[Today’s article is cross-posted with Mark Edward’s permission with SkepticBlog. If you’re unfamiliar, please go check them out.]
This last weekend was Christmas, a time when I usually sit around doing nothing but feeling blue. This time was different. My girl Susan was coming to visit and the only real plans we had were to go and see “The Artist.” That being planned, the rest of the days off were set for winging it and hanging out when and where we felt like going.
On Thursday morning, I mentioned to Susan that I wanted to remember to call my friend Ray Bradbury and wish him a happy holiday. Next day on Friday, we drove into downtown L.A. to see the Weegee exhibition at MOCA. Leaving at around noon, we made our way downtown and began the process of looking for a cheap place to park. We finally randomly settled on a spot across the street from Grand Central Market on Hill Street.
This classic melting pot of L.A. has always been one of my favorite places to wander around and watch the bustling activity, grab a quick bite and best of all; it lies conveniently a few blocks around the corner from the more expensive MOCA district where it has been since 1917. Being a photographer by profession, Susan snaps away at anything that sparks her fertile creative mind and after partaking of a latte and croissant, we found ourselves outside on the busy east side of South Broadway. I chanced to glance across the street and remembered (for the first time in twenty or thirty years) the wonderfully bizarre interior of The Bradbury Building. I had been there a few times in my past and had a connection with the place. Being a fan of the ’60s television series The Outer Limits and having had the privilege of a friendship with the series’ producer Joseph Stefano, I knew a bit about the strange workings of science fiction writers and how they had used the building as a location not only in the seminal black and white episode of The Outer Limits: The Demon with the Glass Hand, (1964) but also countless other productions including D.O.A. (1950),Blade Runner(1982) and Wolf (1994).
The building has an odd background. Some might even call it a “paranormal” one. Wiki says:
“A local architect, Sumner Hunt, was first hired to complete a design for the building, but (the originally commissioned Lewis L.)Bradbury dismissed Hunt’s plans as inadequate to the grandeur of his vision. He then hired George Wyman, one of Hunt’s draftsmen, to design the building. Wyman at first refused the offer, but then supposedly had a ghostly talk with his brother Mark Wyman (who had died six years previously), while using a planchette board (Ouija) with his wife. The ghost’s message supposedly said “Mark Wyman / take the / Bradbury building / and you will be / successful” with the word “successful” written upside down. After the episode, Wyman took the job, and is now regarded as the architect of the Bradbury Building. Wyman’s grandson, the science fiction publisher Forrest J. Ackerman, owned the original document containing the message until his death. Coincidentally, Ackerman was a close friend of science fiction author Ray Bradbury.”
Suffice it to say that this building, its history and general noir demeanor are to say the least: bizarre. I hadn’t made any conscious linking between Ray Bradbury and the Bradbury building as we crossed the street and entered the cavernous lobby. That could have been interpreted by some as a coincidence, albeit a rather weak one. No, hang on – it gets weirder.
We lingered for a half hour or so and took some nice shadowy photos, particularly shooting from one stairway landing that overlooks the lobby from the second floor. We left the building enchanted with the visual charm of the beautiful wrought iron and stone work and quite invigorated by the experience.
The next day was Saturday, Christmas Eve. We decided we would go and see a matinee of “The Artist.” The film itself is a silent film and shot in black-and-white that captures the era when silent films began to morph into “talkies” (1927-1932) and how the main characters deal with the rocky transition.
In stunned amazement, we both sat in awe as a five minute scene unfolded in front of our eyes shot virtually on the exact spot we had been standing on the second floor landing in the Bradbury Building just 24 hours before. What are the odds? Spooky…
Mark Edward is a professional mentalist who specializes in magic of the mind. He continues to be consulted by the media for his knowledge of spiritualism, psychic fraud and ghost lore.