Meryl Klemow and Beau Hufford join me in studio to talk about their new podcast, Campfire Sht Show.
photo by: Skeptiko
(Meryl Klemow and Beau Hufford are heard cutting it up off-mic)…
That’s Meryl and Beau from the Campfire Shit Show and you’ll hear a lot more about them, and you may come to understand what that show is all about and maybe even why I decided to do a kind of wacky show on conspiracies.
I think it came out great, I think these people are extremely talented and are on the edge of where podcasting is really going. They do such a great job and it was so fun having them here in the studio for a little while to talk with me.
It really doesn’t require a lot of introduction, let’s get right onto the show.
Alex Tsakiris: Today I have a special, if you will, episode of Skeptiko, special for me at least, because Meryl and Beau from the Campfire Shit Show podcast are actually joining me in my little home studio. So, you guys, welcome. Thanks so much for being here.
Meryl: Thank you.
Beau: We’re so excited to be here.
Meryl: We are trapped in the dungeon if anyone is wondering.
Alex Tsakiris: If you never hear from Meryl and Beau again…
Meryl: Just leave us here, it’s really nice. So, we’ll just stay and serve me food like once a week or something, we’re fine.
Alex Tsakiris: It’s great to have you here. So, Meryl, I met you online because I have this whacky idea of doing this conspiracy show, kind of thing, and it’s a new project and I ran across you and it just was so fun because you were such a cool person, and you are into conspiracies, like I am, which was cool. You then introduced me to this awesome podcast that you do with Beau here, and you guys have such a great dynamic and I really enjoyed it and I thought this might be fun to talk about, both from the conspiratorial angle, which we both are interested in and I’m interesting in, and I’m always trying to pull Skeptiko listeners in, because I say, this is essentially, one way or another, it’s the heart of what Skeptiko is about, because we run into these conspiracies whether we want to or not. I’ve certainly run into them, just trying to follow the trail of consciousness science.
So, with that, I thought I’d turn it over to you guys to do a little bit of introduction. Tell us more about yourself, tell folks about the Campfire Shit Show.
Beau: Go for it.
Meryl: Okay, I’ll start. I’m Meryl. I’m one half of Campfire Shit Show and I worked for 11 years in the music industry… Oh nice [unclear 00:02:57].
Alex Tsakiris: That wasn’t on screen. See, they’re only seeing you.
Meryl: Oh yeah, exactly, okay yeah. I just say, [unclear 00:03:06], I have a sickness where I just [unclear 00:03:08] with their body parts.
I would say I got into the, kind of, conspiratorial realm, or whatever realm, a few years ago. I actually had a weird thing, that we can talk about, but I was doing a lot of Yoga and healing practices and I almost want to say that I had some type of, like weird soul breakdown. It’s really, really weird, but we’ll scoot over that now and maybe get into it a little bit later. But it was like a little bit of a nervous breakdown mixed with, I would say, kind of, the soul awakening and maybe some type of opening and once I recovered and was able to function, a few months later I started learning about…
Alex Tsakiris: We’ve just lost about half of our audience there Meryl, so keep going with whoever’s still remaining.
Meryl: Okay, good.
Alex Tsakiris: No, I’m sorry for [boring you out 00:04:02], I’m making jokes. You’re supposed to be comedienne anyway, but no, that’s all real stuff. Please continue.
Meryl: Okay good. It’s just my grandmother’s [unclear 00:04:10], but my grandmother has just passed away, so she’s not listening. But who knows, according to this podcast she may be listening from somewhere else.
Beau: My favorite part of this so far is that he asked, “Tell us about the Campfire Shit Show,” and you go, “Well the reason that I’m a skeptic is…”
Meryl: Yeah, yeah, okay. So, long story short is, I do some comedy writing, I do some copywriting, all that kind of stuff, I’m very involved in the music industry and events and we have our podcast, but the more exciting part is I’m a huge seeker of truth and information.
