TELEPHONE INTERVIEW / INTERVIEW — TAPE #17, SIDE #2
Q: Mark Russell Bell
B: Michael Paul Russell (my twin brother in California)
U: James Ulmer (friend in California)
Q: Are you kidding? (“NO”) But they only come in $20s.
B: I got $30. I got a $20 and a $10.
Q: But they never have $10s in those machines.
B: Well, I called them. I told them what happened. They double checked it and they’re refunding me $10.
B: I know. (small laugh) Is that bizarre? That’s never happened to me before.
Q: Well, just to bring you up to date. Allison hasn’t returned my call. The last time I spoke to her I told her I discovered that “Everything is just a series of bizarre coincidences.” Which isn’t lying actually. I mean, what is life if not that?
Q: Anyway, I think the impression I shared with you back in August is true — that Judgement Day is going to be fun — at least for some people — like going to the next level on Nintendo. What are some of the most memorable things I told you at that time? Do you remember any?
B: You mean regarding Judgement Day?
B: Well, I can’t remember exactly but let’s see —
Q: What was the most memorable (“SHOW-OFF”) thing?
B: Was that when you thought that Judgement Day was three weeks away?
Q: Yeah. (“ISN’T IT”)
B: You were saying some outrageous things — some pretty bizarre things.
Q: In working on the book I realized I have been not entirely true, I guess, because I haven’t been entirely honest about my relationship with Michael. And, of course, my shrink and my mom both are convinced that I created Michael out of my own mind in terms of dealing with whatever problems you may have in your life. I guess I’m like any good spouse. I don’t want to see any imperfections in the one I love. Love is blind and all that. Well, let’s just say after I came back from Oklahoma I had a bad few days. Confronted with the certain evidence that the Deity had been with me for every moment of my life forced me to deal with the reality of every sin I had ever committed. He would destroy me in this way every so often and it felt like He was laughing and gloating and hating me. And I deserved it. I guess I experienced the process of redemption in this lifetime when usually you have to wait until you die. I felt that I was living a movie and that He had filmed every scene, every degradation and humiliation and He was going to reveal this to others in the most diabolical way to show his contempt for humanity through myself symbolically. I mean I’m kind of a slob and it’s like I told you — I just wanted to die. And when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, his Holy Spirit left me. For the first time, I was truly, completely alone. That’s when I became convinced that there really was a ‘Bell Witch’ and it was my special curse. And that the power of evil might actually be greater than that of good. That’s when I called you and raised the possibility that a demonic force could control me in whatever way it wished to work whatever evil it desired. Well, I think it even scared Michael how little faith I truly had in Him. What were your impressions during that time? Did you think I was possessed?
B: No. I still don’t know what exactly is happening.
Q: (small laugh) I know.
B: But everything you’re talking about —
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: THERE ARE A COUPLE BRIEF LISTENING DEVICE MALFUNCTIONS ON THE TAPE HERE.)
B: — be the culmination of things that have happened to you in the past. Your interest in the supernatural and other phenomena. So I —
Q: Wait. Hold on. My listening device is malfunctioning a little bit. I’m trying to be careful about that because it — okay, keep going.
B: It just seems like there’s been a lot of soul-searching. You’ve been trying to deal with whatever it is that’s happening to you.
Q: So when you, James and Fiona arrived at my condo with the black man and had me committed to a mental institution even though you made it seem like I was going to some kind of weekend getaway resort with Jacuzzis and everything —
B: I didn’t say — wait — what are you talking about?
Q: I mean that’s what it seemed like to me —
B: Oh my God.
Q: — like I was going to Palm Springs for the weekend.
B: We didn’t have you committed.
Q: Well, what happened?
B: You don’t remember?
Q: How did they show up like that?
B: How did “they” show up?
Q: What did you do? Who did you call?
B: You seemed to be in a state of anxiety so I — we made calls to see what help you could get to deal with whatever it was that was happening to you. You seemed upset. You wanted to die.
Q: But you know I didn’t really want to kill myself.
B: Well, I — no — but you can’t take things like that lightly.
Q: I was in pain.
B: What happens if you were serious?
Q: I know.
B: We didn’t really want to take that chance.
Q: And you could hear the complete —
B: Mark, you weren’t sleeping —
Q: Well, I was trying to finish my book.
B: You were manic — I know but you could have had a heart attack. I mean who knows? You couldn’t sleep at night.
Q: I mean you could tell I was in pain.
B: Yeah. Absolutely. Inner pain.
Q: It was really like a dark night of the soul.
