Sunday, September 30, 2007

Plan District Six From Outer Space II: Joan or Joanie?

First, I want to put to rest concerns by many around town that the political "reality" show known as City Council Election, 2007 is ending this Tuesday. We can all agree that ending the show's run so soon would be a shame, and it's true that some of our favorite "characters", such as Paulette de'Pascal, will not be reappearing/elected.

But while we weep for those who do not "Survive" the "Kid Nation" known as the modern-day run for local political office, we can also broadly smile with the knowledge that it is quite possible that District 6 will have a run-off.

Thank (Insert Deity Here)! A Sopranos-like quick go-to-silent-black on Tuesday would deprive so many of us the chance to laugh, cry, scream, convulse and chuckle at the travails and machinations of candidates like the plucky Rey Garduno and the scrappy Joanie Griffin.

Not Joanie Griffin & Rey Garduno, but
Elvira & Tor Johnson From "Plan Nine From Outer Space"

A couple of days ago, I put out a little post about the experience of watching the Channel 27 District 6 Candidate Forum. In that recap, I unfairly commented more about the production values of the telecast than the content of the Forum itself. For that, I apologize, but I still can't get the Ed Wood aspects of City Council Election, 2007 out of my head.

In addition to the world-infamous "Plan Nine From Outer Space" there's another Ed Wood movie called "Glen or Glenda". Now for those not overly-enamored with really bad movies of the 50s/60s, "Glen or Glenda" was the most provocative and autobiographical work in the entire Wood oeuvre. And yes, I wrote that sentence just to use the word "oeuvre". The plot of the movie isn't important in the context of the District 6 race, I guess. The subject of the film is male cross-dressing, one of the few perceived social transgressions not yet brought up between Joanie Griffin and Rey Garduno.

What has me connecting District 6 and Ed Wood this time is the title of the movie, and the look on Joan/Joanie Griffin's face during that Forum on Thursday night. It's probably just me, and my years spent watching bad movies combined with horrific, public access lighting, but Ms. Griffin palpably appeared to alternate between the countenance of a real human being and the blank, cult-like stare of Elvira pictured above. Amid the B-Movie sound and effects, questions formed in my mind: "Is Joanie Griffin the member of a cult? Is Joan Griffin a different person than Joanie Griffin? Is either Joan or Joanie the member of a cult?"

Now unlike the many, many blogsters out there who use "facts" and "evidence" to get their points across (and I admire them all, from Heath Haussamen's investigatory work connecting Mayor Chavez and pals to this year's race, to Coco's synthesis of Haussamen and others insights, to Mario Burgos badgering the bejesus out of Coco) I have no supporting documentation to even bring questions of Joan/Joanie Griffin's cult participation up. It is irresponsible for me to even think such thoughts in a public forum, even if that public forum is Burque Babble and the concept of "public" means three or four readers who mistakenly drop by looking for Ed Wood movie .jpgs.

But, as (Insert Deity Here) is my witness, I couldn't shake the gut feeling I had watching that Forum. Then, a day or so later, someone told me that Joanie Griffin was not only a participant at Thursday's Forum, but that she was involved with "The Forum". You know..."The Forum". That "Forum"! Landmark Education. So I went Googling and saw her listed along with oft-discussed attorney Ron Bell on a list of Landmark/Forum links here in New Mexico.

Oh wait, maybe you don't know about "The Forum" and Landmark Education. Continuing my resolve to present as little factual information here as possible, I direct my few readers to Google. Type in "Forum" and "Landmark". Get a large pitcher of coffee, juice, Jack Daniels or whatever beverage will get you through hours of hours reading contentious, sometimes viciously so, webpages and get back to me.

Okay, welcome back, and trust me...that Jack Daniels hangover will be gone before Tuesday's election. Now all I'm gonna say is:
  1. I once had a girlfriend who got into this "forum" thing, so I'm biased (note in particular the use of the past tense verb "had");
  2. I'm not saying Landmark "Forum" is a cult, per se;
  3. Many folks have, by some accounts, received meaningful, profound life instruction from participation in Landmark "Forum".

At the same time, I'm also gonna say that I've spent some serious time with "Forum" devotees, and and they very often have had the SAME EXACT LOOK ON THEIR FACE as Joanie Griffin had on Thursday night. A look, while speaking, that someone is operating a small radio-controlled device somewhere in the subject's cerebellum. A look strikingly similar to Elvira's above, but with less revealing clothing and without the extended zombie-arms thing.

What does this mean? Why should you, the reader, care? Answers: nothing really, and you shouldn't. Not that I have to tell you that. Hidden somewhere in the reality show that has been, and will hopefully continue to be, City Council Election, 2007 has been the longer-term question of: what happens to "news" in a post-Tribune Albuquerque world? Now I'm a member of the small, twisted community of "bloggers", and am therefore again biased, but it seems that blogs, especially Haussamen and Coco (who has another excellent post here), are taking up the slack soon to be present in this one newspaper town.

