Monthly Archives: July 2018

Flashback: Haunted Bucktown Pub, Fort Sheridan & Robinson Woods.

Waaaay back when I was in college I interned just about everywhere I would get accepted.  I had the pleasure of working at HBO Films, and even got some of my first on-set experience on “Daddy Daycare” and the seriously underrated “Hollywood Homicide” with Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett when I worked at Revolution Studios.  However, one of the best experiences was right here in sweet home, Chicago working for CLTV.  The show was a weekly entertainment series called “Metromix.”  Even after finishing up my internship there, they brought me back on to help produce three “Haunted Chicago” segments for the weeks leading up to Halloween.

It’s insanely difficult to tell a ghost story, involving a location’s rich history, in two to two and a half minutes, so some of the segments feel disjointed (if you ask me), but it’s still fun to look back at what these locations looked and felt like in 2002 when these bits were shot:

Paranormal Activity at Robinson Woods Burial Grounds, Norridge, IL

The top YouTube comments on this video are

  • “This is where John Wayne Gacy killed the Peterson-Schuessler boys” (oy!)
  • “The deer aren’t possessed, they’re following you because people feed them.”

First thing’s first, those bodies were actually found at Robinson South. I should make a video pointing out these two different locations. They are close, but aren’t the same exact same place. It does get misreported quite a bit though. The location where the bodies were discovered is about 700 yards away and is south of Lawrence Ave. Also, those poor boys were killed in 1955 while Gacy was active from 1972-78. Totally understandable why there’s confusion as Gacy did do his killings not far from here. His house is almost exactly a mile from the Robinson Stone, to the Northeast.

As for the deer comment… well, the commenters are right.  The deer are definitely not possessed.  There was the issue of trying to tell a long, detailed story that got cut down to two minutes – most of the story was cut. Not hearing most of it, a lot gets lost.  I have an incredible story about how the deer reacted once activity started picking up on my first visit here.  I also share the native American belief that a chief may be reincarnated into a mighty buck, which I find fascinating (I’m into learning diverse cultural beliefs).  I spend a lot of time on this location in my book, of course mentioning the Peterson-Shuessler case and telling Alexander Robinson’s story. We include an interview with one of his descendants while also presenting evidence through a Pulitzer-nominated investigative reporter, that Hansen (the man believed to be the killer), was a bad guy, but possibly not the killer.

And shout out to Mary Czerwinski, my research partner on the first edition of my book, who gets some screen time!

Paranormal Activity at the Bucktown Pub

The top YouTube comments on this one are all suggestions on other haunted places in Bucktown.  Keep ’em coming!

I re-visited this location just recently and a bartender that was there when I first visited back in 2000 or 2001 (not pictured) has been working there since before the owners in the video took over.  He has spanned multiple owners and said that Tom & Piper, while nice people, chose not to see the paranormal events happening around them.  Today the location isn’t as active as it was in the years right after Wally’s death, but activity is ongoing.

Ghosts of the Haunted Fort Sheridan in Highwood

Top YouTube Comments on this video include:

  • “I’m in this neighborhood all the time – it’s not haunted”
  • As well as people telling their personal stories of paranormal activity sighted here…
  • …including, confusingly, both types of comments from the same user (huh?)
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Roosevelt Hotel (Haunted Oscar Locations, Pt. 2)

This is the thrilling conclusion of Haunted Oscar Locations Pt. 1, which you can find here.

RooseveltHotel-Haunted

Roosevelt Hotel, 1924

The glamorous, though perhaps long and drawn-out, annual rite of passage known as the Academy Awards, checks in around three hours if we’re lucky nowadays.  The first ever awards only lasted 15 minutes.  It was held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, which is just across the street from the Chinese Theater and down the road from the Pantages.

Sid Grauman, Mary Pickford & Douglas Fairbanks at Mary & Douglas's cement signing. They were the first people to have their prints and signatures added to the Chinese Theater courtyard.
(L to R) Sid Grauman, Mary Pickford & Douglas Fairbanks at Mary & Douglas’s cement signing. They were the first people to have their prints and signatures added to the Chinese Theater courtyard.

The Roosevelt was put up by Louis B. Meyer, Sid Grauman, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, the later two, of course, were Hollywood’s first power couple (see picture to the right).

Hauntings here happen throughout the building, but especially at the pool area (which is one of my favorite places in all of Los Angeles… well, one of my favorite places in the world).  The pool is set back from the streets, nestled between the main hotel building and a series of bungalows.  This location is a hidden gem that’s open to the public due to the poolside bar that caters to guests and curiosity-seekers, alike.

