1999 INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST — TAPE #532, SIDE #2
Q: Mark Russell Bell
R: Retirement home receptionist (night)
P: Paul Russell
L: Ellen Russell
A: “20/20” announcer
C: recorded phone voices (Citibank)
V: Vicky, Citibank customer service representative
D: Denise, Citibank customer service representative
G: Grace Earhart
( . . . )
R: Thank you for calling. Meadows of La Habra.
Q: Yes, is Paul Roy Russell available?
R: Oh yes. Hold on a minute.
Q: Oh hi.
P: Hi. I went down to the bank Saturday. Or, wait, what day was that? Yeah.
P: Yeah. They close at two. They moved, you know, down to the corner on Harbor. And then I went into Coco’s. I got there just as they were closing in the bank. I forgot to get a copy of the letter, though.
Q: Did Dorothy take you?
P: No, Esther.
Q: Oh Esther, that’s who I meant.
P: And she’s not coming til the fifth or the sixth. Listen. And I just missed the bus coming back. They run every hour. So I went into Coco’s. I had a piece of pie. I mean I wasn’t too hungry.
Q: Well can’t you just take a taxi?
P: I’ll explain a taxi to you.
Q: No, I know they’re very expensive.
P: They come from Fullerton and they only have three. So you call them from Anaheim. And, anyway, I don’t have that kind of money now. So anyway —
Q: Well you can get pie —
P: I got a piece of pie.
Q: — at the hospital. (“A QUAR”)
P: So I took the cheesecake — they give you a quarter piece of cheesecake — quarter of a pie. Four bucks including the tip. And then I still had to wait another half hour for the bus. Anyway, I got the letter off. I didn’t re-read it. That’s about the thir(teenth) or fourteenth time I wrote it. I didn’t re-read it. I made one little mistake I left off. And — but I got it in. Thanks because of your call — I was going to do it anyway but I didn’t think I could get over there and then mail it too. I just mailed it when I came back Sunday. That’s the twenty-sixth. If they got it. They picked up this thing across the street and they postmark it.
Q: Did you send it certified?
P: It’s the twenty-sixth but they won’t get it until Monday, which is the twenty-eighth. And it’s — that’s one year I’ve had — that was the end of the year. (“C”) Anyway, we’ll find out. At least, I got it in and — let’s see. Esther’s coming over on the sixth. So I — you — I’ll call you probably Thursday evening if I get some of these papers lined up, you know. Oh I’m sorry I yelled at you and how I talked to you again last night. I know how your honesty works because we went through that on the Christmas cards from back east. You know what I mean?
P: So I know all about it. You’re protected. You’re alright. Is Ellen in bed already?
Q: Well she’s watching TV.
P: Oh good. (“SOME”)
Q: Some guy with his shirt off just threw something against a window and made me cringe.
Q: What she’s watching (on TV). Some garbage. I don’t know what it is. (“O YAH”) Some TV movie or something.
P: But everything’s important, no. I was thinking she still went to bed early. That’s bad. And that’s good. Everything has a side effect. You’ve got to watch this. They — the what-you-call-its can be Monday morning or I think Monday afternoon would be best. Thursday morning and Saturday afternoon. But I don’t know if they’re even open Saturday.
Q: What is this for?
P: You have to watch everything they do. (“OR Y[OU]”) If you have — you have to make changes. You have to watch details. You have to watch side effects. You have to watch — some of the side effects are better effects than the medicine or the procedure.
Q: No, I know. Ellen’s had a lot of different side effects.
P: (You) got to watch it every minute. And I’m a detail man.
Q: She is still —
P: That’s all I can watch. Anything important I can’t do. Huh?
Q: She still is aspirating too.
P: What’s that? (“I MEAN” “YOU KNOW”)
P: Aspir — (“VICK”) that’s when you take the aspirin and —
P: — it feels good so you burp.
Q: Well, no, (“I MEAN” “SHE DOESN’T”) she gets upset when I even use the word. (“BUT”)
P: Use what?
