Bye, Bye Bat Boy


Bye, Bye Bat Boy

 

Years ago, I returned home from work on a blazing Northern California Indian summer afternoon.  Our recently hired landscaper was drenched in sweat, installing a drip system on a steep hillside slope that fell to a retaining wall that abutted our ranch style home.  I quickly changed and went outside to offer him a glass of lemonade.  As we sat chatting, the conversation shifted from native plants and strategies to deter deer to hobbies and interests.  Bob shared his interest in “color therapy “- – the use of lights to help people get in touch with their hidden pasts and true identities.  As I innocently probed deeper, Bob revealed that “we” were all really slaves on earth and that an alien culture had brainwashed us into forgetting that we were not here of our own free will. He may have worn tinfoil inside his pith helmet to scramble the signals from the invisible aircraft hovering overhead.  This discussion, by the way, was years before the film, The Matrix, where Morpheous asks Neo to decide whether to eat the red pill and see the truth or the blue pill and continue to live in ignorance.  Perhaps Bob was also landscaping for a struggling screenwriter.

 

I am certain Bob was among the millions of periodic perusers of the scandalous grocery store periodical The Weekly World News.   It is with great regret that I learned last week that the Weekly World News had ceased its operations.  The purgatory of supermarket check out will never be the same as I can no longer be astounded by pictures of aliens shaking hands with Presidents, moms giving birth to 17 children at the same time, the teenager who hacked into heaven on his PC and my personal favorite:  Bat Boy Discovered In West Virginia Cave”.

 

       By Bill Creighton, Special Correspondent for the WWN:  Scientists claim to have found an astonishing “bat boy” in a West Virginia cave.  The strange creature has enormous amber eyes that enable him to see in the dark and oversized ears that work like radar….The boy appears to be four years old…and has started gaining weight since scientists altered his diet from human food to a room flooded with bugs

 

For those conspiracy theorists and the criminally insane, the Weekly World News was an important lifeline fueling their suspicion that there was a whole dimension of reality that was currently happening out of the eye of the general public.  Since the mysterious crash of what was rumored to be an alien aircraft in 1947 in an area adjacent to Roswell, New Mexico,  an undercurrent of anxiety has plagued America around suppressed stories of aliens, ghosts and of course, Elvis.  Over the course of my lifetime, I am certain I spent hundreds of dollars on the Weekly World News.  I often rushed home to share with my roommates the news stories that the syndicated media refused to run such as the ghost airliner that landed, bringing back dead rock stars who engaged in an impromptu concert shocking the city of Christchurch, New Zealand and then vanished again into the night.  The lineup was a who’s who of crash victims – Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, Patsy Cline, Ritchie Valens, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Ronnie Van Zandt and Jim Croce.

 

Bat Boy held my interest longer than any other story.  He became a favorite marquee headline for the WWN.  That pesky little mutant escaped from the experimental facility where was being held.  He was recaptured.  He escaped and stole a car, rampaging across three states on a warped joy ride.  How Bat Boy actually learned to operate the vehicle was news enough.  The exclusive photos of the wide eyed, fanged freak behind the wheel of a purloined Explorer held America captive, or at least, it held Bob and I captive. 

 

From Michael Chiron, WWN correspondent:  Queen Elizabeth is reportedly set to knight Bat Boy after the intrepid freak of nature saved a British Patrol in Iraq….Palace insiders say that pressure to knight Bat Boy – who is more popular in British opinion polls than Prince Charles – will be impossible to resist…Bat Boy was later credited with helping US special forces find Saddam, thanks to the mutant’s sensitive nose and Saddam’s failure to bathe while hidden in his spider hole… Apparently, the defunct dictator was terrified and “went into hysterics “when the winged avenger leapt into his hiding place.  

 

 I read that Dick Cheney was indeed an alien which would explain his poor aim when hunting (he is much more accurate with a proton blaster) and his distain for anyone who could grow a beard.  I felt sympathy for the spouse of the logger who was held captive as a love slave by a female Bigfoot and when finally rescued had shouted at his wife, “can’t you just leave us alone? “ Talk about going native….There was the Pittsburgh man who died, went to Hell and was revived, only to report that Hell was great – – “loaded with booze, babes and one armed bandits” Perhaps, he had awoken from a blackout in Vegas.

 

I became envious of the WWN staff wondering if their Monday morning meetings resembled those of the early Saturday Night Live writers of Buck Henry, Harold Ramis, Chevy Chase, Al Franken and Tom Davis.  Was it like being a part of National Lampoon in the early 70’s where iconoclasts reigned and we were reminded to constantly question the sacred and sacrosanct?  Politics, celebrities, popular culture, religion, paranormal and historical events were all carefully reconstructed into a theatre of the absurd.  For many of us, we laughed hard.  We laughed at the audacity and the jaundiced journalism.  We appreciated that nothing was off limits and that anyone anywhere could be skewered with an outrageous lampoon.

 

In the end, the printers at the WWN fell silent.  The fact that Bat Boy was prophesized to become President in 2028 did not somehow reassure me.  It would be too long a wait.  I could not assuage my sense of depression that yet another independent view – – a twisted voice of satirical insanity was fading into the pantheons of literary kibble.  WWN was the intellectual equivalent of eating cotton candy but it was also a symbol of bizarre creativity.  It amused us and it challenged us to remember that imagination, humor and wit can find their place anywhere.  In a time where people and entire cultures are being categorized as either “friend or foe”, we need iconoclasts out there countering in their own crazy way, the absurdity of political dogma, rigid social mores and religious fundamentalism.  I am not sure anyone who sat around the editorial table at the WWN every Monday morning gave much thought to the significance of their “news”. However, in their own little way, they kept the field wide enough for all kinds of opinion. At a minimum, it made my wait in The Food Emporium a bit more tolerable. 

 

You’ll always be my wingman, Bat Boy.

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