The Old Grey Lady doesn’t like to think of herself as sensationalist. She’s the newspaper of record and prefers to stick to sober facts and objective truth when covering a story. Except, of course, when that story takes place in the thick backwoods of East Texas. When writing about Texas, it’s just too hard to resist calling an aquatic fern a “lake-eating monster
” in a headline.
Lake Caddo — home to Eagle’s drummer Don Henley — has been infested with a weed called Salvinia molesta, which, according to the Times, has the “ability to double in size every two to four days and cover 40 square miles within three months, suffocating all life beneath.” Sounds pretty bad, but “a lake-eating monster?” That’s the kind of headline that will get a story lodged on the 10 Most Emailed Articles for weeks.
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Turns out the source for that quote was none other than Jack Canson, a former Hollywood scriptwriter who lives on Lake Caddo. One of Canson’s scripts — Seedpeople — happens to be about an alien monster plant that takes over a small town. “It’s your classic 1950s drive-in-movie-monster plant,” Canson confided in the Times.
So, a B-movie screenwriter becomes a source for a story in which a real-life phenomenon comes to resemble his idea for a bad horror movie. Is that even fit to print?
UPDATE: They don't call us Houstoned for nothing. We just remembered Richard Connelly actually used horror movie imagery when he wrote about Salvinia molesta a few years back. The title of Connelly's piece was "Killer Weed." How appropriate.