Monthly Archives: February 2011

LIVE!!! From Washington D.C.!

Saturday, 09:30 AM, Somewhere over Indiana…..

And now for something completely different…..one of those stupid travelogues that I haven’t done in a long time. Good to mix things up, I know the religion stuff gets old…to YOU, I could bottle that angst and survive on it through an apocalypse. Oh, I LIVE for that shit. But here you go…..

                 First of all, I’m offering a full endorsement of Frontier Airlines.  They have comfy seats, it’s easy to upgrade your ticket so that you can check 2 bags for $25 and all that, BUT the thing I love most about Frontier is this: If you are not one of those douchebags who loves to hold up the aisle storing a goddamn carry-on that you have to shoe horn into the overhead bin, you can preboard.  If you are only carrying a personal item that fits under the seat, you can bypass the angry parade of lifting and squeezing and complaining. You can sit and watch it all unfold, which I guess is still almost as annoying.  People are unreal. They act like there is a chance of finding that one magical bin which reveals the rolling plains of Narnia…and that steamer sized trunk will be easily accommodated.  But so far, Frontier is ok by me. At least I can enjoy the remnants of my former favorite Midwest Air.

                So…headed back to DC.  Going for some training that the client asked for someone on the team to attend.  But the training is beside the point…and anyone who has attended these corporate process improvement or software courses that charge about a grand per day understands what I mean- the class is aimed at the dumbest fucker in the room.  The point of the class is to sell your company more classes, and unless you happen to be the dumbest fucker in the room, the actual content is usually very easy and if you were the one footing the bill instead of your employer it would be like setting a few thousand dollars on fire. I’ll get enough stuff to take back to work and give an overview, recommend some best practices….blah blah blah.  And my goal during this live-blog is to have those few sentences be the only ones that even mention training. Unless of course there are some real whackos or shenanigans to discuss.

                With the training being beside the point, the REAL point of this trip, which will not shock anyone who has read more than 2 sentences of my blog….is the motherfucking culinary madness. The last time I did a doozy like this was San Francisco several years ago. And thank you IBM for footing the bill for that trip where I got 2 weeks of training that I never used…meaning, free vacation in the Bay Area. I’m not out to screw my new company, they are pretty cool and I’ll actually use this knowledge.  But basically, I got lucky with DC, it could have been Dallas depending on the scheduling, so with travel and hotel paid for and a $75 per diem, I am taking this dining shit to the next level.  Sure, all per diems combined will cover about 1 ½ meals, but screw it…a trip like this only comes along ever few years.  Plus….NO WINE with my meals…so that makes the actual food practically free. And I love DC. It’s a cool town as far as the ability to get around easily, lots to see, and some top notch dining. The research has already been done, tables are all booked, I’ve done the appropriate amount of schmoozing to guarantee “lone diner VIP” status (it’s a real thing, as I am predicting you will see as the trip unfolds).  I go back home Thursday morning, so between now and then I’ll eat at: Eola, Nuevo Latino Dim Sum Brunch at Café Atlantico, Marcel’s, Restaurant Eve, Komi and Citronelle.  An aggressive schedule even by total addict standards, NOT for amateurs, but I’ll set them up and knock them down with grace.

                Of course it is noteworthy that this will be my first big solo trip to a fun town since I’ve been sober.  Holy shit, I’ve torn DC up in the past. You may have read the details before…..Rocket Bar….boy could I put the hurt on some bourbon. With all that in mind, I’ve got my AA group in Dupont Circle already picked out and plan to attend a noon meeting today after I go and drop off my bags at the hotel. I’m not too worried that I’d actually drink, but if you’re an alcoholic alone in a town like DC, going to various high end restaurants…you’re a dumbass if you don’t get to some meetings. Plus, it’s awesome to check out new groups and meet new people. Shit, already at 750 words and I haven’t even landed…..I’ll get back with you pricks later.

Saturday, 11:30 PM, Back at the Room…..

