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by Thomas M. Sipos, managing editor.  [May 28, 2006]




[]  The ghost of a Japanese girl may be haunting Planetweavers Treasure Store in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district, and ghostbuster Tommy Netzband is on the case!

As founder of the Haunted Haight Ghost Walking Tour and a long time local resident, Netzband is the world's leading authority on Haight-Ashbury hauntings and is often called in to investigate local spirit activity.

Planetweavers (located on 1573 Haight Street) contacted Netzband after a series of bizarre events inside the store spooked the owner. Netzband's investigations can span months of observation and testing, and the Planetweavers case was still active when, on May 14, 2006, Netzband took the Weekly Universe on a tour of the store and described its ghostly goings-on.

First there are the moving masks. The store displays masks high on a wall, right side up -- yet several times the owner and employees have arrived in the morning to discover that the masks had been turned 180° upside down during the night!

Even more chillingly, the masks have sometimes moved when the owner was still inside the store -- alone in the dead of night!

"Late at night, she'll hear some rumbling and come over -- and the masks are turned upside down," said Netzband to the Universe. "That's happened on several occasions."  Then he added, "A lot of these masks are imported from Indonesia and Africa. They're spiritual masks."

Netzband begins his investigations by dispatching assistants and psychics to the haunted site for a pre-evaluation and independent opinion. Each investigator writes down his or her initial impressions and findings. And each has a favorite method of gathering information.

One of Netzband's psychics uses a feather box, which Netzband describes as "an ancient ghost detection device." Essentially, it's feathers in a box, the purpose of the box being to prevent a breeze from moving the feathers. "If the feathers have moved overnight, it represents spirits in the store."

Planetweavers also has a haunted swing. This swing sways during the day as customers walk past it, creating a breeze -- but that doesn't explain why the swing moves at night!

Said Netzband, "Late at night, when no one's in the store, the owner was in the office doing her billing. Then she came down here [to the swing], and it was swinging this much!"

Netzband demonstrated a wide arc of a swing to the Universe.

"I don't think a breeze will do that much," Netzband explained.

Netzband uses the term "ghost" broadly. He believes most ghosts are a form of ESP or psychokenises, rather than dead people or their shadows. "Ghosts cannot exist except through our minds," he said. "We're the ones manifesting ghosts. It's psychokenises. Mind over matter. That's why it's hard to photograph ghosts unless someone is nearby -- because ghosts use our energy to manifest their sights, smells, and touch."

Netzband says "ghost" because it's a widely understood term. "Most people don't understand the science behind ghosts, or the parapsychology behind ghost hunting," he explained. "To say a 'psychokenises entity of energy' is not as exciting as saying 'ghosts'."

Yet he remains open to the idea that ghosts are dead people's spirits or shadows. "Certainly you have spirits," he said, "but they're not ghosts that necessarily linger.  If your grandmother dies, and that night you see her in your sleep, that's a dead spirit. It's called a visitation in parapsychology, when someone crosses over to say good-bye. Sometimes in a dream state, but sometimes not in a dream state. It happened to my brother-in-law with his own grandfather. That, I can believe, was a dead spirit.

"But ghosts that linger and haunt for centuries, there I lean toward 'no'. There it's a residual energy that's trapped. It's called place memory."

Planetweavers also has a haunted storage room. Netzband said the owner once needed a box that was on the top shelf. "She didn't know where the ladder was, so she left this area and did some business in the front of the store. And when she came back here -- the very box that she needed was on the floor!"

Netzband is considering the possibility that the owner herself may be manifesting at least some of the ghostly energy. "She's had a lot of poltergeist experiences. I had her here last night for a ghost hunt. Now I'm going to have another ghost hunt without her here, and see what happens."

Planetweavers will close at the end of May, the location to be assumed by another store. Netzband is "excited" to see if the hauntings continue once the current owner is gone.

