Last Friday, owners of the Paseo Grill in Oklahoma City arrived to work to find a three-foot-tall, 300-pound concrete monument on their front lawn. They don’t know where it came from or who put it there. Its jagged bottom suggests that it was ripped off a larger foundation, but how or by whom is unknown. (Hey, it sure beats the time my friend came home to find a toilet randomly sitting on her lawn.) The monument’s mysterious appearance is strange in and of itself, but stranger still is its inscription: “In the Year of Our Lord 2012 Crier Pipi claimed this land for Azathoth.” Well, okay.
The beginning is easy enough — this isn’t some ancient rock. But I don’t know who Crier Pipi is, and neither does Google. I don’t know if that’s a reference to a news bearer or town crier or just a reference to the French verb “to scream.” Just to make things eerie, I’ll vote for the latter. More interesting is the Azathoth reference — fans of H.P. Lovecraft will recognize the name as that of the god of chaos in Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos and Dream Cycle fiction.
Lovecraft, an early 1900s writer of what is sometimes simply called “weird fiction,” combined science fiction with cosmic horror, often plumbing the depths of the Earth, planets, and universe to write about forces and beings greater than, and even beyond the comprehension of, human beings. Lovecraft lived most of his adult live in Providence and died of cancer at the age of 47.
Lovecraft first came up with the name of Azathoth, which he described as “hideous” in 1919. Some theorize that it’s a riff on Anathoth (biblical Jeremiah’s home), or a combining of that word with Azazel, a demon. Scholars believe Lovecraft wanted to turn the Azathoth idea into a novel, which never really got off the ground, and all that remains today is a 500-word story fragment. Check it out — it’s an uplifting little piece with “grey cities,” “smoky skies,” and “towers grim and ugly,” as well as a man searching for “the spaces whither the world’s dreams had fled.” Is this man Crier Pipi? Who knows? Lovecraft didn’t name him.
Azathoth also appears in Lovecraft’s story “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath,” as well as a few others after that, including “The Whisperer in Darkness,” in which he describes Azathoth as “the monstrous nuclear chaos beyond angled space.”
Interesting as all that is, it doesn’t help the Paseo Grill’s owners. They tried to move the monument, but three men working together could only budge it a few inches. They called the police, who said, “Are you nuts?! We’re not fucking with this Lovecraft thing!”
I don’t think the Paseo Grill should move this thing. It might be sitting atop some kind of portal or hellmouth, or it might be keeping some ancient evil at bay. Plus, it’s got this restaurant some press, and you know what they say about that. As an added perk, I bet this restaurant gets some colorful customers in the coming days. Maybe even the god of chaos himself will show.