B: Exactly. So you needed help. So I called the L.A. people psychiatric team (“RIGHT”) to make an evaluation but they would not come. They don’t have enough funds so they said you can call so-and-so, who is a consultant who might be able to give you a suggestion. Anyway, so he came and I guess he was hooked up with that place where you went.
Q: Was that the black guy?
B: The black guy.
Q: Do you know in poltergeist cases, often there’s a black guy?
Q: And even in witchcraft there’s always a black man. It’s symbolic.
B: Anyway, so he came and he talked to you. And he’s an expert in the field.
Q: Of what field?
B: He’s a psychologist or something in the psychiatric field and he thought you were having a psychotic —
Q: Break? With reality?
B: I guess he called it a psychotic episode.
Q: But I didn’t want to kill anyone or myself.
B: It’s not about that. There are other standards rather than just wanting to kill yourself and hurt others.
Q: Well, plus — yeah, okay.
B: Disassociating from reality. He said you had classic symptoms of that.
Q: I guess I did. Well, anyway, (“RIGHT”) I remember arriving there and meeting —
B: But he talked to you and you signed the papers.
Q: I know. Anyway, I remember arriving there and meeting the staff, from that male night nurse with the long hair — his name, I think, meant “lion of God”; and then there was the day nurse — his name was Jesus; to the nurse who referred to herself as ‘Nurse Ratched.’
Q: Well, I still felt I was in a movie because it was always so hot in my condo and wherever I went. I mean I felt the ‘bloomy’ aspects of the phenomena could be the result of the transparent aliens filming me. Like in that picture I showed you.
B: I know, which was bizarre to say the least.
B: Ow! Dickens, don’t bite.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: DICKENS IS THE NAME OF MY BROTHER’S PET CAT.)
Q: By the way, remember the time that Dickens attacked you?
Q: That was like out of the movie “Hell House.” Remember the black cat attack in that movie? Dickens isn’t black but she attacked you. Anyway, so I really became convinced that I was being filmed by transparent aliens.
B: I know.
Q: And that’s why I said upon entering the facility, “I’m the reincarnation of Jesus Christ and aliens are filming a documentary of my life. It’s a comedy.”
B: But did you really believe that?
Q: Of course.
Q: It’s like when I was at Jonathan’s house last week and he said, “You know, it’s really hot and bloomy around here” even though he has air conditioners going. And I said, “Well, maybe the aliens are filming.” Because he had just met someone with angel wings or something and they might have had a romantic time. So I just thought, “Well, something definitely is going on.” Anyway, I just hope that Michael’s a good film editor. (“PICK”) But I guess he’s proven that enough times.
B: How do you know that Michael actually exists?
Q: You can read about it in the book.
Q: I’m just saying He’s proven Himself to be a good film editor because subconsciously He helps make every movie ever make by working through the subconscious minds of filmmakers.
B: So you — that’s God. Michael’s God.
Q: Of course. Well, you know that.
B: Isn’t God married to everyone?
B: Isn’t God married to all humans?
Q: Yes. He’s like the ultimate split personality. But isn’t it ironic that the protagonist in the Disney version of “Beauty and the Beast” is named Belle? Did you ever think of that?
B: No. Why? I don’t get it.
Q: It’s symbolic.
B: Of what? The Bell family?
Q: Well, it’s hard to explain. Anyway, I don’t want to spend a lot of time talking about Michael’s dark side or whether or just how far He may have fallen over the millennia. I just want to say He did find ways of showing me just how unpredictable He could be. At Alhambra we were pretty much just winging it and He was making me walk some kind of tightrope between his good and evil sides to see how I would react. It was in ways — for some reason it surprised me. I mean for some reason — how this all could be I have no clue.
B: How this all could be?
Q: Well, it’s just in terms of how — I know He knows what I’m thinking.
B: Everybody has God in their life.
Q: Of course.
B: But I just wonder why you are the one who’s dealing with it on a daily basis. I mean everybody else is living their lives but you are caught up with this whole thing.
Q: I think I’m helping Him to understand things. I mean it’s like He’s using me to help me explain things to Him.
B: To who — but He knows everything. If it’s God He knows everything.
Q: Yes, but there seems to be some kind of difference between understanding and comprehending and feeling. Because everything in life is an aspect of Him.
B: But you’re trying to figure out God.
Q: I’m not trying to figure Him out. I’m just trying to show you (“YEAH”) my take on things because everyone has their own point-of-view. And my point-of-view is unique because of what I’ve been experiencing. (“HE”) For some reason He thought I was rejecting Him.
B: How? Why?
Q: Well, let me just explain.
B: Maybe you’re just interpreting it incorrectly.
