258 – The Ghosts of Charles Manson: Music, Mind Control, and Murder

Years after his demise in a California prison, Charles Manson is back in the news. First of all, the crimes of his “Family” provide the backdrop to the latest Quentin Tarantino film, Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood and second, 2019 is the 50th anniversary of the murders, providing a grim reminder to the world of one of the twentieth century’s most brutal, infamous, and ultimately pointless killing sprees.

While the title of Tarantino’s film is yet another homage to the Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western aesthetic that he aped in Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight, it’s also fitting. His movie is about the end of an era for an actor, who enjoyed fame and popularity in the 60s but whose star was fading, just as Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns at the end of the decade reinvented a genre to give us violent anti-heroes and a more complicated morality of the American West than was shown in the earlier white hat versus black hat Lone Ranger-style films.

Weird figure and picture of Manson left at the site of the Spahn Ranch where his Family lived. Photo credit: Scott Markus

And that’s the symbolism of the murders committed by the Manson Family. The ’60s were such a cultural milestone because of the 60 million people born in the Baby Boom after World War II. It’s the biggest generation in American history and it’s the first generation to come to prominence with the United States being a political and economic superpower. The culture war was at its peak. It was the hippies vs. the squares, fighting the repressive sexual Puritanism of their parents, fighting against the war in Vietnam that seemed like a useless waste of life, fighting the racism and segregation laws that kept communities apart based on the color of their skin, fighting the corporate excesses and dehumanization of unbridled capitalism, etc…

Charles Manson ran a free love psychedelic cult and worked with the Beach Boys, he had long hair and a beard, spoke in poetic peacenik vocabulary, played folk songs on guitar, and claimed religious and apocalyptic revelation. He represented everything that ever terrified the parents of the Baby Boomers. He prostituted out the girls of his Family for access to Hollywood elite, he did massive amounts of drugs, and he was an ex-convict. He was the über-hippie and knowing that he engineered such carnage and waste of lives seemed to vindicate exactly what they believed about the movement. Americans celebrated a unique human and distinctly American achievement a few weeks earlier with the moon landing, now we mourned the violent ends that years of debauchery, drugs, and fornication had lead to. New Year’s Eve wasn’t for another four months, but Sharon Tate’s murder was the real end of the 60s. Charles Manson was proof that everything your square parents or local sheriff told you about hippies was right.

The abandoned home of The Family in 1969. Photo by Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images.

The thing about Charles Manson is that we picture him as the crazy guy with the swastika on his forehead from all the jailhouse interviews he has done since being convicted. We don’t hear the honey-voiced singer playing songs about peace, love, and “submission” on his acoustic guitar around a California campfire for impressionable young women, made even more suggestible through their rampant psychedelic drug use. He sounds terrifying and volatile, not anything like the person who dropped to his knees and kissed Dennis Wilson from The Beach Boys’ feet the first time they had met and said, “Do you think I would ever hurt you, brother?”

That’s the Charles Manson who could draw people to him, that’s the “Charlie” who could convince people that he was a manifestation of Jesus Christ. After all, it was Jesus who famously washed his disciples’ feet in his most famous act of humility. And that’s the Charlie who killed nine people while never pulling a trigger or wielding a knife himself. Not a madman, but a charismatic leader of 100 souls, who could hob nob with music industry elite like the Mamas and the Papas and Neil Young or at Hollywood parties with Michael Caine, who all describe meeting him and his family members.

Here’s an important quote from former Manson Family member, Catherine Share, who didn’t engage in the murders, but did try to intimidate witnesses during Manson’s trial and eventually served five years in prison for Armed Robbery:

Never let anybody else do your thinking for you. Get your self-worth from God and from inside. If someone tells you to do everything they say and claims to have all the answers, and you find yourself nodding a lot, then you’re probably in a cult, whether it has a church’s name or is the Manson Family.

Catherine Share, Los Angeles Magazine, July 1, 2009
The LaBianca House in Los Feliz. Photo credit: Scott Markus

And of course, in a truly modern twist, Ghost Adventures’ star Zak Bagans decided to purchase one of the Manson crime scenes, the LaBianca house where a couple was killed by Family members the night after the Sharon Tate/Cielo Drive murders. He was already interested in Charles Manson, because he featured several “artifacts” like Manson’s hospital gown he died in, the TV he had in prison, and bone fragments from his ashes in his Haunted Museum in Las Vegas. Bagans purchased the house for 1.8 million dollars and hasn’t yet expressed what he’s going to do with it, but announcing the purchase the same week as the Tarantino movie and just weeks before the 50th anniversary means that he timed the purchase for maximum public relations effect.

Now Zak believes these places affected by the Manson Family are haunted and we bring Scott Markus from WhatsYourGhostStory.com and formerly the guide of Los Angeles Hauntings Ghost Tours to discuss the ghost stories surrounding the Spahn Movie Ranch, the Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski house at Cielo Drive (since torn down), and the LaBianca house that Bagans just purchased. Scott has investigated these areas himself and delivers his own impressions of the site in this episode. We talked with Scott about the strange premonitions that Sharon Tate herself received before her murder in Episode 230 and you can check that out right here.

