Duggars, true crime

Even the Duggars are turning on Trump…

This morning, I was reading the Duggar Family News Facebook group, when I came across an article about Josh Duggar’s latest efforts to stay out of prison for downloading indecent photos and videos of minors being abused. Personally, I have a feeling that Josh’s goose may well be cooked and reading for serving. I don’t know how he’s going to escape the allegations against him. He was pretty much caught red-handed.

But desperate people will do desperate things, and at this point, I would say the Duggars are pretty desperate. In fact, they’re so desperate that they kind of threw some shade on the Trump presidency. Yes… I was shocked, too. The Duggars, like so many other so-called red-blooded Christian, patriotic, conservative leaning folks, have always been big supporters of the Republican Party. And recently, that means being supporters of Donald Trump and his ilk.

Still, the idea of going to the big house must scare the bejesus out of Josh, because his lawyer, Justin Gelfand, just filed a fourteen page motion-to-dismiss. Why? Because, Gelfand argues:

When federal agents started looking into Duggar in 2019, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) was under the control of Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan, and the probe continued into the tenure of Acting Secretary Chad Wolf. The Government Accountability Office later found that Trump appointed both men unlawfully, circumventing the normal process of congressional approval. Federal judges later ruled similarly, invalidating some of the agency’s actions under their control.

Basically, he’s saying that because Trump didn’t appoint McAleenan or Wolf by using the proper and legal channels, they had no authority to open an investigation against Josh Duggar. Gelfand further wrote:

“As the actions by DHS HSI in this case were all conducted under the authority of individuals who were acting as Officers of the United States in violation of both the Appointments Clause and the applicable federal statutory scheme for temporary officeholders, the investigation proceeded without lawful authorityBecause Appointments Clause violations are structural in nature, Duggar need not show prejudice to obtain relief.”

Josh is hoping to get off on a technicality, since Trump didn’t appoint these two men with congressional consent. While Josh and his ilk probably don’t care what Trump does, as long as it doesn’t affect them personally in a negative way, now they have the nerve to use Trump’s unhinged “drunk uncle” style of governing for their own benefits. Isn’t that just typical? Once again, it’s a celebrity who is desperately grasping at straws.

From six years ago… we were shocked then, not knowing what was coming…

I know people can be fickle, and an awful lot of folks are completely uneducated about the political parties they support. Donald Trump taught me that it’s very dangerous not to know about the people who are tasked with leading the country. He was a TERRIBLE president and is a deplorable person, and he fucked up in myriad ways. And if Josh Duggar does manage to get off because of Trump’s lack of care for procedure and disregard for propriety, that will be just one more reason why he and his buddies should never have another opportunity to be involved in politics in any way, shape, or form.

It’s pretty clear that Josh Duggar has some serious issues. He’s already been outed as a “sex pest”, since he molested four of his sisters and a baby sitter. He’s already been busted as a philanderer who likes rough sex and is willing to pay adult sex workers for it, even though he’s supposedly a Christian and “happily married” to the mother of his six, soon to be seven, children. The legal issues he’s facing now haven’t yet been proven in a court of law, and he is as entitled to a defense as anyone is. But I seriously doubt he is going to get off, because the evidence is pretty strong that he’s guilty. This is a federal case, and the feds don’t tend to mess around. But we’ll see what happens…

I just think it’s interesting that some people are still doggedly supporting Donald Trump. Even the Duggars are turning against him, and if it turns out Josh is acquitted because of Trump’s incompetence, that could be a huge miscarriage of justice that will put women and children at risk. And while I maintain that I “get” people wanting to support their political parties, I still don’t know how a person can be “decent” and still support Donald Trump. So I’m going to assume that most people who are still on Trump’s train are willfully ignorant… and yes, I’m still very sick of willfully ignorant Trump supporters. And I will keep stating it, even if people like ‘ol Steve continue to harass me. The fact that certain people can’t let me state my opinions on my blog without harassing me is just a sign that they aren’t as confident in their position as they’d like me to believe.

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Duggars, Reality TV, religion

The Duggars are… done?

I woke up to the news that TLC is finally canceling the Duggars. That means no more Counting On. No more sneaky attempts by Jim Bob and his wife, Michelle, to get on camera and hijack what was supposed to be a reality show about his adult children who haven’t committed crimes. No more babies being born on toilets. No more contrived honeymoons to foreign countries, where the whole storyline centers around how “different” the Duggars are. No more over the top baby gender reveals. It’s about time.

What took them so long?

To be honest, the Duggars have been on TV for an astonishingly long time… and it’s high time they hightailed it off into the sunset. Even if Josh Duggar wasn’t a notorious sex pest, the Duggar time in the spotlight of reality TV should have been over some time ago. I quit watching their show several years ago, not necessarily because of Josh, but because it had become really boring. It was a lot of lathering, rinsing, and repeating. I’m sure a lot of the people on the show– Boob’s children and their spouses– who evidently weren’t even being paid for their work– will be glad to be able to do their own things off camera.

