We'll See You On The Other Side…

Historical Places

Paranormal Shower

On Wednesday, Jamie and I (Heather) headed down to EVP’s favorite haunt, The Queen Mary in Long Beach, Ca. Armed with nothing more than our cell phone cameras, our goal was simple: to view the ship through fresh eyes.  Between changing lease holders and pending developments for the land adjacent, there has been a lot of buzz regarding the ship. Though we are privy to the now age-old and glaringly obvious issues surrounding Her care and maintenance, we wondered what the public, who know nothing of the battle over her treatment, see when they tour her historic decks.

Of course, a trip to the RMS Queen Mary would not be complete without an honorable mention for her resident spirits, of which there are many. However, this time, we also encountered some unusual energies we could not quite place. Before I continue, let me state that this story comes with no proof. For the skeptic it will be, at best, conjecture and, at worst, a fairy tale woven around delusions. But for the many of you out there who have visited the ship and come away with a sense that something strange is afoot, I think you will understand.

I’m not a psychic; however, I do tend to be very sensitive to energies and emotions, particularly when I am on the ship. And when Jamie and I are together, for whatever reason, it seems to amplify our receptiveness. (Jamie doesn’t identify as a psychic either but she totally is one. Sorry about it Jamie!)

tumblr_mp3uh2abxb1r3cvdco1_250

Wonder Twin powers…ACTIVATE!

Our team has been on many private investigations and we’ve made countless casual visits. The ship is active at all times of the day but when it is crowded, the energy of the living is like a buffer of white noise that sometimes makes it difficult to focus on which spirits may be coming around to say “hi.” It was nice to be aboard on a quiet day, left to stroll this familiar piece of history without the need to escape a million screaming children or to avoid the large tours.

IMG_7849

A quiet Promenade.

Our walk took us down The Promenade Deck where we were greeted by what felt like four men. I could feel their presence so strongly that they felt almost visible and I paused. It’s interesting but dismissible when you feel/see something like that on your own. But when you have a trusted friend with you who also sees it, it’s a relief. After years of dealing with this sort of thing I STILL wonder if I am crazy or making things up. And Jamie’s immediate acknowledgment of exactly what I am picking up on settles what would otherwise be an endlessly muttering argument that does nothing but cast doubts on my perceptions and degrades any further experiences.

The men were standing side by side, lined up and staring at us, their expressions unmoving and rather blank. Their clothes were dirty and their energy was heavy. It felt like they were lost. We concluded that they must have been related to the boiler room and moved on, asking that the spirits give us some space so that we could continue our visit without feeling like we were going to fall over.

Let me explain a bit. I’m sure that different people experience the paranormal in different ways. But our team has come up with a saying that we use amongst ourselves. We call it being “on the boat,” and, amazingly, it did not originate from our experiences with The Queen Mary. Originally, the saying was born from a very horrible cruise I took down to Mexico for my grandmother’s 90th birthday. It think that “my grandmother’s 90th birthday” pretty much sums up my experience but, in case you’re having a hard time visualizing it, let me just say that it felt very much like this:

tn000394

Anyway, once I was released from the boat-prison disguised as a pleasure cruise and my feet were on solid ground, I noticed the most peculiar sensation. For several days I felt as if I was still on the boat. It took a while to regain my equilibrium. It was actually the best part of the cruise. As it turns out, this is also how it feels when our team comes into contact with spirits. When the energy is particularly strong, it can make you stumble like a drunk. And when we see each other doing this, we now ask “Are you on the boat?”

Energy came and went as we went about our day. We experienced a mixture of familiar and unfamiliar energies that, for the most part, were fleeting. However, neither of us could rid ourselves of the nagging feeling that the four men we first encountered were very out of place. Though we had dismissed them as having come up from the boiler rooms, neither of us were satisfied with this assumption. This may sound too ethereal for some but, it just didn’t feel right.

Towards the end of our day, as we ended our self-guided tour on R Deck in front of the entrance to the First Class Pool, we sat on the steps in front of the now defunct elevators, and began laying out our feelings regarding these gentleman. We concluded that, they could not get back to wherever they had come from, an unusual conclusion to reach for any of the ship’s own ghostly residents, most of whom, in our experience, can find their way with ease throughout the ship.

IMG_7899

R-deck. Original entrance to The First Class Pool

If those men had come from the boilers or engine room, was there something going on that would displace them? Wondering if maybe management was doing work in those areas of the ship we headed down to The Queen Mary Story which is housed close to what remains of those areas to see if it would provide us with any obvious answers. Much to our surprise, it did.

