Esoterica: Haunted Linda Vista Converted Housing -- TV Movie Caused PTSD -- USSR's Phantom Cosmonauts
Haunted Linda Vista Community Hospital Converted to Senior Apartments
A historic — and some say haunted — Los Angeles hospital that has been closed for two decades is set to be converted into apartments for low-income seniors in a $40-million makeover.
Linda Vista Community Hospital is an imposing relic from the days when railroads took care of their sick and injured employees in company facilities. Originally known as Santa Fe Coast Lines Hospital, it was built for employees of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway in Boyle Heights, a blue-collar neighborhood east of the city's rail yards and home to many railroad workers.
The original hospital opened in 1905. It was razed and rebuilt on the same site in the mid-1920s, and additions were made through 1939.
Although the hospital closed in 1991, the six-story complex survives with its dignity mostly intact — with peeling paint and roosting pigeons adding to tales of sudden chilly drafts and paranormal activity inside.
Hallways are wide with coved ceilings intended to evoke the inside of a railroad caboose. Former staff dining halls and patient rooms are outfitted in colorful Santa Fe tile. The white concrete edifice commands a sloping four-acre site on St. Louis Street overlooking Hollenbeck Park and the downtown Los Angeles skyline.
"It has such a presence sitting on that big lawn," said Wade Killefer, the architect overseeing the hospital's conversion.
Renovation is set to begin next month in an adjacent structure. The challenge, he said, "is the same as it is with every great historic building: how not to screw it up."
The steward of Linda Vista's comeback is Amcal Multi-Housing Inc., an affordable housing developer in Agoura Hills. It expects to succeed where previous efforts to convert Linda Vista to residential use fell short, including a pre-housing-crash plan to turn it into condominiums. One big hurdle is the need to remove hazardous lead and asbestos at a cost of about $4 million.
"A lot of things came together" for Amcal, Chief Executive Percival Vaz said. Among them was a grant of $9 million in federal funds intended to stabilize neighborhoods through the revitalization of abandoned properties.
And Linda Vista is a lulu of an abandoned property.
Visitors come across stray medical equipment such as dusty baby incubators and gleaming stainless steel autopsy tables. A corner of the basement holds what appears to be a cluster of jail cells.
The rooms are unnerving, but the atmosphere is intentional.
That's because Linda Vista is one of L.A.'s most popular filming locations. It was daunting enough to stand in for a squalid mental asylum in a Duran Duran music video, and it has been the subject of televised paranormal investigations.
Caretaker Francis Kortekaas brought in medical equipment and made the mock jail to enhance its appeal to directors. Sometimes filmmakers leave props behind, like the wooden throne from the upcoming Rob Zombie movie "The Lords of Salem" that commands one room.
It can be hard to tell what's real and what's Hollywood flimflam. The former main dining room looks like a chapel because it was redecorated for the 2005 remake of the movie "The Longest Yard," starring Adam Sandler.
Faded bed curtains in a jumbled pile on the floor of a patient room? Real artifacts. Dangerously drooping electrical conduit in the former laundry room? Recent props from an episode of "True Blood," where the hospital portrayed a mental asylum.
Makers of the HBO series about vampires also filmed live wolves running through Linda Vista's lobby, Kortekaas said. Filming takes place in Linda Vista as much as 130 days a year, he said, which helps pay for maintenance.
Some of the projects are upbeat, such as the pilot episode of "ER" and hospital scenes from the 2001 movie "Pearl Harbor." Often, though, Linda Vista serves as the backdrop for slasher tales and other dark fare, such as the 1995 murder-thriller, "Se7en."
Television shows that follow ghost hunters also have spent nights at Linda Vista, and the makers of a documentary-style show called "From Beyond" said the hospital was "home to the team's most haunting night ever," with crew members hearing voices and being grabbed and scratched.
"People tell me it's the most haunted place in L.A.," said Maurice Ramirez, executive vice president of Amcal. "Because it's been empty for maybe 25 years or so, it becomes the subject of a little urban folklore about ghosts and things."
