Monday, July 30, 2007
Marvin is perhaps best known nationally for being the inspiration for the Best Little Whorehouse In Texas franchise – the Playboy article that became a stage play that became a movie. But he was so much more than the man who closed down the cat houses in LaGrange and Sealy, Texas. Since 1973 he had been a fixture on Houston's ABC affiliate, KTRK-TV Channel 13, initially reporting on consumer fraud and later expanding his beat to include, among other things, dirty restaurants. His "Rat and Roach Report," with the rallying cry, "Slime in the ice machine!", was a welcome dinnertime staple on Friday evenings. Mmmm, tasty! Not that Marvin confined his activities to the Houston area. He also traveled the world on "goodwill missions" to help people who needed helping. For the most part these were medical missions, and he was accompanied by doctors and other professionals, "Marvin's Angels," who donated their time and their services to his good causes. And almost until the day he passed away – he even continued to broadcast reports from his hospital bed – he remained the "loudest man on television." Love him or hate him – and most of us loved him – you just couldn't ignore him.
There are so many ways in which Marvin Zindler differed from the New-Wage/self-help/pop-spirituality gurus I love to skewer on this blog. True, Marvin had an ego that could easily have put the lot of the New-Wagers to shame. From a very early age, he was an inveterate publicity hound and would do just about anything to get his name and picture in the news. But he wasn't just another fame whore. The man had a heart that was even larger than that ego of his, and he touched countless thousands of lives – not by selling vague promises of enlightenment or unlimited wealth via self-help books and DVDs and weekend workshops, but by actually solving everyday problems for everyday folks.
Marvin had several signature mottoes, but the one that made him a hero among so many people was, "It's hell to be poor." Unlike the current crop of New-Wage entrepreneurs who are getting so much mileage out of being "formerly homeless" and now wealthy beyond belief, Marvin himself was born into affluence and lived a life of privilege. But he wasn't one to flaunt his wealth, at least not in the way that my favorite targets on this blog do, though he never hesitated to use his considerable resources and connections to help those in need. More importantly, he knew, and cared deeply, how "the other half" lived, and he spent much of his life fighting for the poor and disenfranchised. As well, he helped thousands of ordinary middle-class people fight back against shoddy business practices, tangled bureaucracies, or just plain bad luck. (I would have loved to hear his take on Secret creator Rhonda Byrne's "let them eat cake" philosophy.) For decades Marvin was also a fierce crusader against prejudice and racial discrimination, a cause that surely must have raised more than a few eyebrows in certain circles back in the day.
Ron and I were privileged to take part in the creation of Marvin's authorized biography, White Knight In Blue Shades, which was penned by Marvin's plastic surgeon and long-time friend, Dr. Joseph Agris, who accompanied Marvin on many of his worldwide medical missions. Doc Joe, a hero in his own right for several reasons, was a delight to work with, and clearly had a fondness for his subject matter. Instead of seeking a trade publisher, Doc Joe chose to self-publish, and proceeds went to the charitable organization he and Marvin had founded, The Agris-Zindler Children's Foundation.
The original working title of the book was an accurate though somewhat uninspired one: Marvin Zindler. It was Ron and I who came up with White Knight In Blue Shades, a title Doc Joe loved. The title referred not only to Marvin's status as a local hero (and his fondness for wearing white suits), but to his trademark blue sunglasses, which he wore in his later years to protect his eyes from the bright glare of the TV studio lights. It was only a couple of years ago that we found out Marvin himself never really cared for the name we had so lovingly bestowed upon his biography. But he did approve of the book, for the most part, and I guess that's what really mattered. (And I suppose it was a tribute to Marvin's stature in Houston that the Houston Chronicle book editor suspended his usual policy of snubbing self-published books, and actually did a write-up of White Knight In Blue Shades.)
In the days to come, Houston media will no doubt be saturated with tributes to Marvin Zindler. I usually get pretty weary of this sort of thing after a few hours. But Marvin...well, he was someone special, and I can't seem to get enough of the tributes. And even though I didn't know him very well, except through working for so many months on his biography, I'm truly going to miss him.
As will, I suspect, the vast majority of the people in this realm of rats and roaches, this blessed plot of dirty politicians and shady merchants, this precious stone set on a murky bayou, this quirky town, this Houston. It truly will not be the same city without Marvin Zindler.
One of my favorite columnists, Ken Hoffman, pays tribute to Marvin in this piece.
Marvin Zindler's son tells of his father's final night.
"Now is the time," the email began. "It all starts now. As you read this, the excitement will build. Although you haven't known it, you've been waiting for this message."
Well, I love to find out about stuff I've been doing that I didn't know I was doing. In recent weeks I've been getting some lectures on that very subject, from various self-proclaimed experts. But had I really been waiting for this particular message? I couldn't begin to tell you. I did find myself getting excited, however, although that may have been partly due to the fact that The Rev happened to come into my office while I was perusing the email, and as he read over my shoulder, he slowly began to...oh, wait. Sorry. It's not that kind of blog.
Exciting news poured forth from the email:
We humans are prewired for limitless potential at a preplanned juncture inWell, of course water would be involved. And I've certainly blogged about water before. But this was something new, something even more scientifically advanced than the Water Blessing Labels I've previously written about. The email continued:
time. Now is that time. Our sleeping DNA are awaiting frequencies - also
planned for eons - to awaken them and trigger them to express to their
fullest potential. Our company and what we're producing are a large part of that plan. We have the frequencies for the Aquarian Age. And guess what? You guessed it. Water is involved.
The Aquarian Age we are just entering is about water, the power of water -Well, I imagine you're excited too now, and you want to know just what Aquaware is, and how it works.
She is the Water-Bearer* - and we have been guided to design and build an
extraordinarily powerful yet simple software tool called Aquaware as a
technological trigger for this abundant and amazing age we're moving rapidly into.
I'm afraid it's a bit too scientific and technical to go into on a blog like this, but I will share with you the explanation in the email:
In brief, Aquaware is software for PCs which impregnates water with
frequencies that are able to bring about objectives in the water-based human body. Those frequencies create geometrical forms that modify water's snowflake-like liquid crystals which, after ingestion, bathing, showering or direct application, then modify you at the cellular and molecular levels, and even at the level of your DNA, according to selectable intent. It's truly a marvel and works almost unbelievably well.
