Guy Farmer: Only in Nevada: ‘Alienstock’

It’s a good thing that we Nevadans can laugh at ourselves from time to time, because how else could we deal with bizarre, out-of-this-world events like Burning Man and “Alienstock,” which took place out there near mysterious Area 51 last month?

I was visiting family in Seattle as Alienstock erupted in the desert near tiny Rachel, Nevada, where spaceships and space aliens drop in from time to time, or so they say. I read all about this “only in Nevada” event in a half-page Associated Press article in the venerable Seattle Times, one of the few family-owned newspapers still publishing on the West Coast.

Reporting from Hiko, Nev., wherever that is, AP correspondent Ken Ritter wrote that “the promoter of an event set up for Earthlings to party in the Nevada desert around the ‘Storm Area 51’ Internet craze canceled a Saturday show because of low attendance,” before adding that “the host of a festival for thousands of people in the tiny town of Rachel said her show would continue.”

But that was before the “host,” Connie West, who owns the Little A’le’Inn (grammar be damned) in Rachel, sued the promoters of Alienstock for more than $50,000 for failing to pay event expenses, as promised.

“Sponsorship funds provided by Pornhub (a pornographic website) were available for use toward Alienstock expenses,” West’s lawsuit acknowledges, “(but) none of those funds were disbursed.” Hmmm, pornography and space aliens; the plot thickens. As I was saying, only in Nevada.

Although no contract was signed, West’s lawsuit alleges Pornhub associates promised to “provide funding and solicit sponsorships” for Alienstock, and “cover all initial expenses.” Brock Daily and Matty Roberts, who partnered with West before the two men broke ties than three weeks before Alienstock, failed to come up with sponsorship money, West asserts, and she claims to have spent more than $100,000, including $5,000 of her own money, to cover festival expenses. At one point the lawsuit claims that “Pornhub wired $70,000 directly into Daily’s business bank account.” Apparently, however, West didn’t receive a penny of that money and they’ll see each other in court next year.

The AP’s Ken Ritter wrote that 500 people — not thousands — showed up for a concert at the Alien Research Center in Hiko. “It was a gamble financially,” concert organizer Keith Wright told Ritter. “We lost.” And that’s how the Hiko part of this weird story ended.

Meanwhile, several thousand thrill-seekers camped out at the Little A’le’Inn in Rachel, and a good time was had by all except for a few nutcases who thought about “storming” Area 51. Heavily armed federal guards dissuaded them from invading the remote, top secret area. Entertainment was provided by two careless drivers who ran into cows on desolate desert highways.

“While costumed space aliens were a common and sometimes hilarious sight in Alienstock events, no one reported seeing actual extraterrestrials or UFOs,” Ritter concluded, managing to keep a straight face while reporting a fantasmagorical, only in Nevada story. Bottom line: Alienstock was a big Nothingburger, as we “woke” (don’t ask) people like to say.

Alienstock reminds me of what revered author Robert Laxalt wrote about rural Nevadans who live in places like Hiko and Rachel, people who are “setting down roots (like sagebrush) and thriving in unlikely places, hardy and resilient, stubborn and independent, restrained by environment and yet able to grow free.” Let’s close by singing a chorus of our state song, “Home Means Nevada”: “There is a land that I love best, fairer than all I can see. Right in the heart of the Golden West, home means Nevada to me.” Amen!

Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, is a card-carrying adopted Nevadan after more than 50 years in the Silver State.


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