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Dear You, Welcome to the second issue of Megazine! This one has been a long time coming, depending on how much you enjoy our content... I'm honored to bring you another group of wonderfully talented individuals who were kind enough to share their work with us, so that we may share it with you. Since Halloween approaches, we've also featured a couple of spooky things for you to enjoy. Also, don't forget that you, too, can be part of Megazine! By visiting our website, following the submission instructions, and emailing us with your submission, perhaps you can be in our next issue! Lastly, I'd like to use this platform to remind you take care of yourself, and to be kind to everyone you meet. Feeling good is important. That shirt looks great on you, by the way. Thanks for sticking with us! I appreciate it more than you know. -MRI

Illustration by alexandra lobo

























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'The Traveler' Written by Crystal Davis I moved these fur covered legs from The snow for a moment and into the desert sands. Stripped away my boots and clothes. Revealed the purity in me that had been left Unspoiled Untainted Untouched. Not saying you are entirely worthy per se But expressing that you were delivered a glimpse at gold. Gold skin I have Removing shells give way to shimmering Glittering Glistening Glimmering rows of yellow satin. I walked for miles until I reached you. You, from a distance: Standing beach bathed in the sunlight. Glowing like you do. As the rays gently engulf you And expand on the oceans of your soul and the hurricane winds calm for a second. Just long enough for me to step forward. Again, I molt at the sight of you. My eyes focus. Arms relax. Legs press on.

I stepped away from mounds of cocoon To approach you. To press fingertips together like I had been an alien transplanted onto your solid ground. Your islands were moist with soil and lush with garden. But you have yet to see that. You sit blindly underneath a coconut tree and wonder why your head aches. I laugh at you awfully and pull you up, But only because you let me. I watch you weave in and out of your motions of pain. I watch you contemplate. I watch your colors change. Compassion Confession Completeness. That's what I've started to feel. My stomach flutters at the thought of you. Little wings bang cryptically on smaller windows Of time once blacked out on a ticking watch that is the time bomb to my beating heart.



A HAUNTED HALLOWEEN POP-UP STORE WRITTEN BY AMANDA R. The year Hurricane Sandy hit was the first year I worked for Spirit Halloween. I had applied to the one in Hoboken, NJ and was surprised to find it was the one I had trained in when I worked for Blockbuster (yeah I know, old school shout out! Holla!). In fact, my (Spirit) store manager, Liz, was one of the assistants from the Hoboken Blockbuster and someone who I spoke to numerous times a week, though I had never met her face to face. Until then. Spirit Halloweens pretty much start out the same way every year: empty building and you physically build the whole store from the bottom up. As a side note, every Spirit I've worked in always looked spooky at night, it doesn't matter if it's empty or filled with stationary animatronics.



All through set-up and in the early days of operations, I kept getting weird stories from my coworkers — motion sensors going off by themselves, costumes swinging as if someone just bumped into them, the motion detectors setting off the alarm at night. We had those keychains that you press a button on the top and it screams, the pumpkin one would go off all the time—small things, really, but nothing major... Until that day... I wasn't there, but as I heard it, one of the cashiers had gone to the bathroom just after closing (I should point out here that the store was two floors, but as a Spirit we only used the top floor and the bottom was used for storage. There were tons of side rooms, there was a side room where they held meetings and you'd watch training videos during the Blockbuster years. There was also the "creepy back room" which even it's in Blockbuster days was empty. It was basically a stone-walled room with a big hole in the floor and tons of pipes). Anyway, back to the cashier with the full bladder. She heard a knock at the door, and called out that she would be done soon. There was a second knock, followed by a third. Understandably upset, when she was done, she pulled open the door as the knocking continued, to no one. I should say that she wasn't a meek or small young woman, by any means. This was a born and bred Jersey girl and we don't take shit from anyone, so to think of her as wilting, shuddering flower, or someone who makes things up for attention, is doing her an injustice. This was a badass woman who was now terrified and on the verge of tears.



Fearing someone had hid in one of the many rooms downstairs, the other assistant jumped into momma mode and covered the cashier as she brandished a box cutter. They both slowly made their way back upstairs to where Liz and other cashiers on duty were. As the cashier relayed her story of what had happened, they all heard footsteps running up the stairs towards them and they all turned to look. As Liz frantically told me that night over the phone, it was a "tha-thump, tha-thump,thumpthumpthumpthumpthump" and they all turned in terror to see nothing. Whatever had run up the steps had stopped just before reaching them. Whatever had run up the steps was also in full view of everyone the entire time and it was very audible and also, very invisible. They left immediately. I listened to Liz as she told me the story. I was opening the next day and she was so scared that I wondered if she was even going to show up to close. She asked if there was anything I could do to "get rid of it." I was involved in a ghost hunting web series at the time called "The Boo Squad." (Totally look them up, a few things are still up on the Youtube!) I told her I doubted there was anything I could do about it but I'd keep an eye and ear out for anything. When I arrived the next day, I was a bit on edge, but come on, after that story, who wouldn't be? Everything was normal, and I had a lot to clean up since everyone ran out the night before. I opened the store, got everything ready, and headed downstairs to do paperwork.



Everything was normal (personally, I was a little worried that maybe there was a crazy customer hanging out in the basement). Again, there was nothing that stood out, and everything was pretty much business as normal. I turned to go back up the stairs where I saw footprints in the dust leading up the steps. One set of barefoot prints, side by side on the bottom step. Followed by: right foot, step, left foot, next step, right foot, next step. Clear barefoot footprints that started to elongate, the foot becoming longer, the toes sharpening, looking less and less human with each step, blurred as if it was running, until finally, a single long, clawed print, and then nothing. Just two steps to the top and the prints just stopped. Everything was normal (personally, I was a little worried that maybe there was a crazy customer hanging out in the basement). Again, there was nothing that stood out, and everything was pretty much business as normal. I took pictures, because, obviously, and I showed it to them, because, obviously. Of course, the cashier never stepped in the basement again. The strange sounds and calls from the alarm being tripped off continued.



Hell, I even included the real life event into a screenplay I wrote for a screenwriting competition. (The idea being that as they read a made up ghost story there was a true ghost story in it, hardy-har-har.) But damn it, as cool and calm and collected as I always am, that shit gave me pause and you better believe I looked over my shoulder once I saw those footprints. A few days later, on the day before Sandy hit, the store was open and hopping, filled with customers getting their costumes and decorations. Everyone was smiling and happy, completely unaware that the motion sensors, lights and keychains were completely going off by themselves. I can still see Liz's horrified face and I just laughed, "They're Halloween shopping in an actual haunted store and they don't even realize it." I bought the keychain pumpkin that the ghost seemed partial to, and left it as a peace offering in the room where I saw movement in most often (no not the "creepy room" but the one next to it, because, obviously, that would be the room). I'd often hear the keychain going off by itself while upstairs. Another time, the radio refused to work no matter how many times I'd restart it or unplug the speaker. Finally turning on as that Police song was playing, and I could hear Sting's smooth voice sing "every move you make, every single day, I'll be watching you."



Yeah, ghost, I heard you loud and clear that time! After Spirit closed, it was immediately turned into an Anthropologie. Years and years passed before I found myself working in Hoboken again. I decided to pop in the store and see if I could see my "friend." I walked in like I owned the damn place and headed straight downstairs. Seeing clothes instead of Halloween or movie stuff seriously disoriented me. I had to close my eyes to orient myself before finally walking up to the dressing rooms. I picked the second one, the closest I could find the room where I had once left a pumpkin keychain. I was stopped by an (obviously) confused employee asking if I needed help. I told her I used to work here, first as a Blockbuster and then as a Spirit. I wanted to see what had changed. She gave me a placating smile—you know—that "Oh, that's nice" look, and turned away. I did, too, and then I don't know why I said it, but I turned back to her and said, "Have you met the ghost yet?" She turned, wide-eyed, "I KNEW IT! No one believes me! I see it all the time! There, in the second dressing room." "Yes, that's where I saw it too." Then I turned away, said a mental goodbye, and walked out of the store. So, if you're ever in Hoboken, stop by the Anthropologie. Head down the steps and towards the second dressing room door. Maybe you'll see my friend, most likely not, but leave him a pumpkin keychain anyway and you just might get a hello.