This is like nothing that's come before in terms of software or otherI bet by now you are so excited you're about to wet yourself. If you're going to do that, don't you think you'd have a better overall experience if the vibes in your pee were accelerated via Aquaware?
technological means - different approach, different math, different delivery
mechanism, different everything, and the change in the physical properties
of the water can be observed directly, including a difference in taste,
texture, wetness, etc. And as much water as you've worked with before, water modified with Aquaware will nevertheless surprise you in a big way.
The good news is that you can try Aquaware risk-free.
As it's free to try in order to prove it to yourself, there is nothing to
lose except everything that is toxic in your system of being, along with all
other superfluous detritus that no longer serves you. You'll adjust with
grace, beauty, power and intended effortlessness to the more natural you
that is prepared for limitless creativity and play in the coming Cosmic
The power of Aquaware is absolutely majestic. If you're an intuitive or areMy hands are shaking, and I bet yours are too. So c'mon, go with the flow; pay a visit to the Aquaware folks today. Or, as they put it in the email: "Explode into your new way of being by visiting Aquafrequencies today."
otherwise sensitive to energy, you will know it upon the first few seconds
of being on the Website.** The excitement will immediately begin. In fact, it
has begun in you even now. We can feel it as we write this text.
* Notwithstanding the fact that Aquarius is, in fact, an Air Sign.
**Hmmm....where have we heard something about magical Websites before?
Friday, July 27, 2007
Come to think of it, that was probably my best post ever. It was certainly the most succinct.
I'm going to write more a little later, but right now The Rev and I are running out the door to meet with a client. Back soon!
And thanks, y'all, for sticking with me through all of my snarking and grousing. I couldn't have done it without me. I mean, without you.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
By far, most of the folks who write to me about that piece are not fans of The Secret, and they weigh in on the "skeptical" end of the belief spectrum. But I recently received an email from someone who is a "believer," or has tried very hard to be. This person, who has been into spirituality for many years, has labored for years in the healthcare field. I was given permission to share part of this individual's email.
OK, so I am what you might call a "New Ager" (no 'w', as I am poor). I try to be a good person and do hope that my work [helping people] will bring me 3-fold what I have given out. I am now applying for disability after years [of hard work] plumb wore my body out, and I am currently struggling to keep my house. So, of course, I was interested in The Secret as well as the publications by [Jerry and Esther] Hicks when several of my friends drew them to my attention.
Unfortunately, no matter how positive I am, or how many affirmations and targeted meditations I have done, I still seem to be having what others have labeled as 'bad luck'. This has been quite disturbing to me. I have asked a few of my metaphysical friends WHY The Secret doesn't work for me..............and do you know what their answer is? Repeatedly? "[Then] you aren't doing it right."
Now I ask you, how positive is THAT? Instead of giving me pointers or talking to me about what I could improve upon, I get criticism.
I agree with you, that the reason that The Secret is working for those involved in it, is that they are making money off of people that are stupid enough to buy into it, [who], I might add, are [seemingly] no better off than when they started viewing and reading...
…Quite frankly, I am tired of being told that my year long…bad-luck-health-and-money streak [is] all my own fault for not thinking positively enough. (Maybe, just maybe, it has more to do with our current faulty health and medical programs in our country, lack of staffing in hospitals, and exorbitant fees for health care.)
I for one, applaud you. And, I AM a self professed new ager (no w!).In my reply, I told this person that I have received several similar emails from people who have genuinely tried to embrace the teachings of The Secret, and have made every effort to put the Law of Attraction to work in their lives. When things don't get better, or when they seem to get worse, these people have also sought advice and support from other fans of The Secret / LOA, only to find themselves hit with similar judgmental, non-helpful answers. It’s really just another form of New-Age guilt-mongering, which is every bit as destructive as traditional religious guilt-mongering – a matter I've previously addressed on this very blog.
Thank you for the information, and for all the smiles. : )
In a subsequent email my correspondent wrote to me:
I don't understand how all of these supposedly 'evolved' and 'enlightened' people feel it is just to attack ANYONE, let alone someone else for having a difference of opinion. It goes completely against what it is they are trying to GRASP.My correspondent is not the only person who has had second thoughts about The Secret. On his blog a few months ago, my friend Blair Warren wrote about his own "turnaround." He’s written several other posts – some humorous, some serious – about the logical fallacies and other shortcomings of the Law Of Attraction, as taught in The Secret. Yet the stars of The Secret are still using that same "logic" to defend LOA as an actual physical law, on the order of the law of gravity. In so doing they seem to be demonstrating the same level of compassion that my correspondent’s friends have shown.
Heck, if I could get The Secret to work for me, I would be more than happy to report that to you, without feeling the need to berate you in any way....that is immature and quite frankly, scary.
Esther and Jerry Hicks, who are making a great deal of money sharing the wisdom of the Universe as told to them by Esther’s imaginary friend(s) Abraham, were the original muses for Rhonda Byrne, creator and producer of The Secret. Esther was in the initial version of the DVD, and although she doesn’t appear in the revised version, the Abraham-Hicks influence in Secret and LOA culture is undeniable. Esther and Jerry’s message seems to be that where LOA is concerned, compassion and mercy don’t enter into the equation. LOA as Abraham ’splains it is an immutable law, and that’s that; like it or lump it.
On The Rick Ross Cult Awareness web site, I came across a link to a very interesting article about the Abraham-Hicks phenomenon. It was written by UK journalist Robert Chalmers for The Independent. Chalmers recently traveled to Colorado, where the Hicks were conducting a workshop, and he sat down and spoke with Jerry and Esther. He even got to speak with Abraham for a spell.
The following exchange, I think, pretty much sets the tone for the "touchy issues."
"When you suggested, in Fort Collins yesterday, that if you think about a thing it will come to you whether you want it or not, and that a person draws their destiny to them; when I heard that, the words that came into my mind were: Auschwitz, Bialystock and Dachau. Are you saying that six million Jews invited extermination upon themselves?"
"We would never say they invited it wantingly or knowingly. But we unequivocally say that nothing happens to anyone without a predominant vibration that matches it." Just before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, she says, "the people who did not want inconvenience left right away. People who are not accustomed to managing their life well, stayed."
