INTERVIEW — TAPE #63, SIDE #2
Q: Mark Russell Bell
V: Pacific Bell Message Center Phone Voice
F: Fiona Manning, friend
N: retirement home receptionist
P: Paul Russell
( . . . )
(“THERE WAS A”)
Q: There was one especially ironic quote in the article about Don Simpson. It says, Tova Laiter, Cynergi’s executive vice-president of production, during an hour-long phone call with the producer the day before he died, reminded him of a conversation that took place twenty-three years before. “‘Don had told me that he’d live a hedonistic lifestyle until age 50, after which he’d become a holy man and live on a mountain,’ Laiter recalls. ‘You’re 52 now,’ I said to him. ‘How about it?’ ‘Not for another 25 years,’ he said.” The article ends with: “Pausing to regain her composure, the executive took refuge in some positive spin: ‘I just hope that, wherever he is, Don can keep on swinging,’ she said.” This was an article by Elaine Dutka, Times staff writer.
( . . . )
Q: I guess another theme of my book is people really should watch what they say. You never know when somebody’s going to take that quote and immortalize you forever.
( . . . )
Q: And, by the way, Holly Meyer at Jews for Jesus never did return my call. She was very busy last night because she had a bible study course. (“SO”) She and the other gentleman who possibly could’ve helped me both were far too busy with their bible studies to actually speak to Son of Man or Immanuel or — what is the word? Y’shua? I guess I’m all those because — I mean some people, I guess, think that a lot of the cryptic references about the messiah relate to Jesus Christ. (“BUT”) As Jesus was a metaphor, let’s not — I mean I have to be honest about this. It looks like I am it. And these Jews for Jesus can’t be bothered to return his call.
( . . . )
Q: I also received my check from Paramount today for the two articles I hurriedly did the night before going to Oklahoma so that check for $1,100 will come in handy. I almost feel like singing “I’m in the money.”
( . . . )
V: . . . today at 9:45 a.m.
F: Hi, darling. It’s Fiona. I just want to tell you that I — my car broke down last night on my way home from work. Actually, it was quite an ordeal. It broke down at an intersection in the middle of traffic and they had to tow it away after I waited two hours for Auto Club to get there and I don’t know what is wrong with it. My mechanic hasn’t managed to get to it yet. He doesn’t know whether it just got wet from the rain or whether there’s a bigger problem but, (clears throat) excuse me, he doesn’t think he can get to it until this afternoon so I thought I’d better let you know that I can’t make it tonight because I’m supposed to be meeting you right after work and I don’t think he’s going to have it ready by 4 o’clock when I’m ready to leave work to come to you. So I’m going to have to skip tonight but can we do this Monday night or Tuesday night because I have both those days off and I can come to you earlier and you can show me your work. And I’ve got some stuff for you to read too. That way I know my car will be fixed. I’m working tomorrow night and, of course, Saturday night is James’s party but — so I hope I see you then. But I’m just hoping my car’s alright. I’ve just had so much work done on it lately and I can’t believe it’s broken down on me. I have a feeling it might’ve just been the rain and that, you know, it got wet. I hope that’s all it is but, anyway, let’s talk this afternoon anyway and I hope that’s okay. I wanted to let you know now so that I don’t cancel at the last minute but, as I said, I just spoke to him and I don’t think he’s going to get to it and he said “until about two o’clock.” I guess everyone’s cars are in there. And the Auto Club just had my car towed to his place last night. So — I’m sorry about this evening but I look forward to seeing you Monday or Tuesday. Let me know which is best for you. Have a great day, sweetie. Bye.
( . . . )
Q: It’s around 4:30 on Thursday. I’m just feeling a little bit — well, overwhelmed but that really isn’t the right word because I feel very calm. It’s just that I feel that no matter what I do, it won’t be the best solution and I don’t even know what to say. I’m just feeling very, like, whatever happens is sort of what has been manipulated to happen. The person I am today I have to take responsibility for. But that person has come about through my experiences and the books that I’ve been given to read by fate or whatever. And I don’t know — (“I JUST”) I know I was a nicer person before everything that has happened to me since I went to Oklahoma even though I didn’t give money to homeless people. I just was a nicer person I think. I might be wrong. But now I feel like every time I say anything, I regret it. So I’m going to try to speak less into the tape recorder and just let situations speak for themselves. I got up again this morning early. (“AND I READ SOME”) I read my book about love and I’m beginning to wonder more and more what that means. And I read on page 190 — I think one of the entries that most made me feel good was a passage from Shakespeare. They didn’t even attribute which play it’s from and I’m so — overwhelmed as not even to try to figure it out anymore. I just don’t (“EVEN”) have the energy. I’ll read it, though.
