We'll See You On The Other Side…

Ghosts

The Danger With the Dead

Paranormal Investigating is dangerous. A blanket statement I’ve heard many times from many sources more specifically regarding the effects of actively seeking to contact the dead. But what does it mean? Where does it come from? Why and how should we heed the warning?

As someone who feels called to do work with the paranormal,  I have pondered this question for years. I have often heard: “The living scare me more than the dead.”  And a calm, methodical, and nearly emotionless approach to investigations is worn as a badge of honor by most investigators who are still struggling to be taken seriously in a field that is slow to yield “scientifically accepted” methods.e362ef3bd89172805e449b33a8f909d9

Most religions teach that the living should not seek to interact with the dead. Some go so far as to call it a sin. And these days, it is not only organized religion asserting that the danger is real.  Investigators both on and off television have gone so far as to say that “ghost hunting” has ruined their lives.

So…should we stop? I believe all things come down to finding a balance. For most of us, investigating is a passion. We would leap at the chance to make it our profession. We envision ourselves as the ones who can help bring more credibility to the field, to show the world that place ~where spirit meets science.~ I know I do. Because of this, we would love to believe that the supposed dangers are largely blown out of proportion. But that would be foolish and irresponsible.

There is an array of methods in the name of protection. From visualizing a protective bubble of white light, to saints medals, to crystals and smudging, an investigator’s kit is not complete without the tools that help to make the job safe. But what, exactly, are we protecting ourselves from? And how can we be sure our methods are correct?

A few weeks ago I had an interaction with a living person that shed some new light on this subject. This girl was a crater of desperation. She was desperate to be heard, desperate to be important, desperate to be validated. The need was so deep it bordered on panic.  She was a black hole looking for stars to eat…a sucking wound. Our conversation left me exhausted and obsessively pondering how I could have better made my point with her. The truth is, there was nothing I could have said or done to help her short of giving her everything she felt entitled to. Her whole world revolved around her. The rest of us were supporting characters in her drama.

emotional-vampires-suck

I don’t know what circumstances she has had to deal with in her life. And it doest matter because circumstances are neither good nor bad. Our outlook colors them for better or for worse. Her reactions created the person she is now. The same is true for us in the afterlife.

As I spoke with her, I felt more and more like I had to carefully choose my words to the point where I found myself silent for fear of saying the wrong thing and losing any chance of being heard. There was a manipulation at work, I was sure. But it was so fine that I could not identify the how or the why of it. It just yielded the feeling that the only right thing to say was that which she wanted to hear. It was oppressive.

In the days to follow, my thoughts returned not to the conversation, but to the feelings it provoked; anger, hopelessness, frustration, coupled with a need to go back and try again. Insanity. And I could see a clear correlation between what I had experienced with a living being and with what many people report when it comes to oppressive hauntings.

I believe there are many paths that lead to ghostly outcomes like a death so sudden the soul doesn’t realize it has occurred, but when there are reports of angry spirits, vengeful ghosts, the dead who attack, oppress and possess the living, it is no different than the girl I dealt with. Okay…it is SLIGHTLY different. She couldn’t follow me home.

4b910bd84a67ba1c7a24b0d9f24d2542

But take into consideration someone like that, someone who feels their plight is so desperate that they must resort to whatever means are necessary to get that which they need. As living beings we enjoy the relative safety of physical boundaries. You can see a person wielding weapons. You can log out, hang up, move away. But the dead have a whole other arsenal. Bodiless, they resort to energetic attacks and attachments. They prey on your nervous system, causing symptoms, the source of which remains a mystery. From depression and rage to physical ailments like heart attack, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune diseases, something as simple as trying to get your attention can be harmful.

hauntedmirror_scratches

Strangerdimensions.com

The souls who fail to crossover, those who are clinging in a futile attempt to hang onto   the things they had or the life they knew, are lingering in a world reflective of their fears and the negativity they attached to the circumstances of their lives. Some are trapped in their death states, others may be trapped in the mental illness from which they suffered, confused and looking for someone with which to share their pain. And since they cannot tell you, they might do whatever they can to show you.

misery-loves-company-quote-1

Many people believe that their interaction with the dead can’t be harmful if it is born of good intentions. But there is a cliche about that for a reason. If a spirit is lost to a perpetual state of fear and confusion, the offer of help may be enough to attract attention but might be too little to do any good leading to unwanted attachments for the investigator or increased activity at the location. It is like deciding to save a drowning man. If you jump in the water while they are flailing, there is a chance they will take you right down with them.

As with all jobs, paranormal investigating presents very real dangers. And it is up to the individual to decide what risks are worth taking. As for me, I choose to stay away from the darker locations: asylums, hospitals, places plagued with stories of malevolent or “demonic” activity. Investigating has helped me become more sensitive to the paranormal and I choose to be mindful of the situations I put myself in. I don’t pursue living emotional vampires in my daily life. And I’m not going to pursue the dead ones either!

 

 


The EVP Perspective of The Los Feliz Murder Mansion

I think every investigative team has a local bucket list, a group of places they hear about or stumble upon during their travels that fascinate the hell out of them and, regardless of whether or not they can get in to investigate, rest assured that these places are always on their mind leaving them open to every tidbit of information that might cross their path. Recently, one of our places resurfaced with interesting developments.

I came upon the place known as “Murder Mansion” in Los Feliz one night while researching the crazy life and former home sight of actor Errol Flynn. One blog led to another and, as I was wending my way along the internet current, I crossed the path of a house that looked familiar. Apparently this house had been a curiosity to many urban explorers and paranormal enthusiasts before me, and yet, upon talking to my teammates and our friends, no one had ever heard of it.

los-feliz-murder-mansion-in-los-angeles

The Los Feliz property sits atop a hill on a quiet cul de sac in a neighborhood where houses sell for millions of dollars. Its nickname makes the tragedy that occurred there obvious. On December 6, 1959 Dr. Harold Perelson bludgeoned his wife, asleep in their bed, to death with a ball-peen hammer. He then went through the jack and jill bathroom to his daughter Judye’s room and attempted to do the same to her. She suffered a glancing blow and managed to flee the house.

Awakened by their sister’s screams, the younger children were told by their father that they were having a nightmare and to go back to bed. As Judye ran to the neighbors for help and the police were called, Dr. Perelson returned to the upstairs bathroom where he took a concoction of drugs which killed him by the time the police arrived at the scene.

The story of affluent 1950’s family life taking such a tragic and fractured turn is fascinating in and of itself. But what happened to the property afterward truly adds to the macabre fascination. A year after the murder-suicide the property was sold in a probate auction to a couple from Lincoln Heights who never moved in. In fact, it remained stagnant, a time capsule of the life that ended that cold night in 1959. Our first visit revealed the same sight we found pictured online. Through dusty living room windows you could see much of the original furniture still in place while other rooms were filled with magazines and junk dated years after the murder. Even as the property passed to the son of the couple who bought it decades ago, it was left to itself, used for little more than storage.

interior

Photo Courtesy of: Thelosangelesbeat.com

Our first visit there, Brian stayed in the car while Jamie and I made the trek up the many stairs to the house. The energy was incredibly stagnant. Inside we saw the now familiar mustard living room chairs and the loom still in the corner. And though we saw no Christmas tree or presents, there was indeed, a jumble of christmas wrapping paper and bows.

photo-8

Photo courtesy of: Mylabucketlist.com

Knowing the local residents were fed up with tourists, we tried to keep our visit quiet and brief. But we couldn’t leave before getting a feel for what might be going on with the house spiritually. After all, the energy of that horrible night was essentially locked up and incubated over a period of decades.

Sitting on steps beside the driveway as it wound behind the house, we took a few moments to be silent and still. And it didn’t take long for Jamie to have a reaction the likes of which she had never experienced. Even after personally noting that the energy of the house was not right, the fear and the pain that Jamie was connecting with was difficult to watch. The skeptic in me jumped to disbelief at the sight of tears and trembling even though I ~knew~ she was no huckster. I didn’t know what to do for her or how to help. I just did my best to get her to talk about what she was experiencing hoping that putting it into words would make it feel less urgent or personal.

Though it was possible that Jamie was picking up on a general imprint of the past, their was the feeling that the energy was too alive, too current, to be as simple as a scar left on the location. We concluded that even though Judye survived the attack, the fear, the pain, the panic she experienced that night was still there, desperately chasing down help, needing to be heard. It took Jamie a while to gather herself. And even after we made it back down the hill and drove off, the reaction lingered. For me it was an interesting experience, viewed through the lens of detachment that so often affords me an ~appearance~ of calm when things get crazy during investigations.

