I adored Art Bell. He passed from this life on Friday April 13, 2018, of course.
[see page BOTTOM for my PODCAST here]
In 1993, after a divorce from a wife that was so sure she wanted to be wed to a recording and touring ,yet often cash poor drummer, until she didn’t ; I had found myself living in a Isuzu Impulse replete with five piece TAMA Imperial Star drum kit, Zildjian Cymbals and attendant hardware in the hatchback bed.
Many nights I had spent, engine running, heater on intermittently, on a cold night engrossed by tales of remote viewing, the threat of epic polar shifts, and, of course, alien abductions.
Fast forward to the present, a considerable improvement in my lifestyle, and now finding myself mere weeks from my very own ‘coast-to-coast’ radio syndication deal; I feel compelled to give more than a little broadcasting love to a departed radio icon.
Mr. Bell, who sat in his home radio studio in Puhrump, Nevada, answering all by his lonesome, FIVE phone lines; found his “Coast to Coast AM,” listener-ship peaking in the 1990s, and would, in time, grow his ‘brand’ into more than 400 radio stations.
Art, at times, would find himself ONLY bested by hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura Schlessinger in terms of his broadcast reach.
Not bad for ‘D-I-Y’ radio, no?
From the Wash Post: “Mr. Bell, a Marine brat who said he attended more than 30 high schools as his family moved around, served as a medic for the Air Force in Vietnam, and began his broadcasting work on the military’s station in Okinawa, Japan, where he once stayed on the air as a DJ for 116 hours nonstop, earning an entry in Guinness World Records. (He also held the record for seesawing while broadcasting — 57 hours. Top 40 AM radio DJs did that sort of thing in the 1970s.)”
“There is a difference in what people are willing to consider, daytime versus nighttime,” Mr. Bell told The Washington Post in 1998. “It’s dark and you don’t know what’s out there. And the way things are now, there may be something.”
Art Bell understood very well the power of the night. We humans who had evolved, bifurcating from simian fore-bears into prehistoric creatures who learned our survival skills as both hunter, and the hunted; are still most impressionable in the dark.
It is there, that our minds exist on the cusp between order and chaos. The explored, and as yet, unexplored. Is the dark and thereby dangerous pregnant, with opportunity, or destruction?
We had circled around countless campfires, in time learning to record our tales of conquest and tragedy into books that would free up our minds for more than documenting.
Thus unshackled; we set upon the Heroic Journey.
This heroic journey would birth human competence capable of building; through both glory and pain, triumph and tragedy; the tenuous democratic complexity of Western Civilization.
Art Bell with his 1997 book: The Quickening, had jumped on an already well worn notion that we humans are fast approaching a ‘singularity.’
A technological telos careening us unto Who-Knows-What,that brings with it, yet again, another opportunity to decide: Opportunity or Calamity?
Was Art guilty of wading too deep into the speculative, the still very much unexplored?
Is he culpable, in any fashion,of unwittingly pouring concrete into the foundation of today’s ‘Fake News’ as some have argued?
I will not attempt an answer here. I will give him a pass in his ‘thinking out loud’ and will continue to be inspired by a man none-too-cowed into ‘playing-it-safe.’
In this ‘thinking out loud’ he had fore-saged ,it seems, a sort of long-form content so de rigueur on countless You Tube videos by independent producers putting up scores of subscribers through crowd-funding.
Long Live: ‘Not-Playing-it-Safe’.
Good Night Art Bell.
Let this Buddhist wish you: OM MANI PADME AUM.