Sunday, November 18, 2012

Interview Sean Forker and I conducted with Chris Murphy in 2006

1. What inspired you to become interested in the Sasquatch?
The short answer here (changing "what" to "who") is, Rene Dahinden.  My son, Dan, was taking a course in anthropology, and wanted to do a presentation on the sasquatch.  He found Rene's book in a local library and saw contact information at the back of the book. Rene lived in Richmond, just a few miles from where we lived.  He called Rene and asked to interview him.  Dan did not have a car, so I took him to Rene's place.  Rene was a very personably, friendly, and colorful person. We went to see him again several times, and as a result, he and I became very good friends.
2. What was Rene Dahinden's biggest joy in the Sasquatch hunt?
The biggest joy to Rene was the same as it is to all sasquatch researchers - that at any moment he or someone else (preferably he) would solve the mystery. In other words, come up with firm proof that the creature exists.  Remarkably, this situation is a bit like playing the slots at a casino.  With every spin, you know you could hit the jackpot. The anticipation (its a little "high") is so strong that people actually become addicted to slots.  In a like manner, Rene was addicted to the sasquatch.  Every time his phone rang, it was like a "spin" - this could be the call that will get him the prize.  Every time he went into the bush, behind every tree, and just over every hill there might be a sasquatch.  Certainly all sasquatch researchers have the same "addiction," although we call it "passion" or "zeal."  But make no mistake, it is an addiction, and if you can't afford to be in the game (timewise or financially), then don't join it.  Rene left his family as a result of his "addiction," and Dr. Grover Krantz, in essences, sacrificed his career to satisfy his craving.  Am I calling cryptozoology an addiction? Absolutely. 
3. Who do you think is the best modern researcher of the Sasquatch Phenomenon?
There are two categories of sasquatch research: original (field) and historical (analyzing the work of others). I put Richard Noll at the top of the list in field research mainly because he is a seasoned outdoorsman and is highly methodical in all that he does.  In this second category, Dr. Jeff Meldrum and Doug Hajicek (Whitewolf Entertainment), come out on top. Both continue to contribute immensely to resolving the sasquatch issue in different ways.  Dr. Meldrum does so by using his education as an anthropologist in the analysis of evidence; Doug Hajicek by bringing information to the public with his excellent television productions (Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science and Giganto, The Real King Kong, specifically).      
4. Who do you think is the best old-school researcher?
Certainly, John Green. His experiences, patience, persistence and profound documentation in the field will probably never be equaled.
5. Why do you suppose some Bigfooters distanced themselves from you after the bell-clasp fiasco?
When the "bell fiasco" erupted, I actually "threw in the towel" because there was so much flack. I decided that the whole sasquatch issue was not worth the stress it was causing me.  I felt compelled to make my research known because it might have had some significance, and I made it known to many high-profile researchers, John Green among them.  The one and only reason I stayed in the game was because John called me and said, "You are not going to let this thing bother you, are you?" He asked me up to his place and went over everything.  He then went on the net and cleared the air.  Now, to answer your question,  my research was calling into question one of the main pieces of evidence that supports sasquatch existence - The Patterson/Gimlin film.  Now, it is important to get things straight here.  It is one thing to question the film on the testimony of people (as Greg Long has done), and quite another to question it on possible negative evidence within the film itself.  The latter is infinitely more damaging because it can be sort of "put on the table" as opposed to words. As a result, some (many) bigfoot researchers were very upset. Let me go back to my casino analogy. The Patterson/Gimlin film sort of confirms that there is a "jackpot." If it is permanently removed as an "incentive" to sasquatch research, then the desire to stay in the game becomes much less.  In other words, it would reduce the hope of "winning." People, for their own reasons, did not want this to happen, so they got mad at the messenger.  Think of this as finding out that the odds of hitting the jackpot on your favorite slot have been reduced by about 50%.   
6. How many years do you estimate it will take to solve this mystery?
It is really not a matter of time, but a matter of resources. Let me put it this way.  A few years ago a wolverine strayed into a little town near where I live called Port Moody. It was hit by a car and ended up severly wounded on the road side. A resident saw the unfortunate creature in pain and distress and called the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). They collected it (certainly tranquilized it, as it is a very aggressive creature) and took it to an animal hospital where it underwent operations for broken bones and so forth. They studied it intently (it was a female) and even determined that it needed a root canal, so called in a dentist.  The creature was kept for some time, and then when well enough, was taken back into the mountains and released.  As I recall, the medical bill would have topped $30,000. Now, let's assume this incident has sparked your interest in wolverines, and you have decided to study this creature.  Where would you start your research? Would you go to Port Moody and wait around for another wolverine to stray by?  We all know that such would be ridiculous. You know that the creature inhabits the interior forests, so you would go there.  However, in essence all sasquatch researchers are "waiting around in Port Moody."  A few researchers (very few) are venturing in to the wilderness a little further, but really not much further that a day or so from home by automobile.  Now, like the wolverine, some sasquatch certainly venture our of the deep wilderness and are seen by road sides, in camping areas, and so forth.  However, the main population is deep in the wilderness - specifically (I believe) Northern British Columbia, the Yukon and Alaska.  I think we need to get into these areas with a full team of outdoorsmen and scientists who have been well versed on all we know.  I would say at least a six month study in any one area.   It's a tough call and would cost a lot of money, but I do believe such would go a long way towards resolving the issue. 
