Thursday, July 22, 2010
It was said that if anyone came to the bishop of Norwich without a present the bishop’s wife would look on him as ‘the Divell lookes over Lincoln'.
A legend runs that the devil wanted to get into Lincoln Cathedral and was riding the wind outside. He slipped inside leaving the wind forever blowing round the Cathedral. A local rhyme goes...
The devil hopped up without a limp,
And at once took shape as the 'Lincoln Imp,
And there he sits a top of the column,
And grins at the people who gaze so solemn.
The hairy, cloven-hoofed, horned carving that sits cross-legged is now the emblem of the city.
Another story says that two imps were sent by the Devil to invade the Cathedral. They smashed tables and chairs and tripped up the Bishop. An angel manifested and one imp began to hurl rocks at it. The angel turned the imp to stone but its companion escaped.
The story of the Patterson film is too well known to required detailed recitation here. On 20 October 1967, Bigfoot-hunters Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin claimed an encounter with a female Sasquatch near Bluff Creek, California—site of the footprint discovery which gave “Bigfoot” its popular media nickname nine years earlier. (See “Bigfoot Just Died”, http://forteanzoology.blogspot.com/2010/07/michael-newton-bigfoot-just-died.html) Patterson captured his subject on 952 frames of 16mm film, which subsequently eclipsed the 1934 “surgeon’s photo” of Nessie as a photographic icon among cryptozoology buffs. Some unknown viewer dubbed the creature “Patty,” after Patterson.
Opinions concerning the film were then—and remain today—starkly, even bitterly, divided. Patterson’s footage was, as author Daniel Perez opined, “the Zapruder film” of Sasquatch research.3 Debates surrounding it include the camera’s filming speed, its distance from the subject, circumstances of the film’s development—and, naturally, whether or not the film itself is a fake. Largely ignored or dismissed out of hand by major scientific institutions, the Patterson film has nonetheless been subjected to repeated, detailed scrutiny, with mixed results.
Anthropologist David Daegling noted the relatively primitive state of Hollywood special effects in 1967, concluding that if the film depicted a costumed actor, “it is not unreasonable to suggest that it is better than some of the tackier monster outfits that got thrown together for television at that time.”4 Grover Krantz, Jeffrey Meldrum, and Dmitri Donskoy—chief of the biomechanics department at the USSR’s Central Institute of Physical Culture, later affiliated with Moscow's Darwin Museum—all concluded that the film portrayed a nonhuman subject.5
Contrary opinions were also recorded. Late Strange Magazine publisher Mark Chorvinsky claims, without citing a source, that Bernard Heuvelmans—the “Father of Cryptozoology” and proponent of a theory that yetis are relict Neandertals—rejected the Patterson film as a hoax.6 Primatologist John Napier, though persuaded of Bigfoot’s existence by deformed footprints from Washington State, declared, “There is little doubt that the scientific evidence taken collectively points to a hoax of some kind. The creature shown in the film does not stand up well to functional analysis.” Still, he added: “I could not see the zipper; and I still can't. There I think we must leave the matter. Perhaps it was a man dressed up in a monkey-skin; if so it was a brilliantly executed hoax and the unknown perpetrator will take his place with the great hoaxers of the world. Perhaps it was the first film of a new type of hominid, quite unknown to science, in which case Roger Patterson deserves to rank with Dubois, the discoverer of Pithecanthropus erectus, or Raymond Dart of Johannesburg, the man who introduced the world to its immediate human ancestor, Australopithecus africanus.”7
- Screenwriter/director/producer Donald Glut—involved in 37 films since 196517—who allegedly told “Strange Magazine reader Alex Downs” that he (Glut) “heard about Chambers making the suit.”18
- Animatronics expert David Kindlon, who heard the Chambers rumor second-hand from makeup artists Howard Berger and Rick Baker, but possessed no first-hand knowledge.19
- Howard Berger, who repeated the tale to Chorvinsky, citing Rick Baker as his source. When asked how Baker knew the “facts,” Berger explained, “He probably heard it from John Chambers, that’s what I figure.”20
- Rick Baker declined Chorvinsky’s requests for an interview, leaving Chorvinsky disappointed but free to speculate that “it is highly significant that Baker believed the film to be a fake. He, if anyone, would know.”21 His silence, of course, proves precisely nothing.
