Tuesday, October 9, 2012

October's SPIRITS with SPIRITS

GHOULA meets for cocktails in haunted places on the 13th of each month. “SPIRITS with SPIRITS” is a casual social gathering of regional ghost hunters and those that just like ghost stories. Open to all, from the curious skeptic to the passionate phantom pursuer. Make friends, and toast a ghost! Let's put the “Boo!” back into “booze.”

All those who attend will receive a free (square) G.H.O.U.L.A. button. If you already have one, please wear it so others can find you, without asking the staff about our group.

THE DATE: October 13th, 2012 (Saturday)
THE PLACE: Intelligentsia Coffee
55 East Colorado Blvd, Pasadena(Map)
(near METRO Gold Line's Memorial Park Station)
THE TIME: 7:00pm - ?


Like the other buildings that line Colorado Blvd in Pasadena's Old Town district, the building at 55 East Colorado Blvd, was built in the later part on the 19th century (1885). Because of Pasadena's rapid growth rate, and the large influx of vehicular traffic, in 1929, roughly 13 feet was chopped off of the fronts of the buildings that lined both sides of Colorado, and new facades were created for the remaining portions. Because of this unconventional Public Works project, many basements and tunnels are said to still exist under the asphalt of Pasadena's main drag. This idea has given rise to legends of secret rooms, tunnels, and skeletons (and ghost stories) that are inadvertently discovered during construction/maintenance projects.

One such ghost story involves the above mentioned address, now the home of Intelligentsia Coffee. Employees of this respected coffee house claim that there is a male ghost that haunts their basement, specifically their kitchen/lab and the stairs. Although his appearances may surprise the staff, he is by all accounts harmless. Exact descriptions of him are vague, and generally he appears as a black form. The popular belief is that this poor soul was the victim of a fire in this building's history. It is unclear whether his darkness is from his flesh being burnt black (like Ojai's "Char-man") or whether he is what Native American Folklore refers to as a "dark watcher" (aka a "shadow person").

It's also interesting to note that a few doors down on the same side of the street, there is another historic building with an almost identical ghost story. However, that location's male phantom is said to be the victim of a robbery-gone-wrong that occurred when a bank occupied the ground floor. Pasadena's annual "Old Town Haunt" haunted attraction operates out of that same haunted basement.

Although legends of ghosts connected to Spanish catacombs under Colorado Blvd (as mentioned on the attraction's website) seems a little far-fetched, it is possible. In the 1920's a series of tunnels in the hills around Downtown Los Angeles were discovered and thought to have originally been created by early padres. Then, there are persistent rumors about a secret tunnel that ran under Pasadena, whose opening was covered over when the Pasadena Freeway was built (not to mention the Lizard People who may have dug tunnels as far as Pasadena).

Could these two ghost stories be connected by those lost tunnels? Could these separate stories actually be the same ghost that travels between these two locations by an underground passage that no longer exists? So, if you like your ghosts like you like your coffee (black), come out and experience one of LA's best cups of Joe (or a glass of wine), and perhaps experience one of Pasadena's darkest spirits at the place where he dwells... if you dare!

Note: If anyone is interested in seeing the "Old Town Haunt" haunted attraction, at 10pm, we can put a group together to go over and take advantage of the group discount ($12 instead of $15).

(to read about last month's haunted location... )
(to see a map of previous SPIRITS with SPIRITS locations... )

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

GHOULA's Haunted Red Line Tour

When: Three Fridays in October (5th, 12th, 26th)
Time: Tours start at 7pm
Meeting Place: The palm tree-lined island in front of Union Station
(800 North Alameda Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012)

Price: FREE TOUR + Metro Day Pass ($6.00)
Parking: See below.

Los Angeles' lore is filled with tales of secret tunnels. Whether its supposed opium dens, rum-running passages, discontinued "Red Car" tunnels, munchkin transports, celebrity/mistress escape routes, or simply chambers belonging to a race of subterranean lizard people, many buildings and homes claimed to be connected to other buildings and homes below street level (if only we could find their openings).

So, is there a better way to explore the haunted history of Los Angeles than by traveling underground from location to location via our very own (blood) Red Line Metro Subway with the other living dead of this city?

We will meet-up at Union Station (the starting point for the Red Line) and then travel through 13 stops to the North Hollywood Station (at the end of the line), getting off and on along the way. In addition to Union Station and the North Hollywood Station, we will stop at few other stations, step off the train, rise to street-level, and discuss the ghosts and haunted sites visible from that spot before going back aboard to the next stop on our tour.

