U.F. Uh-OhRoswell, NM, Everett, WA and Fargo, ND

Roswell sketch by Chandler O'Leary

When the Tailor and I drove to Texas last year, we planned our return route around my decades-long desire to visit Roswell, NM. I was so excited to see what kind of alien-themed kitsch would be waiting for me that I banned myself from looking online to see exactly what was there. I just didn’t want to spoil the surprise. But I did daydream about the possibilities—giant replicas of crash-landed UFOs! Thirty-foot little green men! Alien-head-shaped doughnuts! Intergalactic ferris wheels! Postcards that glow under blacklight! Costumed interpreters! Tinfoil park-ranger hats! Saucer-shaped souvenir stands on every corner! Newsstands devoted solely to the Weekly World News! Cheesy space junk encrusting every square inch of the town! I was positively quivering with anticipation.

Well, I so want to be able to tell you that it lived up to my most ridiculous fantasies—but alas, I can’t. There weren’t alien tchotchkes everywhere, nor were we surrounded by roadside attractions. All we really found was a museum (closed that day), a couple of sparse souvenir shops, and a handful of scattered E.T. effigies—so few, in fact, that I couldn’t even fill one whole spread in my sketchbook. And that makes me sad, because just think of the things Roswell could learn from somewhere like Wall Drug!

Flying saucer sketch by Chandler O'Leary

I’ve stumbled across more UFO kitsch in completely random places than I found by scouring Roswell that day. For example, in Everett, WA is a charming saucer-shaped park shelter. There’s no connection to alien lore that I know of (except maybe its proximity to the Boeing factory), but it’s charming nonetheless. How cool would this be in Roswell?!?

Space Aliens sketch by Chandler O'Leary

And then there is the totally inexplicable—and completely awesome—pair of alien-themed barbeque (!?) restaurants in North Dakota, of all places. I got to revisit the Fargo location last summer with the Tailor—and the poor man got treated to my rant about how this was how alien kitsch was done, people. Chrome dinettes and all, thank you very much.

Oh, if only I had the means to start a proper UFO tourist trap in Roswell. It would be a beautiful (and eye-frying) thing to behold.

Space Aliens sketch by Chandler O'Leary

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Comments (3)

  1. jen

    wish i had known about the fargo spot — i drove thru there for the first (and likely only) time in july! and thanks for the roswell warning. you’ve saved me future devastation.

  2. Adrian O'Leary

    Funny my very last memory of Fargo is Space Aliens. You and Dad took me to lunch before I drove off into the sunset with literally a truckload of my childhood stuff. (come and get it or it’s going on the berm) Whatta place. I’d make the 1000 mile drive just to go again.

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