Judy Switchplate

Photo courtesy of: laist.com

Although I trust in my investigating partners, the nature of our experiences always leaves me wondering about the parts that make up the whole. What part is the environment? What part is due to the events of the past? How strong is that which lingers there? And how sensitive or even over-reactive was might we be? The new developments in this story led me to another personal account that bore a striking resemblance to Jamie’s. For me, it was a step towards validation.

…Just then, Jennifer felt “something ominous.”

Maybe it was the same feeling that drove away the homeless, who once tried to shelter there many years ago, but fled citing unsettling chills, mystery footsteps, unholy noises at night. Maybe it was the feeling described by neighbors in a newspaper that they were being “followed.” Adrenaline squirted in her veins now. She found the concrete steps again. Her footsteps retraced the escape route taken by one of the doctor’s daughters, who fled the house soaked in blood. “I imagined her running away from her crazy dad,” Jennifer says, “and just how awful that must have been…I almost got the same feeling.” She was running now, her hands covered in decades of black dust. She cared no longer for answers, for adventure, or her bucket list. “Oh my gosh,” she thought, “I can’t get away from this house fast enough.”

Perhaps this account is sensationalized. But given what I witnessed during our first visit to this house, it is not too far off from the truth.

It was some time before we returned. My curiosity piqued last year the night before the team was supposed to head out to Downtown L.A. and on the way back, I asked if Jamie and Brian wanted to take a look and see if anything had changed. Much to my surprise, they said okay. This time, we pulled up to the house but didn’t get out of the car. Sitting in the back seat and peering up that dusty hill, the house remained visibly unchanged. But it felt different. I was reluctant to say it, but as we began discussing it, I mentioned that the energy was moving again. The house felt excited, like someone was cleaning it. Perhaps the owner had finally decided to sell. I had no proof, of course, but I voiced my thoughts in the safety of their company just in case I was right. And yesterday, I discovered that I wasn’t wrong.

Murder Mansion Clean Living Room

Photo courtesy of: last.com

It turns out that the owner died last year. And the house has been cleaned out and put up for sale. The time capsule of despair and life lost has been opened and emptied and, judging by the feeling I had during our last visit, the house is happy about it. Many speculate that the it is a complete tear down. As one neighbor put it:

“You can’t have a house sit empty for 50 years and not expect it to fall apart.”

Murder Mansion Decay Walls

Photo courtesy of:  cultofweird.com

As a history and architecture buff, the thought makes me cringe. What a shame an estate from the 1920’s would suffer such a dark history and meet its demise as a result. But I feel sure that whatever remnants were left behind from that terrifying night are happy for their release.

If you find your curiosity for this story is not satiated, please check out the links below amongst which are Jennifer’s original blog post containing many pictures from before the house was cleaned and a link to a series of pictures taken since the clean out. And check the  link to a STELLAR article by Jeff Maysh detailing the events of the murder-suicide and containing interviews from the neighbors that knew the Perelson family.

Written By: Heather of EVP

A visit to the murder house in Los Feliz. BUCKET LIST!

LA Murder Mansion is on the Market for the First Time in 50 Years

http://laist.com/2016/03/30/photos_inside_the_los_feliz_murder.php#photo-7

The Los Feliz Murder House

View at Medium.com

View at Medium.com

 

View at Medium.com


Seeing Dead People

It is a natural cycle. When a pendulum swings too far in a particular direction, its inclination is to swing back the other way, arcing from one extreme to the other. It’s time in the center of its arc is minimal. But it is that center that the pendulum slowly seeks, venturing less into the extreme with each swing. It seeks balance.

The “emotional” side of investigating is the one aspect I talk about the least. There are many times in the field when your feeling or your gut instinct is all you have to go on. If you are lucky, you record evidence to back up the dizziness, the feeling of being watched, or the weird melancholy that isn’t your own but, if no corroborating evidence is captured, then it is ~just~ a personal experience, something that you are trained to minimize. In an attempt to battle the skeptics, general protocol for “evidence” is, understandably, stringent. But is it too stringent? Are we ignoring our instincts in favor of meters and the various array of hand-held tools which we have adapted to our purpose?

Since we started investigating, I have found that my instincts, empathy, physical reactions to possible paranormal phenomena have increased. Fellow investigator Jamie has been my touchstone for this because she has dealt with psychic sensitivity all her life. (I’ll let her tell you her story in her own time.) For me, my sensitivity was always in the form of empathy. I could tell when someone was having a bad day just by seeing a text message that said nothing more than, “Hey.” Often times I would pre-empt someone’s thoughts by speaking them first. Though my experiences were often uncanny, I explained it all away by simply saying “Great minds think alike,” or something along those lines. And maybe my propensity for detailed and accurate first impressions was just a heightened ability for reading the hundreds of minute facial movements that form the most subtle of expressions or a fast take on body language. Perhaps I was just attuned to the details.

Lately, I have been questioning whether these are explanations or excuses. In the past few years I have randomly connected with strangers’ loved-ones begging me to give their daughters or granddaughters messages. (Yeah. It’s seems mother/daughter connections are my “forte”) Often times these instances begin with uncontrollable tears. I hate crying in public. People look at you like you are crazy. On investigations, I “hear” evp’s. Now, I’m not sure if they are evp’s once I have heard them, but I call them that because I am also not sure if I am ~actually~ hearing them or if it is all in my head. Thankfully, in these situations, more often than not, what I hear is captured on audio. It always makes me feel better when that happens. At one time I thought having things like this occur more often would help me feel LESS crazy. Logically, I believed that if the experiences increased, they would become more dependable or I would get used to them or SOMETHING. But no….on the contrary! They happen more often and I feel MORE crazy.

In an effort to combat the “more crazy,” Jamie, Brian, and I use some of our time away from official investigation to casually explore reportedly haunted locations. We use day trips not only to take a break from the usual routine, but to test our feelings about locations we are unfamiliar with. For the most part, these locations are bustling tourists destinations. One recent Saturday found us at just such a location when we visited  local Mission San Juan Capistrano in Southern California.

It was an awesome outing! The weather was perfect. Big blue skies were interrupted by the occasional fluffy white cloud and there was a chill in the air. The area around the mission which is filled with boutiques and restaurants was busy but not over-crowded which gave the street a very upbeat energy. We began our exploration in the Los Rios Historic District. Known as the oldest residential street in California, many of these historic dwellings have been turned into retail establishments which means they are accessible to the public. I love places where you can shop and saturate yourself with history at the same time!

From Los Rios, we made our way back to the main street, Camino Capistrano where we decided food would be the next order of business. As I was waiting at the corner for the light to change, I noticed a house down at the far end of the street opposite the mission. I’m not sure what drew my attention, but I felt a pull towards it. Upon looking at the second floor, I saw a man standing in the window. And it felt like he saw me. When I say “saw a man” I mean that I saw him in my mind’s eye. Usually when this happens, the images are fleeting and I attribute them to my great imagination. But I couldn’t do that this time. This time, I was captivated.

Egan House

Here is a shot of the house as we got closer. I actually noticed the man from a block away.

That's the window he was standing in. It offers a view of the entire street all the way down to the mission.

That’s the window he was standing in. It offers a view of the entire street all the way down to the mission.

The man was tall, slender, grey hair, a beard, dark suit, white starched collar, dark tie, and he was standing with his arms behind his back surveying the street. Something in my head said “He’s a judge but he’s not a judge.” Of course, I had no idea what that meant. In fact, I dismissed it because it didn’t make any sense at all. The only other thing I picked up was that he despised the cars on the street. The image was so striking that I gasped. Then I smacked Jamie in the arm and pointed to the house eager to see if she knew anything about the building or if she had picked up on the same thing I had. Jamie said she thought the building was the old courthouse, but she didn’t know much about it. (I always ask her to join me in my crazy because that way I know that one of two things is happening: Either there really is a dead guy telepathically communicating with me from a block away, OR I have finally lost the last of my marbles. Of course, if she is able to validate what I am sensing, there is always the possibility that she is crazy too! But I am alright with that because, as the saying goes, misery loves company.)

Our quest for food took us down the street towards the house with the man in the window and he stared at me the entire time. We finally stopped when our noses detected the smell of yummy coming from the historic adobe right across the street. The rule of thumb for finding  a good restaurant in an unfamiliar place is to follow your nose. If you are lucky enough to say the words “I want to eat that smell,” that is where you go! And we did! El Adobe de Capistrano was once home to Miguel Yorba. It was used as the Justice Court, the jail, hospital, post office, store, and stage depot. Now it is the home of yummy smells and weddings. Talk about repurposing.

Jamie and Brian made me sit through an entire meal before checking out my ghost. Luckily, worthy food and a beautiful building made the wait much less painful. We were seated promptly, the service was excellent, and the food was great. We left their hospitality both fat and happy.