RooseveltHotelPool-Haunted2It’s not uncommon for a security guard to see that somebody’s down in the pool area after it’s closed.  A guard gets dispatched to kick out the after-hours guest, but when they arrive, there’s nobody’s there.  So, he gets on his walkie-talkie to report it, only to hear back from a person in the control room, still watching on a monitor that, “No, they’re still there… and they’re standing next to you.”

When I was doing the LA Hauntings tour, I had a hotel employee in the van with us who claimed that he himself has seen these spectral people on security cameras as well.  It’s noteworthy to point out that these cameras shoot in infrared, allowing for recoding after dark.  Ghost hunters believe paranormal activity happens frequently in light spectrums that the human eye cannot observe, including Infrared.  The same employee told us that it’s not just one individual that’s observed – there will be groups of phantom people hanging out poolside.

RooseveltHotelPool-Haunted3

Thirteen floors up, the crack of the bat is heard on the rooftop. Babe Ruth used to spend some of his offseasons hanging out in Hollywood (pictured below in front of the Roosevelt).  He allegedly had a batting cage installed on the roof and people apparently still hear the crack of the mighty Bambino’s bat.

Babe Ruth at the Roosevelt Hotel

Montgomery Clift was in the Sinatra film “From Here to Eternity.”  In the film he had to play a bugle.  This is not something he knew how to do, so he would have to practice.  He was staying on the 9th floor of the Roosevelt and loudly practiced while pacing the hallway, likely annoying everyone in earshot.  To this day, the front desk still gets complaints of horn playing coming from the hallways.  Usually, only this phantom sound is observed, but apparently on one occasion his specter was sighted.  He vanished by walking through a wall where a doorway used to be after tipping his cap to the witness.

Haunted Roosevelt Hotel

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I had the privilege of appearing on a couple of episodes of “Monumental Mysteries,” which was a spin-off of the popular Travel Channel series “Mysteries at the Museum.”  The east coast-based production crew would come to LA and interview me if they were covering something unusual like a haunted Spanish Mission or odd UFO experiences.  While setting up a shot, the producers asked me if the Roosevelt Hotel, where they were staying, was haunted.  One producer talked about watching her closet door slowly open by itself.  Not thinking too much of it, she closed the door and went into the bathroom to wash up.  When she returned, the closet door was again open, but now the iron was sitting on her bed.  We’re talking about a heavy object somehow transporting itself to a new location, not just falling off a shelf.  Predictably, when I asked what floor they were staying on, the answer was, “the 9th.”

A lot of the best stories I know about haunted Los Angeles and Hollywood come from doing the tour when people on the tour share their own experiences.  This one came before the tour even started.  The clerk at the rental company where I rent the van picked up the van asked, “What are you renting this van for?”

When I told him about the tour, he said, “You go to the Roosevelt Hotel, right?”  He obviously had a story to tell. He talked about checking in to the Roosevelt.  Unpacking, he the closet door, revealing a maid standing inside, warmly smiling back.  In an instant, she vanished.

The only rational reaction would be to hit your head on the ceiling while jumping out of your skin in fright.  This is an interesting case to me because it shows how a paranormal experience can override rational thought and emotion.  He claimed he felt very welcome, that it was a warm greeting.  Whatever happy maid is still there, she is projecting a loving, positive feeling – a psychic impression.  It’s also a nice reminder that paranormal experiences, while they’re always unexpected, they’re not always negative.  One has to wonder if this helpful maid was the one to took out the iron for the “Monumental Mysteries” producer.

None other than Marilyn Monroe, probably Hollywood’s most sighted female ghost, was seen at the Roosevelt, but not in the most conventional way.  Her ghost isn’t seen directly, but as a reflection in her very own mirror.  Marilyn stayed here for a time and had a large mirror, about the size of a doorway, installed in her room.  She would rehearse the next days’ scenes into it, being able to see, from head to toe, how she would appear on camera.  After countless hours of emoting into this inanimate object, perhaps she left some deeper imprint on it.  For a time, the mirror was placed in a second floor lobby, allowing anyone a chance to try to catch a glimpse of the blonde bombshell (the hotel even had a sense of humor about it, placing a cardboard cut-out of Marilyn in the distance for a good photo op).  In 2008, the mirror was placed into storage for safekeeping while some construction took place.  A decade later and the mirror has still not reemerged.  Word around town is that Lindsay Lohan purchased the mirror.  Hopefully it’s in a safe place, wherever it is.

