Sunday, January 23, 2005

During my stay in Sedona, AZ, I met a likeable guy named Robert Short, who attended my MUFON presentation on exo-archaeology and accompanied a small group of ufophiles to the Red Planet Diner, a theme restaurant with walls, tables and counter-tops encrusted with psychotronic/UFO/NASA imagery. After dinner, he related his contacts with extraterrestrials in the parking lot, not far from a fountain fashioned in the shape of a quintessential art deco flying saucer. I was more interested in Short's long affiliation with the UFO counter-culture than in his contact stories, and really wish his website contained some of the memorabilia from his years on the early saucer lecture circuit.

In case you never get to talk to Bob first-hand, this excerpt from his site sums up his casual acceptance of ET visitors:

"After the early years in which I was involved in early ham radio 'contacts', and from that to developing communication with extraterrestrial sources, I was lead to the location of Giant Rock Airport and more contacts. It was also during this period that I had my first physical contact. This was soon followed by 'close encounters' in which I and my family were involved, as well as demonstrations by their spacecraft in different locations for the benefit and confirmation of many other people."

You don't hear claims of this sort very often. At some point in the last 60 years, the altruistic, human-looking aliens described by George Adamski and his contemporaries were usurped by the goblin-like "Grays" and "Reptilians." And the iconic flying disks memorialized in movies like "Earth vs. the Flying Saucers" are now sharing the skies with "black triangles" and spectacular "lobed" objects.

Externally imposed social conditioning program? Jacques Vallee thinks the ufological zeitgeist has been exploited by a genuine nonhuman intelligence as well as manipulated by various earthly agendas. Peter Gersten, my host in Sedona, has a hunch we're embedded in some kind of cosmic computer program in which UFOs might function as patient overseers.

Where does this leave figures like Bob Short? Is he a prophet, a rube, or just hopelessly enamored of an unconventional belief system?

Listening to Bob speak, I felt no desire to "believe." Nor did I particularly feel like challenging him. The only question I remember asking him involved the type of clothing worn by one of his brotherly visitors; it was, of course, a jumpsuit.

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