Episode 8: There's No Rule That Says You Can't Storm Area 51*
Updated: Feb 20, 2022
* Yes there is
Part 1 ~ Stacie
It was a nice June evening. Mac Brazel and his son Vernon were driving along their ranch property. The headlights of their vehicle reflected off of something bright. The two pulled over to inspect the foreign object. After all, it was their property, yet there was something mysterious and off putting had appeared, causing alarm. Brazel examined the scene, which appeared to be the wreckage of some kind of UFO. Pieces of what appeared to be tin foil, wooden sticks, rubber strips, and tough paper were strewn about the land. Was it a kite? No, it seemed much too large and unlike any kite they had seen before. Brazel collected the wreckage and took it to the sheriff, who was equally perplexed. Eventually, the military had caught wind of the findings, and they went out to collect it. It was quickly announced to the press that Brazel discovered a “flying saucer,” but then later printed that had merely stumbled upon a broken weather balloon -- nothing more. However, that didn’t sit right with the citizens of 1947 Roswell, New Mexico -- especially when the sightings of UFOs became more frequent around what was soon to be known to the public as Area 51.
Just the Facts
Here are some facts that we can agree on when it comes to Area 51.
Area 51 is what we call a highly secure and highly classified air force base in Nevada desert near the now dried-up Groom Lake.
The US government did, for a period of time, take measures to deny the existence of Area 51, and it was even taken off satellite images.
UFOs are real; they are merely a term used to describe unidentified flying objects, and they are not inherently extraterrestrial.
Military testing is conducted on this site, including aircraft test launches.
In 1994, the base was involved in an environmental lawsuit after five civilian contractors, and two widows of deceased contractors alleged that there was a mishandling of unknown chemicals. Those unknown chemicals were burned out in the open, exposing the contractors to the harmful effects. According to Wikipedia, the autopsies of the deceased contractors “found high levels of dioxin, dibenzofuran, and trichloroethylene in their body fat” while the survivors claimed they had sustained respiratory, skin, and liver damage due to their exposure. The case was dismissed, and to this day, every president since Clinton has had to issue an annual determination, which is essentially a presidential “because I said so.”
As I mentioned at the top of the show, Brazel had discovered debris on his property, which was later determined to be a weather balloon. Apparently, when the term “flying saucer” was first used, it was used in place of UFO. They weren’t referring specifically to alien spacecraft, rather they just misspoke and corrected themselves by announcing it was actually a weather balloon. However, in 1994, yes, the same year as the lawsuit, the military revealed that it was a weather balloon, but, like, a really fancy one. This debris was part of Project Mogul, which launched sophisticated balloons with microphones as a way to spy on the Soviets. This is why the debris looked so unusual.
That being said, Major Jesse Marcel, who was the first military person to examine the scene, had this to say about the wreckage: “It felt like you had nothing in your hands; It wasn’t any thicker than the foil out of a pack of cigarettes. But the thing about it that got me is that you couldn’t even bend it, you couldn’t dent it, even a sledgehammer would bounce off of it...I knew that i had never seen anything like that before.” He goes on to say that “It was not anything from this Earth, that I’m quite sure of.” However, we know that the recorded story was that this was just a weather balloon, despite Marcel first saying it was a flying saucer.
Further suspicions arose regarding the Roswell incident. For one, Brazel had apparently admitted that among the wreckage were alien bodies. This admission was recorded for radio, but it never actually aired because the station received calls from the FCC and US Senator Dennis Chavez. Brazel then recanted all statements about UFOs and bought himself a brand new truck, leaving his job as a rancher and starting a business in another town. How did he suddenly get all of that money to buy a new truck, and what was his motivation to leave? Perhaps the government had given him some hush money and a new job.
To touch on the part about alien bodies, it was said that people were just misremembering another incident in which test dummies were dropped from the sky in the mid 1950s by the military to test the effects of parachute jumping for humans. So the desert was littered with human-like bodies, which was traumatizing to people. Logically, you could assume that people were just mixing up details from both events. However, it is said that the test dummies were about 6 feet tall, whereas the bodies remembered with the UFO were described as “little” and around 4 feet tall. It’s difficult to say that events that took place nearly 10 years apart with bodies with a two foot difference could be a true, innocent mixup.
