INTERVIEW — TAPE #62, SIDE #2
Q: Mark Russell Bell
J: Jennifer Nontkolsiri, waitress
B: Michael Paul Russell, my twin brother
ACC (SMOG CHECK FACILITY) INTERVIEWEES
M: Marta Corea
H: Habet (last name)
P: Patrice Patton
U: unidentified man at smog check facility
J: Well, we have a Buddha. The one (“RIGHT”) in the middle.
J: And a queen — that one is a goddess.
Q: And what is she the goddess of?
J: She represents like — business. It’s good for the business.
Q: Right. And (“MY”) you have incense.
J: Yeah. Incense for the god. (“AND UM”)
Q: What religion are you? (“AS A”)
Q: Buddhist — you’re a strict Buddhist? Non-denominational Buddhist or —
J: No no. (laughs)
Q: Thank you. (“REAL” “WOODY” “OKAY”)
( . . . )
Q: (speaking into tape recorder) So I was talking to Diana about my therapy session last night and I realized that Malcolm McDowell had to go to Lindsay Anderson’s funeral during the making of “Star Trek Generations” and that’s what led to the brouhaha involving Allison Jackson. One of the calls I had today on the Hotline (“WHO”) was from a woman and her children who needed to find housing. They had no place to stay and she could only call 800 numbers because she had no money for telephone calls. And so I told her to call Interfaith and she said she had and they had given her some referrals but she didn’t have any money to call the numbers they had referred so she was calling 800 numbers trying to find the same opportunities. That’s what a terrible place that some people get into and there isn’t enough concern for their welfare to avoid these kinds of hardships. Oh my God — I’m looking for a shortcut and I’m driving on Saturn Street.
( . . . )
Q: Here I am at Robertson. I’m at the corner of Saturn and Robertson. How perfect. I can’t tell —
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: THE FOLLOWING INTERVIEWS WERE CONDUCTED WITH INDIVIDUALS I ENCOUNTERED WHILE HAVING MY CAR’S EXHAUST EMISSIONS CHECKED.)
Q: By the way, what is your name?
Q: My name is Mark. Is that M — A — R — T — H — A?
Q: How did I know that?
M: (small laugh) I don’t know. (“MAYBE”) You didn’t see here my name? (“OH”)
Q: Oh okay. So there’s no H in your name, at least.
M: No. With no H.
Q: Thank goodness. (“AND WHAT”) What’s your last name?
Q: And what does that mean? Does that have a meaning?
M: Not really. I don’t know where it comes from but . . .
Q: Every name has a meaning.
M: Yeah but it — I know they come from like the Philippines. But I came out — (or “BUT I CAME OUT”) that’s what my grandparents told me but I’m not really sure. I never found out really.
Q: Well, I’m doing a book that goes into names and symbolic meanings.
M: Oh really?
Q: And the supernatural. And Hollywood. And Los Angeles.
M: Oh yeah? (“I KEY”) How many miles you have on your car is 94,000?
M: Alright. That’s yours.
Q: Okay. Great.
M: Yeah and — I’m going to need your signature here.
M: Thank you.
Q: And what do you think of California — how long have you lived here?
M: Almost — I can say nine years.
Q: Do you like it? Isn’t the quality of life very good here?
M: Yes. (portion hard to hear) . . . I’ve been in Mexico and I see but this is much better than Mexico really. And I don’t know a lot about . . .
Q: Except for the homeless and the smog —
M: Smog and violence. But I think — I don’t know. In each big country it’s always like that. Something —
Q: So this is still a lot better than every place else in the world. Well, thank you very much.
M: You’re welcome. (“OKAY”) This is what you keep for your records and this is what the mechanic’s going to take from you.
Q: Okay, great. Thank you.
M: You can pull a little forwards if you don’t mind really.
Q: Okay, I will.
( . . . )
Q: (speaking into tape recorder) The car in front of me — the brake lights just went on and off. Maybe it was the lady in front of mine turning off the alarm. I can’t decide if it was a ‘phenomena’ or just her turning off the alarm. It’s a Saab.