Alex Tsakiris: Beau, you’re not buying the seeker thing?
Beau: Meryl is so full of shit right now, I’m telling you. No, Meryl believes everything that she says. She doesn’t make stuff up at all. That’s where her and I, I guess, disagree in many ways.
How Campfire Shit Show even got started, we worked on a TV show together, so we were writing comedy and short films and things like that. Then, I realized she was doing a podcast, I wanted to do a podcast and we were like, “Well, let’s do something together, but what would it be?” I was like, “Well, let’s just talk. Let’s talk,” and I know that seems very boring but, “Oh what’s your show about?” “Just two people talking.”
But honestly, we get together, and we have all types of topics and through those topics, whether it be, honestly, Meryl shitting her pants and her wholefoods or me getting cheated on and then me catching them in the act and telling that story.
Meryl: This all happened last week by the way. It was just a normal week.
Beau: Yeah, that’s just one-week guys.
Beau: But in the process of that, she’s always like, “Well, there are all of those lizard people,” and I was like, “Wait, what are you talking about?” “Oh, don’t let’s talk about Pizzagate,” and I’m like, “Oh, you’re such a mess in so many ways.”
So, I am very skeptical and when she told me about this, I’m like, “I’ve got to see these crazy people.”
Meryl: Like, “We’re going to this guy’s house. I met him on Craigslist.”
Beau: Yeah, I was like, “Oh, this is danger all around. Let’s do it.”
Alex Tsakiris: That’s the Campfire Shit Show’s spirit.
Alex Tsakiris: And that’s what we’ve brought for people, we’re just joking around, we’ve brought a little bit of the Shit Show to Skeptiko, because I am certainly not above Shit Showing it.
Let me hit you with a couple of things, and this is a long way around the barn to get to the conspiratorial stuff that interests me, which is primarily science and consciousness, as I was explaining to you as we were chatting a little bit about before, you know, who are you, why are you here? And science tells you you’re a biological robot in a meaningless universe. That is a conspiracy, but we want to deconstruct that.
Now, I’ll give you a plain, in your face example, that is just impossible to ignore. New York Times. Okay, this is from December of last year, this is like two months ago, right? Did you hear this? Did you process this Beau?
Alex Tsakiris: I mean, okay, just watch the video.
Beau: Okay, I’m going to play the video.
Alex Tsakiris: So, what you have here is the New York Times saying that UFOs are real, saying that Harry Reid, Congressman Harry Reid, ran a project, a secret project, and they were investigating UFOs and they found them to be real. I mean, disclosure, controlled disclosure, but they’re in your face telling you UFOs are real. So, it’s cool that, I guess it’s cool that you haven’t heard about this, but what are you going to do with that?
Beau: No, my mind is not blown. It’s a UFO, an unidentified flying object. That could be anything that’s unidentified. It could be some project of something. The government has plenty of things going on that you have no idea about.
Alex Tsakiris: Hold on Beau, see, this is the problem that I said before, if you haven’t investigated it at least a little bit, then the conversation gets kind of…
Alex Tsakiris: It gets stupid. It’s gets stupid, because what they’re investigating is not, “Gee, what’s up there in the air?” What they’re investigating is UFOs, UFOs in the sense of the word… I just did an interview with Colonel John Alexander, who is this guy who’s been in the military for 40/50 years, all the MKUltra stuff, he’s associated will all of that kind of stuff in a real way, I mean, that’s his history, the Stargate Program, psychic spying. He is a colonel, a retired colonel, he’s just written a book about extended consciousness and drinking ayahuasca, and all of that stuff.
Meryl: Oh yeah.
