Otherworldly event draws alien enthusiastsLANDERS - The aliens came back to Landers on Saturday.
By MARK MUCKENFUSS
By MARK MUCKENFUSS
There was the bullet creature. He looked like a man, except his bald head was entirely silver and his otherworldly eyes were hidden behind goggled sunglasses. In fact, all of the "extraterrestrials" looked nearly human except for their blue and silver outfits of varying designs.
Nothing like E.T. or the bug-eyed creatures from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" showed up. But if they had, they certainly would have been welcomed at the Retro UFO Spaceship Convention.
This was the first convention to be held at George Van Tassel's Integratron since 1978, the year after his death. Van Tassel popularized Landers, about 40 miles north of Palm Springs, as a UFO landing site. He claimed travelers from Venus first contacted him in 1953 and regularly after that. He began holding annual space conventions soon after, putting Landers on the map as a hot spot for extraterrestrial activity.
He might have been happy to see the site of the Integratron -- a two-story domed structure designed as a rejuvenation machine -- overrun with people in foil hats and clothing more than 50 years after his first contact. After all, said the Rev. Bob Short, who knew Van Tassel, the Integratron was essentially an alien gift. Van Tassel's visitors, he said, provided him with the design.
"They really did want to make contact with the people of our world," Short said.
The Integratron was intended to show "that they had good intentions," he said.
Short, dressed partly in American Indian regalia, opened the day's event with some traditional Indian singing and drumming. A woman assisting him shook a gourd rattle and waved burning sage over each of the nearly 60 people forming a circle in front of the Integratron.
Short assured that crowd that his grandfathers, who he said were Standing Elk and Sitting Bull, gave the crowd their blessing.
"If there are any ETs among us," he added, "I want to welcome you."
The daylong event, which was a fundraiser for both the Integratron and the Morongo Valley Historical Society, featured lectures from contactees such as Short, UFO historians and theorists promoting such ideas as the Earth being hollow.
"I have been to Antarctica," said speaker Hans Peterman, of Palm Springs. "I know where the entrance is to the inner Earth."
During a two-hour talk, Peterman, author of "Gravity, Matter and Space Travel," said Lake Vostok provides an opening into the Earth's center, where alien beings live.
Peterman also talked about government-built underground tunnels crisscrossing the United States, a subterranean reptilian race and civilizations on Mars.
"Where did the Martians go?" he asked his audience. "The scenario was that the name Cairo actually means Mars. There you have absolute proof. No ifs, ands or buts about it."
Not all the attendees or speakers were as wild as Peterman. In fact, most seemed to be there to have fun while sharing some of their strange and unexplained experiences.
Greg Bishop, author of "Weird America," took a humorously skeptical approach in his talk on alien contactees.
Historically, Bishop said, "Every time someone has a spiritual experience it's something coming from the sky. What was coming from the sky in the 1950s and '60s was these things people couldn't identify.
"I think there's something going on," Bishop said. "What that something is, I'm not sure, but it's out of the ordinary."
Daniel Toscano, 46, is a teacher from Riverside. He wasn't willing to speak about his personal UFO experience as he sat beneath Giant Rock, but he said he is encouraged by the messages most contactees share.
"They say there is hope for humanity," he said.
Standing nearby, Ken Keller, 69, of Yucca Valley, had a different opinion about extraterrestrial visitation.
"I think it's a crock," he said. The closest thing he's observed to aliens, he said jokingly, "is my next-door neighbors."
But others are convinced we are not alone.
Michael Barr, 58, of Las Vegas, showed up at the convention dressed in a blue jumpsuit with a high foil collar and a white Beatles wig. He has had his own experience with an alien encounter and believes extraterrestrials are watching humans and waiting for us to learn how to cooperate and get along.
"At some point, and they will decide when that is, they will come back and invite us into their neighborhood," he said.
Until then, he added, conventions are the best thing going, especially when, as in Landers, the atmosphere is right.
"I've been to so many of these conferences (where) everybody's like a stuffed shirt," he said. "Have some fun with it."
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See Also: The Integratron Rejuvenates Itself