INTERVIEW / TELEPHONE INTERVIEW — TAPE #43, SIDE #1
Q: Mark Russell Bell
J: John, acquaintance at APLA
S: Susan, acquaintance at APLA
R: radio commentator
V: phone voice (Los Angeles Superior Court)
B: Michael Paul Russell (my twin brother in California)
( . . . )
Q: Well, I’m very, very upset. It’s 3:26 (“XXX”) on Tuesday morning. I think I’ve just experienced life in an alternate reality (“YYY”) or parallel reality and it has led me to a realization. My mother has been borderline psychotic ever since I can remember. Now she’s retired, getting Social Security and there’s not a loving thing she does or says to me. The last time she called she made threatening statements and basically said that she was going to show up here, call the police and have me committed. She would do anything she can to destroy me and keep me from writing my book. So tomorrow I have to go to the local police department and get a restraining order against my mother, which is something I never would have expected. So I guess this is the last time I’ll have any interaction with my mother, which is probably the way it should have been a long time ago. It’s my only alternative after the dream. She definitely is psychotic and my brother, Michael, has known this. I mean he brought Andy with us to have Christmas dinner with her because he was so sure she wanted to poison us. And that’s the way she acts over the phone. I don’t know why I have all these difficult challenges. I guess everyone does. We all want to live (“A”) like those happy families we saw on the TV shows while growing up. And the reality is so different. (“TTT”) Especially for her generation. I don’t know why. (“YEAH”) Oh, Mighael, I need your love and support now more than ever. (“RRR”) This is going to be very hard for me but I have to do it. I’m going to go to my (“YYY”) angels calendar. “Angel Encounters.” (“SSS”) For Tuesday it says: It doesn’t matter if we are at the lowest level of civilization, primitive and wild, aging, ill, or newborn and raw with life, if we are average working Joes or leaders of great nations. Our relationship with angels is consistent with the thoughts in our minds and the receptivity of our hearts.
Q: I see for Thursday it says:
Angel stories can make us happier people if we let them.
Q: They didn’t make my mom become a happier person when I told her — so now I’m going to go back to bed. (“DDD”) As soon as I write down to go by the police department and get a restraining order. Along with “take back tape recorder to Circuit City, get reams of paper and legal binders for manuscript.” Now I have to add one more final stop. “Go by the Rampart Division Police Department and get a restraining order against my mother.”
( . . . )
Q: It’s 3:53. (“YEAH”) I came back downstairs because I remembered — I was lying awake in bed, needing some kind of consolation after praying to God. And I remembered that before the dream with my mother and my brother and me in it, which was the most real experience I’ve ever had, there was another dream. I think it was a dream. It might have been real. It’s hard to say. But in the first dream, if it was a dream, (“UH-HUH”) Mighael kissed me. They were the most passionate, loving, sustaining kisses imaginable. Again, there was no one there in my dreams. He still had no countenance and I think there were other beings (“WHO WERE”) who didn’t want Him to do this. But He kept doing it because He knew it’s what I needed. I have the most incredible experiences. But Mighael has kissed me. I guess that establishes another parallel with a famous poltergeist case — the one involving Hieronyma, the Pavia townswoman. (“WH”) Guess what? I’m married to Mighael so I’m glad He kissed me. In fact, I encourage Him to kiss me more often. I mean I remember (“LIKE”) the first time I had some photos taken with Timothy, I told him I think one of the reasons why Mighael doesn’t show Himself to me as angels usually do with people is because (“HE’S”) He knows I would want to have sex with Him and that’s probably impossible. (sighs) All I can see is it’s lucky this book is coming out after I get the restraining order.