( . . . )
Q: Oh where? (“IN HERE”) Okay.
( . . . )
Q: Somebody just came by trying to sell socks to make a living. This smog check place is right near Robertson Place and Robertson Boulevard. By the way, do you know what street this is here?
Q: Kramerwood as in W — O — O — D. And what’s your last name?
Q: Spell that.
H: H — A — B — E — T.
Q: And what does that mean? Where are you from?
H: From Belize.
Q: Oh my God. Okay. (Your last name) it means something.
( . . . )
H: I’m not too sure. (“YEAH”)
Q: I’m writing a book on synchronicity —
H: What’s that?
Q: — and names.
H: Oh — names?
( . . . )
Q: (speaking into tape recorder) I noticed that the manager’s named Marcos Sandoval. So that’s M — A — R (me), M — A — R (Marta), M — A — R (Marcos).
Q: What’s your name?
Q: And last name?
Q: Is that like in General Patton?
Q: Any relation? (“NO”) Are you from Los Angeles?
Q: Me and you are like the only ones that I know who are from Los Angeles.
P: (laughs) (“EXCEPT”)
Q: Except my brother, Michael. Do you know anybody named Michael? Well, everyone does, I guess. (“I GUESS”) Do you know anyone named Michael?
M: Yeah. . . .
P: Yeah. (“YEAH”)
Q: We all do. (“MICHAEL” or “MIGHAEL” “WE ALL DO”)
M: (laughs) (“MY”)
Q: My book is about this, believe it or not.
M: Oh really?
Q: Um-huh. (“I”) Synchronicity. My book is about synchronicity and names and the supernatural and Hollywood.
( . . . )
U: The key’s up here.
Q: Why do you need them? Flooding or anything?
U: Wash something off.
Q: Oh okay.
( . . . )
Q: (speaking into tape recorder) It’s hard to explain but I think spills and spilling can be part of the phenomena. I mean it’s possible. I can probably hear Mighael’s voice on the tape (later) going, ‘Nut.’
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: CAUGHT IN FREEWAY TRAFFIC ON THE WAY HOME, I RECORDED A PORTION OF THE LAURIE ANDERSON CD I WAS PLAYING. I FORGOT TO ROLL UP THE WINDOWS ALL THE WAY SO THE SOUND QUALITY IS POOR FOR THIS PORTION OF THE TAPE. MOST OF “HOTHEAD [LA LANGUE D’AMOUR])”—FROM DISC FOUR OF UNITED STATES LIVE CO-PRODUCED BY ROMA BARAN AND LAURIE ANDERSON—IS TOO DIFFICULT TO TRANSCRIBE.)
And when I do my job I’m thinking about these things. Because when I do my job that is what I think about.
Q: I just happened to bring a Laurie Anderson CD to listen to today. I just realized that Bellevue Avenue is right near Alvarado Street. A license I just saw said: “TANMARK.” I just realized the street right next to Clinton is Belmont.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: THE FOLLOWING CONVERSATION IS WITH MY BROTHER. THE LISTENING DEVICE IS MALFUNCTIONING AS I BEGIN RECORDING.)
Q: Guess what I got in the mail today?
Q: A letter from Paul addressed to “Russell, Smith and Blarney” and my address. (“BUT — BUT”) You know what else I just noticed when I was driving in. I had lunch with Diana Widom today. You know this street right in front of Clinton?
Q: Guess what it’s called.
Q: No. Belmont Avenue.
B: Let me — I’ll just get off the phone. I’ll call you right (back) — are you at home?
Q: Yeah. Who are you speaking to?
Q: Oh okay.
B: I’ll just call you right back.
Q: Okay. Bye.
( . . . )
Q: Anyway, so what was I going to tell you?
B: So Diana you said —
Q: Yeah. (“NO SHE”) She looks good. We had a nice long talk.
