Fact or fiction – The urban legends of New York
Ah, New York City, sometimes known as Gotham City. You can just imagine the hustle, the bustle, the people and the ambience. It?s all there; everything from vice to crime to just everyday people who love their city and wouldn?t trade it for the world. New York City has a very long and, at times, shady history. One of the best parts of the city is their urban legends. All across the country, and the world, New York City is famous for its legends. You ever hear about the one where Jimmy Hoffa is interred beneath Yankee Stadium? That one?s funny, but it makes you think as well. As much that has happened within the city, it would be absolutely no surprise to find out if it?s true.
New Yorkers are born skeptics; everyone who?s anyone knows that. They are akin to the ?Show Me State? of Missouri. They?re just the ?Show Me City.? Normally, that is. It has been said that there are as many urban legends as there are people, and that?s saying a lot considering there?s a couple of million people who live in the city. These legends are modern fairy tales that, more than not, convey the real concerns of the city such as crime, sexual promiscuity, and healthcare.
I just have to mention the most famous urban legend first. It?s fondly known as ?Revenge of the Sewer Gators.? The story goes that a few decades back it was in fashion to have a pet alligator. When people got tired of them, they flushed them down the toilet. Thereafter, hundreds ended up in the sewer systems and they stayed alive feeding on raw sewage, rats, and the occasional sanitation worker (I wondered where all those sanitation workers went; thought they?d run away with their mistresses!). Anyway, surprisingly enough, there is a grain of truth in the legend. Wouldn?t you know it? A full sized alligator was actually found in 1935 and the newspapers went crazy when it had been caught and killed in an East Harlem Sewer. Relax, though, for those planning on visiting, or moving to New York City. One has not been spotted since World War II so there can?t be anymore around?or can there?
A rather gruesome one that is, and I believe will always be, very popular is an urban legend called ?Kidney Napping.? Just the name makes you want to snicker, doesn?t it? Anyhow, the story begins when a few friends go to a bar and spy this absolutely drop-dead gorgeous woman. Somehow, one of the guys gets to take the woman to a hotel for a ?night cap.? The man promptly passes out. Later, he awakens groggy and cold, very cold. He realizes that he?s naked and sitting in the hotel?s bathtub and it?s half-full of ice water. He then realizes that there are two sets of crude stitches on either side of his lower back. On his chest is written, in lipstick: CALL 911 OR YOU WILL DIE! He is dumbfounded when he finds out that his kidneys have been stolen. Another legend is kind of similar but it?s about ?AIDS Mary.? She takes a guy to a hotel room, has sex with him and writes, in lipstick (Hey! Is this a pattern?) onto the mirror: WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF AIDS! It has been said that these stories originated from paranoia about the singles scene and healthcare concerns.
These more gruesome stories have been popularized even further when the weird or scary or horrifying ones have ended up as plot lines for shows like the Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock and the modern drama?s Homicide and CSI.
The Empire State Building in New York City has garnered more urban legends than there are floors. Ghosts, pennies falling from heaven, aliens buried in the basement, and the legend that the building has been sinking at least a foot a year since the building was completed are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the legends surrounding this most famous structure. One, ?Pennies from Heaven,? was coined (ha, ha) during construction of the monster building. Did you get – coined? Anyway, it took off when people began to swear that they had seen coins being dropped and then, subsequently, imbedding themselves into either the concrete at the base of the building or into people?s skulls. Nope, sad to say, this one is not true. The shape of the tower creates a considerable updraft so, if a penny is thrown over the side of the observation deck, the penny will blow back up the structure. These pennies frequently land on the window ledges of the 86th floor where maintenance workers pocket the change. At least, that?s what one maintenance manager has said.
My favorite one, no I lied, they?re all my favorites, is about the ?Whisper Station.? Grand Central Station, it is said, has acoustics that enable people to whisper to each other from across the station if they are near the Oyster Bar Restaurant. The great thing is that this one?s absolutely true! A weird part of the story though, is that renovations altered the acoustics so that it stopped working. For some reason though, not a few years later, the acoustics ?turned back on? and it works again.
Urban legends can be cute, funny or downright horrifying but, suffice it to say, New York City has them all!
I guess you could classify me as a skeptic for saying so, but I’m not having an easy time getting my head around the idea of haunted castles. I mean, I get the idea that because castles tend to be the oldest residential structures in the world they necessarily have more history and therefore more chance of having some restless spirit haunt them. That of course is assuming that spirits do haunt their former homesteads?. And that they do so in a way that living persons can observe with the first five senses.
Yes, I’m specifically excluding the ?paranormal experts’ who run around the British Isles or the Antebellum South telling us how they ?sense’ the spirit of some cursed soul ? always with the lights turned off and some lackey video-recording the whole charade with a low-light lens. Funny how they always experience some sudden, overdramatic ?scare’ or ?start’ that makes everyone in the room jump, then tell us that some new spirit has entered the room. If they really see with some sixth sense the souls of the deceased, I would expect them to be familiar enough with the whole experience that by now that it’s more like, ?Oh? Hello, nice to meet you, what is your name?’
