Friday, May 29, 2009

The Integratron: UFOs, Didgeridoos and You

In the Mojave Desert, standing amongst the trailer homes of Landers, just north of Joshua Tree, rises the Integratron. If you see a UFO flying nearby, or an earthling meditating atop the geomagnetic vortex, don't be surprised. It's that kind of place.

In the 1950s, engineer George Van Tassel, who once worked with the equally eccentric Howard Hughes, started building what he believed was an anti-gravity and time machine that could also rejuvenate living tissue. Think of it as a technological fountain of youth that just happened to be inspired by beings from Venus. Better living through science indeed.

Arguably what Van Tassel did succeed in designing is an acoustically perfect wooden dome. Now owned by the Karl Sisters (aka "Space Sisters"), the
Integratron is a wacky tourist attraction for some, a place of otherworldly inspiration for others. It's usually open to the public two weekends each month for hour-long "sonic baths" ($10). Imagine yourself stretched out on yoga mats piled with Mexican blankets and pillows while crystal bowls are made to sing and hum. It's hypnotic, and your body will vibrate. I accidentally fell asleep.

Next month may be the best time ever to visit the
Integratron -- well, at least since the UFO conventions of the 1950s, '60s and '70s. On June 20 and 21, the Integratron will celebrate the summer solstice with DidgeriDome, featuring musical jam sessions, fire performers, healthy food vendors and a weekend camp-out. Preregistration is required: call (760) 364-3126 or email the sisters at Fees range from $20 to $80, depending on how long you stay and where you're from (locals get discounts, aliens are free).

Photo: The Integratron (Sara Benson)

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