Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What you need to know about evil clowns

A rash of evil clown sightings in southern California has led to copycat clownage in other cities.

It all began in the small town of Wasco, near Bakersfield, where the fellow to your left showed up to terrorize the upstanding citizenry. Some say that his clowning is part of an ongoing art project. He even has his own Twitter feed -- which is not to be confused with the Twitter feed of Creepy the Clown, an unfriendly rival who haunts nearby Bakersfield.

The copycat clowns have allegedly been seen wielding machetes and baseball bats and even guns.
One child says he was chased down the street with an ax, KGET reports.

A deputy with the Kern County Sheriff's Office told the station that there have been reports of crimes committed in the neighborhood by people in clown costumes.
We should probably discount all reports of weaponized clowns. If you decided to pull a stunt like this, would you give the cops an excuse to haul you into the pokey? I wouldn't. I would be a scrupulously law-abiding clown who just happened to look evil.

(Is a scary clown allowed to carry a folding knife? California's knife laws are notoriously vague. By contrast, under Maryland law, an evil clowns may have a concealed "pen knife" of any size. If you are intent on being an evil clown, do it in Maryland.)

One copycat clown was arrested for "annoying a minor." Why don't cops arrest the many minors who annoy me?

Evil clown reports are not new. Loren Coleman's 1983 classic Mysterious America contains a chapter on Phantom Clowns. As Coleman documents, in the summer of 1981, a flurry of news reports in several states warned of enigmatic, frightening clowns who tried to lure children into their vans.

(Would that trick ever work? Seriously, has any pedo in history ever had any luck with that tactic?)

The tale of Tuppy. At this point, it may be appropriate to mention my personal run-ins with an unnerving clown. This story takes us back to 1980, the year before the sightings chronicled by Loren Coleman. I was in college when I met Tuppy.

Tuppy favored a brown costume. (Considering his line of work, he was pretty drab.) I wouldn't call him evil-looking; he was more of a sad clown, in the style of Emmett Kelly. During that summer, my friends and I frequently encountered him as we made the rounds of our usual haunts -- UCLA, Westwood, Santa Monica and environs. On occasion, he would talk with us, making unfathomable references to sick and dying children. He spoke in a strange mumble. He never asked for money.

Although we often saw him wandering the streets and always greeted him cheerfully, Tuppy creeped us out. That creature was an omen in greasepaint: Whenever Tuppy flippity-flopped into our presence, we knew that at least one of us would suffer a hideous and immeasurably profound reversal of fortune. For example, one of us might ask a girl on a date and she would say no.

Over time, even worse things started to happen.

As that hellish summer progressed, we all became genuinely freaked out by the conjunction of bad luck and the appearances of His Tuppiness. Bad things happened every single time we laid eyes on him, and I became convinced that Tuppy was somehow responsible for the increasing number of misfortunes in our lives. (Yes, I was guilty of post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning -- but in my defense, we're talking about one hell of a lot of hoc.)

One night, I was part of a crew on a student film. The location was a working-class home on the edge of an industrial area, roughly forty miles away from our usual stomping grounds. We wrapped after midnight and packed up the car. I'll never forget the sight of the lone figure who came walking down that dark, shadowy street: Tuppy.

When we asked him why he was there, he gave no comprehensible reply. He simply sputtered something about sick and dying children.

As we drove off, I told my friends that what we all knew. "None of the footage is going to come out. Right?"

So it was written; so it was done.

The next time we saw the Clown of Doom -- near the Santa Monica Cafe, if memory serves -- was the day before I learned that my mother had lung cancer.

Tuppy's charm had definitely worn thin. Fortunately, that was the last sighting.

More clowns. Loren Coleman, a braver man than I, has continued to track the comings and goings of sinister circus folk.  Here are some reports coming out of Chicago in 2008.
In the October 2008 incidents, a man wearing clown make-up and a wig is using balloons in an attempt to lure children into his vehicle on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. Police issued an alert about a week after a man with a similar description was spotted on the West Side.

