If an unearthly saucer should zigzag down Milwaukee Avenue or perplexing lights appear above the Centennial Monument, one Logan Square group wants to know about it. Launched in the earlier days of the pandemic, the Logan Square UFO Club brings together ET enthusiasts, true believers and some folks just looking for interesting conversation.
With a fairly active Facebook page, a book club, a space-themed concert planned for January, and its very own mystical gathering point along the 606 Trail, the group brings a neighborhood focus to interstellar themes.
“I think Logan Square has a lot of interesting people, and it’s good to have local community around these issues,” said Michael Burton, creator of the 253-member Facebook group at the club’s core. The group also gave Logan Squarites with some Fox Mulder in them a chance to escape their living rooms, at least mentally, during COVID.
“During the pandemic, it felt difficult to have things to organize around,” said Burton, who launched the Facebook group in January 2021. Early on, to bring Logan UFO-logists together, the group hosted a Zoom book club around Carl Sagan’s novel of alien encounter, “Contact.”
“I think having community is so important in thinking about things and sharing ideas,” said Burton, 56, who’s been a Logan Square resident for 20 years. Burton also fronts the cosmic-themed band, Urban Space Man, that will play the UFO Club’s next gathering, Jan. 12 at Gallery Cabaret (2020 N. Oakley Ave.).
All In Fun?
The UFO Club gets together Jan. 12. Image: Erin Rensink
Depending on which member you talk to, the club is either all in fun or a lighthearted approach to serious ideas. Burton, for one, portrays the group as a mockery-free platform for discussing potentially world-changing encounters. For others, this is all only as real as a good sci-fi novel — but perhaps just as engaging.
Alien contact, Burton said, could transform human society. “We’re on track to maybe make our planet uninhabitable in the next couple hundred years,” he said. “What could be a big game changer in some of these issues is this very thing, that there’re others out there that could help us see ourselves better, but also maybe give us information to help us deal with some of these issues.”
Burton, who has never personally had a sighting or encounter, said he doesn’t know if aliens have visited Earth. But recent news, from admissions by the U.S. Navy of unexplained sightings to proposals from a legitimate scientist that the interstellar object ʻOumuamua may represent alien technology, provide the best evidence of potential visitors, he said. In April, the Navy confirmed that a pilot’s video of an unexplained object was real. Several of these so-called unidentified aerial phenomena remain unexplained. Sightings closer to home include those at Tinley Park, a suburb that became a hot spot for unexplained lights a couple decades ago.
“I’m very open. I think that we’re not alone as sentient beings in the universe,” Burton said. “And looking at those Navy videos, it’s just like, wow, man! — the documentation is amazing.”
Lights Over Lake Michigan
Another club member, Keven Womac, posted one of the few actual “sightings” on the group’s Facebook page. But he said he doesn’t for minute think any non-Earthlings have booked a Windy City vacation.
“It’s interesting. UFO stuff is fun,” said Womac, who owns Boulevard Bikes (2769 N. Milwaukee Ave.). “But it’s not — I mean, I’m a smart human being. I don’t really think we’re being contacted.”
For Womac, the club mostly offers a fun distraction from bad news, particularly during the pandemic. Many if not most UFO Club members similarly see it as a tongue-in-cheek thing, he said.
Visitors above Lake Michigan? Photo: Kevin Womac
Even the enthusiasm of the group’s founder may deserve a few grains of salt, Womac added. “Some of his endeavors are very heartfelt and true,” Womac said of Burton. “But he’s a bit of a prankster. He’s a contrarian.” Womac noted that Burton’s past campaigns included a seriously intended, if feather-ruffling push to depave Lakeshore Drive and a purposefully misleading description of the Critical Mass bike ride as 30 years old on its 20th anniversary.
As for Womac’s sighting, the Facebook post shows eerie lights over Lake Michigan during a January blizzard. “The lake was heaving. It was full of ice — it was awesome. It looked like it was alive,” Womac said. “Out on the jetties were some red, blinking lights. And my photograph makes it look like there could actually be something out there.”
But, Womac added, with a laugh, “I did not see anything.”
“A Vortex Of Unexplained Activity”
The UFO Club, aside from that lake encounter, has identified at least one other local Area 51. Members have adopted a spot at the western terminus of the Bloomingdale Trail, dubbed Bloomhenge for the way sunbeams split among the structures there at solstice or equinox. “It’s a place to maybe talk about these issues and be open to other beings and power and stuff like that,” Burton said.
Burton’s space-themed band Urban Spaceman recently recorded a video at this “vortex of unexplained activity.” The musicians will also headline the Logan Square UFO Club’s first annual meetup, Jan. 12 at the Gallery Cabaret. The event invites “all Earthlings and X-Ts” to network and plan a stellar 2022 agenda for the club. Proof of vaccination will be required. (No word on if alien biology exempts visitors from that requirement.)
Other planned club activities include additional book discussions, along with continued sharing of readings and resources. The Facebook page includes a media list with recommendations ranging from classic sci-fi film “The Day the Earth Stood Still” to Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb’s book on ʻOumuamua. Members also share news on unexplained sightings, homemade ET art and calls for interviews with those who’ve had encounters. You’ll also find just-for-fun posts of “alien” sightings (read, a little-green-man balloon in a Chicago window).
As perhaps revealed by the rock band at the group’s event, fun remains a primary focus, Burton said. “I want to have a good time, but also I want to think important things and be open to big thoughts — but also be able to laugh at ourselves,” Burton said. “I think if you can’t laugh at yourself, then that’s a problem, right?”
Featured image: Logan Square UFO Club Facebook profile picture. Image: Pam Trejo