It’s singalong time with Charlie…

One of the things that is often overlooked in people’s examinations of Manson is his music. Musicians were such a dominant force in the culture in the 1960s, they were considered heroes and truth tellers and that’s really where we get the idea of the “Rock Star” from. They weren’t just celebrities and artists, they were deified and their fanbase was maniacal. Manson used music to entice his followers. The subtle properties of subliminal influence in the guise of “peace and love” in his songs is insidious. We talk about that before we play our own version of the song that Manson sold to the Beach Boys, “Cease to Exist.” They recorded it as “Never Learn Not to Love You” and Manson was so incensed that they changed some of his words, he left a bullet in Dennis Wilson’s bed, so we didn’t mess with it too much!

257 – I Know What I Saw: Monsters, Myths, and More with Linda S. Godfrey

It was Thursday, July 18, 2019; an oppressively hot Wisconsin evening, the kind of day where the humidity is so great that the air actually feels heavy on your skin, and stepping outside results in immediate fogging of your glasses. It was the perfect time to retreat indoors to an ice cold air conditioned space, one filled with hundreds of full bookshelves and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee (which was probably more popularly enjoyed over ice on this day).

While some people perused the endless aisles of books at Madison’s west side Barnes and Noble book store and others paraded their children through the toy area, a curious group of locals gathered in the back of the store. They weren’t there for a book club or to partake in a craft project. This group was gathered to hear wild tales of hairy beasts, mischievous little people, and ominous winged creatures. It was an interview with one of Wisconsin’s most well-known cryptid researchers, Linda S. Godfrey!

Listening to the author reading her own words! Photo by Scott Markus.
Linda’s brand new book!

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to talk to Linda. She’s been a popular guest on See You On The Other Side several times and inspired Sunspot songs “Mystery” and “American Monsters“, both of which we perform regularly at shows. I’ve seen her present at several paranormal conventions, and I respect the work she does and her meticulous approach at exploring the very unique world of cryptids. I’m a big fan. Having just read her newest book, I Know What I Saw, I was especially excited to delve into the world of monsters, myths, and how on earth the two seem to be manifesting in our world continuously.

We made some special bookmarks to celebrate Linda’s visit to Madison and her new book, I Know What I Saw!

Linda kicked off the interview by reading a passage from the book, a fitting introduction explaining how she was originally drawn into the world of the weird as a reporter at a local newspaper, assigned to the now infamous Beast of Bray Road case. She reported the case with impressive rigor and became very familiar with some odd sightings around Wisconsin.

The Beast opened the door into cryptid research, and decades later, scores of people reach out to Linda to share their experiences with every imaginable kind of creature. Her open mind and excellent listening skills make it easy to understand why people aren’t afraid to tell Linda about things that others may be less willing to accept.

Not only does Linda collect eyewitness accounts, but she frequently does her own investigating. She’s logged many hours in the Kettle Moraine area of SouthEast Wisconsin, known among paranormal circles for being a supernatural hotspot, and has gone on stakeouts for creatures in wooded areas. Our discussion covered many different types of monsters: Unknown upright bipedal canines, bearwolf, sasquatch, manbat, batsquatch, diredog, and that’s just to name a few. Linda even shared her info about the Haunchies so near and dear to our hearts (check out our episode about Haunchyville for more on that Wisconsin legend)!

But, as LeVar Burton would say, “don’t take my word for it”! The book I Know What I Saw is loaded with monster stories of every ilk, and knowing these aren’t (necessarily) fiction but are experiences reported by real people gave me the feeling that WE’RE SURROUNDED. I’ll be keeping my mind, and eyes, open and ready to have my own experience… And when I do, you better believe Linda will be the first person I share it with!

To hear more of Linda’s intriguing experiences and investigations, here are some of our past discussions:

Once again, Linda has provided excellent song inspiration with her book title! This week’s Sunspot song is self-explanatory: I KNOW WHAT I SAW!

And stalking from the murk 
came something strange 
Just in a second 
everything changed 

A walking nightmare 
sudden abnormality 
A chimera that broke my reality 

You might say impossible 
when I was struck dumb with awe 
It might break all the natural law 
but I know what I saw 

A glimpse into the infinite 
A peek behind the veil 
When you finally see yourself 
on a cosmic scale 

Some moments I remember 
with perfect clarity 
Like when I saw the creature that stretched my credulity 

You might say impossible 
when I was struck dumb with awe 
It might break all the natural law 
but I know what I saw 

And stalking from the murk 
came something strange 
Just in one second 
everything changed 

A walking nightmare 
sudden abnormality 
A chimera that broke my reality 

You might say impossible 
when I was struck dumb with awe 
It might break all the natural law 
but I know what I saw 

I know what I saw.

256 – Conspiracy Theories: From Sword Of Trust to The Moon Landing

The new film Sword of Trust features a deep-dive into a fictional conspiracy theory that the South actually won the Civil War. Directed by mumblecore veteran Lynn Shelton and starring everyone’s favorite curmudgeon Marc Maron, Sword of Trust is a comedy about a couple who inherit a Confederate sword that actually proves the South won the war and their journey into tinfoil hat-land to sell the sword to the highest bidder.

