Abandoned in Black and White is a fascinating pairing of the photography of Randall Keller and the poetry of Nick Missos. All photographs were exposed at an abandoned mental institution with a long history of paranormal activity in Baltimore, Maryland. Mr. Missos’ unique ability to interpret the true message held within each image expands the old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” proving instead that the right words are transformative and transcendent.

At this time, the book is slated to include no less than 24 quality black and white photographs, each fixed to peel back a layer of this broken monument to decay and dereliction. You’ll feel this place in your soul, and understand the passions that linger still.

Randall Keller is best known as an author and EVP Researcher (electronic voice phenomena). His books include Voices From Forever, and There Is No Silence. Randall also spent many years as a professional photographer. Since the photos within Abandoned were originally made as part of a limited paranormal investigation, they present a unique perspective of this forgotten place, and forge the perfect marriage of spirit and emotion.

Nick Missos is a Bio-mechanical Engineer by trade but a poet at heart. He has worked in the Orthopedic Design field since 1985 and has been writing poetry for over 35 years for his friend’s and family’s enjoyment. His only published pieces deal with the death of his son. Nick has dealt with death and the feeling of abandonment since the passing of his father when Nick was 5.

Expected digital release is planned for January 2013 – initially available at the Apple iBookstore, and later through Amazon. Additional information will be available soon. The two photos below offer an intriguing peek into Abandoned in Black and White.

We’re Ready Now

Every photo taken from the Hubble telescope includes over a trillion stars, and countless others are too deep to register. If the angle is changed, a trillion more come into view. That’s a million million, and it looks like this: 1,000,000,000,000. It is a statistical inevitability that other living civilizations exist – people… every bit as vital and sentient as we are. 

The statistics are so compelling that the odds far exceed any possible challenge to that conclusion. There is a better chance you’ll grow tentacles by tomorrow than there is that we are “alone.” We couldn’t have known that fifty years ago, so it’s easy to understand why the certainty of alien life doesn’t seem likely, but armed with what we know now, it’s misguided not to accept and embrace this as fact. Statistical evidence is infinitely reliable – it’s a mistake not to believe.

We have become quite proficient at discovering what was previously unthinkable – we’re good at it, so I think we can handle the notion of alien life. We’re ready to accept that now. As a society, we need to embrace this and decide what we’re going to do next. Stop all the fence sitting and outright denial and make some serious plans for the day we are formally contacted. We’re ready.

Other disciplines within the paranormal are ripe for acceptance as well. EVP, for example. We’ve known about EVP since the early 1900s, and we’ve accumulated hundreds of thousands of spirit voices world-wide – probably millions. We can’t prove very much beyond the actual existence of EVP, but we really should just get on with the business of believing – the statistical evidence demands it. I think we’re ready for that as well, don’t you?

Forget the religious implications! You can’t use science to prove God any more than you can use God to prove science. It doesn’t work that way – faith and belief are not the same. We believe what science tells us; we have faith in God. There’s room for both concepts, but we’ll have to expand and adjust the religion as we go; science can’t bend. I know it violates some of our core beliefs to think that God created other beings on other planets, but did He actually say otherwise? And it’s not demon worship to talk to spirits – it’s science. The time has come to begin enlarging our faith to suit the God who’s behind it. We’ve been heading in that direction anyway, so it won’t be long – we’re ready now.

But there are many other treasures to be found in the paranormal grab bag for which there is no proof; no statistical evidence. Concepts like finding the human soul and defining alternate universes, just to name two, will probably open up the paranormal in amazingly meaningful ways. Not quite yet, but it won’t be long before new breakthroughs create all sorts of new realities. Discovery comes fast in the 21st century, and sorting it all out can alter one’s perceptions.

We have to be prepared to react quickly to this newest world – we have to be agile. We won’t be able to dismiss knowledge just because it makes us uncomfortable, or ignore truths that take exception to our non-civilized nature. We won’t be able to argue factuality simply because it complicates our lazy nature. We have to be ready for anything – there’s no time to be otherwise, but I think we are. I think we’re ready for all sorts of things, don’t you? And it’s about time.

Not to Expose

My purpose for being involved with the paranormal is to learn. For me, it speaks to greater issues – teaches us about ourselves as living creatures as well as the undisclosed aspects of our supposed demise. There is no creep factor for me; no need to be scared; no thrill seeking. For me, it’s just a part of life in which I have gained some small ability. It encourages my curiosity, and feeds my need to understand more completely. Suffice it to say I see myself as one to be educated; to share what I think I’ve learned – not to expose.