Oh, HA HA HA!  Most insanely stocked minibar I’ve ever seen in my life!  Oh the irony….but you’d already have to be drunk to dig in to that overpriced crap.  This has nothing to do with the minibar, but I’ve decided that I don’t like old hotels.  All that historical landmark crap aside, when I stay someplace I want more than 2 electrical outlets per room, faster elevators, a bigger shower, thicker walls and less overall creakiness.  And I want a staff that is accountable to some faceless corporation, so that I get some very prompt, fake-nice service. Had a great day after the rookie error of walking down to the Farragut West station and remembering too late it’s closed on the weekend. A ton of walking today, I’m pretty wiped, but some random thoughts…

Dupont Circle has an inordinate number of gay people and yuppies carrying yoga mats.

I am decidedly a warm/butter lobster roll guy after eating the cold/mayo version at Hank’s Oyster Bar.

I don’t know what the most popular degree programs are at GWU, but after wallking back and forth to the GWU Metro station, I yet to see a male student who looks like he could take a punch.

Overheard at dinner tonight- “Have you had foie gras?  It is SOOO French!”.

Speaking of dinner, Eola was fantastic….tempura fried pig ears, chicken fried pork tongue, pig brain tortellini, a bacon cured foie gras “FBLT”, braised beef cheek….that place is no joke. Obviously, I’ll be doing separate restaurant review posts at some point. That would be too much valid information for this post….this is the annoying one.

Tomorrow it’s the 8:30am meeting back up in gay yoga mat country, dim sum brunch at Cafe Atlantico, the Crime Museum, some other museum, and dinner at Marcel’s.

Sunday, 10:30 PM, Recovering from Dinner….

It’s funny how the timing in life can work out.  Today would have been my brother’s birthday. He’s been gone for a long time, and I’ve lived way more of my life without him than I did with him. I always take a couple of times each year to do something a little different…nothing dramatic, usually just something a little unordinary during the course of a day to remember. Today in DC was an unusually good day…on the plane ride out here I started thinking about the trip he and I took to New York the year he died. My perspective on travel, food and culture has changed considerably since I was twenty…back then I was a fledgling minister and we were at an age where we could be friends instead of combatants.  I had been out to New York once during my first year of college, and I don’t remember exactly what it was that prompted me to take him out there….but that was one hell of a trip. We hit all of the spots that Zagat recommended…real high level stuff. So it was funny to think back on some of that today, and honor it in my own quiet way. 

I have a couple of very strict rules that relate directly to that New York trip. First, whenever I go back out there the first place I eat anything, and this is with zero exception, is The Carnegie Deli. Is it touristy? Sure. Is it the BEST deli in New York? Probably not. But it was total magic to us kids, and I’ll never visit NYC without eating my first meal there. Second, whenever I eat dim sum I have to have sesame balls for dessert. Even if they are really horrible and have been sitting around. We had dim sum for the first time out there, and the thing with the sesame balls is that we got an order without knowing what they were like, and they were bad. Really bad. Bad enough to be extremely memorable. So that’s how I roll. I always get them even though I’m not crazy about them at all. 

So today I kind of channeled the New York trip as I went about my lone tourist day in DC.  After the 8:30 AA meeting in Dupont Circle I took the train down to the Crime and Punishment Museum for some out of towner goodness. And as if by divine intervention I was literally only one of maybe ten people in the entire museum. It was glorious, cheesy and fun. I can make it through ANY museum in thirty minutes, I do not like to linger and read all the damn exhibits, and the crime museum is made specifically for people like me with severe ADD.  Then, in a tribute to the first ever dim sum adventure I went over to Café Atlantico for their Nuevo Latino Dim Sum brunch….delicious, and no sesame balls.  Then more tourism over at the American History Museum….which was also really slow compared to the nightmarish toddler holocaust the Smithsonian can be on a beautiful day like today. 

Then a while ago I got back from dinner at Marcel’s.  With this being my brother’s birthday, I had to go one of two ways with dinner….extremely low-end or Zagat-y like Ben’s Chili Bowl, or someplace filled with rich people where I could pretend to be the turd in the punch bowl. When we took our trip we stayed at The Waldorf Astoria.  I have absolutely no idea why…it took all of the money we’d saved doing late night cleaning at a big downtown department store. I can be a little bit of a hoodrat now, but I’m English Bob compared to the level of culture I had at twenty….so there we were, staying at a hotel with people who thought of it like the Holiday Inn. So long story short, given the choice between pizza or Ben’s Chili Bowl….I went with the more delicious option.  Great time too, it’s always like my own personal inside joke whenever I do real high-end dining by myself and listen to people like the lady tonight who described what a horror it was to deal with the disillusionment involved with finding out your nanny was drinking your liquor because she considered it part of her room and board. I always think of my brother at times like that, so tonight it was especially funny. 