Our colleague Scott Markus from What’s Your Ghost Story.com got to work the Sword of Trust red carpet at the film’s premiere at SXSW this year for the International Screenwriters’ Association and he asked the cast and crew (including director Lynn Shelton and lead Marc Maron) about what their favorite conspiracy theory was for this episode.

In addition to that fun segment, Scott joins Wendy and I for a discussion of our favorite conspiracy theories. Because of course, July 20th 2019 was the 50th anniversary of the landing on the moon and the idea that we faked it because we needed a big propaganda win at the end of the 60s continues to this day. Who doesn’t love this video of Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin punching A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon filmmaker Bart Sibrel…

In addition to discussing the movie and the moon landing conspiracy theories, here are some of the other topics we talk about:

Because Sword of Trust features a Civil War conspiracy theory, we wanted to record a song that was popular during the era. Released in 1861, you could hear “Aura Lee” on any night around army campfires on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line. You might recognize the melody because it was repurposed for Elvis’ classic, “Love Me Tender”.

As the blackbird in the spring, ‘neath the willow tree,
Sat and piped, I heard him sing; sing of Aura Lee.
Aura Lee, Aura Lee, maid with golden hair
Sunshine came along with thee, and swallows in the air.

In thy blush the rose was born, music when you spake.
Through thine azure eye, the morn, sparkling seemed to break.
Aura Lee, Aura Lee, birds of crimson wing
Never song have sung to me as in that night, sweet spring.

Aura Lee, the bird may flee the willow’s golden hair
Swing through winter fitfully, on the stormy air.
Yet if thy blue eyes I see, gloom will soon depart.
For to me, sweet Aura Lee is sunshine through the heart.

When the mistletoe was green, midst the winter’s snows
Sunshine in thy face was seen kissing lips of rose.

Aura Lee, Aura Lee, take my golden ring.
Love and light return with thee,
and swallows with the spring.
Aura Lee, Aura Lee, take my golden ring.
Love and light return with thee,
and swallows with the spring.

255 – Professor Paranormal: Parapsychology Pedagogy with Loyd Auerbach

With the litany of web sites and television shows on the topics of ghost hunting, psychic mediums, and theories of the unknown, it’s easy to get swept up in what is entertaining, but not necessarily good/correct information. The X-Files may have popularized the expression “The Truth Is Out There,” but how many paranormal investigators make the effort to apply proper research methodology when looking for the truth?

Today’s guest, Loyd Auerbach, has built his career around researching the paranormal in a scientific manner. His impressive combination of academia, open-mindedness, and careful investigation makes him uniquely qualified to responsibly educate us on the topic of Parapsychology.

Loyd was an early guest on See You On The Other Side, back in 2015 when we were still in the double-digit episode numbers. I recommend checking out that episode to dive deeply into his extensive educational background, and hear Mike fanboy out at the opportunity to talk to one of his heroes:

Parapsychology Fact vs Fiction: An Interview with Loyd Auerbach
http://www.othersidepodcast.com/27

But this time around, Mike was on vacation, so Allison Jornlin of Milwaukee Ghosts and I had the opportunity to converse with Loyd. The timing was perfect, as both Allison and Loyd will be presenting at Hawaii Paracon in less than two weeks!

Loyd’s interest in the paranormal and psychic abilities dates back to his youth, with ghost stories and television shows peaking his curiosity. Entertainment such sitcoms Topper and Dark Shadows, reading classic Greek Mythology, and monster movies fascinated him, as did the study of science and other “nerdy” activities. His natural inclination was to admire psychic abilities- not fear, chide or ridicule them.

By the age of 13, Loyd was reading works by J.B. Rhine and his colleagues. He formed a parapsychology club in high school (endorsed by Rhine himself!), which opened doors to meeting other luminaries in the field. His early exploration of the topic provided a perfect foundation for continuing studies at JFK University.

So, what is involved in earning a degree in the field of paranormal/parapsychology? Loyd’s rigorous graduate academic studies included history of parapsychology, laboratory research, field investigation of real-world cases, physics and parapsychology, anthropology and paraspychology, neuropsychology, statistics and more. Clearly, choosing this career requires unabashed devotion to an extensive amount of work.

Years and numerous case studies later, Loyd points the skeptics to research and evidence of psi/psychic abilities. Compelling data/statistics behind the Ganzfeld studies and the Stargate remote viewing program “shows that there’s something really here.” And his own extensive work with psychics/mediums has provided evidence that humans have a tap to an information source that is undeniable. However, he is unabashed in putting “a big question mark” next to cases where the proof is not present.

Loyd recounted one entertaining case, dubbed “The Sexorcist”, in which a house was haunted by the energies of an extremely amorous couple. This brought to light the possibility that a residual type of haunting does NOT require that the origin of the “residue” be deceased… A myth perpetuated by modern ghost entertainment. What would it be like to witness a ghost of someone still living? Apparently, some people have seen apparitions of their own self. Can you say…

My paranormal perspective continues to grow, thanks to guests like Loyd. For those striving to develop their own psychic abilities, he recommends beginning by making sure to write down (or sharing with another) any personal experiences/feelings that you think may be paranormal. The conscious labeling/acceptance that you are experiencing something can help identify patterns in the body/mind which can bring light to when/why these things are happening.