'Anxiety' Written by Anonymous Living your death a thousand times over And over Until even the ghost of you chokes on your breath And your chest finally caves from the constant ballet of demons performing on top of you When all you’re trying to do is gasp for breath. My chest? It’s a hollow hall sprinkled generously with the ashes of my laughter. The ashes poisoned my chest until I could no longer breathe without tasting smoke. Each laugh burning with the embers until every chuckle becomes a filthy cough. I taste smoke. I still taste smoke. I live my death every time I find my bed. It becomes a coffin and I close my eyes and cross my arms and wait. “Now I lay me down to sleep” But what if I do not wake? What if the Lord refuses my soul to keep? Eyes clenched, teeth grinding, skin crawling until the darkness creeps away, Laughing at my pain, Only to indulge me in the light for one more day. “I pray the Lord my Soul to keep”. Please, Lord, if death comes back, keep me safe Anxiety is not romantic Or poetic Or fun Or pleasurable. It is living your death a thousand times over And over. Anxiety brings you face to face to face with your fears To the point where you are no longer afraid of dying… You are afraid of living. .



Alpana Mittal “Tejaswini” is a versatile artist with creations in multiple mediums. She has successfully experimented with water, oil, acrylics and even beads on canvas. Her specialty is creating artwork revolving around modernization of traditional themes including, ancient Indian romanticism, folklores and legends. Born into an art loving family Alpana was exposed to art and its appreciation from early childhood. She chose “Fine Arts” as her major and has a M.F.A. from CCS University, India. She also has an “Arts Management” diploma from New York University. "In my childhood I was constantly surrounded by art and hence gained an appreciation for this form of human expression, at a very young age. In the college, I was mentored by a professor, who became a constant source of inspiration. It was this inspiration that made me realize that art must be a part of my life; and ever since my life has been revolving around art," says Mittal. Her major contribution to the World of Art is her creation using beads on canvas. All of these artworks have been created based on the visions from her dreams. Hence, she has appropriately named the series as “Dream Reflections”. This series uses fractals with a flavor of decorative patterns used for community and religious meetings across Asia, ranging from Tibetan Mandalas to Rangoli, the floor decoration art of south Asia. Alpana has displayed her art work globally in exhibitions and galleries and has been widely acclaimed for her multifaceted style. Her traditional painting depicting “Krishna” was judged “Best in show” in Hudson County Art Exhibition 2013. Several of her art pieces are in private collections in Asia as well as North America. "I like working in different mediums including oil color, acrylic color and water color. Blending, contrasting, shading and tinting of colors is my biggest passion. Most recently I have found a passion for working in pearler beads. I have been most satisfied with my work thus far and plan to spend a few more years trying to perfect this medium." She continues, "I have always followed this quote by Patrick Snow: 'When your dreams direct your life, your life reflects your dream,' and today I feel I can say that my life is reflecting my dreams."

'dream reflections' by alpana mittal "tejaswini"

'dream reflections' by alpana mittal "tejaswini"

'dream reflections' by alpana mittal "tejaswini"


'For Him'

Written by Alexandra Antonucci

A chance encounter that changed my life for the better How could one person bring me so much joy? I'm usually so cautious with my emotions but I'm so in love It's scary and new but for once, I'm not afraid I hope that it's you -To the boy as sweet as his name



LUNCH MEAT written by cindy rosmus

Every day, we drank at lunch: me, fat Yesenia, and her skinny sister, Myra. Three wine spritzers each. At that sleazy bar and grill, right by work. Emerald Isle, it was called, though most of the patrons were Puerto Rican. How lost we all were, that Tuesday in May, when that IRA guy Bobby Sands died. Out of respect, the bar closed for hours. “Damn shame,” one guy said, as we wolfed down hot dogs from the wagon outside. Whether he meant the poor guy who died, or missing out on beers, I wasn’t sure. Days, jovial Freddy bartended. “Hi, Chuleta!” he yelled to Yesenia. “Pork chops,” I think that meant. Your ass!” she yelled back, laughing. All the guys loved her. Between shots of Felipe Segundo, Miguel cooked in front of us. The greasiest, cheapest, most delicious food around. Giant burgers and fries, for just two bucks. There was always a pernil, and a huge roast beef, so rare, it jiggled. Yesenia liked hers well-done, with lots of gravy. One day, she went behind the counter, and cooked it up, herself. “¿Qué pasa?” Miguel demanded, as the hot beef sizzled. She didn’t answer. I sensed tension, thick as the grease. They did it, I realized. I was kind of slow, and still a virgin, but I could smell bad blood. Wow, I thought. Yesenia and Miguel, the cook. We weren’t that close, so I couldn’t ask her. At lunch, we drank and played Pac Man, but never talked about real shit. We worked in different departments. Myra was always up her ass, whispering in Spanish. I thought they both had husbands, or kids. At least kids.


Yesenia was gorgeous, big all over, and wore super-tight jeans, and flowy blouses. My first day on the job, she’d took me under her wing. We were union, and she was the shop steward. She was tough, and lots of fun, but I sensed she had big secrets. I looked over at Miguel. Dark, and chunky, but sexy, even in that grease-spattered tee. He glanced at Yesenia, then back down at the fried onions he was slathering on a burger. Then back at her, again.


Without looking around, I sensed every guy in the place eyeing her, hungrily. Then . . . “You gonna break the machine.” Miguel. From right behind us. Mashing chopped meat into a burger, as he watched her every move. She didn’t answer, but fought back a smile.

“Be careful,” Freddy said, in a low voice. “Su . . . mujer . . . vendrá hoy.” “Fuck her,” Yesenia said. Myra just shook her head. “Mujer . . .” I thought. Didn’t that mean “wife”? “Wanna play pinball?” Yesenia asked me. We’d be late going back to work. And had already drunk the max. But I felt this . . . urgency . . . to stick around. Plus, I thought, if we got yelled at, she was the shop steward. I sucked at pinball. Nobody else was playing Pac Man, so why pinball? Once we got started, I knew. Like a stripper, she gyrated, rolled her hips. Slammed herself against the machine, like she was having sex with it!

Game after game, we played. Our fourth drink became our fifth. At one point, customers were frying their own burgers behind the grill. ‘Cos guess who was making out, right there? “You crazy?” For once, Freddy wasn’t smiling. Guys cheered, as Miguel and Yesenia went at it, heavy-duty. They rubbed against each other. He squeezed her jeans-cheek, and she pulled his hair. I wondered if it smelled like grease.



“Yesi!” Myra said. “We gotta get back to work.” Big trouble, we’d be in. And our shop steward, the ringleader. My heart was racing, big-time. I’d forgotten all about Freddy’s “mujer” warning. Obviously, the lovers did, too. So when the door opened, and the lady walked in, people just glanced at her, then back at the slobbering couple. As she came over, I saw she was tall, red-headed, in a pale green suit. Like some business executive. Not many came in Emerald Isle. She looked as out-of-place as the Hope Diamond on a toilet seat. Till she reached them, they missed what was happening. Horrified, Miguel tried pulling away, but Yesenia held on. “Maureen,” he said, like he could explain this away. “Maureen . . .” Yesenia was smiling. She just didn’t get it. Not till the redhead grabbed the sharpest object there was—the big knife Miguel sliced our roast beef with—and turned back around . . . And made most of us lose our lunch.


Cindy is a Jersey girl who looks like a Mob Wife and talks like Anybody’s from West Side Story. She works out a lot, so needs no excuse to do whatever she wants. She hates shopping and shoes, chick lit and chick flicks. She’s been published in the usual places, such as Hardboiled; Shotgun Honey, Twisted Sister, A Twist of Noir; Beat to a Pulp; Pulp Metal; Thrillers, Killers, n’ Chillers; Mysterical-E; and Powder Burn Flash. She is the editor of the ezine, Yellow Mama. She’s also a Gemini, an animal rights activist, and a Christian.

'keith richards' by Ann Marie rhiel

'Lives Alone' Written by Kenneth James Crist In the morning, while the dew is turning the grass to diamonds, he mounts Rabbit-at-Dawn and moves toward the mountain. In his medicine bag, a lock of her hair, a chip of turquoise she has given, and a bear totem reside. He is Friend-of-Bears, in life, a white man of little consequence, aged and slowly failing. In spirit, he is another entity, born to ride the Iron Horse to his chosen destiny, that of a warrior. In his heart, he carries the memory of Lives-Alone-Woman, his last and best love, who has chosen solitude as her way. Be well, My Love, he murmurs, as he spurs his Iron Horse and the air begins to thin, and Rabbit-at-Dawn snarls.

