Two weeks ago Catalina scooped Santa Monica in the critical sea monster wars. A sinuous deep sea creature, 15 feet long, was found in Catalina’s Big Fisherman’s Cove on August 16. The creature turns out to be an oarfish, thought to be the stuff of legends because of its size, metallic body skin and a rather theatrical mane-like crest on its head.
Now, understand, this is a real fish. It’s rare to find one because they like to live at depths of 3,000 feet. This one had some sort of problem and the life was just about out of it when it was spotted in Catalina. Last week pictures of the oarfish adorned the LA Times sports section (the Times lacks a “monster” section, although it could use one…) and needless to say, the find has brought Catalina much needed publicity as a great location for rare, large, dead fish.
This was on the heels of an August 11 discovery of some giant squid appendages eight miles east of Santa Cruz Island. A giant squid! People, why is Santa Monica sitting on its hands (or its tentacles) in the race to get its own sea monster?
The advantages of a sea monster for our city are obvious. Never mind t-shirt sales; imagine the bonanza in boat rides and mini-submarine rentals. A 3D Surround Sound Dome Theater would present hourly showings of “It Lives!”…a title bound to draw at least a few Michael Jackson fans.
But that’s thinking small. Our pier is filled with thrill rides. What would be ultimately thrilling and a boon to tourism would be regularly scheduled appearances by the monster where one or more “innocents” (actors, readily available) are yanked screaming right off the pier and into the ocean by one of the serpent’s huge arms or whatever.
Training a monster to show up on time and then do stunts is a daunting task, as Rosie O’Donnell’s management team can tell you. But Santa Monica is home to countless special effects and movie magic technicians who have been enlisted in such miracles as making Superman fly and selling Paris Hilton CD’s.
I propose that Santa Monica find and hire the same guys that made a hero out of Rudy Giuliani. The task is basically the same: Take a slithery and unappealing creature and give him life as a folk legend. And a large ugly fish that lives in the darkest depths of the ocean is much easier to start with.
Of course, none of this matters if our sea monster doesn’t have a great back story. Like those snakes on the plane. They are rich in personality, and each has a complex story to tell. So our sea monster is going to need a catchy name and some kind of legend or myth thing going on. Let me pitch one angle.
Loch Ness has had impressive success with “Nessie,” its alleged sea monster. I propose that Santa Monica adopt “Messie,” which might be an acronym for “Massive Encroaching Sea Serpent that Ingests and Eats…” Eats what? Ah, here’s where we can add some contemporary spin to our Messie monster. We’ll say that Messie is a deep-water creature that has given up trolling for plankton and small crustaceans and has instead developed a taste for man’s waste and pollution. And the more we dump garbage, runoff and sewage into our bay…the closer Messie wants to get to shore!
This way, Messie is not only a revenue-producing attraction, she’s a lesson to children of all ages: Take care of your beautiful oceans or they might just bite back. Ironically, Messie’s success will bring additional tourism to Santa Monica. All those added thousands will want fast food in Styrofoam containers, and after they’ve eaten, they’ll need to use our facilities and that material will have to be properly dealt with. That problem could be a monster of another kind.