( . . . )
Q: It’s 9:18. I just turned on the radio and the Dow Jones is only down 22 points right now. And I’m reading the paper. There’s an article about Madonna. The jury has convicted the man who was accused of stalking her. It says, “The homeless defendant could face up to 11 years in prison for threatening the pop star and attacking her bodyguard.” In the article by Times staff writer Andrea Ford, it says “. . . the jury . . . concluded that Hoskins had stalked Madonna and that she believed he was dangerous, an element required for conviction under state law.” The article says, “As a result of the stalking, she testified, she has had nightmares about someone trying to harm her.” Well, last night, I had a nightmare about my mother trying to harm me and/or herself. (“FFF”) The article ends with Judge Jacqueline A. Connor — it’s a speculation (“THAT”) maybe she could request that he be placed in a facility with a psychiatric unit. Well, I know what those are like. (“KKK”) I see right below the article there’s an obituary for Bob Flanagan, who used to be one of my neighbors here. I didn’t really know Bob and Sheree — I’d run into them once in a while. They seemed like very nice people who always would say “hello” and smile at you. And I knew he was an artist and he had cystic fibrosis. Sometimes I could hear him at night coughing. It says in an article with the headline “Artist’s Works Explored Pain” by Edward J. Boyer, another one of my cousins — “By surviving as long as he did, he clearly beat the odds against the notoriously lethal childhood disease.” He died at 43 and was “a self-described masochist.” He “died Thursday at Long Beach Memorial Hospital.” It says:
. . . When he was 14, he was the first poster child for the North Orange County chapter of the national Cystic Fibrosis Research Foundation. Back then, he received daily medication and treatment to drain and control the thick mucus that is symptomatic of the disease.
Most nights he slept in a mist tent to ease breathing, because cystic fibrosis attacks the lungs. His younger sister, Patricia, died of the disease in 1979 at age 21.
Thin to the point of frailty, eyes weighed down by apparent weariness, and with sparse, unruly hair, Flanagan was best known for his critically acclaimed installation, “Visiting Hours.”
Writing in The Times in 1992, reviewer David Pagel called “Visiting Hours” the most “intensely gripping and profoundly human installation-cum-performance this critic has ever pondered, tried to escape and endured.”
The Installation included a detailed mock hospital room and various devices making Flanagan’s love of pain evident. A wall of video monitors depicted Flanagan’s frail body being subjected to what some critics have described as torture.
Others saw it as healing. “Bob’s work was not about bizarre sadomasochistic rituals, but about the possibility of affirming life without denying its dark contradictions,” said Laura Trippi, who curated a New York showing of “Visiting Hours” in 1994. “He used art as a healing force in his own struggle with CF, and conveyed this to audiences through poems, performances, installations and sculptures of tremendous dignity and wit.”
Flanagan, a native of New York City, grew up in Glendora. He once said that all of his work is “basically autobiographical,” and that although he was trained in traditional art, he grew dissatisfied with painting.
He gave public lectures in tandem with his dominatrix lover and collaborator Sheree Rose, and usually appeared tethered to a small respirator.
Q: That’s funny. I never knew that she was a dominatrix. (“THEY YOU KNOW IF YOU DIDN’T”) In fact, I didn’t even know he had cystic fibrosis for a long time. They seemed like two of the most normal, nicest people you could ever meet. So the people who just dismiss people who have interesting sex lives as — I don’t even know what word they’re dismissed as. People just don’t like anything having to do with sex because it makes them feel bad because sex is equated with “bad” and I’m not quite sure why. Anyway, the obituary continues.
He also published five books and was once a stand-up comic with the improvisational theater group, The Groundlings. Those routines gradually became performances featuring acts of masochism with Rose, a video artist.
When asked if he ever intentionally set out to shock his audience, he answered, “Not really . . . to explore, to record, to analyze.”
He is survived by his parents, Robert C. and Catherine Flanagan of Chandler, Ariz., and two brothers, Timothy, of San Francisco, and John, of Merced.
