pakistan was under siege! Perhaps Captain C. was indeed involved in some sort of covert mission, after all. (Coincidence? You decide!)
After landing in Albuquerque, I made the three hour drive to Roswell and there met up with a gaggle of Ufologists at a local restaurant, including pals Greg Bishop and Nick Redfern. Over a couple Guinness Stouts, I was introduced to Peter Robbins, who I soon discovered is one the nicest people in the field, and without a doubt the best story teller in the ranks of all ufology! The following evening, our gang dined out again with Peter, who regaled us with a number of side splitting tales. One such centered around the premiere showing of Fatal Attraction in New York in the late 1980’s. As Peter recounted, at a crucial moment in the film–after Glen Close was apparently drowned and Michael Douglas is comforting his wife–Ms. Close then popped suddenly out of the water like a diabolical jack-in-the-box, which subsequently scared the bejesus out of many a movie goer for years to come. As Peter related, just before Glenn Close popped out of the bathtub, returning from the dead–at this aforementioned New York premiere screening–the voice of a afro-american rose out of the crowd, shouting: “That bitch ain’t dead yet!”
Peter Robbins and Nick Redfern. (Photo by Greg Bishop)
Anyway, it was one of those great yarns you had to be there to appreciate ala Peter Robbins stellar oratorical skills. And, in the course of events, became the rallying cry for our Roswellian adventure: Indeed, the bitch is far from dead!
And so it was that I came upon the perfect title for this piece, as in recent years (or so I’ve gathered) the Roswell Fest has become a bit of a yawn, and it seems to take a 50th or 60th anniversary bash to resuscitate the old gal–just like Glenn Close arising from an apparent watery grave, only to be re-bludgeoned and buried yet again. Which is certainly not to downplay the role of event organizer Guy Malone and his awesome staff (including Free and his charming wife Amy) who did a tremendous job promoting and then running herd over the marauding media, not to mention attempting to manage a swarm of ufologists, who are always an unwieldy lot to try to keep a handle on.
The speaker venues for the event were broken up into two opposing camps (well, they weren’t necessarily adversarial, just located in different buildings). Like separate, yet parallel realities, you had one speaker’s event sponsored by the town of Roswell, located at the Civic Center and organized by the ever capable Mr. Malone, which featured the aforementioned Peter Robbins, Stephen Bassett, Richard Dolan, John Greenewald, Tom Horn and Farah Yurdozu, not to mention myself and pals Nick Redfern and Greg Bishop, among others. Meanwhile, down the road a piece, the other “convention” was taking place at the International UFO Museum, featuring the likes of such ufological stalwarts as Stan Friedman, Paul Davids, Yvonne Smith, Bruce Macabee, Dr. Roger Leir, Jesse Marcel Jr., Don Schmitt and Lloyd “Starchild Skull” Pye.
On Thursday morning, Greg, Nick and I went over, bright and early, to set up our table at the Civic Center, situated–as it was–among an eclectic mish mash of UFO buffs and assorted venders peddling little green men swizzle sticks and assorted flying saucer brick-a-brac. Throughout the proceedings, a wave of interesting folks sauntered by our table, among them Jeremy Ray of the Sacramento, California MUFON branch, who claims he has discovered a foolproof method of capturing UFO’s on video!
Former satanic vampire turned born again minister, Bill Schnoebelen, paid a visit, and–seeing certain material I had laid out on the table suggesting that UFO’s are related to ritual magick–mentioned his own endeavors along these lines back in the day when he was a member of some freaky cult who purportedly conjured Lovecraft’s Cthulu.
Later, Renee Lewis–a ghost hunter and all around cool lady—also dropped by, and we had an interesting discussion about how people with apparent psychic abilities seem to effect electronic equipment. What was odd is that the photo I snapped of Renee had associated anomalies. Notice above her hand is an orb of light, as well as some other apparent anomalies above and to the left of her head. Trippy, man…
Also peppered throughout the crowd was a smattering of characters with intelligence agency connections. Among these ex-spooks (of course, as they say, “Once a spook, always a spook”) was a former NSA employee who engaged us in a lengthy conversation chronicling his career in code breaking and whatever else those NSA guys actually do. Somewhere along the line, I shared with our new found ex-NSA friend the story of my encounter with Captain Covert and the apparent intelligence chatter I overhead, which led me to inquire, of the ex-NSA dude, if I had really experienced some full blown covert military intel op going down. Ex-NSA’s guy’s response was that Captain Covert was most likely a nutjob with delusions of grandeur. (Oh well, it made for a good story…)
Nick, Greg and the ex-NSA guy.