Q: I mean — I think probably she’s okay because —
P: What is — (“NO” “IT’S”) what do you mean? What does she do?
Q: Food gets into the lungs.
Q: Food gets into her lungs.
Q: Yeah, when she eats.
P: Gets in to?
Q: Her lungs. And she has to cough it out.
P: Oh I see what you mean. Oh I didn’t know what that — (“BUT”)
Q: Probably —
P: I thought it had something to do with aspirin.
Q: But she’s so frail. It’s probably —
P: I know, Mark. (“YEAH”)
Q: — better that she does it this way.
P: I told you, you don’t deserve to have to go through this. She deserves better than that. We tried. You tried. I gave you — (“STIR”)
Q: Well I don’t know.
P: I tried. We did the best we could.
Q: We don’t know what the best is. I mean that’s why —
P: We did the best you could three years ago.
Q: Okay, I had a long talk with Ellen. I said, “Your job is to listen to what everyone tells you and then to decide what’s the best for you.”
P: And your job is to be constantly aware of — figure out the better things to do and be sure that the worser things aren’t done.
Q: (small laugh)
P: You can’t — I know you have a problem to get a word in sometimes if she’s still talking.
Q: Well I wanted to take her to this Russian healer who has an office right in Santa Monica. But she just won’t go. Even though she read — she knows that he —
P: Well I can’t go into all that. The main thing is you’ve got to get a —
Q: How’s your health?
P: — nephrologist and get her improved and off of that series three times. You’ve got to do the best you can.
Q: Well they’ve cut down her hours. (“IMA”)
P: You have to go to see him yourself. Anyway, don’t come over. I’ll call you about Thursday evening maybe. What’s the schedule on Saturday?
Q: I don’t know — (“MM”) you know (“MY”) what my life is like with — I’m doing some more tapes for my book.
P: Yeah. (or “YEAH”)
Q: I mean I don’t know if I am going to get publicity. (“I”)
P: Well it’s a good thing —
Q: I can’t —
P: It’s a good thing it wasn’t a best — sold out in a second or third edition because otherwise you wouldn’t have helped me and I don’t think I’d have gotten through that last year or two without you going over —
Q: How did I help you? I mean that’s what I would like to know because —
P: I got the report in.
Q: I know but it really —
P: The first year I did it I was turning on the lights and (“GOING”) was ruining my eyes.
Q: I know — (“BUT YOU WERE STILL”)
P: And I messed the whole thing up.
Q: No, I know that. I know when they lost that and you transposed numbers or —
P: Yeah. (“O”) Don’t worry about it. We’ll go over all that stuff someday when we don’t have something important to do. I’ve got to get to work and you’ve got to watch that and take it easy and get with a publisher and tell Mike get an ad agency. And he’s doing the work. He might as well have better accounts — some more accounts to work on and they got them. Bye. I’ll call you Thursday.
Q: About what?
P: Coming over. Don’t come Tuesday. Okay? (“BU[T] WHEN”)
Q: When do you want me to come over?
P: I don’t know. Saturday I was thinking but I’ll see. I’ve got to get the paperwork and I’ve got to see what — if I get a letter back from them.
Q: I know but what will I be doing?
P: From the V.A. Just the same thing I told you. We’ve got to get the file ready so I can go in and appeal.
Q: But I told —
P: I know exactly what to do but I can’t see all the letters.
Q: Well you know what? That’s why I told you —
P: My eyes are —
Q: I told you to call one of those two numbers for the department of Veterans Affairs because I do not —
P: Mark —
Q: I don’t want to work on this with you.
P: — I know every number in the V.A.
Q: Well I don’t —
P: You cannot advise me on —
Q: I know but I’m just saying —
P: — who to call and what to do. I know what to do.
Q: I’m no(t) — I’m your —
P: I don’t have an attorney. I don’t even have a member of the V.F.W. organization. (“BUT I’M”)
Q: I don’t want to be your secretary, I want to be your son.