I waisted no time heading over to the building across the street. It was closed. (Figures.) But there was a plaque on the front with information about it.

Judge Egan Plaque

There he was, in all his historical glory: Judge Richard Egan. That was the man who was staring at me and watching the street. It was his house. I couldn’t believe it. They were nice enough to include a picture. Immediate gratification never felt so good! But what about that whole “He’s a judge but not a judge thing?” Well, my jaw dropped when I read:

“Egan was elected as Justice of the Peace in 1870 and while he was not an official judge, legend survives that the local populace named him “juez de plano” or judge of the plains.”

SHUT UP!

Well, that pretty much left me silent. Or…it should’ve. It actually left me repeating useless things like “SHUT UP! No way! I TOLD you! I can’t believe I told you.” Incidentally, that made me sound much more crazy than I felt.

After receiving confirmation about Judge Egan, we decided to head to the mission. Now, I was pretty pleased with my experience with the Judge, but then it happened AGAIN! Towards the end of our tour the three of us wandered off in different directions. I walked into a room and it felt odd. To be honest, I don’t have the right words to describe the feeling. It just felt like there was someone else there, or that something was going to happen that was out of the ordinary. The energy was just…different. Sure enough, not thirty seconds later, an old padre appeared before me as if in mid-step, and hobbled off into the next room, unaware that I was there.

Again, the image was startlingly clear. I wasn’t actually seeing it. Like the judge, this old gentleman appeared in my mind’s eye. After he disappeared, Jamie found me. She told me that section of the mission always made her feel weird. I told her that I had just seen a man appear. When her description of him matched mine, I felt a bit better. “He’s old and bent and doesn’t like the stairs,” she said. But the real relief came when we both entered the next room, the same one the old padre walked into. Just as Jamie realized that was the room where she always picked him up, I saw this:

Father Engelhardt

Yup! That’s the man I saw. It was really unbelievable. I showed the picture to Jamie who always seems to take these things in stride. (It’s actually pretty annoying. I’m freaking out and she offers a shrug and a “Yeah, that looks like him.” WORK WITH ME PEOPLE!)

I am often reluctant to admit that the evidence we capture when we are at our utmost methodical is still not scientific. Though I am always studying and looking for more resources that will help me scientifically understand the phenomena I am experiencing, a captured disembodied voice or manifested apparition does not explain the means by which these things occur. And if you are going to approach these things “scientifically,” you must strive to understand the “how” just as much as the “what.” Perhaps as an investigator I get wrapped up more in my quest to prove it to the skeptic and in doing so, I leave my personal quest, the thing that inspired me to take this journey in the first place, behind. Perhaps that is the spectrum along which ~my~ pendulum swings and the reason why days like that Saturday in San Juan Capistrano are so important.


Crafty Ghost Nails Paranormal Investigator

When you investigate the paranormal, you quickly learn that ghosts can be anywhere. But it isn’t until it surprises you in some random place that this fact really hits home. Last night, Jamie, Brian and I (Heather) were hanging out together celebrating the approach of Halloween by driving around town in search of festively decorated houses. After satiating our desire for giant spiders and bodies hanging from trees, we decided to stop by one of many in a chain of craft stores for a couple of supplies before heading home.

Our mission was simple. We needed glow-sticks and glitter to recreate a neat little project Jamie had seen online. When mixed together, the contents of the glow-stick and the glitter were supposed to look like glowing fairies in a jar. While wandering through the store, we literally ran into the paranormal. Or rather, it ran into us. Well…it ran into Jamie to be exact.

Let me see if I can paint a bit of a picture for you. Jamie was walking down one of the main aisles toward the front of the store. I (Heather) had just stepped into the same aisle from one of the smaller off-shoots. Brian, who was already up front, had just stepped into the aisle to see if we were on our way to him. As I came out from the smaller aisle, Jamie stopped and turned around to make sure I was in tow. Next to her was a wire display. The framework had dump bins on the long sides. The ends were capped with pegs and stocked with lenticular portraits; the kind that morph depending on the angle from which they are viewed.

Brian was looking at Jamie and I. Jamie was just turning to look at me. And I came around the corner just in time to see one of the lenticulars lift off its peg, levitate for a split second, then hurl itself sideways and hit Jamie. And it hit her hard! It took us all a minute to process what we had just experienced. I immediately checked for someone on the other side of the display, thinking that they had hit it causing the picture to fly off. There was no one there. Jamie was as confused as we were. Both Brian and she were looking at me as if I was going to explain it away but I couldn’t. Brian and I moved toward Jamie as she turned around to stare at the picture which was now laying on the floor silently professing its innocence and claiming its status as an inanimate object. But no amount of silent protest could change what Brian and I had both seen and what Jamie had felt.

Upon inspection, we noticed that the piece of cardboard from which the picture had been suspended was ripped. Luckily, the object was light, so Jamie wasn’t hurt. We stood there, completely stunned, our mouths agape, when an employee came strolling up the aisle. We didn’t even tell him what had happened before he casually dropped this little nugget: “Yeah….our store is haunted.” He didn’t even break his stride. Figuring he was just being a smart-ass, we stopped him and made him explain. As he did, we realized that he was being serious. He told us he heard voices in the back on more than one occasion and that the television in the break room turns itself on. We promptly handed him our card.

Had he told us his experiences before the picture had attacked, we probably would have been less likely to take them at face value.  But seeing that picture fly off the rack was incredible. I’m still having a hard time believing it. Before you get all excited and start trying to disprove the experience, let me mention that we did take a few minutes to try to figure out if there was anything that could have caused the event.

The closest set of circumstances consisted of the picture falling off the peg. Perhaps the cardboard it was hanging from finally ripped through and released it letting it fall onto the peg below. We tried to reenact the scenario, but when it bounced, it didn’t go nearly as far as what we had witnessed. And it certainly didn’t have the thrust. Jamie was standing at least three feet from the picture. Had it bounced off the peg after falling from its perch, it would have landed beside her at best. Eager to create some magic at home, we left the store with glitter, some glow sticks, and a whole lot of questions.

If you are wondering how our quest to make fairies in a jar turned out, let me help you with your curiosity. The original picture that stirred our imagination looked like this:

Obviously photoshopped!

While we didn’t think it would turn out quite like that, we thought it was at least worth a try. We ended up making something that looked more like radioactive goop in a jar. Much less charming.

This isn’t ours. This example was brought to you by: iamjolene.blogspot.com. It is much closer to what we ended up with. We used glitter. First it clumped together. Then it coated the jar. Not at all fairy-esque.

(If you want to try this project for yourself, try going to The Gold Jellybean.com. She offers nice step by step directions and she adds a bit of extra advice that makes the finished product look more like fairies and less like radioactive goop.)

It’s always nice when time with friends leaves you with warm memories. But it is even better when your time together both surprises and teaches you.  And this night taught us plenty!

1. Glitter and glow-stick juice doesn’t  make for very good fairies.

2. The Michael’s arts and crafts store we went to? Totally haunted. (All right…it’s at least a good candidate for an investigation.)


Ghost: A Definition Expanded

During this investigation the investigators were being investigated.

Ghost:

1. the soul of a dead person, a disembodied spirit imagined,usually as a vague, shadowy or evanescent form, as wandering among or haunting living persons.

                                 ~Dictionary.com~

2. the seat of life or intelligence : soul <give up the ghost. A disembodied soul; especially : the soul of a dead person believed to be an inhabitant of the unseen world or to appear to the living in bodily likeness.

                                         ~Merriam Webster~

When I was little, I watched this television show called “That’s Incredible.” It was made up of segments that showed amazing stunts, highlighted advancements in medicine and, on occasion, aired stories about paranormal activity. One segment in particular captured my imagination and stayed with me through the years. The story was about a historic inn where the employees heard old-fashioned music, the clinking of glasses, talking, and other sounds that made it seem like there was a party going on. All this occurred in the late evening/early morning hours when most people were asleep or when the inn was vacant. The place was investigated and the sounds were captured on tape. This was the first time I heard about “residual haunting.” Dubbed “The Stone Tape Theory,” the investigators believed that the sounds were emanating from the structure and/or its foundation, and originated from the 1700’s when the in was first built. What employees and residents were hearing was history literally repeating itself.

I had seen movies and shows and I had heard stories about ghosts before. But something about this story in particular intrigued me. It captured my imagination. While the interest in the supernatural was always there, this was the story that made me want to become a paranormal investigator. The idea of witnessing what had happened hundreds of years before was the most amazing possibility I could imagine.

