MUSICAL CHAIRS - INT BASE STYLE
It was just another day in hell.
We had been “restricted” to the CMO Int/WDC conference room for 2 months now. The basic R-factor (Reality Factor) was that until all org boards and postings for the Int Base, FB and Class V orgs were done, we were not allowed to leave. We had to sleep under our desks each night and food was brought in. We were allowed to go down to the Gold Estates Building for showers if we went down real early. We were not allowed to be around while other base staff were around.
We were allowed to go to different areas of the Base, if it was regarding a specific COB order that had been issued. If we were to have been found to cross order COB in any way while we were in any areas, it was an immediate RPF assignment.
For the most part there was nothing we could do. Anyone who had an external facing post was not allowed to send any traffic out. All telex lines and orders from the base were cut by COB. As all of the traffic coming from the base was cross ordering HIS strategies, he ordered no traffic be passed on by AVC to ANY orgs or management units. All of the internal facing posts were involved in the org boards and postings.
The org boards and postings had been going on since the year 2000.
Actually the New Years 2000 Event sealed the deal on these and was the flap of the century if you want to call that. Because the event had been ordered worked on since January of 1999, and nobody did anything on it until the end of September, it was a complete fiasco. Dave almost got speared to death by a college kid weilding a 12 foot flag, his speech was written overnight and he had no sleep before the event. All of the visuals that accompanied his speech were not ready and when he was reading his speech, pictures that had nothing to do with what he was saying were being projected on the screens behind him.
The entire Event had to be re-done digitally after it was held live at the Sports Arena. This took 2 months to do over at least. The entire time this was being done, the continued statement of why the entire event had been a disaster was that NO ONE HAD A POST AND NO ONE AT THE INT BASE WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR ANYTHING.
That was in 2000
It is now 2005 and we are locked up in the conference room. This is the latest in a series of “too grusesomes” meant to make people crack under the pressure and do something that COB has asked for.
COB RTC (Dave Miscavige) asked for a lot of things in a day. If one someone were to keep track of everything things he asked for and typed them up, it would take them – Oh wait he has a staff of eight people that do this as their sole function!! They are:
COB Sec for Correspondence
COB Sec for Compliance
COB Sec for Incoming Traffic
COB Sec for Outgoing Traffic
The record everything he says throughout the day and then turn those tapes into streams and streams of orders that get sent out in triplicate to anybody and everybody that has anything to do with any of them. These people then have to Method 9 word clear his orders before they can even do anything on them.
There are over 2000 pages of transcripts that deal solely with the subject of getting the Int Base org boards and postings done!
There are lists and lists of every single different possible personnel scenario that could be put into place at the Int Base. Does CMO Gold stay its own org? Does it get put in the Exec structure of Gold? Does it move into CMO Int? Does Annie Tidman stay the CO? If it goes to Gold then she can’t still be the head as her and Lisa Schroer don’t get along that well. Does it get moved across the property, does it stay in the 400’s buildings. All of these are taken into account for each org and all of the postings that are being done.
For at least the last seven years, the org boards and posting have gone like this:
All of the postings get worked out by a committee of whoever thinks they are the current exec structure in charge. They order the EstoS to draw up all of the charts and pictures of everybody so it can be seen who is where. Personnel files and experience data is rarely if ever used, this is a “who would I like to do what” drill that gets done by a few people. If the persons doing this drill don’t like you, it is likely you will end up on a post that sucks. Okay, so this takes at least a few weeks and the list is almost done. There are however a few WDC and higher exec posts like Gold Div heads that are still vacant. As nobody wants to do those posts as they know that they have a very high turnover rate, the whole thing stalls out and cannot be finished. Dave Miscavige calls a meeting and then all of these people that are doing the org boards and posting get hauled up to Building 50 or the WDC conference room for 9 hours to hear what people Dave thinks should be on what posts and which people he DOES NOT want on certain posts.
After this meeting, they start over on the list and have to somehow put all of the pieces back they way Dave wants them and still be able to come up with a lists that makes sense. Add into this that they had to offload 5 people and 4 people blew since the last list was made. So now they have to someone get rid of some posts or name some people that are not even at the base to take these posts once they get to Int.
Oh yeah, no new people can come to the Int base until the org boards and postings are done so no new personnel arrivals have gone to Int for nearly seven years. There have been over 500 offloads though. You can leave out the backdoor, but no one can come in the front. (Cue all of the LRH references that talk about what it means when personnel lines are shut down.)
