Thursday, August 12, 2010

Only in SCV: Noyaca Cover-up Backfires on Bridgeport

Yesterday, the Bridgeport Homeowners Association posted signs around the perimeter of their neighborhood[1]. They bear the text “PRIVATE PROPTERTY. Bridgeport Community Association Residents ONLY…NO PHOTOGRAPHY.” Many passersby found the signs off-putting and unneighborly, likely the work of reclusive busybodies living in SCV’s Little New England. But according to Dr. Cassandra B. Taylor, archaeologist and cryptozoologist[2], the signs are serving a far more sinister purpose. She states “This is more proof that the people of Bridgeport have something to hide from the greater public: a large, dangerous lake monster.”

Noyaca, the lake monster of Bridgeport, is something of an open secret among Bridgeportians. Many residents have seen suspicious shadows beneath the lake and more than a few have had pets mysteriously vanish from the front yard, accompanied by no clues save drag marks to the water's edge. Old-timers say the homes were built so close together to act as a fence, keeping the monster from rampaging through the valley. The fact that it is rarely seen, however, relegates Noyaca to the status of myth or legend for many. And that’s precisely how the Bridgeport Homeowners Association wants to keep things. I called the HOA office to ask about their new photography policy, but the moment I mentioned Noyaca I was told “That is a ridiculous story and I would stop repeating it if I were you. This conversation is over.”

A now iconic image.
Dr. Taylor suggests that photographers are being harassed and threatened with trespassing charges because of a photo recently posted on her website. The photo, sent to her by an anonymous Claritan, shows an immense animal with a long, sinewy neck, humped back, and whip-like tail drifting through Bridgeport’s waters. When the image attracted media attention, skeptics were quick to dismiss it as a fake. The Bridgeport Community Association issued an official statement that "The photograph is clearly doctored. Bridgeport is a safe, wonderful community free of large aquatic monsters. Prospective home buyers should be certain to visit us." However, photography experts have yet to decide whether the photograph is authentic or an expertly constructed hoax. "The image is extraordinary, to be sure, but there are no obvious signs of tampering" says Dartmouth University's Prof. Hany Farid, digital forensics expert. His investigation is on-going.
Noyaca doubters have also argued that such a large creature couldn’t possibly go unnoticed for so long in Bridgeport. Frank Hoffman, superintendant of Placerita Canyon Park, admits to being a skeptic himself but conceded that “With all of those secluded coves and maximum depths in excess of ten feet, there would be plenty of places for a large aquatic predator to hide in Bridgeport Lake. Fish, frogs, and ducks would provide an abundant food source.”
The photograph of the monster's silhouette is not the first evidence of Noyaca. Dr. Taylor famously uncovered a cave painting during one of her Bridgeport Lake excavations. Radiocarbon dating revealed the work belonged to the late Expansion Period, circa 2003[3]. She describes the scene as “A family of three raising their arms to Noyaca in a dramatic display of awe and supplication." She explained that "The first pioneers in Bridgeport formed many superstitions and even cults around the being of Noyaca. It’s how they made sense of their strange new world filled with bizarre lighthouses, nautical motifs in the midst of a desert, and, of course, a lake monster.” Back then, home values rose whether a lake monster was present or not, so residents were more willing to have open discussions about the creature.

(left) Lesser-known photographic evidence includes this Google Earth image of the lake monster from 2004.
(right) Known until recently as "The Sacrifice", this 2003 cave painting is the earliest known depiction of Noyaca.

Try as they might to dismiss Noyaca as imaginary, the Bridgeport Homeowners Association has taken very real steps to appease and control the monster. Since it is widely known to feed on unattended pets, HOA officials rapidly remove any “missing pets” flyers posted on lamp poles and have enacted an ordinance forbidding all signs (except those forbidding visitors and photographs, obviously). These measures are intended to smother any neighborhood hysteria before it has a chance to take root. Though the monster has never been known to take a human life, paddleboat hours have been reduced to 2-7 pm on weekends only[4]. For the duration, a private security guard monitors the lake, armed with mace and a cell-phone ready to call the Sheriff's Department. The widely publicized attempt to poison American Coots[5], one of Noyaca’s primary food sources, has been interpreted as a ploy to starve the creature out of Bridgeport or to indirectly poison it. Now, it seems the only option the HOA has left is to ban the people of SCV from wandering its paths and taking pictures. "Disclosure will hurt property values, so they're keeping out photographers and pretending Noyaca doesn't exist" lamented Dr. Taylor.

Canada Geese commonly leave the lake and enter busy roadways surrounding Bridgeport. Are the geese looking for food, as conventional wisdom dictates, or are they perhaps fleeing from a dangerous underwater predator?
Ironically, the attempt to ban photographers has brought more than ever. Those with little more than a passing interest in the neighborhood have been turning out to snap photos in defiance. With renewed interest in the lake, it appears only a matter of time before unequivocal proof of Noyaca’s existence emerges from Bridgeport’s timeless, enigmatic waters.

[1]KHTS's Carol Rock broke this story.
[2]Dual Ph.D. program at College of the Canyons. Her dissertation, entitled "A Terrible Beast From the Depths Emerged: Noyaca's Impacts on Early Bridgeportian Culture" may be reviewed at COC's library.
[3]This date is consistent with other artifacts found at the dig site, such as Ugg boots and a primitive iPod loaded with music by Nelly.
[4]The modification appears without explanation on the official Bridgeport Valencia website.
[5]Even without the poisoning program, American Coot numbers have declined. Perhaps Noyaca is to blame.


Anonymous said...

I have seen. I believe.

Jenifer said...

My husband and I saw it tonight!!!

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