If you picked up a copy of yesterday's paper, you may have happened upon one of the most bizarre stories in Beacon history.
It was an interview with The Beatings, a Boston band that was lined up to play the Pilot Light last night. Initially, I thought it sounded like an intriguing act - having garnered comparison to the Pixies, Guided by Voices, etc. - so I gave the assignment to Sara Sherburn, the Beacon's in-house punk rock reporter.
But her research quickly went awry. "It seems they're trying to be enigmatic or something," Sara said in an attempt to explain the band's cracked-out response to an interview.
So I read a transcript of the interview myself and found it to be, if not entirely coherent, at least entertaining. I even laughed a little when the band described its music as "monkey doo-doo poo-poo chomp" and cited its interest in documenting simian sexual behavior and cutting off people's heads with deli machinery.
But one response forced me take pause.
Sara: Why did the band decide to make a stop at the Pilot Light?
The Beatings: The people in Tennessee are extremely sweet, despite that giant golden sphere that controls everyone's minds ... Our last show there was awesome, and the golden sphere told all the crazed zombies that live in Knoxville to massage our privates.
Whoa. Did they just say that? The wheels in my brain began spinning.
It wasn't the "massage our privates" part that concerned me. What made me nervous was their assertion that the Sunsphere was, in fact, more than just a weird piece of architecture.
Perhaps the rumors were true. Perhaps, as some have suggested, the "golden sphere" really is the globular nucleus of something strange, something dark, something ... extraterrestrial.
I'm not saying it's true, but there has been a lot of speculation about UT's involvement in paranormal activity (subliminal messages on the Jumbotron, Neyland Stadium as a space craft launch pad, brainscrambling in Buehler, the concentric placement of campus blue lights, unexplainable sightings in the Ayres Hall bell tower, etc.)
Don't get me wrong. I think a lot of it is just the fabrication of local conspiracy theorists and bored Trekkies. But history is hard to argue with.
Consider this: UT was shut down completely between 1862 and 1865. Any orange-blooded student would recognize this as a red flag that something shady was going down. UT would never cancel class for a day, much less three whole years.
Some say it was the Civil War, but others believe it was a standoff between the "others" and the U.S. government. When the mother ship touched down in the center of campus, soldiers fought from the trenches of Fort Sanders to hold the aliens off. They eventually succeeded in driving them back into their spacecraft, which was then buried beneath tons of dirt in a literal government cover-up, resulting in what we now know as The Hill.
Later, in 1919, the university stuck Ayres Hall and some trees atop the alien mound to make it all look normal - as if a giant, steep-sided mountain in the middle of campus wasn't just a little out of place.
I don't have any answers. All I know, and all this column is really trying to say, is that if you ever get the urge to get up on stage and massage a band's privates, think twice. Because it may not really be you who wants to do it, but the aliens who are speaking to you through the Sunsphere.