Friday, May 28, 2010

The Michelin UFOnauts: Extraterrestrials or Tired Ghosts?

I suppose that the pun is unforgivable but some things have an unopposable force to them. I just couldn't face FSR for a few days and rummaged through my latest mailing from home to myself, and there was my Michelin Man file, so what-the-heck? This small pile of cases is just big enough to be intriguing [rather than tossed to the side as idiosyncratic random imagery]. But, fair warning, I have never been able to get any handle on its interpretation. Why would someone report a UFOnaut looking like the Michelin Man made out of white tires? And worse, why would several people do so? The Michelin Man himself had already had a long and somewhat affectionate history in France dating back to the late 1800s. The statue above is of that early era. Known as "Bibendum" ["drinker" of nails, glass, and other tire-rending road debris], he was a friendly folk character in French culture for decades. Then, once UFOs came along, he began to shuffle right out of them and into a different folklore. A weird feature [to me] of the whacky world of UFOlogy, I can only collect my little pile of cases and leave it to you folks to explain it to me. So, here goes. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The earliest date claimed [in my set] for a Bibendum showing is 1950. This report is of a young girl and her father in Vaux-en-Dieulet, France, which was not made public until 1980. The object was a transparent disk within which was a small being looking like Bibendum. It had a round helmet with tubes and air[?] tanks attached. The girl felt paralyzed.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Date two is 1954 from Mauberge or Auberge, France. A husband and wife were driving when they encountered a "fat shell" sitting in the road. Getting out of it was a 4-foot tall Bibendum. The couple just raced by. I have not been able to determine when this case was actually reported.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Date three is 1955 from Dinan, France. Here a single witness on foot outside his home was paralyzed by two Bibenda exiting a large domed disk near his courtyard. They wore boxes on their chests and walked awkwardly. This case seems to have been reported in 1970. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Date four is 1960 from Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. The Bibenda here are the ones represented by the drawing that accompanies this section. Here a motorcyclist saw two beings near the road ahead, one very tall [between 6 and 7 feet] and one nearer normal size. They were colored red and walked as if injured. No craft was seen. This case was reported in 1980. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Date five is 1962 or 1963. It was not reported until 2009. Here in Newbury, Berkshire, UK a single witness saw a very tall Bibendum walking up the slope of a nearby road. No craft was seen. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Date six is 1967. Here a couple was driving to Pierre Buffiere, France, when they saw a 3 foot tall Bibendum standing by the roadside. It waved at them and floated away. No craft was seen. I have not been able to find when this was reported. -------------------------------------------------------------------------Date seven is 1968. I would not be surprised if this is not the actual first reported Bibendum case [reported the same year]. The drawing accompanying this section is from the witness. On La Plaine des Cafres, Isle de Reunion, The witness saw a disk or egg-shaped craft with pedestal like formations on bottom and top, parked in his field. Within the large transparent bay window were two Bibenda about 3 1/2 feet tall. This case was reported to the gendarmerie immediately [which gives it a lot more standing in my eyes]. The site was not inspected until several days later, and showed an increase in radioactivity signature at that time [but mild]. In search of theories about this group of cases one should consider the possibility that this IS the original case, and some of the others are imitative contaminants. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Date eight is 1972, Buenos Aires, Argentina. This case was also reported within a short period of time to the witness' credit. The event was preceded by a failure in his transistor radio. A brightly lit object hung humming overhead. It was a domed disk. In the dome were two windows wherein showed the occupants. Two Bibenda of undeterminable size were at the controls. They had helmets and tubes going into a box on their backs. The description was quite elaborate and gives me pause as it was sent by the case investigator directly to Hynek to send on to the National Inquirer's board of UFO cases to see if it could win a best case award. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Date nine is 1974, Saint Nizier en Moucherville, France. Once again, I have no way of knowing when the case actually was reported. This case is a teaser as the only brief description that I have says that three independent motorists were involved. The tease says that they saw a small Bibendum standing beside the road, who went up to one motorist and knocked on her window and ran into the bushes. No craft was seen.