Alex Tsakiris: He has long been known to maintain this position that the government isn’t hiding anything about UFOs, they just don’t know about UFOs. Well, one of the main points I had with John is, you can no longer maintain that position. Everyone who’s in the UFO community has known that the government has been hiding this up, for 50 years, and now it’s in your face in the New York Times. So, it’s not like you can put the genie back in the bottle and say, as Neil Degrasse Tyson said, as exactly what you did, “Well, they are unidentified.” That’s laughable. You have our best fighter pilots in our most highest technology going, “Bro, what the fuck is going on? These things are maneuvering, they’re not just objects, they’re maneuvering. They’re not us, we don’t know how to do any of this stuff. We don’t know how to move at 6000 miles an hour and make right turns.”
But, if you accept it all, that this is real, that it appeared in the New York Times, and it did, and you can go and read all about the disclosure of it and stuff like that, then you have to accept that since 1955, that we have documents released from the government that said, “We know these things are real. We know these things are happening. We don’t know what to do with it. It’s our highest-level security item.”
But, if you don’t know that stuff, you don’t know that stuff, but you can’t just fill it in with the gap by saying, “Unidentified means unidentified.” That’s not responsive to the data that’s at hand, it doesn’t really deal with the data.
Meryl: Right, and we’re open to having aliens on the podcast, I mean, we’d really love to know. I have already had conversations in my mind, when I do encounter someone from another kind, what I would say to them. I’m not quite sure if I think aliens are, like a dark force, trying to pull us in and do some demonic stuff on us, or if they’re trying to help us and raise us up and have stuff to help the human race, or somewhere in between. So, I’m not quite sure where I…
Beau: I do like the idea that we make first contact and the thing they say right out of the gate is, “Hey, can we get on that show, Campfire Shit Show? We really want to do the show.”
Meryl: So, if there are any ET beings [unclear 00:11:35], we would love to have you on Campfire Shit Show.
Beau: It’s so hard to know what’s real or not real, even in the news, and I say that in the sense of, so much can be fabricated. I could make that video, I could make that video. Now, that’s not saying that that video’s not authentic, I’m just saying, somebody could make a video like that, right?
Alex Tsakiris: No.
Beau: You don’t think so? You don’t think that someone…?
Alex Tsakiris: That’s not the point. The point is not that someone could make that video, it’s like… Okay, Beau, go down that path. Who made the video and released it in the New York Times as being a video, a part of a $20 million US secret program into UFOs?
Alex Tsakiris: Who went and talked to Harry Reid, who they went and interviewed and said, “Yeah, I ran the program,” and this and that. So, go ahead, tell me how that all happens. I hate it when people replace one conspiracy with a bigger conspiracy, which is what you’ve just done.
Beau: Okay, fair enough, fair enough. Well, then in that case, the reality is I don’t know, and I do believe that there’s something bigger than what I understand, for sure.
Meryl: We’ll be able to get beamed up, like someone once said, and take us somewhere else.
Alex Tsakiris: This could be a shortened show.
Meryl: Because we’re going to get beamed up?
Beau: Listen, I want to be open to the idea. Maybe it sounds like I’m being very closed-minded. I’m throwing the response out there that’s like, well, it is hard for me to believe some of these things, not because they can’t be or could not exist, but because I have not spent my time and I’m very much ignorant towards a lot of these subjects.
Alex Tsakiris: Well, you don’t have to go the ignorant route, we don’t have to throw that out, don’t through the ‘I’ word out there.
From my experience in this show and dealing with all sorts of different people, as I told you, pissing off all the atheists, which I did earlier on, pissing off all the Christians, which I did shortly thereafter, pissing off all the religious people of any kind, what I found is consistently the problem, is that we hold onto our belief systems, and we all do that, because when you wake up at two o’clock in the morning and you’re wondering how life should even go on or what my role is, all the dark night of the soul moments that we have, even if we don’t believe we have a soul, the only thing you have to hold onto is your belief, your structure of how the world works, and when somebody comes along and says, “No, no, no, no, that’s not how the world works,” we’re not real comfortable with that, and consistently we show that we’re not.