- Actor Bob Burns, described by the Internet Movie Database as a “world renown [sic] archivist and historian of props, costumes, and other screen used paraphernalia”—yet relegated by Chorvinsky to the status of an “ape impersonator”—was vague in the extreme. Concerning the Chambers rumor, he told Chorvinsky, “I don’t remember where I heard it from, but I didn’t hear it from Rick [Baker] at all, as a matter of fact. It is generally known in the special effects business here, that it’s kind of common knowledge that the film footage was faked by John Chambers.”22
- Jon Vulich named FX artist Bart Mixon and makeup specialist Jim McPherson as third-hand sources for the Chambers tale, but Chorvinsky cited no interviews with either, though both are apparently still living.23
- Matt Croteau, identified by Chorvinsky as “a makeup sculptor and Strange Magazine reader,” told Chorvinsky that “he had heard from reputable sources that friends and relatives of Chambers knew that he worked on the Patterson suit. This information originated from a source very close to John Chambers. Croteau’s sources have chosen to remain nameless but I [Chorvinsky] know who they are.”24 And they deserve the same respect as any other third-hand anonymous witness—whose claims, as we shall see, were flatly denied by Chambers himself.
- Makeup master Tom Burman, a close associate of Chambers in the 1960s, told Chorvinsky flatly, “Naw, he didn’t make that suit. One, he wouldn’t have made a suit that bad, and number two, I knew him during that time and in ‘67 we were doing Planet of the Apes, so we would have had no time to do a suit.”
Understandably frustrated, Chorvinsky preferred the story told by “a prominent makeup artist who prefers to remain anonymous.” That source not only branded Burton a liar, but also claimed “that Tom Burman was allegedly the person in the Patterson suit!” Mr. X’s source, in turn, was “makeup sculptor Greg Smith, who had heard it from Burman himself.”25
Once again, Chorvinsky proved nothing—but he did score a minor coup of sorts, being the first debunker to name Patterson’s alleged Sasquatch stand-in. Alas, if subsequent revelations are true, he must be dead wrong.
While digging up “the goods” on Chambers—and adding a claim that Chambers built a “Burbank Bigfoot” replacement model for Frank Hansen’s “Minnesota Iceman” after it was scrutinized by Ivan Sanderson and Bernard Heuvelmans in 1968—Chorvinsky explained his reason for never approaching Chambers directly. “I did not expect John Chambers to grant me an interview,” Chorvinsky wrote, “so I conducted this investigation with the understanding that I would be tracking down rumors.” Furthermore, he wrote “that it is important for investigators to think about rumors as they would any other information that they need to check out. Investigators, rather than shunning rumors, should go after them and try to determine if there is any basis for them in fact.”26
In which case, we must rate his effort as a monumental failure. While choosing to reject the only first-hand testimony he received, from Tom Burman, Chorvinsky failed to substantiate any of the rumors linking Chambers to the Patterson film.
But he was not done trying, yet.
* * *
More than a year after his “exposé,” in October 1997, Chorvinsky named director John Landis (American Werewolf in London, etc.) as another witness-once-removed to Chambers’s participation in the Patterson film. More precisely, he cited Hollywood journalist Scott Essman, who quoted Landis’s off-hand reference to “a makeup secret that only six people know”—i.e., that the “famous piece of eight-millimeter [sic] film of Bigfoot walking in the woods that was touted as the real thing was just a suit made by John Chambers.”27
Among the several questions left unanswered: How did Landis learn the “secret”? And how did last year’s “common knowledge” suddenly become a “secret that only six people know”? While seeming to challenge Landis, repeating his previous claim that “many makeup effects people have heard that Chambers made the suit and many believe that he did,” Chorvinsky told his readers: “I have a call in to John Landis to see if he will elaborate on his remarks. The director is busy editing the sequel to The Blues Brothers and is currently hard to reach but I expect to hear from him or a representative shortly.”28
Again, we must assume that he was disappointed. Blues Brothers 2000 hit American theaters on 6 February 1998. Chorvinsky died from cancer on 16 July 2005, without releasing any further bulletins from Landis.
