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Paranoid? Don't Worry; It's All Under Control

"I'm not at liberty to discuss that," she said.

Apparently, when you're exposing the secret government you can't be too careful. D'Arc told me that Paranoia was born in 1992 in Providence, R.I., where she ran an alternative bookstore called Newspeak, which hosted weekly meetings of the Providence Conspiracy League. The league started collecting conspiracy information and storing it in a big loose-leaf binder with a picture of Lee Harvey Oswald on the cover. And the binder led to the magazine.

I asked her why the magazine is called Paranoia and she said that her co-editor, Al Hidell, named it and I should talk to him. She added that Al Hidell was not his real name.

I called Hidell, who confirmed that Al Hidell is a pseudonym that he chose because it was one of Oswald's aliases. He also wouldn't reveal his real name or his day job. "I work a nondescript office job," he said, "but I can't say anymore."

So I asked why he gave the magazine a name that seems to cast doubt on, you know, the sanity of its writers and the readers.

"I thought of it as a kind of preemptive war of words," he said. "I knew that people would call us paranoid so I kind of embraced the word."

Are you paranoid? I asked him.

"I'd describe myself as a suspicious person," he said, "but not paranoid in any clinical way."

Hidell and D'Arc represent different wings of the conspiracy theories movement. "She's more into the speculative paranormal end of things," he said. "I'm more of a meat-and-potatoes politics, international relations and secret societies kind of guy."

Together, they attempt to publish a "provocative, unpredictable mix" of conspiracy theories. "We try not to have a house conspiracy style," he said.

Hidell admitted that he doesn't believe all the conspiracy theories advanced in the pages of Paranoia. For instance, he's a little skeptical of Icke's theory that the queen of England and the Rockefellers are really shape-shifting Satanic reptiles from outer space. But then he adds this about Icke: "For all we know, he's putting all that in purposely so people think he's just a nut and he can keep publishing."

Whoa! I never thought of that! Heavy, man!

Since he and D'Arc founded Paranoia 15 years ago, Hidell said, the mainstream media has become very interested in conspiracy theories. He mentioned the TV show "The X-Files" and the History Channel's documentaries on secret societies, and, of course, "The Da Vinci Code."

"Why are 'they' allowing conspiracy theories to go mainstream?" he asked. "If there is a group that controls the world -- and I'm not saying there is -- they're probably not going to allow movies to be made about themselves, are they?"

He chuckled when he said that. But after I hung up, I got to thinking: What if he's right? And if they don't want movies made about themselves, they probably don't want to see their evil deeds exposed in Paranoia either. Does that mean that Paranoia is . . . part of the conspiracy? Could Paranoia be printing false conspiracy theories to throw us all off the trail of the real conspiracies?

Oh, man, thinking about all this stuff makes my head hurt. I'm gonna stop now and go put another layer of tinfoil in my hat, just in case.

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