P: You don’t have to be, Mark. This is something easy. We only do the annual report.
Q: I don’t — I said I don’t want —
P: This is — but besides that I have to go to the doctor. I’ll call you later, okay?
Q: I don’t want to do it. I have lots of things to do.
P: Okay, I know you don’t. I know all about it.
Q: So don’t plan on me coming over for a few weeks.
P: What — you haven’t been over for a few weeks now.
Q: I know. I’m busy.
P: I already put the letter in, Mark. That doesn’t matter.
Q: I know.
P: I can get them in order and I’m not going to be too good on the appeal, anyway.
Q: Well right now I’m not available to come over.
P: We went through that last night — the other night, Mark.
Q: I know. And we’re going over it again.
P: You’re not doing secretarial work. You’re helping me with my annual report, which I —
Q: What did I just tell — I told you I’m not available right now. I’m working on something for Someone Else.
P: Oh okay. (hangs up)
( . . . )
Q: What are you watching, by the way?
L: I forgot the title. Cindy Crawford made one movie and it bombed. This is it.
Q: Oh. The reception’s pretty bad.
L: I don’t know what the plot is.
Q: It’s just weird how the channels with the worst reception are the ones you always want to watch.
L: Well there’s nothing on any of them . . .
Q: But you’ll watch it anyway.
L: What time is it? I might change it to the . . .
Q: It’s almost ten o’clock.
L: Put it on channel seven. I get channel seven good.
A: . . . Now there’s Polo. Ralph Lauren made these players lose their shirts. John Stossel’s “Give Me A Break” when “20/20” continues.
Journal (June 27, 1999)
Today I picked up my wallet and it did seem as if only the cash was taken. Nothing else was found. I also sent a short Email note and press release to Sally Kirkland mentioning how impressive is her work in the alternative healthcare field. I sent the following to Rosemary Altea.
I enjoyed reading your book The Eagle and the Rose after happening to notice you on a television show. While I don’t watch TV ordinarily, my mother was watching "Leeza" when you were the guest for a very inspiring show. To say we have a great deal in common may be an understatement — let’s just say that I’m constantly finding feathers and pennies wherever I go. (When my circumstances are unfortunate, I sometimes find dimes and encounter people with variations of the name Bob.)
I wanted you to be aware of the book I transcribed, available free on the Internet. Some more details are provided below from a press release.
I hope you will have time to read my book because Spirit has revealed to me secrets of life that are apparently beyond the understanding of most people. These secrets were revealed in such a manner that by reading the book, one’s consciousness is expanded.
Should it ever be possible, I would like to find out from Gray Eagle about my great grandmother, Mary Jane, who lived in Pennsylvania. My grandmother said she was Mohawk yet some family members believe she was Cherokee and it would be nice to settle the question.
Mark Russell Bell
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: ROSEMARY EVENTUALLY REPLIED: “DEAR MARK, THANK YOU FOR YOUR LETTER. I HAVE NOT HEARD ANY INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR GRANDMOTHER, BUT IF I DO I WILL FORWARD IT TO YOU. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE LINKUPS. IT WILL BE QUITE SOME TIME BEFORE I HAVE ANY FREE TIME, BUT I WILL ATTEMPT TO READ IT IF POSSIBLE. WITH LOVE AND LIGHT, ROSEMARY”)
Q: (speaking into tape recorder) So it’s Monday June 28th and I’m trying to resolve the dilemmas created by not having any credit cards, having canceled them all, etc. I also received my Citibank bill and I’m a bit perplexed because I had made a payment of $3,500 last month and yet they’re still charging me an additional finance charge on the cash advance. I thought that they would apply the money I paid to the cash advance first but I guess there’s some kind of reason — anyway, I’m going to call them just to see what they say about this.
( . . . )
C: . . . To expedite the handling of your call, please enter your account number now.
C: Please hold.
C: Thank you for calling customer service.
V: Citibank. This is Vicky. May I have your name please?
Q: Yes. Mark Russell.
V: And the mother’s maiden name?
