by Thomas M. Sipos, managing editor.
[May 28, 2006]
The ghost of a Japanese girl may be haunting Planetweavers Treasure Store
in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district, and ghostbuster Tommy Netzband
is on the case!
As founder of the Haunted
Haight Ghost Walking Tour and a long time local resident, Netzband
is the world's leading authority on Haight-Ashbury hauntings and is often
called in to investigate local spirit activity.
(located on 1573 Haight Street) contacted Netzband after a series of bizarre
events inside the store spooked the owner. Netzband's investigations
can span months of observation and testing, and the Planetweavers case
was still active when, on May 14, 2006, Netzband took the Weekly Universe
on a tour of the store and described its ghostly goings-on.
there are the moving masks. The store displays masks high on a wall,
right side up -- yet several times the owner and employees have arrived
the morning to discover that the masks had been turned 180° upside
down during the night!
Even more chillingly, the
masks have sometimes moved when the owner was still inside the store --
alone in the dead of night!
"Late at night, she'll hear
some rumbling and come over -- and the masks are turned upside down," said
to the Universe. "That's happened on several occasions." Then
he added, "A lot of these masks are imported from Indonesia and Africa.
They're spiritual masks."
begins his investigations by dispatching assistants and psychics to the
site for a pre-evaluation and independent opinion. Each investigator
writes down his or her initial impressions and findings. And each
has a favorite method of gathering information.
Netzband's psychics uses a feather box, which Netzband describes as "an
ancient ghost detection device." Essentially, it's feathers in a
box, the purpose of the box being to prevent a breeze from moving the feathers.
"If the feathers have moved overnight, it represents spirits in the store."
also has a haunted swing. This swing sways during the day as customers
walk past it, creating a breeze -- but that doesn't explain why the swing
moves at night!
Said Netzband, "Late at
night, when no one's in the store, the owner was in the office doing her
billing. Then she came down here [to the swing], and it was swinging
Netzband demonstrated a wide
arc of a swing to the Universe.
"I don't think a breeze will
do that much," Netzband explained.
uses the term "ghost" broadly. He believes most ghosts are a form
of ESP or psychokenises, rather than dead people or their shadows.
"Ghosts cannot exist except through our minds," he said. "We're the
ones manifesting ghosts. It's psychokenises. Mind over matter.
That's why it's hard to photograph ghosts unless someone is nearby -- because
ghosts use our energy to manifest their sights, smells, and touch."
says "ghost" because it's a widely understood term. "Most people
don't understand the science behind ghosts, or the parapsychology behind
ghost hunting," he explained. "To say a 'psychokenises entity of
energy' is not as exciting as saying 'ghosts'."
Yet he remains
to the idea that ghosts are dead people's spirits or shadows. "Certainly
you have spirits," he said, "but they're not ghosts that necessarily linger.
If your grandmother dies, and that night you see her in your sleep,
a dead spirit. It's called a visitation in parapsychology,
when someone crosses over to say good- bye. Sometimes in a dream
state, but sometimes not in a dream state. It happened to my brother-in-law
with his own grandfather. That, I can believe, was a dead spirit.
that linger and haunt for centuries, there I lean toward 'no'. There
it's a residual energy that's trapped. It's called place memory."
Planetweavers also has a
haunted storage room. Netzband said the owner once needed a box that
was on the top shelf. "She didn't know where the ladder was, so she
left this area and did some business in the front of the store. And
when she came back here -- the very box that she needed was on the floor!"
Netzband is considering the
possibility that the owner herself may be manifesting at least some of
the ghostly energy. "She's had a lot of poltergeist experiences.
I had her here last night for a ghost hunt. Now I'm going to have
another ghost hunt without her here, and see what happens."
close at the end of May, the location to be assumed by another store.
Netzband is "excited" to see if the hauntings continue once the current
owner is gone.
ghost hunt did yield some bizarre events. "Strange things happened,"
said Netzband. "Cold spots. I definitely felt the cold spots.
Mostly in the front of the store. We also left some 'trigger objects'.
A feather box. And several marbles on a paper with an X on it.
We said to the ghosts, 'Prove you're here. Move something.' "
team member returned the next morning, "The feathers were on the other
side of the box. And one of the marbles had moved."
routinely investigates a haunted site's history for clues as to why it
may be haunted. "This was one of the last nickelodeons in San Francisco,"
he said of Planetweaver's location. "Then in the 1940s it was the
Cherry Blossom Bakery. I've had trouble finding out who the bakery's
owners were. It's almost like the records are erased. But I've
a theory that it was Japanese owned [because of the bakery's name and the
proximity of a Japanese neighborhood], and that maybe the owners were put
into internment camps during World War Two."
Ominously, all of Netzband's
psychics sensed the same thing. "Every one of them said they felt
there was a little girl in this store," he said. "Although the psychics
had not really been in this store, they told me they'll see her running
in a little narrow passageway. They felt that she plays with the
toys in the store."
He then showed the Universe
a corridor like that seen by the psychics. "All of them saw it, not
knowing each other. It makes me start to believe there's something
in this place.
"But I don't know," he added.
"I'm not a 100% convinced. I gotta be skeptical. That's the
thing about ghost hunting. If you start to believe, if you're not
willing to be skeptical, your mind goes crazy."
this ghost be the daughter of the bakery owners, a girl traumatized by
anti- Japanese hysteria? "I'd love to authenticate that story," said
"I had one psychic come in here. All of a sudden she stopped in the
book section and looked at this book, and she just had it have it.
It was If
the Buddha Got Stuck."
is rich in dark history. Netzband's ghost-walking
tour passes by buildings once occupied by Charles
Manson and The
Reverend Jim Jones (neither structure reputed to be haunted).
The Case of the
his ghost tour, Netzband tells the tale of Golden
Gate Park's haunted panhandle.
obsessed loon known to locals as 'the Pigeon Man' would feed the panhandle's
pigeons and warn everyone, "If you disturb my pigeons, I will kill you."
a young musician named Buck
Naked entered the park late at night with his unleashed dog.
The dog disturbed the pigeons and the Pigeon Man shot and killed Buck Naked.
found $10,000 worth of birdseed in a storage box in the Pigeon's Man's
Man was convicted. The dog lived and was adopted by a friend of Buck
Yet to this
day, said Netzband, "People talk about being in this park at night, and
hearing somebody call to their dog, 'Here boy." Then they'll look
around, and there'll be nobody in this park. It's as if Buck Naked
or his residual energy is looking for his dog."
ominously, "We have a really strange phenomenon in this park. Look
around. There are no pigeons in this park. There are pigeons
all over this city, but they do not enter this park. They used to.
There are other birds in this park, and people feed them. And you
will see pigeons across the street. But there are never, ever any
in this park.
people on this tour, and the locals, I say, 'Call me if you ever find a
pigeon.' I've never had a call in two years. Is it a ghost
that keeps the pigeons out of this park? I don't know. I leave
it up to the people to decide that."
4, 2006, San Francisco resident Clifford
Brooks sent us this photo of a pigeon in Golden Gate Park's panhandle, taken with
his phone camera. Brooks had visited the park in response to our
article. "There were surprisingly few birds in the panhandle," said
Brooks to the Universe. "Too many people, dogs, etc., and since the
park is attached [to the pan], well, I guess they've got better places
to play. The picture is of a single pigeon, but there was a pair.
Like most pigeons, they let me pace them without flying away."
Copyright 2006 by WeeklyUniverse.com
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