Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Black George and Drunk Harper: A play!

Some months back, we posted a bit about The First Slave Auction in Chicago.

The story is about to become a play at the Annoyance Theatre!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Chat along with the radio interview tonight!

Tonight's radio interview with The Paranormal View will take place at 8pm EST (7 central). You can listen online at Para-X and even jump into the chat room and ask questions - or heckle me, if you'd rather! I'll be discussing the tours, my new book, YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD GIVES ME THE CREEPS, as well as my upcoming I KISSED A ZOMBIE AND I LIKED IT.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

And ANOTHER radio interview!

Weird Chicago is all over the media this month - Ken will be on Last Call with Carson Daley soon, and this Saturday I'll be chatting for a couple of hours with The Paranormal View!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Radio interview

I recently sat in for an hourlong chat about my book about my life in the ghost tour/investigation business with The Darkness Radio. The interview is now available for download!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Ghostly piano?

One night when I brought the tour into the Florentine Ballroom, we were standing around by the piano when someone asked me what kind of music would have been played in the room.

"All sorts, at various times," I said. "There were orchestras at one point, and it was a skating rink for a while."

"How about when Roosevelt was here?"

I thought back to my research into the Bull Moose party, which used the ballroom often during the 1912 presidential election - it was here, in fact, that Roosevelt announced he was leaving the Republican party to be the candidate of the more-progressive Bull Moose Party

"They were into 'Battle Hymn of the Republic,'" I said. "They used to have bands of confederate veterans play it while Union veterans played Dixie. And people would interrupt his speeches to sing it. It was a pretty exciting party."

And, just out of curiosity, I reached out to the piano and picked out a very bad version of "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

The effect was so spooky that I decided on the spot to try it more often. I make a point of eliminating as much BS as possible from the stories on my tours, but I'm not above adding a little atmosphere here and there. I'll leave lights turned off for no particular reason, put the flashlight under my chin, and all of those simple tricks.

The other night, I played the piece again - I've gotten slightly better at it with practice. A spooky, slow, high-register version of "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

And, as we walked away from the piano, we heard another solitary, high-pitched piano note come out of nowhere.

It was heard twice more that night - and was witnessed by a security guard. The notes were faint, but seemed to come from the general direction of the piano.

Now, this sort of trick - trying to get a ghost to play piano or roll a ball around or tap on a table - doesn't work very often. I don't mind trying it out on investigations, but it's usually just for fun, or to kill time. You don't expect to get results with this sort of thing. But on this night, after I played the scratchy tune, maybe a ghost wanted to correct my mistakes!

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, there were several exhaust fans (and all the accompanying belts and engines) running near the room, which made sounds like crickets. It's certainly not impossible that they would have made a noise like a piano note, or that the acoustics in the room would have made us think the sound was coming from a piano. You have to allow for a lot of "maybe my imagination ran away with me" on any ghost investigation.

But man, was that ever cool!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Congress Tunnel

One of the most famously classy places in Chicago was once Peacock Alley, a marble-lined tunnel that went under Congress Street, connecting The Congress Hotel to the Auditorium Theatre.

Like most of the classier parts of the Congress, it's now a memory, long since bricked-off. But a recent expedition has uncovered its original entrance.

THe basement of the Congress looks about like any other hotel basement - boilers and pipes, unfinished walls, cement floors, boxes everywhere. There's a whole room full of old toilets that I call The Ancient Toilet Burial Ground. But amidst all this, there's a very small room that was clearly once finished. On one side of the room are two doorway sized holes filled with cinder blocks that once led to stairs. On the other side is the bricked-up entrace to the tunnel:

That this was the tunnel is evidence by the fact that the trim on the wall extends IN to the bricked off area. It's well sealed by the brick slats on the right.

I wonder what the entrance on the Auditorium side looks like today!

BTW - YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD GIVES ME THE CREEPS officially hits stores today! It's been on shelves for a week or so, but today is the official release.


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