By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
In these pages some five months ago, you were introduced to the phenomenon of Rods. Unidentified Flying Rods, to be exact. Unexplainable, tubelike things perhaps hundreds of feet long of unknown origin that allegedly course through our skies so fast as to be barely perceptible to the human eye.
But not to the eyes of one local human named Jeff Ferris. For it was Ferris, stunt skateboarder by trade, who videotaped Rod after Rod shooting over his Tempe backyard in broad daylight. Were they a new form of organism? Were they bizarre bursts of mutant energy? Or were they something else altogether, perhaps something . . . from outer space?
Ferris, along with Jose Escamilla, a Colorado-based filmmaker and Rod enthusiast, released a video compilation of their filmed sightings titled Rods: Mysterious Objects Among Us.
Skeptics claimed the footage was faked. Computer-generated, they said, or maybe those dark, mysterious shapes zipping across the screen were insects, even birds, whose paths produced a Rodlike effect when viewed through slow-motion video.
But Ferris was undaunted. He claimed in no uncertain terms that what you saw was what he taped. There was no trickery. No computer high jinks. Certainly, Ferris seemed to be a normal, average young man, not some desperate, polyester-clad nut case going on about how annoying it was to have his conversations monitored via a complex sensory device implanted in his brain by the Pleadians. No, he was not like that at all.
Many events have happened in the five months since we last heard from Ferris--Madonna gave birth, a zoo gorilla saved a baby boy, the guy who invented the Hokey Pokey died--and though the Rod controversy has not mushroomed into an international story, Ferris continues to push for answers.
Last Sunday morning found Ferris sitting in his apartment, gathering his Rod thoughts, his Rod words and his Rod videos, preparing to bring his Rod case to the Cosmic Awareness, UFO & New Age Expo later that day at the Mesa Holiday Inn. For since you last read of Rods, things have happened; new sightings, new footage. Ferris is still eager to spread the word, whatever that may be, so I decided to pay him a visit.
While his Rodumentary Rods: Mysterious Objects Among Us has not been exactly flying off the shelves, Ferris is excited by another Rod-related video that he has discovered.
Braveheart--Mel Gibson: A Film Maker's Passion is the name of this tape, a short documentary on the making of the Oscar-winning film Braveheart. But it is so much more than that. Especially if you possess the Rod-spotting capabilities of Ferris. There is one scene of Gibson standing there in his ancient Scotsman outfit, bullhorn and script in hand, against a brilliant blue sky. But if you play it back in slow motion, you see that Mel has a co-star in this particular shot. A Rod, plain as, well, plain as Rods get, flies by in the corner of the screen.
Ferris shows me this a couple times, and reveals that he has discovered even more Rod guest appearances, all just by chance.
"I've found some feature films that I've rented just to watch and noticed Rods," he states. "There's a film called Blue in the Face with Harvey Keitel, there's one in that in the beginning. A white Rod."
(I forgot to tell you that Rods also come in white.)
"And in Mighty Aphrodite, the Woody Allen movie. There's about three in that. In the scenes in the Greek Theater, there're three different sightings. One where it comes up in the corner, and a couple that just go right across. White ones."
To the naysayers that have accused Ferris of doctoring footage, he now scoffs, tape in hand.
"I didn't have anything to do with filming this stuff. And this is captured on actual film. This isn't video, this isn't low-quality camcorder stuff."
I suggest that he might examine historical footage for Rods, such as the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination, which is usually in slow motion every time you see it anyway. Ferris lights up. "Oh, yeah. That'd be good."
Like ingrown hairs, Rods can turn up anywhere. Ferris relates a recent sighting "in an area called Conyers, Georgia, where this woman supposedly speaks to the Virgin Mary."
"Thousands of people gather at her home, and she comes out like the pope to deliver the messages," he offers excitedly. "And there was a Mexican TV station there that was filming this a few months ago, and up in the sky there was a cloud formation that looked like a cross. And witnessed by hundreds of people was something that flew through the clouds, and it was captured on their cameras."
And that "something" was this: Rods.
It's apparently so easy to capture Rods on video that Ferris did it by accident a couple months ago.
"I was skating on a backyard ramp and I set the camera up on a stool," he offers. "When I played the tape, there was [a Rod] that I got that comes over the top of the ramp and goes in between our heads and down past the camera. Also, in reviewing some old footage, I found about four other Rod clips from this area over at the corner of Curry and College."