13230-3

Upon entering the lower levels of the museum, we were immediately greeted by a mess of what, at first glance,  looked like construction and some pretty chaotic energy. Turns out, a recent temporary exhibit, “Alcatraz: Life on the Rock,” had just ended.  The exhibit space now empty, they were in the process of breaking down the remainder of the sets and displays. I imagine that whatever artifacts they had on loan were already on their way back to the lender.

alcatraz_exhibit_front_page

As we sat there, feeling the place out and assembling the pieces of the day’s puzzle, we wondered if the four men we saw on The Promenade Deck had not come from the ship at all, but had instead,  arrived with the Alcatraz artifacts. Had they missed their ride home?

Of course, we couldn’t be sure but it felt plausible and likely that this was the case. None too creeped out, we were lucky that our next stop was an awesome metaphysical store called Sage Goddess where we were able to clear ourselves of any unwanted attachments. (Because really, who wants to bring home one or four Alcatraz inmates?)

I’ll taaaake THAT ONE…

article-2297271-18d7fdda000005dc-161_634x843

On second thought….

We mentioned where we had been, what we had encountered and the lovely running the store immediately got out the sage and smudged us. I do not know WHY we have never done this. I can’t count the number of times one or all of us have brought something home from haunted locations. We often wake up the next day feeling horrible; exhausted, used up, foggy, sore and depressed. Have we ever smudged ourselves? No. Downright irresponsible in retrospect. Why would we cleanse our spaces and not ourselves! It’s a paranormal shower.

IMG_7058

I dig Palo Santo wood because Sage smells like armpit.

We learned a lot during our latest visit to The Queen Mary. We saw her through fresh eyes, noticed details we had never seen, met a few surprising historical ghosts and, most importantly, we were reminded of how important it is to protect yourself when dealing with haunted locations. Even when you know a location well and her spirits feel like old friends ready to welcome you back, it is possible that surprises are lurking. So go in and enjoy your experiences but make sure you leave the ghosts behind!

Aside from the link to Sage Goddess above, you can also find Athena’s offerings in her brick and mortar in Torrance, Ca, OR on Etsy!

Advertisements

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 story at Medium.com

View story at Medium.com

 

View story 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.


A New Year’s Resolution

Well, it’s a new year and I find myself with many new things to talk about. But before I fill you in on our latest investigations or begin waxing about things like the ZPF (Zero Point Field), Deja Vu, and the myth of linear time, I want to handle a bit of business I have been putting off for many months. I really thought I could get away with saying nothing but, I have found it increasingly difficult to keep my mouth shut. So, in light of the new year, and new beginnings and, more over, in light of regaining my freedom of speech, let me tackle an unsettling incident our team had the displeasure of experiencing. (If you were wondering at some point why we weren’t posting anything regarding our visits to our favorite location, this will help to explain why.)

In April of last year a friend of ours, who had a long-standing contract with the Queen Mary in Long Beach regarding paranormal research, assembled a group investigation. He went through all of the proper channels, but, at some point, there was a miscommunication. Though it was set up months in advance, he received a call the night before the investigation notifying him that the price of the event had increased by a whopping one-thousand dollars which he would be expected to provide before the investigation took place. Not only did they call the night before, but they called right before the offices closed for the evening leaving him little opportunity to call them back and discuss the matter. HE had to scramble to find someone he could talk to about the last-minute circumstances. After many calls, he was finally able to connect with the manager of attractions who informed him that his contract was void. As if it wasn’t unprofessional enough to change the terms of the agreement at the last-minute, the manager then proceeded to haggle over the price.

The next day when we all showed up for the investigation, we were greeted with hostility from that manager. Hackles rose on both sides as this manager mishandled the situation. As he handed out wristbands (This was a first. We all felt as though we were under house arrest.), he refused to field any of the group’s questions citing the fact that it wasn’t his job to “perform” for us (Yes. Those were his words). He informed us that if any of us were unhappy with the circumstances of the day’s event, he would be happy to refund our money and escort us off of the ship. Instead of diffusing the situation by making sure that the issues were resolved, he spent the better part of an hour (time we just paid for) butting heads with the more vocal members of the group. Before leaving, he told us that if any negative comments showed up on social media sites, we would be banned from the ship.