There are many people involved in the paranormal that are unworthy of our attention. There are charlatans and fakers; liars and miscreants, who do not deserve the energy we spend acknowledging their presence, much less their lack of contribution to the cause (if you will). But I have also found that these folk do not constitute the majority, and I am comfortable knowing that in most cases, their own hand will expose them. I do not see it as either my responsibility or my calling to be their undoing. So let me repeat – I am here to learn, not to expose. I can do the world no good by pointing out the flaws of others – far better I revel in the good – something I do not do enough.

Which brings me to Sarah. She is a medium – someone I have had the pleasure of meeting and whose gift has proven to be exceptional. And yes, Sarah is not her real name. I had thought to interview her for The Voices Podcast, but Sarah has been under attack of late. I won’t go into details, except to say that her assailants are unfair and exhibit an especially brutal desire to harm her. She does not deserve this, of course. She is, as you may have already guessed, handling it all with grace.

Sarah works for a living. We sometimes assume that mediums support themselves entirely with reported large sums of money “absconded” through the readings they give. It is my personal belief that honest and legitimate mediums do not make much money. They don’t rely on giving false information aimed at return visits and unnecessary contributions. There are no attempts to bilk clients of their life savings. There are no flashing neon signs in their living room picture window saying “readings” or “physic reader.” Sarah is an honest woman, who deserves payment for her labor, because she too has bills to pay – she is as much a working stiff as the rest of us.

Her “normal” job is possibly in jeopardy if her mediumship becomes public, therefore, barring adequate voice disguise, she cannot appear on The Voices Podcast. And this is not a decision I intend to question. There will be no cajoling, no manipulative words of false encouragement, no “sensible” reasons why the world deserves to hear her story. Sarah’s secret is safe with me, and her well being far more important than any need of mine to learn or to help others learn.

But it occurs to me that this is something we should all be pondering. Not whether or not we believe in her gift, but how we deal with one another. There have always been preposterous notions emanating from within the paranormal. There have always been outlandish claims and crazy, illogical theories that try to explain the most elusive of questions. And it’s not enough to blame the skeptical world for attempting to discredit us, when so much of that vitriol can be found within.

I think the time has come for us to re-evaluate our motives. Are we really seekers of truth? A cliché, to say the least, but the seeking of truth is a glorious goal nonetheless, worthy of the highest praise. It has always been so, whether through the deep thought of philosophers, or the revelatory nature of our culture and expression. But it also comes from within the being of every man and woman. There are those who would suggest it is an integral part of humanity itself – instinctual perhaps; certainly comforting in moments of trial and need.

And yet, if we are seekers of truth, does that also include the responsibility to determine what is not true? Certainly some of that becomes evident, and we have learned to pass over the deceptions of life, but where does this apparently insatiable need to discredit other seekers come from? What compels so many of us to inflict pain upon those who disagree, or who understand things differently, or more significantly, who see things we cannot see? How can we attack Sarah or those like her simply because we have not found a truth she has embraced? Is the truth only evident through our own eyes, or shall we choose, instead, to find it wherever it lies? These are questions worthy of consideration as we walk our own paths. I know I shall.

Leap of Faith

So here’s the story. A close friend (we’ll call her Emma) called to tell me that her friend Joan received a message for her from “beyond.” Joan was in the middle of a reading, when the medium spoke to an older man wearing a baseball cap and jacket, requesting that someone deliver a message to Emma.

What message, you’re probably enquiring out loud, because that’s the most interesting part of the story, right – the message? Well, predictably, the old man was Emma’s deceased father and he wanted her to know that he was okay, but also that he’s been unsuccessfully attempting to contact her. He chose to deliver the message through Joan because lately, “Emma has been too upset to notice.” Then he insisted Joan promise to deliver the message. She did, and the story ends with a late night phone call to me.

You’ve probably already formed an opinion. Some of you think it’s bologna, and some of you believe. If you’re part of the latter, count Emma among your ranks – she wholeheartedly accepted every word. I won’t rain on your parade by listing all the reasons why skepticism is the better choice, because there are so many, and I’m sure you’ve heard them all before. Besides, If you believe there is enough evidence here for unconditional acceptance, you won’t be convinced by anything I might say anyway.

And I’m okay with that. Think what you like –  no reason to pay me a bit of attention, but for me, there is still a major problem. My friend Emma has decided this surrogate contact from her father has happened because it “must be near my time to go.”

