Friday, October 29, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Recently I found myself in the town of Clearwater, Florida, world headquarters of a unique organization. My office was, maybe 400 yards, from what was once the First National Bank of Clearwater. The sturdy neoclassic designed building was decorated with massive Greek columns and the words “Church of Scientology” newly carved in the freeze.
Apparently, the preferred wardrobe for many of the Church of Scientology members is simple black pants, black shoes and white button down shirts. I did not know this until recently. When I first arrived in Clearwater, I just thought the town employed an unusually high number of French waiters.
I was there for f weeks. Everyone in town was nice. I was never approached by devoted followers or dragged away and brainwashed by cult operatives. (At least I don’t think I was. That’s the funny thing about brainwashing. You never can know for sure, can you?)
There was one interesting moment during my stay in the town, which I would like to describe to you all. It was on a Saturday, I found myself having to work the weekend. I had skipped breakfast and was the only one in the office so around noon I finally decided to take a walk to get something to eat. Downtown Clearwater has a charming, small town, main street. It seems like the local government spent a lot of money recently to fix it up - restored storefronts, neat sidewalks and a green median, with a sculpture and fountain. The sad thing is, despite the refurbished facades, all the stores are empty, (I suppose, as a consequence of the economic downturn.) The weather was wonderful. It was the beginning of fall, which is the only reason Floridians put up with six months of what seems like living on the hot side of the planet Mercury. Because it was Saturday, no one was downtown, the street was beautiful but empty with an ideal breeze rustling the palm trees. Everything was just right in a kind of Truman Show sort of way. As I walked down the street, my stomach grumbling, a crowd of Scientologists started streaming out of the large church. (I suppose they have to eat too) and the street, a ghost town, a moment before, was now filled with people, all serene and polite, all wearing black pants, black shoes and white shirts. So there it was, a perfect day, on a perfect street, with no activity going on behind the perfect business facades, and with everyone dressed exactly the same, like a scene straight out of The Stepford Wives. The only thing out of place was me, hungry, and cranky, weaving through it all, in my ratty sneakers and Hawaiian shirt, desperately looking for a place that would sell me a ham sandwich.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Twitter followers were stunned. “I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-science, anti-movies, anti-Halloween, anti-Harry Potter, anti-Teletubbies, anti-science fiction conventions, anti-Indian food, anti-Large Hadron Collider, anti-big words, anti-yoga, anti-Karma Sutra (pages 17 thru 49), anti-news that isn’t Fox, anti-history books, anti-Wikipedia, anti-trees, and especially anti-Will and Grace. I mean come on, who didn’t like Will and Grace. Jack was so funny. Am I right?”
“I just, in good conscience, can no longer associate myself with this quarrelsome, hostile (and frankly way to needy) group. They all just need to get a life, always asking me for stuff. “Can you give me the lottery numbers? Will you rig the football games so my team will win? Can you smite the entire population of that country, over there, so I can continue to drive my SUV?” It’s tiresome.
How do your friends feel about this decision?
I suppose have a lot of Christian friends. I never really thought about it. They’re going to be disappointed. I understand that, but let’s face it. A lot of them had it coming. I don’t mind sitting there listening to them talking about their kids or their crumby job, but when they start talking about burning Korans and blabbering about the Tea Party and how great Glen Beck is, I just turn off. And when I started seeing the “Palin/Coulter 2012” bumper sticker, frankly, I thought my head was going to explode.