Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Idyll-Beast

This extract from last week's Town Crier includes images taken by staff photographer Jay Pentrack, documenting the startling encounter between Town Hall recreation kids and a surprise guest. The top image depicts the Idyll-Beast distributing Beaster Eggs, those brightly colored fur covered harbingers of spring, to the the assembled children.

The second image has been identified as Hannah Johnson displaying her portrait of the "guest." A critical examination of the image shows parallels between the artist and the image; the coloration, the hair, the rosy cheeks and bright smile are all eerily similar. Whether this is a coincidence, conscious artistic device, or an expression of the beast's message of relatedness, it invites a re-examination of the portraits posted below. Perhaps they are all self portraits. In any case the artists and the Idyll-Besat represent the best of our local charismatic mega-fauna.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Children's Hour

Outreach is a crucial part of our mission at the Idyll-Beast Research Center. We are always pleased to present our work to the scientific community or to any one who will listen. It was my privilege to address the little researchers attending the Town Hall after-school recreation program last Monday. Spring break week was apparently full of excitement; Smokey the Bear, the Easter Bunny, a real Fire Truck, and a lecture from a cryptozoologist.

I gave a slide show presentation similar to the one I have given to a number of scientific groups. I also handed out a useful "Idyll-Beast Do's and Don't's" page, helping the children prepare for a safe encounter.

Young people are full of curiosity, and this crew was brimming with curiosity. My Q and A session was unfortunately interrupted by an urgent text message informing me that an Idyll-Beast had been spotted Down Town. I hurried out of the building leaving the children a little bewildered. The call turned out to a be a false alarm (Mike Pearson again.) 

During my absence it seems that the Idyll-Beast took up where I left off.  Within minutes of my departure Idy was passing out "Beaster Eggs," and, after asking permission from Wendy, offered the kids a snack. Presented with the choice of "crickets" or "ice-cream," most votes were for ice-cream, which was lucky as the bag full of crickets had a hole in it and was now empty.

Apparently photos from this episode have made their way into the Town Crier, and I will have to evaluate that evidence separately. Fortunately, children are natural artists, and this group really came through. The following portraits display not only the talent of our young people but the variety of ways in which we witness the incredible.

The hairless or "goateed" face of this Idy contrasts to his shaggy coat. Anthropomorphizing animals is a common artistic device.

This specimen exhibits attitude. The energy of the lines delineating his furry body, the determined half-smile or smirk,  the sense of weight distributed mostly on one leg work, all together to give the viewer a sense of dynamism. I'm not sure what the "thumbs down" thing is about. 

This next piece is gripping in its wildness. The outstretched arms, the loopiness of the outlines, the crossed eyes and out-stuck tongue suggest wild abandon. Concentrated spirit of fun.

This vision transfixes us in its electrifying furriness. Within the fur a spirit, at once alien and familiar, smiles broadly and calmly. This one gives me goosebumps.

This Ursine (Bear-like)  Idy seems content in his fur. The large feet are typical, but the ears are an unusual feature. The artist actually told me this was a bear. Maybe an anticipation of Smokey's appearance?

This last image in particular seems to capture the beast's soul. The artist was at first reluctant to allow it to be published. "It's not my best work," demurred the youngster. Given the limitation of the media available (two crayons and a paper place mat) and the elusive quality of the model ("he wouldn't stand still") I think you will agree it is both promising and provocative. The Beast seems to be thinking, or at least chewing on his paw. Extremely life-like.

Thank you Wendy, and thank you artists!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Fair Report

The recent sightings of an Idyll-Beast at the Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival were made possible by the reciprocal relationship between the Idyll-Beast Research Center and the Friends of the Idyllwild Nature Center. A bond has grown between our two organizations based on our shared mission of educating visitors about our animal friends and the forest we all live in. 

