Saucers, Spaceguys, and Seattle


I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.

Revelation 6:12-14

When you see a saucer fly like a comet through the sky
You should realize the price you’ll have to pay
You’d better pray to the Lord when you see those flying saucers
It may be the coming of the Judgment Day

Cy Coben & Charlie Green

It’s a well known fact that space aliens are not coming to us in peace. The Mayans and Egyptians knew it. Every lonely Midwestern farmer knows it and the folks running the military industrial complex out in Nevada know it. It’s the rest of us who need to get a clue. Well, most of us, but more on that in a bit.

Meanwhile, back in Seattle we’re gearing up for our local civic elections. I’ve been very conscientious and have carefully read through the entire voter pamphlet (which could easily be considered suspect since it arrived by a sanctioned government agency), but must confess a lack of resolve for this scraggly crew. Well, all but one. One stands out for his tenacity if not his success, so much so, that I wonder if he’s a Cub’s fan. Who am I kidding, a Mariner’s fan would pretty much do the trick as well. He’s run for Governor, Congress and now in 2009 King County Executive. His name is Goodspaceguy Nelson and if you don’t even have the slightest urge to check his name in that curtained ballot booth, I mean if you don’t secretly grin, when in the the furthest reaches of your mind, you imagine yourself darkening the circle next to his name like an atomic sun, then seriously, stop reading my blog. You don’t like me and I don’t like you. There it is. What more can be said?

Goodspaceguy Nelson

Goodspaceguy Nelson

Goodspaceguy is a professional amateur. He’s an amateur economist, astronomer, and self described innovater, improver and owner. I admit not knowing what Goodspaceguy owns, but I imagine it’s interesting. At first glance he’s not really much different than all the other meatballs. He would like to “raise the living standard,” “raise the quality of life,” “increase free parking.” But, then again there are some differences; I don’t see much about plastic bag fees or bike lanes, but orbital colonization of space certainly sticks out, not to mention the free showers in public parks program. What would the foundation or space colonization look like? Here’s a few of Goodspaceguy’s ideas:

* What goes into orbit should stay in orbit.
* A space station is never finished. It can always be added to, made larger, and improved.
* Recycle everything. Advance the technology of recycling.
* Women are needed in the orbiting space colonies.
* Many space habitats and space stations and orbital space colonies should be spun at a comfortable speed to create an illusion of gravity at a graduation of levels from zero gravity to lunar gravity to Martian gravity to Earth gravity.
* Surround the space habitats with one or more outer layers of enclosing outer habitats to hold layers of water and layers of air for protection from radiation in space. (Picture giant jars within even larger, enclosing jars.)
* Surround the outer space habitats with giant netting for storage and for the prevention of drifting away on space floats.
* Cover the outer hulls of space habits with hooks and handholds.
* Use the laws that protect competitive, free enterprise.
* Use the laws that protect the individual space colonist.

-Goodspaceguy Nelson –

Now, before you hooey on everything remember two things. 1. The old yard sale adage: your trash is other people’s treasure and 2. that’s pretty much the best thought out plan I’ve ever read from someone running for public office. The giant jars within even larger jars is easy to grasp, easy to get behind and readily accessible as a sustainable vision.

The Real Mr. Heartache unfortunately still rides on the fence. It’s not that I particularly want to vote for anyone else running, it is more that I can’t reconcile my differences on outer space with Goodspaceguy Nelson. I don’t care for vaccums, Tang, stargates, artificial intelligence, light sabers, worm holes, white holes, black holes, Disney movies about black holes, food in tubes, earthrises and most especially I don’t like aliens.

In 1947 two brothers, Chester and of course, Lester Buchanan went into the RCA Victor recording studios and laid down a rollicking version of Cy Coben and Charlie Green’s song When You See Those Flying Saucers. In a rich and varied cannon of UFO songs, Flying Saucers, remains one of the best, least novel and fully realized of them all. The two brothers who grew up on a Georgia farm during the depression and have a sound as hillbilly as it gets had a soft spot for exit mundi scenarios. Rough hewn harmonies layered over a plinking tinny mandolin and sawing fiddles play well off of a streak of modernity in their thematic choices. They sang songs about the bomb and aliens, but set themselves apart from the crowd by linking them closely to dire Biblical warnings and apocalyptic outcomes.

kenneth arnold

Bellevue, WA resident, Kenneth Arnold

1947 was a watershed year for flying saucers. Well, the defining year really. On June 24th Kenneth Arnold was flying near – wait for it Washingtonians – Mt. Rainier when he saw nine unusually shaped objects in the sky. Pie pans, discs, saucers. Well, you get the picture.

You’d better pray to the Lord when you see those flying saucers
It may be the coming of the Judgment Day
It’s a sign there’s no doubt of the trouble that’s about
So I say my friends you’d better start to pray

Cobin and Green hit us right away with this one. The key to the song is everything ma y be something more than what it appears. As if flying saucers weren’t enough, they may be also bringing about the apocalypse. It’s verse three that really gets me, though.

Many people think the saucers might be someone’s foolish dream
Or maybe they were sent down here from Mars
If you’ll just stop and think you’d realize just what it means
They’re more than atom bombs or falling stars

In a nod to the equally fascinating atomic bomb genre, where the power is often made by man, though perhaps given by God, Coben and Green easily trump the man made hell with mysterious saucer shaped objects sent as some sort of spiritual warning. They go right for the flying object skeptics and mock the ridiculous assertion that the UFO’s could be Martian in nature all in one fell swoop. It’s masterful, funny, brilliant. They turn and flatter our intellect while leaving the alien message a bit vague. Clearly their arrival is bad, but specifically for whom is only inferred. Sinners, we have it rough in these old songs. Strangely enough, it really is a cry for peace. The war was over, the world was tired, but as the song says there was still unrest and trouble was a-brewin’. You’d better pray, indeed.

flying saucer

The Baptism of Christ, Aert De Gelder, 1710

Post Scriptous: The Buchanan Brother’s father was named Ephraim Shadrack Buchanan. Ephraim is clearly a case of picking out a name because it’s in the Bible rather than because of his Biblical 409px-Simeon_Solomon_-_Shadrach_Meshach_Abednegosignificance, since this son of Joseph is described as domineering, haughty, discontented, and jealous. There is argument to this, but none of which I’m sure was read by Ephraim Buchanan’s parents. The middle name, Shadrack (or Shadrach),  interests me more, however. Shadrack was a companion of the prophet Daniel who, along with some pals, walked voluntarily into their own assured execution by Babylonian fiery furnace. This all came about because of their refusal to worship a freshly erected statue of the current King. The King being extremely displeased, ordered the royal furnace to be made 7 times hotter than usual (officially taking the needle up to piping) and had the three men thrown in. That’s when the miracle happened and we should all be so lucky. Not a hair on their heads were singed and after a time they were allowed to come out of the fiery furnace and take their just reward. For the skeptics reading who might be thinking it just probably wasn’t that hot, the story is told that even the poor sad sack guards who threw them in were burned to death from the heat. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?


About Iaan Hughes

Iaan Hughes is a deejay on 91.3 KBCS in Seattle. He plays country & western music.
This entry was posted in Bluegrass, Country, Music, Politics, Space and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Saucers, Spaceguys, and Seattle

  1. Pingback: Ray Bradbury: Someone Wonderful That Way Goes « The Real Mr. Heartache

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