IMCA Insights – March 2007
Taking a break to go the annual Tucson mineral show gives me an excuse to visit other places. This year, with my oldest brother Johnny Bostick, I left Wichita, Kansas with a pre-show destination of Roswell, New Mexico. Roswell is best known for the 1947 "Roswell UFO incident." Ever since a military experimental balloon crashed near the town, Roswell has become the most debated "UFO" incident and the town has turned the event (or non-event) into commercialization.
We arrived in Roswell and its Main Street on Wednesday, January 31st, 2007. A quick stop at the town's visitor office and we learned that the local International UFO museum was closing within the hour, so we raced from there to the museum. The museum is not that large, but we showed up with just thirty minutes to go. Not long ago admission was free, but now they charge admission. A very fair $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for seniors. As we arrived so late in the day the ticket seller was kind enough to label us seniors and me and my brother made our way through the exhibits in short time. Granted this meant I didn't have time to read much of the exhibits but I found the displays nice and the "alien" in the tube of gel (or whatever it was) the "coolest" thing. Other display's included an alien being operated on, artistic paints and sculptures of the Rowell crash and many original spacey paintings.
The town of Roswell is well decorated in the alien/UFO theme, such as street lights with alien heads and the McDonald's with a UFO shaped playground in front. After quizzing a number of locals if they had seen an alien or a UFO, I discovered they don't like being asked those questions and that none of those quizzed had any extraterrestrial experience.
I wanted to get some souvenirs with aliens on them and stopped at a local specialty shop. One of maybe a dozen stores that only sold alien memorabilia. I purchased a number of items including a t-shirt and a keychain. My brother picked up an alien driver’s license and a few other things like a glowing rubber bouncing ball with an alien design. While the city’s citizens didn't like being asked about extraterrestrials, the city’s chamber of commerce sure does.
An interesting note is that Roswell has a yearly UFO Festival, this year it will be July 5th-8th. Might be a great place to sell meteorites, but it conflicts with the Haviland, Kansas Meteorite Festival for me. Because of the Roswell delay, we did not make it into Tucson until late the following day.
Thursday night in Tucson was the first informal IMCA dinner. Only two IMCA board members were able to make Tucson, Madame President Anne Black and myself. Since Anne had a room to take care of, the work of making a reservation, choosing the time and location fell on my lap. The dinner was set for 8:30 at the Mexican restaurant La Fuentes, the former location of the Harvey Awards. A prime choice because it is close to the meteorite action and the location is known to the meteorite community.
I made it there a little before 8:00 p.m., after a quick check in at Anne's room, and found Tim Heitz and his wife Pat at the door. Mark Bowling, who had also arrived earlier was sitting at the bar. Turnout was somewhat on the low side, but it was a first time event and was not advertised to the general public. Among those that made an appearance, not listed above, was Don Edwards, Bob Holmes, Maria Haas, Doug Dawn, Anne Black, Johnny Bostick, Stefan Ralew, Andi Gren, Martin Altmann, Greg Hupé, Mike Jensen and Bill Jensen. Hans Koser made a brief appearance. We drank margaritas and listened to the mariachi band next to the indoor patio where we sat. Next to me was Martin Altmann and Mike Jensen. It took me a little to realize Martin was Martin Altmann, as this was his first Tucson show, and I have yet to attend a European show. The dinner went well and all seemed pleased. The informal dinner was a great chance for IMCA members to get to know each other and I think we may make this an annual event.
Friday, I finally got to explore the show, which meant going straight to the Inn Suites. Since a good share of the meteorite dealers set up at this location, the hotel has become the center of the meteorite community. These included A. Pani (Room 111), Alain & Louis Carion (Room 123), Anne Black/McCartney Taylor/Geoff Notkin/Steve Arnold (Room 230), Marvin Killgore (Room 125), Michael Farmer/Eric Olson (Room 184), the Chladni's Heirs trio of Martin Altmann, Stefan Ralew and Andi Gren (Room 335), Raouf Ismail (Room 102), the Labennes (Room 118), Eduardo Jawerbaum (Room 311), Bill "Rusty" Mason (Ballroom) and Fred Olson in the parking lot (selling boxes). Plus you can find a good share of the meteorite visitors roaming the hotel grounds.
We arrived early at the hotel to share breakfast. The Inn Suites has one of the best breakfast bars so it was too hard to pass up. We sat near Bill "Rusty" Mason and George Winters, Secretary/Treasure for the Association of Applied Paleontological Services. Bill has always treated me with a warm eye and kind words so it was nice to have a little time to chat with him. I was a guest at a couple of the previous Fossil Co-op dinners so I had seen George before in the background. He was quite pleasant and I enjoyed our conversation, as much as I did the waffles. Hmmmm.
Achmed Pani with some cool meteorites
The first room I visited in Tucson, not counting my brief stop at Anne's to say "I'm here" the previous day, was A. Pani's. More because of its corner location, but I found a few cool things last year in his room and did so again this year. These included a Sikhote-Alin that is a perfect crystal, a part slice of NWA 778 (a.k.a. El Mahbas), and an oriented Moroccan meteorite with a neat shape. Pani gave my brother an ammonite necklace and a nice garnet from Austria to me. Both were kind gestures.
Freebies are one of the neat things about going to the shows (or at least to me they are). I tend to get a couple dozen things given to me at the Tucson show. Some are to get me to sample the product, others are just to get me to come back next year, or because I am Mark. (The later is my reason for everything.) The coolest freebies this year was a 2007 Tucson Campo Keychain from Hans Koser and a 2007 wine glass from Blaine Reed.
Speaking of Hans, he was at the Inn Suites in the same place as the previous years. Lots of nice large Campos at bargain prices, those neat little campo "crystals" that I have been told are created when a specimen is dipped in liquid nitrogen and shattered, some Bendegos. I wound up with a bag of little Campo and another of Bendegos. A couple purchases for sales on eBay. Hans also offers several nice minerals....of the earthly kind. Yes, strangely some people buy them as well I guess.
Chladni's Heirs: Stefan Ralew, Martin Altmann, Andi Gren
The Chladni's Heirs trio of Martin Altmann, Stefan Ralew and Andi Gren had a large offering of different achondrites, including some nice lunar specimens. A few historic meteorites, and choice Moroccan meteorites. Martin, who is almost their spokesperson, was dressed like a piano player, Stefan the most knowledgable of the group was quiet and Andi appeared to be a gentle giant ... with a mohawk. I have enjoyed the e-mails with the trio over the years and getting to know them better only solidified my belief that they are good trustworthy collectors and buyers.
Briefs stops were made in Raouf Ismail’s room, who featured nice Tatahouines and Bruno Fectay and Carine Bidaut's room, who offer a little of everything. Both had nice offerings. Anne Black, along with McCartney Taylor, Geoff Notkin and Steve Arnold shared a room. Anne had (and still has) a nice offering of different thin sections, meteorites from micromount to Museum pieces. McCartney Taylor had fine finds from Texas and Mexico, Geoff Notkin some nice Brenham Siderite slices. Each complete with a Brenham Meteorite Company certificate. A few of the nicer large Brenhams were also offered to onlookers.
Edwin Thompson & his son Patrick
Back at Anne's room, a common theme for me and others, I ran into one of Tucson's newest residents Leigh Anne DelRay, who greeted me with a hug. She would later talk me into buying one of her necklaces. (I can be a pushover). The necklace has a seahorse shaped Canyon Diablo, stringed with tigereye beads and some wood beads with stars on them. After picking up the necklace, I strolled over to Edwin Thompson's (or E.T.'s) room with Leigh Anne and former IMCA director Don Edwards. ET was with his son, Patrick Thompson.
Edwin Thompson was offering many of the books from his vast collection for sale. I imagine I have 300 meteorite books, yet I was missing a good 2/3's of those in his glass cabinets. It is one very impressive collection. Other items included a vast array of thin section (including Essex, a meteorite I purchased from the finder), some NWA CV3, a few Nantan meteorite coins (which I helped produce and certify), some nice crusted Gao's and more. I purchased a decently thin end cut of the NWA CV3.
Marcin Cimala and his selection of meteorites
Working a table outside of E.T.'s room was Marcin Cimala of Polandmet. Marcin offered various classified NWA's, along with a few finds and falls such as Morasko and Thuathe. I picked up a small endcut of NWA 4438, an L3.1 with green chondrules.
I spent a little time in Mike Farmer and Eric Olson's room. In this room I met collector Dave Carothers, who purchased his first meteorite from me. I tried to pass on the blame of meteorite addiction onto Mike, who I purchased my first meteorite from, but he didn't seem to go with it. Dave, if you find ever yourself yelling out strange foreign names at night or rambling things about carbonaceous rocks, I do apologize. Mike talked me into a small fragment of Moss with crust and ordered a pizza, which had me hang around a little longer.
Dave Carothers, Eric Olson, and Mike Farmer
Friday night was the Eighth Annual Meteor Mayhem Birthday Bash and Harvey Awards Ceremony. The event was held at The Hollywood Bar, inside the Arizona Plaza Hotel, or as most of us still refer to the place, the Vagabond. Attendance at this must go to party has increased every year, this time no exception. I carried a bag with me with a couple gifts for the birthday boys Steve Arnold and Geoff Notkin, a trade to make with Robert Verish, and a lot of heavy impactite to give to Art Ehlmann, which was making my shoulder ache.
Birthday Bash - Photo courtesy Keith Vazquez
The highlight of the Birthday Bash, for me at least, was receiving a Harvey Award for work on my website and with the Kansas Meteorite Society, I have dedicated the award to my good friend and fellow Kansas Meteorite Society co-founder Jerry Calvert. I would also like to thank Steve, Geoff and Phil Mani for their work in the field and media in Kansas the last 18 months, much of which the meteorite community does not know about. I do believe that it has helped open doors for the Kansas Meteorite Society, which is reflected in a very busy schedule for us the next few months. Keep up the stellar work guys, it is appreciated.
