Here Be Monsters

The Podcast About the Unknown

HBM036: Throw It In The Ocean [EXPLICIT]

Eric Chase's memory of April 19th, 1989 is largely a blur. On that day, he was aboard the USS Iowa, a World War 2 era battleship, equipped with some of the world's biggest cannons, capable of leveling a city block with a single hit.

But April 19th, 1989 was the day when one of the 16 inch guns aboard the ship malfunctioned and caused a huge internal explosion that claimed the lives of 47 sailors and caused a huge fire on the ship.

Eric Chase was one of the responders who ventured into the turret to recover bodies, or, well, in this case, parts of bodies. In this episode of Here Be Monsters, Eric describes his experience inside the turret, putting organic material into garbage bags, wading through the destruction. He describes how it awakened a contradiction between his sense of duty and his sense of dissatisfaction with the Naval chain of command and policy. Needless to say, if you're easily offended by descriptions of dead bodies, then you should not listen to this episode.

At the time of her commissioning in 1943, the USS Iowa was one of the world's most formidable war machines.  3 other similar ships, the USS New Jersey, the USS Wisconsin, and the USS Missouri were built at the same time.  They had an illustrious history fighting in WWII.

In the video below, the Iowa displays her absolutely devastating firepower not long after her maiden voyage.

As Word War 2 wound down, the USS Iowa was decommissioned / mothballed.  However, as part of President Reagan's 600 Ship Navy plan during the Cold War, the Iowa was brought back from mothballs, despite its age. 

Off the coast of Puerto Rico, during a 16-inch gunnery exercise on April 19th, 1989, something went critically wrong, and Turret 2 suffered a massive explosion.

The turret explosion was captured by a camera mounted in one of the USS Iowa's towers.

Australian news report on the USS Iowa turret explosion (1989)

In the investigation that followed the explosion, the navy blamed Petty Officer 2nd Class Clayton Hartwig, saying that he had been jilted by a his homosexual lover, another sailor on the ship named Kendall Truitt.  The Navy claimed that the explosion was a result of Hartwig's suicidal attack on the Iowa.

Hartwig's family made congress conduct another study, being convinced neither that he was gay, nor that he was suicidal.  The congressional investigation, headed up by the General Accounting Office (GAO) found that the aging powderbags on the ship, combined with the fact that guns were being over-rammed with extra powder, likely caused a spontaneous explosion while the back of the gun was still open, shooting a massive fireball into the turret. 

The Navy re-opened their investigation and concluded that the cause was unable to be determined.  However, they did admit to fabricating the evidence against Hartwig.

Even today, the two reports still contradict one another.


This episode was produced by Alex Kime a writer and sound engineer based in Chicago. He also produced Fugitives of the Blue Laguna, which aired on Here Be Monsters earlier this season.

Jeff Emtman is HBM's Lead Producer.  Bethany Denton is HBM's Story Editor.

Music
Phantom Fauna
Serocell
Swamp Dog
Olecranon Rebellion

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HBM035: Spirits of the Past

It was a group of businessmen in the late 19th century who originally invented the Ouija Board. They sold them in toy shops and promising questions answered “about the past, present and future with marvelous accuracy.” Spiritualism was all the rage in the United States, and, while hiring a professional medium could be costly, the Ouija Board allowed ordinary people to communicate with the dead.

In this episode of Here Be Monsters, freelance producer Mickey Capper attends a modern seance, conducted by 20-somethings under an udder-like canopy in a living room in Chicago. They gather around a homemade Ouija Board to summon up spirits from the past. And they’re visited by the ghost of the seance host’s long-dead ancestors. The ghost has a striking message for her about a secret she didn’t want to share with the group.

Mickey said the following about the experience:

Even though I've always like the idea of trying to contact the dead through a community of friends, I hadn't been to a seance before. The darkness and the candles and the makeshift Ouija Board did work... at least as an icebreaker. I felt closer to everyone than I would have expected. I also learned that whether or not you believe you're contacting the spirit, there's nothing protecting you from finding things you'd rather not hear.

Of course, Ouija Boards don’t run on a dark energy, the planchette isn’t moved by the delicate hands of wispy ghosts. Instead, its movement is achieved through a well understood phenomenon called the Idiomotor Effect. Ideomotor movements are subconscious muscle movements that occur when people think they are holding entirely still. They’re heavily influence by perception and bias. And in Ouija, it can be responsible for creating stunning messages that seem to be otherworldly.

So, who was this ghost who revealed the host’s secret? It’s hard to know. But even for someone who would deny outright the existence of spirits and ghosts, it’s impossible to deny the power that belief in the paranormal holds.

