When it comes to paranormal phenomena, apporting (the ability to disassemble matter and have it reassemble somewhere else) is, perhaps, the one that baffles me the most followed closely by poltergeist (a noisy or, literally “pounding” ghost). And last week I had my own close encounter, the details of which left me shaking my head and pondering both phenomena from an uncomfortably personal perspective.
A common claim associated with hauntings is: “items go missing.” It is believed that some ghosts are capable of apporting objects like keys or jewelry causing them to disappear from the place their owner had put them only to reappear in another location. I have a really difficult time wrapping my head around this. My inner skeptic bucks wildly against belief. It’s one thing to experience objects moving on their own. I’ve experienced this more than once. I ~know~ this happens. But for a complex piece of matter to be disassembled and reassembled in another location? That’s CRAZY. (You’ll notice the term “crazy” becomes increasingly relative the more you delve into the world of spirit and the paranormal.)
Regarding Poltergeist, one of the things that makes this activity incredibly unsettling is that it is believed to be generated from a living agent. That means that these “ghosts” are created from suppressed emotions in conjunction with unacknowledged or un-channeled psychic gifts. When people say “Don’t bottle it all up inside,” there is a good reason. Negative emotions are like poison. They grow and fester when we refuse to deal with them. This is true for everyone. But for some with special gifts, this denial of self manifests in disruptive, other-worldly, ways.
Stacking. Another reason Poltergeists are so dang creepy. WAY worse than the big ol’ monster at the end! But maybe…not quite as scary as the clown.
Every Monday night I meet up with my best friend and we head to our favorite all night diner. It’s tradition. Date night with the wife, we call it. It’s the one night a week we can lay out all of our turmoil and drama on the table along with our eggs and toast and show it to the only other person on the planet who knows us as well as we know ourselves. Together, there is nothing we can’t tackle. And while we might not solve it with the expedience of an early eighties sitcom, we never fail to find a new facet or shed a new light on whatever ails us.
A couple of Mondays ago it was my turn to bring crazy to the table and I did so MOST epically. My ego was throwing the biggest tantrum, possibly, of my life. I was shrouded in a layer of anger comprised of hurt, fear, offense, abandonment, and most powerfully, panic. The culmination of a slow and slippery slope on which I embarked after a particularly shocking and damaging break-up that is now more than a year old, this Monday found me on the pinnacle of a breakthrough. But to get there, I had to traverse what felt like a forest of flame.
There really are no words to describe how ensconced I was in this torrent of negative emotion. Convinced I had been wronged that very day by another long time friend; convinced he had abandoned me, forgotten me, cheated and lied to me, I was pointing finger after finger at him whilst completely disregarding the three pointing back at me.
So there I sat in the sanctity of our Monday night, needing so desperately to tell my story to the one person who always “gets it.” Though I tried not to direct my rage at my oldest friend, knowing she is ~always~ there to listen and support, my words spilled from my lips with an indiscriminate venom. I was battling everything; myself, my emotions, my past, my future, and my friend. I could feel my anger spilling onto the table. I was a woman possessed. I could see her hackles raise in response to it. I could see her rein herself in, reminding herself that this was not about her, that I was not, despite how it felt, attacking ~her~.
As I was flooding the air between us with words I can’t remember, my fist came down on the table to illustrate a point and for the briefest moment, there was a silence in my head. Like I had left myself for just a fraction of a second. It all happened so quickly that I barely broke stride until my friend’s eyes widened and she looked down at the seat next to her. I stopped and said, “What?”
From the seat she slowly lifted her knife. Again, I said “What?” dismissing the incident as a result of the knife falling off the table. But I could tell from her reaction that she was already convinced that this was not the case. We took a moment to ponder it, but apparently, I was not yet ready for this night to be about anything else aside from ME. And after a little bit of consideration, I continued talking.
A week later, I was over myself and Monday night was once again a calm and balanced pursuit. (In the interest of staying on target, I will leave that journey for another post.) After a brief update of how I managed my over-ness, we shifted once again to what had happened with the knife. Though logic insisted it was nothing, instinct continued to argue we pay more attention.