Late in the night the party came to an end, and this time, we were not rushed out by bar tenders with angry faces (like last year). In fact, I spoke briefly with the manager who said we were a "pleasant" group.
Saturday, I started once again at the Inn Suites. I arrived before the rooms were opening and found Jim Tobin sitting by himself in a gazebo. Me and my brother shared our experience about our short trip to Roswell while Jim talked about visiting the Area 51 region with Paul Harris.
Marvin Killgore & a 10kg Fukang Pallasite Slice
Early in the day while passing by Marvin Killgore's room I ran into John Birdsell of Arizona Skies Meteorites. While we chatted, Marvin came out of his room with a large wooden crate, which he opened in front of us. Inside an amazing large ~10 kg. slice of Fukang. The slice was just cut so it had not been etched yet but it was quite the sight to behold. In fact, it was the best meteorite specimen I had seen at the show. (Mind you, a couple lunar main masses likely had a higher retail value, but if given a choice....)
Once again I ran into Leigh Anne and we decided to make our way over to the Ramada Inn to see Blaine Reed's room together. Along the way a very cool-looking Moroccan meteorite caught my eye. A neat UFO shaped stone that I later weighed out at 41.5 grams. Normally I would call it a heat-shield, but I had just visited Roswell, so it's my UFO meteorite. I asked how much, but the Moroccan seller Mohammad was busy with Jack Schrader and son, so I started walking on. I didn't get far before Mohammad called me back and we started negotiating for the stone. I offered $20.00, he asked for $100.00. We settled on $50.00 (....or was it $40.00?). Mohammad also complimented my "beautiful wife" Leigh Anne and invited me to hunt meteorites in Africa. His meteorite hunting pamphlet showed family camels and all-terrain vehicles.
Blaine's room was quite busy when I arrived, but Mike Martinez showed up shortly so I went along with him to the nearby Burger King. I had just eaten at the next door Denny's so I drank a soft drink while Mike ate and we caught up on the last year. I returned to Blaine's and picked out a few items including a 92.3 gram slice of Belle Plaine, a meteorite found about 20 miles south of me. A part slice of Davy (b) and a 2007 Tucson Meteorite Wine Glass.
Made it back to the Inn Suites where I ran into Jim Kriegh, Twink Monrad and Richard and Dorothy Norton. Dorothy had with her a preview of the next Norton book. One chapter, it appears, will be a great aid to my fellow thin section fanatics with a nice chondrule identification guide. The Nortons were kind as always and complemented me on my website work. (I always get the feeling I am talking with my mother when chatting with Dorothy.)
Saturday night was the 2007 People's Auction with auctioneer Michael Blood. Michael has the longest running meteorite auction and once again he recruited me as a helper. Twink Monrad brought along a large sheet cake decorated like the Gold Basin strewn field. The Gold Basin cake has become an annual event for Twink and is one of those enjoyed side notes of the big show. This year, three small well documented Gold Basins were wrapped in foil and baked inside the cake. The first was found by Steve Arnold's youngest daughter. I announced this "find" to the crowd of attendees but did not hear who made the other discoveries. Lets hope they found them the easy way.
Dave Carothers also helped during the auction and was a pleasure to work with. I will admit being a little biased as he bought me a couple beers. Dave was a one of many Tucson first timers, I hope we didn't scare them away from attending next year.
There is usually at least one item that two bidders fight for. This year it was a 0.55g part slice of Burnwell, which planetary collector Howard Wu and the auctioneer battled over.
Michael was kind enough to stop the auction to offer a number of last minute things for the Walter Branch fund. A pair of posters, I believe given by Michael, were signed by all present. One for Walter and the other for the high bidder with all funds going directly to the Walter Branch fund. The signed poster sold for $275 to a generous Fred Hall. A couple other items were also auctioned off, including a Mars tainted wine bottle given by Greg Hupé, and third item if I remember right. I managed only one successful bid at the auction. A nice 4.35 gram complete slice of NWA 2130, an L3.5 that is loaded with chondrules.
Other collectors and dealers I enjoyed talking with at the show include (but not limited to): Moni Waiblinger-Seabridge, Robert Haag, Rob Matson, Pat Brown, Jim Strope, Jake Pelletier, Philip Mani, Rob Wesel and Jason Philips. I am sure I left a bunch of people out, so please forgive me.
Among those noticably missing was Dean Bessey, Paul Harris, Adam Hupé, Darryl Pitt, Oscar Turone, Ron Hartman and David Weir. Despite these absents, the meteorite community showed up in greater numbers then ever before.
We left the show early Sunday and made our way to the Grand Canyon. This was the third time I had been to the Canyon, but the first time with good daylight. One time I showed up at dark when it is hard to see ten feet in front of you. There are no lights at the Canyon, seeing 10 miles across the large ravine is quite impossible. As we were exploring the National Park, getting a photo with a Ranger (something you don't really see in Kansas), taking photos of other tourists (with their cameras) and enjoying the wonder of the site, the Indianapolis Colts were beating the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl.
So I continued my streak of attending the Tucson show ... and missing the Super Bowl. See you in 2008.