V: Thank you. And how can I help you?
Q: I just had a question. Last month I had paid (“AA TAKE”) $3,500 and I noticed on my new statement they’re still charging me an advance finance charge. I was just wondering when you make (“YO”) larger payments do they apply that first to the finance charge or — I was just curious why I was still being — (“PAY” “FOR THE”)
V: Okay well this would be the finance charge from your last billing period until we received the payment.
Q: Okay. So, like, let’s say if I have money — (“LIKE”) if I advance money rather than just using it as a credit card, is there any additional charge for that?
V: When you take out a cash advance, you’re subject to a 3% fee at the time of the purchase and then interest accumulates until — from the day the transaction is processed until we receive payment in full.
Q: I see. (“AND”) Because — have I paid off for my cash advances or do I still owe on my cash advances?
V: Only thing you owe is just the finance charge of $6.24. Otherwise, everything else has been paid.
Q: And what is that finance charge for exactly?
V: It’s from your last billing statement until we receive the payment. (“SS”)
Q: But does that apply to cash advances?
V: Yes, ma’am.
Q: Oh I’m a Mr.
V: I’m sorry.
Q: But — because I — how much have I had in cash advances altogether? Can you see that on your computer?
V: We can go back to the last six months. One moment please.
V: Thank you for holding. In the last six months, there has been no new cash advance processed. This has just been a carry-over balance for the last six months.
Q: Okay. So my basic question is—in terms of that finance charge—when I pay (“LIKE”) a larger payment like $3,500, does that go to pay off the cash advances first.
V: Not unless you designate it to.
Q: Can I do that now?
V: Well your last payment did pay off your cash advance. This is just the final finance charge that you owe on that.
Q: Oh I see. Okay, fine. I just wanted to make sure. Okay, so then I won’t be having to pay any more finance charge at least for the cash advances.
V: No, sir.
Q: Oh well that’s good. By the way, I’m — sometimes I’m sort of “psychic” and I’m getting this feeling that your last name might be Roberts or Robertson? Am I close?
Q: Okay, bye.
( . . . )
Q: So, of course, you never know when people say “no” how sincere and honest they’re being because I took a closer look at my statement and it says here that my purchases have a “balance subject to finance charge” and my advances has a “balance subject to finance charge” and it still says I have a balance of $390.95 so Vicky wasn’t very helpful. I’m going to have to call again.
C: Citibank Aadvantage® customer service. To expedite the handling of your call, please enter your account number now.
C: Please hold.
Citibank customer service. This is Denise. Can I have your name please?
Q: Yes. Mark Russell.
D: Sir, can you verify your mother’s maiden name?
D: How may I help you?
Q: Yes, I had called and spoke to Vicky a little bit earlier. (“BUT”) I had a question. Last month I had paid $3,500 to my account but I noticed under the advances portion it still says that I have a “balance subject to finance charge” and I was wondering (“YOU KNOW”) why that wasn’t first paid off. It says $390.95 is still a balance subject to finance charge because I would’ve wanted, of course, my advances (“T[O]”) for this money that I put in last month to be applied to that first. Do you understand?
D: Hold on just a second.
Q: Okay. I think Vicky didn’t understand what I was asking —
D: Okay $645.07 — have to go back one statement. And you said it was $300 — what was the finance charge?
Q: Okay, well it says here — it says at the bottom of the statement closing on June 14th under advances it says “balance subject to finance charge” $390.95. I mean it’s not — I just realized — (“K” “LIKE”)
D: That’s your average daily balance.
Q: Oh okay.
D: So that’s what that is. (“L”) Actually, the only thing that you were charged as far as the cash advance was $6.24 for finance charge.
Q: And that’s — there’s no longer going to be any further?
D: No because you’ve paid that off.
Q: Okay, fine. (“I”) And I just noticed too — (“I MEAN”) is it the same rate for purchases and advances? I mean it says 17.650%.
D: Let me double check that.
