About the book
I N T E R V I E WBPG: As you write in your book, UFOs, JFK, and Elvis, the first conspiracy you became aware of as a young man was the assassination of JFK. What particularly pulled you into researching the President's assassination?
BELZER: When the president was first assassinated I didn't think of it as a conspiracy. I was thought it was a bad thing, of course, but at that age I was focused on other things--girls, particularly. But then when the Watergate break-in occurred in the '70s and all the same people who were involved in the Bay of Pigs were involved in the Watergate break-in, I started reading more alternative press and seeing how things and people in power were getting more vicious and I really got hooked on the information. BPG: What was the first real alternative press you got into?
BELZER: The East Village Other, Ramparts, The Nation, although The Nation was hit and miss on the assassination. I was more into Ramparts.
BPG: What made you go beyond JFK's assassination to get into thinking about other conspiracies? How'd you become...can we say...obsessed?
BELZER: I've historically questioned authority and always gotten in trouble for it and as I got older I got more so. I became a newspaper reporter and when I became a reporter I saw how things really worked. I sat in on police commissioner hearings and covered trials...
BPG: Where were you a police reporter?
BELZER: Bridgeport, Connecticut, for the Bridgeport Post.
BPG: Tough beat.
BELZER: Not tough, dead. I started seeing how officials in officialdom were not any better than anybody else. You know, as I got older I was able to articulate why I was rebelling against authority--because their motives were much more forceful and hurtful than I had ever thought.
BPG: William Burroughs said "Paranoia is the highest form of intelligence." Would you agree with him?
BELZER: You know, I used to think of it as a joke that all paranoids were right. That was a joke in the '60s, but now I'm convinced that people should be paranoid reflexively--and then pare it down from there if there's any indication that they're wrong. I'd rather we all cast a wide net than be more discreet and end up getting caught up in something that's controlling us that we don't know about. But I think that paranoia has to be redefined in psychiatric journals as healthy--a healthy psychological distrust of the world as it is. I'm going to lobby the AMA and The American Psychiatric Association. Just like they had to redefine that being gay is not obscene and is not some disease or disorder, so too they must admit that paranoia is in fact helpful.
BPG: What's great about your book is how you inform the reader about serious issues but make us laugh so that we really remember the information and share your outrage. How did it come to you to put together your HBO special "Another Lone Nut" and combine humor and assassination into acid rant?
BELZER: I have learned over the years that the subject of the assassination in particular, after more than a minute or two, makes the eyes of even the brightest, most intelligent, funny, interesting people glaze over. So instead of being serious at dinner parties I figured if I delivered my opinions with some humor, I could get my point across and foster some good give-and-take. And if I mounted the JFK conspiracy within the context of humor in my on-stage performance I figured that people would get some of the same information and it would be much more memorable--they would walk out of the theater whistling that there's more than one assassin rather than thinking I'm crazy.
BPG: You link it to a story, link it to a song to make that terrifying but everyday experience of the world as out-of-joint palpable and acceptable as a subject.
BELZER: That's right. I think we make fun of the things that scare us the most. Okay so, some people have said to me, "So what do you think you're going to do when you find out who did it? Arrest the scariest people in the world?" I mean, what do you finally do? Me, I have no answer. But I want to get this funny, frightening, compelling, interesting information out there. A lot of very intelligent people don't know the truths about a lot of famous conspiracies. They don't get these alternative press catalogs and don't read these books or listen to these lectures that I do. And it's not anyone's fault, it's just lifestyle, and for some reason I have fallen into this world and have immersed myself in this stuff and have talked to the researchers. So, I feel that a lot of people should know certain things about how the government really works: who wrote history, and who taught history, and how the politics of the 20th century has really unfolded at the hands of the people in power...
BPG: ...whose point of view is shaping our own minds and our world and what we're accepting...
BELZER: And how we're manipulated day to day. Some don't want to hear that but if it's done wittily and amusingly than they can be hooked, alarmed and informed.