He was worried about us, yelping, facebooking, tweeting or blogging about our interaction with him. And his solution was to penalize us. That situation was an opportunity for him to show how well he could do his job and instead of seizing the opportunity, he demonstrated the depths of his ego and the lack of his managerial skills by fueling our anger and threatening our freedom of speech.  Had he done his job, he could have had a large group of people flood social media with positive comments regarding the stellar customer service they received while aboard the ship.  It happens for Disney all the time.

What he did not understand is that “performing” for us IS his job. He willfully passed up an opportunity to form a solid relationship with a group of writers, artists, archaeologists, historians, engineers, mothers, fathers, husbands, and wives of varying ages, otherwise known as the ship’s demographic. It’s called damage control, an elementary skill at which this manager spectacularly failed.

Personally, I think the fear of bad publicity is just a cover. All of our complaints could have been quelled easily enough by a better attitude and some patience. Customer service. That’s business management 101. So why would a manager go out of his way to piss off a large group of people and make them not want to return? One word: Accountability. When five million dollars is allocated to hotel room improvements which consist of flat screen TVs and I-pod docking stations instead of  keeping the ship from sinking, we complain. When industrial meat slicers are hanging out in the restaurant kitchens on original Art Deco dining tables, we complain. When the original cork flooring is torn up or red paint is spattered all over interior halls, we complain. And when they define a ballroom as having been restored because they tore up the original parquet flooring and replace it with cheap carpet, we complain. That probably makes us a huge pain in the ass to have around. Unfortunately for Evolution Hospitality, we aren’t going away.

What happened that day was small in the grand scheme of things. But it was representative of the same attitude exhibited by the other management companies that have come and gone. Evolution Hospitality had a chance to show they were different and instead, they proved they were the same if not worse than those that had come before them. It showed that they are not above unethical behavior. It demonstrated a management philosophy that values short-term monetary gain over laying a solid foundation for long-term growth. It painted the picture of a company willing to blame their numerous bad Yelp reviews on the customer instead of taking responsibility for their own poor choices. Above all else, it confirmed that, once again, a team has been hired that values its ego more than it values the ship’s reputation as a Southern California vacation destination and respected historic landmark.

I spent last year trying not to write about this. I skirted the issue numerous times because I felt I was unable to properly capture the scope of it with my words. I worried that I would offend someone or that management would find new ways to punish us for telling the truth. But no more of that. This is my new year’s resolution. I am going to write about things I feel are important. And I am going to do so with all of the passion I possess. That passion is a blessing for both the reader, and the ship. Once it dies, that is one less person who cares about what happens to her. It is one less person who stops fighting to fix the holes and the leaks and the faulty wiring. It is one less person who brings other people on board to spend money. And it is one less person to keep the memory of what the Queen Mary once was and the hope of what she could be, alive.

Written by: Heather of EVP of SoCal


Queen Mary Management To Showcase Bad Taste….Again.

 

“12:00 noon. I relieved Tommy as lookout on the quarter deck. He reported Queen Mary sighted with HMS “Curacaos” in the fare of her. What happened in the next few moments was too quick to be true. Unfortunately, it was true. I glanced and saw Q.M: and Curacao. They seemed ok from our position. Tommy and I put a cigarette in our mouths. I lit a match gave him a light, lighted my own, and looked astern. Queen Mary going strong at approx 20 knots, “Curacao” I could see no sign. I immediately contacted the bridge and reported “Curacao” had disappeared. From then on it was panic. Our ship turned about, asdis lamps flashing messages. We passed the Queen Mary. She was still making for homeport like a bad horse. We arrived at the last position where I had seen “Curacao.” What a terrible sight it was. The sea was covered in oil, dirty and black with hundreds of heads with oily faces and panicky white eyes, mouths opening and closing like fish, some shouting for their mothers and help, others just chocking with fuel oil in their lungs and dying from drowning. All good British lads, bobbing up and down. We picked as many as we could: 97 out of 650. The rest perished. On our way back to Ireland 5 out of the 97 we had saved from the sea died on board due to the fuel in their guts, all that destruction in the time it takes to light a cigarette.”[1]

Not all of us will be lucky enough to experience the brutal destruction of iron and steel or drowning in a slick of oil and debris in the middle of the ocean, but now, for a limited time only, YOU CAN! No longer will this privilege be reserved for wartime soldiers!

Yes folks! For the LOW LOW price of just $19.99 you can relive this actual World War II disaster in inglorious detail!