But my issue really isn’t that I don’t believe things outside our normal experience can’t exist, because there have been times when I’ve felt like my deceased mother or my late sister were in the room with me when I’ve stayed at the house our family once lived in, which is barely 41 years old now. My son claims that on more than one occasion when he and I have stayed there he has actually seen his grandmother, whom he loved dearly, standing in her favorite room, the kitchen, and smiling at the grandson she was so proud of.
Rather, my question concerns why all the ghosts of every castle in Europe are so melodramatic. They appear to nearly everyone who stays in a particular room or hall late at night? with an eerie blue glow around them, or holding their severed head in their hands, or wailing mournfully as the sound of hooves clatter past, or cackling like a witch, or walking with a lighted candle in a black lace dress, etc. You don’t have to be related to them, you don’t even have to know who they are, yet they will be happy to put on a great performance taken right out of Tales of the Crypt.
Everyone that is, except anyone with the necessary equipment and skills to record such events for the rest of us to see or hear for ourselves. The most ?indisputable’ evidence that has ever been provided to anyone who didn’t pay an admission fee for the privilege of being terrified out of their wits have been photos with hazy blurs that look suspiciously like an old darkroom effect known as ?burning’; or a mysterious (and out of focus) hand in one corner of a snapshot that appears to be wearing ridiculously anachronistic attire; or an audio tape filled with a lot of static and background noise, behind all of which it almost appears as if someone is whispering something. ?Did you hear it? Did you hear a voice say, ?Give? me? back? my? head’?? ?No. I heard something that sounded like asthma.? ?Listen again. I’m sure you’ll hear it this time. You can’t miss it.?
Still, it is titillating to imagine that if we take a tour of the famous ?haunted castles’ of Europe we will encounter for ourselves real supernatural phenomena that we will remember for the rest of our lives. Certainly, at the very least we will have a thoroughly chilling experience that will send shivers up and down our spines. That’s because old stone castles have notoriously bad central heating. (Sorry, had to throw that in?)
So which castles will provide the most terrifying, bizarre, uncanny and ghastly ghost shows for your money?
I’ve decided to break them down into two categories: the castles haunted by Anne Boleyn, and all the others. It’s certainly curious why so many different castles throughout England appear to be haunted by the exact same ghost of the exact same person at apparently the exact same time. Obviously, ?Anne of the Thousand Days’ had a thing for castles. Maybe in death she has opted to be ?Anne of the Thousand Castles. ‚But how does she do it? To answer that question I’ve developed a theory that there is a theurgical version of Microsoft Windows, which allows Anne to apparently multitask herself when in fact it is merely the illusion of her apparition that you are really (or not really) seeing doing all those things in slices of time. She appears decapitated for 20 milliseconds in the Tower of London in one outfit, puts the head back on and quickly changes clothes (two or three milliseconds ? one of the terribly fashionable benefits of being dead) and teleports herself to Windsor Castle for her next non-photo op, then pops the head back off in Norfolk to appear on the road to Blickling Hall for a carriage ride, then snaps her head back on for a walk along Blickling’s lake in a grey dress, and so on. Clever, huh? And you thought the paranormal couldn’t be explained rationally. Humbug!
Anyway, without further fanfare, here is the list:
Anne Boleyn’s favorite haunts (sorry ? had to say that) include:
The Tower of London, where she was imprisoned by her husband, Henry VIII and later beheaded (on a trumped up charge of adultery, incest and treason ? the real reason was that her baby, the male heir to the British throne that Hank so badly wanted, was stillborn). She appears both with and without her head in different areas of the grounds.
Windsor Castle, where she can be seen standing in the window of the Dean’s Cloister (don’t ask, I don’t know).
Hampton Court (Henry’s ?place in the Hamptons’), where she pals around with the ghosts of Catherine of Aragon, Jane Seymour and the other former Mrs. Tudors in a blue dress.
Blickling Hall, the family homestead in Norfolk, and the road leading to it, where she likes to ride in a carriage driven by a headless horseman with her own head cradled in her lap; a stroll along the edge of the estate’s lake; and a nightcap of making footstep sounds throughout the hall that lead right up to the foot of the bed of this evening’s hauntee, suddenly vanishing the moment the lights are turned on.
Hever Castle in Kent, Anne’s childhood home, where at Christmas time her spectre can be observed floating ethereally across a bridge on the River Eden.
Rochford Hall in Essex, where her decapitated white form wanders about in white silks, also around Christmas.
Once you’ve tired of Anne’s habit of losing her head all over England, you’ll enjoy these sites for a spectral change of pace:
Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland ? This foreboding and dark fortress looks eerie even in bright sunlight (which is a rarity on the Eastern coast of Scotland). It is said to be the most haunted place in Edinburgh, which in turn has been called the most haunted city in Scotland. It is particularly known for the massive dungeon underneath the castle with its long tunnels. The number of ghosts is said to be huge, including a winsome piper who plays haunting Scottish melodies in the dungeon.