7. How difficult was it to organize all the items for the Sasquatch exhibit and book?
The word "difficult" is highly relative.  In other words, when you are in grade 3 and see what they are doing in grade 8, you wonder if you will be able to make it. However, when you get to grade 7 you don't have a problem.  Anyone starting from scratch on either the exhibit or book would find things very difficult.  Essentially, I did not embark on writing a book or holding an exhibit. They both sort of evolved.  I decided to create a CD on everything I could find (including all photos) that I felt were highly relevant in getting scientific support for sasquatch research.  My thoughts were to perhaps send the CD to major universities and so forth to see if I could spark some interest. About three years into this project (working on and off sort of thing) I twigged onto the idea of holding an exhibit. I sent the Vancouver Museum the CD I had created with an exhibit proposal and it was approved. John Green, Tom Steenburg, and many other researchers supported the project. I printed out the CD (it was in book format, and indeed thought along the way that it would make a good book - working more or less to that end).  As I got further involved in the exhibit, the museum stated that we should have a Catalogue of Exhibited Items. I prepared a draft catalogue and approached Hancock House Publishers as to publication.  I showed Dave Hancock the printout of the CD and he suggested that rather than the catalogue, I should have a book to accompany the exhibit. The book, of course, would be the material from the CD. It was at that point that I concentrated on creating a proper book.  Having an exhibit in hand, greatly facilitated getting photographs for the book. As you can see, a lot of circumstances came together with end results that would have been very difficult to effect otherwise.    
8. What is the single best piece of evidence for the existence of Sasquatch, in your opinion?
In my opinion, there are six "bests" in the field of sasquatch research. 
The best photographs we have are from the Patterson/Gimlin film, taken in 1967
The best sighting we have is that of William Roe on Mica Mountain, B.C., in 1955
The best footprint cast is the A.D. Heryford cast taken in the South Olympic Peninsula (Abbott Hill) in 1982
The best handprint casts in the Bob Titmus cast taken on Onion Mountain in 1982
The best set of footprints (left and right foot) is the Bob Titmus casts taken on a Skeena River Slough, B.C., 1976
The best (and only) set of body impressions is the Skookum Cast, taken in 2000 
It is difficult to point to any one of these and say that it is better than the others.  Nevertheless, if I were asked which one of these impresses me the most, it would be the Heryford cast.
9. What is your opinion of the Malaysian happenings?
I don't think the Malaysian creature is a sasquatch.  I think it is along the same lines as the Francis de Loy's creature and similar (or the same) creatures reported in South America.  Nevertheless, capturing one of these creatures would be highly interesting and would promote much more professional research on the sasquatch. 
10. What, in your opinion, is a Bigfoot?
Based on the evidence we have, bigfoot is a primate that inhabits the interior forests of North America and is occasionally seen in rural areas and on mountain roadsides.  It is highly aquatic and is very often seen in or near water. When standing fully erect, it may be over 8 feet tall.  However, like many wild creatures, it can make itself very inconspicuous. It probably subsists mainly on vegetation, fish, clams, rodents and similar food sources, that do not require a lot of physical effort to obtain. Nevertheless, it does appear to kill deer for food.  The creature has probably learned that food can be preserved in snow (i.e., by freezing it) and likely goes above the snow line to bury and later retrieve meat. It maintains a good fat reserve that enables it to exist with reasonable comfort in a cold, wet climate, and which eliminates the need for body coverings or to use fire (which it has not learned to control).  Its main population is likely concentrated in very remote forest areas. However, some of its kind (again like other creatures) wander beyond their normal range.  These are generally solitary individuals and they have learned that farms and camp grounds (humans in small groups) provide an opportunity for obtaining "easy food." As a result, they will stay in a particular area for a considerable time before moving on.  They may construct primitive "beds" or shelters and may use caves, although evidence in these respects is highly inconclusive. They appear to have some unusual habits (that we don't fully understand, but suspect they are forms of communications or some sort), such as clacking rock together, beating trees/stumps with a thick branch, piling rocks, breaking saplings/tree branches (some quite thick).  While somewhat curious with regard to humans, they are extremely wary and will generally leave very quickly when noticed by a human.  It is likely the creatures (again like other wild animals) find a very secluded spot to die, whereupon their remains are immediately consumed by other animals. As a result, no bigfoot bones have been found as far as we know. 
