August 17, 2008

Monster, Mashed


By the time this column runs, I’m sure most of you will have forgotten all about the Montauk Monster. It was all the rage there for about ninety minutes at the end of July. Then Amy Winehouse stubbed her toe and you all forgot about it.

            Not me, though. There were simply too many unanswered questions. Not that I could count on the news media to answer (or even consider) them—to the media, it was just a throwaway human interest story for half-wits, unlike, say, a story about Amy Winehouse.

            So let’s begin at the beginning. The creature was described as being about the size of a dog, reddish-brown in color, with a “dinosaur-like beak” and a mouth full of small, sharp white teeth. Whatever it was, it washed up on a beach near Montauk, where it was discovered by a group of beachgoers on July 12. One of them had the good sense to snap two pictures of the beast with a friend’s digital camera.

            The story broke two and a half weeks later—an unusually (even suspiciously) long time in this age of instantaneous information dispersal. By then of course the creature itself was long gone, leaving only those (as usual) poorly-composed photos behind as evidence. It was a long enough time, however, to concoct a convenient cover story, which was quickly snapped into place. The creature, see, was a hoax—nothing but a publicity stunt for a new Cartoon Network series. A week later, the story had changed slightly, as Gothamist claimed that while the creature was still a publicity stunt, it was actually a prop from an upcoming monster movie called Splinterheads, and the photographer herself was in on it.

            It’s a neat little answer that explains everything—sort of like dismissing India’s Monkey Man as a recurring case of mass hysteria, or that Dr. Bruce Ivins was the anthrax terrorist.

            But before the cover story could be solidly planted, other possible explanations were being proposed. It was a dead dog, some said, or a sea turtle without a shell, or a skinned pig. Others remembered that the top-secret Plum Island animal research facility wasn’t that far away, and guessed it came from there. Other things had escaped from Plum Island in the past (where do you think West Nile came from?), so it’s not that far-fetched to think that maybe an experiment gone horribly wrong had either escaped or been disposed of improperly. But why would they be making monsters like this on Plum Island? Well, as most American journalists seem to have forgotten, Plum Island—a USDA lab founded after World War Two—had been taken over by Homeland Security in 2003. Lord knows what kind of crazy batshit hoodoo they’re up to there these days. (If this was in fact a Plum Island refugee, my guess is this little mutant is far from the scariest thing they have caged up there).

            Then there’s the inevitable “alien” explanation, which isn’t the most ridiculous theory up for grabs. Montauk, see, has long been the locus of strange and other worldly goings-on—things that make the hush-hush fiendishness on Plum Island seem tame by comparison.

            As one version of the story goes, shortly after World War Two (hmmm . . . ) the surviving crew members of a crashed alien spacecraft cut a deal with President Truman to share scientific information. The aliens, together with a team of military scientists (and kidnapped mathematician John Von Neumann) set up operations in the hidden caverns beneath Montauk, at the eastern tip of Long Island. Over the ensuing decades, their experiments ranged from time travel (resulting in the battleship Philadelphia disaster) to the breeding of alien-human hybrids. The offspring resulting from the hybridization experiments were said to be beautiful, blonde and blue-eyed (much like the children in Village of the Damned). These half-alien sleeper agents were sent out into the world to mingle with regular humans (mostly in Colorado) as they awaited their orders.

            The creature on the beach, some say, was—as in the Plum Island scenario—an experiment gone very, very wrong. Given that the aliens in question are supposed to look like bipedal lizards (sort of like Sleestaks, or the lizard man in that Star Trek episode where Kirk jerry-rigs a cannon), the thing in the picture might well fit the bill. Another, related possibility—those hybrid Montauk Children might have started inbreeding, creating a generation of Montauk Hillbillies. And there’s always the possibility that the creature was, in reality, one of the Montauk Children’s pets—an alien-cocker spaniel hybrid. I don’t think anyone’s mentioned that one yet.

            Given that Homeland Security is now undoubtedly in charge of the alien experiments as well as Plum Island, it’s entirely possible that we aren’t even talking about two different explanations here.

            That now leaves us with three possible explanations: it was a mutilated animal, a low-budget monster movie prop, or the result of evil alien experimentation.

            The logical, scientifically-minded types might also calmly point out that in the last few years alone, hundreds of new species of birds, insects, mammals and fish have been discovered around the world, mostly in South America. Who knows what sort of weirdies might be lurking in the waters of the Atlantic?

            But let’s dismiss that fool notion immediately, along with that “mutilated animal” idea. We all know what aliens do to cattle, right? So why not pigs or dogs or turtles, too? If it was in fact a regular but mutilated Earth creature, an alien probably did it. So we’re down to two theories—a hoax or evil aliens.

            Well, that “hoax” explanation is just too damn convenient, especially with no actual corpse to examine. Anything that simple and straightforward must clearly be wrong, so let’s get rid of that one, too.

            So now we have our answer—whether it came from Plum Island or the caverns beneath Montauk, the Montauk Monster was, without question, created by aliens and Homeland Security officials.

            Unless of course it was actually the Chupacabra, the Mexican goat sucker of legend. It fits the description pretty well—dog like, ratty-looking, sharp teeth. But if that’s the case, we have to ask ourselves, why would the Chupacabra be in New York? And how did it get from the outskirts of Tijuana to the eastern end of Long Island?

            Simple—with half the population of Mexico moving up here, I guess it makes sense. Hop in the back of a truck, and the next thing you know, here you are. In fact, it seems to make more sense than anything right now. I’d be surprised if there weren’t more of them sneaking about New York at this very minute—probably in Queens—sucking the life’s blood from whatever goats they could find.

            Well, I’m glad that’s settled. Now I can get back to worrying about that poor Amy Winehouse.


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