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Abandoned Cities

In these past couple of years, there has been a trend of post-apocalyptic media. From TV shows and movies such as Life After People and The Road, to video games such as Fallout and the S.T.A.L.K.E.R series, the post-apocalyptic genre is very popular in today’s culture. Fortunately the earth hasn’t experienced such a doomsday scenario as portrayed in fictional mediums. However, there are places in the world where people have abandoned entire cities, eerily similar to a post-apocalyptical wasteland. Abandoned towns, villages, and cities have occurred throughout human civilization due to a number of factures: Natural disasters, man-made disasters, mining contaminants, military conflict, disease, economic decline, and lack of resources to name a few. Many of these places have become tourist destinations. Out of the hundreds of abandoned cities/towns/villages, here are just a few I personally find interesting:
oradour-sur-glane entrance.image by Dennis Nilsson

Oradour-sur-Glane: On June 10th 1944, the entire French village of Oradour-sur-Glane (pop. 642) was massacred by the Nazi SS. The women and children were rounded up in the town’s church and were burned alive while the men were lead to the barns, shot in the legs, and were led to the same fate as their families. The village is now a memorial.
image from wikipedia

Belchite: This town in Spain was the casualty of the Spanish Civil War. General Franco personally kept the town in ruins as a memorial for the war.

Varosha, Famagusta: Varosha was the southern part of the city Famagusta in Cyprus. It was a popular tourist destination until the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. Since then the population of Varosha has fled and only the Turkish military and United Nations personnel are allowed inside the city.

Ağdam: In the country of Azerbaijan, the town of Ağdam fell to the Nagorno Karabakh Republic in 1993. Ever since, it has been a ghost town.

Deception Island: This island off the coast of Antarctica was once home to whalers and scientists stationed there. However many of the bases are abandoned due to frequent volcanic eruptions. Now it is a popular tourist spot due to its population of chinstrap penguins and hot volcanic baths.

Wittenoom: Once a prosperous mining town for blue asbestos in Western Australia, Wittenoom was abandoned when the dangers of asbestos was known. 85 people have died from mesothelioma by 1986 and it is estimated that by 2020 700 cases will be known (Reference: A.W. Musk; N.H. de Klerk; J.L. Eccles; M.S.T. Hobbs (1993). “Mesothelioma: the Wittenoom experience”) It is known as the worst industrial disaster in Australian history.

Centralia, PA: Located in the state of Pennsylvania, Centralia was a small coal mining town. Since 1962 however, a coal mine fire beneath the town has been burning and has forced residents to leave their homes due to the levels carbon monoxide and poor air quality. Centralia was the inspiration of the fictional town in the 2006 film, Silent Hill.

Hashima (Gunkanjima): Translated as Battleship Island in English, Hashima is an island off the coast of Nagasaki, Japan. It was used from 1887 to 1974 as a coal mining facility, housing around 5000 workers at its peak in the 60’s. Eventually the coal mining industry in Japan declined and Hashima was abandoned.

Prypiat & Chernobyl: Prypiat, located in Northern Ukraine was originally built to house workers that were employed at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. At its height, the city was home to 50,000 people. The older city of Chernobyl lay nearby. On April 26, 1986 the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant experienced a power surge and caused multiple explosions that sent radioactive material to rain down, exposing thousands of people in nearby cities to nuclear radiation. Due the amount of radioactivity, both Chernobyl and Prypiat were evacuated and abandoned; however a few people came back to Chernobyl and chose to stay despite the risk. The Chernobyl disaster was the worst nuclear disaster in recorded history.

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Para-Report: Slender Man


In my never ending quest for paranormal phenomena, I have unexpectedly stumbled upon the Slender Man as I was browsing TV Tropes. I found it interesting, so I decided to make an entry about the Slender Man, just to summarize what he/it is.

The Slender Man, like his name sake, is a tall, faceless humanoid dressed in a business suit. In rare occasions he has normal human proportions; however he is more commonly portrayed as having long multiple arms/tentacles, giving the Slender Man a grotesque appearance. His presence causes visual and audio distortions in video cameras and many people describe feeling cold when he is nearby. Slender Man is often sighted in heavily wooded areas, standing perfectly still as he watches his victims from both far and near. His omnipresence as he continuously stalks his targets often renders his victims into a constant state of paranoia when they finally come to the realization that they are being watched by an unknown entity. Depending on the account, the Slender Man, after days, weeks, months, or even years of stalking his victims, either kills them or drives his victims to such a high degree of fear that they commit suicide. The Slender Man is also known for kidnapping children although lately it seems that he has a preference to terrorize college age adults (See Marble Hornets, Everyman HYBRID, and Tribe Twelve below).

The Slender Man is actually the product of a Photoshop thread on the website Something Awful as a contest to see who could create the creepiest photo image (Victor Surge was the first to have information about Slender). From there, Slender Man has crept from the dark corners of the internet to the real world, starring in several YouTube and blog series. It is not uncommon to see people from all across different web sites and mediums interacting with one another with their own “Slendy” experiences, akin to a massive role playing game.

Lately, I’ve been trying to piece together the appearance of the Slender Man (Warning: Pure speculation from here on out). The business suit, his trademark feature is an interesting piece. Normally we associate business suits with the government or those who work in corporate/white-collared jobs. For something so ordinary to be paired with something monstrous is unnerving to say the least (it also raises the question on why the Slender Man wears a suit. Is he a salesman from hell? An alien trying to emulate humans?) However Slender Man is not the only paranormal entity that wears a suit; so do the Men in Black. Not only do the Men in Black and the Slender Man have a similar taste in clothing but they also have another thing in common: Observing their victims, resulting in paranoia. However Slender’s and the MLB’s sense of paranoia have a different flavors; in MLB’s case, it’s more that the victims have a deep seated fear of the government watching them, while in Slender Man’s case, it is the sense of something unknown stalking them (which in my opinion is far more terrifying).

Although the MLB/Slender Man connection is stretch, I believe that Slender Man’s appearance may be more directly influenced by Anonymous. Both wear suits and although those who belong to Anonymous normally wear Guy Fawkes masks in demonstrations, they have worn (and sometimes are artistically rendered) as having no face, like the Slender Man. Considering that they both have internet origins and that Anonymous is well known, it wouldn’t be impossible that those that created Slender Man’s image may have subconsciously invoked a nightmarish Anonymous member.

One last comparison is of Slender Man and the G-Man from the Half-Life series. G-man, like the Men in Black, also wears a suit. However unlike the MLB, he has (so far) no connections to any government agency and like the Slender Man, his origins are a mystery. Throughout Half-Life 2, G-man can be spotted in hidden locations, giving the feeling that he is observing the player, very much like the Slender Man in various YouTube series. Lastly, if the player tries to investigate where the G-man is hiding, he has disappeared. Many Half-Life fans speculate that the G-man can teleport which is an ability that Slender Man is also said to have, depending on the account.

G-Man

What I find fascinating with the Slender Man is that instead of remaining an obscure internet meme, he has now become his own urban legend. Although entirely fabricated, Slender Man has developed a life of his own due to the bloggers and youtubers that have continued to add to the myth. Perhaps over time, people will forget Slender’s internet origins and when his tale is told to newer generations, they will start to believe that he really is right behind them.

Slender Man related videos/blogs/websites:
A slideshow of Slender Man pictures
Slender Man’s origins video
Everyman HYBRID
WickedStickyAlex (Part of Everyman HYBRID)
Marble Hornets
Tribe Twelve
Jonclubs113
Just Another Fool
Know Your Meme-Slender Man