There’s something fishy going on here, and it begins with this guy:
This was one of my favorite stories from my time spent living in Los Angeles, but now, it has elevated to simply one of my favorite stories.
(SIDENOTE: As a young writer, I remember reading many how-to articles about recycling your material to different papers. At the time, I couldn’t see how that was possible. Now? Lesson learned.)
Anyhohoho, around Christmas of 1997, a pair of my friends came to visit, and they discovered an unbelievable article in New Times Los Angeles. Here’s an excerpt (the sideways PDF of the article is after the jump, as well as what TV shows were being filmed at NBC in ’97, and a BONUS strange Detroit-centric article):
“I’ve been passing by this Santa, watching him do his little wave thing since I was a kid,” one officer, who asks not to be identified, says. “It wasn’t an easy thing to take, seeing the arm with that bone coming out and thinking there’s a real person in there. Lots of us, I think, really had a lot of affection for him, and to consider having to unplug him, stop the waving, take off that nice red suit and open him up to, well . . . no one wants to think of the Slacks n’ Such Santa as human remains.”
Crazy, right? I’ve told people about this Santa Claus mummy for fourteen years. And thankfully, while drunk at a one year old’s birthday party, when this tale was brought up again, my friend revealed he kept the article! So over the next few days of all three of us emailing back and forth, a new light was shed upon the subject.
The author of The Case of the Disarming Santa, Peter Gilstrap, wrote the exact same article for New Times Phoenix one year earlier! (To read the full article easier, click here.)
All the names and places remain exactly the same, except for the specific mentions of the individual cities.
So is the story real?
If I look up Laird Avenue, which is mentioned in both stories, what do I find?
That sunovabitch double-dipped. And he tricked all three of us hook, line, and chimney. Can I blame him for spreading his own urban legend? Not at all. I wasn’t local. I had no fond memories of any mechanical Santa Claus displays. But I do have to applaud the audacity it took to
try to pass the same story off in two cities it likely never occurred in.
It’s a regular fucking Christmas miracle…
L.A. Santa Article
NBC Show Taping Guide
Odd PressandGuide Article