As every animal behaviorist knows, social grooming is an excellent way to strengthen bonds, the “social cement of the primate world.” Grooming keeps our fur or feathers in good condition, removing loose hair, uninvited guests, sticks, leaves, birds nests, misplaced household items and other collectables.
The picture above shows a volunteer from the Friends of the Idyllwild Nature Center, “Sandy,” receiving a little attention from “Idy,” a volunteer with the Idyll-Beast Research Center. Social grooming helps build the trust essential to cooperative activities, like staffing Idyllwild’s booth at the Fair. 

What would a fair be without games of chance? In this case Idy seems to have hit the jackpot, winning a salon treatment from the helpful staff of the nearby Navy Federal Credit Union booth. Here the two intrepid ladies give him a good comb-out and plenty of hair spray. Very neighborly indeed. The fair creates a wonderful sense of community among participants from all walks of life.
In our next piece of evidence, the neighbor on the left has been identified as fair-goer Javier Lara. Peace out, man.

In this final image, titled “Best part of the Fair,” Nancy Salvatierra is captured with Idy and an unidentified male. Make new friends but keep the old. See you in Idyllwild, Nancy! 

Friday, December 20, 2013


     I recently had the pleasure to encounter members of a film crew working on the hill on a project called "the Cabin." You may have seen the signs, the trucks, the high-power lights and the troop of stylish young people at work on Tahquitz Drive this last week. The premise of the film (I may have gotten it a little mixed up) is that a cryptozoologist inherits her grandmother's Idyllwild cabin and comes here to reconnect with childhood memories while investigating inexplicable happenings that have created a stir among the locals. When the peace and quiet (and strange noises) become unnerving she seeks a roommate, eventually settling on a particularly hirsute "Heidi."  We hope the film will be ready in time for the 2015 Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema.   

     One member of the crew, Andrea, asked that I publish the lyrics of a song that has become something of a local anthem. It is traditionally sung each year at the Idyll-Beast Festival:

Idyll-Beast, Idyll-Beast,
Every season you greet me.
Tall and furry, not to worry
You look happy to meet me!

Blossom of fur may you bloom and endure,
Bloom and endure forever.
Idyll-Beast, Idyll-Beast,
Bless out hometown forever.

      Speaking of the Film Festival, cinephiles are invited to check out these posts which document Idyll-Beast activity in and around the 2012 festival. The following posts dealt with what appears to be a "treatment" actually written by an Idyll-Beast, and the Beast's reaction to one film's "stereotypical depiction of fur-covered Americans."

Remember to report you sightings to:

Happy Holidays

Monday, September 9, 2013

In Flagrente Delicto


     This tasty bit of evidence has cropped up through an “Insta-gram” account linked to one of the curators at the Laguna Art Museum.  Last week, the museum’s “Discussion With…” series of artist encounters featured local photographer Gina Genis. Her recently published book, “Everbody and their Mother: Idyllwild CA, vol 1,” was the subject of her presentation to the gathered art lovers. To make the evening more lively, Genis brought along several “specimens” to participate in a panel discussion, among them the Idyll-Beast.

     The Idyll-Beast is known to be keenly interested in the arts, especially when they involve giant pastries. A quick thinking curator, upon meeting the Beast, decided to introduce him to one the “objets” of the museum’s collection, the lovely cupcake here, part of an exhibit titled “Faux-Real.”

     The Beast found the confection delicious and their conversation “in-faux-mative.” In the ensuing photo-ops and general melee, the sprinkles that adorned the delightful frosting-covered masterpiece joined the furry conniseur’s collection “on loan” before the chagrined curator could politely usher Idy away from the gallery.

       The Cupcake in question has since been identified by OC Weekly as “Amy Caterina's delicious mixed-media social commentary Doomsday Bunker …”  What appear to be chocolate shavings on top are actually security cameras, and “[i]nside, the shelter's rations are wrapped in pink tea cozies amid shag carpeting, making the claustrophobic space resemble a little girl's playhouse refuge.” It goes to show: things are not always what they seem.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lake Fullmor Phenomenon

     This image came to our attention recently.  The sign in the background marks the pedestrian crossing near Lake Fullmor. The animal in the foreground is too blurry for definite identification, but the consensus among researchers is that it is not me. The hair is too long for starters, and given the height of the sign, the creature would appear to be at least 7 feet tall. 

