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Scientology and the Internet: Before there was Clambake, another OG made his mark

[Ron Newman in 2008, photo by Valis Iscari0t / CC BY]

Your proprietor shares a couple of interests with a man named Ron Newman.

First and foremost, of course, is that we both have a fascination for Scientology and its controversies, even though neither of us were ever involved in it.

And before Operation Clambake became the Internet’s hub for information about Scientology in 1996, it was Ron’s page “The Church of Scientology vs The Net” that was cited by journalists as the best place to keep up on what was happening.

And a lot was happening in 1995, when Ron’s page was a central depository for stories about the war going on between the church and its early online critics.

(That same year, your Proprietor was just starting out, writing our first story involving Scientology at the Phoenix New Times. We had little idea then what a pivotal time that was for copyright and trademark battles as Scientology tried to shut down Internet-based criticism.)


Besides having a lot of respect for Ron as an OG in the online wars, we’ve also enjoyed his social media posts about cycling. He does a great job documenting the growing number of bike paths proliferating in Massachusetts, where he lives, and he truly lives a cyclist’s life.

When we mentioned at our Facebook account on Independence Day that we were fulfilling a crazy notion to cycle from our suburban NYC home to Boston in four days, he became intrigued.

After hearing from Ron, we decided that seeing him would be a great way to finish the journey.

But first we’d had to get there.


Fortunately, we had some great entertainment that first day out of town, riding along the Connecticut coast. On our way to New Haven, we listened to Amy Brady’s new book on Audible.


“A lively history of ice in America,” says Kirkus reviews. “Environmental historian Brady, executive director of Orion magazine, takes a wide-ranging, comprehensive tour of places and people associated with our frosty obsession…Bursting at the seams with icy facts and trivia.”

We certainly enjoyed this great investigation of how ice as a commodity developed and changed social history. And the length of the book was almost exactly the same as our ride to see Amy and her partner, our old friend Alan Scherstuhl, former Village Voice film editor and someone we had first met working on a newspaper together in Kansas City some 20 years ago.

Alan and Amy were good enough to take us to a local REI so we could pick up a rain jacket, because it looked like we were going to get a soaking on day two, when we intended to get to Rhode Island.



Sure enough, it was a very wet day. But still gorgeous, and Google Maps put us on some pretty interesting and curious paths, including this narrow causeway over an estuary…


…and on a short ferry ride across the Connecticut River before reaching the Ocean State early in the afternoon.


Day three had us spinning quickly through Providence and out the other side on the lovely East Bay Bike Path down to Bristol. Then over the very frightening Mt. Hope Bridge (thanks, Google!) and then the much more pleasant and breathtaking Sakonnet River Bridge, where we took this shot.



We crossed the Massachusetts state line in Fall River, and that town is famous for one thing, of course.


So we decided to stop and see what Lizzie Borden’s resting place looks like. It’s actually a little underwhelming, and we only found it thanks to an online description of it.


Then, on day four, we had more rain, but it was still just a spectacular day of scenery, like this spooky closed road that Google put us on.



This was Independence Day, so we decided to make a short pilgrimage honoring one of the architects of American Independence, snapping this shot of the birthplace of John Adams in Quincy.


It was lightly raining when we made it to Boston in the afternoon, but we didn’t mind. It’s such a great town, and what a treat to be there on July 4th.

After rolling up to our hotel, we had a chance to get clean and update the website (and we highly recommend The Boxer in the West End. It was our second time staying there, and they really treated us well, which is important when you’re a dripping wet cyclist and need to get your bike up to the 6th floor.)

Later, we sauntered over to the Alcove, a restaurant just off the Freedom Trail at the wharf, and Ron joined us for a fine meal. (He had cycled over from his house, of course.)


We talked about Scientology, naturally, and he quizzed us about how things were going now.

And then he asked us a question that we admit kind of floored us.

We thought it was such a good question, we decided we had to assemble this piece and put it to you all.

