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Thursday, October 24, 2013 THis Week’s NYT BestSellers



Paranormal research team resurrects regional history Becky Sheehan Intrigue Writer


“storm front” John Sandford


“Doing Hard Time” Stuart Woods


“Doctor sleep” Stephen King


“the husband’s secret” Liane Moriarty


“the longest ride” Nicholas Sparks

non-fiction #1

“killing jesus” Bill O’Reilly


The hearse careened into the parking lot and jerked to a halt, sending the skeleton hanging from its rearview mirror into a frenzied jig. Faith Serafin, founder and director of the Alabama Paranormal Research Team, emerged from the driver’s side into the night air. Jared Long, her 16-year-old son, walked up nonchalantly, as if he hadn’t just exited a vehicle normally reserved for one-way trips. Serafin looked the part of a ghost hunter. Jet-haired, tattooed and mysterious upon first glance, she broke the image of a Gothic spiritual medium when she smiled broadly and shook hands. A regional history expert, Serafin’s duty is to research every angle of a rumored haunting before declaring paranormal activity the blame. Of her choice in transportation, Serafin said people began to accept it “after you don’t give a damn anymore. You’re either going to be the crazy cat lady or the crazy lady who drives a hearse.” She spoke of her childhood encounters with the paranormal and the haunted house she now lives in in Salem, Ala. When asked if the haunted house troubled her, she laughed and said, “Lady, I drive a hearse.” A breeze whistled a reminder of late fall and rustled the leaves of nearby trees. Looking up at the Telfair Peet Theatre, Serafin said, “Everything paranormal that you could possibly want is in this building right here.” She explained that every ghost story has some validity to it, and the chilling aspects of Auburn’s past make it an ideal setting for a ghostly tale. “Sydney Grimlett is part of the history here at Auburn,” Serafin said. Grimlett was one of 98 Confederate soldiers who died in 1893 in the University Chapel on College Street which served as an infirmary during the Civil War. When the Auburn University Players, originally known as the Footlights, moved their student organization to the chapel in the late 1920s, a series of strange events led them to believe the chapel was haunted. According to Serafin’s co-written book, “Haunted Auburn and Opelika”, the Auburn Players acting troupe has reported loud banging, missing props and costumes, dark shadows and disembodied voices. When the theatre department moved to the Telfair Peet Theatre in 1971, Sydney allegedly followed and so did his desire to wreak havoc on performances if he was not left candy before each play. Gary Castriota, senior in theatre tech and design, has had a couple run-ins with Sydney. “I believe in spirits and that people’s spirits can stay around after they’ve passed,” Castriota said. Some students are less inclined to believe Sydney or any other campus poltergeist actually exists. “I don’t think I believe in ghosts,” said Alina Chanysheva, graduate student in chemical engineering. “I think maybe they’re just joking.” During the spring of 2012, scene shop assistant Brandon Stoker called Serafin’s team to investigate the ghost of Sydney Grimlett. After prompting Sydney with questions, a K2 meter, a device that reads residual energy from a spirit, revealed his favorite colors of M&Ms: orange and blue.

Intrigue Writer


“David and goliath” Malcolm Gladwell


“I am Malala” Malala Yousafzai


“the reason i jump” Naoki Higashida

“I’ve been doing this for move than 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like it,” Serafin said. The ghost tour continued on to Samford Hall, via hearse, of course. A jangling garland of skeletons graced the back window, and against the cab divider rested a ghost box — a boom box rigged to scan continuously, providing white noise through which spirits can supposedly communicate. Historically, Samford lawn was used to pile the corpses of Sydney Grimlett and his 97 fallen comrades until arrangements were made for burial — a mass grave at the back of Pine Hill Cemetery. Superstitions claim a man in Confederate uniform toting a shotgun can be seen in the Samford tower. Across South College Street, at the Auburn University Chapel, reports have been made concerning the faucets in the ladies’ room. “The water seems to come on and off on its own,” Serafin said. The last stop on the tour of haunted Auburn was Pine Hill Cemetery, where an inexplicable glowing orb of bouncing light was once seen. At the site of Grimlett’s shared grave, Serafin described how ghost stories can help get children excited about learning about their heritage. “There’s so much of it that’s unwritten that we only know through folklore and legends,” Serafin said. Her work as the official guide of the Sea Ghosts Tours at Port Columbus National Civil War Naval Museum and with elementary schools in Lee County has indulged her fascination with southeastern history and put her in prime position to spread the story of the past. “If I can have an impact on one kid just by reading [“Haunted Auburn and Opelika”] so that they know their history, even if it’s just a ghost story that’s getting them involved, they’re still learning,” Serafin said.

