"A Cut Above the Rest"

By Graham Conway

In 1984, a man and his wife have a strange experience in a secluded location. Afterwards, the man develops artistic and poetic talents that he didn’t previously have. UFO*BC president Graham Conway travels to Squamish to interview the man and view some of his art work. Introducing Duane and "Big Al".

bigal.jpg (30520 bytes)In October, 2000 a close friend made me aware that a store in Squamish, a small town about 30 odd miles northwest of Vancouver, was displaying an unusually large carving of a "typical" alien.

One week later a casual conversation with a Squamish resident again centered on this figure and the impression that it created to the viewer. This person quickly provided a follow up e-mail which at that point, from the additional details provided, prompted three of us to not only go and see this replica for ourselves, but better still, meet the creator of it.

We duly met by arrangement at a local restaurant’s coffee shop. The gentleman, who was waiting for us, is by profession a logger and as one might expect is a big husky guy, but not the Paul Bunyan type frequently depicted as being the stereotype. This person could very easily be mistaken for an insurance man or if you prefer a professional football player. Well, O.K., a retired one! On meeting him he comes across as a very unassuming sort of guy.

His story is disappointingly lacking in expected details. One winter’s night in 1984 he and his wife were at that time living in Vernon. Hearing a loud buzzing noise they went to the window to look out in an attempt to locate the source. Living in a secluded area at that time it was puzzling as to what could be causing it. They never did find out. All they saw was a three quarter circle of green light on the snow against their house, the other quarter fell on the home. Duane readily admits that he is scared of very little, but bearing in mind that there was really nothing to see outside, his reaction was one of fear and caution. He didn't investigate. And that’s the end of the story.

The three of us plied him with questions for nearly two hours, which he patiently tried to answer. Yes, he was an artist, but had not been up until the above "encounter?", simply stating that his best previous efforts were "stickmen". Then overnight he began to carve alien heads in the best Whitley Streiber Communion book cover manner. After numerous attempts in this direction and unwittingly imitating Richard Dreyfuss playing with his plate of mashed potatoes in the "Close Encounters" movie, he decided to attempt something on a larger scale, namely "Big Al." who took two months to complete. Duane carved it in relief from a log of yellow cedar. The finished work stands at about seven feet high, weighs in at around 250 lbs and takes two men to move. We visited its present location at "The Outpost" on Main Street in Squamish and certainly found it all too real, (assuming you accept alleged alien interaction accounts and drawings as being accurate).

Another new-found talent is writing poetry; although I gather from his own description that it bears no resemblance to either Shelley or Wordsworth. Let’s just say, it’s more in keeping with a 21st Century approach.

Under our barrage of questions we found that Duane was certainly answering in the affirmative to some of them. One thing that was refreshingly different was that he had not indulged himself in any of the prolific UFO/abductee related literature that is presently saturating the market place.

He told us about another very brief UFO sighting that he had some time ago. Plus a story that concerned four logging buddies who related an experience whereby a disc-shaped craft approached and hovered over them for ten minutes whilst they were working in the bush. Then just as abruptly left. The witnesses resumed their work. No, they did’nt report it!

Apparently in his "down time" he also carves whales and animals. He added too that his partner was very attached to "Big Al." (my appellation, not his), and bid it a reluctant and tearful goodbye when he decided to put it up for sale. In case you are interested in a large size traffic stopper and have some loose change laying around, the price is $2500, . . . a bit too rich for my blood. In any case where would I put it? If I placed it outside UFO*BC’s headquarters it would simply be a challenge for U.B.C.’s engineering students to kidnap it and probably hang it off the Alex Fraser bridge. A most inappropiate place I feel.

Anyway, should you be on your way to Whistler, take a moment and stop in at the store and take a look. It’s easily recognisable, even has his signature carved onto the base too, "Duangsta". That’s a nickname his buddies gave him due to his fondness for watching gangster movies. So they simply attached part of it to his name. Here again we have to raise that oft repeated question, "why me?" or alternatively, "why him?". He certainly doesn’t know.