Phantom Clowns: All News Is Local

(excerpt: Twilight Language)

The International Cryptozoology Museum has a current exhibit on the differences between Phantom Clowns (coined by me in 1981) & Stalking Clowns.

“All news is local.”

The Creepy Clown Epidemic is global. But all stories begin locally, and even national stories are written to reflect the local angle, as the old adage conveys.

Coverage can be national and local. What happens when even your hometown newspaper – in this case from the same publisher whose papers I delivered as a paperboy to over a hundred homes in the 1960s – catches up with the phenomenon?

DECATUR – Coulrophobia – a morbid fear of clowns – is spreading across the nation like a flu outbreak, and its symptoms are infecting people in Central Illinois.
Decatur police have received several calls from Facebook users worried about threatening messages that pop up, accompanied by pictures of clowns. These have turned out to be hoaxes but they are part of a coast-to-coast pattern of scary clown sightings and reports of clowns frightening people, most proving false but some real, that are intensifying as Halloween approaches.
“Social media causes stuff like this to just blow up and get way out of proportion,” said police Sgt. Chris Copeland. “I even heard that somewhere down in the south part of the country, and this might be another rumor floating around Facebook, someone actually got shot while wearing a clown suit.”
Copeland said people have a legal right to dress as whomever, or whatever, they want for Halloween. But he urges caution on where you wear a clown suit and how you behave, and says this might be a very good year to make another costume choice.
And he also has a word of warning for coulrophobia sufferers: don’t overreact. Copeland has seen aggressive messages on Facebook targeting clowns and threatening to wipe the smile off their faces with violence.
“I would also like to caution anyone thinking that, just because someone is wearing a clown suit, that gives reasonable cause to shoot them or kill them,” added Copeland. “That is not the case.”
Nationwide news reports on the scary clown phenomena have quoted instances of schools being locked down on reports of clowns wandering the campus. Rolling Stonemagazine featured an interview with author Loren Coleman, a Decatur native, who wrote about something he called “Phantom Clown Theory” in his 1981 [sic ~ the coining was in 1981, the book was published in 1983] Mysterious America.
Coleman is quoted as saying stories about clowns trying to lure children have persisted for years and can warp into a mass hysteria.
Professional clowns, meanwhile, are feeling the pain: both in their wallets as bookings get canceled and in fear for their own safety. One group met in Tucson, Ariz., recently to stage a costumed protest march called “Clown Lives Matter.” A flier for the event said: “The march is a peaceful way to show clowns are not psycho killers … Come out, bring the family, meet a clown and get a hug!”
Decatur Police Chief Jim Getz, watching the clown scare roll across the internet, said he’s not seen anything like this before. “As good as the social media can be for some things, it can be just as detrimental in other ways,” he said.
Source:
Clowning around isn’t so funny now by Tony Reid, Herald & Review, Decatur, Illinois, October 11, 2016.

Rolling Stone has mentioned me, at least twice, in their recent clown articles:

“‘Killer Clowns’: Inside the Terrifying Hoax Sweeping America: Clowns have been spotted lurking in woods from South Carolina to upstate New York,” By Suzanne Zuppello, September 29, 2016.

The Phantom Clowns, as they were dubbed by cryptozoologist Loren Coleman given their allusive nature, spread to Kansas City, Denver, Omaha, and Pennsylvania. Since the 1980s, clowns have made appearances across the country, usually in the weeks and months leading up to Halloween.

Coleman’s phantom clown theory is rooted in the “primal dread that so many children experience in their presence.”

In his 1981 [sic ~ 1983] book Mysterious America, cryptozoologist Loren Coleman coined the phrase “Phantom Clown Theory,” which refers to the way a few sightings of clowns ‘luring’ children into vans, cars and forests can turn into mass hysteria – even though no clowns are ever actually caught. He says that, though this phenomenon has existed for over 30 years, the recent spate has become worse because of social media.

“The initial sightings were classic Phantom Clowns,” Colman tells Rolling Stone, referring to the early reports in South Carolina. “Then, this was then diluted by ‘Stalking Clowns’: real people dressing up to scare, be seen and be photographed.” There is a real danger here – just not where one might expect. “Place this ‘Clown Sightings’ flap in the middle of an extremely violent year, with so many guns available, and you are going to have potentially dangerous events occurring,” he says. “Not for the ‘Phantom Clowns’ but for the human ‘Stalking Clowns’ who will be the targets of angry, scared citizens.”

