Photo by Mark Wahl
videographer contacted me and said because I was a historical “dork” like
himself, he had something I might be interested in.
accepted the compliment.
Brown has spent two years compiling scenes for a historical/haunted documentary
State: Whispers from History Past. He, along with a group of intrepid ghost
busters, visited the old Pabst executive office here in Milwaukee and caught
some startlingly ambiguous footage on camera. A few weeks later, he was ready to show the
evidence to Pabst’s Best Place owner, Jim Haertel, so I tagged along. Jim told
me he had only one stipulation for the ghost busters: “You can do this as long
as you don’t upset them, because we’ve been getting along great.”
Place was filled with tour-goers when we sat down to take a peek at the recording.
The computer started to freeze, and the volume wouldn’t work. Only certain
scenes would play. Michael said this was a first for him, that he had replayed
these snippets earlier with no problem. Sometimes the paranormal can manipulate
technology, causing issues, Michael said. Maybe so? Forty-five minutes of
frustration later, it worked.
Picture it: In the
bowels of the iconic Pabst executive suites, dating back to the 1800s, the
ghost busters wander through dark hallways with an SB7 channel radio device.
Minus the hum of the radio and shuffling footsteps, it’s bleak and quiet. Questions
are asked aloud, and at the most arbitrary times, something appears to communicate through the channels. Mist-like
figures appear before the lens.
watches the screen replaying some of these scenes, I watch Jim, taking notes on his reactions.
asks the iconic Pabst brewery slogan aloud, “What’ll ya have?” Two distinct answers
are heard: “Pabst” and “Pabst beer"
Jim looks up, smiles and laughs, and a smoky figure comes into the screen.
"Looks like the first image of a little ghost," Jim says.
The purported apparition makes a sound over the channels that could be interpreted as saying, "Be gone!"
Jim shakes his head and moves closer to the screen, then looks at Michael and says, "I told you not to piss them off!"
As the unnerving footage concludes, Jim admits that he’s an “open-minded skeptic,” and that Michael Brown
and Co. have captured evidence nobody else has before. First Best Place
employee Cheryl Komp also watched the flick and agrees that something is definitely down there. Michael
asks Jim whether he was leery of the possibilities of paranormal activity at
Best Place. Jim’s response? “They’re OK with us, but they might be angry with
After more than two years in the making, Haunted State: Whispers from History Past will premiere at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center (400 W. College Ave., Appleton) at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 29.