Kortekaas, who has spent more time in the hospital than anyone else over the last several years, acknowledged a couple of incidents he can't explain.
In the dimly lighted underground level housing the operating rooms, Kortekaas said he once saw the water turn on when he approached a sink where doctors scrubbed before surgery. Then the water, which is controlled by a leg-operated lever, turned off.
On another occasion, he sensed a small child putting a hand in his — but no one was there. "It felt like my daughter's hand," he said.
Next month, Amcal plans to start converting Linda Vista's nurses' residences into 23 senior apartments. The separate three-story building has a cozy living room with a fireplace and is connected to the hospital by a short tunnel.
"We're just remodeling it a little" to add bathrooms and small kitchens, Ramirez said. "The historic character will be maintained."
Starting early next year, the upper five floors of the hospital building will be converted to 74 apartments, most of them one-bedroom units for people ages 55 or older whose annual incomes are $16,000 to $25,000, the criteria for subsidized housing eligibility in Los Angeles. Construction is expected to take 14 months.
Improvements will include new landscaping and the addition of reflecting pools to soften the hospital's institutional appearance in front.
"It's going to look like an upscale hotel," Ramirez said. "People in the neighborhood will really see a transformation."
Linda Vista is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a city historical monument, said Linda Dishman, executive director of the Los Angeles Conservancy.
"It was the precursor of medical services connected to employment," she said.
Applications for units at Linda Vista will be accepted this summer, Amcal said. - latimes
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The TV movie that caused post-traumatic stress disorder
On Halloween 1992, years before The Blair Witch Project [Blu-ray] the BBC aired Ghostwatch, which claimed to be a live on-air investigation of a real haunted house. In actuality, the movie was fiction, but it had a real, lasting effect: some children were diagnosed with PTSD after watching the film.
"The program you are about to watch is a unique live investigation of the supernatural," announces the host at the beginning of Ghostwatch. "It contains material which some viewers might find disturbing." And disturbed they were. After Ghostwatch aired, the BBC was flooded with calls from panicked viewers who thought the program was real, and the news media criticized the BBC for its disturbing choice of programming.
But, according to a paper published in the British Medical Journal, for some children, Ghostwatch was more than just scary; it was genuinely traumatic. The paper was written by two doctors from Coventry who claimed to have treated two children for post-traumatic stress disorder that was caused by watching Ghostwatch:
This boy had been frightened by Ghostwatch and had refused to watch the ending. He subsequently expressed fear of ghosts, witches, and the dark, constantly talking about them and seeking reassurance. He suffered panic attacks, refused to go upstairs alone, and slept with the bedroom light on. He had nightmares and daytime flashbacks and banged his head to remove thoughts of ghosts. He became increasingly clingy and was reluctant to go to school or to allow his mother to go out without him.
If you think it's ridiculous that kids who watched something scary on TV were diagnosed with PTSD, you're not alone. While plenty of other physicians reported similar cases of Ghostwatch-born trauma, these cases led to a larger discussion about the way the DSM-IV defines certain ailments. Currently, DSM definition of PTSD allows the diagnosis in people who have been "confronted with" traumatic events, which could include a television program. A proposed revision for the DSM-5 would explicitly exclude "exposure through electronic media, television, movies, or pictures, unless this exposure is work related." Either way, when the man on the television set says that viewers might find the events on television disturbing, it's probably time to usher the little ones out of the room.
Even if you're not familiar with the film, you may recall it from the Doctor Who episode Army of Ghosts In the Whoniverse, Ghostwatch is, naturally, a factual television program. - io9
The Phantom Cosmonauts of the USSR
At the dawn of the Space Race, the United States and Soviet Union were in a neck in neck sprint to claim the heavens for their own glorious empires, but as mission after mission wrenched the secrets of the universe from the stars above, rumors began to circulate that some of the explorers that were rocketed into the skies above, never returned.
These people have become known as the Lost Cosmonauts.
