At the start of November, I ran a seminar for a university transmedia course on ARGs, Alternate Reality Games. I was looking specifically at examples of three ARG-like projects had been taken as real, with disturbing effects. This post lists some of the links that I referred to. Another will follow with some thoughts on ARGs.
Located in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, Ong’s Hat was listed as a town on early maps of the area. It may have been the site of a small village, but it was probably just the site of a Ong’s hut, a place a farmer named Ong stopped on his way to market. But even by the 1930s, Ong’s Hat still appeared on maps of the area, although there was nothing there but the remains of an old shack in the middle of New Jersey’s ancient forest.
Fast-forward to the 1980s, when strange stories started appearing seemingly at random on bulletin board services and ‘zines detailing an elaborate conspiracy concerning a group of mystics and scientists who opened a door between dimensions at Ong’s Hat.
The story, created by Joseph Matheny and detailed in his book The Incunabula Papers: Ong’s Hat And Other Gateways To New Dimensions, is a work of fiction, but many of the weirdos and cranks who followed the elaborate breadcrumb trail of clues Matheny and others left were convinced it was real. As late as the 2000s, truth-seekers were showing up at Matheny’s door looking for the true story of Ong’s Hat.
The Prop Anon Podcast explores the life and work of American novelist, Robert Anton Wilson through interviews and discussions with some of the most cutting-edge artists and thinkers around today. The Prop Anon Podcast presents interviews with Artists, Journalists, Comedians Comic Book Writers, Scientists, Community Activists, and Musicians as we think of ways to make existence, in the words of Bill Hicks, “a better ride” for everyone on Spaceship Planet Earth!
Joseph Matheny, transmedia Artist and creator of Ong’s Hat, the first Alternative Reality Game speaks about ‘weaponized’ ARGs, propaganda, how to free oneself from mental slavery, and works of Robert Anton Wilson
I had a wonderful conversation with Gabriela L. Laracca of Asbury Park Press which was a rather atypical interview about Ong’s Hat because it focused on one of my passions, long-distance hiking.
Here’s a fun article about hiking in Ong’s Hat.
It’s no question that weird things can be felt in the eerily silent trails in the Pine Barrens.
The cracking of every twig prompts an over-the-shoulder glance for things unknown.
It’s like you’re in a scary movie — or at least getting into the Halloween spirit.
For those not faint of heart, mysterious legends are waiting to be found, hidden along the same trails their subjects once walked (or ran) hundreds of years ago.
One of these is the Batona Trail (short for “back to nature”), which spans from Pemberton to Little Egg Harbor through 50 miles of sand and pitch pines. It has several trailheads, some with grim stories.
The most notorious is the legend of Ong’s Hat. The Ong’s Hat Trailhead is just off of Magnolia Road, which can be reached via Route 70 in Pemberton.
The leaf-covered Batona Trail at the Ong’s Hat trailhead in Pemberton.
This portion of town, once called Ong’s Hat, was believed to be named after a former resident — and he was a bit of a lady’s man. That was until a woman became angry with him and stomped on his hat, prompting him to storm off in a rage, only to throw his hat into the air and get it stuck in a tree. It hung there as an eerie reminder for years.
Visitors began to recognize the town by the hat, and all that’s left today of the small village are ruins of a ghost town that no one seems to be able to find.
Now for the fun part: Some believe it’s a portal to an alternate dimension.
A rundown of the John Titor legend from one of my favorite Youtube Channels The Why Files. The part about yours truly starts at 23:42 or just watch the entire piece (recommended). As far as the veracity of this claim? I plead the fifth.
New Jersey is one of the most historic states in the U.S.; because of this, it definitely has its fair share of abandoned and forgotten communities.
The village known as Ong’s Hat in Burlington County can be found within New Jersey’s Pine Barrens. This small community can be seen on many maps throughout history, some of which date back centuries. The earliest findings are on a map made in 1778. According to local legend, the town had just a handful of houses as well as a hotel and thriving dance hall. As industry changed and the landscape of America shifted, the town slowly became completely abandoned.
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