BPG: Even if your listeners and readers disagree maybe they'll take the time to look into it further...
BELZER: And investigate why they believe what they believe. Like when I listen to a fascist, like Rush Limbaugh or Tom Delay or somebody like that, they help me define my views. I ask myself why do I feel so strongly the opposite of what that guy is saying. He's not stupid. He's evil but why is he evil. I am perplexed by the high level of intelligence of so many evil people. I don't have an answer to that.
BPG: Some people who are motivated by hatred or selfishness will twist these sophisticated, sophistic arguments to justify their point of view...
BELZER: Well, The Bell Curve, for instance. One of the most damaging books in recent history.
BPG: Stephen Jay Gould called that a "content-less book" in a talk he gave to the New York Skeptics.
BELZER: It also was funded by this right-wing, racist organization. The funding of the book is very curious. When you trace back where the money came from, who these two scholars are, you see how The Bell Curve became the bible for the freshman class of '94 in the House. These are the guys who wrote that "Contract with America" with Newt that got out the right-wing vote of '94. For all those guys, The Bell Curve was their bible. So what that means is that many in the ruling body of our country believe that black people are inferior and the government operates under the assumption that it's not worthwhile to invest in them.
BPG: Yeah, a complete skewing of statistics.
BELZER: Of reality! That book has been proven to be incredibly off- base on all its supposed scientific observations. Yet Skinheads have it and it's their bible. They recruit kids with this stuff. They say, "Well, it's the scientists. We're not saying it." I heard this thing on NPR the other day where skinheads are using this book to persuade people who are wavering about white supremacy to join them. And, still, George Bush thought it was good. A fascist in a bowtie.
BPG: What's the great new poop that you were telling me about that is just out about JFK?
BELZER: Very recently the Assassination Review Board released tapes of information and in amongst them, diligent observershave noted there was a discrepancy in the reports from the doctors who treated JFK. It seems evident now that two different brains were examined. So, if there was no conspiracy, how many brains does it take to say hello? So having a piece of JFK's brain started to be like having a piece of the true cross or the Shroud of Turin or the Ark--the Moe, Larry, and Curly of historical artifacts.
BPG: On "Homicide" this year, Detective Munch has been having some great lines about JFK, the Zapruder film, and other government conspiracies. Were Detective Munch and Doug Moench (author of The Big Book of Conspiracies) separated at birth?
BELZER: Doug is a very interesting guy. But you pronounce his name "mench." I love his books.
BPG: When will the animated series you're producing based on The Big Book of Conspiracies air?
BELZER: The airdate is a conspiracy. Sometime in '99.
BPG: You are so busy, you don't have a chance to do stand-up anymore... do you miss it? Are you sublimating for stand-up by writing this book?
BELZER: I do stand-up almost every day for the cast of "Homicide" and the book did help a lot but I'm getting a little itchy and I may go back on stage soon. I usually just do bits between takes. But they have a lot of stuff when the camera kept rolling after somebody screwed up and I was ranting.
BPG: What do you say to the doubters of conspiracies and people who rank all conspiracy theories as lowbrow ideas fit for the Aryan Nation and other anti-Semites who are still looking for well-poisoners and world banking conspirators?
BELZER: Unfortunately there are world banking conspiracies and there were well-poisoners. As it turns out every nut is fuckin' right--sorry!--regardless of political persuasion.
BPG: You live in France. You are also a stand-up comic. Is Jerry Lewis really funnier in French or are the French really aliens who know how to eat and dress well but have no sense of humor ?
BELZER: Hey! The French, if you recall, fell in love with Jerry early in his career when he was still great--like we did over here--so don't be so hard on the French. Americans don't even know how to cook unless they imitate the French!
BPG: Do you have any rules of thumb when deciding if a conspiracy is for real--say, three principles by which you evaluate the likelihood of something being true or just over the top?