And with his strong dedication to education, Loyd was the perfect person to recommend books for us to read and expand our own knowledge of the paranormal. Here’s a starter list we went through, which very well may be the beginning of a See You On The Other Side Book Club (join our Patreon community here!):

You can also further your own education through online classes available at the Rhine Research Center, many of which are taught Professor Paranormal, Loyd Auerbach himself!

You can find Loyd online:
Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/loyd.auerbach.author/
Twitter at https://twitter.com/profparanormal
Email at profparanormal@gmail.com

For the song this week, we took one of Loyd’s most well known quotes, “Faith is belief without proof. Faith is fine, but don’t call it science.” and put our own spin on it. Here’s Sunspot with “Bull$h!t Detector”.

When there’s smoke ya know there’s gotta be some fire
When you talk you show that you ain’t a liar
Put your money where your mouth is and step up to the plate
Ya gotta back up your story or I’m just gonna cut bait

Faith is nice but proof’s a little better
You’re setting off my bull$h!t detector
If it don’t pass the test for the professor
Then I don’t need you
Unless you’re true

Show me don’t tell me, no pink elephants, don’t tease
If you want me to stay I need some evidence, so please

Faith is nice but proofs a little better
You’re setting off my bullshit detector
If it don’t pass the test for the professor
Then I don’t need you
Unless you’re true
Faith is nice but proof’s a little better
You’re setting off my bull$h!t detector
I need something more than just conjecture
Cuz I don’t need you
Unless you’re true

254 – Hawaii Paracon: Ancient Wisdom Meets Parapsychology

Last July at the inaugural Hawaii ParaCon, I felt an unmistakable spark, sadly lacking at most conventions of this kind. Oahu’s annual and only paranormal conference returns July 19-21, 2019 to offer a fresh, cross-cultural approach. This year the conference has expanded to include an exploration of the history and practices of parapsychology.

Organized by native Hawaiian Lopaka Kapanui, Hawaii ParaCon unites seldom explored cultural teachings with the scientific boundary work that dares to study the paranormal. Our keynote speaker for the event, July 19-21, is Loyd Auerbach. Professor Auerbach brings with him a vast knowledge of parapsychology as we learned in Episode #27. What will happen when the scientific study of the paranormal steps out of the laboratory and into such a spiritually powerful place as Hawaii? I hope you’ll be there to find out.

Although it’s harmful and cliche to see native Hawaiians as some exotic other, it’s undeniable that different cultures, especially long-silenced indigenous cultures, have something to teach us. Hawaii ParaCon offers us an opportunity to bridge this gap.

One of my favorite presentations from 2018 was delivered by the kind, soft-spoken Keli’i Makua. Hawaiian traditional tattoos are a symbolic way to connect with ancestors, a continuous prayer for protection, and a constant reminder of your place in the spiritual cosmos that surrounds us and gives us life. I was humbled to learn of the incredible importance of a practice that I had always overlooked. Such surprises abound when you come into contact with perspectives that are completely unfamiliar. For those of us on the bleeding edge of materialist reality such glimpses of other paradigms can better inform our research.

Keli’i Makua shares surprising teachings about the spiritual significance of traditional Hawaiian tattooing.

I came to Hawaii to reignite my sense of wonder and to reconnect with the Earth, and I was not disappointed. Then I went out for pizza with the gang. Although Honolulu often feels like the Chicago of the Pacific, the magic in the land is still abundant. On Oahu, you can rub shoulders with the profound one minute, and the next, go hang out at Zippy’s (Hawaii’s answer to Denny’s). My point is that the cultural teachings of Hawaii are not as inaccessible as they may seem.

Whereas in most places in the continental U.S., I feel a need to breathe life back into the lore of the land, in Hawaii, a persuasive presence of belief breathes life into you. In Episode #57, I recount my some of my paranormal experiences from my first visit to Hawaii and include an audio clip from Lopaka. He shares a supernatural tale that illustrates a connection with nature that many of us are detached from in the dominant materialist culture.

My first experiences in Oahu included what seemed to be messages from the spirits of the land.

The potential for reconnection with something beyond yourself, especially in the jungle of the windward side of the island, feels immense, eternal, and dangerous. When I step foot on a Hawaiian island, I get a strong sense that anything could happen — surprising and drastic changes for good or ill. Explorers beware because there’s a power in the atmosphere of the place that is alive and vital. Make no mistake, the Hawaiian Islands are a paranormal paradise as described in Episode # 136, but when you visit prepare act with the utmost respect or else.

In this episode, Lopaka shares his origin story and other incredible tales including that time a pro-wrestling match became an unintended distraction in the middle of a haunted bus tour.

When you visit Hawaii, besides instructive cultural differences, you may also notice some startling similarities in the reported paranormal phenomena, as I did in a recent blog article. Such curious parallels evident in such a far-flung culture hint at a nebulous, yet undeniable reality.

Hawaii ParaCon, unlike so many other paranormal conferences, offers a unique prospect, a chance to grow as both a paranormal investigator and a person. Enjoy our latest episode with behind-the-scenes stories from 2018 like the time the speakers separately encountered a mysterious hitchhiker on the road to an awa ceremony. We also provide a sneak peek of some of the new opportunities, ceremonies, and workshops awaiting you this year.