Looking back at the online wars of the 1990s, when Scientology was so thoroughly exposed as a bad actor, as a bully, as a vexatious litigant, as an abuser and extorter, and in a new medium, the Internet, that would preserve those records indefinitely…


Given all that, Ron, one of the original gangsters, asked us…

“Tony, why are they still in business today?”

Wow. Now that’s a question.


Technology Cocktail

“There were times when people got to jumping around so in the public prints that I figured straight jackets for reporters and Commies were more vital in our logistics than clearing. But it never entered my head to quit, not even when Time magazine divorced me from a woman I wasn’t even married to.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1959



We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links as Danny faces a potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison. NOW WITH TRIAL INDEX.



THE PODCAST: How many have you heard?

[1] Marc Headley [2] Claire Headley [3] Jeffrey Augustine [4] Bruce Hines [5] Sunny Pereira [6] Pete Griffiths [7] Geoff Levin [8] Patty Moher [9] Marc Headley [10] Jefferson Hawkins [11] Michelle ‘Emma’ Ryan [12] Paulette Cooper [13] Jesse Prince [14] Mark Bunker [15] Jon Atack [16] Mirriam Francis [17] Bruce Hines on MSH

— SPECIAL: The best TV show on Scientology you never got to see

[1] Phil Jones [2] Derek Bloch [3] Carol Nyburg [4] Katrina Reyes [5] Jamie DeWolf

— The first Danny Masterson trial and beyond

[18] Trial special with Chris Shelton [19] Trial week one [20] Marc Headley on the spy in the hallway [21] Trial week two [22] Trial week three [23] Trial week four [24] Leah Remini on LAPD Corruption [25] Mike Rinder 2022 Thanksgiving Special [26] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part One [27] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part Two [28] Claire Headley on the trial [29] Tory Christman [30] Bruce Hines on spying [31] Karen de la Carriere [32] Ron Miscavige on Shelly Miscavige [33] Karen de la Carriere on the L’s [34] Mark Bunker on Miscavige hiding [35] Mark Plummer [36] Mark Ebner [37] Karen Pressley [38] Steve Cannane [39] Fredrick Brennan [40] Clarissa Adams [41] Louise Shekter [42] John Sweeney [43] Tory Christman [44] Kate Bornstein [45] Christian Stolte [46] Mark Bunker [47] Jon Atack [48] Luke Y. Thompson


Source Code

“Man, in the past, every time he got up along the strata of trying to evaluate data, would get up to some point and say, ‘Above this point it is just God, and God did everything from here on down and you can’t go any further than that.’ Then he would push back the frontier of knowledge just a little bit further and he would say, ‘Beyond that is God. God starts right in here,’ and he would use that to evaluate data. This is somewhat unworkable because there are not two data. That is why man was having trouble. But there was a second datum there all the time: there was the devil. This fits in with the double-data system. The basic unit of knowledge is two. You have to know there is a man before you can know whether or not a man can be aberrated or not aberrated. How do we describe the devil? The devil is evil and God is good. We can describe, then, and we can get some conception of magnitude, of comparative data and of value. It is very simple. ” — L. Ron Hubbard, July 16, 1951


Avast, Ye Mateys

“All DOC members are to star-rate check out on HCO PL 22 February 1968 ‘Ethics Admin’ and FO RS 322 ‘The Hat of the Master”. Compliance to be effected within 24 hours. Twin checking between DOC members is preferred.” — The Commodore, July 16, 1970



Overheard in the FreeZone

“I have listened to several critics of Scientology, and I have been playing around with my mock ups. I have come to the conclusion that at one point in time critics were caused grief, and in present time they are trying to cause the offenders to be in guilt, regret, or remorse for their actions. There could be an Earlier Similar Group on their track. The handling for this case phenomenon would be to mock up two synthetic thetans beside each other. One would represent self in grief or sadness, the other would represent the offending party in guilt. These two dis-similar terminals are allowed to discharge against each other which may take a few hours. I hope this helps.”


