Saturday, June 26, 2010
Date / Time: 6/27/2010 7:00 EST/6:00 PM Central
Call-in Number: (646) 716-4530
Then, not sure what is planned for Bigfoot Busters, but...
Date / Time: 6/27/2010 9:00 EST/8:00 PM Central
Call-in Number: (347) 633-9642
And as always, we encourage you to please tune in and support great research.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Book Review: Enoch by Autumn Williams
queue Autumn Williams - cover of Chasing Cars140 viewsoregonbigfoot
queue Part One: Autumn Williams Video Blog 3/4/103,990 viewsoregonbigfoot
queue Part Two: Autumn Williams Video Blog 3/4/102,316 viewsoregonbigfoot
queue Part Three: Autumn Williams Video Blog 3/4/102,122 viewsoregonbigfoot
queue Autumn singing "Set the Fire to the Third Bar"247 viewsoregonbigfoot
queue Autumn sings T h e S c i e n t i s t (cover)236 viewsoregonbigfoot
queue Autumn singing "The Life" by Wendy and Lisa (co...761 viewsoregonbigfoot
queue Ed Hale "admits" to being Bugs2,957 viewsoregonbigfoot
queue Autumn singing Butterflyz by Alicia Keys (cover)414 viewsoregonbigfoot
queue Autumn sings Foolish Games by Jewel (cover)468 viewsoregonbigfoot
queue Autumn singing and playing "Hearts" by Marty Ba...848 viewsoregonbigfoot
queue Autumn playing drums... rather badly. Hee!329 viewsoregonbigfoot
Thursday, June 24, 2010
2010 Oregon Sasquatch Symposium who and what ya missed
The event was originally formed to unite Oregon researchers within the same venue to share information about what they have going on, basically in their own backyard. The Sasquatch phenomena is, of course, not only an Oregon experience, but given the history of this beautifully forested state, our Sasquatch is as much a part of our culture as the Douglas Fir trees that surround it.
To Recap who and what happened that weekend in June, take a look at how our hometown paper THE EUGENE WEEKLY put it!
Desperately Seeking SasquatchStalking Eugene’s bigfoot bash
By Rick Levin
The Northwest is a hairy place. For folks raised in these parts, and especially in the boonies, the world was all hair — uncles with big bushy beards, deadheads, tangle-haired hippies and yippies, the swinging tresses of grunge rockers, bears, beavers, not to mention the fuzzy moss that spreads like kudzu on every damp surface. Here, where the forests reign supreme, we like to let our hair down. Keeps us warm. Sends a message.
Part and parcel of that literal hairy-ness is the history and mythology we inherit. The pantheon of legends comprising our folklore is peopled by real and fictional icons as hirsute as Samson and bearded as billy goats: From the stubble-chinned trappers and shaggy settlers of yesteryear, from Paul Bunyan to John Whiteaker, Oregon’s first governor, right on up to present day hipsters sporting retro-porn mustaches and bushy sideburns, our life west of the Cascades is largely about hair, and lots of it.
Few things better epitomize the Great Hairy Northwest than the bigfoot legend — that super tall, reportedly stinky and mysterious ape-like creature of the woods, allegedly seen and allegedly heard and allegedly photographed and filmed and tape-recorded hundreds of times, yet never once captured. Never definitively proven to exist. When it comes to sasquatch, there is no corpus delicti — no body, no fossils — and for that reason, among others, the thing is lumped in with other such paranormal phenomena as the Loch Ness Monster, flying saucers, alien abductions and people who see dead people.
Bigfoot, then, is our particular contribution to the trove of urban legend, though the sasquatch couldn’t be less urban. And, for some people, he ain’t no legend, neither. He’s as real as you or me. It’s just that there’s something a little, well, elusive and dodgy about bigfoot. Like an electron or Snuffleupagus, the harder you look, the less likely you are to find it.
