A little levity
On Roswell, UFOs, denial and credibility
By STEVE LANG
“I saw Elvis. He sat between me and Bigfoot on the UFO.” – Anonymous
“Denial is more than a river in Egypt,” as former Saturday Night Live comedian and now-U.S. Senator Al Franken once observed.
Denial remains the U.S. government mantra regarding UFO (Unidentified Flying Object) sightings. Numerous reported sightings over the decades have been dismissed as weather balloons, altered photographs, self-propelled hubcaps and frisbees gone wild.
Now, in the wake of the 65th anniversary of the alleged UFO crash near Roswell, N.M., comes a revelation that the event was real. As real as Joe Bauman’s 72 home runs in Longhorn League play there seven years later.
And this claim of validity comes from a retired CIA agent!
Oh, sure! And Elvis is alive and living in South America.
Not true. According to varied accounts, Elvis was seen in an vacated office building in Kalamazoo, Mich., or was sharing a motel unit with then-endangered writer Salmon Rushdie. (It is not known if Elvis subsequently moved with Rushdie to New York City, or as the quip above suggests, caught a shuttle to a parallel universe.)
As for the Roswell incident, it happened as denied, according to one source quoted in a recent USA Today account:
“It was not a damn weather balloon — it was what it was billed when people first reported it,” said Chase Brandon, a 35-year CIA veteran. “It was a craft that clearly did not come from this planet, it crashed and I don’t doubt for a second that the use of the word ‘remains’ and ‘cadavers’ was exactly what people were talking about.”
Brandon, who served in covert operations, said that he had access to a vault called the Historical Intelligence Collection at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va. He saw a box labeled “Roswell” and opened it.
He said, “I took the box down, lifted the lid up, rummaged around inside it, put the box back on the shelf and said, ‘My god, it really happened!’”
UFOs have long invaded imagination space, even before the government saw fit to refute their existence. Since the Roswell crash landing has now reached retirement age, one would think the story is entitled some benefits – at least the benefit of the doubt.
Tiny Tim, of “Tiptoe through the Tulips” fame, expressed his firm belief in UFOs and other planetary beings during a 1996 interview:
“I believe there are people on other planets,” he said, and referred to DaVinci’s sketches of flying machines, Spielberg’s “E.T.” and Jules Verne’s descriptions of submarines as “subconscious revelations” of what was to come.
“This is common sense,” Tim continued. “This is why I believe the flying saucers have landed. I believe they soon will make their appearance. I believe it will be the same shock as happened when I came on the scene (see “Laugh-In”). Or the Orson Welles’ Martian Invasion….There will be a time when the earth will be captured by a solar being, then released.”
Skeptics and critics of Tiny Tim’s hey-day, the 1960s and 70s, may have scoffed that the ukelele-playing troubadour was one of those beamed up by a mother ship, or if not, a viable prospect for such transport. I disagree. I once spent a half-day with him and found him more lucid, introspective and enjoyable than the bulk of my subjects over 40-plus years of journalism.
When looking for space cadets, I could suggest many possibilities from my interviews alone. However, in the interests of avoiding unnecessary debate from assorted philosophical/religious/political circles or conspiracy buffs seeking identity of the secret herbs and spices in KFC recipes, candidates shall remain anonymous.
As for Tiny Tim’s prediction of Earth’s capture by a solar being, this may have happened already, maybe during the recent housing bust. One glance at our economic trends perhaps convinced whoever held the planet in its grasp that a search for intelligent life should be conducted elsewhere.
Do I believe in UFOs? Sure. And not just because the government officially denies their existence, although that should be reason enough for a contrary opinion. Time and experiences can also reshape views. A wise man named Muhammad Ali once said, “A man who looks at the world at fifty the same way he did at twenty has wasted thirty years.”
Another wise man started with the observation, “A man’s got to believe in something….”
I believe I will take a nap. Speculation can be exhausting and naps are not to be denied.
Steve Lang has not seen Elvis in person, but has had an auto-body experience at a collision repair center.
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Steve Lang is a transplanted Minnesotan who is often lost in time and stuck in space. He serves as director of News and Publications at Sul Ross State University. He is a native of Erdahl, MN, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Morris, and received a Master’s degree from Sul Ross. He has spent most of the last 45 years in various journalistic endeavors, including community newspapers in Minnesota and South Dakota and news bureaus at four universities in Minnesota, South Dakota and Texas. He came to Sul Ross in 1998 and lives in Alpine with his wife, Clarissa Kaiser, four cats and two dogs.
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