"In your ball, sir, I see fertility ...!"

october 22, 2005.

Seven years ago, in 1998, Châlons changed its name. Formerly -sur-Marne, it became -en-Champagne. The reason must have been that one deemed it easier to 'sell' a town -en-Champagne than to 'sell' a town -sur-Marne.
Ufo Congres Châlons But the -sur-Marne still badly haunts Châlons, and surely will continue to do so for many years to come. Most of the road signs on the way up there continue to point to Châlons-sur-Marne. If one wouldn't know (better), one might even get under the impression that a Châlons-en-Champagne does not exist ... Only in the immediate vicinity of the town - or so it seemed - finally the -en-Champagne begins to surface ... On friday october 14th, after having packed Cyrill's car with loads of vintage electronica, we drove up there, and headed for the Parc des Expositions, which earlier that day had seen the kick off for the 1st European UFO Congress.
Outside we were welcomed by a big handmade sign attached to the hall's front, next to a poster of the meeting and one announcing the 'War of the Worlds', folded in two ...

And inside?

If nothing else, these Rencontres Ufologiques, were a 'labour of love'. (Maybe an 'odd love', but a 'love' none the less. [ And then, hey, am I not myself running around towns fishing up dirty clods of tapes and baby soothers? i want to Collecting sightings of unidentified flying stuff surely to many will seem pretty straight were they asked to compare ... :-) ] ...) The congress was organized by the french ufologues Alain Blanchard and Gérard Lebat, a former police officer turned accountant who has been gazing at the french skies for the best part of his life without ever noticing anything even remotely unidentifiable ...
Well, neither did we. Neither did I. (Saw a falling star once, late one night in french Brittany ... which in a way led up to Mars & Other Stars ... but I'm afraid that's about it ...) No, unidentified flying stuff and all that goes with it ... not my cup of tea, really. I mean of course taking the 'alien spaceships' interpretation seriously, where at heart a big slice of this 'UFO thing' wants to be about. Or rather: once to was about. The heydays of the 1960's and 1970's when presumed 'real life' space invaders regularly took the center of public attention seem to be far gone. Did they become obsolete, no longer of any use because of all of them 'bigger-than-life' Hollywood and telly renditions? Quite likely, as the dominance of vintage movie type alien dolls and flying saucers decorating many of the stands in the Châlons Parc des Expositions seemed to confirm ...

So, yeah, much of it was sort of cheap ...

Like the Formule 1 hotel in the Zone d'Aménagement Concerté Ouest du Mont Héry, where the three of us spent that friday night. When we sat in the obscure small downstairs breakfast space to finish some belgian brewed african beer, shortly after midnight, one of the other guests joined us. A frenchman, who had come over to Châlons for the UFO Congress as well ... What's more, he had seen one! Sure enough, we offered the guy - I'm afraid I didn't catch his name - a zip of our african beer, and I switched on my dictaphone ...
It was about two years ago, the man told, on november 11th, 2003. He had been playing chess with a friend in their village. It was about half eleven. They had taken the dog out into the garden for a pee when they saw this big orange ball of light at about three, four miles distance, moving back and forth.
"I asked my friend whether he was seeing what I was seeing, and at that same instant the machin came rushing straight at us ... like, that they must have had equipment to catch and trace the sound of human voices, say ... And then it halted, at a distance of some 300 meters. There it lingered. Without making a sound, without no smoke, no nothing ... It was out there for ten, fifteen minutes. And all the while I continued to observe ... My friend rushed back into the house a couple of times. To look for his video camera - but the batteries had run out. Then to get a photo camera - but there was no film inside. I forgot to ask him to go and get a flash light ... for maybe we could have tried to signal, to communicate in some way or other ... Inside that sphere of bright orange light - which I'd say fitted into a square of some twelve by twelve meters - I started to distinguish something that was shaped like a rugby ball. Yeah ... a rugby ball ...! With a big window in the upper part, and a smaller one below. And then there were these blue flashes coming from its right hand side ... That must have been because they were, like taking pictures, say ... And then - for a while I didn't dare telling this to anyone, for they'd tell me mad! - I saw a silhouette appearing, very clearly, behind the big window ... Shortly after the machin took off again, developing an amazing speed, going straight back in the direction where it had come from ... You know, I spent three years in the army, and I know an airplane when I see one. And I tell you that this wasn't one ... It wasn't human, it was. And that's for a fact."

