Santa Clara, CA: 25th-26th May
The landscape of conspiracy research changed irrevocably on 9/11, and it was inevitable that the events thereof would dominate proceedings. All but absent were last year’s alien-angled themes, though the absence of David Icke perhaps had something to do with that, replaced a by more prosaic explanations. Against the backdrop of the FBI being called to account for the failure to stop Al-Qaeda, there was an almost grim determination to bring things out into the open.
The venue had also changed from last year, moving across Highway 101 to the Santa Clara Marriott. We didn’t have to share facilities with the Charismatic Catholics this time; however, Friday night in the hotel bar saw rather a lot of scary-looking female athletes (including a hockey team wearing shirts saying ‘Chicks With Sticks’), some of whom were engaging in what would be inappropriate touching in an Arizona bar, but I guess not down the road from San Francisco. The Marriott was also located just down the road from the Great America Theme Park; between lectures, you could step outside and hear, every 90 seconds or so, the screams of the terrified being dropped into oblivion. What more fitting setting for a convention about conspiracies in the post 9/11 world?
Eric Jon Phelps. Having missed the first lecture last year, we made a special effort to be on time, but really shouldn’t have bothered. Phelps’ lecture appeared to consist largely of overhead slides taken from his book, throwing the audience in at the deep end by assuming we all knew who the Knights of Malta were, and why belonging to them makes you a bad person. The topic – the Jesuits and their influence on world affairs – was potentially an interesting one, but all life was drained by the presentation. I can stand almost any level of ineptness (I’ve walked out of less than a handful of movies in my life), but thirty minutes was enough for both Chris and I. Rating: E
Dr. Nick Begich. Thank the lord for Dr. Nick, whose lecture was informative, entertaining and educational. He spoke a lot of common sense, not least his exhortation to the audience to trust no-one and check up on all alleged facts for themselves. In the conspiracy field, as elsewhere, independent thought and questioning is often discouraged in favour of acceptance of what “they” tell you, so Begich’s encouragement to look into things for yourself was a refreshing breath of fresh air.
Based out of Alaska, his main topic was HAARP, a technique of pumping energy into the upper atmosphere that can be used for long-range communication, but also potentially for weather control and possibly even behaviour modification. But despite the potential downside, his was an upbeat talk, which left us feeling empowered and hopeful for the future. It didn’t seem to be just us who appreciated him either, going by the rapid way in which his new book sold out at his table after the lecture. A
Anthony J. Hilder. If you could come up with a stereotype of a conspiracy researcher, Hilder would probably be it. Clad in a turtle-neck sweater and possessing what was either a bad toupee or a very bad hair-style, and doing a fair imitation of Morton Downey Jr., he stalked among the audience. Long on rhetoric, but short on actual facts, he harangued us with a seemingly endless array of buzzwords: Illuminazi, left-islation, New World Odour, evil-archy, bank-sters, cash-ist cartel, etc.
He came across as not much more than a talk radio host – and there’s a good reason for this, as that’s just what he used to be. He came across more as someone playing a character, and for all his shouting (not to mention his favourite phrase, “If you liked what Hitler did, you’re going to love what Bush is doing!”), it was the sort of thing that I found easy to ignore. Hilder got my vote as Speaker Most Likely to be a Government Agent Provocateur. D.
Ted Gunderson. Retired FBI agent Gunderson spoke about satanic child abuse cults, and how there is a cover-up among the police and judiciary to prevent their existence being revealed. He paid particular attention to the McMartin case, where a preschool was allegedly the center of such a group; the children reported tunnels underneath the school, but none were found until after the case has been dismissed. Gunderson’s investigations provided significant evidence that there had been such tunnels, and that they had been filled in at some point.
This, and evidence at another site he’d discovered, were fairly compelling, but he largely failed to prove much beyond the local level. If I were involved in abusing children, I’d certainly do everything I could to keep it quiet, and there’s no real need to invoke a global conspiracy to explain this. I still think that, when Satanism is involved, it’s largely as a convenient control mechanism for the young victims, rather than out of genuine religious motives. B-
This ended Saturday’s program for us – we didn’t bother with the banquet, having found it not worth the money last year, so we headed out to eat. The local curry house had been closed – mere coincidence, or something more sinister? – so we had dinner in a nearby Irish-themed restaurant, where we were sat next to a gay softball team. Are there no heterosexual athletes in northern California?
Sunday saw Chris and I, semi-independently, both deciding to wear our Funker Vogt shirts. Never have we been stopped so often and asked what our clothing meant, but then I tend not to wear clothes in a foreign language, where about the only intelligible word is “Terroristen”. Perfect attire for a conspiracy convention.
Norio Hayakawa. The day started with a presentation on Area 51, but even this disparaged the concept of alien activity there. Hayakawa reckoned that the UFOs, and related stories thereof, e.g. Bob Lazar’s testimony and the opinions of former CIA pilot John Lear, are merely a convenient smoke-screen for the government to hide more terrestrial, but perhaps no less bizarre, research and development. These include such exotica as laser-projected images in the sky, which may have been used as psychological weapons in the Gulf War.
