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(July 20, 2009)

Let us pray. Or more likely, let us prey.
          This more or less describes modern Amurricuns. They either pray, or prey, or are preyed upon (often while praying.) They are either busy proselytizing about Jay-zuhs, or Yaweh, or Oprah, or taking advantage of anything/everything for profit. What would the prophets think? Well, we know the answer to that one: Armageddon outta here!
          Pray/prey. Prophets/profits. Almighty/Dollar.
          I was watching that cue-ball headed, pot-bellied, certainly flatulent huckster, Dr. Wayne Dyer, on PBS. Which, of course, made me wonder what in the hell was so Public about this Broadcasting Service when a pseudo-religious figure can appear like a skipping CD, night after night after night, pitching his incredibly expensive dogma and New Age doggerel (“Begin to see yourself as a soul with a body rather than a body with a soul.”) Gad, remember when it was called “educational television?”
          This guy is aptly named. Dyer. Die-er. Everything he says and sells enables sanity and grace to die a little bit. He’s a dyer-ed-in-the-wool snake-oil salesman, and a slithery one. Boy, does he know how to prey, in the guise of pray. He should be (probably is) studied heavily by all bright-eyed young greedballs majoring in soulsucking---I mean marketing/PR/demographics.
Twain’s fictitious Duke and Dauphin of “Huckleberry Finn” would fall about in fawning apoplexy if they could see how their little dumb-act to bilk an impressionable girl out her father’s inheritance has bloomed into million-dollar 21st century industry.

          I watch him because I can’t look away. It’s like watching a dogfight, or a stripper, or footage of Michael Jackson with his head on fire. Astounding banality. Dyer strolls around his elaborately appointed Discount Zen stage backdrops, wiping away the white stuff that accumulates in the corners of his mouth (vitamin deficiency there, Wayne), gesturing endlessly with this one-handed speedbag rolling motion, holding forth about the most featherweight nothingness this side of Hallmark.
          And the audience---the mostly white, affluent, middle-aged/senior mostly female audience---sits there with worshipful eyeballs, spellbound as mesmerized cobras. But Dyer is the snake here, fangs deeply inserted into the guilt complexes and narcissism of his prosperous victims, sucking out dollars. Tickets for his “lectures” go for $80, and his CD sets run about $40.
          Eighty bucks to sit and listen to this guy tell you things like this:
          “People who want the most approval get the least and people who need approval the least get the most.”
          And this:
          “When I chased after money, I never had enough. When I got my life on purpose and focused on giving of myself and everything that arrived into my life, then I was prosperous.”
          Wow. The disingenuousness at work here is about as subtle as the sun. No wonder audiences are blind to it---they’re blinded by it. This dumpy old fart actually stands there, raking in millions of bucks, and says he has devoted his life to. . .giving! It’s times like this that I really wish I was Mark Twain, as I do not have the wordsmithery to do justice to the shamelessness and flimflam at work here.
          The nicest thing I can say about the guy is that at least he does not flagrantly encourage out-and-out slavering sociopathic self-reward, as does that mutant Jerry Lewis crazyman, Tony Robbins. No, Dyer dresses everything up in guru gauze, making self-indulgence seem hazy, honied.

Dr. Dyer (right) preparing to bring his message of love and light.

          His latest little spin is called “Excuses Begone.” Which I think he must have appropriated from that popular pest control stuff, “Roaches B-Gone!” Go to his website, and take a look at Dyer, posed carefully with half-smile, half-mystical expression, dressed in the ever-popular flab-disguising, mystique-inducing all-black.     The Johnny Cash of New Ageyness, singing the Fools’ Prison Blues. Right, that’s the hook---he makes his minions feel like fools, then holds out the promise of showing then how to become pure, if not holy. Or, as he likes to describe prized colleagues, “full of nothing but light and love.” (Urp.)
          The Excuses thing is a perfect example. See, the only reason for your problems is you. And the only reason you cannot achieve your goals is that you are making excuses. No arms or legs? Just an excuse for not walking. Chronic depression? Nonsense. Psychologically tormented as a child? Silly! Raped? Stop that self-pity! Don’t let these things get in the way of following your bliss! (And don’t let them get in the way of following Dyer’s bliss, either: buy the book ($19.96)! Buy the DVDs ($36.00)! Buy the---Gawd help us---children’s book ($14.95)!)
          When Dyer tells his flock that they are imprisoned by excuses, the fleece is already complete. Everyone immediately thinks of the complaints/bitching/self-pity they have indulged, and everyone---every single one of the $80-a-head sheeple on hand---feels chagrined, ashamed, guilty. Right there, Dyer’s got ‘em. Then he begins spinning that arm like he can’t turn the thing off, pacing the stage, and wiping away the white stuff from the corners of his cottonmouth, and oh-so-gently-and-humbly holding forth with crap like this, a recent Dyer Twitter (Tweeted while on an Alaska cruise):
          “Harmonize with energy that can do anything and everything, for this is your original nature.”
          Oooooo! Yes. I must harmonize. . .whoops, bit of gas there. . .I must get back to my original (urp, snort) nature. . .
          But this, of course, is the pretty side of Dyer’s diabolical methods. In his recent PBS (accent on the BS) ooze-a-thon, The Man in Black resorted to the oldest, cheapest, ugliest, shoddiest, most manipulative, crass, rotten, cynical, diseased little ploy ever imagined by a two-bit holy roller before he passes the hat. I mean, Twain’s fictitious Duke and Dauphin of “Huckleberry Finn” would fall about in fawning apoplexy if they could see how their little dumb-act to bilk an impressionable girl out her father’s inheritance has bloomed into million-dollar 21st century industry.
          Dyer rolled out the cripples.
          Or, rather, the cripple. Just need one, really, if the story is compelling enough. And this poor devil’s tale makes tragic look like Mardis Gras. I sat on my couch, me, the self-pitying Excuse Monster, and watched this young guy who was burned head-to-toe as a child come out on stage, with fake-toothed permanent smile jutting out from a skin-graft face adorned by a bad wig. No fingers, stubs for hands. Dyer, of course, had the tears jerking before his cloying introduction was finished as he brought “my friend” Dan Caro out on stage.
          His friend. Right. They hang out and play pinochle together, and talk babes.
          Caro is a marvelous example of prevailing over horror. He plays drums in rock bands, somehow, by managing to hold sticks in his stubs. Okay, great. Nice going, Dan. Hats off. Keep up the good work. But you’re a tool here, a tool of marketing/demographics/profiteering by a false prophet (yes, Dyer actually refers to himself as a “prophet.”) So by the time Caro is finished with his paradiddles, the audience has been diddled by Dyer. Nothing left but a mushy mess of guilt, shame, and compassion. As Twain entitled one of the chapters with the Duke and Dauphin, everyone is “All Full of Tears and Flapdoodle.”
          And the lobby is full of DVDs, books waiting to be snapped up on the way out. Only a hard-hearted cynic would pass them up.
          This is Wayne’s World, one where there is no compunction about selling sophomoric self-help because hey, it does no harm, and might even make people feel better. If I get rich in the bargain, that’s fine, because I’m giving. That has to be his rationale. Or maybe he believes he is a holy man, who knows?
          Excuses Begone? Wonder what Dr. Wayne Dyer’s excuse is.

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