According to the Oregon Bigfoot web site, there have been 1,248 bigfoot sightings in Oregon, 76 of those in Lane County. Neighboring Linn and Douglas counties notch 28 and 37 sightings, respectively, so we’re sort of a hotbed of sasquatch activity. That considered, it’s only right that a bunch of bigfoot people converged at Lane Community College this past weekend, coming together like Pentecostal tent revivalists for the first-ever Oregon Sasquatch Symposium on June 19-20. The two-day bigfoot bash, which was attended by more than 200 people, featured presentations by witnesses, researchers, tenured professors, one high school science teacher and a few big-time bigfoot celebrities.
Organizer Toby Johnson
OSS organizer Toby Johnson hasn’t seen a sasquatch first hand, but he is a BF believer through-and-through. This wasn’t always so. Five years ago, he and his son found what Johnson calls “a large human footprint” during an early morning hike around Thurston, though even then he wasn’t convinced he’d stumbled upon anything special. “I was used to seeing bear tracks in that area,” he said. “It just looked like it was a hoax.”
Nonetheless, Johnson snapped a photo of the print and began “shopping it around to people in the community,” and things began to change. To his surprise, Johnson discovered that the Eugene area is teeming with bigfoot witnesses, though many of the people he spoke with were unwilling to go public with their stories. “For whatever reason, people don’t want to be associated out and out,” Johnson said, giving examples of witness “backlash” than can run from ostracizing and stigmatizing to the breaking up of families and workers getting fired “for sticking to their story,” he said.
Because of this, the symposium partly served as a sasquatch support group, albeit one where the therapeutic model is reversed — instead of opening up and sharing your problems, you’re simply sharing what you consider to be a healthy and indisputable truth. “Right around us there are little small miracles,” Johnson said, adding that one of his motivations in putting together the symposium was to provide “a safe environment for two or three days to talk about that weird thing that happened in the woods.”
A confederacy of bigfooters
Every night I fall asleep listening to Coast to Coast, the widely syndicated radio show that plants its flag in the shifting sands of paranormal phenomena. The listeners who call to gab with host George Nory fill the airwaves with a cross-section of belief’s outermost fringe — alien abductees and Flat Earthers, time trippers and Nostradamus fanatics, along with people who have seen flying saucers, ghosts, demons, little green men and, yes, bigfoot. I’ve always pictured the generic caller as looking like a backcountry cross between Ted Nugent and Zippy the Pinhead, and paranoid to the point of psychosis. It’s a grossly unfair portrait, I know, but there it is.
And I’ll admit that it was just this species of lunatic zealot I expected to be attending the Oregon Sasquatch Symposium. I couldn’t have been more wrong. There was nothing weird or offbeat about the people at the symposium, nor was there anything discernible in the way of gender, age, class, fashion or any other outward indicator that might describe the average symposium-goer — nothing, that is, save a rapt collective attention to the matter at hand. These folks emanated that unmistakable aura of people who know exactly why they are where they are. To a person, they were polite, attentive, responsive and knowledgeable.
The symposium started off with a bang. Autumn Williams, an Oregon native and daughter of bigfoot witness and symposium speaker Sali Shepard-Wolford, was a childhood sasquatch witness as was her mother, and at 16 began doing field research. She has appeared on television, including a stint hosting Mysterious Encounters, and she also heads up the Oregon Bigfoot organization. Her specialty is habituators or what she’s dubbed “long-term witnesses,” which are people who experience ongoing sasquatch encounters in the vicinity of their homes. Basically, Williams — with her striking good looks and the sharp, angular features that telegraph an intimidatingdon’t-mess-with-me disposition — is about as close as the bigfoot movement gets to having its own superstar.
Big feet, big johnson
Williams is an engaging speaker whose gestures and vocal style, at times, border on the theatrical. She understands how to construct a strong narrative and she also knows that when it comes to bigfoot the best offense is a good defense. This means she’s dismissive of non-believers, contemptuous of mainstream media, and distrustful of governmental and scientific agencies with their driving need for forensic evidence. “If you found a body tomorrow,” she said, “the government’s going to go, ‘Thank you very much, that’s a weird specimen.’”
