What Lies Below, Day Forty
Exploring the Depths of the Infamous “Conspiracy Iceberg”
Welcome back! We’re entering the Eight of Twenty Tiers today. It’s pretty wild that we’re not even halfway there, huh? Well fret not, today has a good mix — including Nixon’s first appearance!
HOER-VERDE — This was a village of about 600 people in Brazil. One day everyone vanished without a trace, and attempts to find them never turned up anything. It was thought maybe the people had fled local political conflict, but this isn’t a very satisfactory answer for how 600 people could blink out and not leave a trace of passage or ever reappear elsewhere. Allegedly, “there is no salvation” was found written on a chalkboard — maybe a message or just part of a lesson.
Then again, a lot of people say this is all just a ghost story and there never was any such town. Hard to confirm. Two ghost town items in a row!
BRADBURY BUILDING — A well-known landmark in Los Angeles; it’s a tourist attraction that has been in a bunch of television and film due to its unique architecture: Blade Runner being maybe the most famous. The building isn’t even that big, just five stories, but the interior is full of stairways and walkways and things that really give it a cool aesthetic. But that’s not why it’s on the iceberg!
This rich Bradbury guy wanted the building and wanted a guy named George Wyman to build it. Wyman wasn’t interested, so the story goes, until he used a planchette board(basically a Ouija board) to talk to his dead brother. Then he built this very unique, famous building! Other people think he just stole the plans from a guy named Hunt who’d drawn them up for Bradbury already, but that’s way less interesting!
“STICK INDIANS” — A legend whose origins are with Indigenous American people. They are maybe cryptids or maybe spirits or maybe other people who are just…different. There are different tellings of them, but they’re usually more or less human-like in appearance but range from being troublemakers to being outright sinister and evil. They are nocturnal, their language sounds like forest noises, and they have strange abilities to mess with people who get caught out alone at night.
CUBAN YELLOW BALLOONS — This is a very “verified” real thing and definitely weird. In the 60s, a US Coast Guard ship found a floating crate that…and I am not kidding, was apparently labeled “PROPERTY OF THE USSR”. Inside were inflated yellow balloons. Apparently they were filled with regular air, or at least nothing that US authorities detected. Another crate was also seemingly found, already empty. Both may or may not have been addressed to a Cuban institute, hence the name. These crates also supposedly had a listed weight that was much higher than the actual weight of the balloons.
Lots of speculation, but no one knows. Repackaged for some reason? The balloons were just packing material and whatever was in there was long gone? Coverup? Hoax? Prank?
MAO-YALE — So there’s a nonprofit called Yale-China(formerly Yale-In-China) that is meant to bridge the two cultures and provide opportunities and bla bla bla. They’ve been around a while, and about a hundred years ago they reached out to an up-and-coming scholar named Mao. As in, Chairman Mao or Great Leap Forward Mao. He wound up editing their student paper and it did very well. Later, the group helped him open a bookstore where he sold political literature and did a lot of organizing. It was all this that got him a place in the Communist Party and…well, the rest is well documented history. I’ve seen some speculation that this was all some sort of op but…I don’t know, I don’t really see it. A little too deep on the iceberg if you ask me!
COTTON HOLLOW GIANT — A pretty obscure cryptid(?) case. Some turn-of-the-century newspaper in Connecticut told a story of some men walking home and encountering a man twice their height. He popped out of the bushes, asked them how far to town, then ran off when they answered. That’s it! Still comes up now and then; uncertain if it was a large man or a Bigfoot. Despite being just one story from a long long time ago, I think it still circulates because Connecticut is under-represented in terms of weird stuff as compared to other nearby states.
BRANDON LEE MURDERED BY CHINESE MAFIA — If you’re not familiar, Brandon Lee was the son of legendary martial artist and film star Bruce Lee. Brandon followed suit in both areas, and was showing promise as an actor. He played the titular character in The Crow, but was killed during filming due to an apparent accident regarding the prop gun and the dummy/blank rounds that had been used in it. Basically, there’d been a scene using dummy rounds(bullets with no powder that can’t fire) and one had lodged in the barrel, unknown to anyone. Later, blanks were put in(powder and charge but no real bullet). When the gun was fired, the blank blew the dummy out and it ended up functioning just like any other bullet would, fatally wounding Lee.
There was already an old conspiracy that mysterious agents of the “Chinese Mafia” had had a vendetta with Bruce Lee and had killed him for “exposing secrets” of martial arts and whatnot, and this conspiracy soon drifted over to Brandon as well. There’s also rumors that there was some kind of curse on the family. There isn’t a whole lot of evidence here, but lots of circumstantial and weird things. I mean, the scene being filmed when he died was meant to be the scene where his character died as well — and that kind of weird coincidence is always going to make people squint.
