Last week, the Los Angeles Times carried this dispatch: "Is Denver ready for a close encounter?"
Tongues planted firmly in cheek, Ashley Powers and DeeDee Correll wrote about how a Denver ballot initiative next year will attempt to create an "Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission." From the article:
This week, Denver officials announced that Peckman had gathered about 4,000 valid signatures needed to place the issue before the 350,000 registered voters of the Colorado state capital. If approved, the city panel would promote "harmonious, peaceful, mutually respectful and beneficial coexistence" between earthlings and extraterrestrials, in part by developing protocols for "diplomatic contact."
For more Mile High reaction, TTLA checked in with our Denver Bureau Chief, Michael Gunstanson. His reply runs below.
Also, TTLA wondered, shouldn't Los Angeles be doing something about this Denver gap? Should we start gathering signatures? Form our own space alien welcoming committee?
"That's really funny," says TTLA Paranormal Activities Bureau Chief, Skylaire Alfvegren (motto: "Yellow journalism, elfin magic."). "I don't think it's necessary. I think this guy's initiative in Denver is more of a gesture than anything else."
Alfvegren is, among much more, the founder of the League of Western Fortean Intermediatists (L.O.W.F.I.), which she describes in part as a "wire service for the weird," studying "the mysteries and peculiarities of the American West, including paranormal phenomena, UFOs, cryptozoology, and unexplained phenomena of every type."
More down below from Alfvegren. First, though, here's what Gunstanson, formerly with the L.A. Times and the Rocky Mountain News, wrote us:
"So you think that the city of Angels might want to follow Denver's lead and get in on the act of communing with them, or at least their 21st century brethren, huh?
"Not surprising. For whatever reason, UFOs, extraterrestrials, grays, men from mars or whatever you want to call them, have been in the news a great deal of late. From their high-profile, if albeit tumbling ratings, return to network television in "V" to a veiled nod of their existence in the new SyFy channel spinoff: "Stargate Universe," aliens seem to be everywhere at once.
"Why, no less an, ahem, authority on the subject, his Holiness, the Pope, recently convened a conference to discuss the matter:
"Though it may seem an unlikely location to happen upon a conference on astrobiology, the Vatican recently held a "study week" of over 30 astronomers, biologists, geologists and religious leaders to discuss the question of the existence of extraterrestrials. -- Universe Today
"The Vatican's chief astronomer says there is no conflict between believing in God and in the possibility of extraterrestrial "brothers" perhaps more evolved than humans.
"In my opinion this possibility exists," said the Reverend José Gabriel Funes, head of the Vatican Observatory and a scientific adviser to Pope Benedict XVI, referring to life on other planets. -- NY TImes
"Meanwhile, Monsignor Corrado Balducci, a theologian member of the Vatican Curia (governing body), and an insider close to the Pope, has gone on Italian national television five times to proclaim that extraterrestrial contact is a real phenomenon, according to UFO Digest. Balducci provided an analysis of extraterrestrials that he feels is consistent with the Catholic Church's understanding of theology. Monsignor Balducci emphasizes that extraterrestrial encounters "are NOT demonic, they are NOT due to psychological impairment, they are NOT a case of entity attachment, but these encounters deserve to be studied carefully."
"So you can see why Denver, having missed out on the spaceport race "? mostly because there isn't a piece of land big enough and flat enough to work "? would want to be at the forefront of the UFO greeting race.
"Add in these facts: most UFOlogists -- yes, I'm told that's a word -- believe Eisenhower only added "In God We Trust" to the money and pushed for "under God" to be added to the pledge in 1954 after meeting with aliens; Denver is a scant 9 hours from Roswell, where aliens reportedly crashed; Cheyenne Mountain was where the military stored the Stargate (if you can believe the writers/producers of Stargate: SG1) and you can see that Denver, and the state of Colorado has had a rich "brush with UFO fame" history in this regard.
"All that said, my guess is this measure will not pass."
Back, now, to Los Angeles and Alfvegren. A veteran of the Cacophony Society (adults only) she's also a freelancer for the LA Weekly and other pubs. Her L.O.W.F.I. puts on events in town once a month or so -- a drive through Phillip K. Dick's Fullerton; taking a psychic medium to the Richard Nixon Museum.
Saturday, December 12, L.O.W.F.I. is involved with L.A. Santacon, a Cacophony tradition. (Adults only -- for more information, follow the links from the L.O.W.F.I. events page.)
To TTLA's surprise, Alfvegren says L.A. has no business following Denver's ballot initiative lead.
"We have so much to worry about in this state, in this economy," Alfvegren says. "As interesting and life-changing as it would be to have someone make contact, well, I heard on the radio the other night that something like 70% percent of single mothers in Los Angeles County can't meet their basic financial needs in terms of child care, health care, and food. You've got to put things in perspective."
Okay, if a ballot initiative is out, then what if local politicians got directly involved?
"If a measure like Denver's slipped in somehow," Alfvegren says, "I don't think anybody on our City Council has enough of a sense of humor to say, "Oh look, it's promoting peace and harmony among everybody. Let's okay this.'"
The L.O.W.F.I. leader also says she's seen civic proposals she regards as stranger than the Denver idea: "Pot dispensaries having to be 1,000 feet from residential areas is a far crazier ballot initiative than one that's promoting diplomacy and harmony and peace between us and whoever else may be out there."