Q: Anyway, I told him, “It takes two to reject.” And I guess that was simple enough for Him to understand because He stopped what He had been doing, which was making me think everything was fine one moment — He was basically taking possession of everyone around me.
B: How do you know that for sure?
Q: By the way He was talking.
B: You don’t.
Q: Of course not. I mean no one knows anything for sure. This is going to sound a little rambling. Well, He was making me think for whatever reasons that everything was fine one moment and then not so great the next.
B: But was it He or was it yourself? (“HEE HEE”)
Q: Does it make a difference?
Q: It was Him. I mean I was literally in a place without soap, running water, coat hangers, fresh air. I was drugged with Stelazine although I had refused medication. It was in the food and in the pitchers of juice and soda. It was probably even in the aluminum water cooler. That’s what one of the other, more coherent patients told me. If I wasn’t crazy when I arrived — I was as soon as the medication started taking effect.
B: Do you think it still has an impact?
Q: Of course not. It never made me hallucinate. It just made me feel woozy. This was when Michael decided to show me His pain and even spoke to me by taking possession of everyone around me. He was talking to me in a very direct way for a change. He claimed He had been considering suicide at one point and my response was, “Wait — don’t do anything rash. I mean if You go — we all go, right?”
B: You thought He was going to commit suicide?
Q: He said that. He said, “You know, we all have to go sometime, you know?”
B: God said that? Well, maybe He wasn’t channeling — maybe it was just that other person saying that.
Q: No. He was definitely channeling.
B: I don’t think God would be suicidal. For one thing, I don’t think that’s the nature of God.
Q: No, but I think He was making me think that to see what my response would be.
B: He or was it maybe you making yourself think that?
B: I mean, see — there’s no definitive —
Q: No, of course not. Of course not. (“UH-HUH”) But, anyway, this is what my perception was at the time.
Q: And it was like, “Don’t do anything rash. I mean if You go we all go.” Actually seeing His/Hers/Whatever’s vulnerability made me love Him/Her/Whatever even more. And He asked me point blank, “What do you have to be grinning about?”
B: He did? When did He say that?
Q: He was channeling through this young Latina teenager and she was quite proud afterward.
B: Proud of what?
Q: Being the channel.
B: Did she know it?
Q: I guess so. She seemed to. Seeing His vulnerable side made me love Him even more. And, besides, I could never lose my sense of humor. I mean, it’s the one thing that makes it possible for me to deal with this — with life in the first place. I mean in any marriage you truly have to love each other and forgive each other’s flaws because you really get to know each other’s pain. It’s very therapeutic for you both because you feel loved for yourself. You know how people say, “You have to love yourself before you can love anyone else”?
Q: Well, that’s psychobabble in my case because I couldn’t find anything to love about myself until Michael revealed that He could. I guess I had been trying to hide from His love eye but the love I couldn’t feel for myself I always felt for Him. No matter how many times my screenplays were rejected by producers and agents — don’t you just love cryptograms like ‘love eye’? Well, it’s something to think about the next time you glance at a dollar bill. “IN GOD WE TRUST. ONE.” Pyramid. The eye of God. Love eye. “The spy who loved me. I’m keeping all His secrets safe tonight.” Get it?
B: No. I don’t get it. I don’t get it. The spy who loved me? I don’t understand.
Q: Or as Jackie Gleason says — “I’ve got a biiiigggggggg mouth.”
B: I don’t get it.
Q: Well, that’s why I’m doing this book. What about the time you were in the Bermuda Triangle?
B: We were in a cruise ship that passed through the Bermuda Triangle and the captain came on and said, “Get prepared everyone. Here we go. We’re going through the Bermuda channel. We might have some choppy waters.”
Q: And then what happened?
B: I don’t remember.
Q: You met someone and they gave you something?
B: You mean the Merinol? Our friend on board?
B: Well, that wasn’t at the same exact time.
Q: In the original Bell case there were incidents where drugs were replaced with other ones; at least, supposedly, on some kind of symbolic level. I mean, they can find ways of giving you drugs without you knowing it.
B: But I knew it. I mean, well they — they did let me — I don’t want to talk about that.
Q: But wasn’t it like you had some kind of weird experience? I mean, being on drugs you sort of get to know the universe and commune with nature.
B: It’s one way of describing it, I guess.
Q: How would you describe it?
B: It’s sort of like you feel you’re floating through the universe.
Q: That’s one aspect of Michael. Are there any other strange things that might have happened to you that you might remember? Any strange dreams?
B: Well, I’ve had lots of strange dreams.
Q: Like what?
B: Well, I don’t think it’s worth mentioning now.
