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Monday, June 21, 2010

Not Abducted by Aliens, Yet

Recently I visited a bookstore while perusing the event listings in a local weekly, and noticed one for a meeting of a UFO discussion group, being surprised it seemed to be meeting at more than one venue. Walking into the cafe part of the bookstore and sitting down at a table, I was surprised to discover that this was the group that was meeting there, not another meeting that I was interested in. In fact, it was specifically a meeting for "abductees."

I started looking back in the paper to find the right listing and then, looking up to explain to the person sitting closest that this wasn't the meeting I'd meant to be at, I noticed an alien standing at the other side of the table -- the classic Hollywood kind. Feeling somewhat alarmed now, I again looked in the paper to try and sort things out -- only now I saw aliens in the paper too, even in pages I thought I'd looked at already. Realizing this wasn't possible, I said, "How can they be in the newspaper?" and then "This has to be a dream! This has to be a dream!" I then shook myself awake.

Even as I went to the kitchen for a drink of water, I couldn't shake off the irrational feeling that maybe this was now bound to happen again and again, as "abductees" experience. Partway into the next dream, I began to see the evidence that this was a dream too, and decided to do the same thing again. Perhaps I wanted to reassure myself that I could in light of the residual unease from the previous dream. Then, while still in bed, I tried getting back into the dream, since it hadn't been unpleasant and I'd been talking to someone pretty. Unfortunately I'd awakened too far already for that.

The fact of this ability would seem to make me an unlikely candidate for the sort of hypnopompic-hallucination-with-sleep-paralysis that probably underlies the "abductee" experience.

Before I'd learned it, however, I did once have such an experience, when I was eight. My parents had someone over and gave them my bed for the night, so I had to sleep on a couch in the living room. There was a rainstorm outside. After a while I awakened, and the sound of the storm had been replaced by that of a party, as the room was now filled with people. I decided to get up, starting by raising my right forearm. I saw that I'd raised it, but still felt it lying at my side, making it seem that I had three arms. This frightened me awake. The room was still dark and empty and the rain was still falling.

Evidently I'd been experiencing perceptions from my senses (waking mode) together with perceptions from my imagination (dream mode), generating a perceived anomaly. But I don't recall any hypnopompic hallucinations subsequent to that one.

Back in the real world, here's an upcoming event that's most worthy of support:

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The GI Press Project presents a special screening of Sir! No Sir! and the Philadelphia Premiere of FTA. Local efforts increase to preserve anti-war papers by Vietnam vets.

Gina Renzi
Director, The Rotunda

What: The GI Press Project presents a special screening of Sir! No Sir! and the Philadelphia Premiere of FTA in order to raise funds for and awareness of the rarely seen Vietnam-era Underground Press.

When: Wednesday June 23, 2010@6pm

Where: The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut Street, Philadelphia

Why: In the Vietnam War era, anti-war members of the US military and their supporters found voice for their concerns in what eventually added up to hundreds of underground newspapers produced and circulated everywhere, inside the Pentagon itself, aboard ships at sea, and on and around military bases around the world. With names such as Left Face, About Face, Harass the Brass, A Four-Year Bummer, The Fort Polk Puke, RITA, FTA, Marine Blues, and Rough Draft, they served as an organizing tool, a platform for discussion of issues the military chain of command should have cared about but didn't, and a way of letting the rest of America know that opposition to the war was widespread in the armed forces.

These newspapers, largely overlooked by historians, had great impact at the time and are now in danger of being lost altogether. They were generally printed on cheap paper that will crumble to dust before too many more years pass. To insure that this legacy and effort is not lost, a GI Press Preservation Project has been launched in Philadelphia, where several of the best collections of Vietnam-era GI newspapers are located. James Lewes, who worked on the GI Press part of the movie Sir! No Sir! is spearheading an effort to digitally copy all still-existing copies of Vietnam-era GI newspapers so that they will not be lost to history when the paper they are printed on crumbles and can be shared more widely and take their rightful place in the history of the Vietnam War and the GI Movement that opposed it. To help raise money and bring attention to the project, James Lewes will be showing the films Sir! No Sir! and FTA at The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

About the films

Sir! No Sir!
This feature-length documentary focuses on the efforts by troops in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War to oppose the war effort by peaceful demonstration and subversion.

A documentary about a political troupe headed by actors Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland which traveled to towns near military bases in the US in the early 1970s. The group put on shows called "F.T.A.", which stood for "F**k the Army", and was aimed at convincing soldiers to voice their opposition to the Vietnam War, which was raging at the time. Various singers, actors, and other entertainers performed antiwar songs and skits during the show.

Admission is free, but donations are encouraged.

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