So that’s really it. It was a great day and I’m thankful to be at a place in life where I can appreciate it and write about it. Tomorrow I have to start my training class. Yay.   But hey, that’s the reason I’m here, and if my company weren’t footing the bill for airfare and hotel  I would never be able to do this obscene dining adventure.  More on all of the food later in the week or next week….it’s going to take a couple of separate posts to cover all of that. Some insanely good food so far though.

Oh man, the Oscars are on…..and I’m too lazy to cycle through the channels because I’m so used to having an info menu on my remote control….

Wednesday, 05:30 PM,  Getting ready for Citronelle…..

Well, this post has ended up taking a giant dump……I guess between all of the eating, documentation of the meals, and attending a class that actually keeps my attention all day long, I’ve just been one boring bastard. Oh well, the restaurant posts following this one will be good. There’s some great food in this town, and the “snoot factor” has pretty much been completely demythologized for me.  I’ve been treated like a king everywhere I’ve eaten, and I am REALLY looking forward to tonight’s dinner at Citronelle. In fact, I got a call from Cafe Atlantico this afternoon asking me if I wanted to eat at minibar tonight because they had one person cancel.  It was super nice of them to put me at the top of the waitlist, and I do want to get back to minibar, but Citronelle is arguably “the best DC has to offer”…so I’m banking on it being a meal worthy of skipping minibar. Plus, I just haven’t spent enough fucking money on food yet…so Citronelle it is….

Not much else to talk about….running into tons and tons of the DC douchebag/douchenozzle types.   So fucking annoying…that ex-fratboy alpha male horseshit….no sense of humor…no inside voice…why don’t they just stick to Buffalo Wild Wings or someplace like that. And the bad suits…..wow. 

Oh my, thirty minutes and I’m catching a cab to Georgetown…..these pricks better impress.

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Filed under 16 Raised From Dead, Addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous, Bariatric Surgery, Bethel Church, Bill Johnson, Blogroll, Christianity, culture, dating, Dead Raising Teams, Evangelical Christianity, Food, General Thoughts, Healing Herald, Healing Rooms, Health, Healthy Eating, howard stern, Jesus Culture, Recovery, religion, Religious Hypocrisy, School of Supernatural Ministry, Tent Revival, Teresopolis, Weight Loss, weight loss surgery

To Touch The Hem of Bill Johnson’s Garment…

Man, I’ve been reading back through a lot of my old posts and I totally forgot I was supposed to do one where I spoofed the annoying restaurant photo takers by taking photos of the dumps I take AFTER eating an exquisite meal and posting THOSE along with the review. I’ll be back in DC starting next weekend, and you know how I roll when it comes to the dining….so this may happen, I “shit” you not! Get it? I’m a card.

I have been getting a LOT of new traffic here on the blog due to all of the buzz about the 16 people who WERE NOT RESURRECTED FROM THE DEAD IN BRAZIL. I wish more of you would chime in with some pearls of wisdom about your beloved millionaire faith healer/coward, but it is good to know SOMEBODY is reading…I know the right tags to include for the Google searching and have added them accordingly. That’s what got me back in to some old posts.

So for the benefit of anyone who has favorited this blog and is praying for my salvation, or just whomever….WELCOME….but here is how this shit works:

I take too long between posts, and the content varies. Sometimes you get some gut-level honest talk from me about my battle with alcoholism- A Searching Moral Inventory. Or if you dig around (especially back to when I was still drunk as SHIT) you will find literal BONUS posts where I was just lit and rambling about how I’d rewrite a yogurt commercial- Bonus Post!.  And it’s a family affair…even my damn fundamentalist DOG chimes in… There IS Hope for the Unsaved! .

