Saturday, July 14, 2012

Haunted Hollywood, Part 6

6.  The Colorado Street Bridge
     Pasadena, CA

Personal ghost story six of six.

The Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena is the most haunted location I've investigated in the Los Angeles area.  Soon after the bridge opened in 1913, it became a perch for suicide jumpers.  Since then, roughly 200 people have committed suicide by leaping off the bridge.  Though the depression years saw the highest rate of jumpers, the suicides have continued to occur with regularity over the years.  There has already been a suicide in 2012.  Thankfully, though, one jumper was talked off the ledge just last month.

I explored the bridge for the first time in 2009 when I had just finished writing Soul Trapper and was considering ideas for the the second novel in the Kane Pryce series.  During that first visit I experienced  paranormal events that I couldn't explain.  I will detail those events and share the paranormal evidence I collected in an upcoming blog entry.

It didn't take long for the bridge to lure me in.  It's a beautiful structure that winds like a skeletal snake--a complex architectural wonder.  The elegant arches and ornate lamp posts give it an unmistakable elegance.  I've always believed that unique and special structures have a gender.  The Colorado Street Bridge is female.  It's a timeless, beautiful woman. . . with a dark and unyielding soul.

I decided immediately during my first visit to the bridge that this was where Kane Pryce was going to have  his next adventure.

During my second visit, I remember distinctly standing on top of the bridge, gazing over the side--the last image on Earth that so many different tortured souls ever saw.

I had a million ideas swirling through my mind.  I could take the story in so many different directions.  My imagination was racing and my mind felt muddled and overwhelmed.  Then I lifted my gaze from the bottom of the bridge to the far-reaching view of the surrounding area.  From atop the bridge you can see for miles.  I studied the landscape.  I could see the San Gabriel Mountains and Rubio Canyon in the far distance, the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab campus, Devil's Gate Dam, the Rose Bowl.  From my vantage point atop the bridge, I could see all of this at once and more.  

It was then it almost felt like someone took me by the hand and said, "Follow me."  That's where Devil's Gate began.  I followed and was amazed by what I learned, not only about the bridge, but about much of the surrounding area.  I've heard many writers say that at certain times their stories seem to have written themselves.  I never understood that phrase until Devil's Gate.  I definitely felt like I was guided to certain information, certain insights, certain connections that were never made before.  It's a novel where the lines between fact and fiction blur.

The Colorado Street Bridge left me a haunted man--literally and figuratively.  Now that I'm across the bridge in one piece, I know the experience made for my best work of my life.

Devil's Gate is available August 7, 2012.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Haunted Hollywood, Part 5

5.  The Roosevelt Hotel
     7000 Hollywood Blvd.
     Hollywood, CA 90028

Personal ghost story five of six.

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel is one of those places that just feels haunted the minute you walk through the front door.   It's iconic.  Over the decades, practically every Hollywood legend has stepped foot in that hotel.  In fact, the first Academy Awards were presented in the hotel ballroom in 1929, thus cementing the location as a true Hollywood historic landmark.

Ghost stories at the Roosevelt are plentiful.  The restless ghost of Montgomery Clift is said to haunt Room 928.  There'a mirror in a hallway near the gift shop where the ghostly image of Marilyn Monroe is sometimes seen.  The ghosts of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard are also rumored to pay visits to the site.  

I enjoy popping into the Roosevelt  when I'm in Hollywood.  I always end up wandering around, soaking up the atmosphere.  Almost always, I stop in the bar for a drink or two.  A bartender used to swear to me that a ghost broke at least one glass a day during her shift.  While I wish I could say Marilyn winked at me or Clark Gable broke my whiskey glass, I can only speak to one paranormal claim at the Roosevelt -- the alleged cold spot in the hotel ballroom.  I've been in that ballroom at least four times and each time, I've felt that cold spot.  If you're walking gin the ballroom door, the spot is roughly in the left center of the room.  There's no explanation as to why this cold spot exists.  But it does.

I love this photograph of the first Academy Awards, taken in the ballroom.

Look at all the smiles, the egos, the suspicious glances.  It's a portrait of power, stardom, luck, and skill in all its black and white glory.  Dreams were realized and dashed in that room.  In many ways, Hollywood, as we know it, was born on that spot.

If the afterlife truly is is devoid of ego, I'm willing to bet a lot of dead, bored Hollywood legends are just dying to revisit the town where stardom and power still rule the day.

What what better spot for a door to the other side than the Hollywood Roosevelt ballroom?