We all look at scientologists and people like that and we go, “Gee, how do those people hold onto their beliefs? Haven’t they seen the TV shows? Haven’t the seen this?”
I always point out this sociologist who wrote this awesome book, a long time ago, and it’s called When Prophecy Fails, and what he wanted to do is, he said, “What happens when an occult leader has a group, has a belief system and is prophesying about the end of the world, and the end of the world doesn’t happen?” I mean, that’s a pretty definitive bet, you know, “The world’s going to end on Friday,” what do you say on Saturday? What you’d expect, because we all think we’re open-minded and rational and all that, you think everyone’s going to be like, “Okay, pack things up, it’s close-down,” and they don’t.
What they do, what he found, this sociologist who studied this, is they double down. They don’t say, “Oh okay. Our leader’s not all-knowing,” they say, “Oh, he knows, he just got the date wrong,” they double down. We will do anything to protect our belief systems.
So here, it’s unfair for you Beau, but you just were exposed to the reality that the government has known about UFOs from another planet, from another system, whether it’s time travel or whether it’s multidimensional, however the fuck you want to put it together, it ain’t our birds up there flying around, it’s ain’t a mistaken unidentified thing, it’s a superior technological thing that’s up there.
So, your world is blown and that’s just the reality, but you’re not going to face that, you’re going to do everything you can to work around that.
Beau: Oh, that’s pretty hard core. I want to be clear.
Meryl: He’s sweating.
Beau: No, but I want to be clear. It’s not that I don’t believe that that could exist or that does exist, I do believe there is something else out there, absolutely, 100%. I just feel like, in the same breath, I look at things with a skeptical eye or I just look at things, maybe with a closed mind. I’m listening to you and maybe I’m looking at this with a closed mind.
Are we taking our clothes off now, is it getting hot in here? What’s going on?
Alex Tsakiris: I was buffing up.
Meryl: He’s exposing more than the truth, yeah.
Beau: It’s getting cold I guess. Yeah, so I do believe. I mean, you show me a video of a UFO and it’s like, I can say, “Yeah, I totally believe that that probably exists,” but at the same time I can go the other way and be like, “But could anybody make this video?” What’s to believe and what’s not to believe?
Alex Tsakiris: Meryl, Meryl, Meryl, jump in there. Just reach over there and knock him on the head.
Meryl: Well, I’m almost to the other extreme where I think some people in their culture right now might be like, even… I think they may be integrating another part of extraterrestrial people within who we’re seeing today. So, I feel like some people are being made into, like half aliens and half humans. I really do sound crazy, but I agree with that. So, I almost think alien and extraterrestrial is like seeping in more than we know, and it probably already has been in.
I think the government really has come out and said, “Yes, there are UFOs and that has been…”
Alex Tsakiris: There has to be.
Meryl: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. But I mean, maybe even more integrated than we know currently. So, I think the government may have more contact with extraterrestrials.
Alex Tsakiris: Well, before we totally blow Beau out of the water there, and send him…
Beau: I feel like suddenly I’m the science experiment. You guys brought me here…
Meryl: I love that.
Beau: “We’re going to break this dude. We’re going to break him.”
Alex Tsakiris: Yeah, this is an MKUltra program.
Meryl: Oh yeah.
Alex Tsakiris: We are going to break you down, mind control, at the end you will…
Meryl: He’s going to be having, like a butterfly on his eye in a bathtub. I would like to expose something.
Alex Tsakiris: Okay.
Meryl: Okay. So, I would like to ask you your thoughts about Yoga, because we’re here in Southern California and Yoga is very popular. I don’t practice Yoga anymore because I was doing a lot of Kundalini Yoga a few years ago and that’s what ultimately, I think, led to my psychic meltdown at the time. I think Yoga is, like an opening to dark forces and, not to completely change it, but I wanted to get your take on it and if you had people… I know you talk to a lot of people that are based in eastern philosophy and eastern practices, but to me, I’m very skeptical about Yoga and I think it should be practiced with care and concern, not that it’s very popular here. But, I think Yoga is, kind of, like a cult practice.