"The poor people stayed."Okay, now I get it.
"They are poor in vibration before they are poor in manifestation."
Chalmers writes that Esther and Jerry differ from classic charlatans in that they don’t seem to be courting popularity by saying what people want to hear. Esther admitted that she and Jerry "argued with Abraham for years" about certain ideas, such as the fact that people attract everything that happens to them, good or bad, whether they intend to or not. What about the innocent babies who are killed, Esther wondered. Well, Abraham had an answer for that, sort of, and Esther explains it to Chalmers, sort of. But when she and Jerry end up talking about a chicken they had named Renegade, this sort of cheapened the entire discussion for me. Not that I have anything against chickens, but c’mon, guys.
And here is the Abraham-Hicks take on victimization.
"Abraham," Esther says, "told us early on that the person receiving prejudice is the one who has the vibration that is attracting it. If I ever find myself feeling like a victim, things like that start happening to me."Well, at least Esther admits that the Holocaust was a big deal and that she hasn’t ever suffered anything nearly so horrid.
"You say 'things like that' - the Holocaust?" [asked Chalmers]
"Well, no - that's big big big big big big big. I mean, it's ... huge. Probably the most victimised I have felt was over The Secret; but every part of it that happened, I acknowledge that there was a vibrational component of it within me."
Chalmers’ article goes into Jerry and Esther’s background, relating the tale of how they got into the imaginary-buds biz in the first place. You’ve probably heard the story before, but in this article you’ll get some more details that may, if you’re particularly unfortunate, bring up some unsavory visuals. (Esther, by the way, prefers to call what she does "receiving," not "channeling.")
There’s no denying that even as the Hicks have influenced Secret and LOA culture, it was The Secret that really catapulted them to fame. By their own admission, they’ve handsomely profited, both directly and indirectly, from The Secret.
It's hard to calculate," says Esther, "how much we have benefited from The Secret."Oprah Winfrey, who helped propel The Secret to mega-success by her endorsement, loves Esther Hicks too. She even had Esther on her radio show on XM not too long ago, but she won’t have her on the TV show because "too many people would be weirded out" by Esther’s fake-voice shtick. Esther told Chalmers, "Oprah doesn't think her television audience is ready for something so leading edge as Abraham. I want people who are ready for us to find us."
"Millions," Jerry interrupts. "Millions." These days, he says, "I can't imagine money not just pouring in."
Well, there certainly seems to be a steady flow of people who are "ready" – enough folks to support an affluent lifestyle for the Hicks, although I must admit they don’t seem to be nearly as ostentatiously egotistical as some of the New-Wage hustledorks in The Secret.
And even though the LOA may be dispassionate, the Hicks have been known to commit acts of kindness. They’re not into charitable giving, though they do give their money away when the mood strikes them – but only to people who don’t give off "needy" vibes.
"What we are teaching," Jerry says, "is that you don't attract through need, but through desire. Like, we were in a little restaurant in San Francisco a while back and the waitress was just so wonderful. We gave her this envelope, with all the cash from that day's workshop. She yelled: 'Oh my God, you can't believe what you have done for me. I was going to lose my apartment.' We said: 'If you'd told us that, we wouldn't have given you the money. We did it because you were wonderful.'"I’m surprised they didn’t take the money back after the waitress revealed her desperate situation. Anyway, I think the lesson here is clear. The real key to getting your problems solved – the real secret – is not merely to think positive, but to convince everyone else, including yourself, that you really don’t need anything. It’s okay to want money and other stuff, but not to need it. If you can convince yourself you don’t need it, then maybe you can fool the Universe, and you can get your stuff. In that respect, the Universe is sort of like an insurance company. If you can convince an insurance company that you’re highly unlikely to ever actually need the insurance, but you just want to pour your hard-earned money into their coffers for the sheer bloody joy of it, they’ll more than likely write you a superb policy. The rest of us – those who really are sick, and those who simply can't spare the bucks to enrich the insurance company – are S.O.L., insurance-wise.
So here’s my advice to the correspondent mentioned at the beginning of this post: Just be your wonderful self, and pretend everything is hunky-dory, and that your life isn’t in danger of coming apart at the seams. And if you ever get to the point where you're able to work again, and Esther and Jerry ever find their way into your healthcare facility, be extra, extra wonderful to them. If they're fresh from another workshop and have pockets full of dough, you just might get lucky.
And once again, here’s the link to that article in The Independent. It’s long, but very well worth the read.
OMT for everyone: If you haven't already, go see the movie Sicko. I think you'll find something to like about it – and even many things you'll agree with – even if you loathe Michael Moore and his politics.
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There’s some sad and pretty scary stuff on that thread, and, as I told my correspondent, the more I find out about Swami Blonde and some of her followers, the more I believe they need to be institutionalized.
I especially think this after seeing a 20-year-old video of Penny. While reading the Rick Ross forum, I came across a link to an early interview by Meredith Vieira, from a defunct (1985-1989) TV series called West 57th Street.
Not much has changed since those prehistoric, pre-Internet days; if anything, things have gotten worse. The imaginary-friends segment of the New-Wage industry is still thriving, fueled by the gullibility of seekers, and held aloft by the obfuscation, rationalization and outright lies employed by the New-Wage hucksters. Listen to Penny's answer when she is caught in a lie about "curing" an AIDS patient who never had the disease in the first place. And a few minutes later, watch her as she blithely rationalizes being caught red-handed in another blatant deception.
In fact, if you ignore the big hair, the references to outmoded technology, the less-than-sterling production quality, and the lack of mention of The Secret and imaginary-friends moguls Esther and Jerry Hicks, you’d almost think you were watching an interview that was filmed last week.
As for the young Penny Torres who appears in that video – well, I’m no expert on psychiatric disorders, but I look in her eyes and I see a seriously disturbed individual. What’s even more disturbing is that, even today, she still has a following.
Oh, yeah, here’s the link to the video.
