Friday, June 10, 2011

It's the Paola Harris Show! Harris Speaks at McMinnville UFO Fest

It's The Paola Harris Show!
Paola Harris at McMinnville, OR UFO Fest 2011
I debated posting what I thought of Paola Harris’s presentation at the McMinnville UFO Festival this past May because I have nothing nice to say. This is what I emailed Deirdre O’Lavery when trying to come up with something about the presentation:
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.
While I don’t agree with the exo-politics movement in UFOlogy, I don’t have anything against it. My issues with Ms. Harris’s presentation isn’t with her views on exo-politics (whatever those are; it was difficult to tell) but with her lack of coherency and her immense ego.

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.


Mike Clelland! said...

Just so you know - I've seen Paula speak at another conference, and I had the same experience as you did.

Deirdre said...

So Regan and I weren't just lucky to catch one of her surprise stand-up routines, then.

Alfred Lehmberg said...

It's always a little uncomfortable when someone is compelled to notice that the emperor has no clothes, sports a saliva trail, and, moreover, has toilet paper paper stuck to her heel, eh? I suspect, actually, that you were restrained by convention to a certain circumspection. Am I right?

Seriously... you purchased her pompous presentation, why does a third of it, or more, have to be a commercial for herself and why can't she deliver what you _paid_ to have delivered... I'da got me my money back... then would not have been near as kind as you were in print...

I'm glad to have dodged the bullet, and you are to be commended for coming forward. For my part, I was much better served at the Lawrence, KS OZUFO convention. Each presentation was, at least, a presentation!

Regan Lee said...

I really don't mean to be "mean", and I don't care what theories others have about UFOs, whether I agree with them or not. It's all good. But Harris was impossible to follow or understand, she spoke too fast, jumped around, didn't have support for her arguments -- none of the basic Intro to Public Speaking and Clear Thought Process 101 stuff -- someone putting themselves out there, for money, should have. It was terribly sloppy.

Deirdre said...

I think that was my biggest complaint - the sloppiness (I'm still gonna end up writing something up). I kind of expected the rest with the exception of her support for Meier and a few other of the more crazy shit she was spewing.

Going in, I was already somewhat familiar with her, so it was more or less a desire to see what she was really like in person when she had the floor to herself, and as a from of amusement. I just didn't think I'd be nearly as amused as I was!

terry the censor said...

Regan, you wondered why Imbrogno would pointlessly fake his credentials. Maybe you answered it with your observation of Harris:
Some people have both a wildly dysfunctional and enormous ego.

John said...

I was not at this presentation, but having been at a couple previously very well received Harris presentations, it seems obvious this was not the case for at least some attendees. I do understand that there will be some dissatisfied people in every lecture and those people can say so...but am startled by the unprofessional vicious, unnecessarily lenghty attack by the Lee article regardless of negitive attitude toward the Harris presentation. Harris presentations which I had attended were extremely well organized, clear, and informative... perhaps since there were no technical glitches which force her to improvise, and there was no self promotion. No matter what happened at this presentation, her personal knowledge of everyone in "Who's Who in UFOlogy" deserves her recognition (judging by her many guest appearances on major media) as a journalist without an equal, to be comparred to Barbara Walters if not then some.

John said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Regan Lee said...

John: Each of us has the right to voice our opinion. I wasn't at the presentations you attended. I can only speak to the one I did attend. My personal, subjective opinion was as I wrote.

I realize there are those who disagree (as you do) and that's the way it goes.

You missed my point about the McMinnville presentation: the glitches are one thing and by themselves, not to be faulted. Taken in context however, with the presentation as a whole and her distracted, ego fueled presentation, added up to a bizarre act. IN MY OPINION.

I expected a presentation, which I paid to attend, to give me information. Instead, I literally got a headache. I didn't learn a thing about anything and felt like I was being bamboozled. MY OPINION.

I have issues concerning the whole idea of exo politics in the first place... but that's another topic.