Local UFOlogists tell us why they believe.
UFO sightings in the Philadelphia metro area are up by more than 700 percent this year. We've seen UFOs over Geno's on South Ninth Street, mysterious octopi-shaped objects over a Mexican restaurant in Bucks County and strange spotted lights hovering over Bruce Springsteen at the Obama concert on the Parkway.
Over the summer, UFOs paid more visits to Philly and its suburbs than any other city in the country. Boomerang-shaped UFOs, rhomboids, fireballs, UFOs that spew a silvery metallic substance that changes the chemical makeup of privet bushes and poisons robins-you name it, we saw it.
It's Bob Gardner's job to investigate such activity. Gardner's an official field investigator with the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), "the world's largest civilian UFO scientific research organization." This summer Gardner helped organize an official MUFON UFO awareness day at Germ Books in Fishtown. About 50 people turned up to hear a presentation from his friend Chris, an alien/ UFO/paranormal investigator, who runs the million-hits-a-month website, AlienstheTruth.com.
Chris Augustin is a walking X-File. He's a weird magnet. Strange shit happens to him all the time. He says he's been abducted from his car by aliens, has ESP and is pretty sure he has an alien tracking device implanted in his right leg.
"I've been doing this type of research for about 12 years now," he says, "covering UFOs, crop circles, the paranormal."
Bespectacled, neatly bearded and of earnest demeanor, Augustin lives in a South Philly rowhome with a couple of super cute pugs called Max and Frankie, two cats and his fiancee, Jennifer Lisacek, who thinks all this alien stuff is nonsense.
When Augustin and I get into his car to drive to Gardner's house, he notices my double take at his "NOBAMA" bumper sticker and laughs. He says he's a "liberal libertarian Republican." He also believes there might be a shadow government that no president has ever been told about, and that this "black government" might've been retro-engineering captured extraterrestrial technology since at least the 1950s.
He says all of this matter-of-factly, careful to preface everything with "might" and "could" and "maybe."
"I used to be a fanatic," says Augustin. "I used to be that guy at parties, you know, 'I believe in UFOs, I believe in government conspiracies, blah blah blah.' Very intense."
Of course it lost him girlfriends. But now, at 27, he's mellowed and is in a great relationship. He told fiancee Jennifer his core beliefs on their first date. "'She said, 'You're shitting me, right?'" But it didn't faze her.
Augustin holds down a well-paid computer job (his colleagues think the UFO stuff is interesting) and is happy biding his time until the "disclosure," when the wheels finally come off the great UFO cover-up and we find out Augustin, Gardner and their fellow Philadelphian UFOlogists were right all along.