Monday, July 23, 2007
For example, there is Master Kuthumi, the square-jawed dude in the beret, pictured here. His next teleconference is scheduled for Friday, July 27. Hey, that’s the one-year anniversary of Whirled Musings! Can you believe it? The focus of the teleconference, Carolyn explains, is "preparation for ascension as the particles in the lightbody must be changed to accommodate the higher vibrations." I believe that this lightbody rearrangement is a nonsurgical, noninvasive procedure, but I really couldn’t tell from the email.
I’m a little concerned, though. I hope Carolyn doesn’t run into any trouble with The Rev Lynette Leckie-Clark, who, according to her web site, is the "chosen channel" for Master Kuthumi. If Carolyn is not careful she could find herself entangled in a nasty lawsuit, such as that filed by JZ Knight a few years ago when JZ found out that a lady in Berlin was messing around with her imaginary pal Ramtha. JZ won, Ramtha came home to Mama, and Mama is still raking in the millions from
gullible dolts those who seek the wisdom of the ages. And then there’s that odd and disturbing love triangle between Saint Germain, Troika Saint Germain, and Wyoming psychic Molly Rowland, which I wrote about last month (scroll down to the second item). Interdimensional relationships can be so complicated.
Archangel Mikael is another Ascended Master who has graciously agreed to participate in Carolyn’s phone conferences. The last one was on July 18, but I’m sure another one will be coming up soon. So what does Mikael have to tell us? "Electrons react differently in the higher dimension as there is more spacing between them," the email explained. "We understood this before the fall in Atlantis. [Mikael] is urging us to remember."
And then there’s Mother Mary, who really gets around. Not only does she appear in porch lights and on pizza pans, but she has managed to pop into the body of virtually everyone who’s anyone in the channeling industry. Mother Mary is taking time out from her busy schedule to do a teleconference with Carolyn on August 15. "Mother Mary understands what it is like to lose a child," explains Carolyn. "She is calling the parents together who have lost a child to heal their hearts and their physical bodies."
But do these teleconferences really connect you to the Masters, or is it just Carolyn talking in funny voices? Well, she says it’s the real deal, and why would a nice lady like that lie to us? "Attendees are reporting remarkable connections to the Masters," Carolyn says, emphasizing that the Masters will be standing by to answer your questions. She doesn’t specify whether she splits the proceeds with the respective Masters, but I’m guessing not. But she does have a valid point when she asks, rhetorically, "Where in history have we been able to connect with an Ascended Master through the telephone and they answer our questions?" She concludes, "These indeed are amazing times."
Yes indeed they are, and what is even more amazing is that while you are at Carolyn’s website, you can order a Universal Akashic Reading, which will help you "understand the colors that were used to create your soul and what that means as to the part of the cosmic plan that you were called forth to complete." Plus she has several books and other products to sell you. Remember, this is the woman who has spoken to Julius Caesar.
If you really want to pick up some other-worldly wisdom from another source, I am sure my friend Blair Warren would be glad to channel his Ass-ended Master Ralph, who, among other things, has revealed the Law of Extraction to Blair.
But maybe dead masters and elevated entities aren’t your thing. Maybe you would benefit more from getting on the horn with a Living Master. I just received notice of a weekly TeleGathering bestowed by a genial-looking bloke in Montana who goes by the name of Sunny Baba, a self-described "man of nature" and "natural man." Do not confuse Sunny Baba with the hairdo-challenged guru and suspected pedophile Sai Baba, nor with Baba Babababarann, guru-ette to the Beach Boys.
Sunny’s weekly phonefest on "Awakening To Oneness" is hosted by a very evolved enterprise called Blue Diamond Pachamama, which offers "Integrative, and Alternative Wellness and Healing on call and at everyone's fingertips through live and virtual events." (Pachamama was an Inca goddess.) The Blue Diamond folks are also dedicated to "celebrating earth's new children including indigo, star, rainbow, crystal and otherwise gifted children," as well as to "presenting new paradigms for intimacy, relationship and self love and acceptance."
Like I said, evolved.
"How would your life be different if you could spend time with a Living Master?" the email asked. "What if you could ask questions, have a dialogue, and receive guidance from someone who is in transcendent state of god communion while being in active communion with everyday life, and do it from the comfort of your home or office instead of traveling to the Himalayas?"
Well, you can get a chance to find out every Tuesday at 12 Noon ET / 9:00 a.m. PT / 10:00 a.m. MT. That’s when Sunny does his phone thing.
"Sunny Baba," the email continued, "is indeed a living Master who has achieved a transcendent state of god communion while being in active communion with everyday life. Sunny had to travel the world to find and sit with Living Masters, but he wants us to have the experience from the comfort of our own homes or offices. The transmission that happens is not dependent upon traveling long distances or searching for long years, and physical presence is not required; it can happen in a moment and by telephone."
Sunny, I was assured, wants to answer all of my questions, while taking me on a spiritual journey and creating "blissful transcendence and huge changes." It’s not about self-improvement; it’s about god realization.
You may be asking, "Cosmic Connie, just what is it that makes Sunny Baba a Living Master, besides the fact that he has traveled all over the world and has done some studying and thinking about spiritual stuff, no doubt smoking some really good weed and taking a few hallucinogenics along the way?" Good question, You. I don't know the entire answer to that question, but it seems clear to me that he didn’t purchase his credentials from a metaphysical college. He apparently earned them the hard way, through experience.
I have wandered and shared my light and wisdom in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Oregon, Idaho and Montana in a rebuilt 1931 Ford truck, that I updated with a new engine, brakes and mechanics. I towed a covered wagon... "a beautiful gypsy wagon" I built by hand that had stained glass windows, solar-powered lights and music, a fridge, stove and double bed. I am an artist in all parts of my life. I build my own homes, make my own clothes, and love to grow and gather my own food. I paint, and do stained glass windows; tan hides, craft and bead with the leather; design and make buckskin and other clothes; create 13 kinds of moccasins; build temples; re-build vintage cars; and create gypsy wagons. I love going barefoot as often as possible, and I live primarily out of doors.
Okay, I can identify with the "going barefoot" thing. I friggin’ hate shoes. And I wouldn’t mind living primarily out of doors as long as I had Internet access, mosquito repellant, and someone to build fires and hunt and gather all of the stuff that I needed. Actually, Rev can do all of those things, and he’s a damn fine cook, indoors or outdoors.