Coleman’s prediction is becoming reality. Last week, students at both Pennsylvania State University and Nashville’s Belmont University announced campus-wide search parties for clowns after sightings were reported on both campuses. But an amusing evening turned potentially grim as students armed themselves with bats during the march. One student leader “underestimated the power of hysteria” that their marches against clowns would stir up. While those searches luckily stayed peaceful, videos from elsewhere, under the tag #ClownLivesMatter, show people encountering clowns, who appear non-threatening aside from their creepy ensemble, and beating them up. One video even shows a clown being beaten senseless with a baseball bat.

Other recent interviews and mentions of my past research include:

How a Maine-based Bigfoot expert found himself at the center of the national clown frenzy,” by Dugan Arnett, Boston Globe, October 7, 2016.

The article is an extensive overview of a long interview with me, as well as containing a quote from a key member of the Museum’s staff.

As assistant museum director Jeff Meuse puts it, “It’s been quite a frenzy with him trying to make sure that everyone gets a little piece of Loren Coleman.”

Please see entire article.
Creepy clown trend dates back to ’80s, but this time it’s different,” by Dean Balsamini and Melkorka Licea, New York Post, October 9, 2016.
Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman (Photo credit: Jenny Coleman)

But while the clown craze is disturbing, it’s mostly harmless and nothing new, says cryptozoologist Loren Coleman, an “investigator of human and animal mysteries” and author of 35 books.
He traced the phenomenon to Massachusetts in 1981, when children reported evil clowns attempting to lure them into vans.
The clowns were never seen by adults.
“There were no arrests, no photographs, no evidence and no abductions,” Coleman told The Post.
Soon after, the “phantom clowns,” as Coleman calls them, turned up in Providence, RI, Kansas City, Mo., Omaha, Neb., Denver, and Pittsburgh.
At the time, Coleman was working as director of the Charlestown office of the Massachusetts Department of Social Services. He wrote to 400 “fellow researchers and writers,” wondering if they had heard of the “unexplained phenomenon.”
The feedback revealed there had been similar reports in local papers. “That was the mystery. How do people in different parts of the country have the same experience? There was no internet or wire stories or national stories about this phenomenon,” said Coleman, who wrote about the sightings in his book Mysterious America.
To this day, the 1981 “phantom clowns” remain a “total mystery.”
“There are long stretches where nothing happens,” Coleman said, noting minor sightings from Phoenix in 1985, and South Orange and Belleville, NJ, in 1991.

There have been other examples. If I thought the 1981 wave of Phantom Clown sightings were widespread, nothing could have prepared me for 2016’s spread of both Phantom Clowns and Stalking Clowns events.

Channel WCSH6/NBC TV’s Katie Bavoso reports live from the Phantom Clown exhibit at the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

Tabloid Prez 2016

The tabloids seem to be competing with each other for most comedic but biting politically-related headlines during this presidential cycle. Whereas the traditional definition of tabloid journalism is of a style of journalism that tends to emphasize topics such as sensational crime stories, astrology, ufology, celebrity gossip, sports scandals, and junk food news, the current media have loved mostly the Trump, as their source. The following examples reflect what political news has become during the race for the White House for 2016.

The UK newspapers have gotten involved.
But the American press has been routinely editorial in their headlines.
Some critiques of Trump have been fact-based, but of little effect.
Ted Cruz has not been immune.
Of course, in the past, the tabloids have been the source of political commentary of the alien kind. I have not seen that this cycle, yet.

Real Animal Attacks 2015!

by: twilight language

CBS’s Zoo television series began June 30, 2015.
It is almost as if the program saw into the future.
Discovery’s Shark Week, the real kind, apparently already began.

There is something going on with the animals. There have been recent attacks by sharks, alligators, sturgeon, lion, tiger, and leopard. Despite the warning signs, in some cases, the humans ventured forth into these encounters.

Sharks



An increase of shark attacks, especially along the Carolina coasts, during the summer of 2015 has not gone unnoticed. The number is large enough for sharks to become a media story. Last time this happened? In which sharks became a media focus? 2001.

The most recent attack was ironic because it was against a past member of the media.

A former editor-in-chief at The Boston Herald suffered serious injuries after he dramatically tried to fight off a 7-foot shark Wednesday [July 1, 2015] off the coast of North Carolina.
Andrew F. Costello reportedly came face-to-face with the monster while vacationing with his family at the coastal town of Ocracoke.
Costello, 68, was swimming with his son around noon when the attack occurred.
“I could see from where I was standing that he had a big baseball-sized chunk of flesh taken off of his leg right above his knee and there was a lot of blood everywhere,” Jackson Fuqua, 15, who witnessed the attack, told The Boston Herald.
“I saw a big trail of blood from the water to where the man was laying down on a beach towel. There were a lot of EMS workers all around him and they were frantically trying to help him and work to close the wounds he had,” Fuqua told the paper.
Costello suffered wounds to his ribcage, lower leg, hip and hands, according to the paper. He is reportedly in fair condition at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.