Q: Is there one that sticks out in your mind?
B: No. So when is this whole thing with Michael going to end?
Q: Wouldn’t I like to know? (“YEAH”)
B: Can’t you just turn it off? (“HMM”)
Q: I didn’t turn anything on. It’s not like I’m hearing voices.
B: What started all this? Going to Oklahoma?
Q: Well, you remember those incidents as a child that I had. Those fainting spells and everything.
B: Yeah, but those all had other possible reasons other than Michael.
Q: What about the time I heard the voice? But you didn’t hear the voice — I just heard the voice. So everything I experienced you didn’t really experience.
B: But are you sure your mind isn’t trying to resolve all these unexplained things with a solution that — could your mind possibly be making this happen?
Q: I’m trying to see parallels. I’m trying to connect the dots.
B: I just wonder if maybe your mind is what’s trying to resolve this by creating Michael and Michael really doesn’t exist.
Q: But Michael does exist. He’s always letting me know.
B: Well, yeah, but if Michael is God — God exists — but I don’t know if mankind is meant to be able to understand.
Q: Through me.
B: Why? But it’s still not clear what it’s all about. Through you?
Q: Well, I don’t think it will ever be totally clear. I think He’s just trying to give you enough proof to confirm His existence.
B: Yeah, but I don’t think He’s given you enough proof to confirm His existence.
Q: He wants people to believe on their own or not to believe.
B: So why does He even bother? So why are you even bothering trying to —
Q: It’s like that old Christ ‘bullshit.’ “No man cometh unto the Father but by me.”
B: There’s no way you can — I mean either they get it or they don’t.
B: That book of yours isn’t going to make any difference. It isn’t going to change anyone’s mindset.
Q: Well, you never know.
B: How could it? I mean you told me. I know what’s in the book. It’s interesting but it’s not going to change anybody’s mind. How could it?
Q: I don’t know.
B: It can’t. I don’t think people are even going to understand.
Q: I hope they do.
B: How could they?
Q: Well, think how complex the human body is. Everyone always says these cliches like, “The body is so complex it proves that God exists.” Yes.
B: That’s just a statement that people will either agree with or they won’t.
Q: “We’re all part of God’s dream.” We are.
B: Right. I buy that. But what does that have to do with anything?
Q: Everyone always says that “God is love.” But they don’t really understand that He is love.
B: I think they do.
Q: Well, they say that but they don’t believe it or they wouldn’t act the way they do. There are a million millionaires in the United States alone when there are also people who are homeless and starving. If people believed in God they would have faith that He would supply them with what they need or they would take less for themselves.
B: Maybe they’re just worried. (“NO”)
Q: But (“RIGHT”) maybe they shouldn’t be so worried. Maybe they’re not worried about the right things. Anyway, that’s enough of my diatribe. (“YEAH”) I’ve just sort of been cast in this role and I’m trying to go with the flow.
B: But who cast you in the role? Who would?
Q: Who do you think? Michael.
B: But what proof do you have that He did?
Q: What proof do you have that He didn’t?
B: It seems like you’re taking different isolated instances and saying, “This is why.”
Q: Do you think I would —
B: You have an overactive imagination.
Q: God has an overactive imagination.
B: I don’t think God necessarily wants people to be obsessed with figuring Him out.
Q: I’m not.
B: I think it’s beyond comprehension.
Q: I’m just presenting a case for his existence so people will understand that there are consequences for their actions. I’d be really happy going to the movies or watching television once in a while again.
B: I just hope you’re not completely wasting your time by doing all this because I don’t think anybody’s even going to be there to listen.
Q: That’s why I was so horrified when I came back from Oklahoma and I felt like the Entity had left my body. I felt that all the research I had done over the years had been a complete utter waste of time and that I really had been investigating things I shouldn’t have been and that I was going to be punished for it.
B: Punished for what?
Q: All that research into —
B: What’s wrong with that? There’s nothing wrong with that.
Q: I know but when you’re dealing with these big issues — you don’t know what you’re dealing with. You have to consider whether evil is stronger than good.
Q: Is Dickens attacking you again?
B: No. Just playing. They’re kissy-bites.
Q: Can you imagine people reading about “kissy-bites” in my book. Aren’t you embarrassed?
B: I don’t find it embarrassing.
Q: What about the fact that (“WHO”) you live with James and it’s plutonic and all that? That will be in my book but do you ever talk about that relationship with other people?
B: No. It’s none of their business. So don’t bring it up in the book.
Q: I told you about hearing the spirit message “PEW” on one on the tapes.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: “PEW” IS A PET WORD MIKE AND JAMES SAY TO ONE ANOTHER. “ARF” IS A PET NAME THEY SHARE.)