You can hear Sunny talk about the future of the Earth by following this link (click on the center image). Listening to him go on and on makes me want to go light up a doobie, and I don’t even smoke the stuff. Never cared for it.
Sunny, who no doubt has been a SNAG since years before faux-Native ham Dreaming-Bare had even descended to this plane of existence, also has this to say about himself:
I am very loving and a true gentle man…My life is all about beauty, creativity, romance, love, truth, and honesty… I am a natural man, not a product of my culture. I produce a lot and consume very little, a simple man with a clear mind and an open heart. My name is Sunny Baba, which means "Bright Brother". I have lived a wild / primitive life, and I carry that harmony and wildness into all that I say and do.
But for all you single ladies, sorry, gals, Sunny Baba is taken. He has found his "heart-mate" in 64-year-old Brooke Medicine Cabinet…er, Medicine Eagle. Separately and together they do all sorts of honoring-the-Earth things, and they seem to be involved in some sort of F-M-F arrangment with their "partner" Sally Hill to build a sustainable community in the Bitterroot Mountain area of Montana. Matter of fact, you can be part of this community too.
Actually, when you look at the photos, it doesn’t seem like such a bad life at that, though I wonder how many months of the year Sunny can actually go barefoot in Montana. And I have to admit that the guy has a ton of life skills that I sure don’t possess. I can’t even thread a needle, or hammer a nail in something without seriously injuring myself and destroying whatever it was I was trying to hammer a nail into.
Anyway, if you want a transcendent experience on the phone, call 1-900… I mean, click here. As for me, I think I’m going to go watch the movie Flashback again, even though Ron and I just watched it last night. I suddenly feel in the mood, for some reason.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
"My father says almost the whole world’s asleep. Everybody you know, everybody you see, everybody you talk to. He says only a few people are awake. And they live in a state of constant, total amazement."
~ Meg Ryan as Patricia Graynamore in Joe Versus The Volcano (1990)
"Dear God, whose name I do not know, thank you for my life. I forgot how big… thank you, thank you for my life."
~ Tom Hanks as Joe Banks in one of my favorite scenes from Joe Versus The Volcano
While there are cases in which unceasing wide-eyed wonder is a sign of psychosis, severe mental challenges, or the ingestion of some really good drugs, I'll grant that it would be pretty cool to live in the state of "constant, total amazement" that Meg Ryan’s character, Patricia Graynamore, described in Joe Versus The Volcano.
Put aside, for the moment, the small detail that the person Patricia is quoting in the movie, her father, is a ruthless gazillionaire who is all too willing to make a human sacrifice in order to obtain a rare resource he needs for his enterprise. The quotation is still pretty powerful in its own right. And the elder Graynamore is hardly the first person to express the notion that most people are, in essence, sleepwalking through life. Nor, for that matter, is he the first to say that people who are truly "awake" exist in a state of amazement. Buddha reportedly said much the same thing, which is probably where the screenwriters for the movie got the idea in the first place.
Joe Versus The Volcano is fiction, of course. But author and spiritual-marketing guru Joe Vitale claims he really is experiencing an almost continual state of amazement and wonder these days, the strong implication being that this is largely a result of what he has learned from Dr. Hew Len, the therapist who teaches a modern form of a Hawai'ian technique called Ho'oponopono. In his new book Zero Limits, which I wrote about on July 9 and July 10, Joe describes the "three stages of awakening." He says he believes he has reached stage three, which, he explains, is a state of almost constant amazement, wonder and gratitude. And at one point in the book, Joe even paraphrases the Meg Ryan quotation above, saying it came from "a character in a movie," though he didn’t name the movie.
Many years ago I recommended Joe Versus the Volcano to Joe Vitale. It's one of my favorite flicks. Okay, so I don't have the most highbrow tastes in movies. Actually, though, this movie is pretty deep, in a shallow kind of way – sort of like I'm shallow in a deep kind of way, which may be one reason that I like it so much. Yes, I do get all, or most, of the allegories and metaphors and life lessons in the movie, and I do get that I (and all of us) should pay heed to those lessons, as more than one person has been kind enough to point out to me. I liked the movie for all of those reasons, but also for its quirky charm, the soundtrack, the ambiance, and most of all, though it lasted only moments, for that scene with the surreal night sky over the ocean: the wheeling constellations, the enormous moon. I've seen the sky like that, and I wasn't in a state of delirium, as Joe Banks was in the movie, nor was I under the influence of any recreational substances.
Anyway, Joe V. rented the movie and said he thoroughly enjoyed it. He told me that what he especially loved was that bit about being asleep versus living in a state of total amazement. I guess this thought stuck with him.
I think we could all benefit from having more of a sense of profound wonder, a recognition that life can be experienced as a gift and not just a series of ordeals, unpleasant surprises, and gray routine, punctuated by occasional joy (as seems to be the case with most people). But is "zero state" via Ho’oponopono the way to Wonderland? Apart from the fact that it seems to be a safer path than hallucinogenic drugs – a point worth remembering on this fortieth (!) anniversary of the Summer of Love – is "zero state" achievable, or even particularly useful? More than that, is it desirable? To put it bluntly, when you wipe your mental slate clean of the effects of your memories, when you cease being so judgmental, does this mean you're really in touch with the Divine, or just more vulnerable to the next New-Wage trend that comes along?
You'll have to make up your own mind about that, but I think these are questions worth asking. I have to say that for me, it's been very tough not to view Zero Limits in the context of Joe's other work, and especially in the light of his penchant for overly-enthusiastic promotion. Truth is, virtually everything Joe has ever promoted has supposedly cast him into a state of wide-eyed wonder and amazement similar to what he describes in Zero Limits.
I am sure some folks will point out that Joe is just an enthusiastic guy by nature, and that in any case, that sense of wonder and amazement isn't even the central point of Zero Limits or of Ho'oponopono. Taking "100% responsibility" for healing yourself and all of the problems that come into your awareness is the real point, they'll say, and that's accomplished, in part, by "cleaning" via those four powerful phrases: "Thank you," "I'm sorry," "Please forgive me," and "I love you." And the ultimate point, perhaps, is healing the world. "Peace begins with me," after all. (To me this is reminiscent of the "Peace Song," which was written over 50 years ago and is sung at the services in many Unity and other New Thought churches. "Let there be peace on Earth / and let it begin with me..." They've been singing that song for years and years. So where's the peace?)
