Longform

The Yoda of 9/11

It's late afternoon at a conference of 9/11 conspiracy theorists in Chandler, and Pat Curley's been batting away the intellectual softballs for a half-hour or so from a lady named Lynn Pentz, in town from La-La Land for the wingding that went down in February at the Crowne Plaza San Marcos.

Pentz, a rail-thin, pleasant, middle-aged woman with short, gray hair, started by giving Curley and a pal her spiel on a so-called citizens grand jury to be convened shortly in L.A., where some delusional members of the 9/11 "truth" movement were planning to investigate and possibly indict members of the Bush administration. Why? Because 9/11 was an inside job by the Bushies, of course.

Curley, a tall, unkempt roly-poly dude in dark prescription lenses better suited for a South American dictator, flicks away Pentz's putative proof that the official account of what went down on September 11, 2001, is tawdry government propaganda, riddled with lies and inaccuracies.

Pentz's arguments are hackneyed, and Curley sees every one coming like some slow-motion boomerang. Cell phones couldn't have worked on United Airlines Flight 93, the heroes' flight, so passengers couldn't have called their relatives, as the 9/11 Commission Report states. Bzzt! Wrong! Obviously, some cell phones did work. But the rest of the calls made from that flight were made from phones installed in the plane.

Pentz tries out a number of other conspiracy shibboleths: Those phone calls were faked using voice-morphing technology; World Trade Center leaseholder Larry Silverstein ordered the destruction of the lesser-known World Trade Center Building 7; some of the original 19 hijackers are still alive, perhaps sipping Coca-Colas in Morocco; yadda yadda yadda.

Curley's heard 'em all. The voice-morphing thing especially gets his goat, for reasons that'll be explained later. Curley's a walking encyclopedia of debunking lore. And Pentz, not knowing that she's speaking to one of the authors of the infamous Screw Loose Change blog (http://screwloosechange.blogspot.com), seems worried that she won't be able to convince this gent that he's on the wrong side of history. She asks him to view photos and charts she's brought, but Curley's impatient, ready to get home and blog the events of the day.

That's when Pentz achieves something other troofers (as 9/11 conspiracy believers are called by their detractors) have rarely, if ever, achieved. In an oddball aside, she leaves Curley tongue-tied by explaining — for reasons known only to herself — how she once witnessed the dark green stone on the ring she's wearing emerge from the hand of an Indian saint named Swami Kaleshwar. It's a "blood stone," she tells Curley and a bemused comrade seated next to him, with magical healing properties.

Pentz would later relate how she had, in her youth, traveled to India and had eaten peanut butter cookie dough that a famed miracle worker named Sathya Sai Baba had manifested from thin air. Apparently, Hindu mystics do this kind of thing all the time. The incident with Swami Kaleshwar occurred more recently, in the States. Seems Kaleshwar used ashes blessed by Sai Baba to make the stone in her ring.

As Curley noted in his blog that eve, tongue firmly in cheek, "It was the only time all day I didn't have a rejoinder." And so it goes for the Yoda of 9/11, a man most troofers love to hate. His days are tinged with profound weirdness and intellectual hand-to-hand combat. Wielding a keyboard instead of a lightsaber, he mercilessly carves up the Count Dookus and Emperor Palpatines of the 9/11 conspiracy movement, laughing all the way.

Along with co-blogger James Bennett of Seattle and SLC allies such as New York City's Mark "Gravy" Roberts, author of the painstakingly detailed Loose Change Second Edition Viewer Guide, Curley patrols a veritable Mos Eisley cantina of conspiracy mavens, kooky celebs, Holocaust deniers, nutty academics, anti-Semites, aged hippies, delusional twentysomethings, and cynical, Elmer Gantry-like opportunists, all of whom are united in their opposition to the official version of what transpired on September 11, 2001: that 19 al-Qaeda members armed with box-cutters and knives pulled off the most daring and destructive surprise attack on American soil in history.

Initially conceived as a rebuttal to the popular Internet documentary Loose Change, which, after its release in April 2005, helped disseminate these paranoid conspiracy fantasies to their largest audience yet, Screw Loose Change has since become the way station for everyone who is seeking sanity when faced with the wild distortions, half-truths, and outright lies of the 9/11 truth movement.

Google Loose Change and Screw Loose Change is the sixth item that appears (the fourth, if you remove duplicates). Currently, SLC is netting 1,000 to 1,500 unique visitors a day, with 700,000 unique visitors and 1.7 million page views since Curley's first post on May 1, 2006. No longer a straight debunking site, SLC has evolved into an up-to-the-minute news and information portal focused on critical reporting on the 9/11 truth movement, with humor, irreverence, and a general disdain for troofers.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons