Episode 63: Bitchin’ about bigfoot

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Episode 63 — Bitchin’ about bigfoot — has sulked onto the internet like a surly teenage malcontent. On the show this time, Scott, Sam, and Brian display an inordinately negative attitude about all things bigfoot while musing over Todd Standing’s desire for $900,000 and his coziness with Jeff Meldrum, Melba Ketchum and her hat passing for alien baby heads, mysterious horse braids, whether or not bigfoot have mystical superpowers, giving witnesses the benefit of the doubt, losing faith in the entire mad world of bigfoot, drones and science fiction, the massive government coverup that permeates the world of sasquatchery, and of course, Donald the donkey.

Take or leave the show via iTunes, Stitcher, etc., or by using this direct download link.

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Episode 62: Refugium X

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Episode 62 — Refugium X — has hidden itself away on the internet like a population of relic megafauna. On the show this time, Brian interviews several members of the North American Wood Ape Conservancy regarding their recently concluded long-term field effort, Operation Tenacity.

Discover the show via iTunes, Stitcher, etc., or by using this direct download link.

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My dinner with Cliff

What's all over my glasses?!

The other day, I had the chance to hang out with Cliff Barackman as he passed through town after producing a new Minnesota episode of Finding Bigfoot. I’ve only ever been with Cliff out in the woods: Twice near Skookum Meadows and once in Northern California very near the Oregon border.

As I’ve said on the show many times, it’s hard not to like Cliff. He’s enthusiastic and earnest and eager to share his thoughts and knowledge regarding bigfoot. But I haven’t seen Cliff since he became a big TV star and I stepped up my association with those trying to collect a wood ape specimen. Theoretically, this could have been a prickly conversation. For all I knew, he wanted to meet so he could take me to task.

But no. Cliff Barackman is just a great guy. Period. And while we don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things, I respect him and his positions. 

Cliff related to me that he doesn’t think people should bother bigfoot. They should be left alone. He then quickly follows that up by acknowledging he, himself, can’t follow his own advice, so why should anyone else? He also thinks they’re doing just fine by themselves and don’t need official recognition or protection. He actually thinks recognition would be bad for them (but I never got to the bottom as to why). Obviously, he doesn’t think one should be turned into a type specimen. Most important to me, he does not think they’re “human.”

Regarding how their population is doing, he may be right. Or, he may be wrong. We just can’t say (and I don’t think we should take their population’s health for granted). On pretty much every other thing mentioned above, I’m on the opposite side of the fence (including his take on the Jacobs Photos and the Oklahoma Prairie Photos, for what that’s worth). 

But our conversation never became contentious. Quite the opposite. We talked well past midnight and I would have happily stayed longer except I had to get to work in the morning. As my experiences have accumulated while looking for hairy bipeds in the woods, my appreciation of those who have had similar experiences has also increased. I really enjoyed picking his brain and comparing notes and speculating about things. And, of course, gossiping about the show and the weird world of bigfooting in general.

Our evening left me with three lingering thoughts. One, you should be a fan of Cliff even if you don’t like Finding Bigfoot and even if you don’t agree with all his positions. I am and I don’t. Two, life is generally better when we’re not dicks to one another and it’s so much harder to be a dick to someone when you’re sitting in front of them with a couple of beers between you. I recommend it. Three, I hope to be able to take him up on his invitation to spend time in the woods near his home, sooner rather than later. Sounds like a grand time. 

Regarding the fact that he had just shot a new FB in Minnesota and the rumor (discussed on our show) that FB has been cancelled, Cliff said those rumors were always overblown. While the show is renewed on a year-to-year basis and, as far as I know, hasn’t been renewed yet for a new season, it’s more popular now than it’s ever been.

Oh, and I learned there’s another Bigfoot Roadtrip in the works with Craig Flipy. If you haven’t seen the first one, you should check it out. It’s a bucket of fun. 

 

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Minority report

Bigfoot isn’t very diverse. And when I say “diverse,” I mean racially. And no, I’m not writing about various ethnicities within the population of bigfoot.

Cliff Barackman attending to his adoring public

Cliff Barackman attending to his adoring (all-white) public

I’ve heard it remarked on more than one occasion that, “black people never see bigfoot.” And, anecdotally, that seems pretty true. I can’t recall ever meeting an African American interested in bigfoot. Or, come to think of it, someone of Asian descent. I know a few Hispanics who are into it. (And, off course, now that I’ve written and published these words, I’ll remember some guy who is either black or Asian…or both.)

In a New Republic article I just found yesterday (though it was written last September), we have a probable explanation:

The Outdoor Industry Associationthe top outdoor-recreation lobby in America (and based in Boulder, naturally)insists that outdoor enthusiasts “are all genders, ages, shapes, sizes, ethnicities and income levels,” but research by their own nonprofit organization, The Outdoor Foundation, shows underwhelming diversity. Its 2013 outdoor participation report notes that last year, 70 percent of participants were white. “As minority groups make up a larger share of the population and are predicted to become the majority by 2040, engaging diverse populations in outdoor recreation has never been more critical,” the report reads. “Unfortunately, minorities still lag behind in outdoor participation.”

In a front-page story today, The New York Times details these very problems facing the National Park Serviceonly one in five visitors to NPS sites are nonwhite, according to a 2011 study cited in the articleand the “multipronged effort to turn the Park Service’s demographic battleship around.” Clumsy metaphors aside, the article does a respectable job at detailing the various effortsnamely outreach, all-expenses-paid trips, and creating more national monuments recognizing minority figures in U.S. historyto increase minority participation.

The article posits that minorities tend not to go into the woods to camp and hike for several reasons:

  • They tend to live in more urban areas and don’t have easy access to forests, either as young people or adults
  • The hobby can be expensive and they under-index in average income
  • Culturally, sleeping on the ground in a tent could be viewed as “going backward” among those focused on upward mobility

This seems to me very similar to the hypothesis that the majority of bigfoot enthusiasts seem to be politically conservative because they over-index among those who live in rural environments and spend time in the woods either working or hunting. Minorities are likely underrepresented because they don’t generally get out into the forests and wild places of our country.

This seems logical. If you aren’t in the woods, for whatever reason, you’re unlikely to appreciate them, have experiences there, or even express much interest in things that happen in them. If you are and do and have, then the opposite result would be expected.

Is this a problem that needs to be addressed? I dunno. Seems above my pay grade. But if the National Park Service is successful in getting minorities into our forests over time, then I’d expect their representative percentage of bigfoot enthusiasts to increase accordingly. And all of us have reasons to make as many people as possible more appreciative of what’s left of our wilderness. 

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O, the humanity!

Watch this:

The bear appears to rescue the raven from an ice-cold death in frigid water (the video says it’s a crow, but it looks like a raven to me — according to the Budapest Zoo’s website, the bear’s a Syrian brown bear). What’s going on here? Is the bear demonstrating compassion? You’d think the bear would look at the hapless raven as an easy hot meal, but instead it seems to take pity on the bird (even after getting pecked in the snout as a reward for fishing it out of the drink). The first comment on this video is, “One of the most beautiful videos I have ever seen, is this how ‘humanity’ should be?” And it’s hard to disagree with the sentiment.

The bear appears to do something we don’t normally associate with animals. If it’s showing compassion then that means it’s able to feel empathy for the bird and its condition and, without any obvious benefit to itself, is willing to go out of its way to help. Is this “humanity?” No, of course not. It is empathy and compassion, but it’s not humanity. It’s a trait found in humans (at least the good ones), but it’s not the thing that defines us.

I bring this up because I see a lot of people interested in the bigfoot/wood ape phenomenon who want them to be human (or almost human). They draw conclusions based on presumed behavior that, to them, displays humanity. But they, like the bear, don’t have any of the concrete things that set us apart from other animals: Technology, religion, art, writing, etc.

Compassionate bears are compassionate, not human. Bigfoot who walk on two legs are waking on two legs, not human. Ravens who fall into icy-cold water are just clumsy.

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Some things we learned about Melba today

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  1. Even though bigfoot are people, she has a DNA sample from a half-human, half-bigfoot “type specimen.” The kind of type specimen she said the other day would doom its finders/creators with ancient native curses and/or government smack-downs.
  2. She can’t talk openly about what she wants to do with your money but give it to her anyway so she can do it.
  3. She has principles and refuses to lower the integrity of her study by selling-out and seeking fame. Irony, thy name is Ketchum.
  4. She doesn’t like attention. She just wants to be a scientist. Please, for the love of god, let her be a scientist. With a Brazilian blow-out.
  5. She happily takes checks, credit cards, PayPal, bitcoin, shekels, bottle caps, trading stamps, and would be happy to be remembered in your will. OK, I made that last bit up.
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Episode 61: Reverse centaur blues

it takes all kinds

Episode 61 — Reverse centaur blues — has galloped across the internet like a freakish mythological creature. On the show this time, Scott, Paul, Sam, and Brian discuss Melba’s latest scheme to separate you from your money, the ThinkerThunker giant sequoia video, Todd “don’t call it a muppet” Standing joining forces with Jeff Meldrum, Finding Bigfoot finding new life, video from Area X, the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ drone, Brian Sykes’ DNA report, scary bigfoot, and the Ohio Howl. Whew.

Snag the show using this direct download link or via iTunes, Stitcher, etc.

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