Though his presentation wasn’t perhaps the most polished of the weekend, he showed a great deal of interesting information and photographs of the (non-existent, according to the goverment) bases around Groom Lake. The reports that activity at the base has ended are clearly incorrect, though it would make sense if the blackest of the black projects are now being tested somewhere else, away from prying eyes. But the mere fact that the government can claim and seal off such a huge area of land without having to give good reason to the public, is conspiracy enough for anyone. B
Eustace Mullins. I have serious qualms about this speaker, who is one of the most notorious alleged anti-semites and Holocaust deniers around, who has articles on ultra right-wing sites such as Stormfront. It is probably this, rather than any inherent truth in what he says, which has led to problems with him visiting Canada and Britain – the mention in Mullins’ lecture of his attending the funeral of American Nazi Party founder, George Rockwell, was illuminating in itself.
But Conspiracy Con is, as it should be, a forum for all views, and he largely stayed clear of contentious territory. The result was rather bland, consisting of the usual anti-federal government arguments, and fulmination against the new security measures at airports, which he seemed to think was personally directed at him. It was also hard to agree with his stoic defence of Senator McCarthy, who probably did more to set back the cause of liberty than any single person since World War II. Certainly not dull, but there was a lot here with which I simply couldn’t find common ground. C-
Walter Bowart…will outline the timeline of the current human condition. Strap yourself in for a cerebral journey into the most mind-blowing subjects of our time, including: schizophrenia as our next evolutionary stage; the end of civilization as we know it; telepathy and the end of all secrets; MK-Ultra and the GOD pill; the Roswell crash and JFK’s role in MJ-12. The unconscious societal behaviours of the last century, not declassified documents and eye-witness accounts, are proof of the “celestrial” influences on our world, as well as the terminal nature of our civilization. After the collapse, there will be two conspiracies – one against the future and the other towards the future, while the majority sleeps.
Okay, the above paragraph is taken verbatim from the convention program…because while it sounds vaguely familiar, neither I nor Chris can remember anything he said! This might be because our minds have been wiped of the dangerous information he provided, by “them”…or it might just be that his talk was dull and rambling – you decide. There must have been something of merit, as I was interested in a copy of his book, Operation Mind Control, but he never came back to his table in the dealer’s room. Nor does he respond to email, and having seen reports that Mr. Bowart has a nasty habit of taking money and not delivering the goods, I won’t be sending him a check. D
Col. Bo Gritz. The final speaker was certainly the most remarkable character of ConCon02: one of America’s most-decorated soldiers, a former CIA trainer who partly inspired the Rambo movies by his missions to recover missing POWs from Vietnam. Dressed in uniform with his medals almost covering his chest, this lecture was packed full of amazing anecdotes, delivered in a folksy but down-home manner. Particularly interesting was his information on the share dealings which preceded 9/11, with options in the airlines involved and companies located in the WTC being heavily traded. Someone clearly knew in advance, and wanted to profit…hearing that the now executive director of the CIA used to run one of the companies involved sent a shiver down my spine.
He also mentioned the likelihood of there being clandestine Soviet arms dumps left here from the Cold War (we have them in Russia, apparently, so it makes sense), including “suitcase nukes”, of reduced size (equivalent to around 10 kilotons of TNT), but if set off at ground level, would still be filthily radioactive. All Bin Laden would have to do is bribe the Soviets who know their locations, and he wouldn’t have to bother smuggling fissile material in. A worrying scenario, but Gritz reckons that the Koran forbids such an act, unless it was in retaliation for the West going back into Iraq or something of that magnitude. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen.
I could perhaps have done with less fundamentalist Christianity – I wanted to ask Gritz how he reconciled his career as a trainer of assassins with ‘Thou shalt not kill’ – but in between praising the lord, he came across as the sort of man you could completely trust. The kind we could use more of in government (a little like Jesse Ventura, perhaps), Gritz was an excellent and surprisingly optimistic note on which to end things. A-
Well, almost end things. The final event was a Q&A panel, but this was less interesting than last year’s, and was largely a rehash of the themes for the weekend, with not much new information coming out. We were happy though, having discovered – albeit almost too late – that the hotel bar was willing to let us bring our drinks through. The resulting anaesthesia probably helps explain why I didn’t feel in need of a lie-down in a darkened room, quite as much as the first time round, and finished the convention feeling mellowly content. Hey, the world might be going to hell in a hand-basket, but as long as there is Sam Adams Summer Ale to be had, who really cares?
As mentioned, found this convention less stressful than last year; having our rooms in the venue probably helped, though the seats in the lecture hall were notably less comfy – when you’re in them for eight hours a day, these things matter. Two words as a suggestion for next year: stadium seating. If they have cup-holders and somewhere for your popcorn too, so much the better.
It was also curious how many of the speakers seemed tightly linked to each other: Hilder, Gunderson and Hayakawa, for certain, perhaps others, all appearing in each other’s videos and writing forewords to each other’s books. It’s almost as if there is a conspiracy conspiracy, and if you’re not part of the “in crowd”, you don’t get to be heard. Now, there’s a topic for Conspiracy Con 2003! Where do I sign up?