At the time it occurred, we were both very aware that the knife made no sound until we heard the gentle thud it made when it landed. It had been perched across her saucer next to her coffee cup. After it fell, she put it back where it had been and I banged on the table a few more times to see if it would fall again but it didn’t budge. We tried this same thing again a week later and it yielded the same results. In fact, it did not budge when we placed it near the edge of the table either. After running several experiments, all with the same results, we gave up and started reconstructing what had happened.
I was facing her and, subsequently, the knife when it moved but I saw nothing. No flash of metal or reflection of light. No movement of any kind. It is ENTIRELY possible that nothing could have distracted me from my rage. But I did hear the thud as it landed on the seat next to her which came shortly but not directly after I hit the table. We also noted that both the knife as well as the saucer on which it was resting were several inches away from the edge of the table. This meant that in order for it to slip, slide, or fall onto the seat next to her, it would first have to hit the table which would make more noise than it made upon landing.
It was kind of like this only with a knife!
I had only experienced something similar once before. I was at lunch with Jamie and I was describing something (I can’t even remember what) passionately. I remember the feeling behind the words. I felt like I could lift up the whole world. Suddenly, her empty cracker wrapper slid across the table and into my fingers as I lifted them up. I stopped talking and looked at the cracker wrapper, slightly confused. WHY was it in my fingers?
Granted, a small wisp of cellophane like that could have easily caught a subtle draft. But the way in which it moved toward me as my emotions crescendoed and went right to my fingertips as I pinched and lifted struck both Jamie and myself as extremely odd.
Both the cracker wrapper and the knife incident were accompanied by the same feelings from both observers. It stopped us in our tracks. It made us try to figure out what happened. It sent us into disbelief. And it left us questioning an otherwise forgettable experience for weeks.
By now you are probably asking yourself what this has to do with apporting and poltergeists.
If we entertain the possibility that the knife did not fall off the table but was in fact moved, we are talking about psycho or telekinesis which in and of itself is fantastic enough. But to both of us, it felt like the knife disappeared from the saucer and reappeared an inch or two above the seat cushion. Neither of us saw or heard it move. It was just sitting there one moment and landing on the seat the next. It’s not something I expect anyone to believe for I hardly believe it myself. I’m still stuck somewhere on a sliding scale between “Oh yeah right” and “WTFWASTHAT!” But given my state of mind at the time, I do feel like if anything moved it, it was me. I could feel a surge of energy within me and it felt like it had nowhere to go.
And that leads me back to poltergeists. Regardless of whether or not I moved an object through the sheer force of pent up emotions and unfocused will, the feeling that I might have is enough to drive home the gravity of the resulting implications. There was undeniable power in that stockade of negative emotion. And something in me wanted this hoarding to continue.
As I was sitting there across from my support system, peering out through a heavy veil of bitterness and rage, I felt like I was battling death. While my life wasn’t threatened, it felt like my identity was. I felt crazy. The idea of moving objects with my mind would have been akin to the joy of finally having a super power were it not for the great cost at which it came.
That night in our diner, the night my emotions threatened to consume me, the night we both wondered if my rage was to blame for throwing a knife off the table, reminded me on a visceral level of how easy it is to become unconscious, to disconnect from my self. At some point I told myself I was too good to fall prey to such a thing. I knew too much about how people worked to become so unaware. And from there it grew.
We humans are powerful creatures, more powerful than most of us realize. We are connected to everything around us, wrapped in the fabric of space and time. Having had a taste of what it might be like to be so disconnected from my own heart that I could cause disturbances around me was quite a wakeup call. It made me wonder how deeply emotions need be buried in order to seek other, more uncommon ways in which to manifest. The knife helped me see the first subtle step I took to this end. Its silent descent cut through the rage that was drowning out the world creating an opening for self-realization. I’m just thankful it was an isolated incident, for as nice as it would be to have a “super power,” I can say now, after experiencing the trade-off, I feel much more empowered by taking responsibility for my own emotional state.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.”
