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Archive for the ‘cryptozoology art’ Category

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witness sketch of the Man-Bat of La Crosse, WI, 2006

My favorite motto is “Always look behind you, always look up.” And there seems to be a lot more reason over the past few years to obey that second half of the saying.

Although they’ve proven quite controversial, many dozens of giant, flying, sometimes bat-like creatures have been spotted above the city of Chicago and its environs in the past few years by a variety of eyewitnesses. This isn’t entirely new. There have been similar reports from around the US for decades, such as those describing Point Pleasant’s Mothman, Tacoma’s famed Batsquatch and others including the creature I called the Man Bat that almost flew right into the windshield of a truck on a country road near La Crosse, WI the night of September 26, 2006. I investigated that one on site quite soon after it was seen, and also heard from other area people who’d encountered it. Overall, these and the other eyewitnesses reporting sightings across the country seem as credible to me as any other group of cryptid spotters, and I do believe this is a phenomenon worthy of investigation.

I could not help wondering, though, why some–again, FAR from all–of the Chicago flyers were appearing over popular tourist areas such as Lincoln Square, the Gold Coast and the Art Institute of Chicago. Most cryptid sightings occur in rural or at least liminal places; the outskirts of a city rather than the downtown, for instance.

The Art Institute sighting reminded me of something I’d written in a 2009 book titled “Mythical Creatures” for the Chelsea House series, Mysteries, Legends and Unexplained Phenomena, edited by my late, great and dear friend Rosemary Guiley. (The book includes the story of the La Crosse Man Bat on pages 33-34.) Also, my youngest son has an art degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), and had some first-hand knowledge of various projects people were working on.

Before I go any farther, I want to be clear; I’m offering this idea only for what it’s worth—and only as it may provide insight to some encounters with the sky critter phenomenon. There are other ideas and theories out there. I’m not offering a solution or even a suggestion that any particular individual has been involved with the origin of these unknown flyers in any known way. But let’s look at one chapter, “Mixed Up Monsters,” of the book mentioned above.

My research on  that chapter back in 2009 had led me to the various, publicly exhibited works of an art professor at SAIC named Eduardo Kac (pronounced Katz) who’d become famous for his claim that he had produced a rabbit/jellyfish chimera named Alba that glowed green under black lights. The exhibition intended to display Alba to the world never happened, however. And more importantly to our discussion here were another facet of Kac’s work involving remote-controlled, bat-like robotic figures complete with sonar. Many researchers have studied and written about these bat-bots.

One such writer, a Stanford student named Thomas Loverro, offered a paper in the Stanford Undergraduate Research Journal on Kac’s work, divided into sections titled telepresence, biotelematics, robotics and transgenic art. https://web.stanford.edu/class/sts129/essays/Loverro2.htm

These artworks were created not with brushes or chisels, but with the latest scientific equipment. Or as a Dec. 12, 2018 Chicago Reader article put it, “…SAIC’s Bio Art Lab, where art is life—literally.” This futuristic genre had garnered its own space at SAIC, a lab in the basement of the MacLean Center at 112 S. Michigan.

Loverro also wrote “… [Kac’s] 1999 Darker Than Night interactive exhibit, which is a culmination of the works examined thus far. It brings computers, robots, animals, and humans together and asks them all to communicate with each other. Kac placed a robotic bat (“bat-bot”) in a cave with over three hundred Egyptian Fruit Bats in a zoo. The robotic bat was equipped with the ability to convert real bats’ high-frequency calls to within the audible range of humans and also rotate its head, where the sonar microphone was located. Human listeners could then remotely, via a virtual reality headset, turn their head to control the bat-bot’s microphone and immerse themselves in the world of the bat.”

http://www.web.stanford.edu/group/journal/cgi-bin/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Loverro_Hum_2002.pdf

Kac’s “bat-bot,” then, literally hung out with living bats.

http://www.web.stanford.edu/group/journal/cgi-bin/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Loverro_Hum_2002.pdf

SO…it could be mere coincidence. But since Kac is a Professor Emeritus at SAIC, and is undoubtedly well known to a generation of art students and other artists, could it also be that some follower or admirer of his work may have seen some of the early Chicago Flyer reports, remembered the bat-bots and designed one with drone technology for some short flights above downtown Chicago? Over the Art Institute? Where there is an art-bio-lab? I emailed Kac at his SAIC address to see if he had any idea whether such experiments were being undertaken in the school or elsewhere, but did not receive an answer. It’s possible he never received my inquiry. And also very possible he has never heard of Chicago’s flying things.

Again, this is all mere speculation and not a suggestion that any particular person, known or unknown, is involved. It doesn’t explain sightings in any other places, either, especially those in other states. But I do think it’s a good example of how in this day and age, investigators need to look outside the cave to explore all possibilities. At least knowing that bat-bots and other bio-mechanical-genetic “things” are being invented may help keep us looking up.

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“There’s no plainer way to say it: I write about monsters.

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Illustration by Lucia Calfapietra for Read It Forward.com 2019

As in wolves that walk on their hind legs, Bigfoot, and man-bats—the spooky stuff that pounding hearts and cold midnight sweats are made of. Upon learning what I do, most people assume I’m 6-foot-3 and spend my time clomping around forests with a rifle and a rucksack, hunting for phantom animals. They’re always disappointed to learn I’m closer in size to a Hobbit than I am to Paul Bunyan and that I carry a camera rather than a machete. (I do clomp around in forests every chance I get.)

Some expect me to resemble a woodsy goth. “You look like you could be somebody’s mom,” I’ve heard young fans moan. I am indeed the mom of two somebodies, and happy for it. But the fact that I seem so ordinary may be why every interview I’ve ever had starts with something like, “So how did a rather short art teacher/journalist from Wisconsin turn into a werewolf investigator and author?”

Truth? It’s not just about the monsters. It never has been just about the monsters, as much as I adore their rippling, furry muscles and their fangs all-a-glisten with viscous drool. No, there’s something more intrinsic, something monster-like that we’re all on watch for in this world because we know it exists even if we won’t admit it. Stories and folk tales are full of this mystery factor, and they can serve to make us aware there’s a monster in everyone’s life. But sometimes the monster just stands and introduces itself.

It surprised me as much as anyone when, in 1992, I wrote a newspaper article on an alleged werewolf-like creature seen by eyewitnesses outside a small town in Wisconsin, and the story blew up worldwide. The universe then turned its astonished, glowing eyes my way, and the “hunt” ended up taking over much of my life. Somehow the creature just never seemed as strange to me as it did to most other people, and I credit a few special childhood books that I believe helped make it so.

One of these books made me decide at age 3 that I wanted to be an artist and writer, but again, it wasn’t for the love of bears, ghosties, or wolves jeering at little pigs in fragile houses.

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This book’s protagonists were two feisty kittens named Hush and Brush, who invented every color ever seen by men or angels and went off to paint the world. I remember begging my mother to read it over and over because this story, Margaret Wise Brown’s 1949 The Color Kittens, showed me both the power of words and the miracle of color. It was as close to a religious experience as most 3-year-olds can have. And I’m not even a cat person.

Despite that fact, it was another cat tale that would give my world its second wakeup call. At Herbert V. Schenck Elementary School in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1957, I was 6 years old, lying on my kindergarten nap-mat waiting for the teacher to read us something dull. Then she announced the day’s story: The Cat in the Hat, by a man with the funny name of Dr. Seuss.

Cat? Hat? I perked up, and by the time she’d finished the first couple pages I was entranced in a state of joyful shock—not only at the rhymes but at the audacious rhythm, the unsentimental artwork, and the ludicrous Cat, who seemed more sinister than saccharine. Most riveting was the scary premise of the story: Mother leaves two children alone, extremely weird character enters the home, wreaks havoc, calls in two even stranger characters that go wild on the place, and then somehow the whole mess is cleaned up and the mother never finds out. Only the goldfish knows.

The teacher had read us many books, but this one felt completely new. I didn’t realize at the time, of course, that this was exactly what Dr. Seuss, aka Theodore Geisel, had been going for when he was asked to create a children’s book that would make young kids want to read. But it worked on me. I felt the power. The Cat was a creepily benign monster, and I understood that intuitively, as young children do.

There have been other books that opened unexpected worlds. One of my favorites, by Katherine Gibson Isobel Read, was simply called Fairy Tales. Its cover illustration showed a small group of children sitting at the feet of a storytelling elf, watched over by an enigmatic and beautiful fairy. The back cover completed the scene with a high hill topped by the requisite castle and towers. I looked at this illustration so long and often that I wore the binding off the book.

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My drawing of a rather stately fairy and elf quartet done in 3rd grade, age 9.

I didn’t believe fairies were real, but I wished very hard that they were. My sister and I invented a make-believe fairy universe of beings that lived in the clouds by day and danced in streetlights at night. They had magnificent wardrobes of gowns and tiaras, and left their tiny, polished teeth in a nearby quarry where we would spend hours hunting for small quartz pebbles. This world was strangely devoid of monsters, though there are many adult folk traditions that see fairies in an ominous light.

Together these books fused art, words, and unknown creatures into a corner of my youthful mind that always made me think, What if? Their message was a promise that though strange things may happen, and that these things may bring disorder to our lives—and though there may, indeed, be monsters—we’re strong enough to face the unknown beasts, clean up the messes, and leave some beauty in the world.

It was for the love of those books that I dared to write about werewolves, and still do.

See this and other essays at Read It Forward.Com!

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I’d really rather stay on the viewer’s end of the binoculars when folks are discussing cryptid or unknown creatures, but this article “Do You Have a Werewolf Problem?” by the Trib’s Chris Borelli places me firmly on the “focus–zoom in–speculate” side of field equipment and monster tales. It’s a fun piece of writing (although I’m pretty sure I said the 60# deer left NO drag marks, and how is just turned 68 “nearly 70?”) but overall it’s a good representation of the last 27 years or so, and I’m very grateful to Chris, Chad Lewis, and Loren Coleman for their kind remarks and analyses. Stacey Wescott also created some inspired visuals that help tell my unexpected tale.

I would also be remiss if I failed to thank an alligator that recently kickstarted the whole thing by showing up in the Humboldt Park lagoon, sending Borelli in search of explanations.

The alligator also had impeccable timing as my new book, I Know What I Saw, was just released July 16 and I’m speaking and signing books in Chicago at The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square July 25, 2019 at 7 pm. And no, I was not the one who put the alligator in the water. But as I’ve learned from this occupation–and preoccupation–of mine, strangeness is everywhere, and once in a while it does you a kind turn or two.

Here is the link to chomp onLindaTribStone: https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-ent-linda-godfrey-cryptozoologist-0725-20190724-fcoddjwfwzg7fne6ljmldutaae-story.html

 

 

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Black Panthers in the Midwest? NEW FILM TRAILER RELEASE:  Return to Wildcat Mountain; Wisconsin’s Black Panther Nexus

 

 

 

 

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At first blush it seems a waste: a mountain lion’s paradise, empty of lions for almost 100 years. But nestled among the rocky crags and lush valleys of this small area in west central Wisconsin, around 150 eyewitnesses say the big cats also known as pumas or cougars are returning – indeed, have already returned — to their old lairs and watered woodlands. Both tawny-colored and, surprisingly, black-furred big cats now strut these rolling hills. Why surprisingly? Scientists say they don’t exist!

cows and barnWhite Lhasa Studios LLC (producers Linda Godfrey and Steven Godfrey) presents the trailer to a new film that tells this story of the returning cats and the people who have witnessed them firsthand.

An area reporter says the eyewitnesses are sure of what they’ve seen. Wildlife officials say most are mistaken. The residents, who range from retired police officers to Amish farmers, beg to differ. The cats are back on Wildcat Mountain, they say, and this time, they show no signs of leaving.

Please follow and like if you enjoy it. The film will also illustrate and correlate with a large chapter in my forthcoming book (see earlier post) “I Know What I Saw,” Modern-day Encounters with Monsters of New Urban Legend and Ancient Lore.”

The first scheduled showing of the documentary (rough cut) will be June 8 at the Marinette Menominee Bigfoot Conference. Watch here for updates and our fast developing schedule.

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It has a cover! And can be preordered, and is totally written. It even has pages up such as  the publisher’s at https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/565784/i-know-what-i-saw-by-linda-s-godfrey/9780143132806/   Alas, the final production will take a few more months incubation at Penguin/Random House, but I’m hoping the results will be worth it. Also, there will be a documentary film launched at the same time of the book, with a trailer reveal to be announced. And it isn’t about dogman. Not that there’s anything wrong with dogman. Watch here for links to the trailer, hoping in a month or so. Happy New Year!!!

 

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Witness sketch, submitted by Nick Gluchman

“I never heard of the Bray Road Beast until 2007 or 2008,” wrote a northern Wisconsin man named Nick Gluchman who lived in southern Walworth County until 1994. “I thought I was the only person to see it until I heard about it on TV. The minute I heard Elkhorn mentioned I felt exonerated. I’ve only told maybe four people what happened and you can imagine the responses I got. I was 34 when it happened, I’m now 65. I figured I better tell my story while I’m still above ground.

“It all starts the end of November 1987. I lost my temper and punched a door. By December 2nd my arm was swollen and turning colors, time to go to a doctor. I woke my wife up and headed toward Lakeland Hospital [outside Elkhorn, Wisconsin]. It was a clear night and and a large moon. My wife was asleep next to me as we headed north on Hwy. 12. I was in the right hand lane, well north of Lake Geneva, at 60 mph, no traffic at all, when I saw something running along the right-of-way fence which was ten to fifteen feet off the shoulder, four or five hundred feet ahead.

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Diagram contributed by witness Nicholas Gluchman

“As I got closer, I thought it must be a bear, then I was confused. My bright lights were on, and I could see it was large and running on two feet so I punched it and zoomed in on it. When I was within about 100 feet it abruptly stopped and froze in its tracks. Immediately I pulled onto the shoulder and slowly moved towards it, maybe five mph. I was within twenty to thirty feet and stopped. I still couldn’t make out what it was, it was completely lit by my lights. It looked like a pile of fur coats.”

“All of a sudden it started rising. I could see massive legs, gigantic calves and thighs, hairy butt cheeks, no  tail. It was still facing north, torso bent forward at the waist, about eighteen inches. I couldn’t see its head yet, now I’m really scared, must be a Squatch. I flashed my lights at it. It rose up further and without moving its feet, turned slowly at its waist to its left to look at me…

“Its legs were still bent at the knees, still leaning forward and already over six feet tall. I was mesmerized. It turned around to face me, it was no Squatch! Let me say at this point it never stood totally erect or stopped leaning forward throughout the experience. It had no facial hair although the head was covered in hair, all around face was clean. No wolf head. Wolf ears with a tuft like a lynx, large eyeballs, slightly jaundiced with what looked like red spider veins surrounding pupils. They were bulging out of sockets slightly glowing from within, like it had a light bulb in its head.

“It had a short muzzle, maybe an inch and a half, not like a dog all skin, not covered in hair. Bright pink, human-type mouth, two or three times wider than a person’s, outlined in red like lipstick. No hair on chest, two nipples visible, sparse hair on stomach, all pink. Super six-pack abs, no visible reproduction organs. Very long arms, with very long fingers that tapered to points, arm in begging position like a dog but out to side. Fingers pointing down and could see some pink on palms. I wasn’t able to see feet.

“The torso was short…this animal was a lot more legs than torso. The muscles in arms and chest did not match the awesome-looking legs. The thighs were about twenty inches front to back, calfs were cantaloupe size. Enormous!

“This animal looked at me with extreme hatred and malice. As its face contorted, its mouth opened in a sardonic sort of smile. The corners of its mouth went almost from ear to ear. Its mouth opened about four inches. It didn’t have canine  teeth, more like large shark teeth . These teeth were for removing large chunks of flesh, not puncturing, in my opinion.

Instead of standing erect to look at me, it had to tilt its head way back to see me. I don’t think it was capable of standing totally erect. Its chest was heaving up and down with large blasts of vapor from its nose and mouth. It was tired of flight and ready to stand its ground and fight. It was moving its head back and forth to the right shoulder, then left. I’m sure it was making some kind of sound or howl. The windows were up and I couldn’t hear. I’ve never been that scared or more fascinated. I didn’t want to blink for fear of missing something. My heart was beating hard. We just looked at each other, I figure about thirty seconds or more. I was in a trance-like state.

“My foot unintentionally relaxed off the brake pedal and the truck eased forward a few inches. Instantly it jumped straight up and landed on the other side of the right-of-way fence. The fence was fifty inches off the ground. I know this because erecting fences is what I did for a living. It cleared it with a couple feet to spare. It took a final look at me. I started yelling for my wife to look and shook her, as it ran in a zig-zag pattern for the tree line, which was about 100-125 yards away. Linda, it ran at a speed no biped will ever achieve. It was cartoon-like; it was a blur. No animal on earth runs a zigzag pattern, they run straight for the woods. [His wife did not wake up in time to see it.]

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Diagram submitted by Nicholas Gluchman

“That animal, in my opinion, had human intelligence, like it thought I had a gun. If I thought someone was going to shoot me that’s what I’d do. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think about this, for the last thirty years. My description of the animal is spot on. Everything I’ve told you is the truth. I feel great getting this off my mind. I’ve learned one thing from this: There are things that go bump in the night.”

It thought it was better than me…

I talked to Nick later and he added a few more details about the creature’s facial expression. He said,
“It thought it was better than me; it had a human aspect in its face.” He also added that he felt the creature weight was about 400 pounds and that it stood six and one half to seven feet tall and would be taller if it it had been standing straight up. The eyes with red veins glowed yellow, he said, and the hair was dark to light brown and stiff, and the ears were upright like a German shepherd’s.

Regarding its movements, he said, “When it was running and came to a stop, it tucked its arms in, bent its head down and made itself small. “It didn’t know I saw it,” he said. And he emphasized that the evasive running pattern was made with sharp turns, not circles (see his drawing of this.)

Nick also said that he was uncertain that the month of the incident was November, so he asked Lakeland Hospital to check their records for the night his arm was treated and it was December 2, 1987, just as he had said.  That was four years before my original article on The Beast of Bray Road was first published.

Nick added his own drawing of the creature which does look much more like a canine than a Bigfoot. The exact location must have been about four miles from where Hwy. 12 crosses the southwest end of Bray Road in Elkhorn. It may have been heading from the Lake Como area just north of Lake Geneva.

There are a few things such as the shorter muzzle and heavier weight that are a bit out of the norm for dogman descriptions, but nothing that hasn’t occasionally been mentioned elsewhere. His report is one of the most detailed I’ve ever received, and I think the location is close enough to the other Elkhorn area sightings to count this one as an official “Beast of Bray Road.”

I’m glad he decided to share it after 30 years, and I can’t help but wonder how many other untold sightings are still out there waiting to be heard.

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1994 artwork by Linda S. Godfrey created for The Week newspaper in So. Wisconsin

From the Cryptid Art Department Files:

I was pretty excited back in 1994 when comedian Bobcat Goldthwaite came to Walworth County, especially since I got to write a story on his visit and also make an illustration. It was only about two years after the initial Beast of Bray Road story and I wasn’t implying any connection between Bobcat and the Beast. But I think he got a kick out of it.

Here is another drawing made a year earlier, in 1993, as an editorial cartoon for a local issue. I believe the problem at the time was that property tax rates had been frozen and school districts were trying to get them unfrozen to increase school funding. Two sides with good arguments! One of the county school districts is the Bigfoot School District in Walworth, which was named for a local Potawatomi chieftain, NOT Sasquatch.

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Drawing by Linda S. Godfrey, 1993, created for The Week Newspaper, So. Wisconsin

I post them here for fun and also because some recent documentaries have shown interest in my illustrations of other cryptid artwork figures than upright canines. I have 10 years worth created for The Week alone but don’t worry: I won’t post them all. I just wanted to show I don’t play favorites when it comes to unknown creatures!

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