Let me not to the marriage of true mindsAdmit impediments. Love is not loveWhich alters when it alteration finds,Or bends with the remover to remove.Oh, no! It is an ever-fixéd markThat looks on tempests and is never shaken;It is the star to every wandering bark,Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeksWithin his bending sickle’s compass come;Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,But bears it out even to the edge of doom.If this be error and upon me proved,I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
Q: So even reading this just makes me feel like I wish I hadn’t been chosen for this task. I just don’t have the right sensibility for it. I just will never be calm enough to look on tempests and not be shaken. I just — there’s just — even though my name is somewhere in this passage, there’s no way I could ever be ever-fixéd. (sighs/[simultaneous] SPIRIT SIGH) I just am too — it’s not a matter of ego because I don’t even know what ego means. I don’t care about me. I just want everything to be as good as possible for everybody and God. (“NO” “I MEAN”) I don’t know. (“I JUST”) Better shut up before I get into trouble.
( . . . )
Q: Well I feel better now after thinking about it a little bit. It’s just that one of the big ironies of my experiences is that personally—and I could only speak (“IN”) for my own experience—is that I think I had more trust in God as a God overseeing life before going to Oklahoma then I do now. Now I think that He’s just much more — well I thought before He was like an impassive observer. And I still feel that way. I don’t know. I guess He is. But, anyway, I guess I was just more sure of His sweetness and love — I didn’t realize how many dark feelings He had. I always thought that when you died, you went to heaven and everything was wonderful. And now I think that Don Simpson was right in that quote in the Los Angeles Times and we always make our own heaven and our own hell no matter where we are — in what level of reality. That was also the theme of my screenplay “Brides.” So I don’t know what I’m trying to say. I’m just saying it’s so hard being a cheerleader for God when no one wants to give any acknowledgment to God. I mean you have to — if you acknowledge God’s Presence in your life, that means you have to acknowledge both the good and the bad and yet chance does play a part. And yet He’s revealed Himself to me but not in any clear way. Just the fact that He exists and this is what I’m trying to describe. (“THIS”) My feeling of limited knowledge of God because He keeps giving me different aspects of Himself. I mean, let’s face it, we’re each God. It began with One God and He’s been schizophrenic. (“AND”) Worse schizophrenic ever since then so he’s got to put us all somewhere since, you know, He doesn’t want any of His loved ones to die — (“I USE THA[T]”) that term very loosely and maybe I’m not even sure that that’s true but, anyway, I’m just saying that in His grand scheme of things, He does have a place for all of us but yet our collaboration with Him determines (“IF THAT”) just how blessed and wonderful that place is. Oh well, this is enough meaningless nonsense talk for one day.
( . . . )
Q: Paul Russell.
N: Uh-huh. I’m sorry. He’s in his room already. He’s probably already in bed.
Q: Oh, well he — I think he’s expecting my call. This is his son, Mark.
N: Okay, Mark. Paul Russell?
N: Let me page him.
N: You mean Roy Russell?
Q: Oh no. Paul. P — A — U — L.
N: Okay, hold on.
( . . . )
Q: Oh hi?
P: Howdy. (“OH HI”)
Q: So now — (“DID THEY”)
P: I’m sorry. I was going to call you.
Q: Who’s Roy?
Q: They said your name is Roy.
P: Well when I came here, there was a Paul and so —
P: — everybody started calling me Roy instead of Ray and —
Q: (small laugh) (“CALL”) Okay.
P: Now there’s two hundred people and you can’t change your name with two hundred people around. (“SO”)
Q: So is it —
P: I was — I’m almost caught up for new year’s.
Q: Oh, okay. Yeah, I got your letter and the check. Thank you.
P: Oh yeah. Well, listen, I figured that you either had a lousy Christmas or you were depressed and tired of telephoning. (small laugh)
P: So I didn’t mail the letter soon enough. And I didn’t call you. I was going to call you this month, going to mail the letter last month.
Q: Um-huh. So you want to get together for dinner or something?
P: Well yeah. I got this stuff that I gave — I was going to give Esther.
Q: Okay, great.
P: And UPS would probably cost $30 or $40.
Q: Okay, so should I go ahead and write it down in my datebook yet? Or do you know what day yet?
P: Well yeah. Are you back at — on you sabbatical, did you get that comment? (small laugh) “I Used to call my sabbaticals unemployment.”
Q: Right. (“YEAH”)
P: Then you got that? Well —
Q: I got it.
P: I don’t know. I think I figured it out. I got a letter from Mary Edna and she’s hard to read, you know? She got it on lined paper, printed — no, she writes on lined paper but there’s a lot of space between the lines. And what I do is I put too much space, when I print, between the letters and then not enough space between the lines so it looks terrible. And it didn’t look much better when I went sideways. (“[Y]EAH”)
Q: The letter was sort of interesting. I didn’t really get anything meaningful — I mean no meaningful surprises or revelations out of it but it was interesting.