Mickey Capper is a freelance radio reporter and the co-host of Tape, which is a new podcast that interviews people who make radio. It's good, it's people you've heard of...listen to it. taperadio.org

Music
The Black Spot
Serocell
Lucky Dragons

Track image from a 1915 edition of The Ogden Chronicle

HBM034: The Grandmother and The Vine Of The Dead


Ayahuasca is one of the most powerful and most illegal hallucinogens in the world. It contains DMT. But, for as long as anyone can remember, it's been used by people who have wanted to know more about the universe.

These people have traditionally been involved with shamanic tribes of the Amazon Rainforest, but in recent years, more and more people have had access to Ayahuasca through ceremonies lead by shamans in countries near the South American Equator.

Ayahuasca (also called Iowaska, Yagé, Vine of the Dead, La Madrecita, El Abuelo, etc.) is not a party drug. In fact, it can be absolutely terrifying...Ayahuasca has a reputation for spewing up the taker's darkest fears in front of visuals of multi-dimensional cosmic weirdness and forcing them to confront every dark thought they've ever had. But it also has a potential for intense healing.

In this episode, producer Lauren Stelling visits her old boss Cherub, who was facing a lot of grief after her best friend's daughter, Zippy, was killed in a freak accident of nature.

Cherub was seeking alternatives to the common American treatments for grief, so, she flew away from her home in Washington State, down to a tropical rain forest where shamans guided her on a week-long Ayahuasca journey to find healing from her grief.

The episode was produced by Lauren Stelling. She's a photographer living and working in Seattle, Washington. Check out her beautiful photographs

If you liked this show, you'll also love HBM015: Jacob Visits Saturn.  It's about MDMA therapy and feeling small. 

Big thanks to Choque Chinchay Journeys, who provided the recordings of icaros for this episode.

Music:
Serocell ←New!
Monster Rally  ←New!
Half Ghost 

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HBM033: What One Does

Ryan Beitz recently experienced a meteoric rise to fame as the Chairman of The World Speed Project, which aims to collect every single VHS copy of the 1994 movie SPEED (Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Dennis Hopper, Joe Morton, Jeff Daniels).

Please note that this episode contains strong language.

Ryan's presence is bizarre...he never wears pants. instead, most days, he opts for giant shapeless coats and tall hats and sorority girl sunglasses. And he's intensely funny. All this comes through loud and clear in his dozen or so segments on Good Morning America (ABC), All Things Considered (NPR), Vice Magazine, etc.

But I grew up with Ryan, and so I have reason to believe that he's a bit more nuanced than the "crazy guy does something crazy" box most media outlets squeezed him into for their reports.

In this extended interview, Ryan and I sit in his Moscow, Idaho treehouse and talk about German Romanticism, Lacanian Jouissance, Stoicism and the nature of anger, and how The World Speed Project is a rebellion against the "what one does" that society shoves our throats. Then we make nasty noise metal in his friend's basement.

Music on the show was made by Ryan and me.  See photo gallery above.

The World Speed Project is currently running a KickStarter to get their van painted like the bus from Speed. At time of publishing, the project is just $500 dollars short of its goal.

Donate $ if you can, or donate your old copies of SPEED. Otherwise, just enjoy the amazing KickStarter video...seriously.

HBM032: Fugitives of the Blue Laguna

Back when David was a nerdy Oklahoman teenager, he fell in love with Stephanie. They both had angst towards their overbearing, conservative parents and they both wanted out.

So, when the opportunity presented itself, they decided to run for it. They took David's blue 1976 Chevy Laguna and as much money as they could find and started driving to Portland to start a new life.

Stephanie's mom found out and hired a private investigator. She told the PI to break David's arms if he ever caught up with them.

So, they drove across the United States binge-listening to the the only cassette they had: The Cure's Standing on the Beach Singles.

They get arrested for stealing condoms and deodorant, they learn how to sweet-talk free food out of Taco Bell, and they create fake identities for themselves.

David and Stephanie make it to Boise, Idaho, where they move in with a bunch of Mormon punk rockers and assume a new life.

And then they find out the FBI's involved. Suddenly David's facing 30 years of prison time for kidnapping and statutory rape. And, what started as an adventure, turns into something really serious, really fast.

This week's show was co-produced and recorded by a good friend of HBM, Alex Kime. He's a writer and sound engineer living in Chicago, Illinois.

Original music on the show from Justin LaForte and Lucky Dragons

David now works as a professor of Sociology in Washington State at a community college, where lives with his wife (not Stephanie) and daughter. He was one of the founding members of the Infernal Noise Brigade.

This episode is sponsored by SquareSpace. Go to squarespace.com and use the code "monsters" to get 10% off your new website.