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Posts Tagged ‘alcatraz’

26
Jan'12

Legends Of Alcatraz: It Begins

   Posted by: thebruce

On January 27, something is happening at Alcatraz…

After JJ Abrams’ new TV series premiered on January 16th, visitors to LegendsOfAlcatraz.com were presented a short puzzle. Solving this puzzle revealed a cryptic announcement for an event that would take place at N37 49.6062 W122 25.3793907 – Alcatraz Island.

The announcement [image] indicated a time of “9:14″, and the dates January 27, 28, 29. On Wednesday, more details were provided:

We now know that the event will take place Friday evening, of January 27th. “It Begins.”

Dr. Soto has arranged exclusive night-time access to the Rock for those interested in helping him solve mysteries for his new book – “Legends of Alcatraz”.

The first 302 volunteers to check in when and where we say on Friday are selected.
Don’t miss this special once-in-a-lifetime adventure!

What to bring:

  • A flashlight
  • Warm clothes
  • A comfortable pair of shoes

Note:

  • This event will last approximately 2-3 hours. Food and drink will not be permitted on the island so please eat before you come.
  • Parking is not provided.
  • If under the age of 18, you must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
  • Valid ID required.

302 people – that’s number of guards and prisoners who ‘disappeared’ from Alcatraz in 1963.

Diego himself posted a new update to his comic shop’s tumblr, linking to an organization that re-enacts history. Could this be a hint of something we might see Friday night?

I can’t wait for them to do this again. Fort Point has a “Civil War Living History Day,” organized by the Friends of Civil War Alcatraz.

http://www.friendsofcivilwaralcatraz.org/LHD.htm

Attendees to Friday’s event will likely experience quite a memorable adventure, even if only for the visit to Alcatraz Island itself, at night. If “Diego” is indeed there, then expect more than just a simple tour of Alcatraz.

Can’t be there and want to see what happens during the event? Wikibruce will also be there!

  • Follow @Wikibrucethere for live updates from Alcatraz Island.
  • Follow the hashtag #legendsofalcatraz to see what people are saying.
  • Connect to IRC and join the channel #alcatraz on the server irc.chat-solutions.org to chat with others in the community — or use the Mibbit IRC interface embedded below.

Hopefully we can share the experience as best we can for those who won’t be there.

The fun starts Friday evening…

IRC Chat via Mibbit: #alcatraz on irc.chat-solutions.org
follow @Wikibrucethere for updates!

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Categories: ARGs General, TV Series, Viral General

23
Jan'12

Something’s happening at Alcatraz…

   Posted by: thebruce

How well do you know your Alcatraz history?

After the 2 hour premiere episode aired last Monday on Fox, the website hinted at in a puzzle from the mailed rabbit hole packages (and tweeted by @AlcatrazLegends) – LegendsOfAlcatraz.com – was updated with a message and input prompt related to the spaghetti riot of 1950.

Alcatraz Spaghetti Riot, 1950
Inmates had to find ways to communicate under the watchful eye of the prison guards. Scholars still wonder how they managed to coordinate exactly what time to stage their uprising.

Users were prompted to provide the correct answer… but how?

Looking closely at the blackboard message, there are a number of letters missing:

These spell out “CMXIV”, or converted from roman numerals: 914

Entering 914 into the prompt leads to an event announcement.

9:14 01_27.28.29_2012
IT BEGINS.
N37 49.6062 W122 25.3793907
STAY TUNED FOR MORE DETAILS:
@ALCATRAZLEGENDS
#LEGENDSOFALCATRAZ

Clue: Coordinates

The GPS coordinates N37 49.6062 W122 25.3793907 point to Alcatraz Island, and some have even attempted to narrow it down to a specific location within the prison. If the precise coordinates are indeed of any importance, here’s my estimate:


(diagram courtesy alcatrazhistory.com)

Clue: Time

“9:14″ – Is this in the morning? At night? As of this posting, no further details are known, but likely more will be revealed this week through @AlcatrazLegends and the hash tag.