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
If hiding under the bleachers could have gotten me out of Phys Ed when I was a kid, I would have never gone. I did not like running, hitting things or being hit by things much less doing any of those things in front of a group of my peers.
And while I LOVED gymnastics and Ice skating, it only took one rotation around the bar for me to realize that I did not like the feeling of having my guts crushed by my own weight and one awkward lap around the ice rink in those green vinyl rental skates to dash my delusions of Olympic gold.
With practice, I could have advanced past my discomfort and fear. I could have achieved some measure of success. But I knew from those first experiences that those muscles would require more work to build than I wanted to put in. In fact, exercise in general would never come naturally to me.
People often wonder if they have psychic ability or if it is something that can be developed. The answer is: YES. You have psychic ability and YES it can be developed. But like everything else, we are each born with an individual aptitude that is part of what determines the ease of our developmental success.
I’ve always been sensitive. When I was little I had no idea that it was unusual. I remember my first trip, of course, to The Queen Mary. It sounds funny but, I had a feeling we were being followed by three unseen people. It didn’t feel unusual. It wasn’t scary. I just took for granted that there were extra kids and, possibly, an extra adult with our group. They followed us on our guided tour and I wondered why the tour guide didn’t mention them.
This type of experience continued as I grew up but it was no more than a peripheral curiosity. I never considered myself “psychic” or a “medium.” And while several people I met throughout the years looked at me and said, “You’re an empath.” I didn’t even know what that meant.
When East Valley Paranormal began pursuing investigations, I noticed that my abilities grew. Just like athletes work out their physical muscles, I was working out my psychic muscle. Repeated contact with the dead expanded my awareness; leaving me open to clearer connections. What once were just “feelings” expanded into very palpable interactions.
I remember our first investigation. It was a large group of people. There was a lot of noise. But I remember Bob Davis of Planet Paranormal could hear familiar voices that belonged to no one in our group. I watched him closely that night. And I wondered if he was fooling himself….until I listened to the audio recordings. Sure enough, when he heard something, we would inevitably catch something on audio.
As we continued investigating, I found that I could hear more than I previously could. “Did you hear that?” became my catch phrase to the point where I became so conscious of it that I had to make myself stop saying it!
Here are a couple of clips from a pretty wild investigation we did in Pasadena. The first, is a clip of me talking about something (I have no idea what). You can hear Brian respond but in the middle, I heard something say my name. It felt like they were right in my ear…like a bug had flown into it. It still makes me cringe when I hear it.
You can hear in my tone how uncomfortable it made me.
This is the sound I heard, isolated.
It STILL makes me uncomfortable!
While investigating is one way to stretch and build your psychic muscle, it is by no means the only way to improve it! In fact, The hardest step in learning to use your psychic muscle is following your intuition; having faith in what your gut tells you. Remember multiple choices tests?
Test tip: If you are unsure of the answer, follow your first instinct.
It sounded so easy! But it wasn’t! The moment you tried to let go and fill in the bubble to which your first instinct guided you, you paused, grunted, thought about it, and changed your mind. Why? Were you afraid of getting it wrong? I know I was. In fact, fear like this guides most of what we do.
But the illusion of control to which we cling is holding us back in so many ways. Intuition is our introduction to the unseen world we want to understand. And we have little to lose when it comes to listening to it. It taps into knowledge we have tucked away, information we are not conscious of. To access it, we must learn to hear and then listen to our inner voice, a voice we ALL have. Practicing this helps us learn not only to trust ourselves, but to open ourselves to a source of guidance we often disregard. And the more we listen, the better we hear. It speaks to us more often than you think! But we must be willing to risk being wrong or feeling “crazy” in order to reap the possible rewards.
Another method for building that psychic muscle is meditation. This is something that I am usually too lazy or unmotivated to do. Interestingly, there is science behind the act of meditation. Time even did an article on it!
(TIME also did an article drawing a link between farting and how it may cure cancer but, I’m sure this proved to be a better day for them.)