The near abductions were reported in the 8300 block of South Mackinaw and the 10000 block of South Normal, according to a community alert by Calumet Area detectives.

The man, who wears clown make-up and a wig, approached children with balloons attempting to lure them into his vehicle, but the children ran and called 911, the alert said.

The man, who wears a clown mask or white face paint with teardrops on the cheek, has approached children walking to and from school, police said. Witnesses told police he was seen driving a white or brown van with the windows broken out.

The attempted kidnapping/child abduction occurred on October 7, 2008, at 5:55 p.m. and October 10, 2008, at 8:55 a.m.

Police on Sunday morning, October 12th, said the sightings have not been concentrated to one specific area and there have been multiple sightings of clowns across the city, according to a Harrison Area Special Victims Unit detective.
Seriously, you'd think that a pedophile would use any other approach.

There were quite a few Evil Clown sightings in 2013, as far away as Northampton in the UK, Volendam in the Netherlands, and the island of Crete. Meanwhile, here in the states:
In late April of 1981, Daniel O'Connell of the Boston Public Schools sent the following memo to principals of elementary and middle schools in the city:
It has been brought to the attention of the police department and the district office that adults dressed as clowns have been bothering children to and from school. Please advise all students that they must stay away from strangers, especially ones dressed as clowns.
This sounds like a bad joke, but the memo was based on multiple reports of clowns harassing small children in the Boston area. A clown had tried to lure children into his black van near Franklin Park and the Mary Curley school in Jamaica Plain, and two clowns in a black van had offered Brookline children candy if they would join them for a quick ride.
Boys in the hoods. Some of you may have heard of a similar phenomenon involving roadside interactions with people in dark hoods. Not long ago, while perusing the wares at one of Baltimore's finer thrift stores, I happened across a scholarly volume titled Files From the Edge, by one Philip J. Imbrogno. From page 110:
In the summer of 2002, a young woman left her friend's house at 11 PM in North Salem, New York, and began her drive home to Brewster. She decided to take the back roads and drive around the reservoir; it was very beautiful that time of year. As her car turned down the Lower Magnetic Mine Road, she saw a figure standing in the road up ahead. At first she thought it was a deer, but when she flashed her bright lights she could clearly make out the outline of a person. The figure started walking toward the car and it was apparent this mysterious apparition wanted to get her attention. She stopped the car, rolled down the window, and yelled, "Are you OK?" Without warning, her car was swarmed by "at least fifteen men and women" in long red robes who pounded on her car hood and started shaking the vehicle. The woman screamed when one of them opened the driver's door and tried to pull her out of the car."
You'll have to buy the book to find out the rest of the story. (Ain't I a stinker?) Imbrogno reports that "people in hoods" accounts have a long history in this area; the earliest report goes back to 1910.

The hooded "Tau" robe is, of course, the traditional costume worn by practitioners of ceremonial magic. These robes are usually black, not red, although Squeaky Fromme and her associates once favored the "Wendy the Witch" look.

So, what do we make of these sightings? Perhaps the greasepainted enigmas in Wasco and other California towns are readers of Loren Coleman's book who have decided to maintain the tradition of Evil Clown apparitions. Something similar can be said of the roadside-attackers-in-hoods tales: I suspect that enterprising pranksters have decided to "live the lore" by dressing up as locally famous bogeymen.

The "street theater" theory explains both the Brewster magi and the Wasco clown, along with his Bozo-ized brethren.

But it doesn't explain Tuppy. Tuppy was a demon.
I have no fear of clowns, and my own feelings are the farthest thing from outright phobia of clowns (coulrophobia). Yet, even I can understand the fear of clowns, without knowing it myself. Clowns mimic and imitate the appearance of people ('folks'), but incorrectly so. In the same way that some folks are terrified of dolls, mannequins and other anthropomorphic 'things' which only incorrectly copy the appearance of man. Even if the copying error is a slight one, something off even in the slightest way, it's more than enough to induce disgust and terror.