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------Date ten is 1975 and back to Reunion Island. This case was also reported right after it happened. And it was reported to the gendarmerie. Here a 20 year old male was jogging home when he encountered a round disk-like craft with a top dome. It appeared metallic. Just earlier, but some distance away, he had begun to hear "beeps" in his ears, which grew increasingly loud just before seeing the object. He felt forced to stop and a great heat enveloped him. He felt as if he were paralyzed. Then he saw the craft and from it, descending on a short set of steps, was a 3 foot tall Bibendum. It was followed by a second and a third. They had antennas on their heads and walked awkwardly. Through a porthole in the device was seen a fourth being in a helmet. The man was thrown to the ground with a flash of light and the beings hurriedly re-entered their vehicle and departed. He lay on the ground for a while and then struggled to his parents home where the story was told. His parents and the police verified the state that he was in even a couple of days later. Again the case is single witness but a bit better than usual. The alternative hypothesis would be a mental breakdown with imagery fueled by knowing of the Reunion case years previously.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Date eleven is 1976, Liria, Spain. In this incident a couple was driving between Liria and Olocau when they approached a something-or-other standing by the roadside. It was of average height and seemed more of a silhouette than a normal entity. Its "suit" was dark, not white, but otherwise having the rolled layers of a Bibendum. It had two lights mounted on either side of the top of its head. No face could be ascertained. It did not walk about, but bobbled a bit, floating in the air. As they drove by, the couple's car's lighting system dimmed. They reported seeing a bright oval light source a few hundred yards earlier off the road, which some would count as connecting the case to a seen UFO.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Date twelve is also 1976 and from Western Kansas. This thing is very different in a lot of ways. It is a US case, and it happens to have a huge case file. It was published in CUFOS' IUR [volume 1, #2, November 1976], and must have made Allen Hynek both very intrigued and very nervous. In the incident a young couple was driving in a rural area when they saw a group of three flying disks, then a group of four, and then one which came much lower. Betty and Barney Hill-like, they then found themselves driving 90 miles further down the road with no intervening memories. Hypnosis was used with each of the couple separately, and it was claimed that testimonies matched even in detail. Three Bibenda [about 5 1/2 foot tall] were seen on the craft during an abduction-type experience. [The illustration for this section is the witness drawing]. Later they found "needle-marks" on their bodies along with scratches and a rash. The couple think that they became "telepathically-sensitive" after this experience. Well, we're either "All-The-Way-Fool" or "out Proctor" on this one, and each of us will decide. We are extremely dependent on the quality of the case researcher on this and I have no insight on that. The researcher, Richard Sigismonde, apparently wowed Hynek with this as Hynek began speaking of the case immediately in talks he was giving at the time. Knowing Hynek's predilection for undervaluing the ETH to the advantage of the paranormal, one suspects that he thought that our Bibenda were of the "parallel psychic reality" kind. So, for Allen, perhaps the "Tired Ghosts" they were..----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Date thirteen might not be a legitimate Bibendum. It is 1977, Tucson, Arizona, and a favorite case of mine. I never thought of it as a Michelin Man until I saw someone referring to it so. [Drawing at the left]. Here we have a very good pair of witnesses and a very high strangeness miniature floating capsule craft containing a smallish chubby being in an overinflated suit and helmet. Folks can find whether they are "splitters" or "lumpers" as to whether they think that this belongs in the Bibendum pile. Love the case; don't believe it's Bibendum. The picture of the middle-aged woman walking beneath the object trying to reach up and touch it, is charmingly vivid in my mind.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Date fourteen is 1979, Schoonaarde, Belgium. Again, I have no information on when it was reported, though now that we're beyond the "image-maker" cases that isn't of great importance anymore. Here two youngish boys [10 and 13], saw a domed disk land in a field, and from it came two Bibenda. They puttered about the grounds, re-entered and took off.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
To the left is a crude table about the case pile. I find it difficult to see a dominant pattern. The large majority of incidents are from French-speaking areas, natural [?] for a French iconic figure. Almost all the entities are "small" in the 3 to 4 1/2 foot range. In three of the four cases where the Bibenda were said to be average to tall, no craft was seen. Only Goodland [Western Kansas] is "off" as to that. Almost all Bibenda prefer a disk saucer usually with a dome. The case which I guess to be foundational [Plaine des Cafres] adds spectacular pedestals to its structure but is still a disk. One must wonder, I believe, if no Bibendum case really existed until Plaine des Cafres was widely published [in Luminieres Dans La Nuit, and then FSR]. The bottom line on this for me is indistinct but must include the feeling that the description of a UFO entity wearing rolls of white puffy layers as clothing is weird indeed, and if any of the non-French cases are "imagery-unpolluted" by them, that would make a strong argument for some kind of objective reality to those cases. But the cases pile is too much of a mess for me to be able to make any judgement on "imagery independence", and so I'll remain in my ignorance as to whether this is a solid UFO-related phenomenon or not.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bibendum was a happy sort of chap, maybe a good candidate for a mischievous elf. He was also, by name, a heavy drinker. But I don't believe that you can get too intoxicated drinking glass shards or rusty nails---wait a minute---"rusty nails?" John Keel, are you still out there?

