By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
And then, shooting up missilelike from a field is a Rod. My first Rod. There are more Rods, as the score takes a glorious turn into a "Moon River" vein. Rod after Rod zooms past, twisting in the air. I don't know what to make of this stuff, I really don't. It's weird, it's goofy, it's fascinating. When I play back my audiotape later at home, I hear myself chuckle and say, "What the fuck?!"
Ferris is saying other things. He points to the screen.
"There's a Rod--there's another Rod! This is the best daylight footage I think I've seen."
Imagine being very drunk and very sleepy and seeing a silver centipede fly by from a long way away. That's what one of the Rods looks like.
"Some of them appear to have little legs," acknowledges Ferris. "Look at this!"
He pops in his self-made tape, explaining the recipe for Rod spotting he learned from Escamilla, revealing how the Tempe footage came about.
"Set up your camera, aim it at the sky, get something in the background, a tree or something, let it run for two hours, then you sit down and watch a tape for two hours of your backyard. Jose had talked to me and said, 'Why don't you do that?' So I borrowed a camera from my dad and I set it up and I started seeing these things."
Rods, Rods, Rods.
What they remind me of are these small, dark parasites that recently showed up by the hundreds in a stagnant New Times drinking fountain over the course of a long weekend. But, obviously, Ferris' Rods are not in any drinking fountain, and they move much faster than weekend parasites.
You don't have to be an expert or lucky or insane to make a Rod sighting. Unlike conventional UFOs, they seem to be like smiles; they're out there, you just have to be aware.
Ferris certainly is. He's got a video he picked up in a thrift store for 50 cents; a bad documentary on Arizona ghost towns done out in the desert on a hand-held camcorder.
"I watched it all the way to the end and it's rolling credits with the desert in the background and, whoosh--this thing flies by," says Ferris. A Rod.
"I was watching the news about this earthquake in Mexico and they were showing this church that had been demolished, and a Rod flies by in the background."
One night he taped the show Sightings.
"It's showing black helicopters which are associated with cattle mutilations and a Rod flies right by them. I've got some other stuff: Footage from The Stuntman where the guy dove out of his helicopter into a cavern in Mexico that's miles deep, and there's like whole fleets of white Rods flying by this guy in this cavern. So we think it's like a nesting ground for them possibly."
I suggest that Hollywood Westerns may be an untapped mother lode of Rod appearances. Ferris is way ahead of me. "Oh, yeah. There's a Rod in Geronimo and in Maverick, too, I think.
"They don't broadcast live pictures from satellites anymore, and I'll show you why. During the STS-48 mission in the late '80s, they were broadcasting as it happened, and there are Rods--things that look like Rods that showed up there in space." We watch this video, which becomes even more of a visceral experience when Ferris puts on a CD of his hard-core band, Stand to Reason, turns the volume way up and plays air drums as outer space reveals itself to be Rod Central.
Now check this out:
"I've got some awesome Bigfoot footage where Rods appear. Look at this. This was in the Himalayas." Insert tape, and there is Bigfoot tramping through the snow. Guess what scorches by?
"Look for the Rod in this thing!" gushes Ferris, gesturing at the Bigfootage. "I was just watching it, and I'm like, 'Holy shit!'"
Ferris' and Escamilla's Rods have attracted TV's Inside Edition, though the segment presented another opinion.
"They did have the Skeptical Enquirer guys on; that's basically their job to try and discredit things--I'm sure the government pays them a lot of money to do it anyway--so they said they'd spent an afternoon, and they made one of these objects on a computer," Ferris says. He shows me the broadcast, two dour fellows reveal their computer-generated Rods. To me, there are, well, certain similarities.
To Ferris? "It doesn't really look like what we're videotaping."
Then he slips in a clip from Hard Copy. It is Playboy's 40th-anniversary playmate, Anna Marie Goddard, out in the woods on a shoot. She and the crew are in an RV, messing around with a video camera at night, when what appears outside? "Sasquatch!!" someone yells. Sure enough, there in the headlights we see what looks like a tall guy in an ape suit with leaves on his butt.
Luscious Anna Marie admits she was "scared! I was scared to death!" We like this a lot, but, even on close inspection, there are no Rods anywhere to be seen.