Come out and hear spooky tales about a spirit solider, a vanishing padre, and a ghostly car. As well as many other phantom figures from our past that haunt our present.

Parking: Since everyone participating in the tour will need a Metro Day Pass to ride the subway, it is advisable to park at one of the FREE lots provided by the Metro at either the North Hollywood Station (our end point) or the Universal City Station, and then just take the Subway to Union Station to meet-up with the group (The lots around Union Station are not free and they may close early).

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Peg Entwistle Memorial Hike!

It's the 80th anniversary of one of Hollywood's most famous deaths.

THE DATE: September 16th, 2012 (Sunday)
(on the anniversary of her death)
THE PLACE: Behind the "H" of the Hollywood Sign
(Directions to the "H" are below)
THE TIME: 5:00pm - 7:00pm (Sunset)
(meet us at the top)


"I was hiking near the Hollywood sign today, and near the bottom I found a woman's shoe and jacket. A little further on I noticed a purse. In it was a suicide note. I looked down the mountain and saw a body...."
--- Anonymous call to the Hollywood Police Station

81 years ago, this September, a sad, depressed, possibly drunk, unemployed actress left her home on Beachwood Drive and started walking up the road to the Hollywood sign. On that treacherous hike, that probably took her most of the night, she eventually made it to her destination, the fifty-foot letter "H" at the beginning of the internationally recognized Hollywood sign (then the Hollywoodland Sign). She climbed a ladder that was attached to the backside of the flat metal structure, and leaped to her death once she reached the top. It is thought that she did not die instantly, but instead lingered for hours in the brush below, where her corpse was eventually discovered by hikers. For a short time she was simply known as "The Hollywood Sign Girl," until her published suicide note was recognized by her uncle. Her name was Peg Entwistle.

When people tell her tale, they always point out the ironic twist that occurred shortly after her death. A letter arrived at her address, stating that she had landed the lead role in a new play about a woman who commits suicide. However, there's the bigger (more obvious) irony. This act of desperation over the lack of a show-biz career, ended up making her more famous (or infamous) than any of her working contemporaries. Not everyone can easily name the stars of the early 1930's, but most people know the Hollywood Sign Girl.

Her legend seems to grow with each passing year, and as it does, so do the stories of her restless ghost near the famous landmark. Most people describe her apparition as a young woman dressed in a 1930's style white gown walking along a trail (sometimes dazed). She is most commonly seen by hikers (not unlike those that originally found her body) and dog walkers in the very early or very late hours. Witnesses claim that she is accompanied by the strong scent of the gardenia flower (thought to be her favorite perfume). Some accounts even describe her reenacting her final moments stepping off of the top of the "H" only to vanish as she falls. She seems doomed to repeat the last moments of that last night over and over again, just as we also seemed doomed to repeat those last moments with each retelling of her story.

DIRECTIONS: Follow N. Beachwood Drive up the hill to the end (just before the "Sunset Ranch Hollywood" stables). You'll see cars parked around a trail head, so park anywhere you can. Follow (on foot) the dirt trail up and along the ridge adjacent to the stables. This trail will merge into a larger trail (Mulholland Hwy). Make a hairpin turn left (South-West) on this new trail, and follow it (going towards the Hollywood sign) until it dead ends at a paved road (Mt. Lee Drive). Turn right on the paved road, seemingly away from the Hollywood sign. The road will take you up the backside of Mt. Lee, offering great views of the San Fernando Valley and Forest Lawn, to the top of the mountain and a dramatic reveal of the Hollywood sign, the same view Peg Entwistle had before she jumped (incidentally Peg's studio, RKO, is dead center in this view). Below is a link to a map, which you should study, before going out there, since its very easy to get turned around out there on the trails.

View Larger Map

Monday, September 10, 2012

September's SPIRITS with SPIRITS

GHOULA meets for cocktails in haunted places on the 13th of each month. “SPIRITS with SPIRITS” is a casual social gathering of regional ghost hunters and those that just like ghost stories. Open to all, from the curious skeptic to the passionate phantom pursuer. Make friends, and toast a ghost! Let's put the “Boo!” back into “booze.”

All those who attend will receive a free (square) G.H.O.U.L.A. button. If you already have one, please wear it so others can find you, without asking the staff about our group.