D: Sir, thanks for waiting. That is correct. It’s the variable rate of prime plus 5.9 which is 17.65% (“AN”)
Q: Is that rate for all of your customers or does it depend upon, like, when you joined and other variables?
D: It depends on when you joined and the other variables because right now new members that come on — the cash advance is now 19.9%.
Q: Oh my gosh.
D: So it depends on when you actually come on and the variable.
Q: Oh my gosh. Who’s making all that money? It probably is, like, the top exec(utives) —
D: Not me.
Q: — probably like the top executives do that. (“I’M NO[T]”) And I must say I’m not very good (“WITH THESE”) — trying to understand these bills and everything. (“AN”) Because, in fact, the first time I ever got a finance charge — (“I WAS THINK”) there was an additional charge and I’ve never really understood it. But — because I mean when they’re charging that big of percentage it seems strange that you have these little advance charge finance charge “periodic rate.”
D: Right. Because actually what’s happening when you received a finance charge, it’s going on your previous balance plus whatever your current charges are. You actually add those two together. In fact, we have a . . . (hard to hear)
Q: And now also (“LIKE”) I had a few things in the mail like where they were saying there are now banks coming open that, if you change your deposit to that other (bank), they’ll give you a smaller finance charge. Have you heard about that?
D: No, I haven’t.
Q: I received a few of them but I haven’t really done anything like that. But when you really realize how much the percentage is, it makes you think about that. Okay, well thank you. You’ve been very helpful.
D: Oh not a problem at all, sir. Thank you for calling.
Q: Do you ever say what your last names are?
D: Not usually but I can give you my agent number if you need that.
Q: No, it’s just because, you know, I was talking to Vicky and (“WE WERE”) “psychic”-ally I was trying to guess her last name and I was getting this Roberts or Robertson. And she said she wasn’t but I just was wondering are there any Rs or Bs in your name?
D: There are . . . no, there’s one R — in my last name, right?
Q: Right or it could be your middle name too.
D: I don’t have a middle name but there’s one in my last name.
Q: So just an R? But no B.
D: No B.
Q: Okay well that’s interesting. Do you have any — let’s see, I’m trying to think — well you said your name. What was your name again?
Q: Okay. Well that’s sort of an interesting name. I wish I had — hmm?
D: I said I think so.
Q: What’s your number?
D: (gives number)
Q: Oh you have 111. That’s interesting. Okay well thank you. You’ve been very helpful.
D: Oh not a problem, sir. Thank you . . .
Q: Okay, bye-bye.
( . . . )
Q: Well I know this probably sounds embarrassing but my whole predicament is pretty humiliating at times. I mean who wants to worry about this nickel and dime business but, my God, everything’s so expensive. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t want to lose any more money for needless expenses. So, anyway, I hope this has been helpful.
( . . . )
Q: I almost went back and taped over this whole section because I just felt it’s not really that interesting. I mean it’s just sort of barking up the wrong tree. (“BUT”) What the hell? I see my statement did have the car charge and there’s Bally Total Fitness for $54.
( . . . )
Q: By the way, I still do think (“THAT”) words within names is a mystery but it’s still fascinating none-the-less.
( . . . )
Q: Just to show that I don’t take it too literally, I found the word ‘slag’ in my name and obviously I’m not a ‘slag.’
( . . . )
Q: After thinking about it, those last two individuals wouldn’t be Bobs, now would they? Under the circumstances. And, of course, I would’ve transferred my visa balances to a less expensive rate in a minute if I would’ve qualified. Right now with my employment as it is, I don’t qualify, obviously.
( . . . )
Q: So I’m on my way to the bank to withdraw some money. Walking through the complex, I overheard some kids watching TV and (“THE”) line of dialogue was “Shoot to kill is your order.” I think that says it all.
( . . . )
Q: This is Mark. I’m talking to my manager at my new apartment building and she’s Jewish. I have Jewish ancestry too way, way far back, by the way, and she’s telling me something interesting so I thought I would include her in these tapes.