Because Hawaii was just voted the Happiest STate according to website WalletHub.com (Hey, Madison came in as the third happiest city, so we must be doing something right!) we decided to put our goofiest song in this episode. It’s pretty simple, it’s “The Happy Song”!

I want to know, 
How far to go, 
Before you see, 
What you mean to me. 

1-2-3-4, 
I DECLARE A THUMB WAR, 
On you. On you. 
5-6-7-8, 
WHO DO WE APPRECIATE? 
I appreciate you. 

You. 
Make me happy, 
I feel sappy, 
When you’re around. 
You. 
Make me queasy, 
Because loving’s so easy, 
When you’re around.

253 – Haunchyville: Wisconsin’s Miniature Murderers

I grew up in a tiny town called Big Bend on the outskirts of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While we could get to the city in less than a half an hour, it was also incredibly rural with half my fellow classmates living on farms and the rest families who had left Milwaukee proper in the migration out of the Rust Belt cities that happened in the 60s and 70s.

One of my favorite things to do was to go our for what we used to call “Fright Nights”, which is find abandoned places that had urban legends associated with them and check them out. One of my friends who often came out on Fright Nights worked in the little hamlet of Muskego, Wisconsin at a Supper Club. Muskego was only a few minutes away from Big Bend towards Milwaukee, we passed through it all the time just to go get groceries. So when he told me about a supposed village of little people that are bent on revenge, I was like “how have I never heard this story before?!” and “When are we going?!”

His workmates who went to Muskego High School told him about the legend of Haunchyville. And here’s the story as it was told to me:

Near the end of Mystic Drive in Muskego is a barn where a farmer hanged himself. Underneath the body, in the dirt, you could see many child-sized footprints all around where he was hanging. On the wall there was a message written in his own blood that said “The Haunchies made me do it. The Haunchies made me do it.” If you go down to the end of Mystic Drive, you can still see the barn and sometimes people report the phantom of a hanging body at night. And as you go down the road, you’ll see houses with small doorways and the stop signs are at a much smaller height.

The Legend of The Haunchies

What?! Of course, I wanted to check that out, so we picked a night and went out to Haunchyville to find out what we could see. It was a hot night and we parked our car before we got to the No Trespassing sign and just started walking down the road and it was mostly just an empty field. We did see a few signs that maybe were lower than normal, but nothing special and some backyard shacks, but no hanging ghost body!

As we got farther down the road, we heard a powerful scream that sounded like a gigantic bird. And that was it for me, I ran back, abandoning my friends and being a gigantic wussy for which I was mercilessly ridiculed by my friends for awhile afterwards (sigh, I deserved it!)

But we weren’t the only people who ventured down Mystic Road to Haunchyville, on the hunt for a paranormal experience (I really wanted to see the hanging body more than I wanted to see any murderous little people!) In fact, it was a popular Milwaukee area legend that started in the 1950s. And it was more than the colony of little people, there was the idea that:

  • They were former circus sideshow dwarves that murdered the ringmaster
  • They would attack you with burning torches
  • They would saw off your legs at the knees and make you live with them
  • They had a full-size protector who was an albino(!) that would fire off shotgun warnings to make you leave the land
  • The legend was invented as a front for a distillery/liquor operation during the 1920s

In this episode, we discuss the various aspects of the urban legend, as well as similiar legends throughout the United States (we tackled San Antonio’s Midget Mansion in a previous episode on location in Texas!) as well as some other Wisconsin cases with witnesses who actually claim they’ve seen groups of little people doing mysterious things.

For the song this week, what else could we call it? Let Sunspot take you to “Haunchyville”!

Going down the old farm road
and you’re not alone
there’s something in the cornfield
Are you fast enough to outrun
an albino with a shotgun
He’s got a secret he ain’t gonna reveal

watch out for the little guys
they’ll cut you down to size
you don’t want to pursue it
the haunchies made me do it
Trespass on Mystic Drive
now you’re playing with your life
no one will hear your cries
When they drag you straight to Hell
don’t go down to Haunchyville

You should have stayed away
and now their debt has been repaid
a trail of tiny footprints left in the mud
You might hear their evil laughter
when you’re hanging from the rafters
there’s a message for you written in blood

watch out for the little guys
they’ll cut you down to size
you don’t want to pursue it
the haunchies made me do it
Trespass on Mystic Drive
now you’re playing with your life
no one will hear your cries
When they drag you straight to Hell
watch out for the little guys
they’ll cut you down to size
you don’t want to pursue it
the haunchies made me do it
Trespass on Mystic Drive
now you’re playing with your life
no one will hear your cries
When they drag you straight to Hell
don’t go down to Haunchyville
don’t go down to Haunchyville
don’t go down to Haunchyville
When they drag you straight to Hell
don’t go down to Haunchyville

252 – Terror In The Skies: Hunting Thunderbirds & Truth With Seth Breedlove

My skeptical take on the Chicagoland Mothman flap has confounded some, but thankfully Seth Breedlove from Small Town Monsters decided to include an interview with me in his new film anyway. Entitled Terror in the Skies, the documentary explores historic and contemporary reports of winged weirdies over Illinois. At the time of this writing, Terror in the Skies has recently become the # 1 documentary film new release on Amazon Prime.

