The year is 1993. I'm living in Albuquerque, working on a PhD in archaeology at the University of New Mexico and working part time at 20 Carrots, a vegan restaurant/grocery store across the street from campus. At the time, it was owned by Greg Brinkley, brother of supermodel Christie Brinkley and devotee of spiritual guru/cult leader Elizabeth Clare Prophet of the violet flame-loving new-age Church Universal and Triumphant. I used to make wheatgrass smoothies for folks claiming to be aliens who'd come in and sit at the juice bar and tell me about their journeys from other planets. I was raised in a small, conservative town in central Louisiana, as a Southern Baptist who went to church three times a week. Needless to say, my mind was blown.
At 20 Carrots I was also introduced to the Fortean Times (we stocked the magazine to sell; it's celebrating its 50th birthday this year!) and Art Bell's Coast to Coast AM radio program (previously at Boing Boing), which covered all things alien, supernatural, and just plain weird.
Sometimes I get nostalgic for those weird days of my youth, and recently I decided to listen to some old episodes of Art Bell. Imagine my delight when I stumbled across a huge archive of old episodes. In September 2019 Coast to Coast AM launched the "Art Bell Vault." The Coast to Coast AM website describes the project:
Coast to Coast AM is proud to announce the launch of our newest feature for Coast Insiders: The Art Bell Vault. This ongoing curated collection features classic Art Bell programs in which the legendary C2C host talked to renowned paranormal researchers about a vast array of strange and unusual topics as well as unforgettable episodes featuring one-of-a-kind callers with fantastic stories and mysterious individuals with some truly amazing claims.
As part of our initial 20 shows launching the Art Bell Vault, we're showcasing some truly iconic episodes like the 1995 appearance of aspiring time traveler 'Mad Man Marcum,' who detailed his attempts to build a machine to journey into the past. Coast Insiders can also hear Mel Waters discuss a bottomless hole said to be in his backyard and a man named 'Bugs,' who purportedly shot a Bigfoot. In addition to that, subscribers can hear Art Bell's first conversations with Father Malachi Martin as well as Dr. Michio Kaku.
Alongside those programs, we're also highlighting five fantastic programs in which Art and his guests explored various aspects of the afterlife, from EVPs to NDEs and the prospect of immortality. Additionally, we've got five episodes featuring guests sharing secrets and revelations which the 'powers that be' did not want the world to know. And, we've also unearthed five 'wildcard' episodes with guests who had seemingly come out of nowhere with some truly amazing stories, like the 'Satan-loving' witch named Harlot.
These riveting programs have commercials and breaks removed and are presented in multiple-platforms– available on-demand for Mac, Windows, IOS, and Android. Many of them feature rare "5th" hours of content from back in the 90s when the show had a longer running time. We do include Art's beloved bumper music, which became such an indelible part of his program.
While the vault started with 20 episodes, it's grown to over 422 episodes (I counted), covering too many topics to name, but here are a few that stood out to me:
To access the episodes in the vault, you'll need to be a "Coast Insider," which costs $6.95 a month (you can sign up here). If you don't want to pay, though, there's plenty of free Art Bell content on YouTube, including The Best of Art Bell (2.5 hours), UFOs and Alien Abductions (2.5 hours), and this seven-hour compilation.