Today, it’s all about the helicopter, though there are a lot of other interesting goings on that took place.
Mike Rinder decided to take advantage of an offer from Mike Bennitt, he of the high-quality videography of the Mosey Rathbun case in Texas, and use a helicopter to fly over the Super Power building during today’s 1:00pm opening ceremony, so they can get an estimate of the crowd size.
While nobody’s talking, it seems almost certain that they coordinated with Tony Ortega, who filed a story about the inbound spy-copter after it lifted off and was headed for downtown Clearwater. Just in time for the OSA monitors covering his blog to read the story and call Miscavige, but not enough time for the cult to do anything about it (it takes 45 days to obtain “temporary flight restrictions” from the FAA, even in a case where they would be inclined to grant one, which is not clear in this case). It seems reasonable to guess that he wouldn’t have cut short the presentation had he assumed that one of the two helicopters was hired by the Church and the other was perhaps a news channel. The only way he would have cut short the presentation was on the basis of a staff report telling him that Rinder was in the second helicopter.
Miscavige cut short the presentation after less than 10 minutes and started trooping everyone inside the building, as if they were going on lockdown back at Int Base. Given his penchant for bloviation, it seems unlikely that he was planning to make the presentation so brief, so it’s a reasonable guess that the news of arch-SP Rinder hovering over the event was enough to send him into panic-and-flee mode.
The Tampa Bay Times is reporting that Cruise, Travolta, Preston and Alley were in attendance, but oddly, it says that “hundreds” of members were in attendance. Based on a reasonable estimate of no more than 4,000 total bodies and a likelihood that 1,000 are outer org trainees and 1,000 are Clearwater-based Sea Org and staff, it looks like no more than 2,000 (perhaps 2,500 tops) public were in attendance. Attendance certainly fell far short of the 10,000 listed as the upper bound in the parade permits.
Tony Ortega’s “Helicopter Tech” Article
This caper is likely to go down as one of the biggest humiliations of David Miscavige in history. It’s even bigger than the epic fail at the Portland Ideal Org grand opening back in May. In Portland, Miscavige had to turn the volume down in a bold move to “confront and shatter” Mark Bunker and others in attendance. Here, he had to scrap most of the grand opening speech in order to avoid “confronting and shattering” arch-nemesis Mike Rinder who, along with Mike Bennitt, were cruising the friendly skies looking for lulz. It’s interesting to note, by the way, that the two of them were able to “postulate” good weather for their flight, while all those OT-level Scientologists weren’t able to stop the rain on Saturday.
Most people who took a look at the high-resolution photos posted in the article came up with an estimate of about 3,000 to 4,000 total bodies at the event, and the consensus is that perhaps 1,000 of these were “outer org trainees” and a like number were Sea Org and local staff. However, there was also evidence that there were paid extras in the event. It would be interesting to get a paycheck for four hours for what ended up being eight minutes of work.
My take: This is a brilliant collaboration between the two Mike’s (Rinder and Bennitt) and Tony, who proved, once again, that they have DM’s number. It should also prove to us that DM is utterly predictable in his actions, and is driven to an extraordinary degree by his own personal vanity to do anything possible to avoid joking & degrading. That’s a remarkably insecure way to live life for a guy who is sitting on top of a Global Capitalism HQ-sized pile of money, who travels by jet and who has an immense entourage. And it’s a hell of a way to run a company — to let a distraction from a small helicopter buzzing around in the skies cause you to cut short a major event that you’ve been building up the hype for for over a decade.
- Jeff Hawkins weighs in. As an Int Base veteran who’s been in the room with DM on many occasions, he says that there’s no way the event was scheduled to last only eight minutes. Sure, it was supposed to be short, but that means “only” an hour of Danny Sherman-penned bloviation. He clearly got no game. Clear evidence that they were planning a longer speech: whales in the front had seats, which you presumably wouldn’t need for a mere 8 minute speech.
- “ex sea org member,” who says he used to collect stats on org performance when he was in, gives great perspective on how this one is a meltdown for the ages.
- OTVIIIisGrrr8 and MonkeyKnickers have dueling views of the radio traffic as David Miscavige attempts to call in fast movers to take out the helicopter.
- “Peter” refers to the hardware involved as the “Apostate Air Force.”