As much as it intrigued me, it bothered me too. Up until that point I had always assumed that ghosts were intelligent spirits of the dead. But this report was telling me ghosts were actually just recordings of the past; organized energy trapped in wood and stone leaking out and allowing us a glimpse at how things used to be. It conflicted what I thought I knew.

As my quest for answers expanded, I learned that ghosts were thought to be both. Some were intelligent and some were simply a recording of the past trapped in objects, structures or minerals. It wasn’t until I began investigating them regularly that I started to suspect that the definition of the word “ghost,” even in its duality, was incomplete.  But have we come across enough information from our investigations to flesh the definition out? Here’s what I have managed to put together for myself.

Spirit

For me, there is a difference between a ghost and a spirit. Hence the heading! Simply put, a spirit has fully transitioned to “the other side” whereas a ghost is caught somewhere in the middle. Generally, a full transition to the spirit world implies that the soul has left the body and has been welcomed back into the loving arms of those who have gone before them. I believe they are welcomed back into the fold of greater energy. This greater energy could be referred to as one god or many gods. Regardless, the work we are born to do here on Earth, is continued on “the other side.” We are not dormant in between lifetimes.

I know that not everyone believes in reincarnation. And I know that many people get immediately butt-hurt at the mere mention of many gods. So if it makes you feel better to think that when we die, we transition to “heaven,” fine. The point is, that when we make a full and proper transition, we are conscious of the freedom we have from our bodies. We are aware of the difference between this world and the next. We can watch over and even communicate with our loved ones until they are ready to make their own transition.

Many people experience visits from loved-ones passed. My mom, who died in 2002, visits me all the time. Spirits can come to us visually or audibly. They can appear in our dreams or send us signs that will make us think of them. They can even interact with the physical world. These things, the reality of which is still thought of by many as debatable, are not figments of our imaginations or a desperate attempt to comfort ourselves over our losses.

Are they haunting us? Technically, I guess the answer is yes. However, the connotation of the word implies that the activity is creepy or unwanted; a bunch of crazy-making experiences perpetrated by some unfamiliar and freaky being. And I suppose that assumption is  understandable if it is happening to someone who is unaware that it is a loved-one trying to say “Hey! What up?” But a spirit who is trying to communicate with you generally has your best interest at heart (even if you aren’t aware of it) and, hopefully the activity reflects that.

Residual Ghost

A residual ghost is exactly what I described in the introduction to this post. It is a recording of the past that, under the right circumstance(s) plays itself back. Some are thought to replay at a certain time of day or a certain time of year. Some are triggered by people who have the right combination of attributes including psychic ability or stress level. This theory behind residual haunting is colloquially referred to as “The Stone Tape Theory.”

The important distinction is that the phenomena is benign. You can experience it, but it can’t experience you. It is like a psychic video tape. It behaves the same regardless of whether or not you are there.

Captured during an investigation at The Queen Mary in Long Beach, Ca, this loud bang was recorded in the bow of the ship on what we later realized was the anniversary of the day she plowed through her wartime escort the Curacao leaving over two hundred men to perish. Later, we found out that this type of noise had been reported numerous times in this section of the ship. It was thought to be the residual sounds of the crew of the Curacao banging on the hull of The Queen Mary with their wrenches as their ship was torn in half.

Intelligent Ghost

Here’s where things get tricky. Intelligent ghosts linger, as far as we know, in a state of neither here nor there.  They are entities who did not make a full transition after death. Perhaps this means that their world is some combination of our classical world, and whatever lies beyond.

Thinking about how and why this may happen brings forth so many questions! I mean, the thought of existing “in between” anything feels foreign. We are predisposed to “achieving” or “accomplishing.” The state of being “stuck” makes us uncomfortable. Perhaps that is why the thought of becoming a “ghost” is so frightening to so many people.

Like spirit, ghosts can affect the classical world. The motivation behind the communication is where they differ. When an intelligent spirit interacts with or “haunts” us, it is because ~they~ need ~us~ to know or do something for them. When spirit communicates with us, it’s because they want to express love or let us know they are still with us. It is something they do for us.

Though the motivation for ghostly communication appears selfish, that selfishness is not necessarily a negative thing. One of our favorite ghosts, the ghost of a man named William Erik Stark, most commonly communicated with us by growling. But early on I decided not to assume he was a negative entity. Instead, I found his “grumpiness” funny. When he started picking on Jamie, it made me cackle. Now before you get mad at me for being mean, let me explain what I mean by “picking on.” Stark learned early on that he could pull Jamie’s hair and, by pulling her hair, I mean just yanking at a couple of strands at a time. You have to see it in person, but Jamie’s reaction is hilarious.

When it first started happening, she blamed her husband Brian which only added to the funny. Anyway, over time, and many investigations, we realized that Stark wasn’t a bad guy. He just didn’t want to be bothered. After all, the place he resides is known for its many tourists. And those tourists are often not respectful to Stark’s beloved abode. I think over time he grew bitter and assumed that we were just like the scores of assholes that drunkenly roamed his home. At least, that’s what he assumed until we proved him wrong.

Now, he communicates with us all the time. He watches over us in much the same way as he watches over some of the ghosts he shares his home with. And now, he has no problem pulling my hair. It doesn’t hurt. He’s just playing. And it lets us know he’s there.

It’s understandable that people assume ghosts are negative, or scary, or even evil. Interacting with someone you don’t know is nerve-wracking enough without the added fact that they cannot be seen. But “ghosts” are neither good nor evil. The term “Ghost” describes a state of being. It is the motivation behind the ghost that is positive or negative and that must be studied on a case by case basis just like we do with the living.  We must remember that ghosts are simply human souls minus the machine (body). Or..are they?

Cleaved Energy

Is the explanation of an intelligent ghost as simple as a soul that, for some reason, is trapped between our world and the next? Perhaps, in some cases, it is. But I suspect there may be other explanations.  Maybe there are times when the intelligent energy that “haunts” us is but a fragment of what once was a whole soul. What if there are some people who, in life, experience events so poignant, that, as they transition in death, the part of their being that was the most deeply affected remains  behind while the rest of the soul crosses over? After-all, once free of our bodies, we are nothing but an assembly of energy. Intelligent haunts suggest that we are in death the same as we were in life. This means that our personalities, our character traits, and our thoughts are part of our souls, and not just the outcome of firing neurons or brain chemicals.

Perhaps some events, such as the ones responsible for a traumatic death are so damaging to the psyche that an intelligent imprint of us is left behind which, in those instances, is only capable of  focusing on the trauma. Take, for example, the Civil War soldier who is still wandering the battle field wondering what the hell happened. There are numerous evp recordings of soldiers who are still trying to figure out what is going on. Did the war end? We assume that an intelligent response to a question means that we are communicating with a whole complete consciousness. But what if it’s only a piece of that person left behind; the piece that is trapped in the traumatized emotional state?

But why would a piece of someone’s soul be left behind? Perhaps it is like when a branch from a tree dies and falls off. The tree still lives, but the branch is no longer nourished or able to grow. It doesn’t have the strength to stay with the tree and the tree no longer has a use for it. The tree is better off without the dead limb. Thankfully, dead tree limbs don’t wander around banging on things and expressing their constant distress. But maybe humans do?

While we are on the subject, I have to wonder: If the energy of the dead can cleave as or before “crossing over,” can the energy of the living do the same? Is it possible for us to haunt ourselves? It seems logical to assume that while we are here on Earth, our energies are contained within our bodies. We eat, sleep, travel, and affect the classical world all from within the skin we’re in. But those of us who are obsessed with looking more closely at ourselves and what lies beyond ourselves have seen proof that our energy radiates. It does not stop at the physical boundary of our bodies. Eastern religion has taught the many ways in which our energies mingle beyond the sensation of touch. And it is with these teachings that the western world is just beginning to catch up.

In Tibetan mysticism, it is believed that people create what are known as “Tulpas,” which are manifestations of intentions that take form in the ethereal plane. Once created, they can take on a life or sentience of their own growing stronger  as belief in their existence expands. Also called, a “forced haunt,” there have been cases where reported activity  was theorized to be the result of entities which sprang from urban legends and grew stronger from people’s fear of or belief in their existence.

From auras to that heavy feeling left in a room after a heated argument, energy takes up space. If it is possible for pieces of us to linger after death, it stands to reason, or, at the very least, should not be discounted, that pieces of us can be left behind while we are still alive. Whether these pieces are discarded subconsciously, or they separate because they stymie our growth, our souls as a whole are not necessarily absolute.  If these pieces are discarded prematurely, is it not possible for them, in whatever intelligence they possess to want what all humans want; to be noticed or accepted? At the same time, if they are intelligent or possess their own consciousness, however limited, is it not also possible for them to be angry over their abandonment or lack of recognition?