Q: It’s interesting to think about.
B: But you’re happy?
Q: I’m happy. I just can’t wait to finish the book.
B: How long is it going to be?
Q: I don’t know. I have to go through the tapes one more time because with the equipment I now have I can hear the spirit messages and unattributed sounds more clearly. I’m getting much better at being able to differentiate spirit voices from my own. The first time I heard the tapes I thought, “Boy, I must say ‘you know’ more than anyone else who ever lived.”
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: I DECIDED NOT TO GO OVER ALL THE TAPES AN ADDITIONAL TIME BECAUSE I HAVE SO MANY OTHER TAPES TO TRANSCRIBE. I HAVE EDITED OUT MOST OF THE “YOU KNOWS” ORIGINALLY ATTRIBUTED TO MYSELF.)
Q: Then, I remembered Michael said things like, “YEAH.” But I didn’t realize how much so I called Twyla and I said, “Does Michael ever say ‘you know’?” She said, “He says that a lot.” I realized that a lot of what I thought had been my words were more likely His. He often squeezes messages in between words said by people. I think many of these messages would be very hard for other people to make out unless they’re professional transcribers because you need a lot of experience. I got my experience by going over these many hours of interviews. When I was discussing ‘missing time’ with Maxine and the fact that there was so much interview material resulted during only two and a half days a spirit voice said “RIGHT NOW.” So I experienced a missing time episode even though while we were experiencing it, it seemed like normal life. I wasn’t wearing my watch and I never glanced at the clock. We got a lot done. Even when I recorded my therapy session the time seemed to last longer. The following week when I didn’t record it, I only talked about a few things and then it was time to go. (“RIGHT”) It’s a heightened state of reality that comes to you when you’re dealing with these big issues. It’s a lot to think about, isn’t it?
B: Well, I think it’s too much to think about. I think you can just drive yourself crazy.
Q: I’m not having a problem with any of this any more.
B: It seems like this has completely taken over your life. (“WELL I’M”)
Q: It hasn’t.
B: All you ever talk about is “Michael Michael Michael.”
Q: Yet I still go to the gym. I still go to the store. What if you had this going on? Wouldn’t you talk about it too?
B: I can’t imagine having it go on. It’s just so beyond imagination.
Q: It’s also ironic when you consider we’re probably identical twins. Even though they didn’t do a genetic test or anything.
B: I’m sure we are. We look exactly alike.
Q: Not exactly alike.
B: We did when we were kids though.
Q: That’s what I’m saying.
B: I’m sure we’re identical twins.
Q: Well, that was another one of the things I had to deal with. (“ME”) The realization that I had been chosen out of all the billions of people who have lived throughout the history of mankind when, to begin with, I was a twin.
B: To do what?
Q: To do this book — to have Michael channel this book through me.
B: But you could say, “Every book that has ever been written was channeled by Michael.”
Q: Each book has been.
B: So you’re just like everyone else.
Q: I know, but this book takes a more direct approach.
B: It sounds a little egotistical saying, “I am the chosen one.”
Q: I said I was chosen to channel this book.
B: But he’s channeling through everyone.
Q: It’s not about ego. That’s the whole point I’m trying to make. It’s not about me. It’s about Him.
B: I know but you keep saying, “I have been chosen.” I don’t understand.
Q: At random.
B: Everybody is chosen to do something by God.
Q: Exactly. I just don’t want people to make the big mistake of making me some kind of Christ-like figure.
B: Well, no one’s making that mistake.
Q: No. But after the book comes out. I don’t —
B: Frankly, I don’t think anyone’s even going to publish the book or even look at it because people don’t get it.
Q: I know.
B: So I don’t think you have to worry about that.
Q: I don’t want to worry about ‘tabloid hell,’ you know?
B: Do you see any tabloid reporters at your door?
B: I don’t think you have to worry.
B: Because people don’t care.
B: They don’t.
Q: I just want to live my little life.
Q: God, I’m beginning to sound like my mom. And I haven’t had anything to drink. But anyway. Anyway, I’m very happy. After this interview, I have even more transcribing work to do.
B: Oh shit.
B: Well, take some time off.
Q: I would like to get the book finished by November 30th when the special is supposed to air because I think that’s going to hook —
B: Maybe you should take a trip into the forest or go to a cabin and just commune with nature or do something different.
Q: Oh, I do. Right now I’m looking at the beautiful fountain outside my window.
B: I’m talking about someplace different than what you see every day.
Q: But I’m happy. I’m not upset. I’m not overwhelmed.