Williams spent a good deal of time talking about a pseudonymous witness she called Mike, a “redneck” bulldozer driver from Florida, who claims to have developed close ties to a sasquatch he calls Enoch. Williams’ relationship with Mike appears to have had a profound, almost life-altering impact on her. “I felt like somebody had handed me the Holy Grail of sasquatch research,” she said of hearing Mike’s story.
ENOCH a bigfoot story
Williams attested that Mike was an “incredibly credible” witness whose stories were “detailed” and “intense” and never once changed despite several retellings. If it’s that the devil is in the details, and so is the believability of any good yarn. And, as related by Williams, Mike shared some lovely, offbeat and wonderfully colloquial observations about “skunk apes,” which is what he calls sasquatch.
Sasquatch, Mike said, will eat just about anything, but they particularly like turtles, which they crack open and slurp “like we eat oysters on the half shell.”
“When he takes a crap, he squats down and lets fly.”
“Skunk ape farts are in a class all by itself.”
And, regarding males, Mike has this to say: “Big feet, big johnson,” meaning a horse ain’t got nothing on a squatch, though “with all the hair you can’t see it.”
According to Mike, skunk ape eyes look like “the inside of a Tootsie Pop,” their eyebrows are bushy “like Andy Rooney,” their skin color is “like a Pakistani.” They smell “like a wet, musky garbage dump,” and their mustaches grow right out of their nostrils.
Williams’ bigfoot presentation, over time, took on a distinct utopian vibe, one of rosy romantic primitivism. The underlying message of her story was that the bigfoot — community oriented, nonmaterialistic, free of artifice and, overall, purely pure as nature itself — lives a simpler, less encumbered and more peaceful way of life than human beings. In fact, it is actually us, with our alienating cities and glitzy consumer goods and fear of boredom and, as Williams put it, our constructed selves that “change on a daily basis with fads,” who must learn from the skunk apes. “We’re so far removed from what we were,” Williams said.
Once upon a time
To come clean personally about this bigfoot thing, I’ll put it like this: I don’t recall believing in Santa Claus even when I was a wee lad, and deep in my guts I’ve always suspected that we create gods in our image rather than visa versa, so it’s not likely you’ll convince me there are big hairy hominids thumping around the forests and we haven’t unearthed a single fossilized metacarpal. Call me a cautiously agnostic positivist, I suppose.
Bigfoot, by the way, is a cryptid (roughly, a “hidden animal”), and the study of bigfoot falls under the category of cryptozoology. Most mainstream biologists consider cryptozoology a pseudoscience. Accusing a cryptozoologist of pseudoscience is like telling a Baptist that Jesus is just a fairy tale.
Dr. Jeff Meldrum
Over the years there have been a handful of mainstream scientist and tenured academics — including anthropologist Carleton Coon, primatologist Jane Goodall and symposium speaker zoologist Jeff Meldrum — who have staked their reputations on the reality of sasquatch, or at least saying, like Goodall, that it sure would be cool if bigfoot is real.
I’ve interviewed quite a few people recently who seemed determined to at least get me to entertain that possibility of bigfoot’s existence. I’ve been handed stacks of research papers, directed to a numerous web sites and passed a pile of CD recordings. I’m no scientist, but as far as I can tell a good portion of this research hardly qualifies as scientifically rigorous, and the prose is often riddled with typos and grammatical boners. Not exactly the stuff to inspire confidence.
A lot of amateur sasquatch research employs a forced, mangled scientific jargon that sounds silly, and there are conclusions drawn that make a Swiss cheese of logic. And the more touchy-feely bigfoot writing heaps on the nativist hoo-haw and New Age fluff like so much whipped cream spooned atop the honky appropriation of indigenous myth.
That said, it’s just as difficult to prove, scientifically speaking, the reality of burning bushes, parted seas, 40-day floods and a six-day work week where God cooked up heaven and earth, yet hoards of people continue to believe these things heart and soul. As both legend and contested reality, the real source of bigfoot’s appeal, like the source of the Bible’s appeal, is anecdotal — as a fable filled with wonder, suspense and local color, all ringed with a halo of otherworldliness.
