Wheels of Fortune?* -- Man crawls off plane and right back on to my Whirled
It's been quite a while since I wrote about one of my favorite SNAG-gy posers, the performance artist who calls himself Dreaming-Bear (real name Baraka Kanaan. Oh, wait. Make that DR. Baraka Kanaan, aka "Dr. Baraka" or "Dr. DreamingBear."). Dreaming-Bear, whom some ditzy journo nicknamed "The Kissing Prophet" a few years ago, and who calls himself "The Modern Day Rumi," has been a Whirled favorite in past years, by virtue of having built his empire upon a whole pseudo-erotic shtick involving over-wrought poetry and prose about "kissing" his followers into consciousness. He used to do most of this nearly-naked, but has tried to soften his image a bit in recent years.
Dreaming-Bear has aroused suspicion about his true provenance (is he Native American? Middle Eastern? Boring white-bread boy trying to improve his mystical creds?)... but that, of course, has not prevented him from attracting followers. Often times, people who want to believe don't just ignore inconsistencies; they embrace them as mysteries. In this September 2007 post I snarked at some length about DB's pandering and his (mostly female) admirers' responses.
He continued to capture my attention, even though he was really pretty small-time by Scamworld standards, because he seemed, to me, so ridiculously phony -- that low-hanging fruit that certain species of lazy bloggers love to toy with while other more serious bloggers are going after the really bad guys. Over the past few years, however, DB has also made efforts to align himself with the larger Scamworld, where the real money is and some pretty bad guys are. Look, here he is with Mock Victims Hansen, co-perp of the Chicken Soup series.
And here's pop-psych author Harold Bloomfield, M.D. (who helped popularize Transcendental Meditation in the 1970s), waxing poetic about DB. Dr. Baraka just seems to inspire that kind of writing in people.
|Click to enlarge. (Nausea advisory in effect.)|
Of Dreaming-Bear's Lovevolution concerts, Bloomfield writes:
Each concert begins with a brief ceremonial honoring of the women who are present, in which DreamingBear invites the men to verbally acknowledge the feminine energy in a kind of apology for the past and proposal for the future.Word had it that Deebie had his own way of "acknowledging the feminine energy" and that all too many of his personal "proposals for the future" involved picking some attractive females in the audience to exploit in the near future, in one way or another. But oh, what a pickup line: "Men are dicks, but here's mine." (Did I just make a rhyme?)
Although I hadn't been writing much recently about "Dr. DreamingBear," as he now seems to prefer to be called, I still get fairly frequent emails or comments to my blog, thanking me for poking holes in his sacred image. Some of the messages are from women who have thanked me fervently for keeping them from falling into DB's seductive trap -- he seems to be quite the exploiter of the ladies, as are many in his position. I've heard from women who said they attended his events and he targeted them with his "charms," and they were tempted even though they had sort of an uneasy feeling about him... and then they read my blog, which made them realize that they were wise to listen to their gut feelings.
For a while, it seemed that my blog posts were just about the only press that DB was getting, to the point that he sent me a couple of emails a few years ago, asking me to give him a call so we could talk, and begging me to please quit writing about him, and asking me to take down the things I had written about him, and subtly threatening me with legal action or at least karmic consequences. I wrote a little about that on this January 2009 blog post (scroll down to "Calling on Dreaming-Bear").
I did quit writing about DB so much, but only because bigger and admittedly slimier fish grabbed my attention.
But now he's in the news with a new claim to fame: He is, according to press reports, a "disabled paraplegic," aka the man who crawled off a plane and right into a lawsuit. Someone just alerted me to this today, suggesting that I Google "Man Crawls Off Plane." And sure enough, there was my old friend Dreaming-Bear. On July 23, 2013, he filed a civil lawsuit, with a request for a jury trial, against Delta Airlines for an unspecified amount, in response to a couple of incidents that occurred in July 2012. The incidents, he claimed, caused him "intense physical and extreme emotional suffering." Compensation and damages will be determined at trial.
The story just hit the media late last month (I don't know how I missed it). Here's another article about the incident.
And here is Baraka Kanaan's actual complaint.