The most complex question with regard to the creature's existence is why has not the most intelligent creature on the planet (human beings) been able to capture, kill, or adequately document (photograph) a bigfoot.  Although there are certainly cases of reported captures and killings, nothing has been provided to firmly prove that such occurred.  Nevertheless, that this is just a simple case of "bad luck, as it were, continues to be the most acceptable explanation. I do believe our luck would change with a fully funded and dedicated search for the sasquatch as I have discussed.

20 Questions with Chris Murphy
An Interview by S. Robert Forker and Henry May
1. What keeps you interested in this field?
I am sure that my interest is kept alive for the same reason as that of others - the prospect of finding out something new, and especially something that will lead directly to resolving the sasquatch issue.  Historical information forms the basis for research on any subject, and with the internet, computers and scanners, it is possible to do meaningful research right in your own living room.  When one has the necessary resources and the time, such work is highly rewarding.
2. Meet the Sasquatch was a big hit, how do you plan on topping that book, and what lies next for Chris Murphy?
Meet the Sasquatch  was aimed at presenting the reasonably firm physical evidence we have that supports the existence of sasquatch. Other than a brief overview of the "sasquatch classics" the work does not present sightings and other sasquatch-related eyewitness evidence.  The next step is to address this evidence.
3. What is your opinion of the Skookum Cast?
When I first met Penny Birnam, the artist who made the sasquatch heads for my Vancouver Museum exhibit, I naturally spent some time with her talking about the sasquatch. Penny is a genuine animal lover who has intently studied and depicted animals in her wonderful art for a good part of her life.  When we came to the story of the Skookum Cast, I explained the whole situation, using Pete Travers' illustrations.  Some weeks later, when visiting Penny at her place, the Skookum Cast came up in our conversation. She looked directly at me with a little smile on her face and twinkle in her eyes. She gave a little laugh and said, "He fooled you, didn't he. You thought he would walk right into that mud and leave footprints, but he didn't. He sat down on the edge of the mud and reached in and took the apples."  Now, it was sort of the way she said this that gave me the feeling that she not only believed in the cast, but also (and more importantly) that she fully understood something of the nature of the creature that left the prints. In other words, it did what she would have expected it to do.  This little incident highly increased my belief in the cast.
4. What impression has the Skookum Cast left on you?
Because I know Rick Noll, and have a lot of confidence in what he says and does, I think the cast is second only to the Patterson/Gimlin film in importance as to sasquatch-related evidence.  Knowing people who are directly involved in incidents of this nature has a great bearing on the impression one gets. After meeting Bob Gimlin for the first time in 2003, and spending some time with him, I became highly convinced that the film is genuine. For certain, if either the Skookum Cast or the film are not on the level, neither Rick or Bob were part of any hoax scenario. What is even more important is that if someone wanted to hoax something with either of these two around, I would rate his or her chances at near zero. 
5. Of all of the Sasquatch supposedly caught on Film, which Films to you deem authentic?
The Patterson/Gimlin film is certainly the most credible of any films. A close second is the Freeman film, especially since Doug Hajicek did his research (it appears the creature reaches down and picks up a young one).  If people (researchers) did not know that Paul Freeman took this film, it would have received much more attention.  Freeman admittedly took some "liberties" with regard  to sasquatch evidence, so his credibility has suffered. All I am fully aware of is the hair sample fiasco in which he submitted a doll's hair for analysis. I am told, however, that he did this in dire desperation. He had apparently submitted several hairs but got no reply, so he submitted the doll's hair to see what would happen.  Naturally, it was found to be a synthetic hair and the results were publicized.  Nevertheless, given the credibility Freeman enjoyed (and continues to enjoy) with Drs. Krantz, Meldrum and Fahrenbach, perhaps his film should be given more consideration. (I will mention here that I received an astounding vote of confidence in Freeman from a reader who personally knew him and worked with him.  It has made me think much more about the credibility Freeman's material.)