Be that as it may, this post focuses on the sense-of-wonder angle because it is the one thing that really grabbed me about Zero Limits.
And it's one of the factors that led me to read the book again and try to filter out the things I found annoying the first time around.
Like most people who have built a public persona and gained a following, Joe Vitale has his share of passionate fans and fierce defenders, and that's putting it mildly. Over the past several months, some have accused me of engaging in "Joe-bashing." Some have said it is very obvious I don't know him.
But I did know Joe during what he has referred to as his "Houston daze." Regarding that small but meaningful pun, he’s not the first and surely won’t be the last person to view Houston as a place from which to flee in search of greater things. As columnist Kristen Mack wrote in the Houston Chronicle recently, people come here primarily for work. It’s rarely a place to which one journeys for awakening or enlightenment. The climate alone, particularly on a steamy summer day, is enough to stifle any longing beyond the primal urge to immerse one’s entire being in a body of cool, cool water. And let's not even get into the traffic and the air quality.
There were many things I liked about Joe when I knew him back in the daze. I liked his love of books and writing and the fact that he was (and is) a voracious reader. I liked some of his earlier books about marketing, particularly the one I’m in. (Hey, it's just a cameo appearance, but you know I'm a narcissist.) I liked Joe's long-time fascination with advertising and copywriting – not just the how-to, but the history as well. Like Joe, I love those old-time ads, such as those reproduced in They Laughed When I Sat Down by Frank Rowsome, Jr. I liked Joe's sense of humor and the fact that he wasn't afraid to laugh at himself. I liked his fascination with the Internet; say what you will about him, for better or worse, he was one of the first people I knew to really grasp the entrepreneurial potential of the Net. In fact he introduced me to email and the Internet way back in the prehistoric mid-nineties (though it was computer-whiz Ron who actually got me online and taught me how to use the Net). I still use the Juno email address I got when Joe gave me a disk with an early (free) version of the email program. I liked that Joe was supportive and helpful in my earlier days as a freelance writer. Finally, as a hopeless cat lover myself, I liked that he adores cats, and even today, I think the Catarium he has on his Hill Country property is very cool.
So I'm not just some random "basher," and really not a basher at all.
Like many others, I have been turned off in the past few years not only by the breathless hype Joe brings to everything he promotes, but by the increasingly "out-there" ideas (and products) he is selling or promoting, The Secret being the most glaring example. (The logic he continues to employ in explaining the Law Of Attraction leaves me wondering sometimes who's the real satirist here: Cosmic Connie, or Mr. Fire? Is the joke really on me, after all?) Also off-putting is Joe's tendency to write excessively about his cars and other expensive toys, his wealth, and his fame. It comes across to me and many others as boasting, pure and simple.
With Joe, as I noted in a previous post, it is all too often difficult to separate the heart from the hype, the core messages from the messenger’s entire body of work (and, for that matter, from the entire New-Wage/self-help industry). It's not a simple matter of pulling salient quotations from a movie, finding kernels of wisdom in what was intended to be mainly popcorn fare. For me, it’s more like scrabbling for a tiny treasure, which may or may not be there, in a huge box of Styrofoam peanuts. (You'll have to excuse the metaphors; once I get started it's hard to quit.) The point is that even a sense of wonder and amazement, however genuine it may be, loses its sheen in a milieu of ceaseless marketing.
As for "stage three" in the three stages of awakening described in Zero Limits, you will forgive me, I hope, for wondering how long it will be before Joe reveals that there is, after all, a "stage four," newly discovered, and you can find out all about it on his exclusive new DVD series. (In all fairness, he did say in the book that he believes there are at least three stages, so that certainly gives him some leeway to invent...er...discover, and market...additional stages.) [See PS below. ~CC]
It boils down to a credibility issue, and these are legitimate criticisms that do not come from a place of snarkiness. But I don’t expect Joe to change his style any time soon. And why should he, if it’s working for him?
As for the bragging, friends of his have told me that they honestly don't think Joe is aware of how this appears to others. One person said that Joe still doesn't believe that all this – the wealth, the fame, the accolades – is happening to him, and that Joe can't understand why people like him so much. What sounds like bragging, this person said, is simply the expression of "an amazed heart."
I couldn't help wondering, though, why no one apparently saw fit to suggest that Joe tone down some of the parts in Zero Limits that seemed boastful, particularly those exchanges with Dr. Hew Len that painted Joe as a minor deity. I speculated that maybe early readers of the manuscript had offered this advice and it was ignored. One friend suggested that perhaps these people, having heard Joe relate these tales in person, understood the spirit in which he told them in the book. In person, Joe's pal assured me, these stories come across as joyous sharing, not bragging. Others have told me, and I'm sure Joe himself would say, that his purpose in relating his stories is to encourage other people towards similar success. ("If I can do it, so can you!")
Insightful as those comments may be, they did raise another question for me: Could Joe really be so unaware of how his words appear to others, when he is supposed to be an expert on marketing, persuasion, and perception?
It's one thing to share endless stories about your luxury sports cars, your celebrity and fame, or your growing status as a spiritual leader in a warm conversation with close pals, or even with folks who have paid a thousand bucks to attend one of your intimate weekend workshops. It's quite another to repeat these stories incessantly on the printed page (or on screen) to millions of perfect strangers. It doesn't come out the same at all.* Context is everything; the medium does matter. In fact, anyone who has ever been involved in an acrimonious online exchange with relative strangers could tell you the same thing. Many of us have, at one time or another, found ourselves embroiled in an online "fight" because the words we wrote appeared overly harsh to the recipient. More than likely those same words, spoken in person over margaritas or coffee, would have resulted merely in a spirited debate.
Nevertheless I understood what Joe’s friends were trying to say. Viewed through the eyes of his friends, I can almost believe that Joe is simply expressing gratitude, in the way that other Joe, Joe Banks, does during the luminous moment cited at the beginning of this post. "Thank you…thank you for my life." I get it, I really do.