I briefly wrote about Dreaming-Bear's reported disability on this July 2008 post (scroll down to "Dreaming-Bear: rolling with the punches"). Some accused me of being a little unkind. Although Dreaming-Bear claims he was in a car wreck some years ago, and various back surgeries have forced him to use a wheelchair at times, there was some dispute, including among people who said they knew him personally and had observed his behavior first-hand, about whether he was exaggerating or exploiting his situation for various reasons. Dreaming-Bear himself wrote to me, in one of the emails I mentioned above, that he is "legally disabled."
Some of the recent news stories have said he was in a car wreck in 2000 that left him partially paralyzed. It does seem that he has gotten around pretty well in the intervening years, despite that partial paralysis. (DreamingBear himself has an explanation for that; see the PS below.)
Now, lest you think I'm still being heartless and am making light of people with disabilities, or that I'm excusing any bad behavior on the part of Delta Airlines (or any airline who mistreats the genuinely disabled, or any other passenger or employee), I'm not. Delta apparently has a history of egregious treatment of the disabled. And if you read the July 2008 Whirled post I linked to above, you'll see that I have, in the past, tried to give DB the benefit of the doubt on this matter.
Even so, something keeps nagging at me, and in light of Dreaming-Bear's shenanigans in the past, I have to look at this story with raised eyebrows. Forgive me for thinking -- even after looking at things from his perspective (see below) that there may be more to the tale than meets the eye.
It could turn out to be a real case that actually forces offending airlines to improve their treatment of passengers with special needs -- which would be a good thing. Or it could be just more histrionics from an established drama queen and New-Wage dilettante who is scavenging for yet another source of (eventual) income. I'm not making that call yet. I'm open to either possibility and will certainly make corrections as necessary.
But my b.s. meter is on full alert for now, and maybe yours should be as well.
PS, added 6 August, 2013 ~ Although a cursory search for stories related to this incident revealed mostly uncritical reporting (with a few mostly sympathetic commentaries in the mix), I found this entry on the First2Board blog, Travelblawg, which had an interesting comment about "Dr." Deebie's Twitter feeds around the time the incidents actually occurred, as opposed to his Twitter feeds around the time of the lawsuit. Dreaming-Bear is on Twitter under the user name, Mauitopia, with this tag line on the banner: "I am the voice of the cosmos & of nature, the ecstasy of stars is with me & the birth pangs of Earth are with me. I have become the tongue of trees." Uh-huh.
The Travelblawg blogger screen-shot those respective feeds, with a little bit of snarkin' about Deebie's poetics. As per usual, click to enlarge.
Granted, it does take time to put a lawsuit together, and Deebie apparently went through channels (complaining to the airline, to the FAA, etc.) and gave Delta a chance to make things right before the suit was finally filed. And he could have also been advised by counsel at the time the incidents occurred not to write much about them. (He also had spinal surgery some time after the incident; his legal complaint suggested that the surgery, which had already been scheduled, had to be delayed because of injuries suffered during the incident.) Moreover, he did note in one of his 2013 tweets that he had "reported" the incident last year, presumably meaning that he informed his followers at some point about what was going on. So a Twitter feed alone is not an indication that this was not a matter of concern for him at the time it first happened. Still, it seems blogworthy.
Baraka certainly hasn't been silent on Facebook in the wake of the lawsuit filing. A couple of days ago he wrote about the "defamation" campaign by Delta. He explains that he is being unfairly persecuted for having "a life before being in this wheelchair." In fairness to him I will post a screen shot:
On that same post, he also posted some shots of his medical reports as of February 2012, nearly six months prior to the Delta incidents. Here they are:
So there you have it, or some of it, anyway, from Dr. DreamingBear's side. Funny thing, though: my b.s. meter is still on alert. And for the record, I am not working for Delta, or on behalf of Delta, or for or on behalf of anyone else in the army of persecutors whom Deebie likes to imagine are after him. I'm here on my own behalf, doing my part to keep hustlers and scammers from hustling and scamming any more people than necessary.
Baraka 'round the Whirled:
- July 2007: Hunka hunka burnin' lust...on Maui
- August 2007: (Scroll down to Dreaming-Bear redux)
- September 2007: Dreaming-Bear speaks of Burning Man, fails to mention Hanging Man
- July 2008: (Scroll down to Dreaming-Bear: rolling with the punches)
- January 2009: (Scroll down to "Calling on Dreaming-Bear")