G: (small laugh) (“UH”)
Q: Oh — you can say your name. You don’t have to say your last name, if you don’t want.
G: But can we wait (to) tape it?
G: Can we wait before taping it?
Q: Oh no. Just go ahead. I mean just —
G: But it would take a long time.
Q: Well just — you can sum it up in a —
G: Well I believe in real life, first of all. I believe that there is only one Creator, which is the great Jehovah —
Q: I agree with you. I agree.
G: — Yahweh. And He chooses a specific people for a specific fate in this world. He places us in different places for a purpose. Now if that person doesn’t know the purpose and leaves it, then they’re missing the real life. We are chosen, peculiar. We are just people that know their God. And because we respect the Great Creator, He blesses us in different ways and he visits (“U[S]”) as He chooses too. In my personal experience — it was in the summer of 1981. I was living in the state of Texas and sometimes we have to go through trials and tribulations for a reason. I don’t think that anything is a chance — by chance. At this particular time, I was at my home. I was putting to bed my two children. Usually, I would personally do it, you know? We said our prayer before we — I go to sleep and (to) our God, Yahweh. And I believe in Y’shua HaMechiach and he is the finisher of all things. He’s not only the beginning but the finisher of all things. And, you know, because of the lack of knowledge, people are destroyed. And it’s this knowledge and knowing him that keeps us secure. We are not looking for things or any other thing. We know him.
Q: That’s unusual for a Jewish person.
G: Well yes and no. We have a Jew that has knowledge and the other one that is ignorant. (“SO”) It’s like in Christianity, you know, you have people that go just to church—a traditional thing—and you have the knowledgeable Christian. So nothing’s different and it happens to everybody (“AND”) everywhere (“LUCKY”) in the world.
Q: Have you investigated the Cabbala?
G: I have not investigated anything in regards to who am I or where I came from because to us it was given — the life of — well actually people with understanding can now receive knowledge. You have to be able to comprehend things in order to receive knowledge and, of course, we know that reason is knowledge applied. So through the ancient times we have been given specific things — us, the children chosen of God, by God. You know — like Jerusalem was chosen by God to become the great house and it will be soon to be established, I believe, all these things because he said it. And everything that he has said, it has come true. So —
Q: That’s for sure.
G: That’s for sure. (small laugh) And so this security that we have — I personally (am) talking about my experiences. (“NO”) It’s not because we depend on things but on Him. We know Him. And it’s the meaning of the inner you.
Q: You’re very spiritual — (“YOU HA”) your name Grace shows this spirituality. Do you go to church every week — or synagogue or —
G: I believe that most of the people —
Q: I don’t, by the way.
G: — don’t understand the real — how can I say in a —
Q: There’s only one church. Love.
G: Well in reality we are the church. We are the true — this is the body of the living God. And if you know Him — that He lives in you, there is a light that shows the difference. You know? And there are a lot of misunderstandings in regards to that. But the question about going to church, yes we do have gatherings. Not just where the whole Jewish people gather like synagogues and things like that, we are very open. We like to share our life with other people. Just like we were given this free gift of knowing Him. We want to be able to tell you, you know, there is a God that forgives —
Q: I have to ask you too — have you had any encounters with the dark side?
G: I personally didn’t have much knowledge in regards to Satan like we called him, okay? But he exists.
Q: Just going to horror movies and things.
G: Yeah. (“LIKE”) He exists but he is no match for us for the reason that the Holy One lives in us. You see the difference? (“IT”) Was not dependency on what I have done but what He has done. And we call Him Y’shua HaMeschiach. He is the beginning and the ending. And to many of the Jews it’s not the same.
Q: What about reincarnation? Do you believe in reincarnation? (Phone rings)
G: Excuse me. Can you . . .
( . . . )
G: I’m sorry . . . keep on talking. This is very important.
Q: But reincarnation — I want to find out if you had to guess —
G: Well there is no guess of that. We —
Q: I think you might have been an airplane pilot or something.
G: (laughs) We love — we understand that . . . receive the love . . .