My guess is that Jeremy and Jinger will be glad to be done with the show. Now he can work on becoming the next Joel Osteen.

I read that Josh’s child pornography trial has also been postponed. It was supposed to begin on July 6th, but now it’s slated to start in late November. I guess that will be enough time for him to be around to see his seventh child being born. With any luck, he won’t have time to impregnate Anna again before he goes to trial and likely ends up in prison. Another baby is the last thing Anna would need. But I would not put it past Josh to try to make one more baby… Someone as narcissistic as he is no doubt thinks the world needs more of his progeny running around.

I’m sure Jim Boob is now thinking of new ways to be rich and famous, as he looks for experts to help his son beat his child porn charges. Even if Josh doesn’t go to prison– and I think he will, but I’ve learned never to “count on” what seems obvious– I suspect his life may be pretty much over. His reputation is ruined. There are some people in the fundie Christian world who might manage to overlook his past, but a whole lot of other people will never be able to forgive and forget what he’s been accused of doing, even in the highly unlikely event that he’s proven innocent.

I feel badly for Josh’s kids. Those poor souls never had a choice. It won’t be easy for them, growing up in the fundie Christian cult with their father locked up in prison. They will always be associated with him, no matter what. They probably love their dad, despite what he’s allegedly done and what he’s openly admitted to doing.

See this smirk? He probably isn’t hurting like his loved ones are.

I think this is something that a lot of people don’t think about in these situations… that predators may be the worst sorts of people, but there’s usually someone out there who loves them anyway. I’m sure Josh’s mother loves him. It looks like Jim Bob does, too. And he has a wife who is standing by him, and all those kids… The rest of the world may think he’s just the lowest form of turd, but there are people in his life who don’t see him the way others do. And those people are going to suffer for this. They’ll probably suffer more than Josh will. Josh doesn’t seem to be taking this very seriously. See the above pic for evidence.

I guess this Duggar situation is one reason why I’m not so tough on the Plath family, another large family that has been profiled on TLC. I mentioned the Plaths on Facebook yesterday, and someone mentioned how “cruel” the parents are to their kids. Honestly, I watched all of the episodes over the past couple of days. I didn’t come away with that much disdain for Kim and Barry Plath. I mean, sure, I don’t agree with their parenting decisions. I think Kim seems a bit closed off emotionally. Barry is a bit smarmy. But I don’t see them nearly as controlling or egregiously offensive as the Duggars often are. And at least Kim has an excuse. She grew up with the chaos of an alcoholic single mom and later lost a child to a terrible accident.

In one episode, Kim Plath mentioned that as a child of an alcoholic, she’d learned to “manage her emotions”. I know what she writes of, although I wasn’t very successful at that myself. She also mentioned being a partier in college, driving drunk and, by the grace of God, not getting in any accidents. I think it’s possible that if she hadn’t quit drinking, she would have ended up like her mother. Many children of alcoholics become alcoholics, marry them, or turn into control freaks. I’ve also witnessed in my own family people trading alcohol for something else. In Kim’s case, maybe it was religion. I have a cousin who quit drinking and turned into a gun toting, right-wing, Christian zealot. I can barely stand to talk to him anymore, and he used to be one of my favorite relatives. He’s become so smug and self-righteous. I’ll bet he’d love a flag like the one pictured below.

A screenshot of a Trump rally going on this week. Some people still think Trump is the president.

I watched the Plaths over the past couple of days. Unlike a lot of viewers, I feel like I saw both sides of the situation. Most of the kids were complaining about how tough the parents were on them, not educating them and preparing them for the world. But from what I see, the kids are doing quite well. Not a single one of them is a skid row drunk or drug addict. They all appear to be employed beyond the TLC show, launching their own lives as they see fit, and not being forced to work for the family business, as the Duggar children seem to be. Once they become 18, they are encouraged to get out and live life. I think that’s healthier than what we see with the Duggars, with all the adult kids living close by, often in properties owned by Jim Bob. Those who buck the system get ostracized by Boob. In the Plath family, it looks like the children are deciding to go “no contact”. Also… Boob protects his sex pest son, Josh, but doesn’t protect one of Josh’s victims, Jill. That’s way fucked up.

Now… in saying all of this, I’m not trying to be a Plath booster. Again– I see issues from both sides. I can understand why Kim Plath wouldn’t want her youngest children around people who seem hostile toward her. She’s still their mom, and she has to live with them. The youngest kids are not old enough to be kicked out of the house, as Micah and Moriah have been. And again, while I don’t agree with the fundie lifestyle, I do think parents should be allowed to raise their children the way they want to, as long as there’s no egregious abuse involved. And, of course, we all need to remember that if the Plaths weren’t a bit dysfunctional, they wouldn’t be on TV. If Kim Plath was an awesome mom who shits sunshine and flowers, they wouldn’t have a show. People tune in to see the strife. So we should all remember that… that dysfunction and apparent “cruelty” is what keeps people watching and the money rolling.

And I can also understand why Ethan and Olivia were hurt when they were told they couldn’t be around Ethan’s siblings unsupervised. It’s hurtful to have your parents not trust you, especially when you haven’t done anything criminal. Ethan and Olivia are just evolving into “regular” people. The Plath parents would do well to realize that this is going to happen with all of the children as they grow up. The vast majority of them are probably not going to follow the same path their parents have. That’s part of growing up– making your own choices. On another note, I also empathize with Olivia feeling disliked by Kim. I don’t think Bill’s stepmother likes me very much, even though I’m not nearly as abusive as Ex is. On the other hand, lots of people don’t like me… I figure that’s their problem.

For whatever it’s worth, Kim does seem to have a lovely relationship with her daughter, Lydia. Lydia, seems to be the type of person who goes along to get along. Personally, I think she’s my favorite on that show. I think she’s the prettiest, too. She just seems so kind and caring, as well as naturally beautiful. She’s probably the Jana Duggar of the Plath family. 😉 Seems like every large family has at least one person who is ultra responsible and mature. It’s usually the oldest who’s like that, but I think Ethan appears to be a lot less mature than his sister, Lydia, is… and she’s several years younger than Ethan is.

Anyway… I wouldn’t be broken-hearted if the Plaths have another season, although I don’t see them going on for years, as the Duggars have. I wouldn’t want them to do that. I think they’re wise enough not to try to do that, although I could be wrong.

Being on reality TV is probably a bit like gambling. It’s best to quit while you’re ahead. The Duggars should have been done years ago. They should have been done before 2015, when revelations about what a creep Josh is initially came to light. But no… Jim Bob had to keep the money, fame, and attention whoring going, and now he and Michelle and the rest of the clan are going to pay a terrible price as they likely watch their eldest trudge off to prison in cuffs and shackles. I think that’s probably the most appropriate thing to happen… but it does make me sad to see it. It makes me sad to see anyone being sent to prison, even if they absolutely deserve it. I think languishing behind bars is a terrible fate, particularly for those who have any potential whatsoever. That doesn’t mean I sympathize with Josh. It means that I know he’s a human being, despite his habit of doing terrible things. And I do empathize with all of those who love him and will be watching as he faces justice. Especially, his children... who have all of my sympathy.

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book reviews, celebrities

Repost: A review of Sachi Parker’s book, Lucky Me…

Here’s a repost of my review of Sachi Parker’s book, Lucky Me, which I originally read and reviewed on Epinions.com in June 2013. I previously reposted this review on my original blog when I wrote it for Epinions, but I included some extra commentary. I am including my extra comments in this repost, which appears as/is.

From the Blogspot OH repost in June 2013:

Sachi Parker is the only child of actress Shirley MacLaine and her late ex husband, Steve Parker.  When she was two years old, young Sachi was bundled up and sent off to Japan to live with her father, while her mother stayed in Los Angeles to build her very successful film career.  What Shirley didn’t know back then was that Steve Parker had a mistress, a Japanese woman named Miki who proved to be very Machiavellian. 

Sachi would see her mother sporadically.  She describes their meetings as fun for the first four hours or so.  After that, her mother’s eyes would sort of glaze over and she would be done… ready for her child or anyone else clamoring for attention to go away.  Shirley MacLaine was reportedly stingy with money and compliments.  She expected her daughter’s loyalty and honesty.  She employed draconian methods to get Sachi to do her bidding.  One time, when Sachi lost expensive plane tickets from England to Japan, to get Sachi from her boarding school back to her father’s home, Shirley accused her of cashing them in for money.  She collected her daughter and her friend, Yuki, in London and locked the two of them in separate hotel rooms.  She denied them food until Sachi confessed that she’d been “lying”, even though she’d actually been telling the truth.  When Sachi later told her mom that she’d lied about lying, her mother starved her again, this time in a New York City hotel room.

One time, when Sachi’s school year ended at a Swiss boarding school, she waited in vain for one of her parents to pick her up.  When they didn’t show, she went with a classmate, whose father worked in an Eastern Bloc country.  For two weeks, she tagged along with this family while they were on vacation in Europe, trying in vain to call her parents.  One night, she went out on the streets of Trieste where she ran into an old Italian prostitute who very kindly took care of her and got her back to her hotel.  She tucked her into bed.   

The family took her to Yugoslavia.  After growing tired of sponging off her classmate’s family, she told them she was taken care of.  They left her, believing they had helped her as best they could.  She went into a cheap hotel and started crying.  An elderly Yugoslavian couple that didn’t speak English took pity on Sachi and took her home with them.  She spent two weeks living with this couple, helping them on their farm, all the while trying to call her parents. 

Sachi’s father wasn’t much better.  As a young girl, Sachi was expected to accompany her father when he went out on the town.  He would make inappropriate comments about her body.  He would take her to bars.  One night he took her to a gay bar where all the waiters were nude.  The waiters had an interesting way of serving drinks.  They would stir cocktails with their dicks.  Sachi’s dad actually had to stop one of them from stirring his daughter’s Shirley Temple that way.

Sachi later found out that her father had bilked her mother for millions of dollars.  And yet, Shirley wouldn’t give her daughter any money to help her when she needed it.  When Sachi turned 18 and was done with high school, Shirley presented her with an expensive diamond necklace and told her she was on her own.

Lucky Me is a pretty amazing book.  Some people have said that it’s full of lies, probably because some of Sachi’s claims are so incredibly far-fetched.  And yet, knowing what I do about narcissism, I believe she’s written the truth.  The book is a bit trashy… and parts of it are pretty tasteless.  And yet, I found it fascinating because they really show what a narcissistic mother is like.  If what she’s written is true, Shirley MacLaine is completely lacking in empathy and keeps people close to her on edge at all times.  It’s sad, because even though she was apparently very abusive, I got the sense that her daughter loves her very much… despite airing all their dirty laundry.

I hope Sachi’s book does well.  She’s been through a lot.  Having a narcissistic mother must be a massive mind fuck.  As talented as I think Shirley MacLaine is, I have to say I see her differently now.

Sachi Parker has few terms of endearment for her mom, Shirley MacLaine.

Below is my review, originally published on Epinions.com.

Actress Shirley MacLaine is one of Hollywood’s legends.  She has put out some extraordinary films over her long, illustrious career.  She’s also well known for being very much into new age thinking; spirits, mediums, and psychics have been the subjects of her many books.  Until a couple of weeks ago, I knew nothing about her only daughter, Sachi Parker.  But when I saw that Parker, MacLaine’s daughter with Steve Parker, had written a book called Lucky Me: My Life With- and Without- My Mom, Shirley MacLaine (2013), I had to read it. 

I love a good tell-all, even if it’s kind of trashy.  A lot of people who have reviewed this book have openly doubted its truthfulness, mainly because of some of the wild and occasionally tasteless stories the author shares.  In fact, I think this book is pretty trashy myself… and yet, I do think Sachi Parker has been truthful, even if she hasn’t been discreet.  The irony is, throughout this book, Sachi explains that she grew up in Japan, where society demands decorum, discretion, and maintaining dignity.  She writes that for much of her life, she was like a Japanese woman who looked Irish on the outside.  Culturally, she identified with Japan because she had lived there from the age of two with her father, Steve Parker, and his mistress and later wife, Miki.  Sachi rarely saw her mother when she was growing up.  When she did see her, the visits were a confusing mix of great fun, high drama, and even higher anxiety.  As I finished reading, it occurred to me that if Sachi Parker has written the truth, there’s a good chance Shirley MacLaine has at least one personality disorder.

Make no mistake about it; Lucky Me is full of weirdness.  Sachi Parker writes of situations that are just plain bizarre.  She describes situations in which both of her parents were abusive and neglectful to the point of being very cruel.  She writes of trying very hard to win their approval and stay in their good graces.  Some of her stories are extraordinary.  Being the daughter of a star had its perks; yet once she graduated high school, Parker was expected to take care of herself.  Her mother presented her with an expensive Belgian diamond necklace and wished her luck because as far as Shirley MacLaine was concerned, Sachi was on her own. 

Although she spent her early years with her father in Tokyo, she wasn’t particularly close to him, either.  One time, he called her on her birthday and said he wanted to spend time with her, but alas, he was in Italy on business.  The phone call was complete with the static one would expect in a long distance 70s era phone call and a woman speaking Italian, supposedly the operator.  At the time, Sachi was working at hotel where her father had a suite that was off limits to her.  She managed to con the front desk into giving her a key to the suite.  She went there to check it out and found her father there having a marijuana fueled sex orgy.  He didn’t see her; she was able to bow out quickly.  But he had told her a convincing lie that she would have believed had she not gotten forbidden access to his suite and seen with her own eyes what he was doing.

Sachi writes of her mother turning her emotions off and on as if she had a switch.  She describes Shirley MacLaine as being very mercurial and lacking in empathy.  At times she was generous with compliments, but then her opinions would spin on a dime.  As I read her book, I realized that Sachi Parker was describing someone with extreme narcissistic personality disorder, complete with the crazymaking behaviors that come from a person who has a cluster B personality disorder.  She never outright claims that’s what her mother’s issue is, but having studied NPD extensively, that was the impression I got.  And since Sachi never writes that she thinks her mother has NPD and I recognize the behaviors so well, it makes me think that she’s probably written the truth. 