So why did Seth include me in his newest movie? I definitely should have asked him that question! We’ll maybe because he understands that I’m not actually a noisy negativist, as we joke about in this interview. Maybe he understands that I really care about the advancement of the paranormal field and that’s why my expectations are high.

I do expect investigators to check witness statements against basic facts. Far from excluding the incredible, vetting witness reserves an important a place for the truth, above and beyond the everyday muck. If every claim is treated the same and given the same importance, you’ve uncovered nothing but mud. It becomes nearly impossible to tell what is real and what is a hoax.

If something truly incredible has occurred, you better believe those who protect the status quo will try to hide it in plain sight. Just how do they do that? Disinformation.

Authentic phenomena may have occurred during this Chicagoland Mothman flap, but how will we ever know? How will we ever find the proverbial needle in the haystack, if the haystack itself is entirely constructed of momentarily convincing replicas, but ultimately fake needles?

Seeking an authentic needle in a haystack of convincing look-alikes? Good luck! It’s a mess!

That’s how disinformation works. It’s simple. It’s easy. It’s cheap. It’s effective. And it may be what has occurred here.

Perhaps most telling is that not one supposed witness to the Chicagoland Mothman came forward to be interviewed for Terror in the Skies. Elsewhere in the film witnesses share testimony about Thunderbird sightings. Even so many years later, several witnesses still participated in Small Town Monsters’ Mothman of Point Pleasant, appearing on-camera to contributing their eye-witnesses statements. It bears remembering that over 100 witnesses bravely attested publicly to their encounters during the original 1966-67 flap.

So what could that one true anomaly in this mess of the Lake Michigan Mothman saga have been? What might at least one of the reported witnesses actually have seen?

Nearly 20 years ago I interviewed Wisconsin witnesses reporting encounters with strange creatures with impossibly large wingspans. Is history repeating itself? Might these manifestations follow a cyclical pattern? Is there a migratory route that spans Illinois, Wisconsin, and other states.

This certainly comes up in our conversation with Seth in several instances. For example, we discuss the 1977 Marlon Lowe Lawndale, IL case as well as a very similar newspaper report from 1909 in St. Charles, IL. In both cases, birds of unusual size attempt to carry away unsuspecting children playing just outside their homes.

The Post-Crescent (Appleton, Wisconsin), May 3, 1909

Another example hits even closer to home. Kevin Walkowski, my very own cousin and Mike’s godfather had his own sighting in 1988. I interviewed him and contributed his story to several books including Weird Wisconsin. Kevin’s description which compared the wingspan of this massive bird to a Piper Cub plane still resonates in my memory and was echoed in a witness statement from the Illinois Big Bird flap of 1948 featured in Terror in the Skies.

Belvidere Daily Republican, April 26, 1948
Kevin Walkowski describes the size of a possible Thunderbird he spotted in the skies over Brookfield, WI in 1988. We recorded his recollections on video in 2015. I plan to make the full video available on at http://www.youtube.com/mothman. Subscribe to get a notification.

In fact, tales of such anomalies extend into the prehistory of the Midwest and can still be seen in petroglyphs and vibrant tribal traditions. Something strange flies in Midwestern skies. Keep your eyes on the skies and those patterns that repeat throughout history and we may just uncover something authentic yet extraordinary.

Watch me and Troy Taylor in Terror in the Skies. Listen to this episode. Then visit me, Mike, and Wendy Lynn at Troy Taylor’s Haunted America Conference this weekend. As usual, Mike and Wendy will be bringing the paranormal rock, and this year I’ll be speaking about Midwestern cases of poltergeists and demonic possession.

The song this week is inspired by Seth’s movie and the fantastic legends of the “Thunderbird”!

From the four winds
I’m flying
in your visions
i’m fighting
From the mountain you’ll hear my voice in the storm
voice of the storm

The battle’s harbinger
The spirit’s messenger
The cloudburst in my eye
To Honor the fallen and punish evil men
I am here to break the sky’

You can crush my bones
and you can pound my head
take me so far from home
and just leave me for dead
But when I spread my wings
with the lightning burn
I am the flood and fire
The Thunderbird

The serpent rises
I’ll attack
Terror in the skies
I’ll be back
On the horizon you might see my wings in the storm
wings of the storm

The battle’s harbinger
The spirit’s messenger
The cloudburst in my eye
To Honor the fallen and punish evil men
I am here to break the sky’

You can crush my bones
and you can pound my head
take me so far from home
and just leave me for dead
But when I spread my wings
with the lightning burn
I am the flood and fire
The Thunderbird

251 – Ain’t Never Had A Friend Like Me: Aladdin and the Truth About The Djinn

In Disney’s race to re-monetize every single piece of their intellectual property, they’re recreating their best animated films as live-action movies. They’ve already done Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book, and Dumbo and used their unlimited checkbook to snag directors like Kenneth Branagh and Tim Burton to do it. They’ve finally come to the only Disney film that I actually liked (I know, I’m a total hater), Aladdin and they somehow thought that the director of the wonderful London petty crime drama, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels would be perfect for a story about a Middle Eastern orphan who meets Wil Smith, the magic genie.

