When it comes to the paranormal, I've always really, really wanted to believe -- I just haven't been given any reason to thus far. Growing up my grandmother's family was incredibly superstitious: No seating 13 people at a single dinner table, no traveling on Friday the 13th, and her grandmother supposedly lived next door to a werewolf somewhere in Germany. As the story goes, he was a really nice guy -- you just had to lock up your chickens whenever there was a full moon or the next morning he'd have eaten them all. Beyond that, my little brother may or may not have been abducted by aliens (he spent most nights sleeping on a mattress on my bedroom floor because he was too scared to be in his room alone in case they came back for him), but I've never had an actual close encounter of the supernatural kind.
Until last week. I met psychic, medium, and wine merchant Craig McManus at the Cornelia Street Cafe to shoot the above Face to Face video. McManus had mentioned to me that while dining there a few weeks earlier all of the lights in the dining room had gone off and no one seemed to know why. When he asked about the incident -- and whether or not there might be a ghost to blame -- the host admitted that there might be a male entity inhabiting the back room of the restaurant.
Experiences like that one are nothing new for McManus. Being a psychic and medium runs in his family and when he's not busy selling wine at his shop, Wine Ventures in Tenafly, NJ, he's writing his incredibly popular books about the ghosts of Cape May, New Jersey. After we did our interview I chatted with him (and his lovely partner Willy) over drinks and McManus did a reading for me. While I have to confess a good 80 percent of what McManus said meant nothing to me, the 20 percent that did register made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.
McManus knew things that no one else would know -- even going so far as to tell me that my father, who died two years ago, said, "Send my love to Ruth." Ruth is my mother's middle name, and while no one else calls her by that name, my father used it almost exclusively to refer to her. I don't know exactly what was going on last Tuesday afternoon and I can't say for sure that my dead father was sitting next to me in the corner of the Cornelia Street Cafe, but I'd be willing to say that something out of the ordinary did occur. It was chilling, it was exciting, it was bittersweet and until the aliens land or someone can finally prove that the afterlife exists, it's all I have to go on in my recreational quest for contact with the paranormal.
McManus will be giving a talking on his two careers -- mediumship and wine -- Halloween night from 6:30 - 8:30 pm at the Astor Center at 399 Lafayette St. (at East 4th St.) in New York City. The old building, once the home of a large book printing company in the 1800s, is allegedly haunted and should provide the perfect setting for McManus to lead a tasting of some of his favorite wines while educating the audience about the dark and mysterious regions of the Spirit world, including an exploration of the ghosts of Astor Center and other haunted New York City hot spots. McManus will also demonstrate his channeling ability on a few lucky participants. For tickets, head here.