Meditation is a way to put the computer at the front of your brain at the disposal of the automated processes in the back of your brain. Your task as the executive (of your life) is to be presented with information, and then to decide how important it is. You tell the rest of the computer if it needs to continue processing it as a high priority. The goal is for your decision process to remain passive. Whatever comes up for you in the meditation, you observe and assign no importance to it. Whatever meditation presents you, you let it pass by. It’s all just data. This does two things.First, you are assigning a low emotional valence to the thoughts. This lowers the priority it gets for consolidation. That lightens your processing demands. Secondly, your undivided attention is actually providing additional processing power to the thoughts. Once you become aware of them, it takes less time to put them in long-term storage. Most of what we think is fairly repetitive. Processing through them with meditation frees up your computer to do other things.
Edited excerpt from Synchronicity by Dr. Kirby Surprise
I’ve been thinking a lot about investigating lately and how it has changed my awareness regarding my own array of abilities. It’s been quite a while since the team has been out on an official hunt (official defined as: darkness, equipment, free run of an historic locale, the whole nine yards); amazing how one’s life can get in the way of one’s predilection with death. But while other obligations keep us from collecting our cameras, audio recorders and meters, I will continue to build my psychic muscles through research and by listening to my intuition. Sometimes you need only focus on the first step of a journey in order to embark.
It seems that I am not alone in the emotional work I am currently doing. My closest friends are also struggling with issues that they cannot quite grasp. That feeling of being held back or trapped by some unseen barrier, imprisoned by pieces of ourselves that broke so long ago that we can no longer identify their source.
Like a broken bone that never properly healed, there are things in all of us that now cause a noticeable limp. And while we have managed to mitigate the ways in which they hold us back, there comes a time when we realize that the coping mechanisms which once fostered our progress are now the very things that are keeping us stuck.
The work to get through these barriers is difficult. Like resetting a broken bone, the process is painful. But unlike an old break, there is no x-ray that can clearly show the point at which we fractured. We must dig.
The “shadow” or the “shadow self” is a concept I’ve heard about before. It’s one of those peripheral topics that has presented itself in songs, psychology classes, and through the various new age-ish offerings that, being in the field of paranormal research, I often click through while researching other topics. Originally attributed to Psychotherapist Carl Jung, our shadow consists of those parts of us that we reject or deny. These parts of us are usually aspects we fear, the things that make us not worth loving or make us less valuable.
There is no clear-cut process by which we can root out our issues, no way to simply step back, identify, and discard them. In fact, that is the process that got us here to begin with. There are, however, threads that appear around our frayed edges and when we spot them, we must be willing to examine them. And this is no small task for the second we pull at a thread, it feels like we risk unraveling the very fabric of ourselves, a fabric we spent years weaving.
Frayed edges are represented in different ways, the most common of which is repeating our mistakes. And when we make the same mistake countless times we are hardly kind to ourselves about it. Getting hurt makes us angry ~especially~ when we feel like we could have prevented it. We chastise ourselves or start to wonder if we are crazy. After all, how many times have we heard “The definition of ‘crazy’ is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”
But it’s never as easy as deciding NOT to do something. In order to truly change our behaviors we must find the root of them. What is it inside of us that is bringing about this same result time and time again?
Some people are haunted by dreams which often depict frightening images. They are chased by monsters or experience themselves behaving uncharacteristically. The other day, my friend was telling me about these horrible dreams she’d been having. In them, she watched herself behave in ways she never would. But the dreams had her wondering if this was her real inner self struggling to get out.
As she laid out the details of her dream behavior, it was easy to see what was going on. She was not dreaming about what she was actually capable of. She was dreaming about what she FEARED she was capable of. And it didn’t take long for that little nugget of revelation to expand into an answer to a question we’ve been pondering for years. We have always joked about her terrible taste in guys. But relying on a cliche like “Your picker’s broken” is hardly a consolation when you are dealt one heartbreak after another.
I then realized that while the behaviors she was describing in the dreams were never something she would do to someone, they were all things that had been done to her. At that moment, we realized that she had been dating her fears. Suddenly the levity and banter stopped and we just stared at each other.
The things we try to bury will always find a way back to the surface no matter how hard we try to push them down or hide them. Whether through dreams, physical illness, self sabotage or stagnation, there comes a time when we can no longer move forward broken. We MUST be courageous enough to risk unraveling for it’s the only way we will heal.