Oh yeah, and for the rest of the things that are not allowed until all of the Int Base Org boards and postings are done. These apply ALL INT BASE STAFF unless otherwise noted:
Meal breaks longer than 30 minutes
Having rank (all Int Base staff were demoted to a rank of “Swamper” since the year 2000)
Sea Org Day
Birthdays (except COB’s) bring on the gifts!
Going home to berthing (if you are directly related to getting the postings or boards done)
Okay, so now back to the main story here! We are locked up in the conference room and Dave is going to come down and meet with the key execs on the music studio. It has just been redone for the fourth time and Dave wants to go over what he found when walking through the Studio that afternoon.
When one of these meetings happens, you have about 20 people who just go into a room and do not come out for hours on end. You will see COB come and goes as he pleases, but the people in the room do not leave, for nothing, no bathroom breaks, no snacks nothing. When Dave leaves or is going to be gone for a bit, sometimes they can duck into a nearby room, grab a protein bar, take a bathroom break and go right back into the room for fear that he will return while they are gone.
No one is allowed to come into a meeting once Dave has entered the room. Once he is in the room, it is locked down so to speak. No one comes or goes unless he directs it.
Today’s meeting will be at 3PM in the CIC conference room in CMO Int. This room holds about 20 people max and that is with about 10 sitting on one side of the table and the rest standing behind them or sitting in chairs in the room behind the ones sitting at the table. The other side of the table is for Dave. He usually sits at the table and has a set variety of things that have been placed there by his stewards before the meeting:
Water (specific brand that only he drinks) No one would dare drink that same brand water!
Pack of Camel non-filter cigarettes
Tape recorder (unless room is hardwired for recording which all Int Base conference rooms are)
The attendants of this meeting are the CST guys, Russ Bellin and his staff that are running projects at the Base, CMO Int execs, and Gold Execs. Annie Tidman is there as she is directly running the Music Studio re-re-re-re-renovation and up-up-grade that is currently being done.
COB comes in and immediately asks who has been into the studio lately. Of course only one or two people have and even they are probably lying, so he tells everybody to go and look at the main control room. The music studio is right next to CMO INT so it is a 30 second trip over there. The musicians are in there and they have a look of horror on their faces, obviously COB has been by there recently. They say he came in, asked some questions and left.
We return to the CIC conference room. After a bunch of back and forth questions and guesses from us on what is wrong, we are told by Dave that the mix board was crooked and we all get sent back to the studio control room to see what he is talking about.
Okay, back in the conference room he give us a lecture on mixing and how it’s done blah, blah, blah. He then asks for a copy of the “Queen’s Greatest Hits” CD to be brought down to the conference room. After it is brought down he plays the CD for us and tells us to listen. You have got to picture this. You have 20 people who probably don’t give a crap about Queen, have not eaten, are tired and exhausted do not care about mixing or at least are certainly not going to take away a whole lot in terms of learning about it today, but yet we listen…
While Dave is playing the CD for us, I think during “Keep Yourself Alive” he suddenly becomes very happy and jumps up from the table. “I just had a great idea!” he says. He is the happiest any of us have seen him in months, almost in glee about this new idea that has popped into his head. He says that we should get something to eat, then get all of CMO Int rounded up and into the WDC conference room for a meeting in about an hour. He says to remove the table from the middle of the room and make sure that there are enough chairs for EVERY SINGLE PERSON to sit down. He is very clear to make sure we understand this part.
The room has been cleared out. Now the WDC Conference room is much bigger than any other conference rooms on the base. It is basically two trailers put together with no walls or post to block Dave’s view of anyone on the meeting. That is why he likes meeting in this room, he can be close enough to the large amount of people in the meeting to read their reactions. Well, with the table cleared out, there is a lot of people now in the room. All CMO Int except for two Gold Execs. No one had a clue why we are there. We know that Dave was happy about some idea that he had come up while listening to a Queen album and other than that the meeting purpose is unknown. It is around 5:30PM.
Dave shows up and talks about the org boards and postings, He also talks about how there have been over 500 people that have been musical chaired off post over the last 5 years. (He leaves out the part about most of them being as a result of his orders) He then asks a few people what musical chairs means. About 3 people answer with the Scientology definition of musical chairs, no one seems to know that it means something else. One guy from Programs says that it is a game. Dave has him explain the game to everybody.
“Good. So you guys understand the game?” Dave asks. “Okay, well today we are all going to find out how the entirety of Scientology feels about you guys playing musical chairs with the posts of international Scientology orgs and the Int Base. We are going to play the game musical chairs, but with a twist. You are all going to walk around these chairs here, while the music plays, a chair will be removed, and whoever does not get a chair when the music stops, well, that person will be offloaded from the Int Base.”