Past is Prologue

2001: “Barb” reported a two-day protest at a comic convention in San Diego at which Scientology had rented exhibit space. “I packed up some Xenu fliers stuffed with half-page Scientology Hurts People inserts, printed out a new sign, WARNING! BRIDGE PUBLICATIONS IS $CIENTOLOGY, which had a fetching color portrait of Xenu. Ida’s friend Richard came down with his two nephews a little after noon, and we took a cab to the Con. We proceeded to the entrance of the Convention Center and started handing out fliers. It wasn’t long before security approached and requested that we move on to public property, and we cheerfully complied. We already had picked up two watchclams. They positioned themselves on either side at a distance of about 50 feet. Both of them watched us constantly and used their cell phones frequently. People would approach and ask for a flier. Some stopped to chat, several thanked us for being there and informing people. Many of the folks we talked to already knew something about the cult, a few knew Bridge Publications was a tentacle of Scientology. Several people who took fliers intended to ask the folks in the Bridge Pubs booth about Xenu! It only took us a couple of hours to dispose of all our fliers. The Bridge booth had huge banners advertising L. RON HUBBARD! BATTLEFIELD EARTH! and L. RON HUBBARD’S MISSION EARTH! I heard one of the inhabitants try to snag a passerby with the intriguing come-on, ‘Hey, do you like science fiction?’ but it appeared to me that people were staying away in droves.”


Random Howdy

“If the government simply enforced the already existing laws we wouldn’t even be here.”


Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker


Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Found guilty on two counts on May 31, remanded to custody. Sentencing on Sep 7.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Grand jury indictments include charges from an assault while in custody. Trial scheduled for August 15.
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud.

Civil litigation:
Baxter, Baxter, and Paris v. Scientology, alleging labor trafficking: Forced to arbitration. Plaintiffs allowed interlocutory appeal to Eleventh Circuit.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Appellate court removes requirement of arbitration on January 19, case remanded back to Superior Court. Stay in place at least through sentencing of Masterson on Sep 7.
Jane Doe 1 v. Scientology, David Miscavige, and Gavin Potter: Case unsealed and second amended complaint filed. Next hearing August 1.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Ordered to mediation.



After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society. Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in a weekly series. How many have you read?


[ONE year ago] PODCAST: Bruce Hines on Scientology Sea Org insanity, and a Shelly story we hadn’t heard
[TWO years ago] How many Scientologists live in your town? Surprisingly, Scientology has an answer
[THREE years ago] Scientologists mourn the loss of Kelly Preston, say nothing about former member Ben Keough
[FOUR years ago] It’s not hard to figure out where L. Ron Hubbard came up with Scientology’s space cooties
[FIVE years ago] Saturday on L. Ron Hubbard Way — Scientology rolled out its sneaky focus on minorities
[SIX years ago] Scientology’s ‘Drug-Free’ influence-peddling plans for New York on August 1, in detail
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology’s appeal denied, trial date to be set in forced-abortion lawsuit
[EIGHT years ago] Leah Remini’s ex-Scientology friends rock TLC — and our interview with one of them
[NINE years ago] Camilla Andersson goes public after 29 years in Scientology’s inner elite
[TEN years ago] Claire Headley Wonders, Was Kirstie Alley Doing Scientology’s ‘Doubt Formula?’
[ELEVEN years ago] Breaking Away from the Church of Scientology: Reading Marty Rathbun’s Manifesto
[TWELVE years ago] Scientology Is Not Happy With ‘Inside Scientology’


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 3,092 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,607 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,157 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,147 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 2,028 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,332 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,203 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,308 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,755 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,097 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,663 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,582 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,749 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,331 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,592 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,628 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,344 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,908 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,223 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,398 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,949 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 4,080 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,418 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,273 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,392 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,748 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 7,051 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,157 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,555 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,431 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 3,014 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,509 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,763 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,872 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on July 16, 2023 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post 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 new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, 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, 1995-2022 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2022), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | 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 | Shelly Miscavige, 15 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 | 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

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast


Tony Ortega at Rolling Stone


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