- Kevin Tighe (an ex, not the actor) filed an on-the-ground report of his own.
- Derek trolls the still-in Sea Org who are reading this blog with pictures of his weekend, hanging out with friends and family and enjoying Austin. Derek, play nice!
- “Great White Clam” points out that DM’s move to cut short the presentation to avoid the Entheta-copter is “hiding,” which is -30.0 on the Tone Scale. Way to impress your flock with Scientology super powers!
- My vote for shoop of the day (out of many to choose from) goes to “Walter Mitty,” with the poster for “Top Gun: Mission Double Mike.”
Tony Ortega’s Sunday Funnies Post
There are some pretty lulzy details in today’s regular Sunday Funnies post, which don’t deserve to be lost against the noise of the “helicopter tech” story. First, Tom Cruise’s attorney Bert Fields, he of the countless nasty letters to the press, is shown congratulating TomKat Project producer Brandon Ogburn after Fields attended the show last night. Apparently, Christopher Lloyd, “Doc” in the “Back to the Future” series was also in attendance, as were a number of commenters from Tony’s site.
- According to “Elen,” the cult could apparently use a little help when it tries to run Craigslist ads in Spanish in the Brownsville area. They said: “Aqui esta lo que ha estado buscando por muchos anos.” “Anos” = anuses. “Años” = years. So instead of “Here is what you have been looking for for years,” they said, “Here is what you are looking for among many anuses.” One little tilde makes all the difference!
- Derek points out the improbability of some of the news out of the cult in the last couple of days: “Bert Fields has a sense of humor. Tampa Bay Times suggesting a truce. Scientology still has 5500 members. David Mayo’s BTBs are being exhumed. Scientology giving out free swagz. Super Power actually opened as promised. I’m pretty sure at least half of these things are in the book of Revelations.”
Mike Rinder’s Blog
Mike has more details of the Super Power events, including an event last night that featured a five-minute standing ovation for DM. As of press time, he had not put up a blog post about his little helicopter ride earlier today. Mike’s post contains a lot of “tech” details that might only be understood by longtime auditors or by Indies; one gets the sense he’s also taking to lurkers who are still in the church to get them to re-examine their beliefs. Importantly, in a point that bears watching, Mike pointed out that some course fees went up while others went down. Given that the cult was promising giant price increases (none of which appear to actually be in effect), this seems like a major blow.
Thanks again to Aeger Primo for keeping an eye on the avalanche of traffic on the forums.
- Black Rob has an ongoing thread at ESMB that mirrors the one at WWP. It’s interesting how the two different communities come up with very different flavors of Joking & Degrading off the same Facebook posts by cult members.
- ESMB’s thread about Helicopter Tech is here.
- GreyWolf announces that his World Cult Watch radio show Sunday night will have guests Karen de la Carriere, plus Scott and Kerry Campbell who both served in the Sea Org and were among original Freewinds crew.
- Details of the upcoming GAT 2 event at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The Shrine seats over 6,000. It will be interesting to see what the cult does to try to fill the seats, given that they got nothing like that at the live version of the event in Clearwater.
- Always fun to enjoy a good shoop of the COB. Starting here are some new ones on a WWP thread of nothing but DM shoops, called “Project Mass Shoop.”
- A side project from the project to stop the cult from advertising on Craigslist is to gather information on various promoted services, courses, and books the Co$ charges for. New info posted in the past three days.
The Tampa Bay Times seems to be getting a little comfy with the cult in two recent stories. First, the Times says that it may be time to let bygones be bygones on the part of the City. This, especially when it was under the byline of Joe Childs, half of the dynamic duo of writers, sounds like the paper is going soft all of a sudden. It doesn’t seem necessary for the City to go hat in hand to the cult when the last Mayoral election wasn’t that close and the cult comprises approximately 3,000 of the 108,000 population and a disproportionately small share of the City’s economic activity, given the low payroll and the property tax exemptions of the city.
Second, the TBT reports on the afternoon building ceremony with a celebrity-spotting article that didn’t really ask a lot of questions about the Super Power building. Best line of the article, however: “[Miscavige’s] remarks couldn’t be understood outside the church’s perimeter.” That’s probably because Mumbles Miscavige couldn’t be understood inside the perimeter, either, even by those trained in the bogus Method 9 Word Clearing procedure of the useless “Study Tech.”