If you’re skeptical about what’s really going on at Area 51, allow me to introduce you to a man named Bob Lazar. A whistleblower for Area 51, Lazar claims that he was contracted out from a company called EG&G to work at Area 51 on alien technologies. Lazar first appeared on a Las Vegas news show under the pseudonym Dennis, and his face was obstructed from the camera. During the interview, Lazar alleged that he worked on reverse engineering nine alien aircraft, or flying saucers. He further described reading classified documents that mentioned the existence of extraterrestrial gray aliens, and he worked on alien reactors that would output “anti gravity waves.” Lazar’s credentials include a master’s degree in physics from MIT and a master’s degree in electronic technology from Caltech. So, if this credible scientist is telling everyone about the existence of aliens, then why is this not widely known? Well, that could be because no one could prove he attended MIT or Caltech, nor can anyone confirm his employment at EG&G. That being said, THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT THEY’D WANT YOU TO THINK. The government has erased his credentials to keep their secrets safe.
So now it’s time to talk about other, more broad conspiracy theories surrounding Area 51. We can all get behind the theories of aliens and UFOs, so let’s talk about the implications alien technology could lend to theories surrounding Area 51. I’d like to start with one that I did not originally see coming. The government is using the location to test ways to manipulate the weather. In another episode, we can go more in depth about ways that the government could be experimenting with weather control, but it might all be pointing back to Area 51 and their damn weather balloons!
Additionally, this place could be the communications hub for extraterrestrials and humans on Earth. Aliens could be meeting us here in person, or they could be using the area to basically do a Zoom meeting with military leaders. If they are arriving in person, perhaps that could explain the abundance UFO sightings recorded that are written off as weather balloons and military experiments. They are simply diplomatic leaders from space that probably made a wrong turn at Albuquerque. Who knows what these meetings are about, but perhaps it involves the trading of knowledge and resources. After all, we have seen quite a boom in technology in recent years, which may have been attributed to the discovery of alien technology, which was later tested at Area 51 before being released to the public.
The question is, are we working with aliens, or have we stumbled upon the wreckage of alien aircraft like in Roswell or the Bermuda Triangle? Perhaps we are trying to learn from these technologies to unlock the secrets of time travel or teleportation! I mean, how else are the aliens getting here? Space is big and vast, but in order for them to get close enough to our planet without any idiot with a telescope discovering them, they must have a way to get here quickly without being detected. If we had our hands on this technology, the thought is we might be able to reverse engineer it like with aircraft.
The last theory I will mention is that Area 51 is the meeting place for MJ-12, or the Majestic 12. This is an alleged secret committee formed by Harry S Truman via an executive order. So, it sounds like we have another secret society on our hands. Allegedly, they were created to investigate and recover alien spacecraft. Are they still around? Who is a part of it? The FBI has said these are “bogus claims,” but that doesn’t mean that they just aren’t in on the secret.
The mere existence of Area 51 lends itself to conspiracy theories due to its secretive nature. Strange coincidences and occurrences of the area have only affirmed people’s suspicions about the military base. What are you supposed to think when getting anywhere near the facility causes trucks to follow you or planes to fly overhead? You’re probably thinking, “What if a bunch of people stormed the base? They can’t take everyone down, right?” Well, Rachel, maybe you have some insight on this theory that may have taken place near Rachel, New Mexico?
Part 2 ~ Rachel
Rachel, Nevada has an elevation of 4,970 feet, 27 miles between itself and Area 51, and the most adorable official website I have ever seen.
Rachel is tiny. It is a 7.6 square mile expanse of sand and desert shrubbery, situated in a vast desert valley, 50 miles from its nearest neighbor. It has a population of about 70 and only two businesses: the gas station, which went out of business in 2006 but reopened in October of last year (to great fanfare), and a combination restaurant, inn, and gift shop named the Little A’Le’Inn. To give you a sense of what this inn is like, I’m going to quote directly from the town’s website: “If you decide to stay for the night, the Inn has a limited number of rustic motel rooms with a shared bathroom. There is no TV reception, but you can pick movies from the video library at the Inn.” Ugh, so adorable!
I spent a lot of time poking around, looking at pictures, reading the guest book, and clicking on links, and the site really gives a sense of the character of the town. For example, listen to the information on its homepage:
In August 2002 Rachel got its own Fire Truck. Sadly it has fallen in a state of disrepair because those in town who took ownership of it neglected to maintain it.
There is Verizon cell phone service in Rachel with 4G data. Some Sprint phones work in roaming mode. All other carriers do not have service in Rachel. The range of the cell site is very limited and ends a few miles out of town.
Rachel, Nevada is ultimately a quiet teeny little town in the middle of nowhere, catering to a small community of retirees and the occasional desert wanderer.
This is where more than 2 million people planned to congregate on September 20, 2019 for the Storm Area 51: They Can’t Stop All of Us raid.