Welcome to Earf!

Much of the discussion about the film is related to how Will Smith is going to fill Robin Williams’ shoes in a role that was specifically made for the deceased comedian, or the original pictures of Will Smith in blue made him look kinda silly, but now that the film hit Number One at the box office and made hundreds of millions of dollars, no one’s really making fun of it anymore. Which means we should probably get to the real issue: genies aren’t friendly magical wish-granting buddies who are charming like Robin Williams or sexy like Barbara Eden, their history is much darker as a race of beings known as the Djinn.

The Djinn are mentioned in the Koran as beings made of “smokeless fire” who were created before humankind. They have Free Will just like humans and when God created humans, he asked the Djinn to be subservient to us. The Djinn, specifically the most powerful among them, Iblis, said “Hell No!” and they took off to their own dimension where they live alongside us only to come into our lives and mess with our affairs.

Now, we’ve talked before about the Yazidi, who believe that Iblis eventually got back in God’s good graces, but in traditional Islamic folklore, he’s the most powerful and evil of the Djinn and he’s plotting humanity’s downfall. But he’s not the only one, there’s an entire hierarchy and variety of Djinn that we talk about in this episode.

In a previous episode, we also talked about how King Solomon used what medieval Biblical scholars considered demons to build the first temple of Jerusalem), but the Koran says, nope, it was the Djinn.

We also get into more about The Thousand And One Arabian Nights where the story of Aladdin came from (hint: it’s not an ancient Middle Eastern tale) and how that book first brought to the Western World by a Frenchman in the early Eighteenth Century basically shaped our ideas about the djinn for the past several centuries.

Much like demons, the story is that the Djinn can possess humans and cases aren’t just limited to the Arabic-speaking world, there’s lots of cases in the United Kingdom) and sometimes they don’t just want to possess your soul and make you burn in Hell with the Devil, it’s because they’ve fallen in love with you!

Some of the names of Djinn are the same as the different gods in pre-Islamic Pagan religions in the Middle East, like Baal who was the Canaanite god of fertility or Pazuzu, the Mesopotamian lord of the wind, who would eventually be used to great effect as the demon who possesses Regan McNeil in The Exorcist.

So Christianity and Islam are much alike in the way that as they spread throughout their various continents, Christianity through Europe and Islam through the Middle East, they took the original gods of the people they were converting and turned them into supernatural enemies of the one true God. And you can’t really argue with the logic, it’s a great way to cement the belief of the people you’re trying to assimilate. Don’t tell them that they’re gods are bullSh!t but tell them that their gods are real, however they’ve been tricked into believing the gods are good when they’re actually evil.

So the Djinn become a catch-all for any kind of paranormal activity in Islamic culture, from rocks being thrown out of nowhere (classic Poltergeist activity) to spirit possession to weird things happening around the house like manifestations that we would consider ghostly activity. And it all works because the Djinn are right there in the theology. They’re listed in the holy book, so

I made fun of Rosemary Ellen Guiley when she was on her Djinn kick a few years back,  because she seemed to put everything on the Djinn, from Shadow People to alien abductions. I thought it was goofy, but in the format of Islam, that’s completely accurate.

It’s not part of the Koran that dead people come back as ghosts, but the Djinn are, and they’re shapeshifters that can take the form of our dead relatives. Of course, you use Djinn to explain the paranormal or when you see something weird.

It’s like when we connect faerie lore with alien abduction and poltergeist activity or Bigfoot to accounts of high strangeness. Yes, faeries ain’t like Tinkerbell, and Djinn aren’t like Barbara Eden (which breaks my heart), they’re part of something much stranger. The Djinn are just another way that us humans are trying to explain our relationship with events that we cannot find a terrestrial explanation for.

For the song this week, let Wendy and I show you “A Whole New World”!

250 – How To Be A Paranormal Detective: An Interview With Greg Lawson

After serving in the US Army, Navy, and Air Force (I guess the Marines weren’t recruting that day!) Greg Lawson became a Sheriff’s Deputy and Mental Health Officer near Austin, Texas and has now been in law enforcement for almost three decades. In that time, he’s also pursued his interest in paranormal research, dabbled in acting, music, and has written several books, fiction and non-fiction on supernatural topics.

His new book is called How To Be A Paranormal Detective and it’s a how-to book hoping to help would be Mulders and Scullys in using the same skills he learned in trying to find the truth behind crimes to try and get the best evidence possible of paranormal activity.

Greg looking like a badass

In this interview we cover:

  • Some of Greg’s most peculiar cases
  • How he investigates a haunted place (lots to learn from this one!)
  • The importance of finding the terrestrial explanations first before jumping to paranormal conclusions
  • His work interviewing Roswell witnesses

The story from the interview that most affected me was the one Greg tells from his Pizza Hut Assistant Manager days about his employee that had a seizure right after saying “They’re here…” (you’ll love that one!) It’s fascinating and terrifying and we used that energy as inspiration for this episode’s song, “The Captured Soul”.