But it still rubs me wrong the wrong way, as it does many readers, when an author engages in what appears to be excessive self-aggrandizement in a book. As a person who loves books and makes a living trying to help people write better books, I still think that someone somewhere along the line should have taken more responsibility to keep out elements that, for many, would distract from the core messages in Zero Limits. Supporters of Joe will no doubt point out that what I perceive as the book's flaws have not kept Zero Limits (and some of Joe's other books as well) from climbing pretty high in Amazon ranking. I submit that the success of these titles is as much a result of the power of aggressive marketing and promotion as anything else.
Speaking of which, call me closed-minded or easily distracted, but in my rereading of Zero Limits I am still finding it a challenge to focus on the more profound messages, particularly in light of one of Joe's latest marketing gimmicks. Someone suggested to me that marketing is so much a part of what Joe does and who he is that he can't not do it. Maybe so, but I can only take it in small doses. I guess you could say I've got a serious case of marketing fatigue.
Still, I thought it fitting to take a brief break from my routine of what some must have viewed as gratuitous sniping. But don’t worry, I haven’t gone soft on y’all. And no one has paid me off or anything. Tomorrow, or the next day, it'll be back to Snarky Town for me. My email "in" box is full of snarkworthy tidbits from my favorite New-Wage spam service.
But I felt, somehow, that I needed to write this post, if for no other reason than that I used to know Joe.
One more thing before I sign off: If you haven't done so already, go rent (or better yet, buy) Joe Versus The Volcano, which Ron and I watched again just the other night. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll roll your eyes. But I think you will mostly be delighted. Pick up some orange soda to drink while you're watching.
And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get back to work. The Rev and I are not quite at the point where we can just pack up everything and go "away from the things of man," but we're doing work we love, and when our work is done for the day, we are going to venture out and about in Space City.
Which really isn’t a bad place to be at all.
PS - This post counts as a wrap for the increasingly ill-named Hawai'ian "Week," because the last portion of Joe Versus The Volcano takes place on a little Polynesian island that has a big volcano. Also, Tom Hanks plays a ukulele and sings (though it's an old-style cowboy song, not "Tiny Bubbles"). His voice isn't half-bad!
* Here is a video of Joe Vitale talking about Zero Limits at one of his weekend workshops.
PS added months later: Yup, I was right about that "fourth stage of awakening"....
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Dreaming-Bear Kanaan, aka "The Kissing Prophet" (for which moniker I think we have some ditzy Maui journalist to blame) is a poet, performance artist, and poseur extraordinaire who appears to be deeply in love with himself. Judging by some of the pics on his web site, he also must drink a lot of Red Bull. But he’s also got a mystical shtick, which is why I got wind of him from my New-Wage spam service. His spiritual credentials are pretty impressive: he is, according to the email I received, "an Ordained Mystic Shaman, Author of 8 Inspired Books, Compassion Troubadour, & an International Spiritual Teacher of Tenderness."
Among his books is a collection of poetry entitled Wild Love ~ Kissed into Consciousness. So far it has a five-star review on Amazon, based on three reviews, and if you read those reviews, particularly the first one, you'll see the writing style is remarkably similar to that of the poet himself. Wow, his gift must be contagious, huh? Of his poetry he writes:
I Am, therefore. I Write. Each poem is my own personal painting with words. What Michelangelo did with the Sistine Chapel; I have sought to do to the page of Existence with the palette of thought.*According to the bio on Amazon, Dreaming-Bear "has been a Professor at various universities & colleges for the last seven years, he holds two Masters Degrees, one in Communication, and one in Native American Philosophy (being completed now)." He is currently traveling and speaking around the world in homes, schools, and public venues "in an effort to create communal ecstasy and spiritual rapture through a synergy of poetry, art, music, and dance; happening in sacred performance rituals called: Shaman’s Seduction."
I imagine things have been a little dull on Maui since the disgrace of Tilak, who for a time was one of the darlings of the conspicuously enlightened on that magical isle (although he didn't actually live there). Dreaming-Bear is younger and whiter than Tilak, and as far as I know he doesn’t keep little flashlights in his mouth, but he does seem to have an enthusiastic female following.
Here’s what last night’s email promised:
Come experience Ecstatic Love through a dialogue of divinity! Be a part of the High Vibration poetic darshan, all the while being aroused to inspiration through expanded thought forms; which untie your heart’s wings & allow the sacred within you to soar! Feel your mind, body, & spirit come together have a quantum-conscious evolution in the Now, as you so playfully discover your second-innocence. Let your senses be reborn through the essence of Oneness. Receive the activation & inspiration your soul has been longing for!
Here are three upcoming opportunities for you to commune with what is being described as "Hafiz and Rumi joining hands and hearts to walk into the 21st century & use Dreaming Bear’s tongue as theirs to deliver their ancient voices to a world hungry for Divine-Love."Reading further, I gained a little more insight into Dreaming-Bear’s shtick:
~Maui Mass Media~
MauiTime Weekly writes of Dreaming-Bear:But ya know, I think you really need to experience a little hunka hunka Dreaming-Bear for yourself. Make sure you’re not drinking anything, because it might end up coming out of your nose and messing up your keyboard (I’m watching out for you, Tony). And you probably ought to empty your bladder too, unless you were planning on changing your underwear anyway.
Yeah, he's kinda really hot, too. I prefer to think of him as the kissing prophet. He whispers and flirts his message of peace in seductive language and varying degrees of undress. He says stuff like, "Make love to the moment" and "taste the holiness in the chocolate," so you know I’m totally down with that. Don’t let me steer you wrong, though — DB’s intentions are pure and true, of course, meant to inspire against the ravages and tragedies of war. DB believes in this generation, in this society, that we’ve really lost a sense of tenderness as a way of life. And when I say tenderness I mean kindness and compassion, kissing. Imagine for a moment kindness and compassion making out in the corner somewhere," he’s said on a YouTube video entitled "Chocolate Poetry." How sweet that would be, wouldn’t it? And that’s tenderness expressing itself in us. Mmmhmm... like I said, kissing prophet.
