Monday, April 20, 2009

April 2009 Activity -- Scientology

Wednesday, April 29, 2009
L. Ron Hubbard Church and Museum of Scientology
Dupont Circle
1812 19th Street, Washington, DC

Disclosure: We were totally going into this activity with no knowledge of Scientology. Based on the negative media, we assumed that Scientologists were whack jobs who found religion in the cheesy 70s Sci-Fi writings of L. Ron Hubbard, eschewed advances in modern medicine and bought their way into certain levels of enlightenment.

After spending a couple of hours at the Scientology headquarters, it appeared that we actually had a pretty solid understanding of Scientology. Holy brainwashing, Batman!

Prior to this activity, we made a pact that no one was giving real information to anyone (including any real names). Also, there was no leaving the group for any reason (as we thought they may do the ol' time-share-sales divide-and-conquer routine). (As Dilettante Amanda so gently put it, "I don't care if the bathroom is a one-seater...if one of us has to go...we all go.) With back stories in place (and a couple of bottles of wine at Sette knocked back), your dilettantes "Liz Nickels", "Kathryn Whitmore", "Amber Morrison" and "Julia Meiser" headed over to Scientology Central.

What we did not figure into our (well-laid, borderline genius) plans were:

a) Immediately upon arrival at the Church of Scientology HQ, we were shuttled out the door (by some freaky guy who said, "this is your first time here, right? and I replied, "yes, how did you know?" and through a creepy, plastered-on smile, he said, "I can always tell") to the Church of Scientology Museum (about two blocks away via a network of back alleys) with a Scientologist escort. (Ergo, our location would be unknown to any of our survivors...)

b) Dilettante Kathleen is a total idiot who within three seconds of arriving called both Amanda and Amy by their real names. Oops.

Our escort left us with a different Scientologist who took us on a tour of the three-story row house that was the original Scientology Headquarters. He gave us a lot of background on L. Ron's personal history and then took us upstairs to see L. Ron's office and meeting rooms that were still intact and decorated with some of the original pieces.

We went into one room that displayed all of the volumes that L. Ron had written -- everything from Sci-Fi to art, writing, religion, detox, education, prison reform -- you name it...he was an "expert" in it.

A couple of the more intriguing pamphlet names were:

Ritalin - Kiddie Cocaine
Psychiatry - Industry of Death

We were also fascinated with his Happiness doctrine, which basically just re-wrote the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments and included such nuggets as, "Don't Murder" and "Take Care of Your Teeth." (I mean, sure, I can buy into both of those tenets, but I'm not sure that I need to read them in a plagiarized Happiness doctrine to incorporate them into everyday life.)

Our tour guide would have stayed for many more hours answering questions (it was close to 11:00pm), but we had to get to our parking garage before it closed. Of course, we all came up with a million additional questions as we were driving home. There really is a lot to ask and a lot we still want to know. Primarily about how we can start our own religion. That is some pretty schweet real estate these people own in Dupont.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Supplemental Activity -- Richard Cheese at the 9:30 Club

Know who I love? The Dilettantes. Know who else I love? Richard Cheese. Know why last night was lounge-tastic? Because The Dilettantes (and their hep cat spouses) went to see Richard Cheese at the 9:30 Club in DC in truly swank-a-rific style.

We met up at the Stucco Mansion (Amanda & Leon's house) in our '50s era garb for some appetizers and cosmos, then headed out in our white limo for some cruising and lounging before the concert. As we drove through the pouring rain, we sipped cocktails and enjoyed the dulcet tones of Dick on CD.
Ozio was our first stop for side cars, Manhattans and bellinis, then it was off to Chi Cha Lounge for a few more drinks and our first collective experience with a hookah. (That's the water pipe with flavored tobacco.) (As opposed to a "hooker," with which we've had many collective experiences...)

By the time we got to the 9:30 Club (where we were carded and where my unlit cigarette was confiscated), there was no more seating available on the floor, so we headed up to the balcony. We had a great view of the stage and then Mr. Cheese worked his way through the audience including the balcony. He made our little group part of the show for a few minutes...he was totally digging our 50s finery.

We cabbed back to the stucco mansion after a long discussion with the cab driver about Eritrea. Just a typical Wednesday night for us, really.