California is a beautiful place. The weather is beautiful. The people are nice. The car is a bummer, but hey you can ride it right up to the Pacific ocean. So, that has got to be good, right? Los Angeles benefits from all these things, but it is also a place where people come to start their careers (or end them) in the glamour business – the singing, acting, dancing, movie making, writing, wilderness that is Hollywood. Now, that can be soul sucking. How so? Let me re-tell a little story that Wifesy used to illustrate the difference between the two coastal cities – New York and Los Angeles.
“I’m at the bus stop (in New York),” said Wifesy.
“Yeah,” I said.
“And this woman, well, there’s something wrong with her blouse and her tit is pretty much out.”
“Uh huh,” I nodded.
“Well, we all saw it sticking out, as we were standing around waiting for the bus. Within a few minutes, a guy goes up to her and pretty much says — Excuse me, Miss, but your tit is out.”
I laughed, “Yeah. So, what’s the big deal?”
“That would never happen in Los Angeles,” said Wifesy.
“Huh, why not?” I asked.
“Because in LA, no one tells you your tit is out. They just whisper about it to each other. It goes on and on like that, round and round, until the woman notices it herself and recoils in shame.”
“Jesus Christ,” I sighed.
Now, thank god – once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker. So, you could say that I, Sweet Mother, will always tell you when your tit is out. It’s in my nature, part of my DNA. But, that doesn’t mean that I get out of dealing with a-holes. If my tit is out here, no one may tell me and I’m going to have to handle that. And THAT is the soul-sucking part.
The soul-sucking angle of Los Angeles is a very real thing. While, there are beautiful things in nature here – there is also a sprawling desert. That’s something I didn’t picture about LA when I was back in NY. I think that desert seeps into SOME people’s souls when they are drawn to a profession that can be as unscrupulous as the arts in Los Angeles.
To me, that’s why SCIENTOLOGY happens. That’s how something like Scientology grows. Let me explain, you’ve got some very severe conditions out here. Weather-wise too. When it’s sunny all the time, it fecks with your mind. And when you’re in a business and a town that won’t always tell you when your tit is out, on a dime, because it’s the right thing to do – that also fecks with your mind. When people feel confused, lost, desperate – where do they turn…
I read this fascinating article in the New Yorker that I will link to below about Paul Haggis. Paul Haggis is a Canadian writer who made it big in Hollywood. He wrote Million Dollar Baby and Crash – the only two films to ever win Academy awards by the same writer in back to back years. Haggis WAS a Scientologist. For a long time, 35 years, to be exact. He’s a big thinker, a person who questions and pushes often to the point of confrontation, and he’s a skeptic.
So, how does a person like that get drawn into Scientology? Easy – the mix of Los Angeles’s desert-like soul suck and the desperation that comes from trying to break into a business that EVERYONE wants to be a part of. Take that combination and WHAM-O, you’ve got even smart people who are ripe for a religion.
Couple with that, career success. That’s right, in the article John Travolta says, “I joined Scientology and my career just took off…” Paul Haggis’s first writing jobs came through Scientologists.
If a big, pink bunny handed me the tv writing job of my dreams and then asked me to “attend his group,” I would seriously give that some considerable thought. I’D FEEL LIKE I OWED THE BUNNY. Scientology is the feckin’ bunny. (Donnie Darko reference intended.)
Scientology also sounds good in some ways. It’s heavily doused with self improvement ideas. There’s the auditing, which is really similar to “talk therapy” – only you do it with someone who has no degree and really no idea of what they are actually doing from a psychology standpoint. But, sometimes talking to someone, anyone, can help. Then there’s the merit angle. In Scientology, you actually graduate to different “levels.” Everyone starts off as some sort of “Thetan” and if you can get past the alien-ish sound of the name (and the fact that L. Ron Hubbard was actually a science fiction writer) then you might want to try and achieve higher levels. I mean, why not. You’re in a profession – the arts – that doesn’t really reward on a merit basis. But, here you go, in your spiritual life, you can progress up the ladder like a Private looking to make Captain in the military. It’s enticing.
Until you start to think…
As Paul Haggis went through Scientology’s different levels, he started to doubt. But, he pushed aside the doubt because for the most part – Scientology was working. It helped him attain success.
But, that nagging brain of his was still there. After achieving a certain, high, level in Scientology Haggis was supposed to read Hubbard’s own words on what to do next. Here’s what Haggis had to say about that experience:
“Carrying an empty, locked briefcase, Haggis went to the Advanced Organization building in Los Angeles, where the material was held. A supervisor then handed him a folder, which Haggis put in the briefcase. He entered a study room where he finally got to examine the secret document – a couple of pages, in Hubbard’s bold scrawl. After a few minutes, he returned to the supervisor.”
“I don’t understand,” Haggis said.
“Do you know the words?” the supervisor asked.
“I know the words, I just don’t understand.”
“Go back and read it again,” the supervisor suggested.
“Haggis did so. In a moment, he returned. Is this a metaphor?” he asked the supervisor.
“No,” the supervisor responded. “It is what it is. Do the actions that are required.”
“Maybe it’s an insanity test, Haggis thought – if you believe it, you’re automatically kicked out.”
“I sat with that for a while,” he says. But, when he read it again, he decided, “This is madness.”*
Gibberish. The written equivalent of a bucket full of feck-nuggets. Nothingness and nonsense. That’s what he was given to read.
Thank god, this is where my comedy background kicks in. I’m immune – no, immune is not the right word – I have a violent reaction to bullshit. It’s even a physical thing. I start to shake. First, inside, then externally, then I usually have to get up and walk away or shake a ficus plant – VIOLENTLY.
I don’t believe in ghosts or goblins or past lives or even that my Wifesy was a French resistance soldier once who climbed up a tree to hide from a Nazi. (Something she firmly believes and that I have to choke down laughter about until it comes out of my a**hole in the form of a fart. Thank god, she loves me anyway. Thank god we can agree to disagree.)
The furthest I’ll go is that I believe all things have energy. Now, can you will the energies of a free standing lamp to go and make you a turkey sandwich? Probably feckin’ not. Can you will a parking space to open up with your positive thoughts like some jack-hole suggested in The Secret movie. No. No. No, you feckin’ can’t. And if children believe in Santa Claus until they are 50 feckin’ years old, chances are you should’ve paid for that private counseling years ago.
The article is 26 pages long. It’s brilliant. It also talks about Haggis’s children, all of which were schooled in Scientology schools. One of his daughter’s talks about “making contact” within that section. Contacting is a process in which when a child gets hurt they are taught to go quiet and then direct their energy toward the wound. The idea is that this will make the pain lessen and the injury heal faster.
OHMYGOD, OHMYGOD, OHMYGOD. Sorry, but that’s the noise I make when I stuff my face with delicious, flaky biscuits of ignorance.
The contacting practice reminds me of those Amish-like religious morons who won’t take their kids to the doctor when they are truly sick because the lord forbids it.
Again, I don’t believe in airy fairy stuff, but I do think that if God were to come down and look upon your sick child, she would say:
TAKE HIM TO THE FECKIN’ DOCTOR, YOU IMBECILE!!!
As much as I complain about my comedy career and the constant poverty tight rope it has me walking on, it has saved me from this – bullsh*t. It has saved me from bullsh*t and it has strengthened my inner skeptic and in this world, I think we could all use a decent one of those.
Otherwise, we’ll just sit here and believe that everything is perfectly fine with Tom Cruise. I don’t think it is.
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