Before we continue, I’m going to go over some essential vocabulary for the story.
Shitposting - This is when you post something on the series of tubes for the sole purpose of stirring things up.
Naruto Run - This is a style of running popularized by the Anime Series Naruto. To perform this run, you bend forward at the waist, hold both your arms back at thirty degrees, and...run. Some people believe that it makes you run faster, so I say go ahead and try it the next time you are late for something.
Kyle - A ‘Kyle’ is a specific type of guy in a meme. He is probably blond, maybe has facial hair of a sort, and drinks Monster energy and wears body spray called “Really Ripped Abs.” Kyle overdoes things, oftentimes without thinking. His last words will probably be “Look at me.”
Fyre Fest - The “luxury music festival” that was famously a disastrous non-event that ended with hundred-million dollar lawsuits and even criminal investigations.
That’s our vocabulary, and there will be a test at the end of the unit.
Matty Roberts and the Great Idea
Our story begins on June 27, 2019, with a college kid named Matty Roberts from Bakersfield, California. Legend has it that Matty was listening to an episode of the Joe Rogan podcast featuring none other than our friend Bob Lazar. The proprietor of a Facebook page titled (with an egregious lack of capitalization and punctuation) Shitposting cause im in shambles, Matty knew immediately what he had to do after hearing that podcast: make some delicious ramen with a perfect 6-minute egg.
No, he had to shitpost.
Rather than a picture of a pensive cat with a misspelled caption or a gif of someone sniffing corn, Matty created a Facebook event: Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us. The event description said the idea was to fly to Nevada and storm the site at 3 a.m. on September 20, 2019.
By July 1st, nearly 2 million people had rsvped ‘yes,’ and another 1.5 million were ‘interested.’ The event page became a shitposting haven, including a poorly drawn map and a reminder to sign up as either a Naruto Runner (because that makes you faster), a Rock Thrower (for protection), or a Kyle (not sure why, maybe just for fodder?). For the most part, everyone seemed to get that this was a joke.
But with such huge numbers, and with our populace’s demonstrated lack of critical thinking, the U.S. Air Force couldn’t be sure that everyone knew it was a joke. On July 12, Laura McAndrews of the USAF reminded Kyle et al that Area 51 “is an open training range for the U.S. Air Force, and we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces. The U.S. Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets.”
By July 17, Budweiser’s savvy marketing team caught the ET wave and posted a graphic design of an Area 51 Special Edition Bud Light beer label. People liked the label so much that Budweiser went ahead and brewed the beer and also teamed up with an event company to throw an alien themed festival in Vegas where people could enjoy food, music, and beer and also drink some Bud Light.
Matty Roberts was on the same wavelength. He couldn’t pass up the chance to breathe life into his shitpost and turn his joke into an actual event, which realistically couldn’t be about a bunch of civilians storming a military base. So he declared a music festival, Alienstock, that was to be held in...Rachel, Nevada.
It should be noted that there was another festival planned for the same weekend in a town three times the size of Rachel, called Hiko. This was the “Storm Area 51 Basecamp” festival, and as far as I can tell did not involve Matty Roberts.
On August 12th, the Storm Area 51 Facebook event had been rebranded. Matty had reached out to Connie West, the owner of Little A’Le’Inn (the place with the awesome video library), to help with planning and to obtain a license for a music festival.
By this time, members of the Rachel community--not known for being plugged into Internet trends through their 4g network--were realizing that their town had somehow gotten involved in a wacky Internet stunt. And now there was going to be a huge festival? In a place fifty miles away from any facilities? Where the only business is a motel with a shared bathroom? Although nobody thought all 2 million people would show, most news outlets were reporting that between 10 and 30 thousand Kyles would be Naruto running through this teeny tiny town. Members of the community spent their own money fortifying their property with lights, signs, and fencing, and I imagine they were shaking their heads gruffly at Connie West, the owner of the Little A’Le’Inn and co-promoter of Alienstock.
But Connie knew a money-making venture when she saw one! Who cares if the entire town of Rachel, Nevada shook their heads gruffly at her? She would be charging $65 for parking! Multiply that by 30,000, and you’ve got a big number that someone who’s in a secret society that does math would be able to tell you!
Sorry, Rachel. Alienstock was ON.
The community brought their concerns to the county, but the permits remained. The county did, however, pre-sign emergency declarations so they’d be ready to go in case of dangerous human or alien or Kyle activity.
So within two months of his joke post, Matty Roberts had launched a huge meme and a music festival and had spurred two other festivals with an alien theme for the same weekend. But when he visited Rachel for planning, he realized what anyone would have realized just by visiting its fantastic website: this wasn’t gonna work.