B: I know you’re not but you might just want a change of scenery.
Q: I do but there’s a time for everything. (“NO”) And there’s a season for everything.
B: Well, don’t overdo it with the book. Try to finish it ASAP.
Q: I’m not going to make myself nuts doing it.
B: No. Of course not.
Q: I’m going to take lots of time and channel Michael His love — like in any good marriage.
B: Whatever you want to call it.
Q: Call me tomorrow. Let me know if you and James want to go out to dinner after his flight gets in. And then he can tell me about losing his camera for the umpteenth time. (“YEAH”) I lost my parking validation. I mean it disappeared. I never lose my parking validation.
B: I know. That was odd.
Q: It turned out to be only $2. He’s proving He exists through me and letting other people see it.
B: Maybe you just lost it, you know? Maybe the wind blew it away and you didn’t know it.
Q: Well, I retraced my steps. I went back to my car.
B: But I wouldn’t give that kind of thing too much thought.
Q: When you live in L.A. you get pretty good at keeping your parking validations. I’ve never lost a parking validation in my life. In fact, Jonathan, who was with me at the time — we were at that computer store. He said that he had seen me put it in my wallet. And I remembered putting it in my wallet. I think He was doing this to prove to Jonathan that He exists.
B: Then, it didn’t work because Jonathan isn’t convinced.
Q: He also saw something topple off (“YES”) a stack of software. Something flew off and he saw it and at the time he even said that he had seen it. But when I told him later that was phenomena he said that it had nothing to do with anything. The phenomena does seem at times to be getting bigger.
Q: My seeing the UFO — you don’t know what surprises He has in store. I don’t know what surprises He has in store. It should be interesting.
B: That’s for sure.
Q: What if I really am supposed to be master of ceremonies for Judgement Day? I mean what is that all about?
B: It’s beyond my comprehension.
Q: Well, it’s beyond mine too.
B: I don’t think you have to worry about that.
Q: I don’t think so either. Even though that movie “Querelle” is sort of scary to think about.
B: Well, don’t think about it.
Q: And I’d never seen the last (“YOU KNOW”) few minutes of “Berlin Alexanderplatz.” I taped it because it was on late at night on PBS. They had technical difficulties during the telecast which delayed the last portion and my machine went off before the very end. So I think that ending has something very significant in it that He didn’t want me to see until later. Isn’t that stupid? That sounds like I’m really losing it.
B: I don’t know what’s going on.
Q: That makes two of us. That probably makes a lot more of us than we know.
B: What did your shrink say?
Q: I showed her a postcard that was mailed to me from the gallery. It featured a painting by the artist I’m hoping will sell me his painting for the cover of my book. She thought the postcard was just lovely. It’s of two spiritual beings kissing. So I was saying, “Well, maybe, it’s Michael through their subconscious minds showing me that He loves me.”
B: It’s funny that you’re still concerned with physicality.
Q: Well, not so much any more.
B: I don’t understand.
Q: This featured two beings of light kissing.
B: That’s physicality. You’re interested in the metaphysical and physical coming together.
Q: Well, wouldn’t you be?
B: Well, yeah, but I just find it interesting. That’s all.
Q: We all sexualize relationships. It’s like having grown up without a father — I think that sometimes if we do have any ‘gay’ tendencies it’s because we didn’t have a father in our life so we’re sort of sexualizing that.
B: They say it’s hereditary.
Q: Well, I don’t know. It’s just something I’ve never really come to terms with.
B: Well, you will now.
Q: Well, I don’t know if I will because I would like our relationship to be physical as well as spiritual but I know it can’t be because of physics. It’s impossible.
Q: So that’s fine. But I also worry about cheating on Him. (“DON’T”)
B: Don’t. On God? How can you cheat on God?
Q: Well, how can I cheat on God? I mean you read these poems that seem like if two people really are in love you don’t need anyone else. And that’s how I feel. I feel like we are married and that He would really be upset.
B: Okay, I better go. I’m going to meet Sergei for brunch. I’ll talk to you later.
Q: Okay, bye.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: THE FOLLOWING INTERVIEW WAS RECORDED THE FOLLOWING EVENING, NOVEMBER 12TH, 1995.)
Q: So I’m with James and Michael at dinner at Misto on Hillhurst. James has just came back from China where something happened to his camera. He has a long history of losing cameras or things happening to cameras and I wonder if it might have something to do with Michael so I’m going to ask him what happened to his camera.