What we do know

Something is happening at Alcatraz at 9:14am or pm, on the 27th, 28th, or 29th.  If you’re in the area, make sure to plan your trip to the island soon – Visit AlcatrazCruises.com, with ferries launching from Pier 33 regularly. Let’s hope we get some more details before Friday!

Tune in tonight on Fox at 9pm EST for the latest new episode of Alcatraz – and don’t forget to bookmark LegendsOfAlcatraz.com!

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Categories: ARGs General, TV Series, Viral General

18
Jan'12

A rabbit hole into the mystery of Alcatraz

   Posted by: thebruce

What do a dying white flower, a Ford Mustang lapel pin, and a comic book store have in common?

They’re three of a hand-full of cryptic items received by a number of media and community outlets, including Wikibruce.com, tied together only by the historic – and mysterious – prison island of Alcatraz, as portrayed in the new TV series from JJ Abrams.

Alcatraz is historically known as the “The Rock” – an island situated in San Francisco Bay converted to a maximum-security prison, touted essentially as an impenetrable, and inescapable fortress. Supposedly.

In 2007, I had the privilege of visiting the prison when the ARGFest alternate reality gaming conference took place in San Francisco. The tour was a chilling, exciting look into history, providing a glimpse at the troubling and unsettling lifestyles of those who were sentenced and trapped within its walls.

It’s not surprising that Alcatraz has greatly interested creator JJ Abrams whose TV series premiered January 16th, which explores a mystery about the island and its inhabitants. And of course, JJ with his metaphorical mystery box has once again begun a viral/transmedia campaign to help extend the show and its story beyond our television set.

On Friday the 13th, Wikibruce received this package, laid out below, containing some mysterious artifacts from Abrams’ world of “Alcatraz”. If this extended experience is planned to be anywhere as expansive as the LOST Experience, it’s a good bet there is certainly much more to come during the life of the TV show.

The Package


This package was shipped from Burbank, CA. It’s unlikely that the source of the shipment is of any significance, being primarily to hide the viral creator identity (999-999-9999 is certainly not a mistake!).

The Box…


 

The metal box inside the packaging had no lock, and is a brushed metal texture.

Its contents:

1. A tour brochure “Discover Alcatraz” from 2011

2. A decrepit white flower

3. Alcatraz branded key

4. A Ford Mustang lapel pin

5. Newspaper clip from SF Intelligencer, March 22 1963

6. A postcard sent by “Susie” to “Nana Feinstein”

7. A souvenir lenticular postcard

8. Torn corner of page 65 from “Inmates of Alcatraz”

9. Torn magazine page with a book review and 2012 Ford Mustang ad

The Flower…

 

Other reported packages have contained a still live-looking flower, but have been reported it as either a white lotus, or a daisy.

There is a yellow chrysanthemum flower connection with the film Escape From Alcatraz:

We are first exposed to this flower in the yard during the prisoner’s sole hour of recreation each week. Doc, a venerable, old felon, paints a self-portrait with a flower in his breast pocket. Upon probing by Morris, we learn that it is a metaphor for his spirit. While the warden can take away all of his rights, the one thing they cannot take away from him is his flower. As long as he has his flower, his will to live, and, to some extent, to escape, will continue. To some, this symbolizes the never-ending struggle to escape from the island. Yet, to all, it provides them with a symbol of hope that they too will not wilt under the severity of the penal system.
~source: Return to Alcatraz

The Key…

 

Replica of an Alcatraz cellhouse key. All packages’ keys appear to be identical.

Ford…

 

A Ford Mustang tri-bar lapel pin.

Ford, clearly a corporate sponsor of the show, will undoubtedly be appearing repeatedly in any Alcatraz-related content, as seen in the Mustang ads below.

The Newspaper Clip…

 

San Francisco Bay Intelligencer, March 22 1963. The article of interest: “The Final Lockdown” by Gretchen Juerera. This article is dated the day after Alcatraz was closed and all inmates reportedly transferred.

Reverse: teaser ad for the announcement of the 1964 Ford Mustang.

(transcripts below)

The Final Countdown

ALCATRAZ. The very name connotes solitude, fear and punishment.

Thousands of America’s worst criminals were sentenced to hard time in this notorious penitentiary; many died there, others served out the full term of their respective stays, but nobody ever escaped. It was a severe locale that offered little to no promise of hope or redemption.