“Huh? Wait a sec… What?” That was my response. What could possibly have made Emma arrive at such a conclusion? She has some medical issues, but most people do at our age. Sure times are tough, because the economy is tough. Many people are dealing with severe life-altering changes, perhaps alone, or looking desperately for ways to rewrite their personal scripts, but the ole “death is nye” equivocation is extreme in anyone’s book. I became instantly concerned.

This is exactly why I question the wisdom of putting too much emphasis on what a medium has to say. Sometimes we emphasize incorrectly – nothing in the message mentioned death. Of course, dear Emma could have psychological problems, but she doesn’t. You’ll have to trust me on that. Of course she could be at a vulnerable stage of life, but again, she’s no more assailable than the average person. Perhaps she’s just too susceptible to the medium’s art; a little too willing to accept without question.

There’s no real explanation for either her leap of faith, or the conclusions she drew, and she can’t be criticized for her part in the story. Nor can we blame her friend Joan for making good on a promise. Are we to accuse the medium? Wasn’t she just doing her job? And yet, Emma’s feelings still stand – that her final time is near, and she cites the message as reason.

Sometimes, I think all of us need to take a step back and spend a lot more time considering consequences. People are easily hurt and often too quick to interpret other’s intentions. The paranormal, with all it’s variations and ramifications, can become something completely antithetical to its reality. It can damage people without a single shred of credible proof, and cause them to make decisions that result in life-changing consequences. Emma’s strong confidence in the medium’s vision is unshakeable – the damage has been done. But I should be able to convince her that life is never a thing of chance, but a thing of choice, and those choices are more powerful than any prediction can ever be.

Compos Mentis

It never rains but it pours. That’s an old saying for sure, but it does seem to be accurate – things happen in bunches sometimes. Over the past year I’ve been wrestling with a small portion of my compos mentis – I keep thinking I hear whispers. Yes, I said whispers – voices that sound a lot like EVP, only there’s no recorder involved. You know, as in “he’s losing his mind?”

But I’m secure enough to chalk it up to every day stress, some kind of psychosis, or… Well, just in case, I’m making notes. The other day, it happened twice in one conversation, and both times I instantly stopped speaking and asked the other person if she said “whatever.” Both times she did not. Both times, the whispered comment fit the subject on the table. Well, what did it say, Randy? (don’t worry, I hear the snicker in your head too.)

In the middle of telling my wife an unfortunate story, a raspy female voice said “just wonderful” with what I believe was just the right amount of sarcasm. And a minute later, the same voice said, “I’m leaving now.” I asked my wife where she was going – she said she was probably going crazy, but she wasn’t leaving. “Why?”

If she didn’t hear the voice, it must be my sanity that’s leaving, right? It’s not a VP (voice phenomenon) if I’m the only one who hears it – I know I’m not a sensitive or a medium. I’m not hearing dead people. I don’t believe I’ve got EVP on the brain to the point of hallucination either. Besides, this has happened while on the phone quite a few times, as well as when I’m alone. Frankly, I feel like I’m about 6 minutes from schizophrenia; like these are the famous Son of Sam voices and pretty soon they’ll be telling me what to do. Oh sure, it’s all innocent now. Right now it’s all “close the door” and “lay off the donuts,” but how long before it turns to “kill the nun.” Maybe I’ll get lucky and it will stay benign and just order me to do yard work or learn to crochet.

I’m not crazy, you know. I swear! Trust me! And I’m sure it’s not one too many sessions with the earphones on – not wishful thinking, self-fulfilling prophesies, or a chemical imbalance. It’s one of those blasted voices that’s learned how to be heard. She’s whispering in my ear alone, and rather effectively. You know, similar to how EVP only show up on one recorder when several are present.

But right in the middle of my bout with sanity, I found out that my neighbor two doors away is hearing them too. It’s those voices that have prevented her from sleeping in her own home for several weeks now – she’s scared. Reportedly, her voices aren’t very nice, whereas mine are just typical. But there’s more – another person in the neighborhood is hearing them as well. So I guess everyone who saw a rubber room in my future had better rethink, eh?

I don’t recall hearing or reading anything about a situation like this, but it certainly seems possible that something might just be happening in the entire area. We’re so conditioned to look for more localized haunts – buildings, homes, old mines – something containable. Looking more closely at the history around the homes in question, the problems seem to have begun around the same point in time – including my voices, so I think I’ll wait before I book that rubber room and keep making notes. I’ll let you know what happens next, but for now, let’s just say there’s something going on around here, and you’ll be the first to know. Well, second.