U: I was on the streets of Beijing of Shanghai. I had just bought a brand new lens for my camera since my other one had been damaged. I walked out of the store after negotiating the price in English. They didn’t understand English and I didn’t understand Chinese but we made a deal. I paid cash and as I crossed the street — I was going to the taxi cab — now keep in mind it’s the third day after I got there so my jet lag had just really kicked in and I wasn’t aware of some of the people around me — but as I started to step into the cab I felt this hand touch my shoulder. (“UHH”) I heard this guy say from my left side, “Hey, mister.” As I turned to my left, a hand from my right ripped the camera off my shoulder. I turned and saw this Thai-looking guy — he’s not Chinese because the Chinese don’t steal, basically — go running down this little alleyway. Of course, I couldn’t run after them because I had a sprained foot and I was limping. So they obviously targeted me because of my limp. I was double-duped. Anyway, it was the most fascinating thing because I went back into the camera store and, of course, in China as soon as something exciting happens a crowd instantly forms on the street. There might have been twenty or thirty Chinese that clustered in the store while I was trying to tell the manager what happened to my camera. Before I knew it, there were five, six, seven policeman that came in because it’s very unusual that anybody gets ripped off in China. And nobody could understand what I was saying. I couldn’t understand what they were saying — “blahblahblahblahblah hojungcharwayahwaso.” At any rate, by the time ten minutes went by, I was exhausted and they were trying to wait for a police report. They sat me down to have some tea and a dumpling while I waited for a guy to come and get the police report. The crowd wouldn’t go away. Finally, as I was waiting exasperated, a little gray-haired lady walked by with a fascinating, gnarled face — beautiful but you could see the weathered lines in her face. And she said, “Excuse me, I speak a little English.” I said, “Oh my goodness. You’re my savior.” So it turned out that, after she translated and we took care of the camera problem, she told me her real name was Hu Xiang Yun — Hu was her last name and Xiang Yun was her first name — and she was a retired teacher. She was extremely concerned about me but she was most concerned about my foot because she was very worried about my limp. So she wanted to make sure that I was alright and said she would walk with me to the bus stop. And I said, “That’s okay. I can get a taxi.” She said, “Oh, taxi so expensive.” I said, “No, that’s alright.” And after she helped me with everything, she told me a little bit about her life as we walked. She had been a schoolteacher for forty years and under Mao it had been very difficult. I’ll tell you all about that later. I thought I’d never see her again because I went in the taxi and she wrote down her name for me. That was at about noon. Then, I went across Shanghai and I went to shoot some photos of Faye Dunaway at the Shanghai Film Studios. Well, at eight o’clock that night, I’m about ready to go to a gala, which was way up on an upper floor of the hotel, when I get a call from the concierge. He said, “Mr. Ulmer?” I said, “Yes?” At first, I thought it was the police because the police were going to come and file a police report for me — but he said, “There’s a Lucy here to see you.” I said, “Lucy? — oh, Lucy.” That was her name. Lucy. Well, I went downstairs and this lady — with nothing but a plain white smock and a smile on her face — had walked about ten miles across town on her own. She was kind of a poor woman. She wanted to know how my foot was and she waited in the lobby as I came down. I felt so sorry for her walking across town that I insisted she come up to the top of the building, which is forty-six stories tall, and see the view of the city. Reluctantly, she agreed. When we reached the top, which is a massive revolving restaurant with all these wealthy people eating candle-lit dinners, I asked her if she’d like to come and have dinner. She said, “Oh, no no no no.” I said, “Why, Lucy?” She said, “Superior people. Superior people.” I was about to say, “Listen, honey, you ain’t got no idea how non-superior they are.” But, anyway, she said, “I just want to see your hotel room.” And I thought to myself, “That’s interesting.” So we went down to my hotel room and as soon as we got in the door I realized why she came. She took out of this little satchel a whole series of ointments and special bandages that she brought for my foot. And she sat down on a chair as I unwrapped my old bandage and took off my shoe. She proceeded to massage my foot with the most wonderful Chinese oils, telling me her life story as she unwrapped the bandage and massaged my feet. And her life story was that she was born in a small village and attended a Catholic school which was not looked upon favorably by the Communists. What I didn’t realize as she was telling the story was that, as a young woman, she had once been a wonderful singer in Shanghai during the roaring ’20s and ’30s. She had sung wonderful American ballads. And I asked her if she still sang. She said, “Oh, no no no. I can’t.” But not one to not be persistent, I said, “Well, as a journalist I just happen to have a little pocket tape recorder here. Wouldn’t you be so kind as to sing something for me?” And so she sang for me in the most wonderful voice. And I still have it on tape. I just played it for my parents — (singing) “Edelweiss. Edelweiss.” And it was gorgeous. As she was massaging my foot, telling me her life story and singing “Edelweiss,” I said, “China doesn’t get any better than this.” Because here was this lady who had given up everything. She told me about her children. She called me her newest son.
