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Monday, September 19, 2011

Review of Jeff Belanger's Picture Yourself Legend Tripping

In my quest to bring the weird and strange to the masses (ok the five people that read this blog on a regular basis) I decided to start doing some reviews on books that I find interesting and/or helpful for those interested in the paranormal. The first review I am doing is on Jeff Belanger's "Picture Yourself Legend Tripping".

I had first come across this book listening to a podcast where Jeff was speaking about his new book and I was intrigued how it sounded like what I was doing with Weird Fresno, but on a more defined level. Remember that haunted cemetery you and your friends checked out when you were kids? That was legend tripping. That's right, most likely all of us have done it one time or the other. I remember when I was 17 and heard a cemetery in Madera was haunted (the infamous New Hope Cemetery which I've mentioned a few times on here) and my best friend Tom and I went out to investigate armed with nothing more than flashlights and our courage (ok and a few wooden stakes). We weren't there trying to prove ghosts exist; we just heard a story and wanted to check it out. That's legend tripping.

According to Wikipedia, the term "legend tripping" (also known as ostension) is a term created by folklorist to describe the adolescent practice of making a journey (usually at night) to a site that is alleged to have been the scene of some tragic, horrific and possibly supernatural event or haunting. Jeff goes into further detail on what legend is and it's about the adventure and experiencing the story. The book breaks down different legends such as ghosts, UFO's, monsters and other urban legends. Sounds a bit like what I do doesn't it and you see where I was intrigued? Here was a book that talked about exploring the story, not trying to prove or disprove it, just to explore the legend and in doing so possibly become part of it.

Jeff further goes into detail on other types of legends from children's legends, ancient mysteries, internet legends, and even how to interview any witness you may encounter (which I find very helpful). In the ghost legend tripping chapter Jeff goes into great detail on how to get information on a legend and gives advice on how to contact people and what to say to them to get the information you are looking for. I found this extremely helpful and even learned a few new techniques and I've been doing this for over a decade now.

I've really enjoyed this book and read it several times in the last couple of months. This may sound odd, but the book reinvigorated my interest in the paranormal. I had become so burned out from investigating where the focus was trying to prove the location was haunted that the reason the place was haunted was almost forgotten. And that was what got me interested in the first place, the story. It also focuses on the history of the location and even the town itself. With so many other books out there claiming to be able to teach you to be a paranormal investigator it's nice to see a book that goes back to basics and keeps things fun. I'd definitely recommend Picture Yourself Legend Tripping to anyone who has even the slightest interest in the paranormal.

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