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Posts tagged “RMS Queen Mary

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!)

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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!

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Building The Psychic Muscle

 

 

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.

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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.

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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?

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Test tip: If you are unsure of the answer, follow your first instinct.

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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!

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(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.


A New Lease on Hope

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.

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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….

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Written by Heather of EVP!


Soul Singularities

Though anecdotal evidence is all we have to go on, the stories of near death experiences (NDE’s) are all relatively the same. Some sort of trauma, usually the result of an accident, results in a short span of time in which the victim is declared dead. During the period of death, the victim’s soul separates from their body and floats upward. They are able to see themselves from this detached perspective but feel no pain. They then travel through or are sucked into a dark tunnel. 

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The depictions and descriptions of this always remind me of a black hole. In fact,the pervasive theory regarding black holes says that if you were to travel into one, it would happen at the speed of light. [livescience.com] And that’s what I would call a ~very~ rapid journey.

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Reports of NDE’s speak of a spiritual singularity which again, shares commonalities with black hole theory. The soul reaches a place of “…all consciousness, all knowingness.”Often, one undergoes a partial or, in some instances, a complete “life review” whereby one sees their entire life history in detail from a meta-perspective.

This meta perspective would also be theoretically achieved if you traveled into a black hole. The faster you move through space, the slower you move through time. If you looked into one as you fell, you would be able to see every object that fell in before you and every object that fell in after.

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In 2014 Stephen Hawking released a paper in which he made changes to his own theories regarding aspects of black holes. (You can read about it here.) Hawking proposes “apparent horizons” which allow for the eventual escape of information. Where it was once theorized that what went into a black hole was destroyed, it is now suggested that, since information cannot be destroyed, only transformed, whatever goes into a black hole will eventually come out. The caveat to this is that when it is released, it will be somehow transformed and unrecognizable.

This falls right in line with the pervading ideas about death. Western religions believe that death is the final journey from which we do not return. It is our “event horizon.” However, Eastern religions tend to subscribe to the idea of reincarnation whereby, once the body,  dies, the soul goes back from whence it came only to return to earth in a new form making death only an “apparent horizon.”

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I’m the first to admit that drawing parallels between these two concepts could very well be over-reaching. After all, the evidence is considered mostly theory or anecdotal. But I also believe that our lives are filled with echoes, repeating patterns that, once identified, help us find the answers to the questions that mystify us. So let’s take one more step in this crazy journey and flirt with the concept that originally spawned this post.

While looking for some interesting things to share on the EVP Facebook page, I came across this video of a TED talk by Lewis Brown Griggs at TEDxAmericanRiviera 2012. This is to blame for this train of thought for, in watching it, I was reminded of some things I have often pondered over the years, especially when interacting with spirits while on investigations or even while casually exploring historical buildings that happen to have some lingering residents.

Usually, descriptions of NDE’s conjure an image of the soul detaching completely from the body and floating upward through that dark tunnel about which I previously spoke. But what if this journey is not so clean cut? Once again, I turn to the parallels between NDE’s and black holes.

“Spaghettification,” a term coined by British astrophysicist Sir Martin Rees, theorizes that, upon diving into a black hole, the top of your head would feel so much more gravitational pull than the tips of your toes that you would be stretched, longer and longer, like toothpaste extruded from a tube. Is it possible that something similar happens during a near death experience?

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What if that link to our body remains in tact and instead, we stretch, the bulk of our consciousness remaining at the forefront of that journey, pulling our focus forward so that the turmoil surrounding the body is unnoticed and the return to the singular consciousness can be fully appreciated? It is purely conjecture, of course, but it seems to me that it would be natural to keep a toe-hold on our bodies during such a journey lest the door to our physical world slam shut. 

And this brings me back to my original pondering over “ghosts.” Let me state up front  that I find the term “ghost” woefully deficient. It offers little information regarding what it is we are actually experiencing. The connotations alone conjure images that instill fear and encourage reactionary thinking. It implies that someone has been prevented from moving on. We hear things like “they had unfinished business.” Or we associate the thought of restless spirits as having had lives that were cut tragically short. “They don’t know that they are dead.” Everything leads back to feelings of abandonment, imprisonment and punishment which leaves little chance of entertaining kinder, more natural ideology.

It is possible that what we experience as “ghosts,” as remnants of other times or people, are actually symptoms of several if not many different phenomena. It is in thinking about these possibilities that I began to wonder if some of what we interact with, especially what we consider to be “intelligent haunts” (they respond and demonstrate a conscious awareness of us),  are not trapped souls but are instead, shards of consciousness that have been left behind.

Let’s look once more at the idea of “Spaghettification.” If the commonalities between black hole theory and NDE’s represent mirroring patterns, could it be that in instances of traumatic or sudden death, the soul, instead of leaving the body completely, cleaves, leaving a piece behind? There is a school of thought that believes the soul is actually holographic in nature, that the parts contains the whole. If this is so, then it could account for the intelligent “ghosts” we encounter.

There is a ghost on The Queen Mary known as Jackie. Jackie is approximately five years old. She reportedly died in a tragic accident, drowning in the second class pool. She has been seen numerous times by numerous people over a span of several decades. She speaks out-loud wth relative ease to the extent that she has engaged in conversations. (You can hear segments of Jackie talking to our good friend Bob Davis of Planet Paranormal on the EVP website.) Often times when people hear about her, they feel a sense of sadness that a child spirit has been left behind or trapped.

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Captured by Jamie, we believe the little girl looking profile is either Jackie or Sarah.

But I can assure you, Jackie is well taken care of. She very much enjoys her place on that ship and the many children that filter through on any given day, especially on the weekends. She is perpetually at play. And while she has demonstrated on many occasions just how sentient she is, I’ve always wondered if the five year old is just one aspect of a soul that crossed over and possibly reincarnated years ago. Perhaps it is only a piece of her that remains. 

Sometimes thinking about this stuff is overwhelming. It’s like getting sucked into a black hole. But even when thoughts and theories become long, dark tunnels, the journey is worth it because, just like after a near death experience, they emerge transformed. And that is the ultimate goal!

 

 


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.”