Alex Tsakiris: I’m going to practice Yoga [while I talk to you 00:19:20].
Meryl: Well, maybe you can also have the makeup for it. I think for someone that’s already, kind of, teetering off the edge like me, when I do Yoga it seems to open up, like portals to things that aren’t the best for me. So, when I was doing a lot of Kundalini Yoga, I genuinely think I got some type of, like weird spiritual meltdown thing happening. I was having hallucinations and I was, like feeling weird things and almost hearing voices, and it was not good for me. And then, when I stopped, it took me a while, but everything, kind of, settled down.
Alex Tsakiris: Well, you know, the thing that I think is an important part of this whole process, in a broader sense, and I think that’s what Skeptiko has, kind of, been about, you know, Skeptiko, the origin of it is, kind of, be skeptical and it took me a long time to figure out the true meaning of it and that is, inquiry that perpetuates doubt. So, I am, in some ways, more sympathetic to Beau. I think we should always be doubting, I think that’s the only place to be… I think that’s the true spiritual path, is to always be doubting, don’t be accepting, always taking our experience but compare it to other experiences and see what that means.
As it relates to Yoga, what I think a lot of folks don’t fully appreciate is, man, you’ve got people who have been studying that stuff for 2000 years. Do you know who Ram Dass is?
Alex Tsakiris: So, Ram Dass is a really cool guy. If you go back and look at the history, Ram Dass is this professor, Richard Alpert, at Harvard and he’s there with another guy you might have heard of, Tim Leary and they discovered this crazy shit that the government brought in and said, “Hey, see what this might do for our MKUltra mind control program,” and it’s LSD, and he says, “How is this going to work? What can we do with it? We’ll start doing some experiments,” and they do, and the next thing you know they were like, “Woo.”
So, we all know what Timothy Leary does and that causes a cultural revolution, a cultural change, but Richard Alpert, who becomes Ram Dass, he goes to India and he says, “What is the deeper meaning of this, and does anyone else know about this stuff?” And he finds this guy, up in the Himalayas, Neem Karoli Baba, and he gives him the LSD and he says, “Here.” Neem Karoli Baba takes a bunch of it and says, “There, it doesn’t do anything to me,” and it didn’t do anything to him, and he said, “Okay, look, I’ll tell you the truth. If you’ve really developed your Yoga…” I’m making this, kind of, a caricature of this story but, “…then you control your mind. It’s just a mind game. But it is an interesting medicine, it helps you see God, dah, dah, dah.”
Ram Dass is totally blown away, “Oh my god, this is real in a whole different sense than we’ve understood it. It’s not just a pharmaceutical, it is some, kind of, doorway to this higher thing.”
Well, the point of all of that for your situation Meryl, or your experience, is that, Ram Dass goes onto say, “A real opener for me was looking at this culture.” They deal with Kundalini awakenings, the kind that you’re talking about, all the time. Not all the time, but it’s understood that people might have a spontaneous Kundalini awakening, this transformative spiritual experience, and they’re, kind of, crazy for six months and everyone just goes, “Okay, just, kind of, be gentle. They’re going through it. That’s it. It’ll work out.” They don’t put them in an institution, they don’t give them a bunch of drugs, they don’t point fingers at them and say, “Oh my god.” As a matter of fact, they say the opposite, they say, “Wow, that person has made another step, either voluntarily or involuntarily, along their spiritual path.” They’ve worked through a lot of that stuff that we, from the west, come at it and go, “Oh, no, no, no, we’ve figured it all out. We’re all biological robots in a meaningless universe, so therefore if anything happens it has to have a chemical [order 00:23:24] to it and we can figure it out and we can medicate you for it,” and all the rest of this.