As an interesting side note, as mentioned in part one of this article, Marilyn had her hair dyed blonds in the salon at the haunted Gaylord Hotel and her first photo shoot as a blond took place here at the Roosevelt, poolside, for a sunscreen lotion print ad.

Not every haunting at this location is a positive one.   At one point, an employee of the Cinegrill, one of the Roosevelt’s bars, was on the tour.  He told me that he was talking to some security guards who heard screaming coming from a hallway.  Looking at the security tapes, they saw one of the maid staff seemingly get thrown out of a room, hitting the wall opposite the doorway.  She ran, screaming down the hall.  As these stories tend to go, she left the premises, never to return and, unfortunately, never telling her story.

Haunted Roosevelt Hotel

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What in the world happened?  Is that story even true?  We won’t know, but I’m just passing this interesting, spooky story along to you, to create a timestamp of the first negative story about this location that I’ve ever heard.

RooseveltBlossomBallroom-HauntedFinally, our last story is an Oscar story! Apparently people in the Blossom Ballroom, which held the first-ever Oscar Award ceremony, feel a constant cold spot in the area where the podium stood.  Unlike other stories about cold spots, where it comes and it goes, this oddity is focused in one spot all the time and it’s there almost constantly.  I wonder if somebody’s still giving their award acceptance speech, continually reliving the biggest highlight of their career.  Some wonder if the cold spot is some some sort of a doorway that’s allowing for all this energy to be coming and going, allowing all these entities to continually make their presence known.

Outside of Linda Vista Hospital, which is now an off-limits, private location, I believe the Roosevelt is the most haunted building in all Los Angeles and a must visit, whether you’re a local or just passing through town like to many a soul have done in the past.


Meet the Monsters of MST3K’s “Every Country Has a Monster”

It did take me a while to finally getting around to giving the Netflix reboot of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” a chance.  I love Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt as much as the next guy and had no doubt the show would be done the ‘right’ way.  Still, I had a good year of hesitation before I finally dove in.

In addition to being a worthy follow-up, the very first episode featured a song about cryptids!  The first movie of their season is a Danish monster movie called “Reptilicus.”  The song goes on the premise that, hey, Japan doesn’t have exclusive rights to big, dumb monster movies.  After all, as the refrain goes, “every country has a monster they’re afraid of!”

So, I decided to go through the lyrics and dive into the creatures mentioned in the song.  To my surprise, there were quite a few I hadn’t heard of!  Feel free to check out the video above and follow along in my abridged version of the lyrics (if they don’t mention a ‘monster,’ I skipped ahead).  All images are clickable so you can see them in their full spooky glory (when possible, I link to the original artists post)!

Jonah: Name a land

Servo: Belize

Jonah: Oh, geez; easy peasy, mes amis. See, in the Yucatan you can meet El Cadejo. In Belize they believe in him.

ElCadejo

  • El Cadejo’s name comes from the Spanish word for “chain” since this massive (roughly cow-sized) goat or dog-like creature with flaming red eyes is said to drag a chain behind it. It’s a creature that travelers are most likely to come across, but it’s not always bad news as there is also a “good Cadejo” that helps or protects lost or vulnerable travelers. However, stumbling across the evil Cadejo can get bad quick as merely talking to the creature will cause you to go insane. Some reports are right out of modern-age, dog-man sightings, where witness have encountered the creature standing upright on its hind legs. Bonus Creepiness: His diet consists of newborn puppies.
Servo: Scotland?

Jonah: Nessies livin’ up in a loch

  • I won’t spend much time on this as we’ve all already heard of the Loch Ness Monster. Weak pull, MST team. We’re looking for the deep cuts!
Servo: How ’bout Poland?
Jonah: A scary scarecrow named Bubak.
Crow: Huh; so…it’s not just Godzilla?
Servo:Well, duh, Crow; there’s a lot that could kill ya’Bubak
  • This is more of a Boogeyman than a mythical creature. The Burbak is an utterly creepy scarecrow that resides along riverbanks. It will mimic the sound of a baby in distress. Once a good Samaritan shows up to help, they become the next victim. What becomes of the victim? Their souls become the material he weaves into cloth. Bonus Creepiness: He rides around in a cart pulled by black cats.
Servo: What turned the musk deer’s guts to spaghetti?

Jonah: Was it in Tibet?

Servo: Yep

Jonah: I bet he met a yeti!