OSWALD DOPPLEGANGERS — This is as simple as it sounds, and is a theory stretching all the way back to right after JFK was killed. As with any conspiracy that’s been around 50+ years, there are multiple variations. The basic thread is that there was a second “Oswald” who was a plant of the CIA or some other group. The double lived a nearly identical parallel life but was either a willing agent or a victim of some sort of brainwashing, and the Oswald who wound up taking the fall was just a patsy. It’s…a little convoluted, but a lot of JFK theories are. There’s plenty of books and articles on this, with a scattering of evidence like picture lineups showing the alleged different Oswalds, meticulous timelines of their apparent separate lives, and so on.
GREYS=FUTURE HUMANS — ‘Greys’ are the aliens with hairless grey skin, big heads, large black eyes, etc. Sometimes they’re small and sometimes not. They’re probably the type of alien most people think of when they think about the subject. Just why they seem to be so commonly seen leads to questions, and some questions are about their origins. One splinter-theory is that they’re time travelers of some sort from our own distant future. Why they’re coming back to shove stuff in their ancestor’s asses is generally thought to be some sort of research, but maybe we’re just real weirdos in 10,000 years. “Maybe it’s time travel” is always a splinter theory in any good conspiracy and I love it, more time travel please. I worked with a guy at a Hollywood Video who was obsessed with building his own time machine with crystals and shit he got on the internet; I have no idea what happened to him. Makes you think.
MELISSA VANDELLA — Another ‘celebrity double’ story. This one is for Avril Lavigne, who was replaced by Melissa at some point. The theories diverge on whether this was due to Lavigne dying or just stepping out of the spotlight for some reason, though it seems to have happened in the early-to-mid 00s. The evidence? Lavigne once wrote ‘Melissa’ on her hand for a photoshoot, and pictures of her from a long time ago don’t look like pictures of her taken recently.
INCREASE OF THE CONSTANTS — Haven’t really seen this applied to much conspiracy stuff. It’s a scientific term generally. If I’m measuring how big something is getting, I’m going to do it with a constant as comparison, right? Like, take a picture of a plant every day next to a baseball. The plant’s growth over weeks and months is made evident because of the unchanging baseball. But what if the baseball changed too and we didn’t know? What if things like distance and time that we think of as constants are shifting, but we have no way to really know because they’re supposed to be constants?
“18 1/2 MINUTE GAP” — Watergate finally makes an appearance! It doesn’t get enough attention in the conspiracy community, imo, I guess because it’s a bit more cut and dried. Plus, not very flashy: no one died, no sex or drugs or gunfights or car chases, etc. Also, modern presidents do stuff way worse than this out in the open now and everyone is just like ‘yeah what can you do though’ so I guess that may be a reason. Anyway, the ‘Watergate tapes’ have a strange 18 and a half minute gap shortly after the break-in happened. The mistake may have been due to a secretary mishandling equipment, but her story doesn’t quite line up. The deleted tape was of Nixon talking to his chief of staff, and there was a lot of speculation as to who erased this portion and why.
CAMERAHEADS — This is a mix of cryptid, lost media, and creepypasta(online scary stories re-pasted over and over). Cameraheads themselves are some sort of humanoid that handle themselves a bit like Slenderman and are sinister in intent. And have cameras or something sort of fused into them. They’re not the main feature here, though, but rather where they originated is. The first mention is way back in 2009, but it was just people asking and talking about a creepypasta story they vaguely remembered. People have shared recollections and ideas, though it’s hard to say what is genuine and what is made-up or misremembered, but no one has ever tracked down the original tale. Little scraps of information about them are found here and there in old archived imageboard threads, including a recently discovered video. People have theorized there was some level of ARG(Alternate Reality Game) attached to the original work, but this is just as ephemeral.
It’s hard to say what the origins are. A lot of weird stuff was born in deep dark corners of the internet in the early 00s and more or less lost. Archives of most things don’t go back that far, and the lack of social media meant they didn’t spread into the mainstream. Likewise, the longer we get from that time, the less likely anyone with a surviving 20-year-old hard drive is going to find a bunch of saved screenshots or videos or something. It’s also possible it’s all speculation built on itself, mixed with a little pranking and trolling, and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Then again, I’ve seen people say cameraheads are real and the ones responsible for deleting all this old stuff.
It’s pretty cool to see the rekindling of urban legends via the internet. It’ll also be interesting to look back in ten or twenty years and see if some of these creepypasta-inspired things have had their origins so obscured that they are now distinct from their online roots.