At the dawn of the 21st century, two ambitious aficionados of the arcane decided to compile a documentary about just how weird things can get in the United States. The pair, Mark Sceurman and Mark Moran, eventually published “Weird U.S.” in 2004 and their efforts proved conclusively that weirdness in America goes way beyond Dick Cheney.
But it also proved that some places in the United States have considerably more weirdness on a daily basis than others.
Admittedly, Illinois has its man-eating Piasa bird, Connecticut boasts of its eerie frog people and New Jersey has its own state demon, but most states simply don’t measure up to California when it comes to wholesale weirdness on just about every street corner.
Sceurman and Moran became aware of this dubious distinction and have now published “Weird California” (2006, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., New York, N.Y., $19.95, 301 Pages).
Don’t be surprised if you take this book home and it starts levitating. Or screaming. “Weird California” is that weird.
It should be noted that Sceurman and Moran are the executive editors of this latest bit of weirdness. Evidence of strange goings-on in California were so widespread that a team of three authors – Greg Bishop, Joe Oesterle and Mike Marinacci – were needed to tie it all together.
What they found will undoubtedly make some Californians seriously consider moving to Iowa.
The trio, of course, covered all the basic state oddities. You’ll find Bigfoot and the Winchester Mystery House in “Weird California,” but these phenomena are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to weirdness in the slightly out-of-kilter place we’ve grown to know as the Golden State.
Bishop, Oesterle and Marinacci acquaint readers with such wonders as the Riverside Bridge monster (“…It didn’t have any ears. The face was all round. The eyes were shining like something fluorescent and it had a protuberant mouth…”) and Los Angeles’ legendary underground city of the lizard people.
Underground lizard people scurrying about beneath Los Angeles? Hey, it doesn’t get any weirder than that, amigos.
And there’s much, much more.
Have you ever wondered about the attack midgets of Mt. Rubidoux or the eleven Satanic rules of the earth? Gotcha covered, pardner.
“Weird California” also will acquaint you with the late Emperor Norton of San Francisco, the giant rabbit of Tick Canyon – reputed to be more than five feet tall and weighing 150 to 175 pounds – and three-eyed beings that have been seen lurking in the shadow of Mt. Shasta.
Included in the volume are a visit to Colma, a Bay Area city that boasts 17 cemeteries within its two square miles, as well as a look at the intersection of Highways 46 and 41, where 1950s movie idol James Dean died in the twisted wreckage of his Porsche.
Litto’s Hubcap Ranch in the Pope Valley and Elmer Long’s Bottle Tree Ranch near Helendale also are on the “Weird California” itinerary.
And then, of course, there are the monkey men of Napa…
Originally published May 28, 2006