Sunday, August 03, 2008

Montauk Monster Mania

Ditch Plains Beach, located in Montauk in the ritzy East Hamptons (the favorite summer playground of Manhattan’s rich and famous) saw some interesting action during the last week of July 2008.
It all started with the gossipy gawker.com publishing an article with picture of a creature washed ashore.

The pig-like creature got the kind of free media exposure that many celebs (including our battling presidential hopefuls) crave for. It appeared on TV channels such as FOX news, CNN and was covered in broad sheets like The Telegraph and The New York Times as well as on a strew of blogs.
The critter also got international exposure in France, Germany , The Netherlands, Spain and Latin America, Italy, Australia, South Africa, and featured in a strew of blogs.

Like most urban legends, the origin of the story is murky. It all started with Anna Holmes, the managing editor at Jezebel, receiving the pic of the pig by email from an Alanna Navitski, an employee at Evolutionary Media Group, in Los Angeles. Navitski got the gross image from her friend at Harris Publications, who got it from her sister who was there with her friends and one of them took the picture.
You are still with me?
A number of eye witnessed popped up, including the illusive sister, who didn’t want to be interviewed.
How convenient.
A local who wanted to remain anonymous (what, again?!) claimed that she saw it on people's phones and that she also knows people who saw it on Ditch Plains and other people who saw it at the person's house that they took it to. Yeah, right.

The remains of the mammal have conveniently disappeared. It's no longer at the beach where it was supposedly found. According to our “witness” Navitski, an old guy came and carted it away. That would only make sense if it would have popped up on ebay, where it is conspicuously absent.

And thus, my friends, urban legends are made.

The theories about the identity of the ugly beast are plentiful.

  1. Pitbull dog – this theory was coupled with concerned dog owners worrying that it was their beloved pooch washed up on these fancy shores. Don’t worry canine lovers; the creature was not a dog, just read on….
  2. Sea turtle – the poor creature lost its shell and died homeless. That’s the American real estate crisis for you.
  3. Satan – I really like this one; I don’t think it could be Satan itself, being it so small and mortal, but may be one of its favorite pets? Did anyone check if it smelled of fire and brimstone?
  4. An escaped experiment - from the government animal-disease research facility on Plum Island, just offshore from Montauk. This doesn’t make any sense at all, since they have an impeccable safety record and are supervised by the Department of Homeland Security.
  5. It’s photoshopped – which, if it is, would make if part of the next theory:
  6. It’s a hoax – similar to the sea serpent in Long Pond (Ironically enough, the Montauk finding spouted a hoax press release allegedly from the well-know PR company Ketchum).
  7. Part of the Montauk Project – which consisted of a series of experiments (mainly in stealth technology) that took place at the Montauk Air Force Station. Since it closed down in 1987, it is highly unlikely that the creature came from there. Unless you believe in time travel….….X-files anyone?
  8. Your favorite enemy – ranging from mother-in-law, ex-girlfriend to Lizzie Grubman and Marya Carey.

So what/who is our ugly beachgoer?
Larry Penny, the environmental-protection director of East Hampton stated that it is a raccoon with a broken jaw (hence the beak-like appearance). The long fingers and size (it’s about the size of a cat) are further indications that our furless friend is indeed a very dead raccoon.
Makes sense to me…..

Personally, I like the Gawker’s theory that "it's viral marketing for something.”
In that case, prime candidates would be “Cryptids Are Real," an upcoming Cartoon Network show about mysterious, scientifically undocumented animals such as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and the Chupacabra, closely followed by Cloverfield 2, an upcoming Paramount monster movie. Considering the “source” of the urban legend, my money would be on the first.

The most likely explanation however, is that since the poor creature washed up at the end of July, and August is a notoriously slow month in PR, the story got the exposure it did – call it being at the right time at the right place. Just a damn shame the poor thing itself cannot cash in on it……