On September 9th--just ten days before the weekend festival was supposed to start--he put out a press release canceling it. And there had clearly been a big falling out between him and Connie West. Here are some excerpts of his press release:
Due to the lack of infrastructure, poor planning, risk management and blatant disregard for the safety of the expected 10,000+ AlienStock attendees, we decided to pull the plug on the festival. The permit holder (Connie West) was given multiple opportunities to provide us with the proof that things expected at this festival were in place. In fact, she refused to provide to us, as agreed upon, contracts, proof of deposits or any paper proof of anything.
Oooh, Connie’s just pissing everybody off!
Matty wrote: We are not interested in, nor will we tolerate any involvement in a FYREFEST 2.0. We foresee a possible humanitarian disaster in the works, and we can’t participate in any capacity at this point. His release said that they’d be moving Alienstock to Downtown Las Vegas (it turns out he basically hitched his wagon to the Bud Light Area 51 Celebration that was already underway).
So Matty was outta there. But Connie, oh Connie, Connie still had the permits, and Connie was going to have a damn festival. Plus, her name was on all the permits, so she was gonna keep the damn name. The day after Matty canceled the event, Connie released the musical lineup. The headlining act was Boots Electric, which is the solo project of Eagles of Death Metal frontman, Jesse Hughes. The rest of them were pretty small names from around the country (a disproportionate amount hailed from Portland, and I felt that familiar mixture of pride and shame for my erstwhile hometown.) On the same day, Bud Light announced that Matty would be featured at their celebration. So much passive aggressive internet shade!
The days leading up to the festival were action packed. Two YouTubers from the Netherlands were arrested for trespassing (and illegal parking) when they stormed the area early because they were leaving on the day of the event itself. Matty sent cease-and-desist letters to Connie, who responded by issuing press releases reminding the world that Rachel, Nevada was “the official host of Alienstock 2019.” Local law enforcement and emergency agencies beefed up for the Kyle Invasion. The F.A.A. issued flight restrictions, including on the use of drones. And on September 19th, the alien-enthusiast-invasion began.
Have Fun Storming the Castle!
Reports were that the event was underwhelming. The expected number of attendees was between 10 and 30 thousand, but only 3,000 showed up. What’s more, easily half of the three thousand were journalists. This wasn’t much of a surprise. I mean, it makes for a hilarious meme, but the event itself was just a chance to pay between $60 and $140 for a camping spot in a huge patch of sand, listen to a bunch of musical acts you’ve never heard of, and take pictures and video of people Naruto running while not even being able to post them because there’s no internet service.
As for the actual storming, only about 150 people made the drive out to the gates, where they pretty much posed for selfies. One woman DID climb the fence and run for it. She was, of course, arrested and had to pay $1,000 bail to be released, which is better than getting SHOT. She was apparently also planning on running for president in 2020 as an independent, and thought that this would send a good message about freedom of information.(Please refer back to my comment on a demonstrated lack of critical thinking skills.) I searched for her name and couldn’t find her anywhere for the 2020 primaries, so possibly she’s holding out for 2024. Six other people were arrested for non-Area 51 specific activities, such as indecent exposure and peeing where you ought not to pee.
The community of Rachel hated this thing, and there’s a website they put out, which I suspect shares the same webmaster as their official town website, called noalienstock.com. Here are posted numerous complaints and photos in a (successful) effort to keep the event from happening again. What it boiled down to was, “We had to watch our town being taken over by drugged and drunken millennials.” (I am CERTAIN that many of the attendees were Gen Z, like 20-year-old Matty, but we are so used to blaming Millennials for everything so I say why stop?) Another complaint was, “We were blasted with absolutely horrible music from amateur bands until the early morning hours.” (Haha, if I had played, I would definitely use this as a promo.)
After the event, Connie and Matt continued to swap lawsuits in a long and drawn out controversy that surprisingly includes Pornhub. Every event promoter lost money on the festival, and the residents of Lincoln County also saw an increase in property taxes to pay for the nearly $300,000 it cost for the 19 agencies called in under the expectation of a crowd of 30,000. It was almost universally deemed a flop, although Connie considers it a success.
Alienstock just goes to show that If the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil can set off a tornado in Texas, it follows that a shitposting in Bakersfield can set off a storm of lawsuits, several arrests, increased taxes, and a whole lot of gruff head-shaking in the tiny desert town of Rachel, Nevada.
What's Your Story?
We wanna hear your festival stories! Did you go to Alienstock?