“I skipped Dark Harbor in 2011 because event organizers offered nothing new, recycling the exact same mazes and themes from the previous year.”[2]

The new haunted maze, Deadrise, takes visitors inside a World War II escort ship that helped guide the Queen Mary until she plowed right through it ripping it in half and leaving hundreds of men to die in her wake in 1942. Trapped in a watery grave, sailors still haunt the sunken escort ship. [3]

Just in time for Veterans Day!

Hurry! Tickets won’t last forever…just like the Curacao.

If you thought nothing could top a special effects Deadly D-Day Disaster Show, wait until you see all of those dead sailors dripping water and walking around with metal shards sticking out of their skulls. It’s WAY better. It’s just like being there!

That’s right folks! We’ve really pulled out all the stops! ~All~ of them. So come on down to the Queen Mary in Long Beach today and learn what it is to die like a hero!

Oh Evolution…what ARE we going to do with you? Once again, your desire to make more money and show you are the biggest, baddest management company to ever rule The Queen has succeeded in turning what once was the most luxurious ocean liner to cross the open seas into nothing more than a worn out home for circus acts and sideshow freaks.

I know that there is a large public contingency against both the “Ghosts and Legends Show” (offered daily) and the annual money-maker “Dark Harbor,” but that is, perhaps, material for another post. The point, which hopefully, I have already highlighted, is the bad taste required to theme a maze around an actual World War II disaster in which hundreds of men brutally lost their lives. They could have avoided the look of disgust by simply theming the maze as a shipwreck. It’s as if they hired a bunch of 14-year-old boys to create an event and simply let them run amok.

 “My family came over on the ship from Scotland. My family helped build the ship in Scotland. I have a lot of passion for protecting the ship.”

                                 ~Attractions Manager Andrew Mason~

But does that passion extend to protecting the reputation of the ship as both a historic and a financial entity? Instead of attracting and educating the consumer by offering innovative experiences regarding both her historic and modern significance, management plans events that repeatedly mar what is left of her original features thereby aiding the further deterioration of her public image. Disrespecting her history in such a blatant manner sends the message that the people who own her or who own her lease no longer see the value of what they have.

And while “Dark Harbor” and “Deadrise” are splashed in all their bloody glory across the front page of The Queen Mary website, a brief search of her links reveals their respect for the military during the remainder of the year.

PLAN YOUR MILITARY EVENT

“With the Queen Mary’s proud military service in World War II, it’s no surprise that the legendary ship has become a favorite amongst our brave men and women in uniform. Dubbed “The Grey Ghost” during her military service, the Queen Mary transported thousands of American troops and broke several speed records along the way. Today, the Queen Mary serves as a reminder of the Great War and a living tribute to those who fought to defend freedom and democracy throughout the years.The Queen Mary is the ideal venue for military reunions of any size.” [4

How ironic.

Unfortunately this type of contradiction is indicative of the ship’s upper level management. We saw the same behavior when they let stunt cyclists ride their bikes through the ship. The public roared, and what did management do? They threw their business partners under the bus by lying about how the stunts were never permitted.

Evolution Hospitality has a well-defined vision, a strong sense of values, and guiding principles, and a long-range, quality minded approach to business.

                               ~Evolution Hospitality LLC Website~

The company currently running the ship proudly touts its “servant leadership philosophy.”[5] But their focus on “revenue and sales”[6] is a very temporary fix to a 40-year-old problem; especially if they alienate the public in the process. From raising prices for parking and entrance fees with no warning and no added value, to theming tacky events on some of the darkest history The Queen Mary has ever seen, they continuously demonstrate their ethics with displays of spectacularly bad taste.

 


Words and Actions

“Queen Mary staff working with City officials worked on the CMP (Conservation Management Plan) and the Long Beach Cultural Heritage Commission approved the CMP in April 2011. Since the adoption, Queen Mary staff has been working to implement various base programming elements. The Preservation Management Team has been assembled and currently evaluating [a] multi-year restoration, reconstruction, and preservation program.”

                                                                                     ~From the official Queen Mary Website~

I don’t think this was part of the city approved plan.

Several days ago, a video appeared on YouTube promoting an upcoming event to be held at The Queen Mary in Long Beach, Ca. It was a professional shoot. Cameras followed riders as they drove their bikes through the historical areas of the ship.  If you read our previous post, you are already familiar with the details. If you haven’t, let me briefly catch you up.

