May 4, 2004
by Stephen Bassett
As this column is being written, the author finds himself caught between reality and surreality. The X-Conference held on April 16-18 at the Hilton Gaithersburg would be the former. The pending casting call for the new Showtime Cable Channel program, American Candidate, would be the latter.
Since a considerable portion of this issue of UFO Magazine is devoted to the X-Conference, perhaps some behind the scenes comments would be less redundant. The 1st Annual Exopolitics Expo was by any measure a significant success. The response from the audience and speakers was overwhelmingly positive, and much of this response will soon be posted at the X-Conference website.
This does not mean there were not problems in producing this event – there were plenty of problems. Viewed from the right perspective the success of the X-Conference was a near miracle. Three weeks before X-day the merchant bank engaged to process credit card orders pulled all posted monies, emptying the conference account, and began an audit of all orders. This happened at precisely the time the hotel was expecting to be paid – in full. Let’s be generous and simply note that when the money from a first-time customer began rolling in for a conference about “extraterrestrial-related phenomena,” someone in the chain of command might have become nonplussed. After all, the government of the United States has gone to considerable lengths to give the impression those interested in such matters are a deluded collection of whackos in dire need of a life, a job and a grip on reality.
Some fool in Gaithersburg is collecting a whole lot of money from these people to come see 25 speakers from 5 countries with 9 PhDs and over 60 published books. All this over a few hundred thousand sightings of “things” in the sky which James Oberg, Phil Klass and the “Amazing Randy” have clearly established as ice crystals, the planet Venus and flocks of migrating birds fleeing ignited pockets of swamp gas. These poor people, still hoping to own their first home, are about to be taken for their mental disability subsidy checks by a flim flam artist spring loaded to Jet Blue his butt to the Caribbean. So the audit went forward.
After many days, many calls and a great deal of genuflection, the withheld money was finally released, and a cashiers check was hand-delivered to the hotel comptroller on Thursday, April 15 at 5:05 PM – about 10 minutes before the hotel was to pull the plug on all blocked rooms.
As a result of this crisis, on Friday morning, April 16 the producer of the X-Conference (your author) found himself 48 hours without sleep and so far behind the 8-ball, Minnesota Fats was standing over him giving the last rites. The four data projectors absolutely critical to the conference had not even been purchased, and the registrations were not prepared for the 650 people descending upon the Hilton Hotel from 6 countries as of 5:30 PM.
Despite enjoying some truly interesting and bizarre hallucinations the producer made a strategically fateful decision – stop all work and move every piece of computer equipment in sight to the hotel, plug it all together and conscript anyone who walked by into forced labor. When the registration desk was supposed to open, another fateful decision was made – tell everyone to come back tomorrow and in the meantime head on down to the cocktail party and get completely smashed. Then inform the hotel to keep hauling out hors d'oeuvres until all sodden attendees were stuffed silly. Amazingly, this worked.
Then, by offering an assortment of exotic bribes, two very suggestible fellows named Jim Boka and David Coote were convinced to stay up all night and help complete the registration packages. These packets were ready about 15 minutes before the 7:30 AM start. A melt down of biblical proportions had been avoided. (BTW, the producer is in need of twenty 2004 World Series Tickets and Uma Thurman’s phone number.)
At this point in the proceedings the producer had been awake for 60 hours and was beginning to see slide shows on the walls without the need of the data projectors which had been set up by Jim Boka and some other people who the producer did not recognize and may have been with the Bar Mitzvah family slated for that evening in the Crystals Ballroom.
The volunteer staff, seeing their leader wandering the halls of the hotel muttering obscure Gallic death chants, cancelled all their plans for the weekend and dug in for a 48-hour ordeal that would very likely result in some form of paralysis. Still, more help was needed. The National Guard was contacted, but they were in Iraq. The producer attempted to go enlist and leave for Iraq as well, but was stopped by volunteers who refused to allow him to get off that easy.
That day eighteen presenters needed to be introduced. Half would be covered by former CNN anchor Cheryll Jones, the other half by the producer. Ms. Jones, a consummate professional, handled her introductions beautifully even though she had been grossly mislead into thinking someone (the producer, who is now banned from doing Larry King for 10 years) would help her prepare her remarks. The producer, now approaching 72 hours without sleep, was caught introducing several speakers in some unknown language which may have resembled ancient Farsi. Other speakers were surprised to learn they had been either leaders in the French Resistance or voted off Survivor Malaysia due to clothing optional issues with the cast.
By the time the Banquet was laid out on Saturday night and people were filing into the Grand Ballroom it was clear the conference was going to be completed without the need for a police escort. A wonderful singer, Vyktoria Pratt Keating, came on stage to help open up the evening’s entertainment which included a surprise birthday cake (complete with a Cydonia Face) for Special Event Presenter, Richard Hoagland, who was just about to turn 31 in Mars years. Also sharing in this birthday were Enterprise Mission supporter Carrie Clark and Black Vault wunderkind, John Greenewald.
All of this foofah led up to the Key Note by this author, who by then had gone 84 hours without sleep. At this point, with all vestige of inhibition gone, awash in a serene calm and Timothy Leary along side offering exhortations, the producer launched into a free association extravaganza which hopefully he will eventually see on a DVD somewhere in order to find out what in the hell he said.
Sunday went forward without serious complications thanks largely to the help of tech wizard Laurie Hakola and many other savvy attendees who have been there, done that and seen their share of conference producers have a nervous breakdown, curl up in a corner and mumble. The X-Conference was done and it was in the can – literally. Seven teams of documentary film makers were present filming presentations and interviews with speakers. More importantly the entire conference was video recorded by Ted St. Rain of Lost Arts Media to be made available – 21 lectures and 15 workshops – to those who refuse to believe anything they have read here and must see for themselves.
The merchant bank was thrilled the producer stayed in country, the Hilton has offered the entire hotel for next year, offers to speak are coming in, the producer went to bed for three days and woke up in another dimension, and a great deal of after-conference work remains to be completed.
The X-Conference was a statement aimed directly at the United States Congress and the White House. That statement has been made.
And now let us leave the real world for the “real” world.
Due in large measure to the fact the creators of Showtime’s American Candidate were not allowed into the Hilton Hotel, your author is still in the running to be selected as one of the 12 contestants to participate in this ground breaking reality program. Within ten days of this writing, calls will go out to finalists to come to Los Angeles to be interviewed. Out of this group the 12 American Candidates will be selected.
If you check out the American Candidate website you will learn the following: 1) This is a serious program. They are not fooling around. 2) It is an experiment in electronic democracy which may herald the beginning of a new, risky, but potentially nation changing expansion of populist power. 3) It is an extraordinary opportunity to put the issue of exopolitics before millions of people in a political context. 4) Should your author make the final cut, your help and the attention of millions more will be needed to keep that issue on the program for as many weeks as possible.
Please look at this website and spread the word. The real candidates either can’t or won’t speak to this issue, but a “real” candidate may be coming their way who will.
Relevant Web links:
[Stephen Bassett is a political activist, founder of the Paradigm Research Group, Executive Director of the Extraterrestrial Phenomena Political Action Committee (X-PPAC), author of the Paradigm Clock website, and a political columnist and commentator. You can reach him at: ParadigmRG@aol.com]
"The X-Conference was a statement aimed directly at the United States Congress and the White House. That statement has been made."