Illustration by alexandra lobo

'What I Forget, What I Remember' Written by Crystal Davis He made me feel unfinished. As if this piece of me I've yet to find Was looming. Jingling. I can't explain it, But I'm gonna try. Okay, set scene: Rolling. Scrolling. Panning To the next page. Past the window. Past a door frame. Zoom to a windowpane on the Far right Far left Far corner of my broken, beaten heart, Since recovered, Off the "STUFF." Past the stages, Sober for 1 year and 3 months With just enough energy to open up.

To something To someone Willing to listen. To lick lips Suck skin Off bones Because we comfortably had chicken together. To make jokes And smile a little. That nervous smile. That intrigued one. That curl, It dangles, Slightly above your Butterfly-lash-covered eyelids That flutter when you close them. And your skin, So deeply toned, So fleshed out, Like a painting Like a sculpture With imperfections And the resilience To shine brighter Even when it was convinced it couldn't have shown. Raising the profit of emotions at the stock market by a percentage of 101. And with him I feel the Ph-shht You get when you light a match

Like ribbons and roses Displayed lazily, Bushes growing contagiously Sometimes the vines and flowers climb elegantly up the walls. And the flames come rushing in Connecting the fine lines Like black pin points on a world map That is his skin And the places he's been And the things he's felt But he's yet to tell me. This odd closeness I feel Because my persistent boldness Might get me in trouble But #yolo (I went there) Because I feel And this is how I function And I won't change that for anyone. And the music just keeps playing. He makes me feel like a kettle on the stove, Steamin' out my noggin Cause I'm always Thinking Running Shrinking Into my imagination Of little pretty things Cause life can be pretty.

Life can surprisingly be charmingly witty Like him or he or she or me. A do re I But he's Like I've got

mi fa so la ti do. can't sing! got me rehearsing a recital to perform at

Cause I want to say it right Want to shine a light On that spark I see. Pretty much the longest poem I may have written Since 2013. When the sun was bright And the girl was free And the innocence was quite alarming. And the silence levitated Like gumdrops at Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, The Gene Wilder one though, big fan of old movies. And I can display The old me: Size ten. Long hair. Neutral. Natural. Without color. Sapling.

And then darkness came. 1, 2, 3... 4 Round up. Recovery counts too. Darkness shrouded Mountains and valleys And rivers froze over And I did a deep cry Where I stayed silent For over one minute and let out a groan Like a child. Like heart attack. Like agony. Like forgetting how to be me. Making perforated headlines Because those would be the only thing that'd last long enough For someone to pull and tear down Like those Apartment for Rent flyers.

Rent the space in my heart! Winter was a cold one. Withered. 17. Not the age, the year.

Contradicting the self-destruction. Radiating. Bold. Empowered! Fuck yeah! Lightning! He makes me feel entrusted With stories and secrets. And it's as if my heart
started tattooing lines Like forget-me-not flower petals Blowing in the wind. And I'm respinning old memories Like cat's tails That flip hurricane pages Through water-filled deserts So suddenly. So swift. Just like the way the colors blast Their way through his eyes. Bouncing off walls, Laser tagging through the mad house. All the while
Walking causally down the street After a chilled breakfast I've never had before. Waking up at 8AM Making it on time,
(9:30AM) "Despite train traffic." Cause I don't wake up early for ANYONE.

Passersby careening necks All so glorified As the waiters giggle at her green hair. Yes, I am the green girl. Green woman. Green curls. Because I'm happier that way. And I could give a shit. He makes me feel pink. Like 3rd grade. Like sometimes I doodle. Like rocket ships And that one time in 4th grade When I accidentally gave
SpongeBob a dick. (Proportions were off). If I were ever plagued with disease, He makes me never want to be sick. To engage. To enlighten. To learn. Earning knowledge Like I'm back in school. Like that time in college When I used to drool over this professor Who... just a few years ago, Proposed to his partner on a stage. The fathers of one beautiful child. I commend them.

Oh, his smile. I can stare at it for days. Cause he's got this smirk That'll make me like Mulan As I over pour the Matchmaker's cup of tea. And he makes me cover my face After he's said the most stupidest and grossest thing.
Reminding me of my dad's bad dad jokes. And we'll laugh about it Like two middle school kids. And he'll make me snort (That's a deep laugh, sometimes it's hard to achieve). Blooming. He makes me feel alive again.


art by brandon moon





That’s the night I saw her. Him. It? I don’t know what’s polite now. But... that’s a man in a lady’s clothes? I begin to ponder about the time I snatched my sister’s little black dress with straps and put it on in front of the floorlength mirror in the dining room. Wearing a broken taboo gave me life. Anyway, as I recall it, my mother was watching some VH1 “Behind the Stars” sort of documentaries. I remember the image of a thin-faced woman with dark tan skin adorned with the glitz and the glamour of blended and contoured cheeks. Her fierce and wild eyes narrowed as her red, plastic lips pulled back from her teeth—his teeth?—as she released a cackle. She was a witch. The image flickers in my head now and replaces what I currently know in 2017. The memory of my parents’ house in 1995 comes clear into focus, as their current Pergo floor, flower couched, purple walled living room fades back into the light green walled, dark green couched, dark pink rug of a room that it was. The sun seems to set as we sit around the great boob tube. The room is dark except for this face of the blond-haired wicked witch’s face that spreads wide across the tubes of the squat, fat black TV. I feel myself shrink. There’s a certain importance to being interviewed on TV, or at least that’s what I thought that late night in front of a flickering screen. The green couches in my living room felt gigantic to my four year old self. I remember crawling all over, my hands gripping to the vinyl as a monkey would grip the bark of a tree. I have this chance to be up late and all I wanna do are the things I could do during the daytime, but everybody knows things are more fun at night when it’s dark. I suppose that’s why we have Late Night Talk Shows. RuPaul is pretty. RuPaul is a drag queen. Does that mean he cut his wee wee off? Does he like boys? Does he like girls? What does this mean? It means he’s like me, and I know it. I just don’t know it yet. I’ve always known I was gay, or something queer. That became particularly… Well… Clearly queerly dearly.



The little black dress was slung over the chair. I walk past it a few times, not knowing it was about to be important. I was little and I was in the house alone. My parents were working in the garden outside. I had nothing better to do and I had always wondered… I feel the pink carpet under toe as I turn to the kitchen, making my third lap around the house when I see it. I see it. The black dress, maybe? Is it a dress? If it is… is it any different than wearing dad’s big t-shirts? It has to be if only girls can wear it. Is there a reason for that? Who cares?! I step on tiptoe to the dress. With each step, I slip an item of clothing off. A sock. Another sock. A shirt. Unbuttoning my pants. Then it’s on me. The material was soft… Is it satin? I turn to the mirror and see a four year old boy in a dress—pudding bowl haircut and hazel eyes just barely visible beneath my fringe. My face is so much more slight than it is now and not a spec of hair in sight. My nose is a bit smaller too, but I wouldn’t know that now. My skinny shoulders covered in a tiny black strap. The length of the dress goes past my knees. I twist and turn, blushing and wearing the broken taboo in private secrecy and out in the open all at once. I revel, take it off. I put it back on. I twist. I take it off. My heart is pounding. I keep shooting looks at the front door. I stop and look at myself. ‘I’d be a pretty girl,’ I think to myself, ‘No wonder people think me and mommy are mother and daughter sometimes.’ I hear the scuffing of shoes on concrete and vanish out of the dress and reappear in my clothes in a blink as the storm door scrapes the door frame. I hear my parents chatting as I pace my way upstairs. I feel nervous. I’m just trying something. I don’t wanna get caught. And then there’s this woman on TV that isn’t even a damn woman, but giiiiiirl, if she ain’t lookin’ fierce then I don’t know what fierce is, girl. Yaaaas. My four year old self is still panicking about the dress, as if waiting for Ru’s eyes to turn to the camera and scream, “Karen he was wearing a dress!” and point to me from TVland, but that doesn’t happen. No one knows. I know. You know. Y’know? “When Ru was born, I knew he wasn’t gonna be a normal little boy,” RuPaul’s mother says in the interview in a voice over. As someone who has researched some adolescent psychology, and as someone who suffered through gay adolescent psychology, I can say for shit sure that this is usually the most common statement any parent of any queer child says at some point, whether to themselves, to a camera, to their partner, or to helpful psychologists looking to destigmatize homosexuality and transgenderism as embattled identities. I’ve read it as far back as The Velvet Rage by Alan Downs when I was 15, where I smuggled it out of a Barnes & Noble in a purchase of comic books.