Q: I mean you know. I’m being very honest about my experiences with Don Levy — with everyone. I’m just being very honest. (“WHAT DID SHE”)
B: Why? What did she say? (“WELL”)
Q: She had seen a psychic and the psychic woman told her that the archangel Michael is looking after her. Do you believe me?
B: Looking after Diana?
Q: Yes. Do you believe me?
Q: Well? Is that just a coincidence?
B: I — who knows? (“EXA”)
Q: I also realized that Allison and Eileen have something in common. Guess what that is.
Q: They both have the word son in their last names.
Q: And Allison also in her first name. (“BUT”) Eileen Peterson. Isn’t that interesting? So, anyway, I just opened up this letter from Paul. I haven’t read it yet. I thought I would wait until you were on the line. Oh my God. I can’t even tell where it begins it’s such a mess.
B: I can imagine.
Q: Oh my God. And there’s a check too.
B: There is?
Q: For $389.
B: For what?
Q: I can’t tell. (“WELL LET ME LO[OK]”) Let me just read this letter to you really quick. I’m sure it’ll be a good one. If I can tell where it begins. Oh, that’s page two. Oh here it is. What — oh my God, it’s a mess. (“I CAN’T EVEN”) I can’t even figure out where it begins. Well, I’m going to start on page two because I can’t tell where else to begin. It says: (in left margin) “Now ’96 on . . . . . Belatedly, love, Paul R. Jr. (At top of page:) “(Page) 2 Sat., 1-20-96: Two more minor exigencies, not emergencies — After ‘side-winding’ the reverse of this original, it looked neater but read more difficult. I’ll do this one and copier (SIC) it there over the scribbles, or vice-versa. Either way, you lose an original, but gain an improving sojourner, on 'pers-lets' . . . Also, I had to ese (SIC) doctors, except derm due to trans-co. van, but had written a few paragraphs after as follows, briefly, and although Mark hasn’t phoned, probably my ‘no mail’ fault, I’ll set 1st Saturday, Feb., for lunch.” Oh that’s interesting. “Esther will be available, if I don’t U.P.S., etc. . . . . I had thought Rosemead and Huntington Drive, not Colo., Sears, (writes old phone number), like circa 1980. That took me 5 hours from Newport, Long Beach, and Rosemead North. I knew then I’d have to explain, and mention the late student loan ‘thous’ and now, by express from El Monte, it would take as long to get downtown, L.A. I guess your sabbathical, with an ‘h,’ is over, you’re on 2nd shift, or maybe unemployment, like my ‘sab-journs’ were!!” He crossed out a portion about “Now: re the lunch, Sat., I might suggest to Mark on phone” — I can’t read the rest of it very well. “Now, no more rewrites — I had planned to replace ’86 last M.O. to Mike” (“OR”) — it’s written over (by) something — (“I CAN’T WAIT”) (looks like “Mark) G.” I don’t know. It’s hard to read. “So the ‘Fla. Five will lower this one . . . . . Mark nay have called — Mary, Esther calls in Dec. here — no messages!! over — 3 Addendum: Dum me — But and ifs — (P.S.): To Mike, late ’80s, I suggested Braille, N. Vermont near city college; Thurs., 1-25: I don’t wonder mucho that Mark hasn’t “Ma Belled,” since Dec. 23, (call waiting click heard) [circa] as I should have mailed a card, at least . . .”
B: Hold on.
( . . . )
Q: Was it a hangup or what?
B: No. Somebody asking for some Spanish name.
Q: Were they asking for “Martha”?
Q: I’ve been getting calls asking for “Martha” as in Fassbinder’s “Martha.” Okay, I’ll keep reading: “I always crowd” —
B: Don’t bother, Mark. There’s nothing in there that makes any sense at all. (“WELL NO”)
Q: Well, there might be.
B: Nothing makes any sense.
Q: Well, if there is, I’ll call you back.
B: Okay. (“IT’S”)
Q: Do you think insanity runs in our family?
B: I don’t know.
Q: What if —
B: You have to wonder.
Q: I’ll just say. At the end, (“B”) he ends it with “Be My Aghast.” As in “Be My Guest.”