     In a recent column, sometime friend of the Idyll-Beast and Press Enterprise contributor Bob Pratt  (see the column) mentioned the Lake Fullmor phenomenon. Hasty readers came away with the imression that he was speculating as to the possibility of my involvement, mentioning the supposed participation of the Idyll-Beast Research Center in the placement of several (beautiful, anatomically correct, fur covered) signs along the highway several years ago. Careful reading will reveal that although he links the new sign with the earlier ones, he notes that they are "different," and admits that he "[doesn't] know who put up the latest sign." 

     For the record: this sign is not my work. The likeness is quite good, the pose natural, but the feet are too small.  Furtermore, I do not tamper with signs other people have put up. Never have. In my opinion, the altered sign is a benefit to the community, as motorists, jaded by the ever-increasing clutter of signage, are much more likely to drive carefully when they see the "improved" version. But that is only the opinion of one researcher.

Friday, May 31, 2013

More Reports from the Archives

Over the years Idyllwilders from all walks of life have contributed a wealth of eye witness accounts to our archives. As I often say, "you can't make this stuff up." At least I can't. Below for your consideration and edification the report of one long-time Idyllwild resident.

Witness: Pat Ladd

Interview date: 1/5/2010

This happened 5 or 6 years ago. The first sighting was off of Fobes Ranch Road. Down the dirt road off the right-hand side 2-3 miles in. There was a creek back there where we went to look for rocks, me and John Schroke. You can polish and sell them. We saw multiple tracks, different sizes, big and little ones. They weren’t bear and they weren’t human, they were too big. Little ones all the way up to ones too big to be human. They were fresh. We went and brought the ranger back to show him. He didn’t know what they were, no idea. John made plaster casts of them with dry-wall plaster he had in his truck. Those cast are now lost, lost in a marriage break-up thing.

            A month later we came back to the same area. There are some really beautiful rocks for carving and selling there. Crystals too. I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. That’s when I tapped john on the shoulder, I said:

“look over there!”

“No that’s just red shank [a kind of tree]” he says.

“No, look right there”

“Oh my God.”

We backed out of there slowly. It was not growling but sneering, showing its teeth like a dog threatening or warning. So we backed out and split, a half mile to the truck.

The next sighting happened probably 4 years ago, maybe 3 and 1/2. I was going down to Clifford Dorn’s by the Boy Scout camp. Back side of Garner Valley, over the Hill off Morris ranch Road, We were driving along and I said “Stop the truck right here.” I pointed to it and he saw it.

“That’s just a tree trunk.”

I said “Watch this!”

I got out of the truck and shook my hands and butt, and it did the same thing right back, raised its hands and shook its butt, like it was mocking me. It didn’t look angry. It just turned and walked off. It was just sunning itself watching the road, across the canyon about 200 yards away, close to the Scout camp.

Another one that happened 3 or 4 years ago, we were living on South Circle. Jeff (Harron, Harrison?) was camping out over on Strawberry Creek, by the Church Camp. One morning, sun barely up, he came pounding on the door, saying “Pat, Pat, you’re not going to believe this!”


“A Bigfoot stole my sleeping bag!”

It shook him by the feet and he back-pedaled out of it thinking it was a bear. Then he saw it was not a bear, it was upright. Not a bear, not human, it was Bigfoot. He was pretty adamant about it.

            He told other stories; one of them stole a chicken from his open fire, that same year.  He heard something in the bushes. He went to his tent to get his gun… and turned to see this thing take the chicken off his fire.  He also recalled the time one of the creatures spooked a horse he was riding.

            Another person that’s seen them is Old Bruce, of Val and Bruce’s market down by Mountain Center. He sells roasted nuts and beef jerky down by the highway. They broke into his store. He thought it was people and went upstairs to get his gun. It was this big hairy thing. Lots of incidents, cabins broken into.

            Clifford too has seen a lot of them. He was a trailblazer, knows every inch of the back country up here. So did I, back in the day. He’s seen whole families, groups of them.