From left to right: Sali, Cliff, Dave, Thom at Denny's
Dave Rodriguez, who spoke at the symposium, tells one hell of a sasquatch story. A California native who moved to Oregon in the early ’80s, Rodriquez, 52, said his first sasquatch encounter occurred in 1977, when he and a buddy were driving home to Yosemite late one night. With his friend asleep in the passenger seat, Rodriguez was steering his pickup around a corner when, all of a sudden, “here’s an eight-foot hairy creature that had stopped just off the hill, right in front of me. I’m looking right into his eyes when he looks down at me.”
Skidding to a stop, Rodriguez was able to observe the monster. “I’m taking in every hair on his body, looking at every detail … the palms of his hands, his eyes, his nose.” He described the creature as extremely powerful looking. “They’re nothing but muscle,” Rodriguez explained. In the end, he and his friend agreed not to tell anyone about what happened. “They’d all think we were crazy, so we just sort of kept it to ourselves,” Rodriguez said, noting this was the beginning of a self-imposed public silence he finally broke at last weekend’s symposium.
Rodriguez has had other bigfoot sightings, bit it was his third encounter, just five years ago in the Cascades, that was the “biggie” — a harrowing close encounter that had him freaked and housebound for a week and a half afterward. “That one shook me,” he said. Although accompanied by his hunting dog and armed with a deer rifle, Rodriguez still didn’t feel safe. “My 30-30 felt like it was about six inches long,” Rodriguez says of his rifle, adding that in terms of ballistics, “there’s no match” for a sasquatch.
“I was able to keep calm,” he said of having to pass within feet of the beast in order to return to his truck. At one point, Rodriguez and the bigfoot “both turned toward each other, breathing heavy,” and he caught a whiff of the creature’s odor. “I got a really good, strong smell of him,” Rodriguez explained, discounting widespread claims about the horrible stench of a sasquatch. “He smelled just like a wet elk. It wasn’t all smelly or sewagey.”
Perhaps the most interesting part of Rodriguez’s story is the epilogue: After keeping quiet for years, the concerns that ultimately compelled him to go public about bigfoot were ecological and humane. Basically, Rodriquez wants you and me and everyone to believe in sasquatch so we can get busy protecting the creatures and their habitat. “There needs to be some education,” he said, which for him means moving beyond the “mindset” that they don’t exist. “Whether they’re endangered or not, that’s another question,” he said. “But they need to be treated as a sentient being. We trash the environment and shoot up things we don’t understand. We need to respect them more, but they need to ‘exist’ before that can happen.”
Movies, myths and the bigfoot fetish
By far the most famous sasquatch footage is the sequence captured in the region of Bluff Creek, California (some say staged) with a 16-millimeter camera in 1967 by Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin. This is the Zapruder film of bigfoot footage, with a history just as long, tangled and topsy-turvy with intrigue. The Patterson/Gimlin film has been endlessly played and analyzed and and dissected, frame by grainy frame. And, whether hoax or cinematic proof, the jumpy footage is seriously creepy, especially that moment (the fabled Frame 352) when bigfoot turns and looks into the camera.
So let me confess that shaking hands with Robert Gimlin at the Oregon Sasquatch Symposium was just as thrilling as the times I met Spaulding Gray or Alex Chilton. I can’t believe I just said that, but I think my excitement had something to do with being a Northwest boy who had the crap scared out of him repeatedly by that footage. Nearly every culture on the planet has ancestral stories of super-sized human-like monsters roaming the earth, but sasquatch is a distinctly Northwest phenomenon, as much a part of our culture as rain, Raymond Carver, good pot and red delicious apples.
And, just like Nike or Microsoft, sasquatch has gone global, becoming a worldwide superstar of the supernatural. Bigfoot battled the Six Million Dollar Man, for Pete’s sake, and also took the lead alongside John Lithgow inHarry & the Hendersons. He’s the hero of a current kids’ cartoon, and I would argue that sasquatch inspired the wookie Chewbacca in Star Wars. Bigfoot was even mentioned in the most recent episode of HBO’s vampire series True Blood. Sure, sasquatch sightings have been reported down South and on the East Coast, but I would chalk that up to nothing more than bigfoot envy. Let them name their Hampton hairballs and Baton Rouge rampagers something else. Sasquatch is ours.
