One of the newspaper’s former editors was frequently heard to cry “Let the weird come to me!”
Fortunately, this aficionado of the arcane didn’t have to look too far for her daily dose of weirdness. She did, after all, work in a newsroom fully equipped with sportswriters, rubber rats and unidentifiable foodstuffs of dubious provenance.
Of course, not every fancier of freakishness is fortunate enough to work in a newspaper office, but there’s hope for the rest of you with the recent publication of “Weird U.S. – Your Travel Guide to America’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets (2004 Barnes & Noble Publishing, New York, N.Y., $19.95, 349 Pages).
Written and edited by Mark Moran and Mark Sceurman with a host of co-authors and contributors from across the nation, “Weird U.S.” is more than a simple compendium of tired old Bigfoot and Chupacabra sightings.
No, this is a step-by-step, state-by-state, dimension-by-dimension guide to everything weird ever whispered about around a guttering candle or dying campfire from San Diego to Sarasota.
Within this volume’s slightly musty pages you’ll have an opportunity to meet Mercy Brown, the Rhode Island Vampire or, perhaps, strike up an acquaintance with the Goat Man of Prince Georges County.
(What, you didn’t know they had vampires on Rhode Island?)
Most of the creatures you’ll encounter in “Weird U.S.” make your everyday Bigfoot seem rather mundane.
Take, for example, the Bardin Booger Beast.
Described as “something big and hairy,” the malodorous Bardin Booger Beast is rumored to have been wandering on the outskirts of Bardin, Fla., for years.
“Locals claim this bear-sized beast has a pig’s nose, a long, red tongue dangling out of its mouth and a stride longer than humanly possible,” Moran and Sceurman report.
And unlike some small, backward communities, Bardin doesn’t fear its local monstrosity. No, sir. The plucky Floridians have embraced their hometown creature. Residents sport Bardin Booger Beast hats, T-shirts and mugs, while local restaurants feature Booger Burgers on their menus.
Hey, it doesn’t get any weirder than that, amigos.
Or does it?
While Florida seems to have the only confirmed Booger Beast, three states have laid claim to roaming Lizard Men. Sightings of the scaly horror have been reported in New Jersey, South Carolina and Wisconsin.
The Lizard Man in Wisconsin – a historic hotbed of weirdness – is not only green and scaly, but has the ability to sprout wings and leap over motor vehicles.
And “Weird U.S.” isn’t just about Bigfeet and Boogers. It’s also chock full of weird places, from Josie Arlington’s glowing grave (Louisiana) to Devil’s Road and Cult House (Pennsylvania).
Pick up a copy of “Weird U.S.” and you also can get acquainted with the cannibal albinos of Ghost Mountain (Pennsylvania) and learn more than you’ve ever wanted to know about the homicidal maniac who haunts Bunnyman Bridge (Virginia).
You betcha …
Originally published January 2, 2005