Parallel Realities

While we are breaking down boundaries, it makes sense to mention the theory that those of us who find ourselves haunted by “ghosts” might very well be the ones haunting them. I know! It sounds pretty “out there.” But what if some of our interactions are occurring because, in some other reality or parallel universe, those who have died in our world, are still alive in another?

In 1954, a Princeton physics student by the name of Hugh Everett III began work on his dissertation: “Relative State Formulation of Quantum Mechanics,” which later evolved and gained popularity as “The Many Worlds Theory.”  Boiled down, the theory asserts that every time a decision is made, the universe splits into enough realities to accommodate all possible choices. Hence, while in our reality we see that we have taken an umbrella to stay dry while we walk through the rain, there is another reality in which we did not touch that umbrella. Somewhere, out there, in another dimension, we are soaking wet.

I know. It’s a terrible example. It’s an almost irreverent simplification of a theory that broke through a glass ceiling which physicists had been bruising themselves on since the 1920’s. But if I started bombarding you with explanations of “superposition” and the argument over collapsing waveforms, this would very quickly become a different blog!

The point is that if Everett’s theory, or the other theories that have since evolved turn out to be true, then could some of our “ghosts” actually be embodied spirits that exist in parallel universes with which we come into contact due to some weird dimensional proximity? If that is the case, then that would mean the haunt is also the haunted.

Shadow Man

Here is out watcher lightened up.

Ghosts have come a long way from corny images of floating sheets or semi-transparent beings drifting aimlessly in a darkened hall.  From loved-ones visiting us from beyond, to pieces of ourselves somehow left behind, to other human beings living separate lives in separate dimensions, the  understanding of the word “ghost” has grown deeper and more complex throughout the years. The question “Do you believe in…” is quickly becoming “What do you believe in?” And those who are daring enough to examine their own experiences and compare them to those of many others, are finding the word representative of childhood anecdotes to be much more fascinating than stories around campfires once led them to believe.

To view case files from some of our team’s past investigations please visit our website at www.EastValleyParanormal.com.  We look forward to your visit and we’ll see you on the other side! This is Heather, signing off!


Common Ground

I’ve always believed that science and spirit are opposite ends of one spectrum. Like love and hate, innocence and guilt, or black and white, these polarizing words signify a unified band of varying percentages and, even at their most extreme, are still connected. A few weeks ago, as I was writing my post “Spirit Meets Science,” I realized that the title claim was highly presumptive. It is something that I tend to take for granted and I am always surprised when this assumption is met with argument.

Science and religion are married. But they are constantly seeking divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. Dad thinks mom is gullible for wasting time and money on some guru who says he has all the answers. And mom believes that dad has lost his mind over the hot blond at the office who tempts him with indecent advances.

“But Jim, what about the children!”

The children, those of us who still seek to find our own balance between the two, long to strike out and blaze our own trails, even if mom and dad believe them to be misguided. While the parents bicker and all us kids are left to our own devices, we take the opportunity to sneak out of the house and look for adventures in exotic places like the abandoned house down the street. Sure, we take pieces of what mom and dad have taught us, but we test them in new and crazy ways; ways our parents may never understand.

Though our methods lack polish, our experiences teach us many new things. Unfortunately, our preoccupied parental unit fails to see our growth and, even though we mature, we are continuously dismissed as nothing more than a bunch of meddling kids.

Zoiks!

In order for “paranormal investigators” to be taken seriously, a few things need to happen. First, the word “paranormal” needs to be relegated to the annals of archaic terms. Like “Doth” or “lucubrate.”  According to Wikipedia:

In most definitions of the word paranormal, it is described as anything that is beyond or contrary to what is deemed scientifically possible. The definition implies that the scientific explanation of the world around us is the ‘normal’ part of the word and ‘para’ makes up the above, beyond, beside, contrary, or against part of the meaning.

Therein lies the problem! The “scientific explanation of the world,” as far as I know, is still changing. The occurrences we study are no more outside the “norm” than the Higgs Boson or dark matter.

“Just because you’re old, doesn’t mean you know EVERYTHING, Dad!!!”

After all, there was a huge chunk of time where people were convinced that the Earth was flat, or that the atom was an indivisible component of matter, or that Pluto was a planet. (Some are still arguing that one. Let it go, people.)

The truth of the matter is that something is going on here. And it’s not in our heads as some would have you believe. I’m not just talking about cold chills or random EMF spikes. I am talking about unexplained voices, apparitions caught on film, and seemingly self-propelled objects. I can’t speak for other teams, nor do I need to. The evidence our team has captured is enough in and of itself to prove, at the very least, that our experiences in the field are both common and normal. Add to this the fact that numerous people have shared these experiences numerous times and what you have is a very strong argument in favor of the fact that something unexplained is going on here.

Taken on a casual trip to a local historic landmark, this picture surprised the hell out of Jamie. The figures in the mirror were not there at the time she took the shot. In fact, she was the only one in the area. There is nothing but a waist-high wall separating the display from the public. Our team went back at a later date to try and replicate the photo, and despite the fact that there were four of us crowding around Jamie in various positions, we could not even come close to replicating what she captured. To see the original, unaltered, photo go here.

This audio was captured at the very end of our first investigation. The chime you hear is the sound of our full spectrum camera shutting down. The scream after the chime had no visible source. The little girl was only heard by one investigator but it was captured on every recording device. If you need more convincing, go here.

One of the major complaints that people have about paranormal investigators or “ghost hunters” is that we do not approach our investigations scientifically. But this is quickly becoming more of an excuse than a reason for dismissal. Our methods and equipment have vastly improved. And I honestly don’t think our audio recorders are suffering from delusions or mass hysteria(two of the most common ways skeptics explain our experiences away).

So science says our methods are highly flawed and our experiences are all in our heads. What does religion have to say about the “paranormal” or, more specifically, the existence of ghosts?

For argument’s sake, let’s use Christianity as our example. With a dominating 2.4 billion of the world’s 6.8 billion people (Wikipedia, list of religious populations), Christianity holds the largest market share.  Here’s some of what The Good Book has to say on the subject of ghosts:

Hebrews 9:27 declares, “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” That is what happens to a person’s soul-spirit after death—judgment. The result of this judgment is heaven for the believer (2 Corinthians 5:6-8;Philippians 1:23) and hell for the unbeliever (Matthew 25:46Luke 16:22-24). There is no in-between. There is no possibility of remaining on earth in spirit form as a “ghost.” If there are such things as ghosts, according to the Bible, they absolutely cannot be the disembodied spirits of deceased human beings.[1]

The Bible refers to the spirits of the dead as “familiar spirits,” as in intimate association, personal, or one well acquainted (see, Leviticus 19:31, Deuteronomy 18:11; 2 Kings 21:6; Isaiah 8:19, etc.) and warns against having anything to do with them.[2]

Basically, as far as the Bible is concerned, ghosts don’t exist and, if they do, we should have nothing to do with them. We shouldn’t research this phenomena because God said so?

“Mo-THER! You’re in denial!”

     If denial and fear are the best reasons we’ve got for not pursuing this field, then science and religion are the ones with the problems. Denial usually comes from fear, and fear shouldn’t be the basis for our decisions. Nothing worth having or learning comes without risk. And when it comes to seeking answers in this area, I, for one, am willing to take whatever risk it entails.
     In order for our field to expand, science and religion need to recognize that they are, in fact, married. Both sides need to stop thinking about divorce, and start thinking about marriage counseling. After-all, the key to a good relationship is compromise. They don’t have to agree on everything, but they need to show enough respect for each other in order to find common ground.
     I’m not asking for skeptics to believe just because “I said so.” That would make me no better than the extremes against which I argue. I am simply asking for recognition of the fact that collectively we have captured enough evidence to prove that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And these phenomena deserve to be researched instead of ignored or excused.

Spirit Meets Science?

Yesterday, I decided to venture further into the WordPress Blogging Community by seeking out other blogs similar to ours. I gotta say, pick’ns were slim. I searched paranormal, ghosts, and evp’s. Then I wondered if I was doing something wrong. Right before I gave up, I found one pretty cool blog. You can and should check it out here: www.ghostguys.wordpress.com. Granted, it doesn’t seem like it has been updated since 2010 but, if you haven’t seen it, it’s new to you!

While sifting through the categories I came across a post that was right up my alley: “EMF Detection and the Higgs Field.”

Higgs Field? That’s like…physics and shit! Awesome!

The post was brief. It mentioned things like neutralinos and vector bosons which …kind of made me ~grateful~ that it was brief. Now, keep in mind, I’m not stupid, but when you start throwing words like “vector bosons” around, my brain cramps a little, and I find myself reciting calming mantras and visualizing my happy place.