The synchromystic world actually started talking about the “shark imagery” back in February 2015.
In 2015, on the Sunday after July 4th, it becomes “Shark Week” on the Discovery Channel.
Few remember that during 2001, the “Summer of the Shark” began on the 4th of July.
Shark attacks generally get more attention by the media than most news. Except for mass shootings, school shootings, workplace violence, and terrorist attacks.
Time Magazine in 2001 acknowledged it was “The Summer of the Shark,” even though statistically, there were less attacks than in some other years.
Alligators
 
 
But there was something more sinister waiting in the wings – 9/11, of course. First, however, another animal got the headlines; the “Summer of the Gator” happened too in 2001.
In my twilight language book, The Copycat Effect: How the Media and Popular Culture Trigger the Mayhem in Tomorrow’s Headlines (NY: Simon and Schuster, 2004), I noted the unfolding of the “if it bleeds, it leads” focus on shark and alligator attacks. The media, almost completely, forgot about animal encounters after the Twin Towers came down. Terrorism and war were the new wall-to-wall coverage for months.
The news for 2015 is now shifting to alligator attacks too.
Word reached me from the director of Southern Fried Bigfoot that a violent encounter with an alligator occurred on June 28, 2015, at Charlotte Lake, Cedar Hill Park, Wallisville, Texas. A 13-year-old boy, Kaleb, was swimming near the shore when bitten in the arm and leg by an alligator. The gator also began to pull him under the water. Kaleb’s father, James Hurley, jumped in the water, kicked the alligator off his son, and pulled Kaleb to safety. Both Kaleb and James Hurley are recovering at the hospital. Source.
Seventy-five miles away, also in Texas, there was an alligator fatality early Friday morning, July 3, 2015.

Tommie Woodward, 28, (pictured above, from his Facebook page) suffered severe trauma to a limb when he was attacked early Friday morning at the private marina, which is along a bayou extending from the Sabine River near the Louisiana line, Orange, Texas, police Captain Robert Enmon reported. The alligator was estimated to be 11 feet long.

The owners of the marina recently had spotted a large alligator on a few occasions, and put up a sign warning people to stay out of the water, police said. Woodward reportedly when told this, yelled out “F*ck the alligators,” and jumped in.

According to the Beaumont Enterprise, the incident was the first fatal attack by an alligator in Texas in about 200 years.

Cody

Then on Saturday, July 4, 2015, an 8-foot alligator grabbed Mike Karris’ 11-year-old dachshund, Cody, at the boat ramp in the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. Karris and his girlfriend were unable to rescue their dog. The last attack on a dog was more than 15 years ago. Source.

Sturgeon
There’s also a problem with leaping sturgeon. In Florida, boaters are infrequently, but routinely hurt by sturgeon jumping from rivers and colliding into people in boats.

On May 23, 2015, on the Santa Fe River, a sturgeon crashed through a boat windshield, injuring the driver of a boat. Early in June 2015, a sturgeon in the Suwanee River in Manatee Springs State Park jumped into a boat with 14-year-old Heavyn Nash and knocked her unconscious. Nash was fishing with her mother and grandfather when the 4- to 6-foot fish decided to join them.

A jumping sturgeon on the Suwannee River. Florida Fish and Wildlife

Then on July 2, 2015, a fatality took place. A 5-year-old girl was killed after a sturgeon leaped out of a northern Florida river and struck her while she was boating with her family, state wildlife officials said. Jaylon Rippy died after getting hit by the fish on the Suwannee River, south of Lake City, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in a statement posted on the Suwannee Democrat Bulletin. Her mother, Tanya Faye Rippy, and 9-year-old brother, Trevor Rippy, were injured by the sturgeon, as well.

On Friday, July 3, 2015, two adults traveling in a boat on the Santa Fe River between the Suwannee River and a Branford area campground were also struck by a leaping sturgeon, Fish and Wildlife Commission officials said in a statement.
Lion, Tiger, and Leopard

Big cats have been in the news too.
The lion that would kill was photographed moments before the attack, by another tourist (above) and by the victim (below).
On June 1, 2015, New Yorker Katherine Chappell, 29, was killed by a lion when she rolled her window down to take photographs. This occurred at the Lion Park, near Johannesburg, South Africa that had clear signs warning its visitors.
Clear signs prohibiting open windows are found at the park.

Chappell was as an Emmy-award-winning visual-effects artist on HBO’s Game of Thrones. She also had worked on Captain America and Godzilla.

The white tiger at the zoo before its escape.