  • Another all-too-common monster here that you’ve already heard of. The Yeti or abominable snowman is an ancient species though as even by the 1700s, there had long been talk of a “Glacier being” that was referred to as God of the Hunt.
Crow: Australia?
Jonah: There, drop bears will impale ya.
Servo: Then they’ll sell ya hella-touristy paraphernaliadropbears
  • Don’t let the visual similarities fool ya. Though they look like cuddly Koala Bears, they are blood thirsty carnivores! Imagine walking through the subtropical paradise that is Australia when a Koala the size of a leopard seems to fall from the sky, landing on top of you with a heavy impact. Before you even realize what just happened, the Drop Bear is already quick at work, eating you alive. Bonus Creepiness: They’re racist (or at least xenophobic)! Covering yourself with Vegemite and talking with a convincing Australian accent may keep you safe.
Jonah: Chupacabra‘s chewin’ up cattle down in Mexico…
  • We’ve all been aware of the “Goat sucker” of Latin lore for what seems like forever, but did you know that this cryptid is modern? The first attack took place in 1995 and the term “Chupacabra” was coined by a comedian who was describing (a very real) incident where eight sheep were found with three puncture wounds, fully drained of blood.
Déélgééd‘s horn is gorein’, battling the Navajo.
  • As is commonly the case, Native American lore is tightly guarded. Déélgééd is only mentioned by the brief description of being a “horned monster” in all written accounts. It’s actually a small part of a much bigger parable. In respect to their culture, this story is apparently only supposed to be told in the winter, so I will hold back (meanwhile, shame on you, MST3K, writers! This episode came out in the spring. If the show doesn’t get a season two, I think we can blame it on an [indigenous persons] curse!).
…Congo’s kongamato is a mongo flying dino. I know I don’t want to die, but when I do, he’ll be the guy.

kongamato

  • This one’s wild, because it isn’t a cryptid – it’s a real life creature that may have overlapped with humans before extension. Some theories speculate that the Kongamoto, which translates to “Breaker of Boats,” was a dinosaur (as referenced in this song), but the other leading possibility is the Saddle-billed stork, which is still alive and thriving. In the ‘30s and again in the ‘50s, scientists observed a foul tempered bird (not sorry about the pun) that attacked boats and people alike. The wingspan was 4 to 7 feet wide. Bonus Creepiness: people have been hospitalized with severe wounds, leading to this actual quote on Wikipedia, “No film has ever been taken, nor have any bodies been examined, leaving all of the stories to rely on large wounds…” Also, when asked to draw pictures of the animal that attacked them, victims draw an image that “resembles a pterosaur.” It’s not often that people are admitted to hospitals with ‘cryptid wounds.’
Servo: Kropermann is a monster from Luxembourg.
Crow: Who’s actually the size of Luxembourg.Kropermann
  • I don’t know where the talk of this creature being the size of a city comes from unless you’re accounting for the ubiquitousness of water because this sea monster can appear anywhere water exists. From the deepest lake to…. Your toilet! Bonus Creepiness: the creature “spears children” who end up getting to close to it. Usually folkloric tales that involve dead children have a lesson tied to it (“eat yer broccoli or the Kropermann’ll get ya!”), but this one doesn’t have that. The only logical conclusion: this is a real beast that just like young meat!
Crow: Egypt’s got mummies like Tutankhamun.
Servo: Leprechaun on the lawn in Boston Common.

Boston-Celtics-logo

  • Probably the furthest stretch on the list, we all know that leprechauns are no monster. Mythical creature, sure, but if they’re cobblers who grant wishes, tend to a pot o’ gold and adorn Larry Bird’s jersey, they’re no monster.
Jonah: And by that I mean Jiu Feng and Peng, giant Chinese birds, and one of them turns into a fish.

nineheadedphoenixchina

  • Jiu Feng, considered the Chinese Phoenix, was a 9-headed bird, honored from 475-221 BC. Indeed, the Peng is a creature that transforms from a massive bird to a massive fish. It is a literary creature, perhaps more in line with Paul Bunyan than thought to be a real life monster.
Anyway… Gnus, …

Catoblepas-gnu

  • The gnu is not a cryptid in and of itself… it’s a wildebeest in southern Africa. However, after a little digging, I was able to find ancient reports of a massive gnu-like creature in Ethiopia called a Catoblepas. It’s horned head was so heavy, it always faced the ground, which was a good thing because its gaze, or even its exhale could permanently turn you to stone.
killer shrews