The theory of the lost cosmonauts begins, strangely enough, in Italy with a pair of brothers named Achille and Giovanni Judica-Cordiglia. The brothers were amateur radio operators and had already become well-known for picking up transmissions from Sputnik and even the heartbeats of the Soviet space dog, Laika, on board Sputnik II (Laika herself is a lost cosmonaut).
On November 28, 1960, the brothers were alerted to something strange. An East German observatory announced that they had picked up a strange signal on the Soviet space frequencies. When the Cordiglias tuned into that frequency, they picked up what sounded like a hand-keyed SOS signal. The most disturbing thing about the signal is that it showed almost no relative speed which could only mean one thing: it was on a direct course away from the planet. As the brothers listened, the signal grew weaker until it finally winked out.
The brothers had apparently just discovered evidence that a Soviet space capsule had gone off course and drifted permanently into outer space with a cosmonaut on board.
Two months later, the brothers detected another transmission. This time, it seemed to be the labored breaths of an unconscious man and a heartbeat. When they played the recording for their father, a cardiologist, he postulated that the heartbeat was of a man suffering cardiac arrest.
Two days later, the Soviets announced the failed re-entry of a large unmanned spacecraft.
In April of 1961, the brothers picked up the transmissions of Yuri Gargarin, the official first person to orbit the Earth.
The story wasn't over. In fact, the most disturbing chapter was still to come. In May of 1961, they picked up a new transmission. It was a a woman's voice speaking in Russian. Although she seemed calm and professional, her tone became more and more strained an panicked as the transmission continued and finally ceases.
The translation came out as, "Isn't this dangerous? Talk to me! Our transmission begins now. I feel hot. I can see a flame. Am I going to crash? Yes. I feel hot, I will re-enter..."
Cold War Russia was a torrent of secrets. It is well documented that there were cosmonaut deaths prior to Gargarin's flight and it is also well known that Grigoriy Nelyubov, a cosmonaut who committed suicide in 1966 after being bounced from the program, was effectively erased from the records - airbrushed from photographs, his medical and service records edited. In fact, Nelyubov's involvement in the program wasn't brought to light until 1986.
It's thought by proponents of the lost cosmonaut theory that the USSR lost as many as eleven people.
Still, the Soviet Union never acknowledged that they had lost any cosmonauts in space. Many have said that the Soviets covered up the deaths to prevent any damage to the reputation of their space program while others have said that the Cordiglia brothers manufactured their recordings.
With the almost irrational secrecy of the Soviet Empire, it is not hard to imagine covering up something that might lead to national embarrassment in the face of competition with their greatest rivals, and if these lost cosmonauts did exist, official information on them has either been long-since lost or are still gathering dust somewhere.
If they did exist, however, the most incontrovertible evidence floats somewhere out there in the infinite void, a cold and powerless metal tomb with a forgotten hero waiting patiently for the day he might be found by the explorers of a later age. - slightlywarped
Into the Cosmos: Space Exploration and Soviet Culture (Pitt Russian East European)
Soviet and Russian Lunar Exploration (Springer Praxis Books / Space Exploration)
Pizza Shop Owner Spots Angel In Security Camera Footage
The owner of a pizza shop in Bloomfield believes the security camera outside his store picked up the image of an angel.
Bob Usner, from Adrian’s Pizza on Pearl Street, was checking video from overnight when he found the shot of the parking lot taken around 6 a.m. Friday. In the upper part of the screen is a white image with a distinctive shape.
“You can see a face up at the very top and you can see the hands and you can see the wings,” said Usner.
Usner believes it’s a sign from his dad. Anthony Usner was a 30-year veteran of the Pittsburgh Police who died two years ago.
His dad helped him get the pizza shop. But business has been tough lately, and he’s been thinking about closing.
“Maybe my dad coming down to help me,” said Usner.
Both he and his sister, Carol Goerk, view the image as a sign of encouragement from their dad.
Word is spreading about the angelic surveillance video. A group of nuns from a nearby convent stopped over to view the image Friday night.
When asked if there could another explanation for the image, maybe a spider web or a lens flare, Usner said the camera has never captured anything like this. - cbslocal
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