Sunday, October 11, 2009

Let's leave the sweat lodges to the indians, shall we?

I have always had the notion that self help books are a load of hooey.  Mrs. Funeral Guy has about a million of them clogging up our bookcases and these folks move a lot of product so obviously there is a huge market for happiness on the cheap mumbo jumbo.

Well there are some acolytes of a clown named James Arthur Ray (I'm tellin' ya', there's that three name thing again) that aren't very happy.  As a matter of fact two of them are dead, one is in critical condition, and all tolled 19 were hospitalized when some hocus pocus stunt in a "sweat lodge" went horribly awry.  Story here.  And here. 

$10,000 accommodations in Sedona?  
I've seen homeless camps nicer than this.   

According to the story 64 people crammed themselves into a 415 square foot hut covered with plastic and blankets while water was poured over hot lava rocks.  Who could have possibly foreseen a problem with this scenario? The injuries in addition to the two deaths were burns, dehydration, respiratory arrest and kidney failure.  Sounds like fun, doesn't it?  Not only that, these new age nebbishes paid ten grand a pop for the privilege of being tortured with this nonsense.  (They have one of these at my gym, by the way.  They call it a sauna.  It does have the disadvantage of being populated with nude men, but when it gets too hot - or too naked - I just get the hell out of there.)

James Arthur Ray, who was in charge of this foolishness has left the state, vamoosed as it were, and is declining to help detectives with their inquiries.  James Arthur Ray has twittered - I assume from an undisclosed location -  that he is "shocked and saddened" and is calling for "prayer and meditation."  What, no card?  Nowadays we have Condolence Tweets.  The story credits Ray with co-authoring "The Secret" a bestselling self helper but Wiki names only Rhonda Byrne as the author.  "The Secret" just sounds like a new agey reworking of the old power of positive thinking concept to me, but I'm no expert and think all of this stuff is a load of shit.

James Arthur Ray's website is pretty funny.  He looks like a guy who should be auditioning for a road show version of Glengarry Glen Ross ("Put.  That.  Coffee down.  Coffee is for closers only!")  There's lots of books, DVD's and other media that you can empty your wallet on.  I was surprised that there are no coffee mugs or T-shirts.  ("Come to one of our retreats.  It's no sweat!")  Haha.  This guy will have to sell a lot of merchandise to settle the avalanche of lawsuits that I'm sure will be rolling his way.

My sympathy for people who do things that facilitate their own deaths is limited.  Dealing with husbands who have lost their beloved wives to cancer or parents whose kid was run over will do that to you, I guess.  Bungee jumpers, parachuters, mountain climbers, even motorcyclists and guys that fly planes they built themselves are seriously tempting the gods.  Ya' runs with danger, ya' takes your chances.  The two that died in this tragedy surely didn't deserve it although one does wonder why they didn't just realize how stupid this all was and get up and walk out of there the second the air started getting thin.  Holding on to the dream until the bitter end.  Sad.

One last thing.  When you see a book with the word "harmonic" in the title, or has a picture of a pyramid on it, or features the blurb "As Seen On Oprah," just keep moving to the fiction section and pick yourself up a good novel.

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