In the meantime, however, Chambers himself had something to say.
* * *
On 26 October 1997—a week after the Landis “revelation” and six days past the Patterson film’s thirtieth anniversary—Bigfoot researcher Bobbi Short interviewed John Chambers at the Motion Picture and Television Fund’s retirement home in Woodland Hills, California. Seemingly unaware of the controversy Chorvinsky and others had generated surrounding his name, Chambers flatly denied either designing or manufacturing a Sasquatch costume for Roger Patterson. In the makeup man’s own words, he was “good, but not that good.”29 Chambers died from complications of diabetes on 25 August 2001, at age 78.
Curiously, while never speaking directly to Chambers himself, Mark Chorvinsky had anticipated the news that shattered his pyramid of rumors. Chorvinsky’s article from 1996 included a section titled “A Denial from Chambers,” though in fact Chambers had made no statements at that time. His thesis—as with Tom Burman’s denial of participation in a Bigfoot hoax—was a pre-emptive claim that any statement Chambers made would be a lie. Chorvinsky’s “proof”: a comment from Disney Studios makeup artist Bob Schiffer, who said, “I don’t know if John [made the Patterson suit] but I’ll tell you one thing--if he did he wouldn’t tell you. It will die with him.”30
In short, we are expected to swallow Chorvinsky’s collection of unsubstantiated second- and third-hand gossip as “fact,” while rejecting out of hand denials from two alleged key players in the Patterson conspiracy—the “ape suit’s” putative designer and his protégé, who supposedly wore it at Bluff Creek on 20 October 1967.
The mainstream media was happy to oblige. London’s Sunday Telegraph trumpeted the Landis “exposé” on 19 October 1997, beneath a headline reading “Hollywood Admits to Bigfoot Hoax.” E! Online—website for the same television network that has made global celebrities of Paris Hilton, the Kardashian clan, the Neiers siters, and others famous simply for being famous—covered the “hoax” on 20 October 1997 with a new spurious twist, claiming that “Chambers, now 75, lives in a nursing home and is unable to confirm or deny the rumors.”31 In fact, as we have seen, he could and did deny the rumors, six days later.
Curiously, E! also pronounced Roger Patterson innocent of any part in the hoax. Howard Berger—who claimed only second-hand knowledge of the alleged fraud when interviewed by Mark Chorvinsky in 1996—now floated a bizarre new theory. “It was like a gag to be played on the guy who shot it,” Berger said. “The guy never knew it was a hoax his friends played on him.”32
Never? From 1967 to the moment of his death on 15 January 1972?
Clearly, if Berger is correct, all other theories branding Patterson a hoaxer must be false.
Confused and convoluted? Absolutely.
The last word on Patty? Not even close.
1 Grover Krantz, Bigfoot Sasquatch Evidence (Blaine, WA: Hancock House, 1999), pp. 87-124.
2 Jeff Meldrum, Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science (New York: Tom Doherty, 2006), pp. 137-78.
3 Daniel Perez, “The Patterson Film: A Discussion,” Bigfoot Encounters, http://www.bigfootencounters.com/articles/forteantimes05.htm.
4 David Daegling, Bigfoot Exposed: An Anthropologist Examines America's Enduring Legend (Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 2004), p. 112.
5 Krantz, op cit.; Meldrum, op cit.
6 Mark Chorvinsky, “Some Thoughts About the Patterson Bigfoot Film on its 30th Anniversary,” Strange Magazine (October 1997), http://www.strangemag.com/pattersonfilm30th.html.
7 John Napier, Bigfoot: The Sasquatch and Yeti in Myth and Reality (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1973) pp. 89, 95.
8 Don Hunter and René Dahinden, Sasquatch/Bigfoot: The Search for North America's Incredible Creature (Richmond Hill, Ontario: Firefly Books, 1993), p. 119.