They’re here
they appear
they feed
on fear
and what they say you don’t need ears to hear

You’re beamed
to a dream
you’re frozen and can’t scream
your consciousness outside the atmosphere

There’s no escaping
hallucinating
you can’t run
from your fate
inside your mind

A prisoner locked in
trapped and forgotten
the captured soul
with a body left behind

You can feel
the unreal
your brain a spinning wheel
you know they’re there but you can’t reveal

Immobilized
Paralyzed
Delusional and hypnotized
There’s no one you can beg, none to appeal

There’s no escaping
hallucinating
you can’t run
from your fate
inside your mind

A prisoner locked in
trapped and forgotten
the captured soul
with a body left behind

249 – The Flying Saucer Physicist: Remembering Stanton Friedman

The Betty and Barney Hill alien abduction. The Roswell UFO crash. The Majestic-12 documents. These are some of the biggest bombshells in UFOlogy and they all share one common denominator at their core. Stanton Friedman was involved.

Graduating with his degree in nuclear physics in 1955, Friedman worked at companies like General Electric and McDonell-Douglas in their jet propulsion laboratories before his interest in UFOs sparked him to delve full time into the field in 1970. From then on, he wrote several books on the subject and gave hundreds of lectures around the world.

You might have seen Stanton Friedman in a UFO documentary, you might have seen him on Nightline, you might have seen him on the Travel or History Channel in one of their hundreds of UFO documentaries. The thing is, if you’re into the UFO Phenomenon, you’ve seen him! I had my fanboy moment at the Michigan Paranormal Conference and I was just walking through the vendor room and I saw him sitting quietly at a booth just making small talk with an admirer. I hadn’t read the entire schedule yet so I didn’t know that he was going to be there, and from that moment I knew I had to make sure to see his presentation.

Allison and Stanton at the 2017 Michigan Paranormal Conference

And it was exactly as I’d hoped it would be. It was a professorial lecture and it was straight up nuts-and-bolts old school extraterrestrial hypothesis aliens are piloting UFOs and the government is covering it up. Stanton Friedman was the man who first did the heavy duty research into the Roswell flying saucer crash which is now the most famous UFO event of all.

In his 1997 article, “The UFO Challenge”, Friedman said there were four major conclusions that he’d reached after decades of UFO research:

“The evidence is overwhelming that Planet Earth is being visited by intelligently controlled extraterrestrial spacecraft. In other words, SOME UFOs are alien spacecraft. Most are not.”

“The subject of flying saucers represents a kind of Cosmic Watergate, meaning that some few people in major governments have known since July, 1947, when two crashed saucers and several alien bodies were recovered in New Mexico, that indeed SOME UFOs are ET. As noted in 1950, it’s the most classified U.S. topic.

“None of the arguments made against conclusions One and Two by a small group of debunkers such as Carl Sagan, my University of Chicago classmate for three years, can stand up to careful scrutiny.”

“The Flying Saucer story is the biggest story of the millennium: visits to Planet Earth by aliens and the U.S. government’s cover-up of the best data (the bodies and wreckage) for over fifty years.”

Stanton Friedman, “The UFO Challenge”

Those were the tenets that he stood by and he argued with debunkers, clashed with other UFOlogists, defended his research from live events to TV shows, and stuck by his guns until the very end. Stanton Friedman passed away on May 20th, 2019 at the age of 84 and he remains a giant in the field of UFOlogy and highly respected by the people who knew him.

And to remember him, for today’s episode we’re bringing in Stanton’s friend and fellow Roswell researcher Don Schmitt, who co-authored The Truth About The UFO Crash At Roswell which became the basis for the 1994 Showtime film, as well as investigative researcher and Illinois MUFON director, Sam Maranto, who was directly influenced and inspired by Friedman’s work.

Don’s latest book (coming out June 1st) is a updated version of UFO Secrets Inside Wright-Patterson: Eyewitness Accounts from the Real Area 51 and it features a foreword written by Mr. Friedman, the last thing he published before he passed away.

Stanton Friedman will also be remembered at this year’s Roswell UFO Festival, where he served as an advisor to the museum and festival, along with Don.

A phrase that we struck on in the podcast was “UFOG”… The Unidentified Flying Original Gangsta. Stanton Friedman was one of the earliest scientists who took the UFO phenomena seriously back when it wasn’t cool to be on the side of the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis. He debated the debunkers in worldwide forums long before the History Channel or Tom DeLonge made flying saucers culturally hip. He listened and validated the experiences of abductees before the rest of the community took them seriously. His bravery in taking the plunge is an inspiration to everyone of us who seeks the truth and this song is dedicated to him. Here is Sunspot with “UFOGs”.

Someone had to light the candle
someone had to fire the torch
someone had to lead the way

someone had to forge on forward
someone had to stay the course
someone had to be brave

hey these UFOGs
weren’t afraid to take the blame
hey these UFOGs
the truth was more important than their name

So when can’t take anymore
and your heart is on the floor
You can stand your ground
on the shoulders of the ones who came before

threats and disinformation
coverups and lies
we have to stay unafraid

we look to them for inspiration
to keep our eyes on the skies
now it’s up to us to take the reins.

hey these UFOGs
weren’t afraid to take the blame
hey these UFOGs
the truth was more important than their name

So when can’t take anymore
and your heart is on the floor
You can stand your ground
on the shoulders of the ones who came before

A rock band's journey into the afterlife, UFOs, entertainment, and weird science.