Ufo Congres Châlons
Ufo Congres Châlons

I heard our late night beer zipping pal relating his 2003 experience again on saturday, when he stood up firm from within the audience participating in one of a couple of confused debates in the large side hall that I patiently listened to. The (apparent) leader of the discussion had just read from his extensive list of personal sightings, which began with the saucer type in the mid 1950's. His observations then evolved from light balls to christian crosses, triangles until - more recently - he reached the egg shaped stage of ovni modeling. Which was after he had 'opened up' to para phenomena ... "In the end it's just a matter of you wanting to experience," he told us. "If you want, if you need it bad enough, they do appear!" Well, here's logic for you, now, ain't it? But our Formula 1 friend did not agree. "How then," he asked, "if it's all just a matter of our will, do you explain the echoes of sightings appearing in the records of radar images? And then we just heard this lady telling us about her cat ... well, my first observation in fact was caused by my dog ... and it had the shape of a rugby ball!"
The leader of the debate shook his gray head, and looked severe, disapproving of the audacity of a such relative youngster ...
"You do not understand?" he asked. "But you should not forget that in the phenomena of ... eh ... ufolo...lo...gy ... these are very complex. Some of them are material, and some of them are not ... and then sometimes they are material, but then they dematerialize ... or it might be just the other way around. You understand? And then, if a rugby ball actually was a cross ... but also, of course!, there's not only crosses! These are symbols that you just do not understand ... and maybe in but ten years from now, your rugby ball will turn into an egg, sir! You see? ... So there you go! ... Maybe you are a rugby player ... ?"
"Excuse me?"
"You're a rugby fan? No? ... Anyway, you saw a rugby ball. But I see an egg! ... In your ball, sir, I see fertility ... I see ... birth ...!"
"Birth!?", our friend exclaimed, indignant. "At fifty?"

Ufo Congres Châlons memory t-shirt

"But yes! No! I mean, we all have memories. A memory. A collective memory, an individual memory, there's the water's memory, your brain's memory - which is of the first degree - and there's the memory of your cells ... et cetera, et cetera, et cetera ... I know now, for example, that time does not exists, and that time is something that evolves ... "
Well, let me spare you the rest of the black bag full of quantum and Jung phraseologie that followed, and managed to silence all, but a charming old lady that ended the discussion by stating that "it anyway is of no use, though, to alert the authorities, when you see something, because they will think that you're just a crazy old fool, now won't they?"

It was something of a relief, to then hear Elric. Now here there was someone with a straight-and-no-chaser story if ever I heard one. Always smiling, dressed in an impeccably white suit, Elric had come to Châlons all the way from the Reunion Island, where he continues to pursue a career as a politician and radio presenter ... A man with a mission. Had his first encounter in his bedroom at the age of seven, when a nightly visitor put his right hand on his head, and then on his heart.
Elric@Châlons It was a six fingered hand ...
The creature, which except for its polydactyly (but a minor mutation) looked like any other human, then told Elric that he had been chosen. For many years Elric kept this a secret. For, as the alien had warned him already, who would have believed him? But further encounters followed. In 1989, and again in 1994, when Elric went with them on a trip in their spacecraft. But no, he assured us: this was not an abduction. For he had agreed to come along ... It was in this spacecraft that the captain gave him his new name: Elric ... The spaceship took him to a far away planet, inhabited by these creatures that are 'human like we are'. No vintage green, nor vintage gray, no bulging eyes. Far from it ... You see? ... During this trip the nature of his mission was revealed to the newly baptized Elric: he is to be their ambassador, has to prepare a meeting with mankind, an encounter of the third kind ... Also, on this far away planet Elric underwent some surgery. Here and now, however, he told us, he could not yet reveal the nature of that intervention. But, although Elric before had only communicated with males from the alien species, in the operating theatre there had been several females present ... "Women, like ... well, like we have here ... beautiful women ...," he said, " ... évidemment ..." (Oh boy, you should've seen him smile ... :-)
Well, that was excellent news! I'd say the weekend's best by far ...

ET Germany

I hope Elric found some time during the conference to discuss with american UFO abduction specialist Budd Hopkins, the star speaker at the Châlons Congress. Budd had sensational revelations for the Châlons audience: for a long time already aliens have been conducting genetic experimentation with us earthlings, and many a generation of alien-human bastards is roaming this planet here and now! But then, where did I hear that story before ...? Sounds sooo X-Files ... :-) ... Anyway. You should be able to read more about Budd's theory on the german Paranews.net site, who set up a live streaming studio in the Parc des Expositions ... [I find it difficult to judge the 'political position' of many of the organisations that are into ufology, para-stuff and the like. There are surely quite a few sect-like, extremist or otherwise suspect individuals and groups involved, but I did have the impression that most of the organisations present in Châlons were mainly of the 'passionate amateur' sort; maybe 'naive', but not 'dangerous' ... 'Paranews.net' seemed to have a pretty 'professional' thing going ... doesn't necessarily mean anything even remotely 'bad', of course, but I just wondered who or what is sponsoring their act ...?]
On friday evening the Paranews team had a lot of trouble getting the live video stream going, which was the reason that we, the Cosmodrone, were asked to delay, and then delay, and yet delay again the cosmic intervention we had prepared - set up on one side of the very long side hall, on the other side of which meanwhile both the amateurs and professionals of ufolology were dining ... Well, of course, they should've streamed us. Man, we were sooo fringe, and at times sounding sooo german ... ;-) ...