It actually makes me wonder if, æons ago, seemingly an ævum ago, when the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) supposedly created man in his image, if the copy, humans, of YHWH was not a perfect copy. Since nothing else YHWH did was done to perfection, there is no reason to believe that an attempt to copy or clone himself resulted in a perfect copy either. Even if it did, doubtless that we have changed much since that time, since modern anatomical humans (homo sapiens sapiens) are so many generations removed from the first generations, we appeared quite differently in our initial generations.

All of it coming from failures in the copying process, in the same way that DNA often fails to transcribe properly, resulting in disfiguring diseases that appear terrifying.

Also, you may want to read upon on Rob Zombie's next flick, titled '31', which is about killer clowns. And where is that sequel to 'Killer Klowns from Out Space' that has been promised for decades. I'm wondering if it will ever happen.

I also believe that fear of clowns may be caused by an unreasonable and irrational fear of pedophiles (a fear that is so popularised and promoted today that it exceeds or equals that of 'terrorists'). Don't buy into the fear of pedophiles, don't buy into the fear of Ebola (Hemorrhagic Fever), don't buy into the fear of 'terrorists' (some would call them 'freedom fighters' or 'rebels'). These fears are stimulated for the singular purpose of control.

Rosamonde Miller put it quite eloquently when she, talking about whether we should think the world (which means human civilisation) is evil or not, said:

"...rather than referring to the natural disasters, physical pain and death we find in the natural world, more aptly describes the view of the world and the concepts we humans have created by our ignorant desire to oppress and control. Thus we create heartless mechanistic philosophies that treat sentient beings as if they were inanimate objects; commit acts and create laws that restrict and objectify other sentient beings, all in search of an illusory idea of safety and survival. We find ways to justify our ends of obtaining greater dominion and control by maintaining our psyches in fear and convincing ourselves that our actions are righteous and that they justify the means we use. We deceive ourselves and indulge in revenge by calling it justice.......... We see a great tragedy unfolding, with ignorant humanity inflicting this tragedy upon each other and upon all of nature."
Lon Chaney: "Nobody laughs at a clown at midnight."

Tuppy's a great story, Joseph. Hsve you considered doing a screenplay?
Anon: A friend of mine did, in fact, write a screenplay inspired by Tuppy.

In this story, an army led by the fearsome Colonel Striker take up arms against the rampaging menace of clowns worldwide. After all other clowns are wiped out, only Tuppy is left.

In the last scene, the Colonel has his gun pointed at Tuppy's forehead -- right between the eyes, point blank.

"You can kill us all," says Tuppy, "but you can't kill an idea."

"WHAT idea?" barks the Colonel.

"If only we had one," sighs Tuppy.

The Colonel fires. His aide adoringly says: "Good shot, sir!"

It would have made a fine film. Trouble is, the script was only 40 pages long.
Well Joseph, the problem with your 40-page screenplay is that it's just an elaborate joke. You need to have more at stake.

You've got a great mystery there in Tuppy. Is he psychic, or is he a spook? If the latter, why is he spooking you?

You could have conflict among the spookees (some of them want to kidnap Tuppy and torture him for information, some of them want to buy him beers and hang out, and some want to avoid him altogether.

You could have an arc of character of a spookee who wants to think the world is benign and then has to admit that his rational mind will not let him believe that. You could have the waking-up character lose his girlfriend because she wishes to live in a solipsistic world in which if she can keep bad thoughts out of her beautiful mind nothing bad will happen.

Bring children into the mix and that raises the stakes. Maybe Tuppy starts spooking the kids. Maybe he wants to escort them home from school to protect them from invisible threats.

There's a lot of potential that your 40 pages didn't begin to explore.

I didn't write that script. But the fact that another person wrote a script demonstrates the impact that Tuppy had on us.

The same person, incidentally, later did a pass on the Brendan Frasier "George of the Jungle" movie. Remember...? "Bad guy falls in poop: Classic element of physical comedy. Now comes the part where we throw our heads back and laugh."

The same guy later found a way to drink for a living, proving Dorothy Parker wrong.
Added note: I should note that my friend of that time did an UNCREDITED pass on GOTJ, plus a number of other films.

