Buy Three Angels, Get One Free!
The annual “world’s largest exposition for health, personal growth and positive living” took place from October 6th through the 8th at the LAX Airport Hilton. And while this title might bring to mind hundreds of rabid REI backpackers eagerly discussing the merits of bee pollen verses wheat grass, it in fact contained a far more interesting and less respectable conglomeration of every new age concept and marketing scheme presently in operation.
The anger you’ll encounter challenging a young child’s invisible friend is akin to the sort of prepatory disrespect I sensed from the attractive lady at the check-in counter who promised with an unspoken malevolence to keep an eye out for my story. These people did not want their bubbles burst.
The aging process stops once you acknowledge it—that’s a given.
Like a hotel full of feisty Peter Pans stubbornly intent on believing four hundred different and mutually contradictory worldviews, the unspoken code seemed to be, don’t scoff at my UFO abductions and I won’t mock your magnetic facials. Universal acceptance was demonstrated by all, save the single bored religious zealot with the anti-new age slogans wandering somnolently past the veggie gyro stand.
Basically, the event was neatly divided into two halves—three large rooms full of things to buy and the various suites where workshops took place (for an extra not so nominal fee).
Thanks to press passes we were allowed one free workshop, and while we tried to see the woman who would describe our past and future lives, we made a slight mistake and veered instead into a room full of nodding middle-aged trans-temporaphiles listening raptly to a man known only as Drew who spoke about his experience of the Philadelphia Experiment, during which the US government apparently scattered a ship full of seamen all over time. Drew was left with a residual electromagnetic aura that we were told could put our ATM cards on the fritz if it didn’t drain all the energy from the battery in my watch.
I was teetering between viewing these people as straightforward business leaders from the Twilight Zone and seeing them as just another set of pony-tailed snake oil salesmen.
Could the saleswoman seriously believe Colloidal Rhodium relaxes the DNA? —maybe. How about the man who attaches magnets to your household pipes in order to magnetize incoming calcium? —okay… But there comes a point where you must draw the line, and for me, this line was composed of Takionic beads. To the uninitiated, these perlescent blobs of plastic-like material emit “photonic energy” (yes, light) at the 4 to 16 milimicron wavelength, the better to break up subdural clusters of free-flowing water molecules that would otherwise clog ones circulation. Could this euro-greaseball before me be selling a bottle of thirty plastic blobs for $270.00 out of a personal mission to bring molecular de-bonding to the people?
I took a rest to ponder this question and leaned against a curtained wall to watch a prim middle-aged woman (AKA raw meat) as she sat complacently on a futon while a dapper asian man in loose-fitting work-out clothes performed what appeared to be Tai Chi over her body with a pair of metal batons. A friend asked why he happened to be wearing industrial safety goggles and a face mask. The woman behind the counter replied quite naturally that he was releasing toxicity from the patient’s body. Toxicity to the anointed apparently smells bad. “It burns his eyes and his face.”
Not until later, pondering the Nuclear Receptor pendant booth (“tuned to the impulse vibratory level of the universe”) did I think to ask how this woman could allow her boss to release all that toxicity into the exhibit hall. I suppose it was swallowed up in the general good will that prevailed throughout. And there was goodwill, after all. I’ve seen more scoffers at communion.
Frankly, the arguments for Theta Wave learning seemed as reasonable to me as that for a Holy Ghost. A holy Ghost? The Theta Wave learning seemed more reasonable.
What I really want to learn though, is not what my iris says about my personality faults ($550 preregistration for the seminar, $95 more for a photo of your eye with analysis). What I want to know is how I can cash in on the staggering amounts of cash being dropped with abandon by these dissatisfied upper middle class soul searchers. I’m convinced that nine out of ten coffee-house poets could produce a better rap than Drew, the man who claims to have travelled in time. (“The aging process stops once you acknowledge it—that’s a given.”)
And who after all is to say that an interesting irrational belief is any less worthy than a boring one? You believe that giving tax breaks to the wealthy will help the economy; I’ll believe that sticking a burning cone of wax in my ear will improve my mental health. At least I get a cute girl to rub my face. All you get for your trouble is a larger national debt.
Of course, for those more cynically minded of you out there planning to use the Whole Earth Conference as some sort of Gullible Lover Automat (“Sorry I missed our date last night, darling; I must have time shifted.”), take note that the devoted can sense your cheap cynicism. Afterall, it’s obvious that the universe is more interesting than your boss would have you believe. Our job is to decide exactly how interesting it can be. To approach such a subject cynically is to risk slipping into cliché, and at the Whole Earth Conference, originality of belief was definitely at a premium.
I say go to the Whole Earth Conference when next October rolls around, give your money to the most interesting huckster you can find, and learn at this master’s feet just how best to weave an interesting world from the tatters that are left to us in this nation of primarily innocuous distractions. When compared to the evils of TV advertising, the Whole Earth Conference seems almost saintly in its more interesting and obvious greed.