So this thing goes deep. It is my actual life and various thought processes with plenty of sarcasm and offensive imagery thrown in. If you’re a pentecostal well versed in “creative miracle” subculture jargon, you will be inflamed by my claims to be a person of true New Testament faith. If you’re some random hipster or friend of mine who just likes to see some rowdiness here, the faith thing will probably bug you too. Because I’m a pretty smart motherfucker (oh, and I cuss..a LOT), MENSA smart and clinging to something like a connection to an imaginary God via history’s most famous human sacrifice proves I’m a little defective. I recognize you people and these dynamics, but I do not give a shit about any of that…I write for the exercise of writing. I am practicing my communication. This is all for me, not an audience. Don’t get me wrong, I am deeply grateful for the regular readers who “get it”, that means a lot to me. I just don’t really consider an audience or try to get more readers by focusing on one thing or getting schticky….I’m fine with being one more self-centered anonymous blog among a hundred million others.

(So that was the setup/intro ramble I usually do before really connecting with the title or general subject of the post. In this instance I made the title something semi-Christian sounding, opened with the whole shit-picture thing to throw you off, gave you enough “maybe he’s a good guy” and “maybe he’s a lunatic/loser” info via the links to be non-committal one way or the other…it’s representative of a see-saw method of writing that attempts to bring out a love it or hate it response. And I obviously AM writing for my imaginary audience, COMPLETELY, despite what I claim above…which you would discover for yourself if you keep reading and then you could decide if you think I’m just full of shit, or just flawed ENOUGH to be barely interesting.)

Sooooo….going back through some of the old posts that new readers have been checking out did prompt me to do a little reflecting and wonder exactly what has gotten me to a point in my life where I’m picking one little lie out of a mountain of lies, that faith healers like Bill Johnson, Benny Hinn, etc. tell people in order to promote themselves and make tons and tons of tax-free cash for their empires. And I use the term “lie” on purpose because they lie, whether by omission of the whole story or their complete inability and unwillingness to have one single solitary “miracle” validated by an independent source. I am calling them liars, I am calling them false prophets, I am calling them cowards, so if that bothers you please know it does not get any easier on them from this point forward. They get rich on miracles that are never proven. They make money off of the emotion created by everyone agreeing to pretend that a miracle has taken place. I think that about covers my stance, and yes, I know you have some cousin whose eye grew back, or their flat feet got healed, or the sugar diabetes went away….MAYBE you do, I have no idea, but probably, in the cold light of day, that thing you describe didn’t actually happen. I’m not here to say that miracles CANNOT happen. I believe in the same God that you do. I am here to say THIS- men like Bill Johnson are the moneychangers Jesus threw from the temple. And if you can stand behind someone like Mr. Johnson and make fun of someone like lukewarm ol’ Dave Ramsey, I am speaking to you and you specifically when I say you are a hypocritical fucking moron. They both take money from the same gullible fanbase. One just proclaims something flashier than the other. Have I ever witnessed a true miracle with my own eyes? No. Did I spend half my life repeating stories about modern day miracles as if they were true because someone told me they were true, even though I had no way of knowing? Yes.

And it is a combination of personality, twisted theology, and the ability to get people talking about miracles that never happened as though they did, that makes Bill Johnson the ultimate direct-marketing pyramid scam evangelist. Please keep in mind as I write this, despite all of the awesomely cool and hardcore named organizations like his School of Supernatural Ministry, NightStrike Evangelism, and his Dead Raising Teams….in the entire history of his ministry, among many claims of people literally being raised from the dead, there has not been one single solitary independently confirmed case where a human being was literally stone cold, rigor mortis dead and brought back to life. Oh there are TONS of stories and eyewitness testimonies (all from people connected directly to Bethel or their anonymous sources), but when the stories come under the slightest scrutiny they fall apart. But good old Bill, the smooth talking conman that he is, can simply chalk that all up to things like the liberal media and non-believers NEVER having enough evidence to convince them….so why even try? Why take time away from doing all these MIRACLES!?!?!? Watch him in interviews or videos, this is one smug prick. But the sweet thing is….if you get involved with Bethel, you get to do some incredibly cool shit! No lie, you can even join a dead raising team that goes to accident and crash sites to try and raise the victims! I can’t make this stuff up! But nobody is in this for the hype or the glory! No sir, just humble servants of Christ up in heeah!

And that is the basis for the pyramid scheme named Bethel Church in Redding California…one guy who can claim some miracles that can never be validated, gets a few other people invested in this little organization. They tithe, the building can get a little larger, the music a little better….must be God’s doing, right? All of those people get some more people to come see the miracles that can never, even one time, be verified, they get caught up in the hyper-emotion, they tithe, and on it goes. The growing size of the ministry and the stories of miracles are proof enough to people that this whole thing is 100% valid….and they are intensely invested and defensive of this organization. The theology that they are taught draws a very big line between THEM and the SECULAR/NON-MIRACLE BELIEVING world, so they are also insulated and isolated to some degree. They create their own language and culture…not realizing what complete and total patronizing douchebags they come across as to those they say they want to save. They are emotionally fed by Bill Johnson and intenseley admiring and loyal to him. Invested in the ministry, invested in the culture, invested in the teachings of celebrity evangelist Bill Johnson….but not invested in an actual belief and relationship with God, because that isn’t radical enough. Or impressive. Even THAT critical piece of the process is learned secondhand because it’s more about making your testimony sound good than actually having one. Getting that testimony out there….making it marketable….making it remarkable (remarkable, that is, to people who already think and speak exactly the same way you do). And what is more remarkable than a miracle? More specifically, what is more remarkable than a miracle involving sixteen flood victims being raised from the dead in Brazil? Now, I have no idea what was going through the minds of people like Claudia Kornaros or Lynne Wimmer when this hoax was cooked up, or Bethel staff like testimony writer Pam Spinosi who defended the crap out of this story on Bethel’s website….I can only guess since not one single person will come forward with anything other than super-correct sounding “statements” from Bethel and Healing Herald. So much has come forward to debunk this thing that it is actually funny people are still defending it….but I mean, they don’t defend it because they really think it happened. They defend it because nobody outside of the organization is worthy of questioning Bethel or Bill Johnson. Because in order understand all of this or to ask questions you already have to think like they do and believe like they do….and if you believe and think like they do, you know not to go asking too many questions because it shows a HUGE lack of faith and dedication on your part. Yooouuuu didn’t really think all of these miracles and wonders were meant to minister to a lost and dying world, did you? You big silly!

This Bethel place is one onion you cannot start peeling back. Seriously. It all goes back to the pyramid scheme. You might peel off that first layer of Bethel groupies…but the farther into the center you get, the more desperate people are to defend a complete and total lie. Aallll the way out to all points of the pyramid, people are willing to say “that article was fake”. You go in a little deeper and the story is that the article was fake but the story was true. A little farther in, the story was true but nobody can come forward because they are in danger. A little farther in and you’ve got folks like Claudia and her famous “anonymous sources”….and for whatever reason the powers that be consider these folks infallible. You don’t get much farther in than that because nobody can explain why anyone was in danger, and nobody can address ANY direct questions about the story itself. Oh, and they are treating the Brazilian missionaries who are actually IN the disaster zone like idiots….it is pathetic. Emails and phone calls go unanswered and the plan becomes to just let this thing go away (buuuuttttt, it’s not, this is still the honeymoon phase, trust me). Fortunately for Bill he has people who can write the statements for him, all he has to do is come off like a patronizing asshole on his Facebook page in his one mention of this debacle. It’s good to be at the top of the pyramid! Other than that you’ve got the released statement Bethel uses as the basis to never talk about this again, and of course you’ve got the doofus patrol over at Healing Herald who are playing martyr for being some of the only people to stand behind the gutless, yet infallible, unnamed source…despite the fact that this story is a COMPLETE AND TOTAL LIE CREATED BY MINISTRY STUDENTS IN ORDER TO COMPETE WITH ALL OF THE OTHER COOL SOUNDING BUT FALSE STORIES COMING OUT OF BETHEL. It is hilarious, and also sad, to see Bethel and Healing Herald’s Facebook pages all but shut down with the constant questions about this hoax. Hilarious because you know it’s just grinding on them, and sad because you have people who actually live in Brazil and mean well (people very unlike ME) getting completely ignored. But maybe the saddest thing, and you can see it on Bethel’s Facebook page right now, is some guy asking people to believe with him for a “creative miracle” or for the funds to get some medical treatment….to which one girl answers “Set up a paypal account and ask everyone for a dollar”. And she’s dead serious. You teach your people well, Mr. Johnson.