Leaping with faith, looking with logic
“We tell ourselves stories in order to live,” Joan Didion wrote. At the Oregon Sasquatch Symposium, people told stories in order to prove that something else lives despite mountains of doubt and a lack of palpable proof, which is something akin to the religious impulse compelling converts to proselytize. Some symposium speakers trotted out science, some offered up anecdotal evidence while yet others simply presented the defiant example of their personal belief, which was a “leap of faith” into the contested realm of all things paranormal. This tension between science and storytelling begs the question: Is there a hierarchy or status among all these inexplicable, unsolved tales we continue to talk about and debate? Is the possibility of bigfoot’s existence, by its very nature, somehow more believable than, say, the idea of being abducted by aliens? Somehow, I think there is a difference, not of degree but of kind. Or, put another way, if I happened upon a sasquatch in the woods, I’d be far less shocked than if I were to discover I had a double living an alternate life in another dimension.
Jaime and Jeff teaching a casting lesson
There were times during the symposium — like when “Mike” phoned Autumn Williams, a little too conveniently, right in the middle of her lecture — that pushed the envelope of credibility. Mostly, however, the presentations I attended were interesting, entertaining, earnest and unexpectedly full of diverse or conflicting opinions. Organizer Toby Johnson did a superb job enlisting an array of speakers and presenters who proved unencumbered by any single strain of bigfoot orthodoxy.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
OSS Meet and Greet
Bob Gimlin chatting with a young lady
Erika Kronenberg's (Darin Richardson's girlfriend) beautiful huskies
Toby Johnson's Squatchmobile
Oregon Coast Vids Squatchy Areas on the way to the coast
Oregon's Pacific Coast
Darin Richardson and Erika Kronenberg and their "kids"
Possible 'Squatch Shelter?
Another cave with an unusual amount of mussels and clam shells
OSS Weekend Wrap-Up
Heceta Head Lighthouse
Oregon Waxworks Living Museum, Newport
Ripley's Believe it or not, Newport
Sea Lions at Newport
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
First of all, deep appreciation goes out to Darin Richardson and Erika Kronenberg for their wonderful hospitality and showing me around the city of Eugene. Second of all, BIG thumbs up to Toby Johnson for organizing the OSS which went off without a hitch and was very professional without being too stringent and rigid. Now, for the full synopsis of the event:
Friday night started with the Meet and Greet at the Red Lion Inn near Lane Community College, which was well-attended by OSS attendees as well as the speakers (most of them, except for Esther Stutzman) and a terrific time was had by all. There was karaoke in the bar downstairs afterwards, where Autumn Williams tore the house down with renditions of two Prince songs. Then, Saturday morning, after an introduction from LCC staff member Sandy Jensen, Mistress of Ceremonies, the event kicked off with Autumn taking the lectern discussing her theories and feelings on the state of Bigfoot research and her change in direction, which was inspired by a Florida native named Mike who claims constant contact with a group of Skunk Apes, one of which is named Enoch and is the title subject of Autumn's book which was debuted at the Symposium. She discussed Mike's interactions with Enoch and his clan of 'Squatches as well as why some of the old ways of researching are not working and that we who have witnessed Sasquatch do not need proof nor do we as witnesses have to prove it to the skeptics or the world in general. When the book cover was shown on the screen, there was a collective gasp from the audience. Autumn was asked several questions by the audience, including from myself who said that I had a recent rock-throwing incident and I asked her if she knew what that meant and she explained it was like a bratty juvenile who is just mischevious and rebellious and that may explain the reason for rock throwing. Then from Autumn the attention went next to her mother, Sali Sheppard Wolford, author of the book Valley of the Skookum where she read passages from the book and gave background into the events described therein. After a delicious lunch it was time to hear from Lenny Green, a Johnny Cash soundalike who had worked as a songwriter in Nashville, who sang some really good Bigfoot songs. Then, once again, as in Ohio, Bob Gimlin brought the house down with his retelling of the events of October 20, 1967. Then, David