You may have heard we did a paranormal investigation at the store. It was fun, but three hours is not a lot of time to investigate. The number of wackadoodle stories about this 100 year old building made it irresistable. One story is of a maintenance worker who bled out in the service elevator. I have ridden in that elevator many a time, and it is janky as hell – so I have little doubt it happened. (I haven’t actually heard a related ghost story, though.) Two would-be bank robbers were supposedly shot and killed on the premises. Our security guys have seen books fly off shelves and figures flit between the stacks when no one else was around. One of our artist pals in the Spring Arts Collective even saw a guy walk past her studio late at night, and when she got up to ask what he was doing there… he was gone.
But all we got in our short night of investigating was a small stack of brand new batteries which were quickly drained (apparently, entities sap energy sources), a couple possible one word answers on our “spirit box” (a modified am/fm radio) and a little static on an EMF detector. And downtown – though apparently haunted as hell – is tough: it’s loud, even at 2am, and there’s lotsa bright-n-shiny stuff.
Anyway, it was a good intro to the techniques, and I hope we can get our act together to try again. Huge thanks to Planet Paranormal for leading us through it. These guys are no-nonsense, experienced and cool to hang out with — which is what you’ll spend most of an investigation doing. Want to try it yourself? Here’s a do-it-yourself ghost hunting post from Cnet.
And where to look?
The next night, Bob and Brian of Planet Paranormal, along with North Orange Paranormal, gave us a great panel discussion, lead by our pal Richard Carradine. It was a dense evening of story after story after story, with video and audio clips and a steady flow of contributions from a standing-room-only house. It could’ve gone another hour, no doubt. In the audience was James T Bartlett, who was our guest exactly one week later, bringing his own collection of tales to the store. With just these two events, you’ve got a pretty great collection of books covering the LA area’s crowded ethereal plane. Here’s the list, in case you missed either or both of these events.
This is where you look…
From Planet Paranormal, Brian Clune, the historian of the group, writes with a keen eye for historical detail and accuracy. Last year, our buddies over at DTLA PICS discussed both California’s Historic Haunts, which covers the most significant haunted locations statewide, and Ghosts of the Queen Mary, which tells the incredible story of the Queen Mary (fascinating whether or not you’re into the paranormal). Investigations of the Queen Mary are what Planet Paranormal is most known for, as they spent months there. The newest book is Haunted San Pedro, part of the “Haunted America” series. If you’re not from around here, San Pedro is LA’s portal to the Pacific, just north of Long Beach. A sunken city, retired Naval vessels, lighthouses, shipwrecks, a Civil War era fort – come on, seriously – this is Disneyland for ghosts.
Speaking of Disneyland, we also looked at “The Park” After Dark last year, from Richard Carradine – but now we’ve got the Refurbed Edition. This version is genuinely better – not just an excuse to make everyone buy it twice. There are several reasons for its existence (not all happy ones, as you’ll read about in its Afterword), including an update for the last 7 years, and about 80 more pages of material. Carradine, the son of Imagineers and former cast member himself, has scoured the spooky underbelly of unofficial Disneyana for every. single. Disneyland. ghost. story. ever. He’s not confirming or denying any of them; he’s just putting them all in one place – and it’s so damn much fun, whether you’re a tourist or a hardcore Disney fan. This edition also has a short intro from Terry Castle, film producer and daughter of William Castle, whose own films had an influence on the design of the Haunted Mansion. (By the way, there’s a new version of this – and we’re gonna review it for you as soon as it arrives in the mail. It pubs in mid-November.)
Carradine also just wrote the first in a series of books covering the haunted bars of Los Angeles and their choice cocktail recipes. You can’t make the obvious joke, because it’s in the title: Spirits with Spirits: A Guide to the Haunted Bars of Los Angeles. This one is handy whether or not you actually want to leave your house. Musso & Frank, Tom Bergin’s, El Compadre – and ten more, each with a few drink mixes. And as with Park After Dark, there are tons of extras, including tips on things like spirit writing, scrying and such. [Editor’s note: No bueno, man. I wouldn’t try any of that shit. The drinks though – I would definitely try those. All of them. One at a time.]
And getting a little heavier with the bars, restaurants and hotels of LA is James Bartlett. His first book, Gourmet Ghosts – Los Angeles, a classic of the genre, focused on haunted locations, while this brand new Gourmet Ghosts 2 leans more heavily towards true crime. It’s like going on a f*cked up city tour guided by the ghost of Raymond Chandler or a thought-form entity from the mind of James Ellroy. Bartlett is a journalist, so this is another one deeply researched – and grisly – but because it’s all real, sometimes funny. Compare the solid rundown of the horrific Hotel Cecil with the story of the Grandma Bandit. (Spoiler: she does not die in a hail of bullets.) This one is like going through a haunted Halloween maze that lasts a month.
While many folks don’t believe in ghosts, and the dead are slowly forgotten, this small library is at least one record of some who were here and then suddenly not.
And for those who search a little longer and deeper than most, who have the habit of wandering into the dark corners, who search for what is hidden, and who never ever look in the same direction as everyone around them…
Remember our little friend from the Museum of Jurassic Technology? He/she remains unfound.
If you are the first person to find
her him it, hidden somewhere in the store, take it, it’s yours. Just Instagram it in its location, and tag both lastbookstorela & dwarfandgiant. (And maybe shoot me an email here, in case I miss your tag.)
We will do a short blog interview with you (about your fave books, reading habits, maybe a shelfie of your book collection, etc) & give you a $20 gift card. Yes: $20 gc, fridge magnet and 30 seconds of blog fame – all for wandering through the store w/ a sharp eye.
– It will not be in any restricted area.
– It will not be under or behind any books.
– It will not be on, in, under, on top of, or attached to any of our installation art in any way shape or form.
– It WILL be in plain sight and easily accessible.
– There is only one Item, so of winners THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE.