Jefe's House

The Truth Is In Here

Contacting the Dead in West Bengal

by on Feb.18, 2015, under On the Road, Shaheb Cafe, The Truth Is In Here

shahebcafe

 

 

 

 

A Shaheb’s Guide to India

line

I’ve traveled India a bunch in the past five years and have learned that almost no one in India seems to have heard of a Ouija board. I’ve also been in tons of stores ranging from rustic bazaars to gleaming shopping malls and have never seen a Ouija board for sale even though they have plenty of other Western toys and board games.

People there do, however, know what you’re talking about when you explain it, only they call it “doing planchette” and those who do it would only ever make their own. The idea of buying one seems foreign to them. Culturally, “doing planchette” seems to hold the same place as it does here: spooky, scary, forbidden, inviting doom, naughty, tempting, very real. Once I got my wife’s Hindu family elders talking about it, they recalled tons of stories that pretty much parallel the kinds of escapades you hear recalled in the US.

Her great uncle warned me against it, telling me there’s a reason God has created two separate dimensions for the living and the dead, and that to try and bridge the gap is inviting trouble. He then told me how once as a young man he and a bunch of friends were vacationing in a small shack in the jungle on a wildlife preserve (the Indian version of the “cabin in the woods” archetypal horror setting) and one evening they got bored and someone made a planchette board. They typically use a coin as the planchette. They soon were in touch with a man who said he was recently deceased. He said he was a Naxalite (Indian Marxist rebel) who had recently been killed by a rival Communist. At that moment the lights went out, engulfing them in darkness. Everybody freaked, they balled up the planchette board and threw it away and my great-uncle vowed never to do the planchette again.

He remains true to his word. I asked him if he would draw one for me exactly as they had drawn them back in the day, and he grimly said, “This is not possible.”

I dropped the subject but later that evening I approached my wife’s grandmother to ask the same question. She shrugged and said, (continue reading…)

Comments Off :, , , , , , , , , , more...

Beth-el Synagogue, Kolkata, built in 1856

by on Jan.31, 2015, under The Truth Is In Here

About half a mile from the Magen David and Neveh Shalome synagogues is Beth-el Synagogue.

Full story here on Kolkata’s handful of remaining Baghdadi Jews. Photos taken January, 2015–>>

(continue reading…)

Comments Off :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

To Think That I Saw it on Markenpower Street

by on Jan.20, 2015, under Pophood, The Sixth Boro, The Truth Is In Here

My son’s multiverse of alternate realities crossed into the real world in a remarkable way.

IMG_4328

Parenting: Oh, the places you’ll go.

My 3-and-a-half year old son  is among those many toddlers who live in numerous alternate realities at once.  In a sense, so do I.  I’m, bi-urban, teaching in New York City and in Philadelphia. As a writer I am also often working on multiple projects at once for vastly differing audiences.  When my son’s not at daycare or cooking something up in his kitchen, he works in “my New York” and “my Philadelphia” as he calls them. These are different cities than the ones I know and love.

“Hey Pop. In my New York, red means go and green means stop…Hey Pop, in my New York, I have a baby daughter who just turned 21.”  In his Philadelphia, he teaches college courses in museums and in making drinks.  My wife is a biologist who works in the Philadelphia suburb of Spring House, which must seem to him a distant, fantastical place. One of her coworkers is named Eric.  “Hey Ma, at my Spring House, I also have a friend named Eric but he’s no the same Eric.”

Not surprisingly, he has gravitated toward Dr. Seuss from among the many children’s authors at his fingertips. He’s obsessed with crunk cars and wonders when we’ll be able to all take a ride together in a zumble zay or make quick exits by ejecting ourselves out of a gazoom.  He’s watched the original Cat in the Hat animated 1971 TV special ad nauseaum and loves to sing along to the complicated lyrics of “Calculatus Eliminatus.”  This past Halloween he decided to be The Cat in the Hat and insisted that my wife and I dress as his oversized Things 1 and 2.

A neighbor asked me how I felt about my son’s “telling stories” about his fictional New Yorks, Philadelphias and Spring Houses, suggesting that we were encouraging him to grow up to be a George Costanza; a neurotic, emotionally immature, chronic fibber who has trouble facing real world problems. I countered that my wife and I heartily encourage his colorful imaginativeness.  Rather than scold him or nudge him back to Earth we ask ever more probing questions during one of his increasingly fantastical yarns, seeing just how far will his racing young mind carry him as he speaks extemporaneously and thinks on his feet.

Then again, perhaps we’ve given him a little too much imaginative freedom for his own good. His multiverse reached its zenith recently when it crossed into the real world in a remarkable way that left me flabbergasted.  (continue reading…)

Comments Off :, , , , , , , , , , , , more...

Support Aldan

by on Nov.24, 2014, under The Truth Is In Here

My niece in southwestern Virginia works full-time as a waitress. Her coworker’s 2-year-old son Aldan has a brain tumor. These people don’t have a lot of money. My niece designed this simple t-shirt and launched a fundraising campaign. I just bought one for 20 bucks and hope you’ll consider doing the same. You can get the full scope on Aldan and his medical situation here.

Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving.

#aldanstrong

 

 

Comments Off :, more...

Zeppelin Redux

by on Sep.06, 2014, under The Press, The Sixth Boro, The Truth Is In Here

Zeppelin Mooring at Philly Skyscraper

Thrilled that my Philadelphia “zeppelin” snapshot posted here yesterday is today’s Photo of the Day at Coast to Coast AM.

*

*

*

*

*

*

9″ to 10″ footprints with three claws. Note the apparent blood droplets at top left.

The last time this happened to me it caused quite an uproar.

Comments Off :, , , , , , , , , more...

RIP Frank Sumption

by on Aug.21, 2014, under The Truth Is In Here, Theatre

Frank Sumption

Frank Sumption, known for creating “Frank’s Box,” aka “ghost box” or “spirit box” — essentially a modified AM/FM radio said to allow communication by spirits from the Other Side by sweeping over different radio signals and forming messages from the various audio fragments — passed away earlier this month.

He lived modestly with his family in Littleton, CO and there is a Go Fund Me campaign to raise money for Sumption’s funeral expenses.

Whether or not the voices are “real”  is irrelevant to me.  If the idea of Frank’s box makes you roll your eyes or you’re caught up in “debunking” it you’re missing the point and need to check your ego at the door and try again.  As I say in my show, life is full of magic and meaning if you’ll only open your eyes — all 3 of them.

A descendant of Frank’s box, the mass-produced P-SB7, has proven a trusty tool for me in my autobiographical black comedy theatrical performance Boneyards, which concludes with a real, audience-led seance combining the spirit box and an antique ouija board in an earnest attempt to contact the dead, and which I wrote about last Halloween in the Washington Post as well as numerous times right here at Jefe’s House.

Thank you, Frank, wherever you are, for your terrific tool/prop/broken radio/supernatural device, depending on your beliefs.  Despite the naysayers I will continue using my spirit box with pride, fascination, and curiosity both on and off the stage.

“My Father Did This.”  See Frank in action demonstrating his box at the haunted Stanley Hotel in Colorado:

 

 

 

 

Comments Off :, , , , , , , , , more...

7/27/14 Boneyards Transcript

by on Jul.29, 2014, under The Sixth Boro, The Truth Is In Here, Theatre

Dear Sunday Audience,

I’m stunned that yet again the voices have spoken backwards. I’d heard of this happening but only experienced it the first time during my 7/16/14 recording. I never imagined it happening to me again, yet here it is less than 2 weeks later.  Are my “synagogue saints” trying to scare me away and be done with us? You’ll have to decide.

Do the names Jane and Patrick Foote or Jason mean anything to any of you?  If so, feel free to post a comment here or email me privately.  The voices recorded during your session say these names emphatically as you’ll hear, either identifying themselves or calling for these people.  Perhaps I’m mishearing the names, see what you think.  I tried doing a web search but didn’t turn up much. I did find a pair of siblings named Jane and Patrick Foote, born to a mother with maiden name Durbin, the same as actress Maud Durbin whose name comes up in the show.  I haven’t checked further to see if they’re related but perhaps a junior genealogist among you will want to take up the mantle and report back. Video here– (continue reading…)

Comments Off :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

7/26/14 Boneyards Seance Transcript

by on Jul.28, 2014, under The Sixth Boro, The Truth Is In Here, Theatre

DON’T MISS THE NYC PREMIERE OF JEFFREY STANLEY’S BONEYARDS AT BROOKLYN’S MORBID ANATOMY MUSEUM ON 2/27/15! DETAILS HERE.

*

Cubana Flight 9646. This Ilyushin 62M CU-T1281 crashed on 9/3/89 and killed all 126 passengers and 45 on the ground.

Did a Cubana Flight 9646 victim speak to my audience through a Ouija board this past Saturday night?

Plane crashes are all the rage right now so I wasn’t surprised when the two audience volunteers using the Ouija board got the word PLANE right out of the chute and then the planchette kept pointing to the sun and moon icons on the board’s lower corners (sky symbols).  Can you say,  subconscious ideomotor impulse?

However, the board then proceeded to spell out apparent gibberish after the word PLANE.  I stress apparent. Bear with me. A selection of the numbers and phrases it kept spelling out over and over:

  1281  

6 TO M (“Could this mean 6 2 M?” an audience member asked.)

1989  

3 1989

MUHA.

I quickly shut down this seeming dud of a seance to wrap up the show and get my audience outta that crypt-like coal cellar and into some fresh air.  The next day I received an email from my die-hard (see how I did that?) fan Joe about Cubana flight 9646:  “I made a small leap in assuming, at least, that ’6TOM’ might  also be ’62M,’ so  I did a web search and found (continue reading…)

2 Comments :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

Drink a Boneyard

by on Jul.26, 2014, under The Sixth Boro, The Truth Is In Here, Theatre

The Boneyard

Please be a heavy drinker to appreciate this soul-tingling custom cocktail created by Jeffrey Stanley

In a 16-oz cup combine:

drink71 oz simple syrup

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

drink63 oz Bulleit rye whiskey (continue reading…)

Comments Off :, , , , , , , , , , , more...

Real Ghost Voices

by on Jul.18, 2014, under The Sixth Boro, The Truth Is In Here, Theatre

Backwards talking. This can’t be good.  I’ve seen The Exorcist. Besides, infamous 1930s occultist Aleister Crowley talks about doing and saying things backwards as a way of achieving Luciferian power in his notorious book Magick in Theory and Practice (see p. 389).  But the show must go on, demons be damned.

Those who live, live off the dead. Likewise death, too, has to live.

The theater, which is in no thing, but makes use of everything — gestures, sounds, words, screams, light, darkness – rediscovers itself at precisely the point where the mind requires a language to express its manifestations.  To break through language in order to touch life is to create or recreate the theatre.

 - Antonin Artaud

*

SDRAYENOB

This Weekend

Saturday 7/26/14 at 9pm

Sunday 7/27/14 at 2pm

Philadelphia

$10 tickets here

*

*

TRANSCRIPT of above EVP session, 7/16/14: (continue reading…)

Comments Off :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...