Malahide Castle in Ireland ? This estate of over 250 acres near Dublin claims to have five identified ghosts, including that of the famous Miles Corbet, who was hanged, drawn and quartered for atrocities against the church. On the anniversary of his death he is said to be seen riding around the grounds. At other times he appears standing, then falls into four pieces. Also in the cast are Lord Galtrim (Sir Walter Hussey) who was killed in battle on his wedding day; Lady Maud Plunkett, his wife who remarried twice ? the first time almost immediately after Galtrim’s death; the ?White Lady’, an unknown woman whose picture once hung in the halls of Malahide; and Puck, a court jester (why are court jesters always named ?Puck’?) who fell in love with a woman being detained in the castle’s prison and was killed for attending to her.
Dragsholm Castle in Denmark ? This 12th century palace turned hotel is said to be home to perhaps hundreds of ghosts, but no one seems to have the faintest knowledge of why. The three most recognized are the ?Grey Lady’, the ?White Lady’, and James Hepburn, the Earl of Bothwell, who was imprisoned at Dragsholm for 5 years and finally died of madness in 1578. Visitors can see the post he was chained to and hopefully catch his specter riding into the castle in a carriage.
Manipulations in Advertisements
It is the job of advertisement companies to create ads that will inspire consumers to purchase a product. To successfully do this, they must be masters of manipulation. They have to understand the psyche of their targeted demographic and they have to know how to use their knowledge to make the people watching or reading the advertisement think that they simply cannot live without the product.
Create an Image
A favorite form of manipulation that most advertisement companies employ when they are creating an ad is the use of image. They take a look at their targeted demographic and try to determine what kind of image the group desires. The advertisement company then creates an advertisement that will hopefully fool the person watching the commercial into thinking that the product will give the consumer the image that they want.
The advertisement companies that created ads for various brands of cigarettes are famous for selling an image along with their product.
If an advertisement company wanted to sell cigarettes to teens and young adults, they would create an advertisement that conveyed the impression that smoking the cigarette would make the teenagers look cooler, more rebellious, and impossible for the opposite sex to resist. The company would do this by making sure the actors they would use in the advertisements wore great clothes, smiled, were doing something cool, and always had a pack of cigarettes nearby.
If the company wanted to sell cigarettes to bored, middle-aged housewives, they would make sure they created an advertisement that made it look like the cigarette was the key to unlocking their fantasies and escaping their boring lives.
If the company wanted the cigarettes to be bought by men, they would create an ad where the actor smoking the cigarette was a sexy hero who could handle any problem that might arise, provided they had a cigarette on hand at the time.
Improve on Reality
Beer commercials are the perfect examples of advertisements that improve upon reality. These types of advertisements take a basic fact ? like the one that beer can help people relax and have a good time ? and enhance it. They take such a theme and promptly add a couple of sexy people looking for a good time, or a sports icon sitting beside the beer drinker at the bar and striking up a conversation, or simply a wild party taking place.
What these types of advertisements don’t show is the reality of the situation. They don’t show that the attractive potential partner isn’t nearly as attractive as when looked at through a pair of beer goggles, or that it is hard to respect a sports icon when they are sloppy drunk, or that most of those wild parties end with everyone passed out on the floor.
Sometimes, also movie trailers are a lot like beer commercials. They slice up the movie, editing it so that potential viewers only see the exciting, emotionally fraught, or sexy scenes. The movie teases with a hint of the story, toying with the viewers until they cannot wait to go to the theater and watch the entire movie. The only problem is that instead of the sexy spy thriller with a romantic twist that they were promised, they are watching a badly written movie that mixes a few kisses in with some bombs.
Some of the most bizarre advertisements are those that pull focus. These are the advertisements whose themes cannot be figured out until the very last frame, when the product is finally shown. Sometimes, the sight of the product suddenly makes the advertisement clear, but more often than not, the consumer is left wondering what the two things could possibly have in common. That is exactly what the advertisers hope for ? that the consumers will think about the commercial and, by extension, the product, and the next time they are at the store and see the thing, they will simply pick it up and buy it.
As ludicrous as this pulling focus type of advertisement seems, it is actually quite effective.
This Product Will Change the World
The Apple Company got this type of advertising down to a fine art. They are now so skilled at convincing people that their newest gadget or gizmo is going to change the entire world, people are ready to pre-order the product before Apple has even unveiled the new creation. Apple has done such a good job talking a product up, explaining how the world of computers, internet, or cell phones will never be the same, that people don’t care what it is. They need to have one ? the sooner the better.
There is something about this type of advertisement that seems to make people feel they must have the product. It also triggers their sense of instant gratification. Not only do they need the revolutionary product, they need it right now. The consumers don’t seem to care if the product is untested. They don’t care that it will be cheaper in a few months. They don’t even bother waiting for customer and consumer reviews. The change-the-world type of advertising actually seems to have the ability to cause people to temporarily lose their sanity and do things like start living in parking lots days before the product is even released to the general population.
The thing that consumers have to understand about advertisement is that it is designed to manipulate them. They have to look past the shiny advertisement and really check out the product. This means reading reports, considering their lifestyle, and being realistic about the usefulness of a product. Those who don’t allow themselves to get swept up in the advertising mania can sit back and appreciate advertising for what it really is ? cheap entertainment.