6. What is the most “far out” explanation you have heard on the existence of Sasquatch?
I hope you are ready for this. The most "far out" is the theory that the sasquatch is the Biblical Cain doomed to wander the earth. As we all know, Cain murdered his brother, Able, and as a result God condemed him to wander the earth, "A fugitive and a vagabond shalt  thou be in the earth" (Genesis, IV, 12). Now, the Lord put a "mark" on Cain, which according to one theory may have been "an expression of countenance by which he was rendered an object of pity and contempt to all who saw him." The "mark" also served as some kind of a warning that Cain was not to be harmed. One might stretch this to assuming that he could not be killed.  (Aside: Although many people don't put a lot of stock in the Old Testament, it is odd that nobody, in my experience, has the first name, "Cain".) Anyway, the theory kind of falls apart because there are sightings of female sasquatch, plus more than one sasquatch at the same time.  I suppose we can again stretch things and say the condemnation extended to Cain and all of his descendants.  Certainly, that would result in a lot of sasquatch wandering around.
7. Sasquatch or Bigfoot? Which one do you prefer and why?
Personally, I wish the word "bigfoot" would not have been assigned to the creature. It is a poor word in many ways, especially in writing - it does not have a sensible plural ("bigfeet" is silly and "bigfoots" is even worse).  I have got around this by proclaiming that the word is both singular and plural (like the word deer or fish). To be consistent, I have made the same proclamation with the word "sasquatch,"  which I definitely prefer because it has some connection to a First Nations' word for the creature. I have, incidentally, got into all sorts of discussion on whether or not both words should be spelt with a capital letter. Neither word is in Webster's dictionary (least not the version I have), but the word yeti is, and it is NOT spelt with a capital letter.    
8. What do you consider your biggest contribution to this field?
In a nut-shell, getting all of the clearest frames from the Patterson/Gimlin film published in color in one (now two) books.  Not only the close-ups, but also the full frames.  Incidentally, although the quality of the close-up prints is very good in Meet the Sasquatch, I think it is better in The Bigfoot Film Controversy. Further, just so we all know, those prints were taken directly from the transparencies (like a negative) used to create the Cibachrome prints. They are therefore as close as one can get to the actual film frames. I simply lucked out here.  I asked for the prints and was sent the transparencies (I did not know they existed, although I seem to recall seeing one of them and wondered what it was for.) 
9. What advice would you give to the “new” researcher?
1. Always, always, always, carry a camera, buy one of those small ones (not a digital) and put it on your belt or in your purse. No matter where you go, always have a camera. (Note: A digital image is okay, but a real photograph is best in this sort of work.)
2. Get and read John Green's book, Sasquatch, The Apes Among Us (Hancock House Publishers). This is a  "big read" so be prepared to spend some time on it.  Also get Meet the Sasquatch, mainly for its pictorial value. This book has more pictures and illustrations that any book on the subject, and they are in color. Most of them are John Green's photos, are of his artifacts, or are related to his original research, so it ties in nicely with his book. (Note John Green and Tom Steenburg were associated with me in the preparation of this book.) 
3. Attend sasquatch/bigfoot conferences at every opportunity. Meet the speakers - simply go over and talk to them.  I have not met one who was not a very nice person.
4. If you have a lot of life responsibilities (young family, pressing career, and so forth) don't let the sasquatch become an obsession. I have mentioned that this can and has happened.  Certainly, in many ways it has happened to me, but I don't have any responsibilities and am beyond the point of assuming any.
5. Your chances of having a sighting are best when you are riding in you car in remote or semi-remote areas. Always keep this in mind so that you are prepared if the creature appears. The main reason we have the Patterson/Gimlin film is because Roger Patterson was fully prepared for an encounter. Most people are not prepared and that is why we do not have more and perhaps better photographic evidence.
10. The  Sasquatch Chronicle… Is this the working title of a new book you are working on, and if so, can you tell us anything about it?
Sasquatch sighting/incident reports form the "not tangible" side of sasquatch evidence. In other words they are what people say. They cannot be substantiated unless a photograph was taken or a cast made of a footprint.  I have attempted to put all of the photographs and casts we have (i.e., available to me) on the table in Meet the Sasquatch. I did not include sighting reports in this work other than a few classics to sort of tie in some recent history.
I now wish to address the sightings/incident reports, and am doing so in a work titled The Sasquatch Chronicle. In my opinion, these type of reports are best presented in chronological order with each report having its own space. In other words, not a running commentary. Current Chronicle books (Chronicle of America, Chronicle of Canada and so forth) that are found in libraries show exactly what I am referring to. Furthermore, I believe sasquatch stories need to be reasonably illustrated, otherwise they have a tendency to sort of meld into each other. 
Most of the stories I am providing are from newspaper or magazine reports. Those that were written prior to 1924, are exactly the same, or essentially the same as they were written. Those written in and after 1924 are re-writes for legal purposes. However, the newspaper report method is maintained.  In other words, the article appears just like a newspaper article (again, the Chronicle books mentioned show the exact style).   
Just when I will finish this work is not certain.  It will not be anytime soon.  I envision a full size book (8.5" x 11") in color, possibly 1,000 pages. 

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