Last night's ghost hunt did yield some bizarre events. "Strange things happened," said Netzband. "Cold spots. I definitely felt the cold spots. Mostly in the front of the store. We also left some 'trigger objects'. A feather box. And several marbles on a paper with an X on it. We said to the ghosts, 'Prove you're here. Move something.' "

When Netzband's team member returned the next morning, "The feathers were on the other side of the box. And one of the marbles had moved."



Netzband routinely investigates a haunted site's history for clues as to why it may be haunted. "This was one of the last nickelodeons in San Francisco," he said of Planetweaver's location. "Then in the 1940s it was the Cherry Blossom Bakery. I've had trouble finding out who the bakery's owners were. It's almost like the records are erased. But I've a theory that it was Japanese owned [because of the bakery's name and the proximity of a Japanese neighborhood], and that maybe the owners were put into internment camps during World War Two."

Ominously, all of Netzband's psychics sensed the same thing. "Every one of them said they felt there was a little girl in this store," he said. "Although the psychics had not really been in this store, they told me they'll see her running in a little narrow passageway. They felt that she plays with the toys in the store."

He then showed the Universe a corridor like that seen by the psychics. "All of them saw it, not knowing each other. It makes me start to believe there's something in this place.

"But I don't know," he added. "I'm not a 100% convinced. I gotta be skeptical. That's the thing about ghost hunting. If you start to believe, if you're not willing to be skeptical, your mind goes crazy."

Could this ghost be the daughter of the bakery owners, a girl traumatized by anti-Japanese hysteria? "I'd love to authenticate that story," said Netzband. "I had one psychic come in here. All of a sudden she stopped in the book section and looked at this book, and she just had it have it. It was If the Buddha Got Stuck."

Haight-Ashbury is rich in dark history. Netzband's ghost-walking tour passes by buildings once occupied by Charles Manson and The Reverend Jim Jones (neither structure reputed to be haunted).


The Case of the Spooked Pigeons

During his ghost tour, Netzband tells the tale of Golden Gate Park's haunted panhandle.

Years ago an obsessed loon known to locals as 'the Pigeon Man' would feed the panhandle's pigeons and warn everyone, "If you disturb my pigeons, I will kill you."

In 1992 a young musician named Buck Naked entered the park late at night with his unleashed dog. The dog disturbed the pigeons and the Pigeon Man shot and killed Buck Naked.

Police later found $10,000 worth of birdseed in a storage box in the Pigeon's Man's home.

The Pigeon Man was convicted. The dog lived and was adopted by a friend of Buck Naked.

Yet to this day, said Netzband, "People talk about being in this park at night, and hearing somebody call to their dog, 'Here boy." Then they'll look around, and there'll be nobody in this park. It's as if Buck Naked or his residual energy is looking for his dog."

Even more ominously, "We have a really strange phenomenon in this park. Look around. There are no pigeons in this park. There are pigeons all over this city, but they do not enter this park. They used to. There are other birds in this park, and people feed them. And you will see pigeons across the street. But there are never, ever any pigeons in this park. 

"I've told people on this tour, and the locals, I say, 'Call me if you ever find a pigeon.' I've never had a call in two years. Is it a ghost that keeps the pigeons out of this park? I don't know. I leave it up to the people to decide that."

Netzband may be contacted through his website.

Read the Weekly Universe's reports on ghost hunters in Kansas City and Salt Lake City!

Also read the Universe's startling reports about the ghost exorcist and how ghosts fuel alien spaceships!


On June 4, 2006, San Francisco resident Clifford Brooks sent us this photo of a pigeon in Golden Gate Park's panhandle, taken with his phone camera.  Brooks had visited the park in response to our article. "There were surprisingly few birds in the panhandle," said Brooks to the Universe. "Too many people, dogs, etc., and since the park is attached [to the pan], well, I guess they've got better places to play. The picture is of a single pigeon, but there was a pair. Like most pigeons, they let me pace them without flying away."

Copyright 2006 by



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