Q: So you didn’t have any strange phenomena — you just had a very average experience with an everyday angel.
U: It was not an average experience. It was a wonderful revelation to me of the kindness of strangers. The only strange thing that happened to me was when I fell into a dunghole. I fell four and a half feet into a sinkhole.
Q: How did that happen?
U: Well, I couldn’t stop myself from taking pictures on my way to the Great Wall. I had to stop the cab every four or five minutes. There was one field that was so gorgeous — the little peasants were harvesting the winter wheat and I couldn’t resist it. I said, “If ever I take a National Geographic picture — this is it.” So I had the cab stop. I almost got run over by a passing donkey cart but I dodged it and went down this little hill. I framed the picture in my camera and then I said, “Oh, it’s not quite right. I need to get onto the field. Just a little bit closer and I’ll be fine.” And, of course, three steps later — one step, two steps and then plop. I go down four and a half feet smack into a sinkhole. You would have thought the area was as dry as a bone and this thing just appeared out of nowhere. There was the scent of hay redolent of dung and water. And my camera was there so I just went, “Huhhhh.” I gasped because the camera instantly got wet and has all my wonderful photos in it. So, of course, the two taxi drivers are laughing hysterically and my translator is giggling. So what can we do? We have to go back. I was freezing. It was a cold morning outside of Beijing in the countryside. They drove me all the way back (“TWELVE”) ten miles down these tiny, beautiful country roads with trees to their village. The taxi driver took me up to his wife in the second story of this little apartment and she was waiting to dry my clothes. They outfitted me with—believe it or not—new pants, new shoes. I couldn’t believe I could fit into a pair of Chinese jeans but I did. And they fixed me tea and gave me what they call a dummy camera. It’s a camera that any dummy can use. Unfortunately, I had to use it to go to the Great Wall.
Q: So somebody up there likes you is the moral of this story.
U: Loves me. (“YOU THINK SO”) But the moral of the story is that I began the trip falling. The metaphor of falling because right before I left I tripped on the stairs. And, of course, one of my seminal experiences was falling into the sinkhole.
Q: Well, I don’t know what it all means. You’ll be relieved to know that today I had no phenomena. I didn’t wake up to find anything written in lipstick on my window that says ‘paranoimia,’ ‘I buried Paul’ or ‘Son of Man.’
U: I felt there was a Mandarin kite god that came down from Tiananmen Square to visit me. That was the only thing weird that happened.
Q: Why did you think that?
U: Because these guys were flying kites in Tiananmen Square and every time I tried to take a picture of this kite, it would veer and start making a bee-line right toward me. It was as if it was following me.
U: It was almost like it was targeting me in the middle of Tiananmen. It wouldn’t let me go.
Q: A kite? (“UM-HUH”)
U: The Chinese are famous for flying kites. And they’re beautiful. They have gorgeous dragon-shaped tails and I took pictures of them.
Q: Well, we’re almost out of tape on this side of the cassette, so is there anything you would like to say to end this interview.
U: I think Mao is made of plastic.
B: What are your feelings about Michael?
Q: No — the phenomena you’ve seen a few times.
U: I don’t believe in any Michael or Sam or Adam or Peter. I believe it’s just (“HE CLEANS”) a great vast continuum of the energies of the cycles of space.
Q: Well, I agree with that but —
U: Layers of coincidence. Yes. (“BUT I”) Upon coincidence upon coincidence.
Q: Michael’s just His easy name. (“YEAH”) A code name.
U: I believe in that.
Q: You have to call him something instead of He/She/What/Us/Whatever. (“NO”) So I just call Him Michael. ( “WELL IT”)
U: I believe these phenomena happen.
Q: You’ve seen (“SOME OF IT”) like the penny and the dime. Remember?
U: I was looking for at least a 50 piece. It was very interesting. I’m not sure if that was just that I hadn’t noticed things before I saw that penny but it did seem to appear. (“THAT WAS RIGHT”)
Q: And the projector’s light bulb — (“THE BULB LIGHT”)
B: I was in the gym. I was drying off today and I was the only one in there. Everybody else was in the jacuzzis. I looked down. There was a dime. I picked it up and brought it with me. Do you want to see it?
Q: No, I trust you.
U: Dimes have fallen on floors, though, before.
Q: “Pennies from Heaven.”
U: Or from other places further south.
Q: What do you mean?
Q: That’s true.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: TAPE #17, SIDE #2 ENDS HERE.)