Last night, however, all USP Alcatraz prisoners vacated the premises once and for all.

What was the government’s official reason for closing the facility? In a word: money. Estimates indicate that it was costing over ten dollars per day to house the typical inmate. Compare that to the three-dollar per capita cost at other federal institutions. The financial strain was becoming too exorbitant to bear; shutdown was inevitable.

Prison officials declined our interview requests, citing their prohibitively hectic schedules. Instead, Warden Edwin James issued the following statement to the press:

“This is an immense undertaking. We are completing the transfer paperwork on 256 inmates and working to find comparable positions for all 46 of our federal employees who will be displaced by this transition. But rest assured; our relocation initiative is taking every precaution to preserve the safety of all individuals involved, especially the civilian population at large.”

So, what will become of the ominous rock jutting from our majestic bay? City planners are remaining tight-lipped on the matter, but one thing is for sure: it is indelibly seared into the landscape of our past, our present and our future.

1964 Ford Mustang teaser:

The most exciting thing on TV tonight will be a commercial

Get your first good look at next year’s most exciting new car.
The new 1964 Ford Mustang!
Tonight

Susie’s Postcard…

 

A postcard depicting Alcatraz Island. Other packages received different postcards, however they all had the same message from “Susie” written (individually hand-written, I might add) on the backs.

Alternate versions can be seen at Comingsoon.net and Movieweb.com [img]

The message references the scene near the beginning of episode 1, where a young girl (who we can assume to be Susie) breaks away from her tour group, and spots the episode’s antagonist Jack Sylvane lying in a cell.

Dear Nana,
Alkatraz is fun. It smells old here. I went to a part where I wasn’t supost[sic] to go and a man was sleeping in the jail cell. I screamed and mom and dad found me. The guard told the sleeping man to leave. We all went home on the ferry.

Love, Susie

Souvenir Postcard…

 

This postcard is a heavier stock lenticular postcard, from 2008. The two scenes, seen by pivoting the card vertically, depict Alcatraz cell block C circa 1960, and as it appears ‘today’ (2008).

No further writing is on the clean postcard.

The Inmates…

 

This torn corner of page 85/86 is from the book “Inmates of Alcatraz“. On the front, p65, is the mug shot of Jack Sylvane, the episode 1 antagonist. The page itself appears on-screen (src: WelcomeToAlcatraz), though slightly different in page layout. Jack’s prison ID reads:

U.S. Penitentiary
Alcatraz
2024
04 27 56

On the reverse is another inmate who we know as episode 2‘s antagonist, named Ernest Cobb. His ID:

U.S. Penitentiary
Alcatraz
2047
08 25 60

Nancy’s Book Review…

 

And finally, the artifact most relevant to the online campaign, a book review by Nancy Gleinen. This is page 34, torn from a magazine named “Commerce Quantified”. Nancy reviews the book Inmates of Alcatraz, by Dr. Diego Soto. Letters throughout the article are circled, however, and when put together spell “legendsofalcatraz”

This quickly led people to LegendsOfAlcatraz.com, a landing site boldly branded for the TV series. At the time of the show’s premiere, it contained a countdown to the airing of episode 1.

Inmates of Alcatraz appears in the TV show as the book that led officer Rebecca Madsen to Diego, who she considered a specialist in Alcatraz knowledge, as she sought help to locate the criminal (and ex-Alcatraz inmate) Jack Sylvane.

On the page reverse: Poetic symmetry – an ad for Ford’s upcoming 2013 Mustang. “All legend. Zero compromise.”

Nancy’s Non-Fiction Nook
Literary reviews by Nancy Gleinen

With his enthralling Inmates of Alcatraz, Dr. Diego Soto goes behind the bars and unlocks the twisted lives of a population formerly lost to history.

If you want a healthy dose of murder, regret and intrigue, don’t resort to watching soap operas – head out to your local bookstore and pick up the latest entry in Soto’s already impressive oeuvre that I like to call ‘Alcatraz revisited.’  He goes beyond the usual suspects (your Capones, your Machine Gun Kellys, your Birdmen) and paints an intimate portrait of dozens of forgotten inmates, each story leaping from the page with ferocity and renewed urgency. It’s as if they’re reanimating before your very eyes!

