Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cliff Barackman at the Discovery Center!

Cliff made himself available to his "peeps" at the event

Last night, Cliff Barackman rocked the house at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center near The Dalles, Oregon. His presentation was entitled, "Finding the North American Bigfoot."

In addition to Cliff's brilliant presentation, Mel Skahan and Oliver Kirk also spoke. Bob Gimlin, in a rare bonus appearance, even went into some very interesting details about his adventure at Bluff Creek that started the whole ball of wax rolling way back in 1967.

Talk about a grab bag! Saturday's event combined pop culture epithets, cutting-edge science, and Native American wisdom about bigfoots.

Thom Powell and I carpooled to the event. It was great catching up with Thom about what's new in his life. He is working on a new book about the paranormal aspects of sasquatches, as well as aliens and bizarre places like the Mima Mounds in Southwestern Washington. I'm confident that the new book will be a winner.

At the Discovery Center Auditorium, Cliff spoke a little about his life on the road filming episodes for Finding Bigfoot on Animal Planet Network. Most of his talk went into impressive details about photographs, footprints (his specialty) and more exotic hominids in places like Indonesia and the Island of Flores.

The talk lasted for about an hour, and then Bob Gimlin took the stage, narrating off-the-cuff details having to do with his experience in Bluff Creek when the Patterson-Gimlin film was taken. He mentioned new aspects of the event that I had never heard before, such as the way "Patty" smelled, now her hair reflected sunlight, and the effect her presence had on the two trail horses.

While watching Bob speak, I was reminded about one very interesting part of Cliff's talk when Cliff showed a few slides about geographic locations where Patty's feet had been photographed in a 25 mile radius of mountainous terrain. Cliff had said that the last cast ever taken was done by Bob and Roger. He thought it was possible that Patty saw the casts being taken with plaster and learned her lesson once and for all not to leave footprints.

After Bob's talk, Mel Skahan got up and spoke about his experiences in the Yakama reservation of Washington State. He went into impressive details about some of his sightings and whooped a call that sounded very much like bigfoot calls I've heard up in Southwestern Washington. Mel also narrated some interesting aspects about life on the Rez. I learned something new: "stick men" are different from sasquatches. Incidently, "Stee Yah Ha Mah" (Stick Men) are mentioned in my novel, Kultus.

Mel concluded his presentation by graphically (and humorously) illustrating how how tribal members hold tremendous respect for their tribe's elders. In a re-enactment, Mel demonstrated how silence and a lack of physical gestures on the part of tribal elders at a meeting could make a tribal member uneasy who was presenting an idea to the elders. At the time, Mel was asking permission from the elders to pursue bigfoot matters openly on the Rez by encouraging those who had experienced bigfoot activity to step forward and share what happened to them.

One elder in particular, gave her blessing for Mel to actively unite tribe members who had experienced bigfoot activity. He spent some time encouraging folks to come forward and tell the rest of the tribe about their encounters. Previously, the Yakama tribe (like quite a few Northwest tribes) had adopted a "hush hush" attitude about bigfoots. This new and open attitude happens to coincide with a more open attitude in the US media and entertainment industry about the subject.

Oliver Kirk's presentation focused on accounts from the journals of police officers in the Warm Springs reservation in Oregon and Washington. Oliver's narrative accounts were peppered with dry Indian-style humor that kept the crowd laughing. One example, "The bigfoot started yelling and breaking branches down in the ravine. My men and I decided not to go down there."

I think it's interesting that Mel and Oliver's talks brought out how Native Americans rarely "go looking" for sasquatch. All of the encounters happened when people were going about their business and sasquatches harassed them. Yes, the people were in sasquatches' territory at the time, but they were not there to "study, feed, befriend, or obtain DNA samples" from sasquatches. Rather, these folks were working jobs that took them to remote locations, recreating out in nature, and living on their own property (which happened to abut sasquatch habitats).

By the way, Oliver Kirk appeared as an "Indian cop" in two films: My Own Private Idaho and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues-- both directed by Portland's own Gus Van Sant.

Fast forward seven minutes into this clip to see Oliver's scene in My Own Private Idaho. The clip features Oliver's sense of humor: "You like your bike? Well, I'm still gonna give you a ticket."


Dining at the Speaker's Table before the talks began

Oliver and Denise enjoyed the Spaghetti Dinner on the other side of the table

Here is same model of camera that Patterson used to shoot the infamous footage. It was much more compact that I had expected, but I'm sure the camera is fairly heavy for its size.

The man in action on the stage

Guy Edwards holds up one of Cliff's rare casts that were sale for $20.

Guy and Thom Powell listen attentively to Cliff's spiel

Mike Leone (a very active bigfooter these days) is harassed by Guy Edwards and Craig Flippy

Edwards gets what he deserves for lipping off one time too many

A foot, part of iron (in the glaze), and part of clay

Cliff sells one of his casts for an absurdly reasonable price to a mountain man 

A selfie with BF is serious business

One of Cliff's many shots of tarsals and phalanges (all things foot-related that would have melted the cockles of Jeff Meldrum's heart)

Howl Plot Me (anagram)

I'm Keen Ole (anagram)

Rigid or Skunks (anagram)

This rare treat helped to make the evening complete. 

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