“Those are the rules and that is the game. Oh and the person who is left standing when all but one chair is pulled out will stay here and help me repost the base and get Scientology expanded. This is not a joke and I am not kidding. You guys have fucked with me for the last time. I am going to find out right now and right here, who is the most determined to stay here.”
You can imagine the horror on the faces in the room. There were about 70 people in the room and everybody knew that this was going to be a very cutthroat ordeal.
And what did “offloaded” mean? There were so many definitions for this word at the Int Base that this was not so clear. To most this would mean that they were going to be given $500 put on a bus to the middle of nowhere and told to never come back. Some had the hope that it meant to a lower org maybe. To some it meant going to the RPF in ANZO, CANADA or AFRICA where no external trouble could be caused.
There was a lot of fumbling around to get the chairs into a giant circle. Dave had the Cine Sec Gold (Federico Tisi) bring up a video camera so they whole thing could be videoed. This was going to be a major production!
Dave played a few CDs. The Queen one did not work for what he was trying to do. “We are the Champions” was not the right message for this. “Mozart's Requiem Mass” was what I think he ended up using. How appropriate!
Anyway, the first people to go were the usual suspects, the older, more reserved bunch. As people would leave the game, Dave had them lined up in one area of the room. He would jab comments at them and apologize for it having to end up like this. If the person was married or had a spouse in Gold, he would ask them why they had not thought about this before. “Is it real to you now?” he would ask.
One guy, John Oldfield, was leaving the game. He was married to Megan Oldfield in Gold. She was a video editor and they had been married at least few years. John had tears running down his face. Dave asked him why he was crying. John said that he was going to miss Megan and that he did not want to have to leave like this. Dave said, “Well you never cried for me!”
To prove that he was not kidding, Dave had one of his staff go off and come back with actual airline tickets printed up with the people’s names on them. They were handed out to people that had been kicked from the game so far.
As the amount of people was getting thinner, Dave started to let the music play longer. This went on for hours.
When it got down to around 20 people, it started to get VERY physical. Mark Ingber and Mike Sutter actually destroyed a chair by pulling it from each other and fighting and punching each other to let go of it. Mark Ingber actually ripped the seat of the chair from the frame and sat down on it on the floor! That counted and Mike left the game!
As the final people were weeding out, people were being thrown to the ground, pushed against walls and otherwise totally fighting for a chair. If you could imagine what it would be like if pro athletes played a game of musical chairs, that was what it was like for the last 15 or so people.
It was very sad to watch. People, who were best friends for years, were throwing their best friend to the ground for a chance to get a seat in a chair. Most of the people who had lost were just made to stand there and wait. Wait and do nothing except wonder where you would end up, what would you do, who would you ever see again?
Most of these people knew nothing else except for the Int Base. They had very little or no family, or at least they had not seen their family in so long, they did not even know if they could go to them.
No one had credit cards, bank accounts, any more than 50 dollars to their name. Very few staff had driver’s licenses and fewer had vehicles. And even if they did have a vehicle, it either did not run or had been years since they had registered or insured it. How would they live, how would they even eat? What would their spouses think of them? Would they be told that they were an SP and never hear from their family or partner again?
There were now around 70 people standing off in this big group. These people were now being referred to as the “Offload Group” by Dave. 50% had either been crying or were crying at this point. The other half might have even been happy to get the hell out of there or did not care enough either way to cry.
The last 4 people were Greg Wilhere, Sue Wilhere, Mark Ingber and Lisa Schroer. Mark was literally thrown aside by Greg Wilhere. Lisa beat out Greg for a seat.
Sue Wilhere and Lisa Schroer walked around a single chair for what seemed to be an eternity while Mozart rang out. Then the music stopped.
To be continued in next post.
Until next time…
For people looking for information about the church of Scientology, this post shows some of the insanity that occurs at the International Headquarter of Scientology (which critics often call Gold Base, because Golden Era Productions is located there, too), which is a 500 acre ranch in Hemet, California.
The post can be found on page 37 of this thread. It was posted by Marc Headley/Blownforgood. Marc Headley wrote about his experiences at Gold Base in a book called Blown for Good. His posts on this board are full of shocking stories about the church, and especially about church leader David Miscavige.
This particular story was also written up in the latest New Yorker magazine story about Scientology, by Lawrence Wright.