After a few moments of rocking and muttering, I talked myself down from the mental ledge and really put my reading comprehension skills to work. Once I mastered my panic, I found the author’s (Michael Clark’s) theory very interesting. In a nutshell, and hopefully I am getting this right, “Spirits are intelligent collections of electromagnetic energy and massless photons…” When they interact with the Higgs Field ( a field made up of particles that is believed to give all matter its mass), a certain amount of their photons temporarily gain mass which gives them the ability to interact with our physical world ie: move objects or make sounds.

What really resonated with me was how the Higgs Field resembled what is often referred to spiritually as “The Veil” (the term that refers to the barrier or curtain between this world and the afterlife). So, if Mike’s theory has legs, it would make the Higgs Field the place where science and spirit meet.

Obviously, this thought tickled me to no end. Hell, we’ve been using it as our catchy tagline since our team’s inception. Just look at the top of this page! It inspired me to write a new post. But in order to write a proper post, I needed to do my own research into Higgs and bosons and neutralinos. So, to Wikipedia I went. Surely my beloved wiki would have some entries that could explain this vast field of study in a way that this commoner could understand. Surely.

It should be noted that more than one source of mass is known to exist, but in the Standard Model the term “Higgs mechanism” almost always signifies the mechanism responsible for electroweak symmetry breaking… The leading and simplest theory for how this effect takes place in nature is that if a particular kind of “field” (known as the Higgs field) existed, which in contrast to the more familiar gravitational field and electromagnetic field had a constant strength everywhere, then this field would give rise to a Higgs mechanism in nature, and would therefore allow particles interacting with this field to acquire a mass. During the 1960s and 1970s the Standard Model of physics was developed on this basis, and it included a prediction and requirement that for these things to be true, there had to be an undiscovered fundamental particle as the counterpart of this field. This particle would be the Higgs boson.

So there ya go! Electroweak symmetry breaking aside, the explanation of the theory is fairly straightforward and does indeed match what Mr. Clark wrote about in his blog. There are a whole bunch of symmetrical particles floating around out there without mass. Then they collide with the Higgs field and BAM they get all lopsided and suddenly have mass.

I made a scientific model to better demonstrate this complex principle:

Science!

Okay…I’ll admit I heard a symphony of crickets in the silent moments after I read that. My brain got stuck on what exactly gives these symmetrical particles mass. It just seems like something is missing. But I allowed myself to temporarily set that little query aside, opting instead to continue my initial quest for a better understanding of the specific terms referenced in the original article.

Once I checked into the Higgs Field, I had to know what a “neutralino” or “neutrino” particle was. Once again, I looked to Wikipedia for a decent explanation in laymen’s terms. This is what I found:

In particle physics, the neutralino[1] is a hypothetical particle predicted by supersymmetry. There are four neutralinos that are fermions and are electrically neutral, the lightest of which is typically stable. They are typically labeled N͂0
1 (the lightest), N͂0
2, N͂0
3 and N͂0
4 (the heaviest) although sometimes  \tilde{\chi}_1^0, \ldots, \tilde{\chi}_4^0 is also used when  \tilde{\chi}_i^\pm is used to refer to charginos. These four states are mixtures of the bino and the neutral wino (which are the neutral electroweak gauginos), and the neutral higgsinos. As the neutralinos are Majorana fermions, each of them is identical with its antiparticle. Because these particles only interact with the weak vector bosons, they are not directly produced at hadron colliders in copious numbers. They primarily appear as particles in cascade decays of heavier particles (decays that happen in multiple steps) usually originating from colored supersymmetric particles such as squarks or gluinos.

So…the neutralinos are Majorana fermions. I suspected as much. And they like…fall off of the larger squarks and gluinos as they decay. Sure. That makes sense. Clearly, ghosts are not made of such things! To assume they are would be like assuming they are made up of snips, snails, and puppy dog tails. And that’s just silly!

So much for layman’s terms. Again, I heard crickets..many many crickets… they were laughing at me…chirpy mocking laughter. And I heard one say, “You asked!” Wikipedia managed an explanation so complex, that when I copied and pasted it, WordPress didn’t know exactly how to type it.

I’ll admit that at this point, I was willing to give up and let Mr. Michael “Smarty-pants” Clark be the brainiest ghost hunter on the block. But I had one more query. Has the science of physics made mention of anything having to do with ghosts? Ever? Though I knew the chances were slim, I returned to Wikipedia (for consistency’s sake) and ran a search for “ghost physics.” Several things came up, none of which had anything to do with the kind of ghosts I was talking about. Still, I clicked on a link that looked interesting. This is what awaited me:

In theoretical physicsBRST quantization (where the BRST refers to Becchi, Rouet, Stora and Tyutin) is a relatively rigorous mathematical approach to quantizing a field theory with a gauge symmetryQuantization rules in earlier QFT frameworks resembled “prescriptions” or “heuristics” more than proofs, especially in non-abelian QFT, where the use of “ghost fields” with superficially bizarre properties is almost unavoidable for technical reasons related to renormalization and anomaly cancellation. The BRST supersymmetry was introduced in the mid-1970s and was quickly understood to justify the introduction of these Faddeev–Popov ghosts and their exclusion from “physical” asymptotic states when performing QFT calculations. Work by other authors a few years later related the BRST operator to the existence of a rigorous alternative to path integrals when quantizing a gauge theory.

It’s a “relatively rigorous” approach. This silenced even the crickets. It was like I landed in the middle of an episode of  “The Big Bang Theory.” It’s  Halloween and Penny wants Sheldon to prove that ghosts exist. Is this what the writers do when they give them all that brainy stuff to say? The explanation was so theoretical, that if you spoke it out-loud half of the terms would be in air quotes! Physics makes me cry.

My quest for a better understanding of the article which seemed so innocent in the beginning led me through a maze of terms and names and air quotes. Though it offered little ground towards a better understanding of where spirit meets science, it did make me thankful for the inspiration I drew from the original post. And it made me that much more thankful that Michael Clark’s original post… was brief.


Respecting History?

It was recently brought to my attention that a historical location that is very near and dear to our organization is once again being mishandled by its management group.

The Queen Mary which is docked in Long Beach as a “floating” hotel/ museum and is registered as both a historical site and a historical hotel:

National Historical Registry

RMS QUEEN MARY *** (added 1993 – – #92001714)

Also known as HMT QUEEN MARY

Pier J, 1126 Queensway Hwy. , Long Beach

Historic Significance: Event

Area of Significance: Military, Entertainment/Recreation, Social History

Period of Significance: 1925-1949

Owner: Local

Historic Function: Defense, Transportation

Historic Sub-function: Naval Facility, Water-Related

Current Function: Domestic, Recreation And Culture

Current Sub-function: Hotel, Museum

Here is the purpose of the National Historical Registry noted from their website:

The National Register of Historic Places is the Nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect our historic and archeological resources. Properties listed in the Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture. The National Register is administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The Queen Mary is also listed on the website of  Historic Hotels of America. This is what they have to say about the Queen Mary:

The Queen Mary

Los Angeles, California

Rich in history, The Queen Mary® is renowned as the grandest ocean liner ever built since her maiden voyage in 1936. These early years distinguished the majestic steamship as the only civilized way to travel for high society’s elite, and instantly drew the attention of celebrities like Fred Astaire, political figures like Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan, and dignitaries such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

It is quite clear that our country on a whole recognizes the historical importance and significance of this grand ship.

So why is it so difficult for the ship’s current management to get with the program?

Time after time we’ve heard complaints that there is no money to restore her to her former glory. We’ve been told that making changes like including iPod docks in all of the staterooms is a valid way to stimulate the ship’s revenue. Some improvements have been made in the last fifteen years. A huge section of promenade decking was re-finished and replaced a few years ago by a former management company.

This ship is a virtual roller coaster of  management companies. Each one swears that it’s bigger, better, and more knowledgeable than it’s predecessor.

It’s ultimately assumed that everything the previous company did is wrong and that the new team must start over from scratch. The management companies they hire are only experienced in managing a hotel. The Queen Mary is much more than a hotel. It’s an experience. And the experience that the customer is getting leaves much to be desired.

If you come to the Queen Mary for the first time today, you will be disappointed. If you are planning to stay in a stateroom reminiscent of the opulent 30’s & 40’s you can lay that dream to rest. What you will find is  late 80’s decor covering up what’s left of the 1930’s interior: cheap carpet, ugly bedspreads, chintzy window treatments, along-side beautiful 1930’s fans that no longer work.

English: Cabin on the RMS Queen Mary.

English: Cabin on the RMS Queen Mary. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As you roam the decks you’ll find sad displays haphazardly assembled with no regards for the integrity of the historical documents and artifacts inside. They are dusty, and often littered with rat fecal matter.