Down at the core of this whole thing, you’ve got people who are genuinely pissed that anyone would waste their time harping on this issue and “judging your brethren” or “causing division”. These are the idiots who jump your ass and completely abuse scripture, never speaking about Bethel’s lying directly, just everything that is wrong with you. Well, you know what causes division? A huge ministry advertising a lie and then standing behind that lie because they know there are enough idiots like you out there who will swallow every word they say because you have invested so much of your life in THEM….not in the God you claim you love.

Can anybody name me a couple of millionaire preachers who God ever called away from making that kind of money in a huge ministry, in order to do something smaller and humbler? Anybody besides the guys like Ted Haggard or Todd Bentley who lie and lie and lie and lie before FINALLY getting busted enough to just go away? Once you get the money and popularity, for some strange reason God ALWAYS wants you to hang on to that. And once you start raising people from the dead, well, you can only keep doing bigger and better things, whether God is involved or he’s not. Guys like Bill Johnson, they use misdirection and omission and they create dependency on their organization for membership and loyalty to it….but they make it sound good. Are there a ton of good Christian people at Bethel? Of COURSE there are, but they exist despite charlatans like Bill, not because of him. Am I coming across as too harsh? Too bad. Guys like him and the bozos at Healing Herald (where you can claim ANYTHING as a miracle and they will post it…several folks are in the process of proving that fact right now, or maybe they already have…or at least that’s what I’ve heard) just come across as so patronizing and scummy….politically, they are safe in saying the newspaper article is fake, but then all they’ll say is they stand behind their source, who says the miracles themselves happen. And then they offer up nothing else….which is infuriating, but also smart….they don’t say WHY they believe their source, because that would raise more questions. They don’t NAME their source, so they are showing loyalty and grace. They share in everyone’s pain in all of this, so they get martyr points. Then, all they have to do is sit back and let this whole thing die down….and either people will get tired of talking about it or some other “independent source” will come forward and provide about the same amount of proof as is required, that would be ZERO, and then case closed….the pyramid is safe again.

Here is my pledge to you all- I’m NOT going to keep torturing my friends with these longwinded diatribes about something they could give less of a shit about. In fact, your loyalty will be rewarded with some old school “LIVE! From DC!” writings beginning next weekend.

As for the liars and defenders of liars at Bethel and Healing Herald…up to this point I’ve played pretty nice because the ONE good thing I’ve gotten out of all of this is the knowledge that there really are some godly people who care about Brazil….and unfortunately you are not them. Some of them have had to get back to their ministries, as they should, the rest you can just keep writing off as rabblerousers on Facebook. Even though I speak nicely to them, I respect them, and have nothing but good to say about them….do not confuse me with them, and don’t let my coarse language or attitude in any way be associated with them. They are way better people than me. What you need to do is stop going halfway with this and admit that this entire story is a hoax, not just the newspaper article. If not, it’s going to be a year from now and this story is STILL going to dog you. If you live for that kind of annoyance, so be it. And Healing Herald….if I were you I’d seriously take a closer look at your sources when new stuff is posted to your Facebook or published on your site. Seriously. As in, even since this Brazil story broke….because there may have already been some shenanigans at your expense. Or so I’ve heard. Oh, and guys, don’t take any of this as I’m sailing off into the sunset….I’m just not going to take up my blog space with it unless there are big developments. You absolutely have my full attention on YOUR blogs and websites. It takes like fifteen seconds to just give this thing a beating.

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Filed under 16 Raised From Dead, Addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous, Bariatric Surgery, Bethel Church, Bill Johnson, Blogroll, Christianity, Claudia Kornaros, culture, dating, Dead Raising Teams, Evangelical Christianity, Food, General Thoughts, Healing Herald, Healing Rooms, Health, Healthy Eating, howard stern, Jesus Culture, Lynne Wimmer, Pam Spinosi, Recovery, religion, Religious Hypocrisy, School of Supernatural Ministry, Tent Revival, Teresopolis, Weight Loss, weight loss surgery