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‘Going Clear’ author Lawrence Wright celebrates a milestone with a different kind of keyboard

You’ll have to indulge us today. We enjoyed a special event last night in Brooklyn, and we felt like sharing.

Going Clear author Lawrence Wright let us know he was coming to New York with his Austin blues band, WhoDo, and would be playing Hill Country Barbecue Market in downtown Brooklyn last night. We appreciated the invite and made sure to attend — not only was it a chance to see Larry perform, but Alex Gibney was also in attendance, and there were a couple of other surprises as well.

Gibney, of course, is the legendarily busy film director who worked with Larry to turn his book into the film Going Clear, which became the most-watched HBO documentary in a decade. We were fortunate enough to be included in the movie and attended its Sundance Film Festival premiere in 2015.

Last night, we snapped a cheeky photo of Alex getting a little footage of Larry at the keyboard.



It was great to catch up with Alex about recent events in Scientology. He’s still on top of what’s going on, that became quite clear. He introduced us to his wife Anne Morgan DeBevoise, and to Larry’s wife Roberta, whom we had met previously at one of Larry’s book events.

Meanwhile, sitting nearby was New Yorker editor David Remnick, who was waiting for his chance to sit in with the band. Who knew the Russia expert and decorated journalist could also play a mean blues guitar?


[Remnick, center]

Remnick acquitted himself quite well, although he took some hard ribbing from his bandmates for the Texas Longhorns T-shirt he wore on stage.

And there was one more surprise: Larry led the band through the 1948 Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys classic, “Don’t Be Ashamed Of Your Age,” as it turned out that last night was a particularly momentous milestone for the Pulitzer Prize-winning author.

After the show, we wished Larry a happy birthday and said he looked like he was having a lot of fun. He acknowledged that playing music had become more and more important to him, even though he had picked it up relatively late in life. “I started playing keyboards at 38 and a half because I wanted to play ‘Great Balls of Fire’ at my 40th birthday party,” he said with a laugh. And he’s been taking lessons ever since, he says.

WhoDo’s lineup includes John Burnett on harmonica, Brian Turner and Rico Ainslie on guitar, Jimmy Umstattd on bass, and his son Christian on the drums.

We were so impressed, we even snagged Larry’s copy of the set list.

Boppin’ the Blues
Pride and Joy

Scratch My Back
60-Minute Man
Texas Cookin’
Tuff Enough
When the Lights Go Out
Boom Boom
Shakin’ All Over
Rainy Night in Georgia
Hot Little Mama
Don’t Be Ashamed of Your Age
Nobody But Me
Boogie Woogie (May Be Wrong)
White Freightliner

I Believe I’m in Love With You
I Hold the Strings
T-Bone Shuffle
Shape I’m In
Red House
Hoochie Coochie Man
It’s So Easy
Linda Lu
Fan It
Mary Had a Little Lamb
I Hear You Knockin’
Just Your Fool
Mean Woman Blues

And finally, John Burnett ripped through a rousing edition of “Happy Birthday” on the harmonica in Larry’s honor. It was a great way to spend a Wednesday night.



Wise Beard Man gets past some setbacks with courage and humor

It’s been a week since Mark “Wise Beard Man” Bunker went under the knife for a triple bypass. Initially, we were told that things went well, but then he messaged us and said that he’d had a scary moment the second day after the surgery.

Naturally, this being Mark Bunker we’re talking about, he made a video about his rocky road to recovery.


Mark says he’s anxious to get home, but he will be going to a rehab facility first to help him make progress. Hang in there, friend.


Chris Shelton on Scientology’s recent missteps

Says Chris: “This week I just put together some thoughts about Scientology’s lame efforts at defending their abusive practices and justifying their existence to the big wide world, as well as the nonsense they get up to on social media to try to counter critics.”



Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,831 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,814 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,588 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,934 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,428 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,468 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy in 1,180 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 706 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,795 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,935 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,255 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,230 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 586 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin in 4,888 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 995 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,397 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,270 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 851 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike in 1,356 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,600 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,709 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on August 3, 2017 at 07:00

E-mail 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. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. 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

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | 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 | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | 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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