9 Greg Long, The Making of Bigfoot (Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2004), p. 188.
10 Krantz, p. 120.
11 Daegling,, p. 119.
12 Bob Young, “Lovable trickster created a monster with Bigfoot hoax,” Seattle Times, December 5, 2002.
13 “John Chambers,” Internet Movie Database, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0150357.
14 Mark Chorvinsky, “The Makeup Man and the Monster,” Strange Magazine 17 (Summer, 1996), http://www.strangemag.com/chambers17.html.
15 Chorvinsky; “John Chambers,” IMDB.
17 “Donald F. Glut,” IMDB, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0323304.
22 Ibid.; Bob Burns, IMDB, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0122591.
23 Ibid.; Bart Mixon, IMDB, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0594298; Jim McPherson, IMDB, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0574237.
27 Mark Chorvinsky, “Update: Film Director John Landis Goes Public Concerning Makeup Master John Chambers' Involvement In The Famous Patterson Bigfoot Film,” The Strange Report, http://www.strangemag.com/landischambers.html.
29 Loren Coleman, “John Chambers Denies Involvement in Patterson Bigfoot Film,” Bigfoot Encounters, http://www.bigfootencounters.com/hoaxes/loren.htm.
30 Chorvinsky, “The Makeup Man and the Monster.”
31 Ken Neville, “Bigfoot Movie: A Hollywood Hoax?” E! Online, http://www.eonline.com/uberblog/b35365_Bigfoot_Movie__A_Hollywood_Hoax_.html.
"This opinion was confirmed in 1957 by a Tibetan lama called Punyabayra, who said that the Tibetan mountain people knew of three kinds of snowmen: the nyalmo, the rimi and the rackshi bompo. The nyalmo are real giants between 13 and 16 feet high, with enormous conical heads. They wander about in parties among the eternal snows above 13,000 feet and are carnivorous and even man-eating. The rimi are smaller but still between 7 and 9 feet high. They live lower down, between 10,000 and 13,000 feet, feeding on plants as well, and are thus omnivorous...The rackshi bompo are about the size of a man"
Now when Ivan Sanderson repeated this tradition in his book Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life, he reported the same categories but at a height reduction as Dzu-Teh, Meh-Teh or the "True Yeti" and Teh-Lma, a Pygmy form. The heights were reduced such that the 13 to 16 foot tall nyalmo became the 7 to 9 foot tal Dzu-Teh, the 7 to 9 foot tall rimi became the mansized Meh-Teh and the humansized rackshi-bompo became the Teh-Lmas at only 3-4 feet tall. But he kept their habitats by altitude about the same. Not all subsequent commentators have caught the importance of this.
Sanderson gives his version of the arrangement on his page 325:
"On several occasions Tibetans of higher education have said....that they know of three distinct types of ABSMs in or around the periphery of their super-upland plateau, while, in addition, they speak of two "animals" with manlike or super-anthropoid characteristics. These latter they identify as, first a giant [macaque] monkey and, secondly the Meh-Teh [not necessarily using the same names Sanderson is attempting to standardize here. The categories definitely exist in the Tibetan mind, but Sanderson's use of these specific names is only to impress upon his readers which series of reports belonged together-DD] Of the other three "Man-Creatures" they are quite cognizant, affirming that they are first, the little dwarf Teh-lma of the lower valleys, second, the man-sized hairy one [ie, the Kaptar, Guli-avan or Ksy-Giik type-ITS]and third, something quite else. This is the mighty Dzu-Teh type...a real giant, shaggy-coated, and able to stay for long periods in the ruggedest country; dangerous, a stock raider, but possessed of an almost exactly-human-type foot.This...is not found along either the Himalayas or the Southern Tibetan rim [Incorrect if going by the very large human-shaped track, for this actually contradicts Tom Slick and Heuvelmans-DD], nor even in the Nan Shans [North of Tibet-DD], but it is confined to the unnamed triangle between these, Upper Indo-China, and the Chinese Escarpment...[Sanderson goes on to say that these are the same as the North American Sasquatches. In another place he specifies that these Dzu-Tehs keep to the highest mountains, especially the Kunluns and U-Chans, and the Eastern-Tibetan regions of Sikang and Shensi-DD]
What might not be obvious in this last bunch of specific locations, Sanderson is naming the highest altitudes above 13,000 feet altitude, and the areas alloted to the nyalmo of legend., in all of the geographic ranges listed for the types by Sanderson, what he is doing is basically reading the altitudes off of a relief chart.
