Bigfoot Encounters


Bigfoot theory: Reality is what you make of it
By Lorraine Ahearn
Copyright The News & Record, Greensboro, NC
15 January 1999

There's been a flurry of activity at the Internet Virtual Bigfoot Conference, what with this week's bombshell. No doubt you heard about it -- that is, unless you were living on another planet. The planet Earth, for example.

While the masses were preoccupied with such ephemeral events as the trial of the president and the retirement of Michael Jordan, Bigfoot aficionadoes were having their busiest news week since the elusive hominid was captured on film in 1967.

A story buried in the mainstream news reported that the so-called "Patterson-Gimlin Film" -- which is to Bigfoot what the Zapruder video is to JFK conspiracy theorists -- was being branded a hoax.

This claim didn't emerge until a pair of Bigfoot trackers magnified and enhanced the pivotal Frame 352, which shows a female Sasquatch turning toward the camera as she flees across a stream bed in California's Six Rivers National Forest.

Upon close scrutiny, a suspiciously geometric object appears to be swinging back and forth from Bigfoot's waist. It's vaguely in the shape of a bottle opener, suggesting either that Bigfoot was on the way to a playoffs party, or that someone in a monkey suit was playing a trick.

But I learned a long time ago that you can't believe everything you read in the newspaper. If you want the straight, unfiltered truth, sometimes you have to swim a little out of the shallow mainstream, into the murky depths of  the paranormal, the telekinetic, the unexplained. In other words, you have to visit the Omni Antimatter Bigfoot Message Board.

Right in our midst, this is a parallel universe where the harsh light of the Associated Press and C-SPAN never shines. Here, anyone can order Bigfoot videos, join Bigfoot societies and purchase Bigfoot detection devices, including infrared night goggles and a whistle that replicates the mating call of the Bigfoot.

Veteran trackers offer tips on how to gather physical evidence for DNA testing (use baggies, and put them straight into the freezer.) There was a scientific treatise on the "Gigantopithicus Theory" of Bigfoot lineage. And a telltale sign that a Bigfoot is afoot: Look for half-eaten apples or potatoes with conspicuous teethmarks, as well as signs that large objects have been moved around in the night.But don't forget, another Bigfoot devotee counseled, that unlike the northern Bigfoot who is a nocturnal vegetarian, the southern Bigfoot forages in the daylight and eats meat. (And probably puts mustard on hamburgers.) Either way, it was easy to see why the creature has been o elusive.

"Don't make the mistake of thinking you can set out bait and then hide and observe a Bigfoot approach," a full-time tracker advises. "That won't work. They will know you are there."

But with all these cryptozoologists spending all this time on the mystery, it turns out there is more than one faction of Bigfoot theory. And there is more than one explanation of how Bigfoot has escaped capture all these years despite people devoting their lives to the search.

The alternative theories are that maybe Bigfoot isn't a biological entity at all. One school of thought is that Bigfoot is an ancient Native American shape-changing Shaman capable of time travel. Another is the idea that Bigfoot is in fact a robot, pet, or "companion animal" of alien travelers to the Earth.

"That's where it starts to get wacky," warns Matt Zuefle, a UNCG professor who in his spare time has written about the phenomenon of the Bigfoot counterculture, and why some people embrace it with a zeal that others reserve for religion, politics or NASCAR.

Zuefle, a hard-core skeptic, speculates that modern life has become so complicated that Bigfoot appeals as an unspoiled, environmentally pure, noble, and as yet unfettered savage living by his own rules right under the nose of technological man.

"He's our link to an unspoiled past," Zuefle suggests, warming to the topic."He's sort of the ultimate Eric Rudolph -- not only able to survive, but also elude us."  So maybe Bigfoot is represents our deep-seated need to believe that there are things in nature that cannot be known, no matter how many government grants and night-vision goggles we bring to bear?

Of course, there's still the problem of the bottle opener hanging from Bigfoot's waist. But a reasonable explanation is probably taking shape as we speak.
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Lorraine Ahearn is a News & Record columnist.
Posted by News & Record Online -- Copyright Greensboro News & Record, Inc.
Posted to IVBC January 17, 1999

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