Dead Celebrity


In Kurt Anderson’s Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire - A 500-Year History (2017), he has an interesting take on the impact of Art Bell and Coast to Coast AM, and its contribution towards America’s continual slide into fantastical thinking.

A national news-talk radio program called Coast to Coast AM became a huge hit in the 1990s, syndicated on hundreds of stations. The creator and host was Art Bell, who talked for four or five hours every night from a studio near his home in the desert between Las Vegas and Death Valley. His guests were conspiracy theorists and promoters of the implausible and impossible of every sort, political and paranormal and pseudoscientific and apocalyptic. Compared to the strictly political new stars of talk radio, Bell sounded friendly and low-key, almost reasonable, not pushing one clear agenda but open to practically any claim or allegation or belief. Coast to Coast AM became the go-to broadcast venue for the excitingly untrue, and when celebrities appeared, the whole demented buffet seemed all the more legitimate. Of Americans awake each night between midnight and dawn, by my rough reckoning, during the 1990s as many as a fifth were listening to Coast to Coast AM.

If you want to read more, you can read this excerpt on Google Books.


Thanks for the recommendation: added to my Kindle for my next long flight.

I don’t really believe the 1 in 5 estimate. I think the typical BB reader might get hooked after just a few seconds of listening, but there was a wealth of content on AM in those days: music of course, but also myriad call-in programs with less esoteric themes (politics, sex, etc). However, I’m inclined to think favorably of any author who believes that Bell’s show could have this following, as it says something about his (Anderson’s) view of the world.


Aside from being an author, you might also recognize Kurt Anderson as the host of NPR’s Studio 360, and as one of the founding editors of Spy Magazine back in the 80’s, in which, among other things, he and his cohort Graydon Carter were responsible for the popularization of the Trump tiny hands meme.


I preferred it with Space Ghost hosting.


I remember learning the word “preternatural” from that magazine. The whole thing seemed hip in a way I didn’t understand yet.



Barbara Bush 1925 - 2018

All I remember is she had some literacy program.

ETA: from Wikipedia,


Hmm, good to think well of the dead, I suppose (at least in her case, briefly, of her and her “beautiful mind”).


Interesting about her “private” conscience. Way to stand up for your convictions. With decades of perspective, I now view 41 as a tragic figure, who sacrificed everything he believed in for the empty cup of power. He was a moderate, and probably the most qualified POTUS since LBJ. But just like the current officeholder (who has no beliefs), he kowtowed to the right wing, most famously eating his words of “voodoo economics”.


I remember her getting interviewed on Fresh Air. Barbara was by all counts a pretty decent woman, too bad about her kids though.


He was the game show host during Renton’s cold turkey nightmares on Trainspotting.


This one caught me by surprise when I got the Celebrity Death Beeper notification.


I was sad to read that, he always seemed like a nice guy but with a lot of personal demons.





Ah, balls… I know he was still performing when he turned 90.


Schoolhouse Rock was an enormous part of my childhood. What a sad day.


For anyone not familiar with British politics, anyone who becomes speaker automatically leaves their party and becomes an independent, and usually the major parties do not run candidates against them in general elections. They are supposed to use speaker Denison’s rule when they have to vote because of a tie, but are not required to by law.

Michael Martin was not the best speaker Britain has had, but he at least deserves to be remembered for being the first Catholic in the role for over 400 years.