Despite the human-centric title, the book also delves into the foreboding setting of Alcatraz Island. ‘The Rock’ has never been so jagged, menacing and craggy – every vista provides a skewed take on humanity, Soto-style. He finds a way to transform the irregular outcropping into a shiv of brilliance. It is the judge, jury and executioner in this sordid tale of amorality run akok; no matter how notable the real-life characters in this book may be, they will never overshadow the prison itself.

But don’t take my word for it – Soto’s whimsical prose speaks for itself. Here’s an excerpt from the opening chapter of Inmates:

“Everything about USP Alcatraz is larger than life; the people, the history, even the daily operations boggle the mind. For instance, the feds shipped about a million gallons of fresh water from the mainland every week. Imagine: bringing water to an island. Trip out on that.”

Trip out, indeed. Soto bites into his subject matter like a jubilant piranha, shredding all preconceptions and injecting new blood into the burgeoning subgenre of obscure historiography. He revels in every scrap of evidence, reads them like decaying tea leaves and translates the whispers of the past into thunderous declarations of the now. Suffice it to say, Inmates of Alcatraz is my Book of the Week!

Diego “Doc” Soto is also the owner of a comic book shop called “Doc’s Comics and Collectibles”, which appears a few times in the show. He’s a somewhat social author, in that he’s also set up the twitter account @SotoDoc, though hasn’t used it in months. Additionally, he set up a very minimalistic tumbr blog for his store at docscomics.tumblr.com. Inside, we find an embedded commercial for his Inmates book — watch here:

View on Youtube

From the episodes themselves, keen-eyed observers noticed a number of easter eggs and potential leads. For example, one of JJ Abrams’ staple easter eggs is the inclusion of the name “Kelvin” in his projects – his way of dedicating his work to his grandfather who influenced him as a child. Two instances have already been spotted.

Additionally, in episode 2 a QR code was spotted next to Jack’s new cell block’s label “AZ 2024″. As of this writing, no one’s recreated a scannable replica of the code to determine what it reads.

We’ve also been led to an official twitter account and hash tag to follow – @AlcatrazLegends / #LegendsOfAlcatraz

Viral Verdict

Having watched the 2 hour premiere, it’s clear that the package contents were intended to tease at elements of the 2 episodes’ plots – from Jack Sylvane and Ernest Cobb to the very minor role of the young girl on the prison tour. The fact that much of the box content is available today for anyone visiting the island doesn’t lead me to believe that there any additional hints or unresolved threads. I’ve even combed over every artifact with a black light, hoping to find a hidden message, somewhere, but come up blank.

The existence of the (abandoned?) twitter account, and Diego’s tumblr blog implies that transmedia- possibly ARGish- content was, and likely still is on the drawing board. However, where LOST’s campaign provided mysteries and clues from the get-go, it seems that this rabbithole package has been fully resolved, being simply a teaser for the 2 hour premiere episodes.

The show itself has interested me, however, with a healthy dose of crime action, humour, and mystery (though somewhat diluted by preview videos and detailed looks at the series plot), but it left with a decent cliffhanger, beckoning me to return and watch the next episode.  My primary hope though, is that with the apparent structure of the plot dealing with returning inmates – and guards – the extended experience will provide an independent parallel plot with its own characters and real-world mysteries and events tied in to the show, akin to the extended experience provided by the creators of Heroes.

Are authors Nancy Gleinen and Gretchen Juerera just one-offs? Will we see Diego’s book “Inmates of Alcatraz” appear in full for sale on Amazon or in book stores? Will Susie and Nana make a reappearance? Will we have more of Diego’s comic-book store activities entertain us? Will we help solve an inmate mystery and track down a criminal in the real world?

Stay tuned! — Since the show aired, LegendsOfAlcatraz.com has revealed something new…

 

Alcatraz on FOX

Some official Alcatraz lore guide videos:

Other Alcatraz transmedia experience links

Tags:

Categories: ARGs General, Rabbit Hole, TV Series, Viral General