New Orleans saxophonist returns home to perform at alma mater Ashtyne Cole

“My story” Elizabeth Smart

Zach Bland / photographer

Faith Serafin, founder and director of the Alabama Paranormal Research Team, leads ghost tours in Auburn.

Saxophonist Khari Allen Lee returned to his alma mater, Auburn, to perform a concert with members of the jazz group the New Creative Collection. Coming from New Orleans, Lee performed Friday, Oct. 18, at 7:30 p.m. at the Goodwin Recital Hall. Along with Lee, pianist Meghan Swartz and artist Marcus Akinlana provided their talents to coincide with the jazz music. Lee, originally from Tuskegee, was raised in Auburn and attended Auburn High School. He studied at Auburn University in 1998 where he majored in music. “To pursue music, there has to be natural tendency and talent,” Lee said. “Instances come up in your life, and it demonstrates the need for music, that’s how it was in my case.” Lee joined the New Creative Collective, and they released their first CD, “Conscious Evolution,” in 2012. David Pulphus, a member of the Collective, is a Grammy award-winning bassist and accompanied Lee. Lee said coming home to Auburn was a beautiful gift. “It is a great celebration,” Lee said. “It has been 11 years, almost to the day, since I have been here last. It means a lot to

Instances come up in your life, and it demonstrates the need for music. That’s how it was in my case.” —Khari Allen Lee saxophonist and auburn alumnus

me.” After graduation, Lee moved to Boston and attended Berklee College of Music and earned an artist diploma. He then moved to New Orleans and earned a masters degree at University of New Orleans in 2006, just before Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city. He has taught at Tulane, a school in Tanzania and now teaches at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. He continues to play with the Collective on regular shows. New Orleans artist Marcus Arkinlana displayed some of his art in corroboration with Lee. “Marcus Akinlana has more than 20 public art monuments installed throughout the country,” said Patrick McCurry, local music blogger and jazz musician. “He co-founded Ile Eko

Asa Yoruba Ni New Orleans, a study institute for traditional African Culture and spirituality.” “I am a mentalist, public artist, sculptor and my art is cultural activism in different styles,” Akinlana said. “I’m here to spread the joy.” Akinlana’s focus for the concert was a spiritual revolution, drawing from his AfricanAmerican heritage and world mythologies. “I am showing 30 years of being an artist and cultural activist in the U.S. and all over the world,” Akinlana said. One of his most famous pieces, “Mile High and Rising,” is displayed in the Denver International Airport. Lee also presented a master class, which was open and free for everyone Friday, Oct. 18, in Goodwin Hall. “We opened things up with a little performance with some great music,” Lee said. “Then, we opened the floor for some discussion, questions and observations.” Akinlana’s work was on display and was available for purchase, and Lee performed music from his first CD. “Words and forms are proxies for something deeper that needs to be communicated,” Lee said. “We are bringing about the healing of the world through music.”

Zach Bland/ photographer

Serafin gives tours around Auburn in her own hearse.

contributed by Faith Serafin

According to Serafin, the Telfair Peet Theatre has “everything paranormal you could possibly want.”

Plainsman Picks Playlist Soundtrack songs “you’ll be in my heart” By Phil Collins from “tarzan” This is my mom and I’s song, and every time I hear it I get a little teary. Phil Collins wrote an incredibly Ashley Selby

moving soundtrack for the entire movie.

Intrigue Editor “can’t take my eyes off of you” By the tribute co. from “10 things i hate about you” The Tribute Co. sings a version of this song that will bring you back to that perfect movie scene but Kailey Miller

is easier to listen to than Ledger’s off-tune voice.

Intrigue Reporter “young and beautiful” By lana del ray from “the great gatsby” I’ve been obsessed with Lana for about four years now. It’s a little annoying that she’s getting Ashtyne cole

mainstream, but this song is one of my absolute

Intrigue Writer

favorites. “Elephant Love Medley” By ewan mcgregor and nicole kidman from “moulin rouge” A combination of classic love songs, this medley puts a fresh spin on several favorites. Who knew

Maddie Yerant

Ewan McGregor could actually sing?

Intrigue Writer “everybody wants to be a cat” from “the aristocats” What can I say? I might be turning into a crazy cat lady! Becky Sheehan

Intrigue Writer To listen to our picks, visit and Follow “The Auburn Plainsman”

The Auburn Plainsman 10/24/13  
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