P: Well no but the ones I wrote in October and November, they got paragraphs of stuff that aren’t important but they’re — fill in the gaps between 1980s and 1990s.
Q: I’m not that smart.
P: (small laugh) But it don’t matter because you already know what not to do and if you do it —
Q: Did you ever watch that (technical malfunction) “Twin Peaks”? That TV series?
P: How old is it?
P: No, I didn’t. I don’t watch the series.
Q: That was a real creepy TV show. They had this Bob character that was very scary.
P: Oh. Like your Saturday night movie stuff? We used to call them horror movies.
Q: No, this was a demon named Bob.
P: Oh yeah. A demon.
Q: But it’s just an interesting TV show because it was called “Twin Peaks.”
P: Oh twin, yeah.
Q: Twins. Yeah.
P: Sin twisters.
P: Sin twisters.
Q: Oh, what does that mean?
P: Well you got twin sister aunts.
Q: Right. Oh you know what else I found which really made me —
P: And one of them had a boy and a girl (“YOU KNOW WHAT”) and then —
Q: Guess what Ellen and I are going back and forth on, at the moment?
Q: Ellen and I.
P: On what?
Q: Or should I call her what you used to call her — Yellin’?
P: Yellin’. Where is she? Is she there now?
Q: She’s in Arcadia.
P: Oh did you go out there Christmas or New Year’s? (“YEAH”)
Q: Christmas Eve.
P: Christmas Eve?
Q: And I went and visited her last week too. I gave —
P: Where’d you go New Year’s Eve?
Q: I gave her my book (manuscript) to read. I just stayed home.
P: You gave her a whole copy?
Q: Yeah, the whole thing. (“OF”)
P: Ask her if she wants me to autograph it for her?
Q: But, anyway, I was going to ask you — (“YEAH”) oh, no I found these three color baby photos.
P: We went to the same day school together.
P: You and me.
P: Only I walked out after two years.
P: You didn’t know that?
P: Well, see, you didn’t read my October/November letters.
Q: I did too but they were very hard to follow.
P: That wasn’t them, I told you. I can’t rewrite without a magnifying glass and then I get tired of rewriting so I figure I’ll remember it and I start out — it’s entirely different. What did you just say?
Q: I found these three color baby photos suggesting there were triplets instead of twins.
P: Where did you get them?
Q: They were in different scrapbooks that my mom gave me.
P: Whose were they?
Q: I don’t know.
P: You mean of you and Mike?
Q: Right. But there were three.
P: There were three of them — well that — I don’t know how they do that.
Q: I don’t either.
P: Put it on the Internet. I don’t know.
Q: I don’t know. She said, “How did you get those?”
P: I’m not a photographer and a cameraman and —
Q: But she was going, “How did you — (“SHE WAS SAYING”) how did you get those?!”
P: I can’t even buff my shoes.
Q: She doesn’t believe that I even have them and I said, “Well I have them.”
P: Yeah, well that’s good. That’s a gimmick. Don’t put that in your next book.
Q: I’m putting — the pictures are in my next book. A picture of the three babies.
P: Well, anyway, did you say you were still on —
Q: Sabbatical. (“WHY” “YEAH”)
P: — sojourn or — (“WELL I”)
Q: I finished my first book. Well I haven’t found a publisher yet and Sherry Lansing sent it back to me so —
P: And you’re not drawing unemployment.
P: You can’t now if you got an advance.
Q: I did get a check, though, this week for $1,100 from Paramount (“FOR”) that covered two articles I did last year.
P: What was that? First draft or —
Q: No, just two news releases I did.
P: Oh my gosh. (“GREAT”)
Q: Yeah. (singing) “I’m in the money.”
P: Boy. That’s pretty good money.
Q: Yeah, that’s —
P: There’s only one problem.
Q: That was one night’s work.
P: Yeah, $1,000 is only worth about —
Q: I know. Tell me about it.
P: — $40, $14.
Q: Well I have some very valuable antiques here that I’m going to give to charity but if I were to keep one for myself I would be a multimillionaire.
P: Keep what?
Q: Some of the — I have these valuable antiquities.
P: What antiquities?
Q: I have the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Grail —
P: Where’d you get them?
Q: Just at local antique stores.
P: Oh, did you find them?
P: You ought to see some of my old wardrobe.
Q: Oh really?
P: That Uncle Bob through out. Oh, well, that’s okay.
Q: Have you seen any new movies recently?
Q: There’s a movie you’ve got to see.
P: I don’t see movies.