Written by: Heather of EVP
So it’s Thursday and I know I have a blog post due tomorrow. This isn’t something I owe someone else. It isn’t something that will make me money. It’s a commitment I made to myself which makes completing the task even more important. And it is the tensile strength of that single thread on which my motivation now relies because it feels like every other thread that makes up the weave of my life has unraveled.
I ate so many cookies this week.
Taking an entire day to coax myself through the process of finding inspiration and organizing words on the paper resulted in using that day to stare at a blank screen. And this activity was broken up by puttering around attempting other projects, all of which yielded what felt like a minuscule amount of success.
Yup. It was about like that.
It is now Thursday night and the paper is still blank. But after walking the dog who currently looks like I feel (she pretty much looks like a tumbleweed), I came home and flipped a brain switch. I sat down at the computer and I committed to making this happen. Still lacking inspiration, I turned to old faithful, YouTube, and sitting there in my recommendations was a TED talk entitled “Getting Stuck in the Negative.” Fitting, I thought.
While watching the video, I thought about all the things that brought me down this week and I realized that, while there were odds and ends that were less than enjoyable, nothing ~actually~ happened to make me THIS depressed and anxious. As the video continued I rolled my eyes and grumbled while the psychologist spoke about practicing positivity but, with a heavy sigh I tried to find some perspective. And then it dawned on me…
I have been no more than a ghost, trading in the present for a narrative in my head that has been constant and unending. It rambled about the things I should have done, it rambled about the things I should be doing and it worried about the future that I will and will not have.
I had a drama teacher who always said: “Be in the moment.” It kind of made me want to slug her. And it galls me to say she was right. So I’ll pretend the advice came from Cookie Monster instead. After all, he was right about the cookies.
I totally ate them.
Negative tapes have been repeating in my head and pressing <STOP> felt like an impossible task. But the moment I went looking for inspiration, it brought those negative thoughts to a halt. Becoming conscious of them left no other choice.
Now I sit here aware of my breathing. I feel the breeze coming through the windows. I hear the traffic out on the main street. And as I listen to the noise of the world around me, the noise in my head remains quiet. Sometimes finding peace feels like an impossible task, but if you take that moment to step outside of yourself and to become aware of your surroundings, it’s often as simple as flipping a switch.
I’ve given Cookie Monster back his cookies for now, happy once more to walk amongst the living. And I can only hope that each time I learn this lesson, doing so will make it easier to put down the cookies before I feel compelled to pick them up.
This post was brought to you by the letter C (as in cookie) and the number 24 (as in the number of cookies I ate.)
Written by: Heather of EVP
Just wanted to take some time to talk about our favorite haunt “The Queen Mary” in Long Beach, California. She’s been in the news a great deal lately and there has been a lot of buzz about the possible changes both she and the land surrounding her could see within the next five years.
As some of you know, The Mary is near and dear to our hearts. Our small team consists of three native Southern Californians. She was a part of our childhoods and she has become an even bigger part of our adult lives. The word ~passion~ succeeds only in describing the surface of our love for this historic wonder.
Her history since finding a permanent home in our very own backyard has been disheartening. To the casual onlooker, she is an aging landmark in need of some repair. To those who look more closely, she is an aging landmark in need of ~serious~ repair and restoration. And to those who have come to know her from stem to stern, she is a victim of utter neglect. But for those of us who have done some digging, who have tried to champion her cause, the outward signs of deterioration speak to more than just a simple case of laissez-faire.
In fact, a glimpse behind the scenes reveals that the whole of her retirement time-line has been plagued by rough seas. And while it is convenient to point the finger at the city who owns her, from what we can tell, even they have been victimized by those they appointed to operate her in good faith.
I’m not trying to excuse the decades-long string of terrible decisions regarding the ship. At the end of the day, The Mary is the one to suffer from every single one. But the blame game accomplishes nothing other than to divide what could otherwise be a very powerful, supporting force that the ship so badly needs. It distracts from the real problem that has been the root of all the troubles these many years:
NO ONE, NOT EVEN DISNEY, KNOWS WHAT TO DO WITH HER.
