You Best Believe It

Frank Sinatra painted on a spider web. Two-trunked elephants. Shrunken heads. If an oddity is worthy of a proper sideshow, roadside attraction, or even its own heavily guarded museum exhibit, you don’t have to tell Edward Meyer: he’s already intimately familiar with it. After all, you don’t become curator (and original founder) of Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Museums (as well as editor, writer, and publisher of more than 50 Ripley’s books) by keeping your head in the sand.

Meyer has been expanding the eccentric company for 20-plus years under one rule: everything must be authentic. That double-nosed pachyderm? It was DNA tested. The minimized cranium? It’s an artifact, a final vestige from a 100-year-old Indian ceremony. And Old Blue Eyes on Charlotte’s spindle? Well, hell, that’s just fascinating in its own right.

Now consider this: Meyer has spent the better part of his life working in Ripley’s two-story warehouse, it’s the size of a football field, and it’s filled to capacity with oddities: curious spectacles waiting patiently until Meyer finds the perfect place to showcase their glory. There’s no doubt that a life like his is as interesting, peculiar, and varied as the collection itself. Wouldn’t you like to hear about it? Well, today you can. Meyer is speaking at the Gubelmann Auditorium (2 Four Arts Plaza, Palm Beach); he’s following a local girl who communicates with lizards. The whole thing is free and starts at 10 a.m. Free? I don’t believe it.
Sat., Dec. 15, 10 a.m., 2007

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Jamie Laughlin