Killershrews_MST3K

  • I love this in-joke for all the “MSTies” out there as “The Killer Shrews” is a classic episode of MST3K.
…and the loup-garou.
  • We’re talking your basic, run-of-the-mill werewolf here, just in its French translation.  An interesting lesser-known way to become cursed with lycanthrophy is to not observe Lent for seven consecutive years.  Considering that we’re talking about religious rules here, it seems pretty lenient that you can be a bad Catholic 6 years out of 7 and still be okay.
Baba Yaga

BabaYaga You should definitely click on this image.  Lots of detail to see.
  • We head back to the middle ages in Slovenia to find this skeleton-thin witch in folklore.  Her exact purpose isn’t fully known, and like nature itself, she can be good or bad.  Perhaps the most interesting things about her are her surroundings.  Rather then flying on a broomstick, she shuffles around the forest in a giant mortar and pestle she operates like a rowboat.  That is, when she’s not traveling in her house itself, which stands on fully functional chicken legs. Bonus Creepiness: among her entourage are three pairs of disembodied hands that she can control, which she nicknamed her “soul friends.”  Also, when her house is in motion, it emits a horrifying scream.  While it’s stationary, it’s guarded by a fence made of bones, including fire-eyed skulls.
Jorōgumo and the…

Jorōgumo

  • Hats off to the Japanese for perhaps the most creative and creepy entry on this very creepy list.  What happens when a golden orb weaver spider (which is a real thing and I do NOT suggest doing a Google Image search for it just before bed) turns 400 years young?  Well, it becomes a shape shifting woman, of course!  When not an arachnid, it is a siren-like woman who pulls men into the dangerous currents of a waterfall.  Bonus Creepiness: Another story tells of the Jorōgumo handing a baby to a man.  The man looks down to discover that the blanket he’s holding does not contain a baby, but rather, thousands of hatching, man-eating spider eggs.  Oh, and those baby spiders… they breathe fire.  Real life spookiness: The Golden Orb Weaver is big enough to feed on birds and snakes.  Dear God, I did not intend to learn so much about this horrifying real life creature.
impundulu.  Now you guys realize the surprising size of all the worldwide daikaiju

HamerkopImpundulu

  • There is an adorable real life bird called the hamerkop.  However, if you were to ask tribes in South Africa, they would tell you that this is the shape-shifting impundulu.  This bird is highly feared as it is believed to be a familiar to a witch, doing her bidding.  The creature has the power to shoot lighting from its beak and talons (impundulu translates to “lightning bird”) while also being vampiritic, feasting on the blood of humans and other birds alike.
  • Word of the day:  The Japanese word “daikiju” translates to ‘large, strange beast.’
Gypsy: Sasquatch!

Jonah: That’s Canada!

  • We all know who Sasquatch is… and he’s more closely associated with the Pacific Northwest of America than Canada.  However, Bigfoot is sighted all across Canada and the United States.
Servo: Tatzelwurm for the Swiss!

Tatzelwurm

  • This cryptid is found throughout the Alps, but the Swiss would actually refer to it as “Stollenwurm.”  We went through a lot of folklore to finally find ourselves back to a cryptid.  This reptile creature has a long snakelike body, stubby arms and legs and a cat’s face.  Accounts of exactly how many limbs the creature has range from zero to so many it was ‘like a caterpillar.’ Sightings of the Stollenwurm were rare but not unheard of rom the mid 1600s through the mid 1800s. Naturalises of the time theorized that these were real life creatures who had died out.  Bonus Creepiness: Some eye witnesses reported dizziness and headaches after the creature hissed at them, leading people to theorize that it may have poison breath.
Crow: Scandinavia!

Jonah: Kraken!

  • The Kracken is so synonymous with pop culture that it’s easy to forget that this is a real cryptid with first sightings dating back to the 1200s.  It’s possible that this is a real creature that’s misidentified due to its surprising size.  We all know how untrustworthy eye witness testimony is when a manatee can be confused with a mermaid.  The Kracken could be a colossal squid or a giant squid (real animals that approach 50 feet in length, the colossal squid peaking at over 1,600 pounds with eyeballs over a foot and a half in diameter).  There are also known now-extinct squid species that were even larger.
Servo:  Kinga!

Felicia-Day-mst3k

  • It took me way too long to realize that Servo was insulting one of the new “mads” with this comment as Kinga is the name of Felicia Day’s character.   She’s no monster – she’s way too adorable!