Burque Babble isn't taking up any of this slack. Unlike a few, much more qualified, bloggers out there, I don't have the time or investigatory/writing skills to leave readers in a better informed position regarding, uh..., anything. I'm not claiming to "break" any news here. And I'm biased. If I lived in District 6, which I don't (heck, I don't even live in ABQ city limits), I probably wouldn't vote for Joanie Griffin. No, make that, I definitely wouldn't vote for Joanie Griffin (push polls, faux Heinrich endorsement, etc.).

And, being perfectly honest, one of the reasons I wouldn't vote for her is this Landmark "Forum" thing. Don't get me started on that. But, again, that's just me. And it's also just me that from this day forward every time I see Elvira I will think Joanie Griffin and vice-versa. I can own that. That's my own reality.

Speaking of reality, let the exciting denouement of City Council Election, 2007 begin. And not end. Please (Insert Deity Here), don't let it end now. It's been too good to end now.

P.S.: District 6 families can help bring on an encore to City Council Election, 2007 by doing the following: Have one adult in the household declare their intention to vote for either Joanie "Elvira" Griffin or Rey Garduno (sorry Kevin Wilson and Blair Kaufman, you seem like really nice guys but I'm not sensing much traction in your campaigns...I could be wrong). Hearing this, the other adult in the household must declare their intention to vote for the other of the two candidates. And to really help, any third members of households must declare their intention to vote for Blair Kaufman. We need at least 25 percent out of Kaufman and Wilson combined to stand a chance here and keep City Council Election, 2007 on the air. Those living alone can write in Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart or that Sanjaya guy from "American Idol".

C'mon guys, I know this is "Democracy In Action" and all, but the show just has to last until run-off day November 20th. It's just gotta.


GuruTruth said...

Wow, you certainly seem to have done your research on the internet about the controversial group Landmark Education, its course Landmark Forum, and the history / background of the organization.

If you don't mind, below are some links and resources if some of your blog readers don't want to leave this thread to find links to interesting resources and information online. Cheers !

Landmark Education is conducted in a Large Group Awareness Training setting, information about it and its "The Forum" course, previously known as "The Forum" under Werner Erhard and Associates, the "technology" of which was developed by Werner Erhard and utilized in his prior "EST Training" or "Erhard Seminars Training" - is available through the links below:

A documentary came out in France, Voyage to the Land of the New Gurus, which details some of the for-profit company's interesting practices. The film aired to 1.5 million people in France. One month after it aired, the company shut down in France. The company attempted to use the Digital Millenium Copyright Act in order to get this video off the internet. More about this at Landmark Education stumbles stupidly to hollow settlement, Landmark Education wants to make French news report a “forbidden video” on the Net and at Why did Landmark Education leave France? as well as at the Electronic Frontier Foundation's legal page, Landmark and the Internet Archive and in an article from Reuters which went into The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times, among many other papers, at Google faces legal challenges over video service.

Landmark Education has been labeled "sect" by the government of France, a "sect" by the government of Austria. They were investigated multiple times by the United States Federal Department of Labor - and an investigation in 2004 by the Federal Department of Labor in France led to Landmark Education shutting down their operations in all of France due to unpaid labor practices.

Landmark Education is currently a defendant in a wrongful death case in Oklahoma, and also a young man named James Brian Rowe went missing in Colorado directly after attending a Landmark Forum in 2004. His family has not heard from him since.

More information about the company's history itself, at The Rick Ross Institute, the Skepdic site, Cult News, Introduction to the Landmark Education litigation archive, Landmark Education litigation archive, Apologetics Index, and Cult Awareness and Information Centre. The book OUTRAGEOUS BETRAYAL by Steven Pressman is also a great resource. Chapter 4, A Door to Door Mind Salesman, and Chapter 7, Enlightenment in Two Weekends - The est Training are available online.

For more information about other Large Group Awareness Training organizations and their methodologies, visit:

The Truth about Human Potential Seminars

Kelsey Atherton said...

If the election continues long enough, they can even mail me an absentee ballot, and not just an absentee ballot application form. Yay!

renai said...

Why hello Mr. Key...I might be humoring myself, but I believe there might be a reference to me in this worries, I've transformed away from my Landmark past...Hope you are well. Be in touch sometime if you are so inclined. rg

Richard said...

That's not Elvira, that's Vampira. Its who Elvira stole her character from.

jscotkey said...


Argh!!!! You're absolutely right and we all missed it when this posted two years ago, including of

I spent the next hour agonizing over this. As a film teacher, it's especially shameful to confuse the eternally great Vampira with the knock-off shill Elvira.

Thanks for the catch...if I ever post a comparison between ABQ City Council candidates and characters in Ed Wood movies again, you can rest assured I won't make the same mistake.