Q: By the way, I spoke to my brother last night about going to see R. W. Fassbinder’s TV film “Martha,” which is screening at the American Cinematheque this weekend in their “New Films From Germany” series. The article by Kevin Thomas, (“WHO”) who also is one of those people I used to bump into occasionally and is a very nice guy, writes: (“SSS”)
The latest of R.W. Fassbinder’s TV movies to surface, “Martha” (1973), which screens Saturday at 4:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5:30 p.m., is yet another example of how the prodigious Fassbinder made no distinction in regard to quality between his work for TV and films. “Martha” is an intimate gem, a contemporary drama of psychological suspense in the tradition of “Gaslight” and “The Seventh Veil.” Before Martha (Margit Carstensen, best known as the star of Fassbinder’s “The Bitter Tears of Petra Van Kant”) can pull herself together in the wake of her dominating father’s sudden death, she is swept up into a marriage with a suave jealous monster (Karlheinz Bohm, just as creepy as he was in “Peeping Tom”). He swiftly reduces her to a slave, subjected to his increasingly sadistic lovemaking (which takes place off-screen and is all the more ominous as a result). Fassbinder’s trenchant wit and style, aided by superlative acting and lust but oppressive settings, turns soap opera into social comment.
Q: I wonder — oh well. (“WE’LL JUST HAVE TO SSS”) It remains to be seen how close this is to my own life because I definitely am not having “increasingly sadistic lovemaking” from Mighael. At least, not on a physical level. I guess — on a cybersex level that may be the case.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: THE FOLLOWING WAS TAPED AT THE RECEPTION COUNTER AT APLA.)(“OKAY” “GIVE —” “WELL” “— MY”)
Q: So — (“ONLY” “BOOK” “I HAD” “A” “TOTALLY” “NOW”) I have a book entitled (“TAKE ME”) Blind Trust. It’s by Robert Flint and Chris Packard (“CANNOT” “SCOTTISH”) and I’d like to contribute this (“OH MY GOSH” “DO YOU MISS”) to (“I” “OUR CITY”) — what’s it called? (“REMEMBER” “FREE”)
J: The HIV Resource Center?
Q: Correct. The HIV Resource Center. So how do I do that? (“SEVERAL”)
J: You can go in there now and (“TELL” “OKAY”) speak to —
Q: Okay, I’ll do that. (“YES”)
J: Her name is Susan.
Q: Susan, fine. I guess people can do this. (“AND THAT THEY’LL”) They’ll get a tax write-off.
J: What is it that you want to contribute, anyway?
Q: Just a book.
J: We can give you a (“YEAH”) tax write-off with a form or something.
Q: When people come in here and ask you how they can contribute money to APLA what do you tell them?
J: Actually, we connect them to the (“TURN IT UP”) person in charge of donations. In development. And it can be a straight donation or it could be a donation in the memory of somebody.
Q: Right. So it’s quite easy to facilitate.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: THE MANY BACKGROUND VOICES MAKE IT DIFFICULT FINDING SPIRIT MESSAGES ON THIS PORTION OF TAPE.)
J: And then they send an acknowledgment to the family. Whatever the person (“NNNNNNN”) requests that’s donating, they can accommodate. (“PERSON”)
Q: Okay, and what’s your name?
J: My name’s John. (“Q” “BUT” “ANTELOPE” “OTHER”)
Q: Well, thank you very much. (“ONE”)
Q: Okay, bye.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: THE FOLLOWING WAS RECORDED IN THE HIV RESOURCE CENTER.)
Q: Hi. What’s your name?
Q: Hi, Susan. I was referred to come to you. I have this book. It’s a postmodern poem/art piece. It’s actually (“GUIDE”) for the uninfected but it encompasses HIV.
Q: So it’s beautiful. I think this will be very interesting for people who love art to read.
S: Okay. Well, thank you very much. (“FOR ALL”) We’ll put it (“N”) in our library.
Q: And can I get a receipt or something for my taxes?
S: Sure. (“SO”) Sure. We don’t do that (“OW”) but let me get (“NO”) somebody to help — (“WELL I CAN JUST” “YOU”)
Q: Well, I can just make a note of it. (“GUESS”) I think I paid $10 for it (“CRY”) at A Different Light, where else?
S: Uh-huh. (“HAPPY”) Okay, well —
Q: That’s enough. (“I GUESS”)
S: You got it. (“I LOOK”)
Q: Thank you.