Ernst Schaefer, German naturalist who was the first to discern the different habitats by altitude in Tibet and Central China, discerned distinct faunal zones of the Tibetan tablelands. The southernmost part of Tibet was the comparatively lush at just above 10000 feet, and this was the gazelle steppe. In the central part of Tibet there is the colder and drier Kiang (wild ass) steppe, 12000 to 14000 feet in elevation. And in the North ithere is the highest and coldest, barely habitable Wild Yak steppe. These steppe areas are compartmentalized by the different mountain ranges. What Sanderson had done (Without saying so) was to place the Dzu-Teh [=Nyalmo] mostly within the realm of the Wild Yak steppe and in agreement with the tradition that said that yak was their preferred prey. The Tibetan "blue" bear [grizzly bear] incidentally prefers the lower Kiang steppe instead, where food is more abundant. According to the Tibetans, the main inhabitant of the Southern two steppes would be the mansized and manlike one,preferring rhododendron thickets as wll as pine and spruce forests where they occur (at that altitude) According to the Tibetan informants, the creature that Sanderson called the True Yeti did not even usually go into the mountains but preferred to live down between 6000 and 8000 feet where the bamboo grows thickest, but "Downslope" from Tibet proper, and down deeper in the jungle valleys. A smaller form of the Wildman (Rackshi-bompo, with humanlike tracks) also inhabited those levels, but other authors identify Sanderson's Teh-lma as a sort of gibbon. The Rackshi-Bompo and Rimi would then indeed be two size variants of the same species, as Heuvelmans surmised, but Sanderson makes a separation and calls the "True Yeti" a separate type. The mansized and manlike one is thus said to range from 3 to 8 feet tall, average 5 1/2 feet, which checks out: the Dzu-Teh is said to be from 7 to 15 or 16 feet, and the tallest heights given are probably due to the trick of the lighting called "Looming" which often happens in the mountains. Probably they never really get more than ten feet tall, or twelve at the most.
Putting the evidence together, the Wildman type inhabits all levels but prefers the forests when there are any: but it also follows the gazelles, goats, goat-antelopes, wild sheep, wild asses and so on, taking the young and injured ones when possible. The nyalmo, or putative Sasquatch type, goes them one better and goes up to do the same with the herds of yaks. In both cases, snow kills probably provide them a larger part of their meat. The Sasquatch type go up so high for the specific purpose of using the natural refrigeration-they haul animal carcasses up above the eternal snowline and they can eat it year-round. All the same it is not likely that they are necessarily confined to such altitudes, only that they have an adaptation that works in that particular area. They are also said to descend to the lower levels on occasion. And of course the "Real Yetis" occasionally climb greater heights, or else there would be no tracks of their to be found and called "Abominable Snowman" tracks. And the "Real Yetis" are grouped together with the smallest size category of Wildmen in the area, average adult height being 4-5 feet only, but said to be up to 7 feet or more. If one of them left the tracks found by Shipton, then the biggest ones must still be of a pretty impressive size. This probably puts them in a size range comparable to the gorillas.
On this day in 1995 the comet Hale-Bopp was discovered. Hale-Bopp’s appearance was the catalyst for the mass suicide of the Heaven’s Gate cult in 1997 who believed that an alien spacecraft was following in the comet’s wake.
And now, the news:
Ron the border collie: the Rooney of the sheep dog...
Baby elephant attacks keeper
Whale jumps from sea - hits (and breaks) yacht
Lemurs back behind bars after crime spree
Beautiful 'lost' insect turns up anew in UK
Bad Hare Day
And ‘hare’-larity ensued…
(and with that the daily puns return like a bad smell)