I read the sentiment again when I did reports on research into issues in adolescent psychology when I was 21. I’m still waiting for my mother to say that to me. She may never do that because she may have already done so without saying the words. One day when I was 3 I was at my now sister-in-law’s house. Wendy and Tina’s house. My sister was watching me at 21, and pregnant with my oldest nephew. She was just living her life from what I can understand. I was living mine. Wendy and Tina watched me walk around the concrete backyard. I imagine the scene as such. A little me walking around, a little me in my overalls. The small patch of concrete served as the backyard. A small patio set is covered in case it rains. The three adults are standing together, supervising me from 5 feet away. “You know, Michelle, your brother is different,” Wendy likely said, broaching the silence. Wendy is and was a tall, tan Puerto Rican woman. Her brother and she share the same nose, ever so slightly hooked. Her almond eyes squint slightly behind round glasses. Big lips pursed to one side in concern. Hair big, wavy, and black. Arms crossed over her chest, slightly uncomfortable to bring this up. “How so?” Michelle turns, her natural blond hair still blond and not red like it is today. She has the same face as my mother—slightly round with gentle eyes behind similarly round glasses. Her hair is in a pony tail. She’s not going all out because of pregnancy. She holds her hands on her belly. “Well, he’s gonna have some different stuff to deal with than the rest…” Tina is the shortest one of the three. Her nose is narrower and her chin more pointed. She’s a well-meaning lesbian. “How. So.” My sister repeats with less curiosity and more solidity in curiosity. A ‘get to the point’ tone punctuating her statement. “He’s you know… different. I think he’s gonna be a little… different. You know.” Wendy is tall but not straight forward. While she may look pretty tough, she’s gentle. “He’s gonna be gay.” Tina was not so much so. The scene comes to a close there as I imagine my sister becoming increasingly defensive and uncomfortable.



I came to view Wendy and Tina as unspokenly untrustworthy through childhood. As an adult, I stitched the pieces together from oral narratives given to me by my mom, my dad, Tina and Wendy, and my sister. I’ve always wanted to get down to the truth. The truth here is in the schema of things. In cognitive psychology, we humans have schema in our immaterial minds. I like to imagine these as snowglobes. As we grow from childhood, we may be taught that an animal with four legs, fur, and a tail is called a dog. However, when we call another animal with four legs, fur, and a tail a dog, and someone responds, “No, sweetie. That’s a cat. CUh-AH-T” the schema (or mental snowglobe) splits into two separate snowglobes. We learn to discriminate between two different types of animals with four legs, fur, and a tail because “Dogs go woof-woof and cats go meow!” So what happens when two schema crash into each other? Just what you’d think—they shatter. According to research that I have to pull from the depths of my Google Drive, parents born in the so-called “baby boomer” generation have had years of propaganda telling them “GAYS ARE PEDOPHILES! SEX PERVERTS! DERANGED MANIACS! AMORAL SOCIOPATHS WHO CARE ABOUT NOTHING FOR SOCIETY!” I can’t say that I identify with any of that, though, simply because I don’t. However, it explains why boys would come up to me in 5th grade and ask if I raped little boys. Even to strangers, my gayness was something that could be seen from space— much like the Great Wall of China or the Staten Island dump in the late 1990s. But the violent collision of snowglobe schemas—of an innocent child you have created from your own flesh and blood and this rank perversion that is the propagated vision of homosexuality—leads to a lot of tears, shock, and sometimes real damage. I think about this now, as an openly gay teacher. Sometimes, I’m my students’ first queer person. Sometimes, I cause these collisions which leads to some shocked gasps and some “What?!”s from the back of the room, as I calmly smile and clarify that “Yup, I’m gay.” This is always horrifying. It will never be easy; it will only feel less difficult. I think of the little boy in the dress that I was when I saw RuPaul on TV later that night with my mom. I look out into the faces of my students and see little boys in dresses, little girls in the bodies of little boys, butch lesbians, and others that I don’t even know of. Sometimes I see myself through their eyes and I stop and say, “Damn, that’s me.” Because, I might be the first gay person that they know other than themselves. During one of my classes, two of my little gaybies were talking. They’re not terribly little, since they’re both sixteen, but they’re my godson’s age, so I can’t separate the schema there.



Eli and Shawn, (both black, gay boys) were talking about some kids in school. I wanted them to be on task, so I walked over. Proximity can be everything in teaching. “What’s going on?” “Nothin’, we’re just talking,” Eli responded. He was dark skinned, with a squishy round face and short cropped hair. He regularly tells me he loves me for being me. “I know. But not about the work.” “We’re almost done,” Shawn said. He was a lighter skinned black boy with a sharper jaw and nose than Eli. His hair was done in twists with a yellow bandana on his forehead. He thinks I’m not cool enough, most of the time. As I walk away I overhear, “Well yeah, everybody’s gay now.” “Well yeah, when you have a gay-ass teacher, everybody gon’ be gay.” “Boys!” I snapped. I had to say something to stop myself from bursting out laughing in the middle of teaching. This is why I elected to reform a GayStraight Alliance in the high school. No one shows up, but everyone knows my name now and everyone knows we have the club. After I took it over from Ms. Danielle, more students come to talk to me. It’s March and it’s cold. I’m walking from the car to the school when I hear Kai calling me, “Good morning, Mr. J!” This is a first in our student-teacher relationship. I’ve always seen Kai reading books on spirituality and faith. His skinny, bespectacled face was usually buried in a book. He wore durags and Timberlands. He was quiet, but he looked tough. “Good morning.” I didn’t expect our relationship to change so suddenly. “So, I’ve been seeing this guy for a few weeks now and my grandparents don’t like gay people and I don’t know if I’m gay, but I really like him, and I don’t know what to do. Do I tell them?” I felt my heart stumble as I kept walking with my eyes forward focused on the school and the path in front of me. I had known this time would come. I had known I would meet a down low or 'DL' student, but I didn’t anticipate it at 7:45 in the morning before I had even tasted the coffee I made at home. Then again, this is teaching, so what did I really expect other than this? “Wow, that’s a lot of information to put out there first thing in the morning.” Honesty, while not always perfectly appropriate, was the only thing I could muster at that moment. “



I need a moment to digest all of this information because you’re in a really tricky spot as a high schooler.” He nodded in agreement as we continued walking forward, side-by-side, in quiet reflection. What do I say? What do I say? What do I wanna say? I wanna say, “Just come out. Fuck everyone. Live your life,” but it’s not that simple. Sometimes, it’s more complex to be a little black boy in a dress than it is a little white boy in a dress, and this felt like one of those times. I knew he was Carribean. I knew he was living with his grandparents. Both of these things indicated that they had worse schema regarding gay people because of the high religiosity in the households of people of color. So what did I say? We entered the school building and I pulled him to the side of the hallway. “I’m not going to say what you wanna hear. You have to play it safe with your grandparents. Since you’re not financially independent, coming out can be much harder and much more complicated because you depend on them." This sucks. “In a perfect world, you could come out safely and no one would look at you differently. Fortunately, things are better than when I came out in middle school, like 14 years ago. We have marriage equality, so people are more likely to be accepting, but you have to judge for yourself. "Ask yourself how your grandparents will most likely react. Does this help at all?”He stood there looking at me blankly. DL guys are hard to read, but he seemed to feel better. “It’s a lot to think about, but I’m glad I talked to you. I’ll see you in first period.” I stood there for a moment before I ran to the main office to sign in. I walked up to my classroom and immediately started to do some Googling. When Kai came in, I handed him a small note that I had folded in half. He opened it to reveal a list with phone numbers and addresses. “I know you’re interested in spirituality and these are some churches in the area where you can go to worship with gay-accepting folks,” and then I added, “Just in case you’re having any crisis of faith or whatnot.” He nodded and put the list in his wallet. So what of the little boy in the dress? Well, he’s still here. He’s worn dresses as a big boy though. Halloween is usually a little bit of a drag for me.