So, the point being that, when you say Yoga, there’s just a ton of cultural experience and human experience, thousands of years at it, that really has to be studied and understood and nuanced. There’s a lot of people that are going through a lot of the same things that you are, and you can find support groups, you can find people to talk to that have had those kinds of experiences. It’s a whole rich area to explore, would be my thing.
That’s not me, I’m kind of spiritually dense. I see it, I can get slight glimpses of it, but nothing like what you experienced. But, I still see the value in it because I’m not a biological robot in a meaningless universe. I am the voice inside my head, which is the voice inside of all of our heads, we all hear it, it’s not joke, which is something more than just a random firing of chemical reactions that will go all pitch black when they stop existing. So, I’ll shut up now.
Meryl: I did think that was my first, kind of, foray into another realm, and I am a [unclear 00:24:44] person, but it was a terrifying experience. I was in Yoga classes, probably next to people like you, who could leave the class and go and get a smoothie afterwards and then go to Trader Joe’s and be fine and meanwhile I was like, really, at a time, I probably could have or should have felt like I was institutionalized or something like that. I had to take off work, I missed work for a couple of weeks, I really had a big giant psychic experience.
That, kind of, scared me into being fearful of the realm, but now I’m in the way where I’m like free will trumps all, instead of feeling like I’m at the mercy of having any, sort of, like evil spirits or anything like that. I just have backed up on the Yoga and a lot of TM and stuff like that, just because I know from my own genetic makeup, it might not be for me. Or I’m, kind of, just scared to go further.
To be completely honest I had to integrate myself by drinking alcohol and watching baseball games and bringing myself down a little bit, because I just don’t think, like, I wasn’t rooted enough to go up there at the time and I still, kind of, think I’m not. But, I’m down the path of that, as being really interested and open to the idea that there’s a lot other, kind of, forces at play, because I experienced it myself of feeling stretched, to the point of losing grounding a little bit. And that’s why I’m on Lexapro. No, I should be, that’s true.
But no, that’s not it, but it’s good to talk about it and especially being out here in Southern California, there’s a lot of spiritual work and energy work and everyone’s a crystal healer and everyone’s into Reiki, and I think I had the experience where I’m like, “Well, if you do a lot of that around people that aren’t safe, it can be a really, really terrifying and lonely experience.” But now, I make a joke out of it instead of being really afraid of it. But there were months, a time where it, kind of, ruined me.
Alex Tsakiris: Well, I can’t speak directly and never would try to speak directly to your experience, but I can speak to the show, Skeptiko, and it’s, I don’t want to say common, but it is the same story, that you’re talking about, is told over and over again in a bunch of strange places. One is the, kind of, spontaneous spiritual transformative experience that you’re talking about, over and over again, you hear it the same way.
We were talking a little bit about near-death experience science, which is something that I really latched onto. What is the science behind it? Are there any peer review papers that would lead us to believe that consciousness does survive death? And at this point there’s over 200, which again, Beau doesn’t know about because he doesn’t read the New York Times.
Meryl: But, Beau doesn’t know. That’s our new campaign.
Alex Tsakiris: Beau doesn’t know.
Beau: Beau doesn’t know. Beau doesn’t know.
Alex Tsakiris: What I was going to say, so, you look at this near-death experience, and it’s all about going to the light and light and love and all these unbelievably fantastic experiences, but then look at the other side of it and some researchers have, it’s the same kind of integration problems that you’re talking about. People go through depression. People experience a much higher rate of divorce. People have this euphoric feeling of connection with everyone for a while, and then that dissipates, and they can sometimes feel lost. Now, a lot of times it turns around and they actually build upon that and feel greater, but these recurring themes of dark night of the soul, transformative experiences that, kind of, totally blow our reality and can knock us on our butt. All those things are just commonplace in this realm of spiritual transformation and just extended consciousness, beyond this, kind of, dorky existence that we’re told is all there is.
Meryl: That’s really interesting. I feel like there should be a Skeptiko guide to having a spiritual breakdown. A flash awakening.
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