I heard my first urban legend when I was in grade school.
I was on the playground with this kid Bradley, whose father traveled to the East coast a lot. According to Bradley, his father brought back much more than the clap on a recent trip; he also brought a story that was spooky and a little scary, and also kind of cool: in the sewers beneath New York City, there were giant alligators!
“People buy them in Florida,” he told me, “and when they bring them back to New York, they get too big, so people flush them down the toilet. There are so many of them in the sewers, they eat cats and stuff!”
I totally bought it. It seemed so plausible, and if it came from his dad, who was a grown-up and everything, how could it not be true?
Unlike the Gang Initiation myth, which can easily be adapted to any locale, this one would be tough to believe in Los Angeles. We’re not a centralized city like Manhattan, and we don’t vacation in Florida like New Yorkers do, so it’s not like we have easy access to alligators.
But in 2005, rumors began flowing down the Intertubes and on local television and radio news about this very subject. While an army of alligators wasn’t fighting an army of Lizardmen beneath the city streets, there was reportedly a gigantic alligator lurking in Harbor City’s Machado Lake, eager to make a quick snack out of anyone who ventured too close. It even had a name: Reggie.
This is a good legend, though a little hard to believe. First of all, why would anyone in Los Angeles have an alligator? A wombat, or a bear, or a flock of man-eating seagulls, sure. But an alligator? That’s just ridiculous.
And if the alligator was dumped in the sewer, why would it make its way into a lake? Don’t all the sewers flow directly into some bottled water facility?
However, as unbelievable as this legend appears, it is entirely true.
Yes, Virginia, there is a giant alligator living in Machado Lake, and its name is Reggie. It even has a blog.
I covered this story through the summer of 2005 and into 2006 in my Peabody Award winning series, GATORWATCH!!!!1! and as a result, am considered the world’s leading authority on blowing this story entirely out of proportion.
Reggie originally appeared in the summer of 2005, when his owners, colossally retarded shitcocks Anthony Brewer and Todd Nato, dumped him in Machado Lake when he got too big to keep as a pet. Now, in their defense, they had a lot of weed, guns, and snapping turtles in their house, so it’s understandable that they weren’t able to find the space for a big old alligator, too.
Local residents, unaccustomed to sharing their peaceful lake with a seven foot-long fucking alligator, were understandably concerned, and tried to get Reggie moved from the lake, into a more comfortable location (or at least a more not-in-their-lake location.) The Los Angeles Department of Catching Alligators was unable to catch Reggie, so they turned to some experts from Florida and Colorado. Wait. Colorado? These efforts were equally unsuccessful, with Colorado’s own Thomas ‘T-Bone’ Quinn declaring the efforts lead by Gatorland’s own Ted Williams (who has a lifetime gator-catching average of .410) “retarded.” Not to be outdone, Williams said Quinn was a “swamp rat.” Someone should have gotten these guys a reality series, or at least turned their story into a 1/2 hour sitcom called Reggie!
When they went home in a huff, a bunch of gator-catching vigilantes came into town, lead by another Colorado-based alligator bounty hunter, Jay Young. Using a combination of kung-fu and chicken, he pulled Reggie from the lake, recounting:
“He put up a good fight,” Mr Young said. “We’re so excited right now.”
Mr Young said that the breakthrough came when he spotted the alligator resting on the shores of Machado Lake, in the south of the city.
His brother, Noah Young, crept up on the animal and managed to slip a rope around his neck.
That wrapped up GATORWATCH!!!1 for us here at blogging.la, and we went back to covering the weather . . . for about fifteen minutes, when we learned the whole thing was a hoax, and the prankster claiming to be Young was just some guy.
Things got serious again when the Los Angeles Zoo sent their experts to coax Reggie into a lifetime of comfort at the Zoo, enjoying the gentle ping of pennies off his back from legions of elementary school kids on field trips . . . and also failed.
You can see how Reggie attained legendary status, can’t you? Before I started covering GATORWATCH!!!1, I figured it would be pretty easy to pick a seven foot-long alligator from a lake, but clearly, Reggie is not a regular, mortal alligator, and there was just one man on the planet who you could call when dealing with such a fearsome creature: Steve “The Crocodile Hunter” Irwin.
“It’s a promise,” he told Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, who accompanied the shaggy-haired Aussie and asked him to return next spring, the Breeze reported.
There is no direct evidence that links Irwin’s tragic death to Reggie’s super powers of evasion, but it seems a little too convenient to be a coincidence, doesn’t it? The message was clear: don’t fuck with Reggie, or at least don’t declare publicly that you’re going to fuck with Reggie and then go swimming.
Reggie went into hibernation near the end of 2005, and animal wranglers vowed to find him while he slept (I don’t think Reggie sleeps; like Chuck Norris, he waits) or at least come up with a plan to get him out of the lake when he woke up in the spring of 2006.
Of course, it’s now Spring of 2007, and nobody has been able to pull Reggie from the lake, which has been closed indefinitely. He’s just . . . out there . . . lurking . . . waiting . . . and some people say that if you listen carefully near sunset, you can hear him bellowing across Machado Lake.
(Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia’s Elefunt Boy, who released it into the Public Domain.)