'Winter' Written by Kenneth James Crist My world is dead. No light, no heat, no sound, no passion. I am a prisoner of my own desire, each day walking the exercise yard of my need and sorrow, hearing the creak of frozen branches and the groan of loneliness. Time drags and the seasons will change, the world will turn. I am lost, but hopefully not forever. I long to hear your voice, to read something you wrote. I wait in the cold. Only time will tell.

'STOOD UP' by Ann Marie rhiel

Illustration by alexandra lobo

Must-Have Songs For Your Creep - TLC The Killing Moon - Echo and the Bunnymen My Body’s A Zombie For You - Dead Man’s Bones Zombie - The Cranberries Living Dead Girl - Rob Zombie Out Alive - Kesha Dead! - My Chemical Romance Ghost Girl - Télépopmusik Halloween All Year - The Orwells Lights Out - Santigold One Way Or Another - Blondie I Was A Teenage Werewolf - The Cramps Witches’ Rave - Jeff Buckley The Monster - Eminem, Rihanna Thriller - Michael Jackson Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) - David Bowie Heads Will Roll - Yeah Yeah Yeahs Haunted - Beyonce Spiderwebs - No Doubt Psycho Killer - Talking Heads Witchy Woman - The Hollies Don’t Fear The Reaper - Blue Öyster Cult Mr. Sandman - The Chordettes Creature - Tijuana Panthers Ghost Town - The Specials Creep - Radiohead Tear You Apart - She Wants Revenge Under The Milky Way - The Church Gods & Monsters - Lana Del Rey

'Music Lover' Written by Elizabeth O'Connell-Thompson

You want a girl that's short and stubby, you want a girl that’s long and tall, you want a mean mama, you want a good gal, and you won't get any of that from me. No, I won't fit just like your guitar, but I'll hug you like a drum skin, so you can always feel if you're what gets my heart to beat.

'Detox Unit' Written by Robert Henhaffer I work just beyond the shore line where nurses patrol the sand and pull the half floating bodies out of water. It’s a terrible thing to believe
the world flat and want to sail to its end. They wash up
 on our island spared from finding the corners of the earth but heartbroken by the indifferent curve. Starved, they sip rain water and devour fish. I see them looking into its silvery blue flesh, dreaming of the oar’s final push that would launch them over the edge. We show them globes; spinning blue and green with familiar words bent softly in circles.
No corners. Some find home and reluctantly put their finger on it. “Oh,” they tell me facing the low Western sun, tears collecting on their concave cheeks “flat maps are beautiful things to behold.” “You are a lucky fool. Build a house on land and forget the ocean.” Laughter. Eventually they sail away on
a raft. Sometimes they take a small globe but always keep the old maps. Our island is where two trade winds cross. I work here, keeping my flat maps buried in the sand in a waterproof trunk.




How often do you live in the moment? Reflecting upon the past or worrying about the future, as opposed to enjoying the present, is part of the human condition. But how much does that take away from what's right in front of us? Artist Hao Feng presents 'Moments,' a special brand-experience concept that reminds people to enjoy the present moment. Using illustrations, posters, animations, and sculptures, Feng engages viewers and shows us to find value in our day-to-day lives. Feng's sculptural design, 'Now O'clock' offers viewers a special experience. Contrary to the standard clock, the wood sculpture—with no numbers and no ticking—abandons measurements of time."The second hand oscillates like a metronome and invites the viewers to confront themselves in the present moment," Feng explains. In coherence with the theme of 'Moments,' Feng also produces visuals representative of significant moments in people's lives. "I want to give viewers delight in an interactive way, like having them imagine a cloud on the floor for them where they can lie down and take a nap. Or by asking them about their 'special moments',” says Feng. She then creates art where these moments are gathered and shared. As part of 'Moments,' Feng also features her 'Look Up' Project. Feng states: "Our generation is obsessed with selfies and they have narcissistic tendencies. People of all ages feel the need to document every waking moment of their lives in photos." To provide contrast to Instagram feeds flooded with selfies, Feng flips her phone camera the opposite way, experiencing life for what it is, and photographing what's around her. "These selfies are anti-selfie. I do not show myself but instead my point of view," she says. "What I display is an attitude, to 'look up' rather than to look at me. Because I travel extensively, taking photos of what I am looking up to and what I am feeling at that moment becomes my selfie." Feng uploads at least three photos with the hashtag '#haolookup' on her Instagram @haofenghhhhhh every day, then creates joyous animations according to her imagination.

'Now o'clock' by hao feng

'anna's moment' by hao feng

'look up' by hao feng

'look up' by hao feng

'Past Regrets' Written by Alexandra Antonucci They say hindsight is 20/20 I can't help but look back and laugh At myself for ignoring the red flags How dare you lead me to believe That I had to burn myself alive In order to keep you from freezing

Photo by Ann Marie rhiel





WRITTEN BY ANONYMOUS When I was a child, I never found myself fantasizing about becoming an alcoholic. If I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I spewed generic answers like firefighter or veterinarian, depending on the crowd. I wanted to spend the spare moments of my adult years writing poetry and playing music and laughing with good people‌ Strangely enough, abusing substances never made it onto that list. No one ever grows up with the intention of walking down a dark and dreary path that offers so few exits before reaching an abrupt end. No child wants to be a junkie or a drunk. When they see friends around them trying new things and seemingly getting away with it, curiosity gets the better of them. Even after the first occasions, it is near impossible to know what lies ahead.

With my addiction, there constantly existed this idea that I could outsmart whatever demon I was dancing with. It took time before I realized I couldn’t, but for all too many people, time runs out first. I was one of the lucky ones. I heard legends from my siblings about what my parents and other family members were like in active addiction well before I

was born. I grew up with sober parents and the horror stories kept me away from any drink or drug for the early portion of my life. I always said it would not be me, never that story. I was destined for greater things and I was determined to achieve them. Sure enough, I had my first drink, right on the cusp of the emotional turmoil that would later



be titled “My Teenage Years.” Everyone around me was drinking and there was no glimpse of horror. No one had been arrested or beaten or even passed out. The way my esophagus burned and my face felt warm, a sort of warmth that spread into my body and loosened my limbs and soothed my brain. I was in love. My relationship with alcohol and other drugs spanned the course of more years than I cared for. First, we encountered the honeymoon phase— naïve puppy love and warm nights. I introduced my beloved to many of my friends and we all got along just fine. Other substances came and went, but none like my first love. By a year and a half, we spent every night together and had a blast

if everything went as planned. Three years in and things got toxic. I wanted it even if it made me sick; as a matter of fact, I liked when it beat the shit out of me. I began looking for love elsewhere; in the bottom of baggies or pill bottles. The ensuing years became a blur of bad decisions I never thought I would make, decisions propelled by a fear of leaving behind the only coping skills I knew and facing the void on my own. The best way I can describe this void is as a beautiful home. Upon a plentiful plot of land, the home rests among sculpted flowerbeds and pristine landscaping. It is visually appealing and clearly tended to. Inside the home there are countless rooms, each meticulously decorated

in a carefully chosen theme and with corresponding furniture. However, there exists in this home one empty room. You, as the homeowner, can’t decide what this room should be and have left it as is until inspiration strikes and your wallet is full again. Nonetheless, it keeps you up at nights. You do not think of these other comfortable rooms to ease your troubled mind, but rather you are encompassed by the emptiness of this one last room. After so many nights of feeling the emptiness of the room creep into your brain, something snaps within you. You leap out of your warm bed, take a single piece of furniture from one of your established rooms, and place it strategically in the empty room.



Satiated, you return to your bedroom and rest easy, knowing that the room makes a little more sense now. You forget that the furniture removed will not be replaced, but have decided that the room can still function as it should. Just a few nights later, though, the near empty room haunts you again. You repeat the procedure for a second time, this time removing furniture from a different room so as not to tip the scale of appearance. Unfortunately, this process repeats itself— more frequently and more chaotically than the time prior—until the empty room is now filled to the brim with mismatched and misplaced furniture, piled up in the messiest of fashions. The other rooms of the house,

which were once so dashing and functional, have little to nothing to offer. Some are just as barren as the “empty” room once was. You even began pulling shrubs and floral arrangements from your surrounding land and tossed them in with the hope that you could sleep soundly. That never became the case for you, because you could not find peace with your empty room.