It seems like a simple concept. But identifying the problem is only the first step. And it is a step that has yet to be successfully completed. She’s a hotel! She’s a museum! She’s a hotel/museum. Maybe if we add this or subtract that… or what if….
In truth, The Queen Mary has been suffering from a business identity crisis since her Long Beach inception. She was purchased for the purpose of “making her into something.” And nearly everyone that has had a hand in guiding her has adopted that same view. And therein lies the problem.
A look at her history reveals that this ship was born from a state of “in-betweens.” Literally. Conceptualized just prior to The Great Depression, Cunard was forced to ask the government for a loan in order to complete the as of yet unnamed project simply called “Hull 534.” But the government would grant that loan only if they merged with their chief competitor White Star who was also suffering financially. Both companies agreed and Cunard-White Star was born. The Queen Mary was their flagship.
She spent her life between ports and purposes. When WWII began, she, along with her sister ship the Queen Elizabeth were both converted to troop ships. She was painted battleship grey and newly dubbed “The Grey Ghost.” When the war ended and her service was complete, she was restored as a luxury liner and continued her career of ferrying passengers to and from their destinations.
This state of “in-between” did not end when she arrived at her final destination. As construction began, so did a battle over jobs between land-based and maritime unions. This resulted in a new classification for the ship as a “building.” And when she opened to the public she was not only meant to be a museum (Jacques Cousteau’s New Living Sea Museum) but a hotel.
The point is that the Queen Mary has never suffered from an identity ~crisis~. In fact, during this entire snafu, she is the ONLY thing that has maintained a clear identity! It is the job of her lessees and management to enhance that which she is, rather than to make her fit into some template of what they think she should be.
Recently, there have been new developments regarding The Mary’s lease and, though many consider it naive, I have a good feeling about this. The lease has finally changed hands and with it, certain conditions will also change:
“Michael Conway, the city’s director of economic and property development, said one reason past plans were stymied was the lease didn’t allow for the land to be subdivided, preventing developers from getting financing to build individual projects.
“This will change in the new lease,” he said in an email.” [LA Times]
Granted, this has little to do with the pressing condition of the ship itself, but if they can alleviate the cost of the land to which she is now tethered, and make that acreage not only financially responsible for itself, but get it to generate income to help with the ship’s proper care, it will remove some of the burden of expectation from The Queen Mary and offer some much needed breathing room.
There has been a lot of talk about the plans for the land next to which the ship sits. Shops, theaters, entertainment, a boutique hotel and a giant ferris wheel have all been bandied about but nothing, as of yet, has been finalized. And I confess that as I read through the articles, though I know the project is in its infancy, I find I have a keen eye for worst case scenarios. After years of watching plans both good and ~horrifying~ fail (thank God for the latter) it is difficult to stay positive. But I have to go with my gut. And, quite honestly, we are already seeing some inspiring changes.
For all of you who would love to visit the ship but have found it, in the past, to be too expensive, there is now an excellent offering! For $25, you can purchase an annual pass and with it, is included, three hours of free parking per visit. (The free parking is particularly important. Though the City of Long Beach website says that parking for the ship is $15, the last time we visited it was actually $18 and they raise it for special events. This compares to Disneyland which is also currently at $18 and, while that is still a ridiculous price, you certainly get more bang for your buck. ~Sorry, QM~) Another very recent and much anticipated change is a new agreement for private group paranormal investigations. It might need some more ironing out in the future but it is a wonderful step in the right direction. Hopefully, these changes will herald more of their kind.
The ship has a long way to go before our faith in her custodianship can be fully restored. But, as a public who cares deeply for this landmark and important piece of history, it is our duty to do what is right for her. And right now, the right thing for HER is to stay positive, to risk the disappointment of being let down. Taking pride and ownership in her is a very wonderful and special thing, but when that pride becomes bitter entitlement, it is just as toxic as the organizations that run her into the ground while expecting her to turn a profit.
Written by Heather of EVP!