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Paranormal Paradise

ufo museum
The Truth Is in Here: An eccentric North Beach museum celebrates the paranormal.

Strangeness abounds in museum
devoted to UFOs, Bigfoot

By Teresa Bergen

You have to wonder about someone who's seen Bigfoot three times and filmed the Loch Ness Monster. Throw in discovering a few crop circles and identifying faces on Mars from NASA photos, and you have a phenomena cocktail that would intoxicate agents Scully and Mulder with envy, and convulse most scientists with scorn.

When I visited Eric Beckjord in December at his new UFO, Bigfoot and Loch Ness Monster Museum, I got off on the wrong foot. I mentioned the Bigfoot hunters I know in Oregon and Washington, most of whom regard Bigfoot as merely an undiscovered species, rather than, say, a space alien.

How was I to know that Beckjord has been publicly dismissed by these same Bigfoot hunters as a lunatic? "It's not at all in the zoological realm. It's a ghost that can leave tracks," Beckjord said of Bigfoot as we sat amid exhibit boards covered with pictures of crop circles and aliens. "It's a shape-shifter being that can't be killed, nailed down or caught. It's a big alien."

I had expected Beckjord to be an easy interview, probably happy to get some free PR for his new museum. Instead, I found myself bickering with him about whether or not a certain Bigfoot hunter in Washington had been looking for Bigfoot as long as he claimed, and whether another man in Oregon secretly meant to kill a sasquatch. Then, as one might expect of someone who's listened to a lot of conspiracy theories and has a deep distrust of the press, Beckjord pulled out a tape recorder and began to record our conversation. Libel, anyone?

Bigfoot is a surprisingly emotional topic for the dozens of people who spend large chunks of their lives searching for it. The search is factionalized--some hunters want to shoot a specimen, others want to photograph it, and some want Bigfoot to take them for a ride in his UFO. Some searchers have more of a sense of humor about it than others.

And some have less. Looking around Beckjord's museum, I wondered if he was joking about the "paranormal photographs" that show the faces of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman, according to Beckjord's press release,"in leaves and bark that were not seen at the time, except by camera film and which disappeared later."

Beckjord assured me he was serious about everything he put on the walls. He believes his museum can provide an important service to visitors, more than 300 of whom stopped by in his first two months of business. "People who want validation of what they've seen have a chance of obtaining it here," he said, adding that he can "help them understand that they're not crazy after all."

He also provides copies of The Roswell Declaration, a letter calling for an executive order declassifying U.S. government information about UFOs. If museum visitors fill in the bottom part of the letter, Beckjord will mail it for them. "I want to stimulate Bill Clinton into telling us the truth," he said.

The museum mainly consists of photographs, drawings and articles tacked to boards. The back wall features a display based on sightings of Sassie, our alleged San Francisco Bay sea serpent. Beckjord has a small but choice collection of alien T-shirts and a few plaster Bigfoot tracks for sale.

In addition to running the museum, he also publishes the Sasquatch Insider's Newsletter on the Internet. While Beckjord offered frequent verbal disclaimers that all he can do is theorize, that there is no hard proof, he seems to suspect a connection among the topics his museum covers. Bigfoot's been seen in the forest in Scotland, he said, and UFOs have been spotted over Loch Ness. "I do have a certain amount of proof," Beckjord said of his shape-shifter theory. "I examined the Patterson film with a microscope, frame by frame. [Bigfoot] has a head at times like an Indian man, at other times an ape, at others a combination Great Dane and baboon. And things are happening in its flesh and fur that indicate it changes shape."

The 1967 Patterson film is the most convincing photographic Bigfoot evidence to date. Beckjord also said that he's followed a set of tracks that changed from Bigfoot into a human, and he's talked to people who've seen tracks change from Bigfoot into a dog.

Beckjord said he's spent 21 years now investigating unexplained phenomena. He claims a remarkably fruitful career--successful crop-circle expeditions to England, two Bigfoot sightings in Washington and one in Ohio, capturing the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot on film, identifying faces on Mars from NASA photos.

But it's not all glamour. It's hard to make a living on phenomena. When I asked him why he's devoted 21 years of his life to this stuff, he said, " 'Cause it's more interesting than selling insurance."

Visiting the UFO, Bigfoot and Loch Ness Monster Museum is more interesting than buying insurance, but be warned. This guy is serious.

The museum is located at 709 Union St. at Columbus. Tue.­Sun, 1­6pm, admission $2.50.

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From the February 1997 issue of the Metropolitan

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