You will also find poor patch jobs in the ceiling where water damage occurs. The beautiful wood paneling which Winston Churchill himself told the soldiers during WWII mustn’t be touched is now showing the wear of its 76+ years at sea, and still awaiting restoration.

The Spa which inhabits some of the ship’s former suites has a decrepit & lackluster sign pointing the way to your “luxury” services.

If you overlook the staterooms and hallways and look instead towards the ship’s restaurants, I have some good news and some bad news. Sir Winston’s is the premiere restaurant on the ship…and for good reason. The restaurant manager J.B. is amazing. He’s been with the ship for over 10 years and truly understands how to accommodate his guests, giving them the grand reception that they would expect from a luxury liner. You will however, pay well for this privilege.

The other restaurants on the ship are poorly managed with mediocre food at best. Imagine a Denny’s ….in Compton…at midnight and you’ll begin to get a grasp for what they offer: over priced, over cooked, under whelming food. The service is slow and surly. The prices average  $15 per plate.  Oh, and by the way, if you thought you could just sit by the window while you sip your morning English Tea and pretend you’re in South Hampton, think again. The only tea you’ll find on this English ship is Lipton’s. The Duchess of Windsor is turning in her grave at this very moment.

The Queen Mary is also touted as a museum. It’s true. There are scattered exhibits (which are poorly maintained). But the guides really understand her history, architecture and art. They keep her spirit alive and are some of the nicest people I’ve met aboard the ship. They stay, not because of the great pay, nor do they stay to support her ever-changing management. They stay out of loyalty and love for this Grand Lady.

Now, so far this might just sound like another bitter yelp review(of which there are plenty). But, it was a recent find from a fellow investigator  that prompted this blog post.

In an attempt to draw in a bigger, more diverse audience and make some cold,hard cash the management has decided to let a team of motocross performers loose on the ship.

Yes , you heard me, ON THE SHIP.

This is wear I had posted a link to the YouTube video. It has since been made private.

This video demonstrates just how much these management companies understand about the property they are running.

After the video started receiving some unfavorable press there was a comment posted by one of the riders:

“All this was taken into consideration prior to filming. We worked long and hard with the Queen Mary to preserve the integrity of the ship. The locations that were used were places that had already been remodeled or altered. No historic or original locations were used. The idea was to make something cool to bring attention to such an awesome ship. There was no more harm than the average foot traffic from tourists”.

This is a still from the promo video showing the rider on the staircase of the first-class pool which is historical, original and is in serious need of repair.

If you know the ship at all, you understand that areas like the First Class Pool, the engine room, and boiler rooms are indeed original and historical areas. While they weren’t doing burn-outs on board, the weight and pressure of the bike is damaging and disrespectful. This isn’t the type of attention or the type of event that the ship needs . I don’t blame the riders. I blame the management for, once again, sending the wrong message to the public.

They need to restore the ship and teach the public how to appreciate her rich history. Instead, they throw money away on poorly thought out, poorly planned events which further her destruction. We should treat her as we would the White House, not treat her like a convention center filled with carnival acts. We should continue to view her as she was intended. She might not sail any longer but she could still offer people the experience of a lifetime.

It’s time for the company who manages her to show that they understand the difference between RENOVATION and RESTORATION.  She is an important part of history and instead of updating her, she needs to be brought back to life.

A friend recently posted this information for those of us who like to become more active in helping The Queen Mary:

If you want to voice your concerns and speak out about the horrible mistreatment of the Queen Mary, send an email or call the following:

Long Beach’s Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal – The Queen Mary is in her district (she is also counsel person for district 2), so she should be watching out for the damage being done to historic landmarks on 2 levels. She can be reached at district2@longbeach.gov,   Suja.Lowenthal@longbeach.gov,   ph:562-570-6684.

Mr. Milford Wayne Donaldson – Head of the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).  They can take a more active role in trying to stop the management where we can’t. You can read more about the SHPO and get further contact information here:http://ohp.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=21755,  mwdonaldson@parks.ca.gov,   ph: 916-445-7050.

If enough of us speak out and demand they do something, there is a good chance they will. Please spread this information to as many people you know and get them to write or call in too.


A Ton of Bricks

Recently, the team did a local investigation in Pasadena, California. Beneath the historical National Bank building which dates back to the 1800’s, is an annual commercial haunted house (www.oldtownhaunt.com). Built within the original catacombs where the bank placed their vaults, this is one Halloween attraction that is truly haunted. Our chaperone, Gary, was a great guy; enthusiastic about the night’s activities, ready to listen and learn, he proved an awesome guide and ensured our time beneath the city was problem-free.

After a quick tour, the investigation began, and activity started right away. We started in the old vault where we experienced cold spots, captured EVPs, and felt the tickle of spider webs (though there was nothing tangible to create the tickle). But after about an hour and a half, things got really interesting.

We moved from the vault to the southwest corner of the maze which was not ideal. From the top-notch horn player farting out tunes on the sidewalk above to the traffic, proximity to the busy street outside threatened to provide some serious audio contamination. Regardless, we settled there, noting the noise  and marking our audio well, especially for any conversations that drifted in.

Little did we know, audio phenomena would not be our best shot at compelling evidence. We were in our new spot about ten minutes before something hard hit the concrete floor nearby.

We were not expecting things to start flying through the air. This particular piece of brick landed behind us. It came from the empty and unwatched end of the corridor in which we were standing. We walked toward the sound immediately, trying to figure out if there was anything in the area that could have made the sound we heard.

There were three “rocks” on the floor where the noise had come from. As you can hear, all three were examined. The first piece of debris turned out to be foam.  Though it is only open for part of the year, the haunt remains in tact year round, so we were literally wandering through a maze full of hanging corpses and false walls, many of which were made of foam. We were not sure where the other pieces of stone came from because there were no real exposed walls in the area. Perhaps it fell from the ceiling? Or, perhaps Chaperone Gary was having some fun with us? Because the location is set up for maximum scare potential, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to think that Gary, a guy who works the haunt every year, would have some tricks we might not know about.

Our question would be answered during evidence review. If you listen closely to the end of the first clip, you will hear the voice of a little girl we call Sarah. (Not to be confused with the Sarah we regularly talk to aboard the Queen Mary) I isolated the EVP out of the longer clip so it would be easier to hear.

Having trouble hearing it? Here’s some advice: Make sure you have ear buds or headphones on and, instead of turning the sound up, try turning it down. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but it really works!

Though faint, the answer is there. “It was me.” She was trying to get our attention, and it worked.

Sarah wasn’t the only one speaking to us. Apparently we had an audience while trying to figure out what had occurred. At the end of the clip where we are examining the pieces of stone on the floor, we captured this faint EVP.

Though it is quick, there is a whisper there that says “we know” and it seems to be in response to us figuring out which piece of brick was the one that actually made the sound we heard.

It’s funny. When you start getting crazy activity, the skeptic in you wants to dismiss it. There is a part of you that would prefer the culprit was living, because it would be easier for your brain to make sense out of it. But, as important as it was for us to dismiss that first noise, or, at the very least, set it aside for later analysis, it was just as important for Sarah to make herself known. Just five minutes later, it happened again. And, this time, it was louder.

That piece of debris was actually hurled parallel to the floor along the corridor adjoining ours. As you can probably tell, it hit a wood wall at the end and then skidded along the floor. Again, we did not actually see the rock fly through the air. And we did not have eyes on the end of the darkened corridor from which it came. But, as you can hear on the audio, the rock was thrown with a great deal of force. And our tosser wasn’t finished.

Less than five minutes later, it happened again. And this time, we knew it had to be paranormal. Once again, we missed the throw. But while there wasn’t enough light in the tunnels to catch the piece of brick in mid-air, there was certainly enough light by which to see a human figure. However, there were no human figures to see.

As you can hear on the audio, it hit a foam hook that was hanging in front of a metal gate. Like most ghost hunters, I had that annoying habit of pointing the camera in the wrong direction every time another piece of brick took flight. I know. I know. It’s annoying as hell. But while I didn’t catch the brick in flight, I did manage to capture the swinging hook and the piece of brick that caused it to swing. You can check out the video on our YouTube channel.

Now, so far, I have to say, this is a pretty epic display. I mean, it’s up there with what we call our “Party In The Mirror” picture. It took us months of theorizing and debunking before we finally gave in to the fact that there is no natural explanation for the image. But the activity wasn’t finished. Another piece of brick was tossed about fifteen minutes later. This fourth and final piece was the largest piece thrown.