For me, the other rooms were a stable job, academic success, fulfilling relationships, a clean record, spirituality, passionate hobbies and the like. I gave up these things bit by bit with the hope of filling my own void. Rather than accept the mostly functional home with the empty room and return to it nightly, I spent my nights driving further and further away. I drove deeper into anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and sleepless nights. I arrived at abusive relationships and trouble with the law, while drunk driving and popping pills through the thick of it. I can assure you, it was never the home that I wanted. I didn’t want to make my peace and accept my reality. Eventually, propelled by

the haze of self-hatred and impending doom, I bulldozed the entire property. Luckily for me, I have since spent my days rebuilding. As a child, I did not want to become an alcoholic. I didn’t want to go through the struggle of planning for and building an entire home. I wanted to be satisfied with the house that was built by my ancestors, passed down through generations and given to me in exchange for a lifetime of tainted blood. I wanted to ignore the void of the empty room using the same methods as those before me. As an adult, I’ve come to understand that more often than not, what I want and what I need are on two opposite ends of the spectrum. While I can fantasize about what I want,

I rarely know what I need. I needed this struggle. Had I not gone through the dark tunnel and come out the other side, I would not know what light is. I would not be half the person I am today. After all, I am destined for greater things. With the help of a clear mind and good people, I am destined to achieve them.

This piece was second in a written series about addiction. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction of any kind, Megazine is always available to talk with you confidentially.

art by brandon moon



“It’s not the charges, officer, I just can’t stop.” He stood silent and awkward the academy does train for that. Even after I finally got clean I sat with red and blue lights flashing in my car. An officer and his flashlight inspect and question all of me all at once. I’m reduced to the lying worm again; who can’t get high and dig down in my dirt to hide. My soft frail skin open and burdened by the weight of the fisherman’s hook “You lied about your last arrest. What else are you lying about?” He spoke as if he was casting me out to black water. “I’m ashamed and Just want to go home.” I dangled from his line punctured. A polished badge hair trimmed high and tight, hero’s posture, and the phallic 9 millimeter ever present, he watches the squirm.

Illustration by alexandra lobo

art by brandon moon



WHERE STARS GO TO DIE Written by Meghan Ianiro When most people think

my discovery of that "darkness" I

“Hollywood” the first thing that

was looking for? ...Probably not,

probably comes to mind is

but we can pretend.

“Hollywood glam”—celebrities, mansions, fame, and fortune. My

Side note: I’m probably going to be

fascination with it, however, began

saying “Hollywood” more times than

with “Hollywood grit”—rock n roll,

I have in my entire life combined in

broken dreams, and, of course, its

this article. If you get bored—or are

many haunts.

just extremely observant—you can count the number of times I say it

For every yin, there is a yang. For

and send me your total. Deal?

every light, there is darkness. When I visited Los Angeles this past July, I

Okay, back to the hotel…

was completely in search of the “yin.” And what better way to begin

I instantly snapped about 30

that search than to stay at one of

photos before my family and I even

the most haunted hotels in the

parked the car in the lot... I’ve seen


the iconic Hollywood Roosevelt sign in just about every paranormal

I’d arrived at the Hollywood

documentary TV show I’d ever

Roosevelt, just as the sun was

watched, and now, I was seeing it

about to set on Hollywood

in person!

Boulevard. Was it metaphorical of

photo by meghan ianiro



The Hollywood Roosevelt opened

ghosts, and phone calls to the

its doors in 1927 and has had many

hotel operator with no one on the

notable residents pass through its

other end (just to name a few). The

doors, including: Charlie Chaplin,

hotel's 1984 renovation is said to

Clark Gable, Ernest Hemingway,

have caused this spike in

Prince, Angelina Jolie, F. Scott

paranormal activity...

Fitzgerald, and a countless number of other classic and modern

The bellhops kindly took our bags


and escorted us to the lavish lobby. A large, dimly lit chandelier

Many events have taken place at

hovered above us. I, not having too

the Hollywood Roosevelt, as well.

much luxury hotel experience, had

The first two Academy Award

to admit that I was feeling a bit of

banquets took place in the hotel's

that “Hollywood glam” for a

ballroom. Shirley Temple also

moment. My excitement and

learned her well-known stair dance

apprehension were beginning to

routine on the hotel staircase, and

grow, and I hoped that I wouldn’t

Marilyn Monroe's first commercial

regret walking through the doors

photoshoot took place poolside at


the Roosevelt. We walked up to the front desk to In fact, Marilyn Monroe lived at the

check in. The receptionist greeted

Roosevelt for two years at the start

us with the usual friendly front desk

of her career. She stayed in Suite

small talk: “Where are you visiting

1200, now known as 'The Marilyn

from?,” “Is this your first time

Suite' where Monroe's ghost has

here?,” and “Yes, actually, many of

said to be spotted in the full-length

the staff members have had

mirror located in the room. The

paranormal experiences at the

mirror has since been moved to the


lobby. It could have been because Other paranormal reports have

someone packed their bags and

included orbs, cold spots,

dashed after seeing an apparition

disembodied child laughter,

or because the hotel staff was

staircase apparitions, televisions

simply being courteous, but as the

turning on by themselves, headless

kind receptionist was checking us



in, she informed us that we would

and using my go-to dramatic

be receiving a room upgrade, and

humor to mask the fact that I was

handed us our room key.

(excited, but) terrified.

'ROOM 924'

My apprehension meter had just about reached its limit as we rode

I audibly gasped and mumbled

the elevator up to the 9th Floor.

“Floor 9...” to myself.

The music on the elevator wasn’t making it any better, either. It

“I’m guessing you know all that

wasn’t your typical elevator music—

history surrounding the 9th floor,”

it sounded dismal, and almost

she commented, letting out a soft

warped in a way. I could barely


make out what kind of music it was, and I still couldn’t explain it if I

The 9th floor of the Hollywood

tried. I just know that it was

Roosevelt is one of the more active

incredibly unsettling and

areas of the hotel when it comes to

otherworldly, and it stuck with

hauntings. Actor Montgomery Clift

me. We eventually exited the

stayed in Room 928 for 3 months

elevator, and I dashed as quickly to

while filming From Here To Eternity,

the room as I could while dragging

for which he was an Academy

my packed-to-the-brim suitcase.

Award nominee. He reportedly haunts his old room, and the

Talk about room upgrade! We were

hallway of the 9th floor. Many have

given an entire suite with a living

said that they can see his

room area, two queen-sized beds,

apparition, feel a cold sensation

two bathrooms, two TVs, and a

brush past them, or hear Clift

gorgeous view of the Los Angeles

practicing his trumpet or

skyline. The Roosevelt must have

rehearsing his lines. The actor was

had a soft spot for this freaky

quite handsome in his day, so as

Jersey girl. Either that, or they’ve

far as I was concerned, seeing his

seen Jersey Shore and wanted to

apparition would not have been all

terminate my life immediately. I

that bad...

was completely fine with either reason—the suite was beautiful…

“Yes, I do know the history!” I said

Too beautiful… I had to have been

to the receptionist, making a face

getting eaten by a ghost soon...

photo by meghan ianiro

photo by meghan ianiro



Right off the bat, as soon as I went

forever! How have you been?!” text

into the bathroom to check my

messages—anything that would

makeup (that California heat is no

make me feel less alone! Morning

joke), the bathroom lights turned on

would eventually come, and

—by themselves! Some would

nothing would seem eerie to me...

consider that a “Welcome!” from

That was, until two days later…

the Hollywood spirits but I had the complete opposite reaction,

I’d become accustomed to the

rushing out of the bathroom with a

hotel and the room we were

loud “NOPE!”

staying in, so my fear came to pass. Just as any other introvert,

I ran a few tests with the bathroom

being around people 24 hours a

lights, but they never turned on by

day for 4 days at this point was

themselves again after that. After

beginning to drain my energy, and I

all my research, I’m still not sure if

needed some alone time to

the lights at the Roosevelt are

recharge (regardless of the fact

motion sensored in any way or not.

that I was on a haunted floor of a

...And part of me is glad that I

haunted hotel). I decided to stay in

don’t know.

the room while everyone else went to the pool. Once lying in bed and

My first night “sleeping” in the hotel

scrolling through Facebook and

didn’t consist of sleeping as much

Instagram became boring, I

as it did of me hiding under my

decided it was time to join

blanket and doing everything in my

everyone else. I was on vacation,

power to not expose myself to

after all...

