X-Conference 2


The Road to X-Conference

Italian Bill Murray and Meet the Speakers

I'd arrived in D.C. not knowing anyone at the X-Conference, save for the quasi-celebrities of Ufology. Having been there for a handful of hours and settled down some, I came to realize that the only place in the hotel you could get a decent meal was the hotel bar, as the hotel restaurant was closed by now. Settling down at the bar, I grabbed a bite to eat and chit-chatted with other armchair ufologists. I was inundated with business cards bearing their names and assorted state chapters of MUFON. They were, for the most part, spectacularly friendly people, ready to discuss, at great lengths, various aspects of the UFO phenomenon.

One man in particular would go on to become a regular part of my weekend. Sadly, fate and a poor memory prevent me from recalling his name. Suffice it to say he was from Italy and bore a striking resemblance to Bill Murray. For the purposes of this article, he will thusly be dubbed Italian Bill Murray or IBM.

Italian Bill Murray was a very friendly guy, flew all the way over from Italy to check out the X-Conference, having attended a quality conference held last year in his home country. He spoke with a perfect American accent, saying he'd lived here for quite some time. He seemed to know just about every quality speaker at the X-Conference, having been in "the field" for a very long time.

In some ways, he took me under his wing that weekend, giving me his unvarnished opinions of various "names" in the field that he'd come across throughout his years. We went over the weekend's schedule and he was sure to point out any people that I'd be particularly interested in, having told him my main area of interests regarding Ufology. At some point, we had to separate, as the evening was wearing on and it was almost time for the "Meet the Speaker's Cocktail Party". We agreed to meet up at some point during said festivities.

I'd no idea what to expect at the cocktail party. I do not drink, myself, having quit the sauce a good 3 years ago, a prelude to the clarity that now finds me chasing UFOs and searching for the answer behind Sasquatch. Not being a big drinker, the allure of the cocktail party was the first half of its title "Meet the Speakers". A chance to be sure to actually meet the characters that populate my favorite radio show "Coast to Coast AM" was an opportunity not to be missed and so it was a must for inclusion in my big weekend.

An equally interesting aspect of the party was seeing the "ufo crowd", the throngs of interested people who are not actively engaged in the field. Your everyday layperson who was following the UFO phenomenon from afar. One thing is for certain, this is no stereotypical sci-fi nerd group, clad in alien costumes or ranting about implants. No, these were mainly normal looking folks you expect to run into, like an insurance claims adjuster or someone who you see across the way from you at the DMV.

They, too, were there to meet the speakers. And, amongst them, often at the center of a small circle, would be a speaker, holding court to the small groups of 3 or 4 people hanging on their every word, detailing some new breakthrough they were working on or expounding on a intricate theory.

Chiefly among them was Coast to Coast regular Linda Moulton Howe who held a good 4 to 5 people agog at her theatrical retelling of her research into the Bible Code. I hovered near the peripheral of this circle, listening to Howe talk about how the code was ending soon and there was an impending nuclear war. She spoke of strange sources I'd not heard of and cited them as supplying more leads for her to chase after in this story. I did manage to speak to Ms.Howe later on in the evening, but I'd really not much to say to her and she came off rather blase to a "newcomer" in the field.

Sticking out among the various speaker and fans was a somewhat short man with a slick looking hat and a santa beard ... Jim Marrs. Anyone who follows my work knows that I am a giant Jim Marrs fan, having first discovered "Rule by Secrecy" and, thusly, having it open the world of esoterica to me. Standing next to Jim Marrs was ... Italian Bill Murray. And then, like a saint of some kind, IBM turns and looks to me and says, "Tim, weren't you saying you wanted to meet Jim Marrs ?" He then promptly introduced me to him.

Jim Marrs is a fantastic individual, with a sheer charisma that seems to have it's own center of gravity. I complimented Marrs on his book and told him about how I'd discovered it and it had all led to my presence at X-Conference. My esoteric journey had come full circle, it seemed. He was amazingly gracious and surprisingly down to earth. He seemed genuinely excited about his work researching 911 and was anxiously looking forward to the release of his next book, "Inside Job".

While discussing various aspects of 911, a man forced his way into our circle and asked of Marrs, "Jim Marrs, are the aliens running the world ?" Marrs, seemingly somewhat taken aback, replied, without skipping a beat, "They very well may be. A lot of what David Icke writes is on target, but I know enough about PR not to call the Queen Mum a giant lizard." (Or something to that effect.) We all got a good chuckle out of that one.

The evening proceeded in that manner for the remainder of the evening. Rubbing elbows with the leading names in Ufology as they saddled up to the bar or doled out answers to the various fanboys who wanted answers to their burning UFO questions. I mostly listened and watched. I found that I had surprisingly few questions for many of them, complementing most on their work and following a handful of leads of my own.

As the night was winding down and they prepared to screen "Roswell", who should walk in but Richard C. Hoagland, the "headliner" of the weekend's festivities, with his girlfriend / colleague Robin Falkov in tow. Hoagland could barely take a few steps before being stopped by a fan and he seemed legitimately overwhelmed by the attention he was receiving for his first major East Coast visit in well near a decade.

After waiting a small amount of time for someone else to finish talking to him, I finally managed to snag a few minutes with RCH himself. I had a good conversation with Hoagland and he was thoughtful and articulate throughout. He did seem somewhat more subdued than his usual late-night appearances on Coast to Coast, but he had that same visionary attitude that explains his many supporters. We discussed the ESA Mars mission, Cydonia, the Face, and his following. It was like a virtual Richard Hoagland Open Lines with only binnall as the caller.

Finally, I let RCH go, because there were throngs of people by that time waiting to talk to him. Eventually, he split soon after, probably realizing that his fame had quashed whatever chances he had of attending the party in peace. I would run into Hoagland later that weekend a few times and often he would be dealing with someone who had questions for him, he never seemed to tire of them, which was a pleasant sign.

The gist of the party, and it belies hope for this year's party as well, was that you could just about go up to anyone in the field who was there and strike up a conversation. It was very intimate and well worth the small admission fee just to have a chance to see Stanton Friedman and Bruce Maccabee out of their element. I can't recall if he did last year or not, but this year they are promising that Bruce Maccabee will be supplying "a little night music". I'm looking forward to it.

I crossed paths with Italian Bill Murray a few times later in the conference weekend. He remained a good friend, recapping various lectures I may have missed and discussing his home country and his restaurant there. We even grabbed a bite to eat when the hotel restaurant finally opened during the weekend.

His geniality, and the overall friendliness of everyone there, was what stuck with me the most when I left D.C. These folks were so happy to find another person to talk about UFOs with that, often, they'd talk your ear off. But they were always engaging conversations about the "big picture" and, most times, you were happy to have them go on so long. The field was a very welcoming community, even to those of us who were weary of it in the first place.