S: If you need a signature, just let me know. I can get that for you.
Q: Okay, bye. (“OKAY NOW” “YEAH”)
( . . . )
R: . . . was battered. The Dow Index losing 66 points for the day. Ford announces rebates . . .
Q: So, anyway, (“YEAH”) the stock market closed a little bit lower today and (“DDD”) I was driving down Sunset and I saw some drawers outside of a little shop and I’ve been needing to get some new ones. Some dresser drawers. (“SSS” “SO THAT”) The one I first noticed didn’t work out but I went down to the intersection of Alvarado and Sunset and I found an ideal set. I mean nothing fancy — very simplistic. It only cost $99 not including tax. It was originally $150 and it’s very simple and very nice. It’s white, which matches the decor of my hall and my bedroom. And I could transport it myself so I didn’t need to have it delivered. It was a sale item. What can I say? This was the one Mighael wanted me to have. So I was joking with Him — I was saying, “Mighael, I bet this is an original Picasso. I mean look how finely crafted this is. I bet it’s an original.” (“SO”) And I glanced down (“UH-HUH”) a few minutes later at my floor. I keep old postcards. And a postcard (“THAT”) that I got from the Musée Picasso in Paris was on the floor. It shows a figure with (“LOOK”) what looks like a key opening something. And I turned it around to see what it was called. I don’t know the exact French but it says “Baigneuse ouvrant une cabine.” Cabinet? Now I just can’t think of a relationship that’s as wonderful as the one I have with Mighael. Now, (“HUN”) to change the tempo a little bit, I did go by the police department to get a restraining order for my mother but instead they gave me some instructions about how to get a temporary restraining order—with an ‘n’ missing in restraining—in downtown Los Angeles. (“SSS”) It says “Go to the Los Angeles County Courthouse” and gives the address. “You have to go to the first floor, room 112, forms window, and request the domestic violence restraining order packet” blah blah blah. “You should allow between two and four hours in order to ready your case. You should go early in the morning. If you arrive late in the morning you will be told to arrive at 1:30 p.m. If you arrive after 1:30 p.m. you will be told to return another day. The clerk cannot help you with the paperwork. There are volunteer attorneys who provide help. They are available in department 245 on the following days and times only . . .” Oh, boy, this is going to be complicated. (“UM”) “If you do not read, write or understand English, take someone who does with you. There is a recording that explains these procedures.” Oh, well, I’ll call there. Thank goodness I speak English. (“SHH”)
( . . . )
Q: We already know (“UH-HUH”) how bad our legal system is. My book does not have to be an exposé on the legal system as it is on our system of health care. (“BUT”) You never know. Do you?
( . . . )
V: Hello. If you are a victim of domestic violent (SIC) and need a temporary restraining order this message is for you. This is the downtown district of the Los Angeles Superior Court. If you wish to obtain a restraining order in an outlying district court, contact the county operator . . . and ask for the clerk’s office for filing domestic violence restraining orders in the district court nearest your residence. If you wish to obtain a restraining order in the central district come in person to the courthouse . . . Go to room 112, the forms window on the first floor and ask for a domestic violence restraining order packet which is free. Included in the packet in both English and Spanish are instructions on how to file. Once the forms are completed, they must be filed in room 102 and then taken to department 8, room 245 for issuance of the restraining orders by a judge. Department 8 is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. except for legal holidays. Please be patient. It may take approximately two to four hours to complete the process. The clerk of the court advises to arrive early in the morning to avoid unnecessary delays in the processing of the papers or you may be required to return the following day to complete the process. The clerk further advises that you park your car in an all-day lot to avoid unnecessary towing or ticketing. In addition, children are excluded from the courtroom and there are no child care facilities available. Please make arrangements for all-day child care if you have children. Government code 68082 does not allow the clerk of the court to give legal advice or to help in completing the forms. However, if you do need legal help, volunteer attorneys from the Los Angeles County Bar Association will offer free legal services during regular court hours Monday through Friday. It is important that you come early in the day to sign up for services to assure that you get your order the same day. Attorneys operate in department 8, room 245. Please note that the forms are complex and it may be in your best interest to seek legal assistance. If you have difficulty with the English language, please bring someone with you who can speak, read and write English. The court does not provide interpreters and will not be able to assist you in reading or writing anything that is in Spanish. Should you need further information, you can contact the clerk of the court . . . directly at the courthouse. Thank you.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: THE FOLLOWING CONVERSATION IS WITH MY BROTHER.)
Q: Oh hi.
B: I just started a premiere so I’m going back to my office for an hour and then I’ll go to the party. Yuck.
Q: Real quick — (“I HAD” “HUH”) a few quick things. I bought a new dresser today. (“FOR”) It was less than $100 at the corner.
Q: And it’s so beautiful. It’s very simplistic. It’s wood painted white with simple handles that are very modern, red and white.
Q: Did Picasso do any furniture? I mean it’s so beautiful.
B: Well, is it new or old?
Q: I can’t really tell. (“I”)
B: Who was selling it?
Q: It’s a strange little furniture shop. It’s sort of a hodgepodge place and this is the only one that they had.
Q: You’ll have to come and see it because you (“YOU KNOW”) you might not like some of my old pieces like the Ark or the Declaration — (“DON’T LIKE”)
B: I don’t think it’s the Ark but I (“WHO”) think it —
Q: No, I know, but I’m (“SAW IT”) just saying that you can tell modern quality easier than you can —
B: A hundred bucks is nothing.
Q: I know. And you should see it.
B: Wow. (“IT’S”)
Q: It’s a museum piece and it’s something I just happened to get.
B: Yeah, that’s great.
Q: But, also, the big news of the day (“MA”) is tomorrow I have to go and get a restraining order for Mom.
B: What’d she do?
Q: Well, I told you what she said that time. (“WHAT”) How she was coming over here and going to have me committed and take all my money.
B: Well, she doesn’t have a key.
Q: I know but she said she would talk to the managers — (“AND” “YOU KNOW”)
B: She wasn’t being serious, though.
Q: Yes, she was serious.
Q: Well, how many times has she called you about this? (“MANY”) She’s obsessed with this.
B: She called me once and she started spouting that and I told her she was out of her mind.
Q: She called you more than once about it.
B: No, just once.
Q: I was there when she called you. And she called you another time too. (“WELL THEN THAT WAS EVEN”)
B: But that was the only — I didn’t remember the other time. (“NO” “HEA” “BUT UM” “WHAT WAS GONNA”) I mean she’s always raving. You know.
Q: I know but I’m just — well you thought she was going to poison us at Christmas Eve. (“WELL SHE DIDN’T”)
B: Well, she’s an alcoholic. She’s unpredictable. (“I THINK” “AH DO YOU REMEM”) I remember when I told her I was gay she said she was going to shoot me. (“YOU KNOW”)
Q: I know. Well, she’s obsessed with this. I love her so I’m going to set her free so she can get something else to think about (“ALL”) all day other than her kids. (“I”)
B: Yeah, exactly. I formed boundaries. I never — I don’t call her very often. (“BE”) Destructive.
B: It’s a waste of energy and time.
Q: She still needs to get a life.
B: Right. And you know that will never happen. (“AA” “SO — SO”)
Q: So I’m going to go tomorrow and wait in line and do all that. It’s an all day thing. After I go to the doctor. (“CAUSE OF”) I have that infected cyst. So I’m going to see the doctor tomorrow —
Q: — to have that taken care of.
B: And, also, he can give you (“CR”) that cream. Anyway, (“BUT THE”) tell him you’re my brother. Make sure you tell him you’re my brother. Right?
Q: But the funny thing is, though, as in the original Bell Witch case, needles have always been a symptom of —
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: TAPE #43, SIDE #1 ENDS HERE. THERE WERE NO END-OF-TAPE WARNING CUES HEARD AS THIS TAPE SIDE CONCLUDED.)