My Trip to NASA -or- How I Foiled the Secret Service
andrew bucket | Mar 20, 2017 | 1:00PM |

This piece originally ran on December 8, 2010. We’re re-running it today to celebrate Extraterrestrial Abduction Day. -ed.

Photos By Ben Droz

The truth about the universe is this: the coolest place in the universe is actually NASA headquarters.

They send out press releases about aliens that are intriguing enough to get me out of bed and down to some bizarre Metro stop I’d scarcely heard of, at NOON mind you, to find myself staring up at a non-descript building (kind of MIB style).

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I’m all expecting it to look like the Cooper Union building right?

Wrong, it’s a pretty boring building, and it has a pretty boring lobby, except for a space-suit in a glass case which was actually kind of tight, except it was from one of the boring Apollo missions, like Apollo 8 or something- SNOOZE.

Oh, and most of the surrounding businesses were boring– Potbelly, Quizno’s, Starbucks– so I got a really boring coffee at this Korean muffin depot, which was most exciting coffee place nearby, but they only had plain bagels so I got a muffin.

Then I passed through security which was a fat guy who says, “Here for the thing?”

And I say, “Yeah.”

And he’s like, “That way!”

Where’s the de-neuralizer dude? Can I please get security clearance from the Pentagon? Can you Google me? SOMETHING?!

So we waltz into the auditorium, sit in the second row of the press area, and things get a little bit more interesting. There are more cameras than the Olympics,and the stage backdrop is of the surface of Mars. Two big TV monitors read “Take The Journey” and there are a hundred messy looking science journalists on their really busted, old, PC laptops. They all look like hoarders who have newspapers and magazines stacked in every spot of their car except the drivers seat.

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We look really out of place so far and are drawing curious looks from everybody, most of which are directed at the tin-foil hat that I had fashioned, but was not yet wearing. It sits at my feet and it is of particular interest to security dudes who eyes it every couple of minutes.

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Oh, I forgot to mention, the ET theme is playing on a loop the whole half an hour leading up to the press conference.

At this point, the director of communications for NASA named D’Wayne Brown came up to meet me, extends his hand, and asks who I am.

I say “I’m Andrew Bucket with Brightestyoungthings.com”

He laughs. “With who? Bright Things?”

He says this in a way like maybe he thinks it was a website for geniuses. He kind of reminds me of Overton from Living Single.

I say, “Brightestyoungthings.com– it’s a nightlife website.”

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I immediately regret saying this, wishing I had called it an arts and culture website, or a D.C. news website, ANYTHING but a nightlife website, especially since I was in a leather jacket and eye make-up from the night before, so basically I looked like someone there to cause a scene.

None the less, he says, “Well, I’m not sure I can fit you guys in for questions but maybe we can do something afterwards.”

Which I take to mean, “Don’t make a scene and maybe we can have a photo op.”

This is fine by me, because I am realizing more every minute that I know Bo-Diddely about astrobiology, and so my question would definitely be about Independence Day, X-Files, or Jeff Goldblum and then we’d get kicked out and I wouldn’t get my photo in my tin-foil hat.

SO, we sit tight and the press conference begins, which is when things got boring again. They herd out the scientists, and the one who made this big discovery looked like Darlene from Roseanne if she was a chaperone for a birthright trip to Israel.

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The first thing they said is that this announcement isn’t about aliens, and I think I literally heard the collective wooosh! of one million televisions changing the channel to Steve Wilkos.

Then they explain the discovery:

In this boring ass lake in California, they found this microbe–

<<time out>>
A microbe is what you ask?
It’s a unicellular thing which means it’s made up of ONE cell. Duh. Also, they need water.
<<time in>>

And this microbe they found can do this thing where it substitutes arsenic for phosphorous.

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Here’s an analogy I made up that I got approved by a scientist I met (really), OK:

In the entire history of the universe, we thought pizza definitely needed dough, right? Well there’s a microbe in some lake in California that makes pizza with a bag of wrenches instead of dough, and HE LIKES IT!

SO what I just summed up for you in one brilliant analogy, took these space-dust-farters like an hour, and also they had some cheeze-weed from the SF bay area on the speaker phone. He kind of looked like Dough Llewellyn from Peoples Court.

FINALLY it ends, and all these international reporters start setting up their TV cameras and doing reports right there in the room– one guy speaking Japanese, one lady speaking Spanish, some old guy speaking Latin (jk).

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My photographer is talking to someone outside about weed, so I’m buggin’ out that we wouldn’t get the photo, but then he comes back in, which is when a Secret Service-esque looking guy with a totally bic’d head appears and flatly asks me, “What are you doing?”

I say, “I’m here to cover this thing.”

He asks, “Who are you with?”

I say, “Brightestyoungthings.com. It’s an arts and culture website…”

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He says, “Can you guys move out of the way?”

I say “OK, but we’re just trying to get a photo op with the scientists.”

He says, “Ugh, they are doing… listen there is serious media here. What is that foil thing?”

I say, “We have a huge readership! Bigger than half these guys, you guys sent this press release out about aliens, this is my alien prop. I’m surprised there aren’t more Trekkies here honestly.”

He says, “Well maybe Dwayne can set something…”

I say, “I already met Dwayne man, he’s my dude. There he is, I’m gonna talk to him actually.”

Which is when I signal a very enthusiastic Dwayne who laughs at my tin-foil hat and very graciously poses with me in front of NASA monitor. INSTANTLY, cameras turn to us and start filming, and snapping photos, as if they’d been waiting for something this kitschy and cute to show their fat-ass editors down at Chowder Breath Daily.

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I hob-knob with some science types and met this wickedly cool lady named Dr. Billings who make a NASA comic book about the history of the universe. So BOOYA Secret Service stooge, go back to guarding somebody corrupt.

All in all, I really had a good time at NASA, and Dwayne Brown is a cool guy to email any of your questions regarding aliens, or Jeff Goldblum, or David Duchovny, or literally any other space-creature related stuff. He’s really knowledgeable.

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE! TRUST NO ONE!

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