BELZER: Yes. OK, The first is: If the person who was eliminated was against the vested interests of the status quo. Number two: The people who have intimate knowledge of the elimination of that person start disappearing or changing their stories. And number three: The mainstream press circles the wagons and gets on board and protects the bad guys. Those are the three rules.
BPG: Along with the cover-ups of JFK's assassination and the existence of UFOs, what are some other conspiracies that you'd like to warn the public about? What are some of your favorite cover-ups of the last decade?
BELZER: Well, the two major themes in the book are the conspiracy around JFK's murder and the conspiracy to conceal knowledge of UFOs from the public. JFK also had a connection to UFOs. JFK was worried that the Russians might think that UFOs were actually us attacking them, so he got involved in the information about UFOs and particularly Roswell... At one point, it's even been reported, JFK called Marilyn and said he was going to look at one of these spaceships.
Now, for the other coverups: One: In the last decade, certain things have been sent out into space that we don't know about. Every time they say that it was a secret military payload it could mean that they are observing us in a new way or they are wreaking havoc on one of our adversaries in a new way. Two: The Mars probe that went up a few years ago that supposedly the battery went off is still there sending back stuff that is too controversial for us. Three: HAARP as we all know is a plutonium nightmare waiting to happen. There are all kinds of new technology in space that we were not told about. Four: I also believe that there is ongoing medical experimentation on unwilling populations and countries.
BPG: What're the best places to go for conspiracy information...what are your favorite newsletters or magazines?
BELZER: Conspiracy information can be gotten from: Prevailing Winds Magazine; Arcturus Books Catalog; The Last Hurrah Bookshop Catalog (they also have an online catalog); Flatland Press Catalog; and Adventures Unlimited Catalog.
BPG: What's the latest great conspiracy idea you've heard?
BELZER: Two, there's two. I'll give you two. On New Year's Eve, 1999, some nefarious entity whether alien or earthbound is going to stage the holographic return of Jesus Christ...
BPG: Over Times Square?
BELZER: I don't know where but they were thinking of projecting the Virgin Mary on clouds over Cuba you know in the '60s. So they have the technology.
BPG: Well, I could see that, since, in Russia, above Siberia, they want to put these big mirrors onto satellites to reflect more sunlight downward and warm up the environment there.
BELZER: So that's possible. Yeah, the hologram of Christ will appear. Some people will think it's the true Christ. Some people will think it's the Anti-Christ. Sides will be drawn and the divisiveness will be exploited by whoever stages the event whether it's the government or some kind of James Bond villain, or some alien entity or some combination of evil earth government in conjunction with aliens. But that event is supposed to be staged.
Another, more troubling one is there is a society that is called the Millennium Society which most major world leaders are members of, George Bush among them. On New Year's Eve, 1999, most of the world's leaders and former world leaders are going to meet at the pyramid at Cheops. Now, on the dollar bill, over the pyramid is an eye. On New Year's Eve 1999, the very controversial plutonium satellite that was sent up--remember it was on "Sixty Minutes" and all the people were worried about it--that is going to explode and create a second sun directly over Cheops. That's supposed to happen on New Year's Eve 1999 and that's the new sun behind the eye on the dollar bill.
What's good about these predictions is that if they are going to happen, they will happen pretty soon. I'm not betting any money on them but I think they are fascinating. Here's what I do genuinely believe and I'll go out on a limb to say, that New Year's Eve 1999 will be exploited by all kinds of people and it's going to be interesting to see who does what. Because when you realize the collective consciousness of the whole planet is going to be focused on midnight on 1999 more than any other midnight in 1000 years, there is a way to take advantage of that. I don't know what it is but I think it's going to happen.
BPG: Manipulation? Religion or political or military?
BELZER: All of that. I think every good and evil force on the Earth now is picking their heads to exploit the collective consciousness of the Earth on that night. That's why I'll be in a little village in France at my house with a bunch of my friends watching it on satellite. I don't want to be in New York on New Year's Eve. I'll tell you that much.
BPG: Buy your champagne now.