The video was only up for a short period of time before it was made private by XDL, the organization who shot it. It was privatized due to a very rapid, very public backlash against the current management group (Evolution Management) who, according to one of the riders from the video, “worked long and hard” with their stunt group to “preserve the integrity of the ship.”

On July 24, just a day after the promotional video blew up in management’s face, a statement of apology was released on Facebook (buried in comment threads) in response to the outrage over the ship’s involvement:

The Queen Mary maintains strict filming and third-party promotional guidelines. Conduct that presents a risk to the ship, its property or reputation as a cherished Long Beach asset and global maritime icon will not be tolerated.

The recent breach of pre-approved filming protocols by videographers contracted by the XDL Championship Series has resulted in an apology to the City of Long Beach and to the Queen Mary.

“XDL selected the Queen Mary for its event because of her iconic status. We have no interest in damaging or disrespecting the ship or her history in any way. XDL is in agreement with those who have complained about this unfortunate incident. Like them, we believe the Queen Mary is a treasure that should be protected. XDL offers its sincere apology to the City of Long Beach and the Queen Mary’s family of fans.” Randy Grube, Founder, XDL.

The XDL Motorcycle Madness event, [dates omitted], will use parking lot and adjacent land areas for all activities.

We continue to stand by our ongoing commitment to the preservation and enhancement of the Queen Mary’s historical and physical assets.

Now, at first glance, this may seem like a small victory. Representatives for the ship have assured us that the event will take place in the adjacent parking lot area (where stunt motorcycles should be). However, the apology actually highlights a bigger issue.

From the beginning of Evolution Management’s reign over the ship, they have shown two tendencies. First, they are great at saying all of the right things, but then they fail to back up their words with actions.

“We recognize how truly iconic the Queen Mary is – there’s simply nothing else like it – and we’re excited to be a part of the team that supports the ship…We plan to build upon all that has been achieved previously at the Queen Mary and are ready to apply our management expertise, tools and technology, and servant leadership philosophy to the ship, its guests and associates, and the Long Beach community at large.”

                                                                 ~Matt Greene from the Long Beach Post’s website~

Servant leadership philosophy, indeed. Their first noteworthy act as the ship’s new management was to raise parking and ticket prices without warning, and with no added value for the customer. Who’s serving who?

Second: They are prone to ducking responsibility for their missteps:

“The recent breach of pre-approved filming protocols by videographers contracted by the XDL Championship Series…”

When we do our after-hours investigations of the ship, we are required to sign a contract which states the areas of the ship we will be investigating. We are assigned a security guard who stays with our team throughout the night. He is charged with the responsibility of protecting both the ship and us. We carry audio recorders and EMF detectors. Our biggest pieces of equipment fit inside backpacks. Now, management wants us to believe that a motorcycle stunt group SNUCK on board and RODE THEIR BIKES around the ship with a full crew ~unnoticed~?

Did the riders and camera crew hide their equipment under their shirts? Perhaps someone pointed in the direction opposite the entrance and yelled “LOOK!” while cast and crew quietly rolled bikes and carried cameras and equipment aboard. In one, fell, swoop they threw both the motorcycle stunt group as well as their own security team under the bus…or ship…as the case may be. Classy.

One thing we have learned in our years of investigating the Queen Mary is that security is not stupid, and they are not lazy. They are constantly on the move, patrolling off-limit areas and handling situations. I am sure that if someone was doing donuts unauthorized on the Sun Deck of the ship amidst camera operators  and production assistants, Queen Mary security would shut it down. And if the stunt group “breached filming protocols” as the statement claims, why would they still be allowed to have their event on Queen Mary property?

Nick Lind, one of the bike riders in association with the promotional video made this comment on a Facebook thread:

“…For all of you that claim you know this ship so well, you should know that it would have been impossible to make this video without the consent of the ships staff… For you to belive that there was no consent and that the whole crew slipped past security and filmed this is absurd!! This was a promo clip for a motorcycle event not a James Bond film!!”

Shhh! They’ll never know!

He’s absolutely right. This has nothing to do with XDL, who, by the way, has held this event on Queen Mary property for several years in a row. It is not up to them to decide what will damage the ship’s integrity. That task belongs to her management team. It is THEIR job to filter out the bad ideas. The truth is, they failed here. And, instead of taking responsibility for their mistake, they lied about it, and sought out scapegoats.

There is one word that describes these actions: SHADY.

They have failed their business partners, they have failed their employees, they have failed the public and, worst of all, they have failed the ship, all of whom, they supposedly “serve.”


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.