Unfortunately for Sachi, her father’s behavior wasn’t much better.  From what she writes, he basically used Shirley MacLaine for her money.  The two were married, but she lived in Los Angeles and he lived in Tokyo with his Japanese mistress.  Neither parent was emotionally available to their daughter; she was expected to handle situations as a child that were way beyond what was appropriate.  At one point, Sachi writes about her father taking her out on the town on school nights.  She’d long to go to bed because she had school in the morning and would always be tired the following day, but he insisted that she come with him.  One time, he even took her to a gay bar where the wait staff were all naked men.  Though the food was exquisite, the wait staff had an unusual way of serving cocktails.  Let’s just say at that place, the term “cocktail” was literal.

Sachi Parker writes of many situations in which her parents abandoned her.  From my perspective, she’d been trained from an early age to crave their attention and approval and do everything possible not to make them angry.  When they were angry, it was epic… and she would suffer for it.  On the other hand, both parents would reward her if she did what they wanted her to do.  She craved that reward and kept coming back to them again and again for that rare beam of love that normal loving parents deliver with ease.  Someone who hadn’t grown up craving that love probably would have cut ties years prior. 

Although some readers might find Lucky Me to be distasteful, I find it to be kind of refreshing.  If what Sachi Parker writes is true, then writing this book must have been very liberating.  Children of narcisssistic parents live their lives in chains, constantly monitoring themselves to keep their parents happy and approving.  They are carefully taught not to incur the wrath of the narcissistic parent because when they do, there is hell to pay. 

Writing this book and revealing all the weird, abusive, neglectful stuff that happened to her over the years is a way for Sachi to take control of her own personal power.  Putting it out there for the world to read, I’m sure, was her way of sending her mother a good hearty “fuck you”.  Many people might say she should have “risen above” airing her dirty laundry.  Sachi had done that for most of her life and it hadn’t gotten her anywhere.  Abusive people thrive on other people keeping their secrets and not holding them accountable.  The way to escape abuse it to shine a light on it from a safe distance.  When it comes down to it, abusive people are cowards who are rightfully ashamed of themselves.  And yet, despite the fact that Sachi wrote this very bold, revealing, and damning book, I still get the sense that she still longs for her mother’s love and approval.  Sadly, at age 57, Sachi Parker is probably now considered dead to her mother.

Parker includes photos.  They showed up great on my iPad.

Overall

I suspect Sachi Parker is going to catch a lot of hell for writing this book.  From what I’ve read in other reviews, a lot of people doubt her story.  Shirley MacLaine is a highly respected, extremely talented actress.  Her many fans will not like this book.  Other people who recognize extreme narcissism will applaud Sachi Parker for writing this book.  And some people who don’t care one way or the other will enjoy this book because it’s really juicy… not just for what Sachi Parker writes about her parents, but because Parker has led a life that has taken her to some very strange, exciting, and dangerous places.  Say what you want about Lucky Me’s trashiness;  it is definitely NOT a dull read.

I give it four stars.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

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book reviews, celebrities

Repost: A review of Going My Own Way by Gary Crosby…

Here’s a repost of a review I wrote on January 2, 2015 about Gary Crosby’s tell all book on growing up as Bing Crosby’s son, Going My Own Way. It appears here as/is.

For years, I heard about the controversial book the late Gary Crosby, eldest son of the late Bing Crosby, wrote about his parents.  The book, entitled Going My Own Way, was published in 1983 and was considered a “scathing” account of the reality of what it was like to grow up the son of a big Hollywood star who portrayed himself as the consummate family man.  I am a little too young for Bing Crosby, though I do remember the duet he did with David Bowie back in the 70s…

A classic Christmas duet circa 1977…

I didn’t actually see the Christmas special that spawned this version of “The Little Drummer Boy”, but over the years, the video has been replayed during the holiday season.  I also remember Mary Crosby, Bing’s daughter, who played Kristin Shepard on Dallas and was credited with shooting J.R. Ewing.  Aside from that, I only heard about Bing… and Bill has told me that a few years after Gary Crosby’s book came out, the late Phil Hartman, who was then on Saturday Night Live, did a spoof about how when Bing’s sons misbehaved, they needed to go have a “talk” in the library.

I was curious about the book and the cultural references to it, so I decided to purchase a used copy.  I recently finished reading Going My Own Way and, I must admit, it was very interesting.  As “scathing” memoirs go, I didn’t think it was all that bad.  Gary Crosby was Bing Crosby’s eldest son with his first wife, Dixie Lee.  He grew up in a huge house in Hollywood, surrounded by servants, many of whom were black.  Crosby’s mother was a strict disciplinarian and a serious alcoholic who relied on an Irish nurse named Georgie to keep Gary and his brothers, Phil, Denny, and Lindsay, in line. 