seeing, or being touched by, any spirits. I was hot and nearly

I walked into the bathroom and

suffocating, but I knew for sure that

started getting ready to head out.

if I surfaced myself, I would be

In the middle of this process, I

presented with a headless ghost

heard shuffling in the living room

standing over me. I was text

area: the magazines on the table

messaging anyone and everyone

being put back down, my suitcase

back home who would be awake at

being moved around, and the

the odd hours of 3AM PST (6AM on

sound of zippers. I figured my

the east coast) with those random

mother had come up to

“I miss you! We haven’t talked in

get something, but her suitcase



was by her bed. I told myself that

either... This man was wearing a

maybe it was one of the hotel

white tux, with white shoes and a

maids, completely ignoring the fact

white top hat. Living in the New

that I never heard the door open or

York City area, I’m used to

close. The noise stopped after a

eccentric styles, so my

very brief period, and I immediately

astonishment wore off rather

walked out to see who was there.

quickly. Practicing my “elevator

There was no trace of anyone, but I

etiquette,” I asked him if he was

did notice that my suitcase went

going up or down. He reacted

from a standing position to a flat

strangely, with a simple nod and

position. Strangely, while I was

smile. I politely smiled back, and

unsettled, I didn't feel much fear. It

pressed the button to bring us

was daytime and the sun was

down to the lobby. We exited; he

brightly shining through the huge

did not.

windows, so there wasn’t a very ominous feeling. As long as any

I didn’t think much of the situation,

ghosts didn’t steal my Kat Von D

because I assumed that the man

contour palette, everything was

must have been an employee at

cool. It didn’t surprise me, though,

one of the bars or restaurants at

that when I later asked my mother

the Roosevelt, and that the white

if she came back up to the room,

ensemble was his work uniform.

her response was a confused “no.”

While writing this article, I Google searched “Hollywood Roosevelt

Writing about my final encounter,

white tux” to see if my theory was

later that night, is giving me

correct, and that a white tux was,

goosebumps. My mother and I were

in fact, some sort of uniform at the

headed to the Hard Rock Cafe for

Roosevelt. If it was, I wasn’t going

dinner, so we entered the elevator

to write about my encounter at all…

on our floor to head down to the lobby. There was only one other

My search disproved my theory—

person on the elevator: a man who

hard... Not only is a white tux not

caught my eye immediately,

any type of uniform at the

because he was dressed in bright

Hollywood Roosevelt, a man in a

white clothing from head to toe,

white tux is one of the hotel’s

and not just regular white clothing,

reported ghostly sightings.

photo by meghan ianiro



Reading this, my blood went cold

During my time in Los Angeles, one

and I shouted “OH, MY GOD.”

of my must-see stops before

about a dozen times.

leaving was The Museum of Death.

Could this have just been a man

The Museum of Death is located on

wanting to get dressed up for the

Hollywood Boulevard and was

day? Very likely. Could this have

founded by J.D. Healy and

been a ghost from Old Hollywood,

Catherine Shultz. The museum is an

still roaming the place that once

approximately 45-minute self-

gave him the best days of his life?

guided tour of all things dead,

Also very likely.

creepy, and disgusting—not quite the traditional fine art museum

Before visiting the Hollywood

we’re all used to seeing, but better!

Roosevelt, I had barely any experiences that could even be

We were immediately greeted by a

confused with ghostly encounters. I

beautiful skull painting outside of

left the hotel with three. And while

the building and a sign reading

my experiences at the Roosevelt

“Museum of Death: Where Stars Go

(especially the one on the elevator)

To Die,” then a red-eyed gargoyle

were unsettling, I’m glad that they

fountain with a red LED sign above

happened. I mean, what was I


expecting when I decided to visit a

in the front entrance. The scene

hotel, famously known to be

was set from the beginning! The

haunted? Additionally, I felt no

staff was very warm and

negative or malicious vibe in the

welcoming (a complete contrast to

Roosevelt at all. Whatever spirits

the museum’s content itself). No

may be lurking that hotel are good

photography was allowed inside

spirits in my book—well-dressed

the museum, which you should

ones, at that!

probably be thankful for—this place was gore central! Everything in the

If I was a Hollywood star, I wouldn’t

museum had paragraph-or-so

want to pass on, either. So thanks

descriptions next to it, immersing

for letting me visit, Hollywood

you and making you cringe even

Roosevelt... And for not stealing my

more. As a lover of slasher films

Kat Von D contour palette.

and all things bloody disgusting, I had the time of my life (or death?).

photo by meghan ianiro

photo by meghan ianiro



After the gentleman working the

get to see a severed head from the

front desk gave us a few


guidelines, we entered through a curtain and were immediately

We passed through a surprising

presented with a room covered

variety of crime scene photos and

inch-to-inch with clown art,

memorabilia. Among the most

letters, and glass-encased objects,

cringeworthy was a set of photos

among other displays. I realized

depicting a woman donning a

quickly that most of the room was

sweet, joyous smile. It seems

content relating to John Wayne

normal until you realize that she’s

Gacy—you know—that “Killer

holding a saw and kneeling beside

Clown” who murdered dozens of

the corpse of her dead and

teenage boys in the ‘70s and makes

mutilated former lover whom she

Pennywise the Clown look like a

murdered. The photos were taken

saint? My mother let out a subtle

by her new lover who then joins the

“Ugh!,” and I had to admit, I was

woman in posing naked next to the

feeling the same way. Our

corpse—not your typical couples

stomachs were turning within

photoshoot, now is it?

seconds—exactly what I had come for!

Another highlight was a small section dedicated to cults. Among

Each room in the museum is

them, the Jonestown Massacre. The

dedicated to a specific subject. Up

cult began as The Peoples Temple

next was an execution-style room

in the US, and eventually migrated

with various death and torture

to a reclused settlement in

devices. What stuck with me the

Jonestown, Guyana. What followers

most was the electric chair display

thought would be a utopia became

and next to it, the shirt of a man

an controlled environment from

who received execution by electric

which people could not leave. In

chair, stained with...bodily juices of

1978, once the US government was

some kind…? Now it was my turn to

informed that their people were in

let out an “Ugh!,” only not as

danger, cult leader Jim Jones

subtle... Another highlight was the

convinced his followers that they

head of French serial killer Henri

were "under attack," and must

Landru who was guillotined for his

commit the “revolutionary act” of

crimes. It’s not every day that you

suicide. This resulted in over 900



people knowingly (except for the

name was Marshall Applewhite)...

babies and children who were

And if you wanted extra

forced) consuming a grape Kool-

goosebumps, their website is still

Aid substitute poisoned with the


likes of cyanide and Valium, making it the the largest mass suicide in

Among the rooms is a “post-death”

modern history. This is where the

room, if you will, filled with displays

well-known phrase “Don’t drink the

of death rituals all over the world.

Kool-Aid,” (essentially “Don’t be a

There’s even a miniature coffin on

follower.”) originated from. Nearby

display used for infant burials. The

was a way-too-accurate replica of

goriest display of all, though, is a

the 1997 Heaven’s Gate mass

television screen showing a video

suicide, complete with one of

of a mortician’s procedure when

actual bunkbeds found at the

preparing a corpse for burial. I

scene, a dummy wearing the exact

think I may have lasted about 30

uniform and purple cloth that every

seconds—my turnaway point being

member was wearing at the time of

when the corpse’s face was literally

their death, and the actual cult

peeled back. This wasn’t too much

recruitment video playing on a

of an escape, however—all around

television near the bed. I was

me were various tools used in

fixated on it for quite a while, so

morgues and autopsies. Let’s just

I’m thankful that I wasn’t

hope we can’t feel any pain once

brainwashed... The video itself is

we’re dead…

pure nightmare fuel! The 38 members who committed suicide

One will also come across a “serial

were under the impression that if

killer central” of sorts, featuring the

they could leave their “bodily

Charles Manson murders. You can

containers,” their souls would be

see art made by Manson (it’s

able to board a supposed alien

noteworthy and puzzling that so

spacecraft that was trailing the

many serial killers made such

Hale-Bopp Comet. This group also

beautiful art), archival footage, a

consumed a poisonous fruit

photo of the crime scene at the

concoction, only instead of Kool-

home of Sharon Tate (one of the

Aid, they ate poisoned applesauce

images still burned into my head),

and washed it down with vodka

and a quilt—each square made by

(ironic, seeing as their leader’s

a different member of the Manson



family. The quilt is not so sweet and

animals would have been, though...