All righty, then, Dear Ones, are you ready for a little Bear? Here are some samplers:
- Dreaming-Bear on The Real Revolution
- Dreaming Bear at a Maui Poetry Slam
- Dreaming-Bear’s MySpace page
- A nearly hour-long interview that I call "Two SNAGs (Sensitive New Age Guys) on Maui." [Nausea alert: The SNAGs are really, really SNAGgy.] The sound isn't real good on this one, but if you scroll down you can see more video gems and other links.
- And finally, a photo collection best described as Dreaming-Bear’s tribute to his own beauty. I guess I should put out another nausea alert for that one too.
I gotta find me a shtick or a scam.
More Dreaming-Bear gossip here (scroll down to fifth item, "Dreaming-Bear redux").
For the scoop on Dreaming-Bear at Burning Man, click here.
* Dreaming-Bear also has a book called The Comma Sutra. He's not the first to build a book around that particular pun; there's at least one other book with the same title. In fact, yours truly had this same brilliant idea back in 1992 or so, but I never did anything about it. You can read more about me and my bright ideas here.
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Tuesday, July 17, 2007
I only discovered Steve's writing, and SHAMblog, a little over a year ago, and I think it is fair to say that Steve gets most of the credit (or the blame, depending upon your point of view) for inspiring me to begin my own blog. At that point, my "cosmic" snarkiness – which up till then had found the pinnacle (or nadir) of its expression via my book-like product, Cosmic Relief *– had been dormant for years. But somehow, reading SHAMblog sparked the snark in me. While Steve takes a serious journalistic approach to self-help/pop psychology matters as well as some new-age stuff, I decided to go the (mostly) humorous route with Whirled Musings.
Now I'm coming up on my own one-year anniversary (July 27). Thank you, Steve, for your continued support of my efforts on this blog. More than that, thank you for SHAMblog. Not only do you offer information and thoughtful commentary, but you have provided a lively forum for discussion of the good, the bad, and the ugly in the self-help movement. Happy anniversary!
* You will see, if you follow the link, that the numbers for Cosmic Relief are impressive: #4,133,361 in Books as I write this. I like big numbers! Also, in the interests of full disclosure, the single five-star review was written by a friend of mine. I didn't ask her to do it, though; she volunteered.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
And then read Part 4 here. This is very interesting stuff, folks.
Meanwhile, continuing with Hawaii Week on Whirled Musings, here are a few more tidbits for the pupu platter…
Hidden messages in the four magic phrases
In my previous post I shared the exciting news of my introduction to the magical mystical ancient Hawai’ian healing system, Boto’o’popopopo. Towards the end of that very lengthy post (yes, Walter, I know I am sometimes a bit long-winded :-)), I mentioned four powerful phrases used by practitioners of Boto’o’popopopo: "Thank me." "I love me." "I'm not sorry." "Give me money."
What a beautifully interconnected world we inhabit. Several other ancient Hawai’ian healing systems also use four magickal phrases! As you know from reading my previous two posts (also very long), practitioners of a modern form of a path called Ho’oponopono use four phrases as well for "cleaning": "Thank you." I love you." I'm sorry." "Please forgive me."
And then there are devotees of Yoko’ono’onono, which combines ancient Hawai’ian wisdom with primal screaming. Yoko’ono’onono followers are also very fond of using the four mystical phrases of Ho'oponopono, but they generally "sing" them, believing that words are most powerful if they are "sung" rather than spoken. A unique vocal style is employed; experts have likened it to the sound of a cat being eviscerated.
So anyway, I thought the four phrases of Ho'oponopono were innocuous enough, until my friend Blair Warren got me to thinking. He said he had been suspicious of these sayings from the beginning. Referring to one of the major New-Wage masters, he wrote:
Remember the four magic phrases he has been using since he started gearing up for his big Ho'oponopono promotion?All I can say is thank you, Blair, and thank you, Ralph.
"Thank you." "I am sorry." "Please forgive me." "I love you."
I mean, what is he thanking us for? What is he sorry for? What is he asking for forgiveness for? And how can he "love" people he has never even met? Could these just be empty phrases or is there something more substantive behind them? I think I know the answer.
With help from my Ass-ended Master Ralph and a few sleepless nights, I have been able to crack the code and discover the full translation of these phrases. Here is what I discovered:
Thank you (for giving me money).Now I can see why he likes this method so much.
I am sorry (but it wasn't enough).
Please forgive me (because I want more).
I love you (for being so gullible).
Remember, the Universe likes greed.
I’m just wild about Kahuna Harry
If Boto’o’popopopo, Ho'oponopono, or Yoko’ono’onono haven’t healed what needs healing, maybe Lomilomi will. Lomilomi is an ancient Hawai’ian technique that includes massage. Now, that sounds like my kind of ancient Hawai’ian technique. You may have seen Barbra Streisand practicing it on a hapless Robert DeNiro in Meet The Fockers. Well, that wasn’t the half of it.
Recently I got an announcement of a new book about Lomilomi, Wise Secrets of Aloha: Learn and Live the Sacred Art of Lomilomi, by Kahuna Harry Uhane Jim with Garnette Arledge. Here's what the publisher's web site said about Garnette Arledge:
Beloved author Garnette Arledge had an intuitive flash when she first met Kahuna Harry that she would work with him on a book. She had to ask him three times before the Halau Guardians said the time was right. She resides in Woodstock, NY.Here’s a link to the story of how Garnette met up with Kahuna Harry, who is the last Kahuna of Lomilomi lineage. So now you know.
Leave your fat behind
Are you fat? Would you like to go to Hawai’i to lose some of that lard? An Avatar master named Angela Treat Lyon, along with a really cool guy who goes by the name of Souldancer, run these one-week Hawai’ian retreats to help you do just that. The retreats combine yoga, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), and "cleansing," though maybe not the type you do with those four magic phrases we discussed above. And it’s all in a beautiful tropical location on the Big Island of Hawai’i. The next retreat is in October.
Here’s a video.
And here’s a link to more info.
Well, it’s time for me to go to dinner with the Rev and our out-of-town guest. So go pour yourself another one of those fruity drinks, or smoke a Hula Girl cigar, and I'll catch up with you again tomorrow. Aloha, y’all!
PS ~ I guess I should clarify something, since I’ve gotten a couple of private emails: My June 27 piece, "Mahalo, Dr. Yew," is satire. Dr. Yew does not exist except on this blog.