Like his wife, Bing Crosby was also a very strict disciplinarian who strongly believed in employing corporal punishment, strict rules, and verbal abuse to control his sons.  Crosby writes that it was difficult for him to have friends because his parents were so strict.  It wasn’t often that he was allowed to bring friends over or go to friends’ houses.  Crosby’s parents were quick to remind their sons that they were not special simply because they were Bing Crosby’s sons.  Though they were educated at private schools, they were not treated differently and didn’t hang out with Hollywood types.  Indeed,  from the time the boys were eleven until they were adults, each summer Bing Crosby sent them to work at a ranch he owned.  They learned how to herd cattle and make hay bales alongside men of much more modest means.  Crosby writes that he hated the ranch work because his father forced him to do it, though he might have enjoyed it a lot more if he’d been the one who chose to go. 

Gary Crosby had a weight problem when he was growing up.  His backside was wide, which caused his father to refer to him as “bucket butt” or “satchel ass”.  According to Gary, Bing would even call his son these names in public, particularly in front of Bing’s friends.  Bing Crosby ordered his son to lose weight and would force him to endure weigh ins.  If he didn’t lose weight, Gary would get a whipping.   Bing used a belt that had metal studs in it and would beat his boys until they bled.  At the first drop of blood, the beating would stop.  Gary writes that he used to hope he’d bleed early.  

Bing Crosby and Gary Crosby perform together…

When Gary became a teenager, he had a strict curfew and would often have to leave social events early in order to appease his father, who would not hesitate to use a belt and verbal abuse to get his point across.  It wasn’t until Gary was 18 years old and had finally had enough that the whippings stopped.  By that time, his father had traded the belt for a cane.  I must admit, reading that part of the book resonated with me.  I had a similar experience with my own father, who was also a proponent of physical punishment and last struck me when I was almost 21 years old.  My father was also one to use verbal abuse…  indeed, reading about some of Crosby’s experiences rang very true to me, since my dad did a lot of the same things to a milder extent.  Crosby also writes about his father’s penchant for womanizing and drinking, as well as holding gifts over his sons’ heads in order to control them.  Gary Crosby had his own issues with alcohol and drugs, which he writes about in the book.  He also was one to get in fist fights when the mood struck.

Crosby uses a lot of slang and filthy language in his memoir.  Personally, I wasn’t offended by it.  In fact, the slang sort of gave the book a 50s nuance, which makes sense, since Crosby was born in the 30s and would have been a young person in the 50s.  I liked that he included photos, which helped me put faces to his stories.  I also got the sense that despite the abuse, he did love his parents, especially his mother.  He even writes a message to his other siblings, products of Bing Crosby’s second marriage to Kathryn Crosby, that the father he knew was not the same man as the father who raised them.  And Crosby even admits that his father passed along musical talent to him and the ranch work gave him useful skills outside of show business.  As one who has a perverse interest in Pat Boone’s career, I liked that Gary Crosby also writes about what it was like to work with Boone.  Apparently, Crosby thought Boone was a nice guy and easy to work with, despite his love of “clean livin’.”  Pat Boone, as we all know, is also a big believer in spankings.

Gary and Bing sing with Frank Jr.

Gary Crosby’s mother died in 1952 of ovarian cancer.  At the time of Dixie Lee’s passing, Gary was studying at Stanford University, where he wasn’t a particularly good student.  I was moved by how he described his father’s pained reaction to his mother’s deteriorating condition.  Yes, he writes a lot about how “the old man” abused him and his brothers, but he also somehow manages to give his father a human face.  That’s why I say the memoir wasn’t that scathing.  Yes, it was probably shocking to those who grew up with Bing Crosby and loved his music, but as someone who also grew up with an alcoholic and occasionally abusive father, I thought Gary Crosby was just being honest.  I think back in the 80s, when this book was originally published, corporal punishment and verbal abuse were much more accepted as normal parenting than they are now.  While I think sometimes Americans are going a little too far in the other direction with how they are parenting their children, as someone who experienced growing up with an alcoholic, I feel like Gary Crosby was very truthful in his account.  He was not just a whiner.   

Gary Crosby died in 1995 of lung cancer. He was 62 at the time of his death and had married three times. You can read a chapter of Going My Own Way here. Here is an article from a 1983 issue of People magazine about Gary’s book.

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religion, videos, YouTube

A Christian diet cult crashes and burns…

Until last week, I had never heard of Gwen Shamblin Lara, or her husband, former Tarzan actor, Joe Lara. I didn’t know anything about their “church”, either– Remnant Fellowship— located in Brentwood, Tennessee. The couple came into my consciousness a few days ago, when news reports broke about how their 40 year old Cessna 501 airplane crashed into Percy Priest Lake in Smyrna, Tennessee, just east of Nashville. They had been headed for Palm Beach, Florida, home of many wealthy people and white Christians.