As you can probably tell, that one freaked me out. It was a big piece of brick! And it hit really close to where I was. (And I STILL didn’t capture it on video.) We immediately started looking for a place where the brick could have come from, and it seemed like the most likely point of origin was an exposed brick wall about five or six feet away. This particular wall was originally an entrance to more tunnels that had been blocked off years before.

While we were trying to figure out the point of origin of the latest piece of brick, we captured an EVP. I’m not sure if it should be classified as an EVP or a disembodied voice because, as you can hear in this next clip, I heard “someone” at the time. I know that what I heard made me uncomfortable even though I couldn’t tell what had been said.  It felt like whoever spoke was right by me, in my personal space. CREEPER.

Did you catch that? Just after I say “It has to be ~covered~” there is an EVP of someone saying my name…which was in my ear…and all up in my business. Here it is isolated.

So not right. I theorize that the ghosts know me by name because I have a big mouth and never shut up. That’s just how I roll.

Now, you would think that our playful ghostly friend would be worn out by now. That’s four pieces of brick she just sent flying through the air in less than an hour. About twenty minutes passed, and we were fairly sure the ghost who, at the time, I nicknamed “Gus,” was exhausted. Out of boredom, I began to playfully taunt the spirit just to see if we could squeeze some more activity out of it. And it worked. A little more than twenty minutes later, we heard this:

Our recorder, which had been sitting safely on a ledge, suddenly fell to the floor and started playback. Brian had just walked away from the device before it fell. Immediately, we put it back where it was and started jumping around the base of the set-piece on which it was resting, wondering if the vibration from traffic outside could have made it suddenly jump to its doom. Nothing happened. We then shook the pillar trying to get it to fall. It didn’t budge.

Later, while going through evidence, I discovered something that boggled my mind. The previous audio clip was captured on the recorder I was holding. The following clip is what it sounded like from the perspective of the recorder that was knocked down.

     It took listening to it a few times before I was able to comprehend what I was hearing. I had fully expected to hear the recorder move followed by a loud bang. Instead, my ears were met with the sound of someone touching the recorder and turning it off. The device stopped recording before it ever left the ledge. WHO? WHAT? HOW? Are you kidding?
     I took a few minutes to process what I had just heard, then I tried to recreate it using the same recorder. The only way I could match what I heard was to press the stop button. If I picked up the recorder, the sound of my fingers was too loud to match what was captured on the device at the time. This means the spirit pressed “stop,” then knocked it to the ground.
     Shortly after this last effort by our paranormal friend, Chaperone Gary came to collect our team and move us to the next location. By this time we were exhausted and apparently, so was our company. Activity died, no pun intended. We could feel the change in energy as we settled into our new location. Though we hung out for a while longer, our quest for evidence had been more than fulfilled. Eager to get some sleep so that we could dive into the evidence, we ended up leaving the location early.
     A couple of months have passed since this investigation and we are still amazed by what we experienced. Accompanied by a soundtrack of top-notch tunes like “Tequila” and “My Country Tis of Thee” farted into the basement by the horn outside, the location delivered some stellar activity that we can’t deny. Thanks to a very persistent ghost, Chaperone Gary’s name has been cleared, and our team, after an investigation that turned out to be as subtle as a ton of bricks, feels quite comfortable in labeling the old bank: haunted.

A Few Days With Friends

Super special night-time investigations are not the only times evidence of our friends aboard the Queen Mary can be captured. Some of our most recent visits occurred during the day and early evening. There have been many times when we have gone to the ship just to hang out. Generally, we settle in the lobby just outside the First Class Pool. The Pool is the heart of the ship. Traffic, both living and dead, converges there. We have heard the girls playing behind closed doors, and we have met other paranormal investigators who have gotten lost while looking for different areas. Recent renovations have caused us to change our usual routine. This has afforded us some very valuable information: our ghostly friends will follow us wherever we go.

The following clips are EVPs we picked up on our casual trips to the ship.

September 19, 2011 was the first time we ventured into the lobby of the First Class Pool only to find an event taking place in the ballroom, and the bathrooms around the corner under renovation. (That renovation has since been completed and they did a beautiful job by the way.) Given all of the noise and living energy, we decided it was useless to try to record even casual conversation. So we decided to head to the area just outside the Third Class Playroom. We hung out there for about twenty minutes before activity started. During our stay (about two and a half hours) we saw unexplainable shadows and reflections, heard knocking from inside an elevator shaft that has long been closed, and we captured EVP’s and disembodied voices on our audio recorders. The activity was especially high that evening. But, as always, those we could feel but could not see just wanted to chat and find out how we were.

Last year during an evening investigation, I asked Jackie if she could tell me what her favorite color was. And though I did receive a response to my question, it was Sarah that answered. I’ve tried several times to double-check the answer we got, but had been unable to do so until this night.

As I mentioned before, we were hearing knocking coming from inside the elevator shaft. Jamie and I were sitting on either side of it, and the knocking sounded as if it were on the other side of the door. Of course, that’s impossible…or…is it?

Sarah is no longer shy around us. In fact, she answers many of our questions. If you listen closely, you can hear her response. “Me pounding?” (One of the ways we can always tell Sarah’s voice is that she tends to make statements into questions.)  In this next clip, Jamie asks “Who’s knocking?” And Sarah responds.

If you had a hard time hearing it, you might want to try lowering the volume a bit. I often find that listening to the clips at a softer volume helps my ears pick up changes in tone which, in turn, helps me focus on the EVP.

Our next visit to the ship was on September 30,2011. We were there to introduce our new friend Brittany to the ship before she joined us for a night investigation. We began our tour in the lobby of the First Class Swimming Pool. Sarah and Stark picked us up right away. After a short EVP session in the newly finished bathroom, we took a moment to discuss what parts of the ship we should show Brittany.  While we were talking, Jamie mentioned feeling as if someone had grabbed hold of her heart and squeezed. She likened the feeling to one she had experienced when we investigated Linda Vista Hospital in Boyle Heights. She equated it to something she would feel from a heart-attack patient. I told her it was Sarah. But Jamie couldn’t reconcile herself to that explanation because Sarah was too young to have died of a heart-attack. Having felt that before, I knew it was Sarah saying “Hi.” About thirty seconds later we captured this EVP.

Sarah’s voice came in beneath us talking. I mentioned wanting to give Brittany a sweeping overview of the ship. Then Jamie said she wanted to turn off her recorder because the battery was low. In fact, the battery on her recorder was low from the moment she turned it on. While we didn’t equate it to anything paranormal at the time, listening to the audio later revealed a burst of EMF interference the moment she turned it on.  It sounded like Morse Code. I now suspect the battery in Jamie’s recorder was drained. This seems to happen mostly when Sarah is around. You could hear a small amount of that same interference as Sarah said “That was me?”

Our tour that day took us to the upper decks towards the bow of the ship where we spent some time studying the exhibits. We looked at the uniforms that William Stark would have worn, mock-ups of officers quarters, and spent some time hanging out in the bridge. It seemed that our friends were taking a tour with us. In this next clip, Sarah and Stark both chime in while Jamie tries to read an old and sun-bleached document in one of the displays.

As Jamie says “I can’t see the date on it,” two voices overlap each other in agreement. Sarah says “uh-huh,” and Stark sort of growls out a “Yeah.” Then I chime in with “I know, right?” It feels as if they were looking over our shoulders while we studied the display. We were the only ones there at the time.

Now, fast forward past our night-time investigation, to our final visit. On October 22, 2011, we went to hang out for the last time before Halloween. Though we had been there three times in a month, we couldn’t resist going back again to see if we could experience more heightened activity. Unfortunately, the energy had changed. Our friends seemed distant and the energy on the ship was chaotic. This was no surprise as it was time for the Dark Harbor haunted maze event. Most of the EVPs we captured were soft and very difficult to hear. One answer to a direct question kind of summed up the trip:

Jamie asks if Stark is around and we get a very soft, very low, “No?”

Distant or not, the carnival of gratuitous fake ghosts didn’t keep one phenomena from occurring.

You can hear Brittany say “I’m feelin’ a little somethin’,” And Jamie agreeing. But towards the end of the clip, there is a “who.” This one is tough to hear, but the smooth, low, tone is definitely there.

This next one is a bit easier to hear. Though soft, the tone is higher, and it is the only thing in the clip.

So our little game of “Who” continues!  That is the fourth visit in a row where we came up with those kinds of EVPs.

Recently, I went over recordings from a few investigations we did on the ship at the end of last year and, while there were no “who’s” in them, there were a lot of other interesting EVP’s. Keep checking back at our website! http://www.EastValleyParanormal.com  I just posted some interesting photographic evidence, and EVP updates are coming! In the meantime, feel free to direct comments or questions to us here or on Facebook, and we’ll see you on the other side!