Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 26th, 2009
Artist’s sketch by Pete Travers of a Sasquatch allegedly seen near Jefferson in 1989 is being used to talk about the Tyler, Texas Bigfoot conference. Don’t you think this looks like someone that lives on your block? It sure does to me.
I arrived in Tyler late on Friday afternoon, following a rush to post Adam Davies’ news he’d sent me as he was in transit out of the jungles of Sumatra. I see the Brit’s use of the word “Yeti” for all kinds of hairy hominoids, instead of just “Orang Pendek,” got a few confused comments here, but, whatever, I have Texas Bigfoot to tackle for the next couple days. I’ll wait for something further on his expedition, in which he had invited the CFZ folks to tag along, for my return.
So, from Maine to Texas in one day is a big change. From fall back to summer, it seems.
My flight was uneventful, which is always a good thing to have happen. Craig Woolheater picked me up in what became, for a bit, the Cryptomundo mobile unit. Before I knew it, I got a sheet outlining the rather fast-paced activities involving the Texas organization’s members, guests, and speakers, occurring beyond the talks on Saturday.
I hear, unfortunately, I’d already missed a bird watch conducted apparently by John Mionczynski, Peter Matthiessen, and maybe John Bindernagel, very early on Friday morning. (I always enjoy going along with good birders, as they are keen observers of wildlife in general, as I recall doing in 2008, in Alberta, for example, with Royal Alberta Museum director Bruce McGillivray, author of the Field Guide of Alberta Birds, and local university professor Jim Butler.)
Ah, the first tribal event of the weekend, started appropriately, with roasted pigs.
The night’s dinner, of course, was a metaphor and a challenge for an anthropological vegan like me, as it was held at Rudy’s Bar-B-Que. Rudy’s is one of those places where they have the entire bodies of black charred pigs and sliced up carcasses a couple stabs back from the counter for all the customers to delight in viewing. To each their own, I say. To every man and woman their own culture.
I’m not really a fanatic about my eating habits, and go about it calmly and quietly. But when social events like this do happen at venues such as this one, I know I’m not going to find too much on the menu from which to eat. Ha.
In some ways it is sort of funny, for people are either concerned for me not finding enough to eat (never a problem ~ I liked the new potatoes, RC Cola, and pecan pie, just fine) or the usual ribbing (pun intended) that happens to vegetarians eating in a meat eaters heaven. This behavior ~ the fun-making ~ is always interesting to me, especially with Bigfoot people, because I know that their lives have often been filled with people laughing at their expense due to their “hobby chasing that big hairy thing in the woods.”
Oh, well, of course, my dietary lifestyle and the jokes made about it can certainly survive one more night of snickers in a life that has involved ridicule for the last 50 years from folks questioning my sanity because I’m interested in the study of Sasquatch, Sea Serpents, Snowmen, and an assortment of other cryptids. I can let the laughter go, especially in a pig palace like Rudy’s because, after all, it is just such a set up. LOL.
A frequent conference practice that I’ve decided to confront a little more aggressively, however, down here in the South, is the routine greeting I get from total strangers, in elevators, hallways, lobbies, and at dinners. This is when someone, no matter how young or old, comes up to me and says “Hello, Mr. Coleman, I’m happy to finally meet you.” Often it occurs all weekend with the same people, if I don’t try to nip it in the bud.
I’ve always disliked the technique of responding with, “Hey, ‘Mr.’ is what they called my father, don’t call me that.” It seems insulting to the individual giving you a genuine greeting, and certainly in my case, no one ever called my firefighter father “Mr.” At the firehouse they called him “Hey, Coley” or “What are we having to eat, Cook?” as he was the fire department’s primary number one staff chef, in the days when the fire department had guys go fight fires and cook when they could.
Anyway, I decided to try a new tact.
I replied, this first night in Texas, a bit more with, “Glad to meet you too; please just call me ‘Loren’ or ‘Loren Coleman, if you would.’”
I sincerely do mean this, although I also realize it does appear to be a regional cultural habit that dies hard. I appreciated this clearly later in the evening when Bob Gimlin gave a shout out when he first saw me, and said, “Hello there, Mr. Coleman.”
Bob, needless to say and deservedly so, is the “rock star” of the event, running over to all the women he could find, and giving ‘em Bigfoot hugs. All, like Bigfoot Reporter Sharonlee, enjoyed the squeezing. Some guys have all the luck.
As the night was just beginning, Bob was entertaining a small group around him even before dinner, undoing his brass Bigfoot belt buckle, joking about going on and having various cameras ready for that. It was all good fun, and the conference was certainly on its way.
The greetings were occurring fast and furiously all night. Monica Rawlins is always a delight to get a big hug from, and watching her steer the crowd is a melody in how a powerful woman can run the show from behind the scenes. Chris Buntenbah was well-organized, as always too, helping all of us prepare our presentations. The earnest BFF’s Brian Brown has a face I seem to recognize from a previous life and I look forward to his thankless master of ceremony functions.
Old buddies were there too, like Daryl Colyer, Alton Higgins, Lee Murphy, Sean Whitley, Bill Dranginis, Mike Esordi, Scott Herriott, Jerry Hestand, the legendary Smokey Crabtree and the mysterious DWA from Cryptomundo too, all the way from Maryland.
I look forward to meeting and talking to TBRC members that are around too, like Paul Bowman, Tod Pinkerton, Mike Mayes, Brad McAndrews, Marcy Woolheater, Ken Helmer, Mark Porter, Jeff Davidson, Alex Diaz, Bob Yarger, Shannon Graham, David Haring, Allen Keith, Shannon Mason, Ken Stewart, Mike Street, Jeremy Wells, Archie Worsham, Ben Worsham, and Mike Smith.
The first night, everyone was tripping over the celebrity speakers at the dinner and the reception later, including, of course, Bob Gimlin, Peter Matthiessen, John Bindernagel, and Esteban Sarmiento (whom I had a good chat with about Yetis and Tom Slick as he borrowed my Goodwill-purchased reading glasses to work out his slide presentation).
As I’ve said before, about this Texas conference, I like the diversity of genders, ethnicities, and ages. Last night I was stuck by all the young fans, from the cartoonist Laughingstock’s son to a girl with her mother from Texas, who showed a passion for cryptozoology that still lives in me. They greeted me with excitement, and aggressive searching that keeps this field alive. Sincerely, in the midst of seeing old friends, new ones, and fellow speakers, it was those smiles and burning adventurous eyes of those young admirers of my books, my television appearances, and cryptozoology and Bigfoot research in general that was the high point of my first night here.
Onward into Saturday, for September 26, 2009, holds forth the main event for the Texas Bigfoot Conference here in Tyler, Texas. I hear there’s still a few seats for Peter Matthiessen’s special presentation of the evening, so sign up if you haven’t.
Many, many people congratulated me about the opening of the International Cryptozoology Museum, and it was heartening to see such widespread grassroots support. Thank you all.
Your donations ~ from around the world ~ are important, especially with two conferences canceling in the last few weeks at this critical setup time for the museum. Think about contributing, and follow through today. Thanks!
Please click on the button below (not the one up top) to take you to PayPal to send in your museum donation.
If you wish to send in your donation via the mails, by way of an international money order or, for the USA, via a check (made out to “International Cryptozoology Museum”) or money order, please use this snail mail address:
Loren Coleman, Director
International Cryptozoology Museum
PO Box 360
Portland, ME 04112
Thank you, and come visit the museum at 661 Congress Street, Portland, Maine 04101, beginning November 1, 2009!!