Attention David Lynch
|By Billy Cox|
By simply remembering their names, history rewards those who prevail against conventional wisdom and expose the experts for whiny laggards. Heinrich Schliemann, who discovered the fabled ruins of Troy, and George Clark, who discovered dodo bones after the extinct birds had been relegated to myth, were once dismissed as flakes. And for every Schliemann and Clark, there are countless Lloyd Pyes for whom time simply runs out.
Lloyd’s number came up far too soon Monday, at age 67, and well short of his stated destination of rewriting human history. But what an amazing, quixotic journey for the native Louisianan and his 14-year companion, a nine-century-old skull he called Starchild. On the playing field of human endeavor, the former running back for Tulane surely rates a few cheers for tenacity.
I met Lloyd in Metarie in 1999. He lived in a one-bedroom apartment and drove a beat-up Buick Roadmaster whose odometer indicated it was just a few thousand miles shy of Earth to the moon. He was smart, intense and funny, with a self-deprecating drawl that belied a fierce command of arcane vocabularies, from arthrology to cryptozoology. And so much for corporate ladders and the psychology degree. “I couldn’t see myself listening to people piss and moan all day long,” he said of his career choices, “and I’m not enough of a materialist or a humanitarian to go into law or medicine.”
Instead, Lloyd pursued the missing links in human evolution. The obsession led him into the fog of Bigfoot and Zecharia Sitchin and the Mesopotamian Anunnaki and planet Nibiru. He rejected Creationism and Darwinism for another option called Interventionalism. He had just published the audaciously titled Everything You Know is Wrong. Then suddenly, a bolt from the blue — Lloyd found himself in possession of two apparently Pre-Columbian skulls. Kismet. It was almost too good to be true. One was so egregiously deformed he theorized it could be that of an alien being, or no less than a hybrid. The details are available at his web site. And yet, Starchild struck a universal and totally human chord.
“All my life,” he said, “I’ve wanted to do something that wasn’t just different, but something with value, something with meaning.” Maybe Starchild was the smoking gun. If only he could prove it. But that would take big bucks. And, to paraphrase Clint Eastwood, Lloyd Pye was a man who knew his limitations. “Truthfully,” he admitted, “my fundraising skills are so sparse, I’m not sure I could raise dust on a dirt farm.”
Lloyd spent the next 14 years consulting with scientists, labs, and investors on a see-saw of dashed hopes and dead ends, glimmers of hope and second wind. Cautiously baffled expert opinion on Starchild ranged from neuromuscular freak to cradleboarded hydrocephalic. And then, in February, the last time I saw Lloyd, he rolled into Sarasota with his girlfriend Vivienne, trumpeting a breakthrough: He’d found a sugar daddy in Tampa willing to start a foundation to subject Starchild to the pricey rigors of a Genome Sequencer. It was the best chance of resolving the DNA mystery once and for all.
But there was a problem — Wikipedia.
Lloyd said Wiki’s “Starchild skull” entry, created by a Yale Medical School neurologist and member of the New England Skeptics Society, was outdated, incomplete, and misleading. Potential investors for whom Wikipedia might be their only exposure to the controversy would likely walk away after a quick read. Particularly galling to him was this line: “[Pye and an associate] claim that they have consulted with 50 experts (whom they will not disclose) yet not one of the experts was able to adequately explain the Starchild’s appearance on the basis of a natural deformity.” But that clearly wasn’t true. Lloyd’s website listed at least 10 medical professionals who’d analyzed the skull — pediatricians, radiologists, ophthalmologists, neurocranial plastic surgeons. Lloyd's attempts to get the Wiki info corrected were futile. There wasn’t much De Void could do but blog about it.
And that was pretty much it, until July, when Lloyd sent out an email blast saying he’d been diagnosed with inoperable stomach cancer, and that he was heading to Europe for alternative therapies. But when his travels ended a few days ago, he was back where he started, in Louisiana, with family.
It’s not clear what happens to the Starchild Project now, but it’s safe to say the orphaned skull will never have a more passionate or colorful advocate. Maybe, coming as it did before serious DNA mapping could begin, Lloyd’s death spared him the ultimate blow. When I asked what it would mean for him if Starchild turned out to be human, he just sighed. “I’m a blowed-up peckerwood, that’s all there is to say. I’m as low or lower than when I started. It’s going to be really, really bad.”
So, Lloyd, wherever you are, take a bow. The road less traveled is full of thorns and snakes, but you made the trip anyway, without a flashlight, without a map, trusting yourself — as Kipling wrote — when all men doubt you. It may not be good enough for history, but it’s good enough for now. Rest in peace.
Oh, and p.s.: That Wikipedia error you were pissed about? It’s been deleted.
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