Programming note: We’re back in the saddle after a couple of days off due to an exhausting trip plus commitments that ran way late on Saturday night. We’ll be putting out Digests for tonight through Wednesday night inclusive and we’ll be off for the US Thanksgiving holiday (our annual date with gluttony, for readers outside the US who are unfamiliar). We’ll resume daily publication on Saturday night.
More details of the Golden Age of Dreck 2 release are emerging, as well as abundant evidence that the cult is going into overdrive to get people to come into their local orgs to see the videos of the events. The prose is more purple, the promises are more extravagant, and the testimonials are more over the top than ever before.
Last night, the cult held a video viewing event in Manhattan. The tipster who e-mailed me the flyer was unable to attend, on account of being a declared SP (a minor impediment in the staff’s eternal quest to be upstat by inviting tons of people). The most notable detail is that the event was held not at the NYC org’s “chapel” but at the Washington Irving High School auditorium. That’s the biggest auditorium of any of the NYC schools. They did this because renting from the school district is dramatically cheaper than renting a hotel ballroom in NYC, but it’s nowhere near as classy and successful. But there are other private event venues that are also extremely competitive versus hotels, but which are a lot nicer than a high school auditorium.
I couldn’t get the exact seating figure, but based on a couple of pictures, it seats at least 1,500, probably a few more. I would be extremely surprised if the NYC org was able to draw more than about 50 people given that the cult has never been that big in NYC in per capita Scientology involvement. 22 million people in the metro area served by the Org and they are unlikely to have gotten more than a few dozen to show.
It would be incredibly difficult to hide the number of empty seats in an auditorium that size. I’m sure the acoustics were pretty interesting, with hard floors to make the empty hall echo all the more. And it’s a good thing there aren’t many “whales” in the NYC area, since the hard plywood seats standard in NYC school auditoriums is not the plush comfort that they presumably expect.
Tony Ortega’s Blog
Today’s post had a brief comment by Jenna Miscavige Hill, niece of David Miscavige (daughter of his older brother Ronnie, who blew long ago). She says, “I can’t believe people still buy any of this BS about ‘discovery’ of ‘lost tech.’ It’s just such an obvious and blatant money making scheme.” While this is probably obvious to the readership of this blog, it’s nice to see somebody from the gene pool point this out.
Also worth noting is the annual “Christmas Stories” event invite, which features a few of the usual celebs reading Christmas stories. You know, the holiday for that guy Christ, who turned out to be nothing more than a momentary blip in the R6 implant all those years ago. Mostly the C-listers, but Kirstie, Anne Archer and others a bit nearer the top of the list are not there. Not sure about the significance of this particular guest list. People with access to prior years’ lists might be able to shed some light on the changes in the cast from, say, 3 or 4 years ago.
- Vistaril has a great take on how Hubbard was able to keep moving the goal posts to keep people coming back for more, setting the stage for “if Scientology works, it’s because Scientology is great, but if it doesn’t, it’s your fault,” which is perhaps the ultimate mindf**k of the cult.
- Mighty Korgo of Teegeack gives his account of an out-of-body experience when he was “in” and how craziness around that helped to turn that to an “out.” Apparently, though, Korgo almost immediately replaced Scientology with another cult-like situation, with an exalted prophet that takes up much of his time.
- “Anonymous” weighs in on a comment on the idea of Scientology as a “long con.”
- Exterrier ran into some people he knew while “in” who were just coming back from the LA Golden Age of Dreck 2 video event at the Shrine in LA. No word on how many seats they managed to fill out of the 6,000+ total capacity.
- Sam Domingo raises the interesting theory (note I’m not saying rumor here) that Kirstie may be the next defector from the cult, given that she wasn’t at the events in Clearwater and given that she’s not participating in the Christmas Drivel show. Sam also suggests Juliette Lewis may be aiming out the door as well.
- Derek B. has a great disagreement with Jon Atack’s assertion that “most Scientologists are good people.”
- “Ze Moo” points out that the mayor of the financially devastated city of Stockton, California is coming under fire for using a cult-based anti-drug program (not clear whether it’s Narconon or one of the other ones). The mayor appears to be a full-on douchebag given the other stuff he’s in trouble for at the moment.
Mike Rinder’s Blog
Mike’s been pretty prolific the last couple of days. Here are the most relevant posts:
- Here’s the price list for the Golden Age of Dreck 2. In a related article, Mike details how some of the pricing decisions are insane; in Mexico, it costs over a month’s salary for an average middle-class worker to take even a single course.
A contributor to Mike’s blog details the surreal conversations he had when walking into the NYC org and wanting to learn more about Scientology.
- The cult is putting out the same form letter over the signature of a prominent local Scientology exec or public to make the invitation to watch the Golden Age of Dreck 2 launch video seem more personalized.
- Here’s the e-mail solicitation piece for the new Mark VIII (“Warehouse model”) e-meter that was announced. Apparently, Miscavige is crooked enough to not only aim high for the big donations, but also to grift for small change. The $5,450 price claims to “include tax,” a little odd since “religious artifacts” aren’t taxable, and if they are in fact taxable, he’s charging a 9% sales tax rate even in states that have a 0% sales tax rate, like Montana, Oregon, New Hampshire, etc.
- Here’s an audio clip of the voicemail being left by the cult on the answering machines of potential attendees for the IAS event.
Forums (ESMB, WWP, OCMB)
- New prices for Scientology training and the price of the new e-meter are discussed.
- More on the blast of voicemails and phone calls.
- GreyWolf announces his World Cult Watch radio show Sunday night will have ex-Sea Org members Scott and Kerry Campbell who return to discuss their experience with Scientology and aboard the Freewinds.
- The history of Narconon’s internet marketing is explored and discussed. A ten part series from a blog written by SEOlogy. This particular angle is critical because this is how they manage to get all the “fresh meat,” so pushing the Narconon shill sites down far enough to open room for critical sites is probably the one thing we can do that stands a good chance of actually keeping people from getting killed by the cult.
- Is it a possibility that LRH participated in drug trafficking? My take: interesting but far-fetched.
- The cult recently purchased a building in Auckland, New Zealand. The purchase price was NZ$16 million (US$13.1 million). Interestingly the article reports that the building was financed by a loan from CSI to the local group, which will have to be repaid later (terms unknown). There may be less than 250 Scientologists in all of NZ, if they exist at the same rate as in Australia, excluding staff (the 2006 census listed 350, but defections have obviously reduced this number over the course of nearly a decade). Financing the building in advance of fund raising could be an interesting change in strategy, if we start seeing this elsewhere. In fact, it could be a recognition that large donors () are getting tapped out, so Miscavige is going to take more cash over time rather than getting all the proceeds from an Ideal Org purchase up front. The only problem is that if the org continues to spiral downward and is unable to meet payment deadlines a year or two out, the international management may be left holding the bag, which is of course very unattractive to DM.