You may not be familiar with my very favorite Dorothy Parker quote. It runs: "Though many have tried, no-one has yet found a way to drink for a living."

That friend, and maybe two or three other people, remain living witnesses to the entity known as Tuppy. I haven't made up anything. I may have gotten a detail or two slightly wrong -- many years have passed -- but there really was such a clown.

Now that I think back on it, the sight of Tuppy walking toward us on that empty, dark street so late at night was genuinely eerie. I haven't been able to shake that image this entire night. That scene gets weirder the more I think about it.

I mean, Tuppy should have recognized us by that point, because we had had maybe nine or ten previous encounters. Yyet he said no words of recognition. He didn't seem surprised to see us.

And if he did NOT recognize us, why wasn't he at all apprehensive or scared? After all, we were four guys in our early 20s, while he was just one short, middle-aged clown.

Remember, this was late at night. A very dark and very empty street.

Tuppy walked right up to us and calmly babbled something about sick children. There were NO hospitals in that area. No reason for him to be there. Certainly not at that time of night!

He wasn't walking to his car. He seemed to have no car -- not then, and not at any other time. He had no companions of any kind. He never seemed to be working for anyone.

And think of this: Not only were we some forty miles away from our usual realm, we had been filming indoors that night. Loading up the vehicle took maybe ten or fifteen minutes -- not a long window of time for him to run into us.

What are the odds?
Reminds me of a book I read about "Sinister Yogi's" and India, before yoga became all the global fashion trend of exercise. There, the yogi's would steal children from the villages in rural India, so the legends go.
Fascinating, JB. Earlier today, it occurred to me that modern tales of child-snatching evil clowns are really variants of the tale of the Pied Piper of Hamlin.

Perhaps there are no new myths -- just old myths in new costumes.

But Tuppy was not a myth!
I now have a new perspective on evil clowns.
Love GOTJ, love Dorothy Parker (and ahem....please share the tip on how to make a living drinking!)

But back to Tuppy. I believe you. I've had an encounter with what I call a wraith. It was three encounters over three days, and the disaster was a neighboring building exploding (gas) that I might have been able to prevent. Two people died.

The wraith was very old, his creased skin clung to every contour of his skull, with a sinister stare. His targeting me was spooky....following me through the streetcar, laying one finger in the middle of my spine, then later that night on the last trains home (my streetcar was immediately following the 2nd to last train) he let the first train pass and got on mine. I fled the car and speed-walked home.

That was when I smelled gas, but didn't call to report it because my landlady was on the phone (yes, back in the day we had one landline.) The next day I went and smelled nothing, so concluded it was all part of my unusual frightened state. The next night our building shook with the force from the explosion. An old man and his daughter didn't make it out of that building.

I was upset and called my significant other to explain how that man must have been a wraith, come to warn me (or blame me---wraiths are held to be spirits who appear before their deaths) so S.O. arranged to come meet me for breakfast. As we were walking out of the house, he was trying to calm me, saying "that old man was not a wraith, why look----there he is right now."

Just as inexplicably as Tuppy, there he was, standing exactly opposite the house we were emerging from. Not walking. Standing and staring. It was some random neighborhood street, no destinations just residences.

"That just proves it!" I clung to my S.O. and noted that neither one of us had the nerve to look back as we walked down the street. S.O. saw two of the three encounters and would only conclude "it was very strange."

I lived in that neighborhood nearly 6 years and never saw the wraith before or after that. I didn't mean to write all this, but I had the flashback at the point in your narrative where Tuppy appeared at some random out of the way film shoot.
Great story, zee.

Of course, when I am my most rational self, I presume that Tuppy was just a strangely ubiquitous middle aged man in a clown costume, while your wraith was just an old dude who just happened to be...there.

But these encounters sure don't feel that way, do they?
Exactly, Joseph, they don't feel that way. Also strange how real life "coincidences" are considered "unrealistic" in fiction....
Fair Warning. Creepy clown pranksters WILL be SHOT ON SIGHT. If a someone has a weapon and comes after you then it is well within the law to kill them.
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