As any child knows, the steam breaking through the manhole covers in Manhattan comes from alligators in the sewers making cups of tea.
Likewise, if an unidentifiable carcass washes up on the beach of the East River it must be an atrocious creature from outer space.
Oddly, while the children figure out quite quickly that alligators in the subway system is nothing but silliness, the adults fall for the Martian invasion myth with remarkable frequency. In 2008, we got our knickers in a knot about the Montauk Monster, a carcass that rolled ashore at the end of Long Island. But that was four years ago.
Thank goodness then for Denise Ginley, a freelance photographer, who on a stroll last Monday on the eastern bank of Manhattan Isle, spotted something weird on the sand under the Brooklyn Bridge, leaped the fence, took a few snaps and, in a genius move for any freelancer after attention, zipped the images to the city's social blogs.
The online party began faster than you could say "flying saucer". About the only explanation that has not been offered so far is that this is the remains of a galactic captain who fell accidentally from the bridge of his spaceship, landed on the spike of the Chrysler Building, from where he was pinged, mortally wounded, into the East River.
The headline writers called it the "East River Monster", while some speculated it was a rat larger than any the world has seen. What it definitely is not is a cousin of the Montauk Monster. That, rather boringly, turned out to be a semi-decomposed raccoon.
The Parks Department then spoiled everything by saying it was nothing more than a pig, presumably discarded somewhere upstream. "We disposed of it," a spokesman said.
Yet something about the pig story doesn't quite convince. Pigs have trotters. But the pics clearly show piggy pinkies. Five on what almost look like little hands at the end of each leg. So the mystery endures. All of Gotham is on edge and even the alligators have stopped making tea. Independent