B: I don’t get it.
Q: No, I don’t either. (“AND”) What’s this? I don’t know. Well, I’ll let you look at it.
B: I don’t want to see it.
Q: Okay. And let me see if there’s anything else I should tell you real quick. Oh —
B: (This sentence was hard to distinguish) Did Diana have any interesting to — any news or anything?
Q: I don’t know. I’ll go through it. I don’t know. I don’t know.
B: I’m sure she asked about me, didn’t she?
Q: Who? Did you say she?
Q: Oh Diana today. Of course. (“YEAH”) But what was I going to ask you? Now (“OKAY”) I had spoken to Jay briefly because I wanted to get his mother’s phone number. (“RIGH[T]”) Do you have it?
Q: How often do you speak to him? (“I”)
B: I’ve got to call him. It’s his birthday.
Q: Well, call him — (“AND”) and just (“TA[PE]”) remind him to call me. (“OR”) Or I just need to get Celia’s number because I want to speak to him. Actually, I would like to do a really quick — (“TALK”) talk to him for my book and I’ll be glad to, you know, not give his name or anything.
B: Okay, I’ll mention it to him. (“YEAH I’LL”)
Q: I’ll just — tell him I’ll just call him Marc when he calls and have my tape recorder on so I can do one of my ersatz interviews for my book. (“I’LL JUST CALL”) Tell him I’ll call him Marc when he calls. (“AND”) So he can be totally honest. I just want to talk to him for a few minutes and ask him about that beautiful dish that his mother gave me. So if he needs to ask her about it before calling me I’d appreciate it because this is going to be published someday. Alright? Will you do that for me? Thank you. Have you read any of the book yet?
B: I’ve glanced through it. It looks interesting.
Q: Yes, doesn’t it? Okay, thank you. (“AA”)
B: Anything else?
Q: Well, I got a call from — let’s see — what’s her name? This lady from Jews For Jesus. So — you know I got this publication called A Messianic Look At Christmas And Hanukkah and it’s about, anyway, this character called Y’shua or Emmanuel. So, anyway, I was going to ask her a question about it. (“BECAUSE THEY”) There was this weird symbol that they haven’t translated. (“BUT”) She’s going to be in later but she’s going to be in a Bible study class so she might not be available. Isn’t that funny?
Q: They’re all studying the Bible looking for meaning and significance and they have me calling to really verify things. (“AND”) I don’t think I’m going to get a hold of anyone. Isn’t that funny? Because with all these “son”s and everything, I really am beginning to think that I might be, you know, the soulmate/son symbol of God. Don’t you think so?
B: Well, I don’t know what that — what does that mean?
Q: Well, I don’t know what it means either. (“BUT”) You remember that (“YOU KNOW”) Bob Evans book. Remember that note?
B: Yeah. (“I MEAN” “AND”)
Q: Allison and Peterson and — well, you know how many “son”s there are. Laurie Anderson. Lindsay Anderson. Orson Welles. It’s something to think about, isn’t it? Do you know anyone with son in their names? (“I”)
B: Who cares?
Q: I know. Well, I care because I keep seeing “bel.” I keep seeing “wood.” (“THERE WAS” “SO BUT”)
B: So what? What’s the point? (“I DON’T”) Who cares?
Q: Well, no, it’s all sort of prophetic. (“IS THIS” “ISN’T IT” “MAYBE”)
B: That’s sort of like ‘so what?’
Q: Well — (“MAYBE” “WE”)
B: There’s no meaning there — just a coincidence.
Q: Well, that’s the whole point is synchronicity and coincidence.
B: I know but (“NO”) —
Q: That’s why you have to read all my book. So after you finish the first portion, I’ll give you the second portion. (“SO LET”) Oh and, by the way, (“WILL YOU”) next time tell Andy that one bookstore only had the paperback version of The Andy Warhol Dairies so I’m still looking. (“O K”) I told them hardback.
Q: Okay bye.