I didn’t initially pay much attention to the news about the crash. I had heard that Gwen Shamblin Lara’s ministry focused on breaking people out of addictions– particularly food addictions. I had noticed Gwen’s crazy high hair, and realized that she reminded me a bit of the late Jan Crouch, who famously had big pink hair and was seen on Trinity Broadcasting Network with her late husband, Paul. Those factors alone should have attracted me like a magnet to Gwen’s story. But I didn’t learn much about her until yesterday, when I caught Katie Joy’s videos about the Remnant Fellowship. I was pretty gobsmacked by them.

What’s with the hair?
Kudos to Katie Joy for dishing on this couple.

If you are interested in learning more about Gwen and Joe, I highly recommend watching Katie Joy’s videos from Without a Crystal Ball. I know a lot of people seem to have a problem with Katie Joy, but I think she did a good job covering this story. I watched and listened with some shock and disgust as I watched this couple, who claim to be Christians, yet lived in extreme opulence and evidently promoted abuse and eating disordered behaviors.

In one clip Katie Joy provides, the skeletal looking Gwen is wearing a tank dress that is clearly at least a size too big for her. She stands with her hands in the air, the dress shifted to one side and the strap falling off her shoulder. Her voice is thick with a southern accent as she commends one mom for spanking her child. Another mom, Sonya Smith of Mableton, Georgia, followed Gwen’s advice to punish her son, locking him in his room with a Bible for days (starts at 8:20 in the second video). Gwen commends Sonya Smith for not “spoiling” her child.

In 2007, Sonya Smith, and her husband, Joseph, ultimately went on trial for the 2003 death of their eight year old son, Josef. In October 2003, Josef Smith passed out without ever regaining consciousness as the family had gathered in their kitchen to participate in a prayer session over the Internet. When Josef collapsed, father Joseph touched him, noting that the boy was “warm to the touch” but sweaty. He thought Josef was overheating, so he carried him outside to the carport and laid him down on the concrete. When that didn’t help cool off Josef, the family called 911 and Josef was brought into the dining room. Paramedics first encountered the child there; he wasn’t breathing and was without a pulse. They took him to a hospital, where he was determined brain dead. A day later, he was dead.

Medical examiners determined that Josef Smith had died having suffered extreme abuse from his parents. The police stated that the child was frequently locked in a closet and forced to pray to a picture of Jesus. His parents admitted to striking him with a glue stick, although they didn’t think the punishment was abusive. See the featured photo for an example of what a glue stick looks like. The ones in the photo are about a half inch in diameter and 12 inches long, but they come in different sizes and colors. Before I started learning more about fundie Christians, I had never heard of people spanking their kids with glue sticks. I always thought of them as being much smaller and in a plastic push up tube. Even the hot glue sticks I’ve seen were a lot shorter than the ones used by fundies to discipline their kids.

I always thought the “rod” was the gospel, not an actual rod…

Many devout Christians are particularly enamored of the Bible verse about sparing the rod and spoiling the child and take it very literally. I’m not sure if Gwen and Joe were fans of Michael and Debi Pearl’s controversial book, To Train Up A Child, but that book is infamous for its strong emphasis on corporal punishment for the purpose of “training children” to be obedient Christians. It goes as far as advising parents what implements they should use for spankings. It sounds to me like the Remnant Fellowship, which, like the LDS church, claims to be the “one true church”, might be in favor of the Pearls’ teachings about breaking children’s wills to turn them into good little Christian robots.

If you listen to Katie Joy’s video, at around 9:19, you hear Gwen Shamblin Lara preaching about not spoiling children and being sure to “spank” them to show love. But then you look at how she lived. She and her husband had a huge mansion decked out with gilded furniture, and they owned their own airplane… which ultimately led to their demise. And here she is telling her followers not to “spoil” their children, when she herself appears to be very pampered, living a lavish lifestyle on donations from her flock. Ultimately, her privileged lifestyle led to her early death, didn’t it? What a hypocrite!

Sonya and Joseph Smith became members of Gwen Shamblin Lara’s church in 2000. The Remnant Fellowship Church is an offshoot of Gwen’s “Weigh Down Workshop”, which is a diet program she started in 1996. The church is known for its focus on saving souls from Hell and reforming people with addictions to drugs, alcohol, and food. However, according to Katie Joy’s expose, this church’s methods are extremely controlling and abusive and many people have been harmed by it. The Smiths’ case led to authorities raiding and investigating the Remnant Fellowship Church in 2004; the church supported the Smiths in their legal fight.

