View Full Version : Truth...Stranger than ULs
10-22-1999, 08:24 AM
I'd mentioned in another thread about a letter to Skeptical Inquirer regarding an Urban Legend with basis in truth, from the cop investigating it.
In one of his books, Jan Brunvand had reported an UL about a man shooting an ATM. A reference to Mr. Brunvand in Skeptical Inquirer caused James S. Holley of the Largo FL Police Dept. to report the probable genesis of that UL.
Officer Holley investigated an incident at the former Freedom Savings Bank in Keene Plaza, in Largo.The suspect was a paraplegic man in a wheelchair who was trying to get some money out of the teller machine just after midnight. Unfortunately, he was a little drunk and kept entering the wrong PIN. After three tries, the machine kept his card. Enraged, the suspect took the arm of his wheelchair and beat the machine. He then went back to his van and retrieved a small caliber handgun and shot the machine several times....
Officer Holley goes on to describe his investigation and the outcome of the case.
10-22-1999, 08:32 AM
Brunvand does make clear, usually in the introductory portions of his books, that not all ULs must have a completely false starting point. Some may have been true in one case at one time. But what makes them ULs are the "friend of a friend" telling and spread of the legend. It would be one thing if everybody referred to the original case this guy mentioned -- but they don't. It's always that it happened in their town, or their pal's town, or whatever.
Just wanted to clarify that.
10-22-1999, 09:06 AM
Sorry...didn't mean to imply otherwise. Nor was I making any generalizations. I just found interesting - and stranger than fiction - the reported factual origin of one particular UL.
C K Dexter Haven
10-22-1999, 09:49 AM
Well... I dunno. In Dr Strangelove, doesn't Peter Sellers shoot a coke machine to get the change? Seems to me that the image of a man shooting a vending machine to get money out of it is pretty classic.
I haven't read Brunvand's new book, nor the Skeptical Inquirer article, but I'd be hesitant to suggest that incident is the source of the UL without some stronger evidence.
10-22-1999, 10:24 AM
Dex, that's a very good point. Just because it actually happened at one time doesn't mean that is the source of the UL. I had kind of been thinking about that when I first read the letter, but had forgotten when Poly sent me back to it again.
10-22-1999, 10:32 AM
Actually, CKDextHavn it is Col. Bat Guano "If that is your real name," who blasts a Pepsi machine at the behest of Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, RAF.
10-22-1999, 10:47 AM
C'mon, next you'll be telling me that post hoc ergo propter hoc isn't valid! :)
10-22-1999, 11:37 AM
Rodd, nope, it's a Coke machine. Guano tells him, "You know what's going to happen if you don't get the President on that line? You're going to have to answer to the Coca-Cola company." Delivered in perfect deadpan by Keenan Wynn, and one of my favorite movie moments.
"I love God! He's so deliciously evil!" - Stewie Griffin, Family Guy
10-22-1999, 01:11 PM
it wasn't peter sellers. it was peter smellers, a guy that lived down the street from my best friend, when he was little.
10-22-1999, 01:13 PM
Sorry, Dex...Mandrake tells Guano to shoot the Coke machine, Guano does so and drops to his knees to retrieve the change and gets sprayed in the face with sody-pop.
From the descriptions I've read of this new Brunevand book, the man is RE-re-recycling his research from thrity years back...is there ANY new stuff? Any reason to invest in this if I have (most of) his earlier texts?
10-22-1999, 01:15 PM
:::assumes "official-sounding" voice::::
This is your captain speaking. We have a man up here with a gun and a Hispanic accent. Estimated time of arrival in Havana is....
10-22-1999, 02:01 PM
Shane...wasn't he the same guy who assumed the alias of Peter Astey? ;)
10-22-1999, 02:43 PM
Ike, a lot of it is recycled, I'm afraid. They just aren't churning out ULs like they used to, I guess. :)
Seriously, though, he does go a bit into how some of the legends have been told (for example, quoting Ann Landers or Paul Harvey as they relate a UL as if it were true). And it is a compendium -- all the ULs in one place. Unfortunately, it doesn't have an index! You have to know the name of the UL, or at least what category it would fall into, in order to find it in the table of contents.
So, if you've already read all his others, I don't know that it's worth getting this one. I will say that I enjoyed it, though, and I have read all the previous ones.
10-22-1999, 07:00 PM
Since this is about Truth and vending machine destruction..... I can vouch for this because I was there.
In college, a good friend and I were coming in to the dorm late one weekend and we were slightly(!) sloshed. He proceeded to put money into the candy vending machine, but the little spiral device turned and the candy bar stayed on it. He shook the machine for a minute, then promptly shoved his fist through the plastic casing and grabbed the candy bar. I stood there in shock for a second, then hustled him upstairs to his room before the RA's came down to check on all the noise. It was kind of funny listening to all the gossip in the cafeteria the next few days as many people swore they saw it happen, but no one knew who did it.
C K Dexter Haven
10-23-1999, 12:58 AM
So, it IS the Peter Sellars character who shoots the machine, while Keenan Wynn looks on in disbelief? ... then I got it right, eh?
::: simpering :::: So the ol' memory isn't as bad as I thunk.
10-25-1999, 11:02 AM
DavidB said:They just aren't churning out ULs like they used to, I guess.
C'mon, Dave, stop grousing! You've got all of us posting stuff for you to debunk! :)
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