Q: Go see “12 Monkeys.”
P: My eyes are bad now, anyway, and we can’t watch — I turn them on maybe for five minutes when they come on late at twelve or —
Q: Really? When “12 Monkeys” comes out on video, you should watch it.
P: I don’t have cable upstairs. They got cable downstairs but I never watch downstairs, anymore.
Q: Have you had any weird dreams or anything?
Q: No supernatural phenomena?
P: No. (“OH”) I’m glad you’re more talkative than you used to be on the phone but you keep coming up with this stuff that —
Q: Well I have supernatural phenomena.
P: — and I don’t know astrology either and I don’t go to cocktail parties.
Q: Right. (brief technical malfunctions begin)
Q: “Alias Smith and Blarney.”
Q: What was (the way you addressed the letter)?
P: (small laugh) Russell, Smith & Blarney . . . it’s a business letter and did you get it right away or did they float it around the apartments?
Q: No, I got it right away.
P: Have you got a front apartment or —
Q: I’ve got a middle one but they know —
P: A middle one? First floor or second? (“WELL I”)
Q: It’s a second and third floor. You know — it’s a two-level —
P: A studio? (“TWO LEVEL”)
Q: Condo. (“UH-HUH”)
P: A studio?
Q: No no, it’s a two-bedroom.
P: I mean you’re just a second or a third floor?
Q: Second and third floor . . . okay.
P: Whenever you’ve got two level with a bedroom upstairs.
Q: Okay, fine. I guess I was getting that confused with “bachelor.”
P: A what?
Q: Never mind.
P: Where’s Mike?
Q: He’s (“OUT”) having —
P: I mean where’s his —
Q: He lives near here actually.
P: Where’s his room I mean? Apartment? Is his apartment the same (are code) number? (“YEAH”)
Q: Yeah, it’s near here.
P: Okay. (“DO YOU WANT HIM TO”) Well don’t —
Q: Do you want him to go to dinner with us too?
Q: Now who’s going to dinner?
P: Yeah, that’s why I was trying to make it Saturday.
Q: Okay, I’ll ask him. Okay.
P: Now wait, where is he now?
Q: He’s on his way home.
P: Oh okay. Well don’t worry about that because if we set it up — I have to meet you there because this place over here is a little funny.
Q: Okay, fine.
P: And — (“JUST LET”)
Q: Just have Esther call me and let me know . . .
P: What’s going on Saturday?
Q: This Saturday? (“I DON’T”) Nothing much.
P: Yeah, you know, the first Saturday?
Q: Yeah — no. Nothing.
P: That’s next Saturday.
Q: You mean a week from this Saturday?
Q: No, nothing as far as I know.
P: Now you’ll get the other — the first page. (small laugh) You get the first page now.
P: And —
Q: Any family secrets?
P: That will have — have you ever heard of —
Q: I love family secrets.
P: — I always say Winterhaven. I mean Winter Park.
Q: Winter Park.
P: It has Florida 5 in it.
P: And I don’t mean basketball.
Q: Oh no.
P: You know what I’m talking about?
Q: You know what else? By the way —
Q: Guess what O. J. Simpson —
Q: O. J. Simpson, Don Simpson and Michael Jackson all have in common?
P: O. J., Michael Jackson and —
Q: Don Simpson.
Q: Don Simpson. (“WHO DIED”)
P: Who’s Don?
Q: That producer who died.
P: Who is Don?
Q: Oh — and Michael Jackson. Did I say Michael Jackson?
P: Jackson, Simpson and who?
Q: Don Simpson, O. J. Simpson —
P: O. J. and Michael and who?
Q: O. J. and Don Simpson —
P: I don’t know Don Simpson.
Q: The Paramount producer.
P: Oh, I heard of him. Yeah.
Q: They all have “son” in their last name.
P: Son son son. Michael Jackson. Oh yeah. That’s great.
Q: As in “Son of Man.”
P: There are your triplets.
Q: How did I know that?
P: Maybe they were born on the same date.
Q: But it takes the Son of Man to figure out these things.
Q: Son of Man.
P: You have to ask Esther and Dorothy about that.
P: I don’t go to church on Sunday.
Q: Okay, I’ll ask them. Are they both going to come to —
P: I go to reading rooms on Tuesday.
Q: Are they both going to come to dinner with us?
P: My case comes up Wednesday.
Q: Are they both coming to dinner or just one of them?
P: I don’t know. I’m trying to think now. Let’s see. What time did you say Saturday?
Q: Any time you want. We’ll have to go someplace where we can get a photograph taken.
P: Well the thing is we’ve got a place to meet there and the only one I know is Italian and it’s a large one.
Q: That’s okay. Wherever you want is fine.
P: And —