As for the Smiths, according to Wikipedia, they were “each charged with four counts of murder, five counts of first-degree cruelty to children, three counts of aggravated assault and two counts of false imprisonment.” On February 12, 2007, which would have been Josef’s 12th birthday, a jury found them guilty on eleven counts: “one count each of felony murder, reckless conduct, false imprisonment; three counts of aggravated assault, and four counts of cruelty to children (two specifically pertaining to glue sticks and others to unknown objects).” On March 27, 2007, Joseph and Sonya Smith were each sentenced to life plus thirty years– the maximum allowed by Georgia law. The case was appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court in 2010, but the original convictions and sentences were upheld. In February 2011, a petition was filed with the United States Supreme Court, asking the justices to review the decisions made by Georgia’s lower courts. The petition was denied.

I would not wish a plane crash on anyone. I’m sure the crash was horrific for everyone on board. Katie Joy said that the aircraft basically “broke” and there’s debris everywhere with no chance whatsoever of any survivors. However, after listening to Gwen Shamblin Lara speak and hearing about Josef Smith’s very sad case, I kind of feel relieved that Gwen will no longer be around to spread her particular brand of “the gospel”.

I’m sure the Remnant Fellowship won’t be going away, but at least now more people know about it and the potential dangers it poses to innocent people. It’s not hard to fall into abusive situations… whether they be abusive relationships with other people or abusive organizations like religious groups or cults. These systems thrive on attracting people who are weakened because they are in trouble. People with financial or health problems… people with low self-esteem or addictions… people who are desperately looking for a way out of a bad situation– these are all examples of folks who might be lured into joining falling into abuse. Sometimes, those situations lead to terrible tragedies involving innocent people like Josef Smith, or plane crashes that kill innocent people, like those who were onboard the private Cessna aircraft with Gwen and Joe.

As I wrote in yesterday’s post about culty churches, Shamblin Lara’s followers were required to close themselves off from other influences. They weren’t allowed to read anything not produced by Gwen or listen to music not made by Gwen’s son, Michael Shamblin. That raises some red flags, right? Gwen also says that her followers should not use antidepressants and they should disconnect from their families. More culty red flags!

For more information about this “cult” of starvation, check out Jen’s Fundie Fridays’ YouTube channel and its lengthy expose of Gwen Shamblin Lara’s “church” and weight loss program that combines religion with anorexic behaviors. This video below was made about a year ago. I wonder if Jan will do another video soon, now that Gwen and Joe are dancing with whatever they found in the great beyond after their plane crashed into Percy Priest Lake.

That hair on Gwen… wow. I like Jen’s style. She has a great sense of humor.

In the above video, I see clips from Gwen’s videos and they all depict her living the perfect, romanticized life, complete with music from Shrek (really?). All of the people are dressed to the nines and there are romantic gazebos and depictions of perfect family living… but that’s all it is. It’s just a facade– a highly staged, manipulated, fantastic facade– that sadly roped in enough followers for the Laras to be able to afford this very anti-Christlike church they promote. It’s obvious that Gwen was idolized by her followers, which is pretty much not what the Bible promotes, right? Idolatry is specifically forbidden, according to the Bible. See below, where it’s spelled out…

Yup… Idolatry is not Christian.

In yet another example of idol worship, Gwen Shamblin Lara even compared herself to Michael Jackson, claiming she was persecuted. But I think it’s fair to say that the criticism she got was warranted. People died following her… a child died! His parents are now in prison for the rest of their lives. She promoted pro-ana ideas, which are extremely dangerous, especially for people who already have tendencies to fall into eating disorders. And frankly, I think her hair was a crime against nature. So, while I don’t rejoice in the death of Gwen and Joe, I am glad that their toxic brand of “Christianity” has been dealt a serious blow. If the church continues, I hope it is run by people who are less dangerous and hypocritical… and culty.

Anyway… a week ago, I had never heard of Gwen Shamblin Lara. And now that I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole, I’m glad I didn’t find her until she was dead. What a toxic load of shit her church is. I thought Teddi Mellencamp’s diet program was abusive and predatory. At least Teddi Mellencamp doesn’t marry dieting with religion. She just charges a lot of money to bully her customers into starving themselves down to a more “acceptable” size.

And she has more normal hair, too. Of course, her weight loss program is also pretty fucked up and dangerous.

In other news… I was successful in getting my second shot yesterday. So far, I feel okay. My arm is a bit sore and I’m a little tired, but otherwise, no sweat. Bill suffered a lot more from his second shot than I have so far. But I hesitate to celebrate too much, since I have heard that the side effects can come on within a day or two. I may be down for the count tomorrow or over the weekend. We shall see. I’m just glad it’s done.

Edited to add: Fundie Fridays posted a new video about a half hour ago (as of June 5, 2021 3:30pm Central European Summer Time)

Very newsy! This video is done by James instead of Jen.
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