18 comments:

  1. Nice one. I always thought there was something strange about that tire-guy. Maybe that is NOT a cigar in his hand, at least, not a "normal" cigar ;)

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  2. The drawings, Tucson image excepted, resemble the Taylor/Gordon atmospheric diving suits from the late 1800's.

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  3. Hello, Prof. Do you think the Falkville, Alabama polaroid photos taken by police chief Greenhaw (sp ?) qualify as a Bibendum? There were four photos, as I recall, showing a more slender Michelin Man. Regards.

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  4. Let's see if I can cut.n.paste:

    http://rr0.org//science/crypto/ufo/enquete/dossier/Monguzzi/index.html

    This is the Monguzzi hoax landing photos case, and especially if you do a 400% zoom on the claimed ufonaut--he's a Bibendum, or at least very like one. Since these photos date from 1952, and were given a LOT of publicity then and even later...well, I know how complicated this subject can be, and am aware of hypotheses of "imitative" phenomena, but I'd at most throw 'em far back in the Gray Box.

    Unless spacesuit or hazard-suit engineers have something nice to say about the principle of those 19th century diving suits...?

    Frank John Reid

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  5. To Richard: my memory of the Falkville case is that it was a tin-foil covered suit and the police chief hoaxed it. [this is, in my files, a very rare case of the law enforcement authority acting irresponsibly with regard to UFOs]. But if "everyone" that I know is wrong about this case, it still doesn't look like a Bibendum. The critical feature of a Bibendum is not some diving-suit-like proportion but the "rolled" appearance of the thing's coverall. Falkville, to my memory, has none of that. ------------------------And to Frank: sort of the same comment. I don't see any striking "rolled" coverall in the Monguzzi "alien" figure. In order to convince me that something cued a possible imitative imagery for later witnesses, or miscreants, I'd have to see some immediately impressive case detail which would directly lead to the otherwise unique descriptive element. Monguzzi is a "diving-suit" type figure but not a Michelin type one [unless someone has preternaturally good eyeballs and is picking up on something not obvious to me.]

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  6. Posers alright; makes you want to talk to the witnesses; lots of questions to ask. These apparitions sound like images that the witnesses were expecting to see, as regards aliens, i.e. in space suits like we envisioned our astronauts would be using in the upcoming space program! Aliens could have real ones like that, but would they come and go as described - or rather, not described? Hmm. The images sound so very terrestrial, technology wise. I still keep thinking that REAL aliens would have abilities more like on Star Trek, examining earth with 'sensors' and unlikely to land and use space suits. Just doesn't fit in the level of technology of a 'starship', does it? But this sort of image IS what many people, especially in europe, would expect to see . . which is suggestive to me. Supernatural events meant to mess with us?

    Some of the events described sound like a possible kid in a home made costume. I dearly wanted a space suit costume as a kid and sure would have ran around in it if I could!

    The Michelin Man suit is like the proposed realistic space suits in George Pal's 'Destination Moon' made in 1950. Also all the suits depicted on the covers of countless sci-fi mags of the day. Hmm. The image was certainly in the public mind already. Randel

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  7. To Randel: one case report actively wondered about the kid-in-the-costume idea [the knock on the car window and run case]. My concern/curiosity is centered only on the rolled suit issue and how odd that is. My curiosity is more about the non-French cases without the iconic image in a prime place in culture, and if they would be independently reported things then I have a non-trivial mystery. If any of the cases are substantial, the awkward seeming suits seem diversionary like basically everything else in UFOlogy is. I never make conclusions based on what I expect the ETs would/should do, since I think that they are deliberately messing with us on that.

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  10. I've actually been lookin' for pictures and videos of these ungainly shaped flying figures that seem to populate the Mexican heavens on a regular basis, (given their vague similarity to the 'Michelin Man'), but've stumbled on Scott Corrales covering the 'Michelin Man' over at Inexplicata too!

    That's synchronicity for y'u!

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  11. ...spent most of yesterday evening into the early hours of this morning working with the Norton anti-virus people trying to free my pc from 16 viruses which seemed to've taken control of it...so I'll be intrigued to see if I manage to post any of this without World War III starting!

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  13. Thank you very much for compiling this! When I was maybe 6 or 7 years old (1979/1980) I woke up to a creature wearing a "Michelin Man" suit standing in front if me in my living room. I was lying on the floor and it was standing over me so it's hard to estimate its height. I did see it's face though, it was very wrinkly and it's head was pointed. I passed out shortly after looking at it's face. I used to describe the suit as looking like "Robbie the Robot" until I saw the Michelin Man on a poster. I'm not sure what this character was doing in New Jersey but I've always struggled with having seen things that haven't been reported by anyone else.

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  14. I definitely saw one of these entities way back in the early 80s. I am 100% sure of it. The face was blank, no expression, no eyes, mouth, nose... Just blank. The 'being' was average human height, moved slowly almost hovering perhaps a centimetre or so from the ground. It moved along the street (it was the early hours of the morning, but light) and as it reached the corner, it turned back and beckoned to us as if asking us to follow it. When I've told people about this I've always said, 'It was a bit like the Michelin Man' and only found out that this was a phenomenon after Googling.

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    1. Thanks for the personal reports. Who knows, this could {weirdly} be more common than we think? And what would THAT mean?

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    2. Wow. My ex-husband and I saw what looked like a Michelin Man standing on a bridge looking down at us with his "hands" on his "hips" as we drove under the bridge. It was dark, so I saw no color. We both looked in the rear view mirror, then behind us, then at each other saying "did you are that?". It felt as though the presence of the being was strong. We both felt it before we actually saw it looking over the bridge at us.

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  15. In the book "Scary Stories" written by Jenny Randles and Peter Hough (Futura Publications 1991), the entry "A Bonfire Story", set in the year 1926 mentions three figures who look like Michelin Men. They were of adult human height and wore silver grey suits. There is no indication in the story that they were associated with any ufo phenomena. There is also no indication of when the incident was reported to the authors.

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    1. intriguing and thanks. One wonders if this is the merest glimmer of an extremely weird anomalistic manifestation having nothing to do with core UFOlogy.

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