Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Supported by

Area 51, Grasshoppers, Ruby Mountains: John L. Smith Contemplates The Start Of The End Times

getty images

From the flood of bugs in Las Vegas to the “raid on Area 51,” to someone's idea to drill into the pristine Ruby Mountains of northern Nevada, John L. Smith is seeing signs.

"To start with those grasshoppers," he said, "Not the hoppers themselves, these locust-like creatures, but the news coverage surrounding it. You turn on television now and there are international broadcasts they're not talking about pestilence in other nations, they're talking about grasshoppers in Las Vegas."

Smith does realize that he's guilty of the same thing because  he's talking about grasshoppers in Las Vegas.

After some research on the plagues of the Bible, Smith noted that grasshoppers and locust appear dozens of times in both the New and Old Testament. 

"I gotta tell you, after reviewing some of the passages, it's not all bad," he said, "Most of the references are to hordes of people coming together like grasshoppers."

Smith sees a comparison between tourists on the Strip and plagues of the Bible.

"On Wednesday, on the Strip, the crowds are like grasshoppers. They're friendly. They're scattered. By Friday night and Saturday night, they're like locusts. They pack themselves up in a big group. There is a drought everywhere so everyone is trying to feed on anything that moves."

Storm Area 51

"I think of the UFO phenomenon not just as pseudo-science or scientific phenomenon or as a political phenomenon, if you happen to be Harry Reid, but also as a kind of pseudo-religious phenomenon. I think Americans have a fascination with UFOs that borders on a religion," he said.

Now the creator of the Facebook page advocating the journey to Area 51 is saying it was a joke. Smith notes that some people got the joke and others seem to really think it's a good idea, which he also notes it is not. 

Like many people, Smith credits KLAS-TV Channel 8 investigative reporter George Knapp with documenting and investigating UFOs and their potential connection to Area 51 in such a way that it spread around the world.

"He essentially did invent a kind of cottage industry in Las Vegas and in Nevada," Smith said.

He pointed to the gift shops from McCarran Airport to downtown filled with knickknacks featuring little green men, spaceships and the like. 

Las Vegas City Hall 

"Perhaps not the apocalypse but one of the strangest sightings and its something that I've spoken with several city hall officials about is this recurring sighting of former city councilman Ricki Barlow."

Barlow had a bright career on the city council but he left that position after being convicted of misusing campaign funds. But now, he's back at city hall as a lobbyist.

Smith has spoken to city officials about Barlow's return. They don't really want to comment but they are also "scratching their heads about it."

"At the last city council meeting I was at, I would be willing to bet that he was in that council meeting as much as some of the members of the council were," he said, "I don't begrudge a guy earning a living but you would think he might just for propriety sake want to step aside from city hall for a while."

Signs on U.S. 95

"When I drive down the 95, I'm distracted by these signs advertising accident injury lawyers," Smith said, "There are so many of them it's hard to keep up with them."

Smith notes there are dozens of attorneys from the Pandas - Peters and Associates - to Glen Lerner to Farhan Naqvi, who Smith explains is a "remarkable, remarkable attorney and he's got the best 'do to distract you on the highway.

The proliferation of injury attorney signs may not be an indication that there are more accidents but an indication that lawyering is a good occupation to get into, he said.

"Those signs may be causing some these accidents that these guys are cashing in on," he said.

The Ruby Mountains

"One of the troubling signs for me up north has been something that's played out in recent years and especially throughout this year and that is the attempt by some private extractive industries to get lease permits in the Ruby Mountains," Smith said.

He said it is one of the wildest and most beautiful places in Nevada. Earlier this year, the Forest Service rejected an attempt to get leases for 54,000 acres. But now, other companies are eyeing the place and looking to get lease permits.

Now, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto is working to get land in the area set aside to prevent any more attempts to get leased to drill.

John L. Smith, commentator, State of Nevada

Stay Connected
Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.