cuddly, however, seeing as there were swastikas embroidered into

I reached the end of the museum

it… I think I’d rather freeze. Among

to find my mother sitting and

this section is also the Black Dahlia

waiting, looking like she’d died and

murder, with original newspaper

come back to life herself—it was

clippings and the disturbing photo

very apparent that we was

of the deceased Elizabeth Short,

disturbed, nauseated, and would

featuring her body cut in half at

be telling me how much she hated

the torso, and the corpse’s

me for the rest of the day. I know

signature “Glasgow smile” (or gash

she’d only gone there because I

from her mouth to her ears, but

wanted to, and wouldn’t be

“smile” seems to sound more

surprised if she was waiting at the

pleasant). Somehow, even heavily

end the entire time. I still laugh at

mutilated, Elizabeth Short's corpse

the thought of her expression.

still looked more glamorous than I

Believe it or not, I only skimmed the

could ever hope to appear...

surface of what the Museum of

Another highlight featured the OJ

Death has in store… If you want to

Simpson trial and the infamous

be buried six feet under in all

“murder glove.”

things deadly, enter at your own risk!

Closer to the end is a taxidermy room, “stuffed” (ha) with many

After talking to my mother briefly, I

different taxidermied animals. It’s a

realized this final room was set up

tiny room, so you’re literally

exactly like a funeral parlor, with a

surrounded by dead animals staring

coffin in front and chairs set up in

at you with their wide eyes in what

a funeral fashion. There was also a

looked like the Grim Reaper's trip

big screen set up, playing the film

to the zoo. I actually forgot they

Traces of Death, and a massive

were dead for a second, and some

taxidermied pig, once the live pet

of them were so cute that I wanted

of the museum’s owners. I could not

to take them home with me. I

think of a cheekier way to end the

mean, I wouldn’t have to worry

deadly journey I had just finished.

about feeding them or taking them on walks… I’m not too sure what

Well played, Museum of Death! Well

airport security’s policy on dead




Later that day, we went to visit the

the location in his car. Watson

location where the most notorious

ordered Parent to halt, drawing a

Manson murders took place.

gun at him. Parent pleaded for his

Visiting a former murder scene like

life, claiming he wouldn’t say

it’s a national landmark may not

anything if he was let free. Watson

have been the “right” thing to do,

slashed Parent’s palm with a knife,

but I’d just spent my entire

severing his tendons and tearing

afternoon looking at dead things,

the watch from his wrist. He then

so the line between right and

shot Parent to death in the chest

wrong was very fine at this point…

& abdomen. Afterwards, the four killers broke into the home through

It was August 8, 1969 when four

a window, waking up Tate’s friend,

members of the Manson family—Tex

Wojciech Frykowski. Watson kicked

Watson, Susan Atkins, Linda

Frykowski in the head and when

Kasabian, and Patricia Krenwinkel—

Frykowski asked him who he was,

were ordered by cult leader

Watson responded, “I’m the devil,

Charles Manson to enter the home

and I’m here to do the devil’s

at 10050 Cielo Drive and to “totally

business.” The women forced the

destroy everyone in it as gruesome

house’s three other occupants at

as they could.” Living in the home

the time—Frykowski’s lover (and

at the time were married celebrity

heiress to the Folger coffee

couple, director Roman Polanski

fortune) Abigal Folger, Sharon

and actress Sharon Tate. Polanski

Tate, and Tate’s friend/former lover

was working on a film in Europe at

Jay Sebring—into the living room.

the time of the murders, but four

Watson tied together the necks of

friends were visiting Tate at home

Tate and Sebring, slinging the rope

that night. Shortly after midnight,

over one of the ceiling beams.

Watson climbed up the residence’s

When Sebring began to protest the

telephone pole, cutting the phone

rough treatment of Tate, who was

line and terminating all telephone

8-and-a-half months pregnant at

access. The gang parked their car

the time (making the story all the

down the hill, trekked back up, and

more gruesome), Watson shot him,

broke into the property. At that

then stabbed him 7 times.

time, 18-year-old Steven Parent,

Frykowski freed himself from the

who had been visiting the

towel his hands were bound with,

property’s caretaker, was leaving

then made his way onto the porch.



Watson caught up with him, striking

awful… For some reason, though,

him over the head with his gun

it’s the human condition to be

multiple times, stabbing him

fascinated with serial killers and

repeatedly, and shooting him

why they do the things they do.

twice. Frykowski was struck so hard that Watson broke the right grip of

We found the address online and

his gun in the process. Folger also

asked Siri (the iPhone bot who

made an escape, but was caught

somehow knows everything) for

by Krenwinkle, who stabbed and

directions. Upon reaching an

tackled her. Watson then grabbed

estate blocked entirely by a gate,

her as the killers stabbed her a

Siri informed us that we had

total of 28 times. At this time,

reached our destination. It

Frykowski was hanging on for life

surprised me how close it was to

and making his way across the

the center of Hollywood. To think

lawn. Watson finally murdered him,

that there could have been people

stabbing him 51 times. Inside the

partying in Hollywood just minutes

house, the pregnant Tate pleaded

away at the exact time this family

to live long enough to have her

was being massacred is chilling to

baby, even offering herself as a

think about.

hostage in hopes that her baby would have a chance to live. Her

I noticed that the address on the

pleas were to no avail, and she

house was not the number we

was stabbed to death 16 times.

entered, but rather 10066 Cielo

According to Watson, as Tate was

Drive. The address situation on the

being killed, she cried: “Mother…

entire street was odd and

Mother…”. The killers were ordered

confusing. “That’s weird,” I said.

by Manson to “leave a sign” at the

“Maybe we should keep going

site of the murders. Using the towel

down the block and see if we run

they had used to bound Frykowski,

into it?”

Atkins wrote “PIG” on the front door of the home with Tate’s blood.

We drove around for minutes, even entering the address into the GPS

I’ll admit that I didn’t know too

again. Once again, it brought us to

many of the gruesome details until

the location it originally brought us

doing research for this particular

to. We noticed a vacant, fenced

piece, and it now I feel pretty

off area next to the house.

photo by meghan ianiro



Was that the actual location?

Los Angeles is an incredibly beautiful city and believe me, the

A quick internet search confirmed

“Hollywood glam” is alive and well.

that 10066 Cielo Drive was, in fact,

But knowing some of the spooky

the location where the murders

history that lies in the Hollywood

took place. Trent Reznor of Nine

Hills and surrounding myself with it

Inch Nails was actually the last

gave me goosebumps on a 100

person to live in the original home.

degree day, and I had to listen to

He began renting the house in 1992

cheesy show tunes every night to

and set up a recording studio there

put myself to sleep. I got exactly

that he named ‘Pig’ (in reference to

what I wanted, and I do hope

the bloody message left by the

whatever souls still lurking amongst

Manson family). Much of NIN’s 1994

the stars find whatever it is that

album The Downward Spiral was

they’re looking for.

recorded in this studio. I hope they weren't looking for me, Upon meeting and having an eye-

because I sure felt like I was being

opening conversation with Tate’s

watched the entire time...

sister, he realized that the history was simply too heavy for him to

I think finally realized what The

handle, and ended up selling the

Weeknd meant when he said “The


Hills Have Eyes."

In 1994, the building was demolished, rebuilt to look entirely different, and the property’s address was officially changed from 10050 Cielo Drive to 10066 Cielo Drive.

The current owner of the property as of 2013 is producer Jeff Franklin (yes, that dude who created Full House)...

photo by meghan ianiro

Illustration by alexandra lobo

'Wrong River' Written by Elizabeth O'Connell-Thompson

We’re on the bridge again and I’m telling you that there’s no way I’ll take another step. You don’t call me a fool or threaten to call my mama— at least, I don’t think you do. I don’t remember, and only know what you tell me, stroking my head the next day while I try to remember the difference between acetaminophen and ibuprofen, between our black tights coiled on the floor like snakes, tempting me to go bare-legged and rosy through the day. I am choosing not to find out more about what storms left my mouth, knowing that my eventual drowning is only fate.

Golden shovel with line from Justin Townes Earle’s “Harlem River Blues.”


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