Rodriguez, a longtime witness and researcher who has had four encounters within a 34-year period, as well as finding evidence in the forests. He also showed why not every tree twist or break is automatically caused by Sasquatch, but rather by weather conditions and heavy snowfall which can cause warping and breaking in even thick trees at higher elevations. I felt it was an excellent explanation for at least some tree twists and breaks, but not all of them. After Dave, Cliff Barackman took the stage to discuss the Silver Star Mountain photos which were taken in 2005 and his investigations into the photos, such as going to the actual location and getting measurements and comparing human subjects to the subject in the photos to see if there was a possibility that perhaps the photographer had shot pictures of a human at that elevation or if it was something else (Cliff thinks it is a Sasquatch). After Cliff came Thom Powell (The Locals)
who gave a talk on his thoughts of the current state of research as well as the things he does to attract a Sasquatch to himself (he believes that one does not have to go out to find Sasquatch; Sasquatch finds us). He also gave some tips of how best to have an encounter and some pitfalls to avoid when in the field. Kathy Strain next took the microphone for an interesting talk on the Hairy Man which included some background into the Hairy Man legends from various Indian tribes as well as interesting artifacts and landmarks associated with various tribes. She also played a rare video clip of a dance of the Kwakiutl tribe which shows their version of Hairy Man represented in an interesting dance. She closed with a Hairy Man song sung by a tribal elder which was filmed by Cliff Barackman, Bob Strain, Tom Yamarone and James "Bobo" Fay. Then after dinner, a short casting class was conducted by Jaime Avalos, who cast Jeff Meldrum's foot, which was later raffled off. After that, Esther Stutzman, a local Kalapuya elder who gave an interesting perspective on what is known as an older brother of man, a being her people call (and I know this spelling will be wrong, so bear with me) Ti'ppe'chi'ppi, her tribe's name for a great and kind person who passed on into the next world and returned as a Sasquatch. Her people believe this being should be left alone and treated with respect. Then a short Q & A session followed, with Jeff and Autumn getting the lion's share of the questions. Sunday started off with Jeff Meldrum, discussing the various anthropological candidates for Sasquatch, not just Gigantopithecus, but Homo Erectus, Paranthropus and others, and how he interprets the fuss over what Sasquatch might be. After Jeff, Ron Morehead took the stage and gave a presentation on the circumstances of how the recordings of what are now known as the Sierra Sounds came about, including his work with Al Berry, as well as the hunters in the camp at the time, Bill Macdowell, Warren and Lewis Johnson. He also talked of his daughter seeing one in the same area many years later, and of attempting to take Scott Nelson to the same area for possible research into it. Nelson was next and revealed what seemed to be interesting cognants (words) which seem to be spoken by the beings in the Sierra Sounds recordings as English language-words such as "I", "me", "you" and "food." The recordings seemed to reflect that the beings in them seemed to have a rudimentary understanding of English words and phrases. Scott stopped short of declaring the beings could speak fluent English, but obviously they do appear to be using some form of English and possibly other languages such as Chinese. After lunch Green came up and performed an original song referring to beer and also Cash's "Ring of Fire." Jaime Avalos was next and he gave some interesting tips on how he goes about research in the field as well as tips that he uses in the field. He also showed video clips of interesting things he found in the Sierras, such as a disabled snake in the winter and other interesting trackways he has found and casted of individuals moving about in the high mountains. Finally, Jeff came back with essentially the same talk he gave in Ohio last month on the Nguoi Rung. Another brief Q & A, then it wrapped up. All in all, a GREAT weekend, and I look forward to next year.
Williams-***** out of *****
Wolford-****1/2 out of *****
Gimlin-****3/4 out of *****
Rodriguez-***1/2 out of *****
Barackman-****1/2 out of *****
Powell-****3/4 out of *****
Strain-**** out of *****
Stutzman-****1/2 out of *****
Meldrum (1st talk)-**** out of *****
Morehead-****1/2 out of *****
Nelson-****3/4 out of *****
Avalos-**** out of *****
Meldrum (2nd talk)-**** out of *****