Later, ex-NSA guy said to Greg, “You know, spies are kind of weird people.” To this assertion, Mr. Bishop couldn’t disagree, as he’s been firsthand witness–during the course of his research over the last decade–to any number of odd intelligence community ducks, most prominent among them, Richard Doty, a principal subject in Greg’s “Project Beta: The Story of Paul Bennewitz, National Security, and the Creation of a Modern UFO Myth.”
At one point, as I was yakking on my cell phone, Nick nudged me and said “There’s Gordon Novel”, a name (in) famous in the annals of such spookdom, alleged to have been involved on the periphery of some of the major conspiracies that have transpired over the last 40+ years, including the JFK assassination parade and the Nixon Whitehouse bugging episode. Briefly, Nick made casual conversation with the enigmatic Mr. Novel, who nowadays is involved in something called Project Camelot that deals with back engineering (real or imagined) ET technology.
While dining on Friday at a local restaurant, FATE magazine publisher Phyllis Galde stopped by our table and encouraged Greg and Nick to show up early the next morning to meet one of the few surviving Roswell crash witnesses, Jack Trowbridge, who would be available at the Fate table for interviews.
The next morning, Greg and Nick availed themselves of this opportunity, during which the 91-year old Army and Air Force vet–related his story that he was at Jesse Marcel’s home–engaged in a weekly bridge game with some other Roswell officers–when Marcel arrived home on July 7th, 1947 equipped with a curious story and some strange looking artifacts. It was at that time that Trowbridge claims he handled the legendary “memory metal” which–when wadded up and then released—sprung back into its original shape. Later, as Greg noted on his UFOMystic blog, “Curiously, this bridge game episode has never been mentioned in past accounts, and Jesse Marcel Jr. has not publicly recalled seeing any of this strange metal, only a lot of debris and the well-known I-beams with strange designs embossed on them…” Which is not to say that Greg dismisses Trowbridge assertions, although the jury still appears to be out (at least in my estimation) about the whole Roswell affair.
Nick, Greg and Jack Trowbridge
Later that day, Nick Redfern’s lecture, Bodysnatchers in the Desert, provided some of the more controversial moments of the festival. In particular, when one contentious audience member challenged Nick’s theory (that the so-called alien bodies observed might have been experimental human test subjects afflicted with the disease progeria). In rebuttal, said contentious audience member cited the recent release of Walter Haut’s postmortem death bed confession, and accused Nick of dismissing Haut’s affidavit, and worse, of not having even read it. However, Nick repeated that he indeed took Haut’s “confession” seriously, and had in fact read the affidavit, but that the reference to “bodies” therein did not necessarily imply the existence of actual aliens, a conclusion that many in the UFO field immediately jumped to.
To some, challenging the Roswell-dead-alien-theory is akin to roasting Ufology’s most sacred cow, which Nick pointed out during Sunday’s speaker’s panel. Unfortunately, there are those within the UFO field who see Roswell as the fundamental linchpin holding the entire ET Hypothesis together, and that if Roswell is proven to be something other than an alien crash, it might indeed bring down a whole Ufological house of cards, which is rather short sighted, but is nonetheless the sentiment I seem to pick up on when–among the Ufological set–anyone dares challenge the Roswell crash as anything other than extraterrestrial in origin. Which is not to say that Mr. Redfern (or your humble author, for that matter) has come to a definitive conclusion as to what happened at Roswell although Nick seems as open as anyone to the possibility of ET’s visiting our planet. The point he was trying to make is that we need to look objectively at all UFO cases, not only Roswell, and let the truth lead us where it may. (Leave your agendas at the door, please.) And if indeed Roswell was something other than an alien crash, then let’s be willing to face those facts as they emerge, and then get on with further research.
Nick with progeria victim in the background. (Photo by Greg Bishop.)
On Saturday evening—along with some other ”UFO royalty”—I was asked to partake in the annual parade through downtown Roswell. To this end, Greg and I rode in the back of a 1929 Ford pickup, piloted by a sometimes grumpy yet kind hearted fellow named Eduardo. We were supplied by event organizers with a bunch of raver glowsticks, which lasted all but the first quarter of the parade, as we haphazardly tossed them out to kids along the route, exhausting our supply in short order. As we cruised along Main Street, the human throng waved and smiled, although they’d nary a clue as to who any of us ufologists were. Just the same, I showered our parade route spectators with salutations such as “Greetings Roswellians!” or “Good evening, ladies!” whenever passing by a bevy of local beauties, which produced hearty chuckles from Greg and Eduardo.
Greg with glowsticks. (Photo by Greg Bishop.)