Minds on Vacation
The recent Mose Allison jazz shows at Kimball's in the East Bay attracted healthy crowds all three nights, from young couples to older hipsters who remembered Allison's early '60s popularity. On the final evening, however, it might have been an overdose of Thanksgiving turkey tryptophan, or perhaps the pianist's shtick seemed a little stale, but for whatever unfathomable reason the club's staff chose not to listen to Allison classics like "Your Mind Is on Vacation"; most of them spent their time in the dining area, watching ESPN downhill skiing on the big-screen monitor.
Thanks for Nothing
Thanksgiving morning in the Richmond District, the beginning of a bright, beautiful, sunny holiday. Some folks are rolling over and sleeping late. Others are up early, preparing the afternoon's meal. On tree-lined Lake Street, one man celebrates the day of thanks in another fashion. Shivering in the dawn's chill, he sets cardboard boxes of used books out on the sidewalk.
What exactly compelled him to abruptly clean out his bookshelves on this holiday morning is unclear, but the selection of female-related tomes suggests it was not necessarily a pleasant decision. The titles range from The Hite Report, Physical Release, and The Female Eunuch to The Feminine Mystique, an erotic novel named Wifey, and -- mysteriously -- a highlighted copy of The Communist Manifesto.
Sometimes it's just better to start the day with a clean shelf.
Close Encounter in Union Sqaure
On Dec. 13, 1973 (coincidentally also the birthday of Ted Nugent), French auto racing magazine journalist Claude Vorilhon was driving through the countryside, when he suddenly felt the need to pull over the car and take a walk. A round spaceship landed in front of him, from which emerged a 4-foot being wearing a green suit decorated with an emblem combining the Star of David and a swastika. The being told Vorilhon he had been selected to spread a message of peace and love to all humanity. Vorilhon wrote up his experiences in the book The Message Given to Me by Extra-Terrestrials and changed his name to Raël.
Since that time Raël has been spreading the message of his Raëlian Church via 40,000 followers in 85 countries, all raising money to build a giant "embassy," where his alien friends, the Elohim, will revisit the Earth, meet with the world's leaders, and pass along their wisdom. The Elohim know the Earth very well. They have been here before, because they created all of us from their mastery of DNA science.
This has all come courtesy of one Felix Clairvoyant, who now stops his rap for a moment. The illuminated elevators of the St. Francis Hotel rise and fall outside the windows of the Savoy Room, atop the Holiday Inn on Union Square. The crowd of 12 is silent.
Clairvoyant takes a sip of water. "This is one of the most important missions on this planet."
Clairvoyant and his associates are visiting the city from the United States Raëlian Movement office in Palo Alto, informing and educating the curious about the teachings of Raël. A poster placed in a Bernal Heights Hungarian sausage shop is the reason at least two of us have come tonight.
The Raëlians teach regular seminars on "sensual meditation" throughout the world. They take no money for their efforts; all of them have day jobs. All the money -- $4 million in a Swiss bank -- is earmarked for construction of the embassy, an architect's rendering of which is on display, looking something like a 1960s Disneyland Monsanto home of the future. In 1990, says Clairvoyant, a crop circle pattern in England was found to be an exact mirror of the embassy plan.
"Ten percent of the crop circles are from the Elohim," says Kevin matter-of-factly, another of the evening's facilitators, who, like Clairvoyant, also wears tight jeans, and sports a ponytail and silver Raëlian pendant. "Ninety percent are hoaxes."
But the Raëlians have an uphill battle ahead of them. Raël deemed that the embassy should be built in the original city of peace, Jerusalem. But Jerusalem has ignored their requests. (It might have had something to do with the swastika logo, so in 1992 they modified it into a swirl of "infinite time.") Switzerland is also balking, but Egypt has apparently made an offer.
The clock is ticking for the Raëlians. According to Raël, they have until the year 2035 to build the embassy. But they have developed a rich and detailed history, available in their books or at their www.rael.com Website. Clairvoyant continues:
The Elohim are 25,000 years ahead of us scientifically. They came to Earth, set up seven laboratories, and started synthesizing all life forms. (This will take us Earthlings exactly 666 generations to evolve enough to do this ourselves.) They created the Jews first, and Jewish people are the genetic offspring of these aliens, because of their higher level of intelligence. Elohim live to between 700 and 1,000 years, after which they reinvent themselves "in a surgical procedure" using one cell from their forehead. One of them made love with Mary, and the Three Wise Men were illuminated by the light from their craft.
Clairvoyant stops, realizing he didn't want to get this far into it. But it's too late.
"Raël is Jesus," he says quietly. "Fifty percent of him is alien."
As a friend and I walk out of the hotel, Union Square is still bustling with holiday shoppers. Suddenly a bright incandescence looms over the Embarcadero buildings, and an oblong shape zips above our heads, modified Elohim logo clearly visible on its side. A panel retracts, and a peculiar whirring device begins furiously sucking Christmas merchandise out of the store windows and up into the belly of the craft, leaving shards of glass carpeting the streets. It whips out over the city and hovers above the bay. A blinding tube of light then commences funneling down an amazing stream of Fila 2 A System athletic shoes, Coach and DKNY handbags, Bang & Olufsen Proton 34-inch wide-screen direct-view stereo monitor/receivers, the entire Gump elf display, and hundreds of Disney 101 Dalmatian products -- backpacks, sweat shirts, mugs, vests, nightshirts with matching slippers, cosmetic bags, pocket organizers, Christmas ornaments, plush toys, caps, "dog house designer kits," "Kanine Krunchies" dog food containers -- all fire-hosing straight into the waves of the bay at powerful speed, leaving spectators to wonder.
Question: Was this a message from Raël, the Elohim, the French, or the Jews?
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By Jack Boulware