When we were finally 'allowed' to roll, most 'eaters' already were heading for their hotels. Or outside, watching the skies ... (It did look like such a fine place for staging an ovni landing ... the 'retro' (early eighties) look of the Parc des Expositions, all the 'retro' inside, and the vast empty, and sandy parking space around it ... I mean, if I were an alien ...)

Cosmodrone set up
Emmanuel's machin

So while on friday in the end we hardly did more than extensively 'soundcheck', we did manage to properly perform on saturday afternoon. Starting at 16h30, the three of us surfed on vast vintage cosmos waves for about forty-five minutes ... In hindsight a pretty close sounding equivalent to the tons of vintage alien dolls, old UFO books and grainy black and white pictures of flying saucers in the expo's main hall, actually ...
Cyrill Hoffmeyer used a Korg MS10, an Elektor oscillator, a Solec (cartridge) tape echo, a Frostwave Theremin, and an Alesis autopan; I was using a Casio SK1 keyboard, the Bontempi HF201 electronic organ that I had recently picked up from the street, and a Korg MS20, to which I had hooked up a dictaphone in order to 'voltage control' it with the sounds from an old Agfa C120-cassette I got at the Montreuil flea market (the A-side labeled 'Electronique A-E', the B-side 'Mathematique'), and those from a data cassette with games for the Sharp MZ-700 (1983). Only Emmanuel's 'set up' maybe was somewhat less 'vintage', with an Evolver, digital delay, loop station, bass station, a home built electroacoustic device (see picture) ... [Regular viewers probably will know that, unlike the other Cosmodroners I am not really an active collector of these fine looking and sounding machines. I just happen to still have some of them around ... guess that must mean that I've become kind of 'vintage' myself ... buggie ]
Emmanuel also used a cheapo mp3 player containing a selection from a collection of UFO-related vocal samples, compiled for the occasion by Eric Houzet. Eric actually should have played and manipulated these samples himself, as he was to join us for saturday's performance. Originally though, we had meant to play in the evening, starting around nine. And Eric did drive up to Châlons in the afternoon. But as he didn't listen to the message we had put on his answering machines, did not check his email, does not have cellphone, and did not phone himself (must have been the 'vintage spirit', I guess :-) - moreover somehow underway lost one of the vintage bumpers of his vintage mobile - he arrived at the Parc des Expositions at a time when we already were all packed and ready to drive back to Paris ...

FlexRex - No Input

But Eric managed to more than make up for not participating in the Cosmodrone 'adventure', already the next day, in La Machinante in Montreuil, where he did a solo 'no input mixing board' performance alongside an exposition of drawings that Marion Legouy produced 'live', during the Lavage / Multiplexage festival that took place there this spring.
The event - okay, let's just call it 'happening' - of last sunday (october 16th), entitled Corps, Rite, Palabre et Transformance, was part of the yearly 'Portes Ouvertes' that were taking place that weekend in Montreuil. Had a great time. Junk furniture, sun, tasty food, beer, kids, wine, friends, and a fine collection of vintage vacuum cleaners, casually lying around all over 'La Machinante'.
And then of course there was Blandine's transformance ... pinning her clean white dress against a wall to soil it with lots of bloody looking tomato purée ... spilling the red liquidy stuff all over the place, meanwhile preparing ... well, it was meant to be an eatable pizza ... stripping the now greasy'n'dirty textile on again, washing it and herself in a bathtub ... only to take it off once more, draping it on a table, batiking it into something new & clean again ... with all the kids there fullheartedly - coeurs purs - joining in the fun. In the end Blandine wrapped it all up in an intense and liberating chant, accompanied on african drums by some of the males in the audience, and with Didier, having a go at one of them vintage vacuum cleaners ...
Loved that part ...

Oh. Do I hear someone mumble 'seventies' ? ...

Ah, well ...

[ You can listen to fragments of Cosmodrone live at Châlons-en-Champagne and two short extracts of FlexRex's 'No Input' set at La Machinante as part of the current, 6th, edition of Raudio. There's more 'Cosmodrone' in Raudio's Ufolology2005 Podcast. Including, for the close listener, some whiffs of Budd Hopkins' and Elric's Châlons-interventions. To subscribe to the Raudio Podcasts, do get the feed's URI by clicking the green podcast button in the sidebar. Alternatively, you may preview the podcast feed, or simply download the mp3-file. ]

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