|Paola Harris at McMinnville, OR UFO Fest 2011|
All right, well, I can't seem to write anything worthwhile about old Paola. Except that it was the worst thing ever ... but [I have] nothing articulate or insightful [to add]. I thought I had taken better notes but apparently I was so amazed I had doodled numerous semi-psychotic renderings. Hey, maybe that's what I'll say.
Harris was introduced as “the Barbara Walters of UFOlogy,” and that title was reiterated by Ms. Harris herself, but it became clear to me she isn’t that, but I will say she’s clearly the Sarah Palin of UFOlogy.
So the talk begins, and I am telling you, it was the craziest, most disjointed, manic, ego-fueled thing I've been to. It was so bizarre and surreal that it was funny.
While I’m not much for the exo-politics aspect of UFOlogy, which is what Ms. Harris is all about, I was interested in Harris’s presentation for a couple of reasons. One, anything to do with UFOs (excluding the uber-psycho skeptics) I’m up for, and two, I was curious to hear about the San Antonio, New Mexico 1945 crash Harris promised to discuss.
The presentation began with a montage of UFO images -- “sixty-one years of UFOs” Harris told us -- accompanied by Buffalo Springfield's Something's Happening Here. Instead of ending the introduction at that point, it continued with another slew of slides, this time accompanied by some kind of screechy space age music. Harris introduced the images by telling us it’s “sixty-one years” of UFOs but it appeared to be 108 years, since the intro slide read “1870 to 2008.” It would have been nice to have captions of the photographs; when and where the UFO image was taken, or how the illustration related to what sighting, but all we got were slides. After slides. After. Slides. And then there were the slides.
After that overly long intro, Harris literally spent forty minutes talking about herself while showing several images of the book and magazine covers where she’s appeared in print, as well as photo after photo of her with various UFO bigwigs. “Here I am with so and so...” she announced. Over and over. Forty minutes! Literally. I timed it.
I detected an undercurrent of, not racism exactly, but a cultural ignorance or maybe it was cultural superiority. (Surprising since she has dual citizenship and lived in Italy for many years.) She showed a slide of Israel, referencing that country’s UFO sightings, informing us that “They talk Jewish over there.” She showed slides of UFO researchers -- Jacques Vallee among them -- meeting with politicians in the Middle East and slides of the Muslim Brotherhood, and insinuated there is something insidious afoot about their interest in UFOs. We're not told why this might be so. This was one of the problems with her presentations: lack of support for her case. (The other problem: her huge ego.) Harris mentioned several times that she was a retired teacher, something I found simply astounding given her consistent rambling, incoherent, point jumping circus act. But, she did teach in an Italian private school and among her students were “Mel Gibson’s kids,” and other VIPS which Harris felt was a relevant bit of information to share with us.
After more than forty minutes of It’s The Paola Harris Show, she gets to the 1945 San Antonio, New Mexico (not Texas,) crash. More slides of places and people but with little context. It was such a rambling and nonlinear WTF mishmash I had no idea what she was talking about and I didn’t learn anything about this case after her presentation. It was extremely disappointing.
There was also a video of Philip Corso; the video got stuck and there we sat, listening to audio of Corso while Harris looked adoringly on; again, how it connected to what Harris was talking about wasn’t made clear. (I noticed that Harris conspicuously did not mention Bill Birnes.)
Harris finished with her “12 Protocols” of exo-politics which, it turned out, was really 9 protocols. Or maybe it was 7. At that point however I didn’t give a damn how may there were. Besides, they weren’t exactly “protocols” as in: don’t use your salad fork when eating fish, but assumptions about the coming of the Space Brothers. The slide got stuck on number 1 and remained there; she either didn’t notice or didn’t care, and at one point said “It says there are 12 protocols but there’s really only 9” which is where I was afraid to look at Deirdre O’Lavery who was sitting next to me, because I knew we’d both lose it.
Glitches happen, but there were so many in Harris’ presentation I had the impression there was no care taken; just a thrown up mess of stuff at the last minute. Even those technical errors could be forgiven if Harris herself hadn't been so inept. Take your pick: her massive ego, her incoherent presentation, her rambling, her lack of cohesiveness, the lack of support for her case, the lack of editing: put it all together and it was one bad, very bad, UFO lecture. I was entertained but that was inadvertent. It was a completely pointless presentation and absolutely embarrassing. And I’ve seen Stephen Greer speak, so that’s saying something.