An escaped zoo white tiger killed a 43-year-old warehouse worker on June 17, 2015. Police then shot and killed the white tiger in Tbilisi, Georgia. Severe flooding allowed hundreds of wild animals to escape the city zoo in this country that was part of the former Soviet Union. The tiger attack happened at a warehouse in the city center. The animal had been unaccounted for since the weekend floods destroyed the zoo premises. Doctors said the man was attacked in the throat and died before reaching the hospital. Source.

A leopard attack on July 2, 2015, also occurred in South Africa. A guide at South Africa’s most famous national park, Kruger National Park, survived a leopard attack after a tourist scared the animal away with his car.

The incident occurred Thursday afternoon at the wild animal game park as the guide drove an Open Safari Vehicle (OSV) past some leopards. One of the leopards was the vehicle’s group of people lost sight of it. The leopard had gone around to the driver’s side and jumped at the guide, clamping down on his arm.
“Everybody in the OSV started hitting the leopard with any object they had with them,” the park said.
A tourist driving another vehicle raced over and used the truck to scare away the leopard.
“We would like to thank the tourist from another vehicle for his quick and decisive action as he saved the guide and tourists’ lives,” park general manager William Mabasa said in the statement.
The guide was treated for his injuries. Source.

Washington think tank hires ‘Call of Duty’ creator to advise Pentagon on future threats to US

Screenshot from "Call of Duty"

You would think war-themed video games copy real life, and not the other way around. Not this time. A Washington think tank has hired the maker of the acclaimed “Call of Duty” game to envision the kind of future wars the US could be fighting.

The key reason for this, according to the Atlantic Council think tank, is that, with all its money and capabilities, America really isn’t thinking creatively about the various threats it could face in the 21st century.

Dave Anthony, the creator of the billion-dollar Call of Duty franchise, will be joining other authors, screenwriters and entertainment figures in an initiative called ‘The Art of Future War Project,’ set to launch next week, according to AFP.

The idea came rather suddenly, when former Pentagon official Steven Grundman walked in on his son playing ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops II,’ which depicts a 2025 cold war between China and the United States. In it, the two superpowers are vying for rare earth elements in secret missions.

“He was struck how realistic our portrayal in ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops II’ was of a future conflict,” Anthony told the news agency.

“It occurred to me that the perspective of artists on this question is compelling and insightful, and it’s also different,” Grundman was cited as saying by the Washington Post. “One feature that struck me was the combination of both familiar technologies and novel ones.”

“I didn’t want to satisfy myself with an approach everyone was doing,” he added. “It’s a crowded field of ideas,” Grundman said, explaining his belief why military think tanks alone aren’t up to the task.

According to Anthony, the game itself was the result of brainstorming by a number of creative professionals of all sorts, including Batman screenwriter David Goyer, as well as Oliver North, the former marine who later became a TV personality at the height of the Iran-Contra affair in the 1980s, when US officials secretly sold weapons to the Islamic state, despite there being an arms embargo.

“You get everybody in a room like that, and all the different perspectives come together,” Goyer said. “That combination was fascinating. What I would like to bring to Washington is that kind of thinking.”

Anthony himself also believes that the real-world Pentagon could benefit from fantasy-based thinking for the simple reason that the US isn’t preparing even for the scenarios it knows it might face, often on the pretext that there isn’t adequate funding, or that certain bridges can be crossed when reached.

Reuters / Jonathan Alcorn

Reuters / Jonathan Alcorn

So the project will attempt to “set up” the government to think of those sorts of danger. The Council admitted also that national security decision-makers could do with some “new voices” to give them a push, where imagining the mix of existing and future threats may be concerned.

“Writers, directors and producers and other artists bring to bear observations derived from wholly different experiences in the creative world,” it said in a statement.

“They can ask different kinds of questions that will challenge assumptions and status quo ways of tackling some of today’s toughest national security problems.”

Anthony is set to appear in Washington on Tuesday with the kind of presentation common to the entertainment sphere – stylish videos. One of them will be presenting a Las Vegas rendition of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, when a series of coordinated bombings and shootings carried out by Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, allegedly with secret help from Pakistani intelligence elements.

Anthony went further, saying that he sees parallels between government work and running a multi-billion dollar entertainment venture, in the way that both are high-pressure environments with many players and idiosyncrasies in decision-making, all of which require overcoming.

He believes that US military thinking is somewhat stale, and that it streamlines when it comes to making brave and risky decisions, and that’s one other thing he hopes to combat.

“The way I like to think about it is the next attack has already happened, someone has already thought of it. How do you look at all the ideas that are out there?”

“The problem is the next attack is very unlikely to be the same as the previous attack,” Anthony said, adding that even today’s Islamic State campaign by the Obama administration is ill-equipped to predict how the Islamist terrorists will strike back.

“I think this is going to be the next 9/11,” he said.