Note: On Thursday night, Yamashiro hosts a neighborhood farmer's market (5pm - 9pm), so there will be additional food and drink available from vendors and food trucks in Yamashiro's parking lot. For those that don't want a formal Japanese dining experience (or the expense), this is a great way to see this historic restaurant, the amazing view, and enjoy the pleasant weather. (for Farmer's Market info...)

THE DATE: September 13th, 2012 (Thursday)
THE PLACE: Yamashiro
1999 N. Sycamore Avenue, Hollywood (Map)
MEETING SPOT: We will be in the Farmer's Market (parking lot),
seated at the tables around parking space #130. Look for someone with a GHOULA button.
THE TIME: 7:00pm - 9:00pm

PARKING: There is of course valet parking at the restaurant, but Yamashiro also provides FREE off-site parking at with shuttle service up and down the hill. (for free parking/shuttle info...) For those that want to take the Metro, the restaurant is a short (but steep) walk from the Hollywood/Highland station.


Robert Arthur's book, "The Mystery of the Green Ghost" (1965), is about a haunted, ornate Asian-themed mansion on top of a hill in Southern California that is filled with ghosts, secrets, and treasures of the Orient. The story was inspired by the Bernheimer House and Gardens in Pacific Palisades. Although, that amazing structure is no longer with us, the original Bernheimer House and Gardens (before Bernheimer moved west to the Palisades) is still around, on a hill, 300 feet above Hollywood, and it too is filled with ghosts, secrets, and treasures from the Orient.

When this residential fortress was completed in 1914, the Bernheimer Brothers (Adolph and Eugene) filled it with Asian antiques and artifacts from their travels, dubbed it "Yamashiro" ("Castle on a Hill"), and mysteriously vowed (as reported in the LA Times) that no woman would be allowed to enter their house as an invited guest. Their new "Yamashiro' was said to be an exact replica of a palace in Japan, but in reality, the design is just a hodge-podge of Japanese and Chinese motifs placed on top of a European-style house. As a palatial home, Yamashiro lasted less than ten years. Eugene died in 1923 (his remains are said to be buried in the central courtyard), and Adolf moved to the Palisades.

The estate was then converted into a private club for Hollywood's elite (a response to the other societies that would not allow actors), known as the "400 Club." During its life, this anything-but-simple structure has also served as a military academy, apartments, the supposed headquarters for Japanese spies during WWII, a theme park, the possible inspiration for Grauman's Chinese Theater, and was abandoned for several years before eventually becoming (in 1960) one of Hollywood's most famous restaurants (famous for having the best view in Los Angeles).

That cryptic proclamation (or warning) about women being forbidden is ironic considering Yamashiro's most prominent ghost is that of a "weeping woman" in the "Bride's Room" on the second floor. Her cries are heard, but when someone investigates, and opens the door. The room is empty. Also her silhouette has been seen from outside crossing in front of the upstairs windows. Her identity and reason for such sadness is unknown. Like so many historic watering-holes in Los Angeles, Yamashiro's is also said to have been a speak-easy and perhaps a bordello. Is the "weeping woman" one of the disillusioned would-be starlets that was forced to sell her body to survive during the Great Depression?

Additionally, there is a male silhouette that passes those same second story windows. He is presumed to be a former bartender, because most of the sightings of this phantom figure are seen in the bar area (to the right of the main entrance). Although witnesses and staff seem positive about his identity, it is worth noting, that in 1955, film pioneer, Fayette Thomas Moore committed suicide by gunshot in his parked car on the street in front of this historic landmark. Also, Yamashiro sits at the end of Sycamore Avenue, which according to local lore was named for a row of Sycamores at the base of the hill used to hang outlaws. Could the male ghost be the suicide victim or one of the hanged bandits? Perhaps it is the ubiquitous spirit of Rudolph Valentino, who not only visited the house (in life) when it was the 400 Club, but whose ghost has been seen all over Hollywood. Or, what about Bernheimer, himself, whose remains may be just a few feet from the bar, where the ghostly man has been seen?

So, come out, and have a drink, and explore Los Angeles' oldest structure (600 years old), the pagoda (of the outdoor "Pagoda Bar"), as well as the other surprises waiting to be discovered inside and around Hollywood's "Castle on the Hill" (directly above Hollywood's Magic Castle)... if you dare!

(to read about last month's haunted location... )
(to see a map of previous SPIRITS with SPIRITS locations... )