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Monthly Archives: April 2018

The legendary Art Bell just passed away at age 72. As far as radio hosts go, Bell was to paranormal subject matter what someone like Vin Scully was to baseball. If you’ve ever had an interest in aliens or U.F.O.s, the infamous Men in Black, ghosts, cryptids, remote viewing, telekinesis, the Simulation Hypothesis, the Mandela Effect, out-of-body experiences, the Akashic records — not to mention more scientifically legitimized subjects like theoretical physics, “futurism,” or cosmology and astronomy — there’s a pretty good chance you’ve heard of Bell’s shows Coast to Coast AM and Midnight in the Desert. And you might have tuned in over the years. If you did you probably heard some eyebrow-raising interviews with such people of note as the never-dull Terrence McKenna, authors like Jim Elvidge and Robert Anton Wilson, scientists like Neil deGrasse Tyson and Michio Kaku, remote viewer Ingo Swann, ufologists, and… self-proclaimed time travelers. As a person unfamiliar with the shows might rightly assume, there were, naturally, several charlatans, especially during the call-ins. But that’s part of what made Bell’s forums for fringe subjects so entertaining. They were like all-you-can-eat buffets for all manner of strangeness, ranging from the true, to the plausible, to the hypothetical, to the completely bat-shit insane. If you were in the mood for it you could be alternately puzzled, informed, petrified with terror, intrigued, filled with laughter, and so on.

Though I’d known about them for a while, I only started listening to Bell’s broadcasts in the last several years, via archived files available on the internet. What struck me almost immediately was Bell’s penchant for being a great talker. He instinctively understood how to keep the conversations alive, asking just the right questions, knowing how to draw out the most tantalizing information from his interviewees. Art Bell seemed like a cool guy, a real mensch. And he had a great voice for radio! In an era in which all too many radio hosts have shrill and/or off-putting ways of speaking (I’m looking at you, Alex Jones, and countless “shock-jock” morning DJs), it shouldn’t be taken for granted when a talk show host puts his guests and listeners at ease. I often got the impression that Bell could more than meet his guests halfway, humoring even the least believable of them as a form of courtesy, even if he didn’t completely buy it.

And as a skeptic of sorts, that’s close to my own stance—it’s fun to entertain these things even if I don’t quite believe in most of them. Being a difficult-to-please cinephile, to me it’s more fun to listen to someone talk about how people of the future might theoretically expand human civilization beyond Earth than it is to watch a typically-stylized Hollywood movie about it. Bell created an arena in which people all over the world could communicate about this and many other subjects you weren’t likely to see being covered in the nightly news or on 60 Minutes. He dedicated much of his life to this and in doing so provided a tremendous service, especially in the days before the internet became what it is today. Art Bell will be missed by many, and those interested in a more biographical tribute should be sure not to miss Coast to Coast AM’s own eulogy to him here.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go listen to Giorgio Moroder’s “Chase” on repeat a few times.

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