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Back where it all started: Hoping to see you in Phoenix to talk Scientology then and now


[Thank you, reader SeriouslyWTF, for this image.]

Wow, it’s great to be back in Phoenix. Your proprietor spent some very important formative years of his journalism career here in the Valley of the Sun, and it’s great to see that despite some new trolley tracks, a freeway shooter, and some new coats of paint, the place essentially remains the same.

In other words, gorgeous.

And hey, Phoenix is also the birthplace of Scientology! What a fortuitous coincidence.

We met last night with some great old friends who were crucial to our life getting so messed up that we’d spend it writing obsessively about wealthy and villainous asshats for the next twenty years, and making barely enough money to pay our bills.

Ha, but we kid. We’ve actually written about a lot of really upstanding characters and fascinating figures, and on occasion we’ve been able to sock away some savings doing it. And we’re grateful to Jeremy Voas — the editor who first gave us a shot in the business — and Rick Barrs, the editor who stole us away to Los Angeles and then returned with us to Arizona, and who had lunch with us at Scientology’s Hollywood Celebrity Centre with Karin Pouw back in the day, a story we’ve told a few times. Both were with us last night, and we expect them to be at our talk this evening at the ASU downtown campus.


And about that — yes, the 141-seat theater is “sold out,” but it’s a free ticket, and inevitably some of the people who secured spots early on change their minds. So please, if you’re interested in seeing us on stage at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, at 555 N. Central Ave at the Cronkite Theater on the 2nd floor at 5:30 pm, please show up and we’ll find room for you.

Richard Ruelas — the Arizona Republic‘s longtime gem, and our great friend — will be introducing us and peppering us with questions about The Unbreakable Miss Lovely and other Scientology subjects.

Last night Richard led us on a pilgrimage to the Clarendon Hotel and the really finely done tribute to Don Bolles that is part of the hotel’s rebirth. Bolles was a Republic reporter who was lured to the hotel and then killed with a car bomb in its parking lot, a killing that was linked to his investigation of the mafia. We’re really glad to see that a bust of Bolles and photographs of the crime scene are displayed at the hotel to remind the public of how much some people hate investigative reporting and will go to elaborate lengths to stymie it.

We have a few things to say on that subject, which readers of our book will be familiar with.

Come on down and help us celebrate the investigative reporting of Paulette Cooper. It’s been a long circular journey that’s brought us back to this loveliest of spots on the planet.


Bonus photos from our tipsters

OK, so this opening of the “Ideal Narconon” drug rehab center in Ojai at the old Larry Hagman estate must really be imminent. And as former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder predicted to us a long time ago, it’s going to be the place for celebrities to dry out, or why would so many Scientology celebrities be making their way to the quaint California town? This one was posted a couple of days ago by Juliette Lewis with the caption “Mystical night. You hold me just right, Ojai”…


Erika Christensen is there too…


This one was posted by Yolanda Pecoraro, who is today dating one of the Masterson litter, but more ostentatiously was Tom Cruise’s date at the October 2004 IAS gala when he picked up his Freedom Medal of Valor, coming after Penelope Cruz and before Nazanin Boniadi on the Cruise dance card…


Thank you, reader MM, for putting our anticipation at an end. Yes, the celebrity drunk tank did open this weekend, and just as stealthily as the one in the UK. Funny how Miscavige is rushing these open with such little advance warning. (And with the event over, we can finally put Nancy’s feet to rest.)




We didn’t get a chance to include photos in our book, so we’ve posted them at a dedicated page. Reader Sookie put together a complete index and we’re hosting it here on the website. Copies of the paperback version of ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ are on sale at Amazon. The Kindle edition is also available, and shipping instantly.

Tony Ortega’s upcoming appearances (and check out the interactive map to our ongoing tour)…

Sept 15: Phoenix, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, 555 N. Central Ave in downtown Phoenix, Cronkite Theater on 2nd floor, 5:30 pm, sponsored by ASU’s Barrett Honors College

Sept 23: Cleveland, Parma Heights Library, 7pm sponsored by Center for Inquiry – Northeast Ohio

Sept 24: Minneapolis, Grumpy’s Bar & Grill, 2801 Snelling Ave, Roseville, 7 pm, sponsored by Minnesota Atheists

Sept 27: Portland, Friendly House, 1737 NW 26th Ave, 12:45 pm, sponsored by Humanists of Portland

Sept 28: Seattle, Razzi’s Pizzeria, 7 pm, with Seattle Skeptics and Seattle Atheists

Sept 29: Vancouver, BC, Seven Dining Lounge, 7 pm

Oct 23: Sydney, Giant Dwarf Theatre (with Sen. Nick Xenophon)

Oct 25: Melbourne, venue secured (announcement coming later)

Oct 28: Adelaide (with Sen. Nick Xenophon)

Oct 30: Perth

Past dates: Santa Barbara (5/16), Hollywood (5/17), Orange County (5/17), San Diego (5/20), San Francisco (5/22), New York (6/11), Chicago (6/20), Toronto (6/22), Clearwater (6/28), Washington DC (7/12), Hartford (7/14), Denver (7/17), Dallas (7/20), Houston (7/22), San Antonio (7/24), Austin (7/25), Paris (7/29), London (8/4), Boston (8/24)


Posted by Tony Ortega on September 15, 2015 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of LA attorney and former church member Vance Woodward

UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer
The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill
The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield


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