Mars Contest A Hollow Victory

Since we were told that the band had to show up to win, we made plans to go to the Mars Society and play our songs about Mars for consideration in its Third Rouget de Lisle Award song contest. We were told the conference attendees would vote at the banquet for the winners of first, second and third place.

After spending our own money on airfare and car rental, taking time off from paid employment and anticipating a legitimate contest, we arrived in Boulder, CO to find that out of the 20 songs submitted, 10 songs were chosen for the semi-finals, but only 2 contestants showed up at the Mars Society international meeting. Steve and Danny were asked to perform at the Friday night political task force reception since there would not be any semi-final contest. They were to save their performance for the banquet on Saturday night.

They played some classic scientific gospel at the reception but the guests only spoke louder as the music played. Then the Executive Director spoke to the crowd about how detrimental a Democratic administration would be to their dream of manned Mars exploration. We thought: this group is worried that Democrats just might care for people here on Earth over some ‘pie in the sky’ scheme of manned exploration to Mars. Obviously their agenda was different that ours. We just wanted to win a song contest.

On Saturday we were told that since there were only 2 contestants at the conference, it wasn’t a real contest and therefore, we would both be declared ‘winners.’ I asked about the prize money and the accolades. We were told, “We paid for your rooms, conference fee, and the banquet, so consider that your award.” We were miffed by their lack of ethics and consideration of an agreement made in good faith.

After listening to many of the submitted songs, I have no doubt that we would have legitimately won the contest had all 10 bands showed up. While performing the Mars songs, the audience of scientists heartily laughed and when they performed “Do You Think We’re Alone (in the great Milky Way), they sang along with the chorus, almost fell out of their seats with laughter, clapped and begged for more. We would have played more but the Associate Executive Director got up immediately and presented awards to society members and then Dr. Robert Zubrin got up again and presented his zealous point of view about manned space exploration to Mars by instigating an instant fund raiser for their society’s scientific experiments. He managed to raise $28,000 in 1/2 hour.

And yet, they wouldn’t pay us the $500 first prize, or even split it with the other performer. On their website, they only alloted a 1/2 sentence to our performance: “On Saturday night, the banquet was held, and attendees were regaled with the space ballads of Robert McNally and the humorous pro-science songs of the San Diego based band “The Opossums of Truth.” I assume they will not send our songs to NASA as they promised and probably not to Prometheus Records for recording consideration. We will not be as naive next time. But we suggest that they work towards sending Dubya, the FEMA director and Karl Rove to Mars. That would be a good start.