( . . . )
Q: I’m having dinner and I’m reading in the newspaper about Magic Johnson. In this article, it says Magic’s physician is Michael Mellman. On the same page, the columnist is named Mike Downey. “‘This is exciting and inspiring,’ said Michael Gottlieb, a nationally known AIDS expert from Los Angeles. ‘He’s doing something special.'” On the next page — well, it’s funny. On page C5, there’s a mention of him at the Loyola Marymount gymnasium. “Above him hung a sign dedicated to a Loyola player of old. ‘Here the lion spirit dwells,’ it read.” It also quotes Michael Cooper, who I think went to Pasadena High School at the same time as my brother and I. Another Michael. “‘Next to being born, this is probably the biggest day of his life,’ said Michael Cooper, Johnson’s friend, teammate and assistant coach at various stages since the fall of 1979. ‘This is what he’s always wanted to do and now he gets to continue doing it. Unfortunately, he couldn’t go ahead and make a successful venture the first time but this time it’s going to be good for him. I think he’s going to add something special to the team. He’s very happy.'” Names names names. It’s so easy — I mean people will just say it’s just a coincidence. (“SO”) That’s the whole point. Oh my goodness — so I just grabbed my high school yearbook. I mean if I really wanted to obsess over names there’d be no end to it. (“SO”) I really have to stop this. (“BUT I”) I just opened it and on the back cover there’s a message from Richard Sheppard. That’s an interesting name. And Chris Anderson: “Mark — enjoy your future as a journalist.” Let me just turn it over to the front inside cover. Oh here at the very top there’s something from Denise Jackson. I can’t quite read what she’s writing: “You are a true —” I can’t quite make that out. “Duo” — maybe duo. “You are a true duo. Life has much for you. Good luck in your future educational plans and life its-self.” Well, I’ll just read a couple. (“THERE’S”) Oh it’s funny. Pam Reynolds ended her message with “The Devil will get you!” Well, in a way she’s right because there is no Devil so there’s only one metaphorical devil who’s sort of part of God so the Devil did get me. Oh (“COURSE”) well, there’s just really no end. Oh I see Matthew wrote a very long message — Matthew Brandstetter. “. . . You are a wonderful person. Good luck always + thanks for everything.” He began it with: “For the last four years, and maybe even longer, you have been one of my greatest friends and supporters.” I don’t know. (“THIS JUST”) It’s very interesting to look at the past. Oh my goodness. Anyway, I’m going to put this away. It’s just too much (“TO”) to (“NO”) go over. There are a lot of Marks, though — two (on one page) — a lot of Michaels and Marks.
( . . . )
Q: And I just saw Ted Heublein’s picture. He drew a little cartoon instead of writing anything and there’s a sketch of Saturn. Also, there are a lot of people with son in their names. What else is new? Some of the artwork in the yearbook was done by Barbara Pedersen and I remember she had a scary coma — a diabetic coma one year. And I felt sort of responsible because my brother and I had encouraged her to have candy because we didn’t really know how bad that could be. I don’t really feel guilty because we just didn’t know. And I see that — and Kathy Stevenson died. A drunk driver hit her head-on, I think, on the freeway. I mean these things happen (“NO”) in everyone’s life — what happens to some of their friends. Bad things happen in life so — I mean I could go on and on and on. Like there’s a nurse named Betty Bellue, a secretary named Evelyn Anderson, a secretary named Bernice Sheppard. Anyway, it’s — it’s boring. Mighael, I’m so bored of doing this. Why don’t you add something? Why don’t you reveal who (“SOME”) someone is the reincarnation of or something? (“OR”) (observations about tape recorder beeps deleted) Or make a poem up or something? Do something to liven up my book. It’s getting to be really repetitive. So, of course, k. d. lang is playing on the radio, singing that she’s alright if I’m okay. (sighs) I’m okay. I’m just a little bored. So God’s alright if I’m okay. ‘I’m okay — you’re okay.’ Okay?
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: I LEFT MY TAPE RECORDER ON RECORD FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE TAPE SIDE WITHOUT ANY APPARENT COMMENTS FROM MIGHAEL.)