The Chautauquas

The first Chautauqua was a qualified success. It was held in the Mount Lebanon Unitarian Church outside of Pittsburgh, and as the first day neared an end I was feeling pretty good about what we'd accomplished. The small church was packed, and the mood all day had been friendly and harmonious. People kept walking up to the information table and thanking us for bringing all these different people and ideas together. A few even bought memberships in the Truth and Transmission (TAT) Society, which was the official name for the organization that had formed around Rose. Even Rose, who had forced us to plan for every conceivable negative contingency, had remarked earlier in the day that things seemed to be going well.

Near the end of the day, however, Augie looked distraught as he paced nervously up and down the hallway outside the sanctuary where Rose was currently appearing as the last speaker. Periodically Augie would crack open the door and observe the proceedings for a moment, then resume pacing.

"What's wrong?" I asked him.

"Just what I was afraid of," he said. "These crowds are wrong for Rose. Take a look."

I quietly opened the side door to the sanctuary and stepped inside. Rose stood behind a podium on the small stage, speaking to an audience of about seventy-five people who were staring at him with confused, skeptical, even angry faces.

"Maybe it's for the best," Rose was saying to a heavy-set man standing at the end of a row of chairs, as if ready to walk out at any moment. "If people really thought about what they're promised in church, they'd realize how absurd it all is. I mean, who wants to spend eternity sitting around with a bunch of cherubs playing harps? After awhile people would want to go to Hell just for the change of scenery."

"Well, I don't agree with everything organized religions may espouse," the man said, in a tone that indicated their disagreement had been going on for some time. "But they do give people a reason to strive for goodness and for a better world." Many in the audience nodded their heads or voiced their agreement.

"No they don't," Rose said firmly. "What they do is give people an excuse to keep from working to improve their personal state of being, and perhaps their after-death state as well. Religion tells you we're all going to the same place. People think God has to operate under the human concept of justice, and it wouldn't be fair if we all didn't go to the same place. So they figure they can just sit back and ride the tide of humanity into Self-Realization.

"The worst of it is that these kinds of beliefs keep people from looking for real answers," Rose went on. "Every sentient being needs to know his cause, needs to know if he was created or merely the product of accident. What he doesn't need is to be placated or silenced by some political social group that hands out fairy tales and calls them the word of God."

The questioner had been moving toward the door and now stood right next to me as he turned back to Rose.

"These 'political social groups,' as you so disparagingly call them, provide great solace for a great many people," he said. The crowd nodded its approval again.

"Maybe," Rose shot back, "but for how long? If a man has even a shred of curiosity or self-honestly, he'll wake up one day and realize he's been deluding himself for thirty years. Society and religion brainwash a man into thinking he has to believe a certain way. So he tries to assume a posture he thinks will mesh with what's expected of him. First he puts one over on society--convincing them he fits in, that he's a nice fellow, that sort of thing. Then he puts one over on himself by believing his own act. By this time heís hopelessly caught in the web of lies that has become his life.

"But the thing is," Rose said, his voice rising, "there will come a time in everyone's life when you come to doubt everything you ever thought. Unfortunately, for most people it doesn't occur until it's too late to do anything about it. In the meantime, the majority of people just slide along, reasoning that because the public doesn't complain about their social behavior, they must be on the right track on all levels. They pay their taxes, get along with the fellow next door, do a decent job at work. To them, these are the signs of a sufficient theology."

"What your alternative, then?" the man persisted.

"You mean something I can explain to your satisfaction in twenty-five words or less? Forget it. It would take twenty-five hundred just to get you confused, then a lot more to try and explain away the confusion."

"Well, then I'd say the problem lies with your inability to communicate," the man said. Then, as if suddenly realizing he'd just spoken a perfect exit line, he hurriedly opened the door and left. Rose watched impassively, then turned to the rest of the audience.

"Maybe he's got a point. There's times I find it difficult to even know how to begin delivering a lecture. I have trouble communicating because when you find out that this whole existence is a projection, you lose enthusiasm for feeding people what they want to hear about the significance or appeal of the illusion.

"You see, I don't want to bring you peace of mind. I want to bring you trouble. I want to stir you, to shake you. Because protoplasm tends to inertia. You have to keep irritating it to keep it alive, so to speak. It has to be continually stimulated. Complacency is a very negative trait for a person who wants to progress in his mental capacities.

"In fact, if youíre interested in finding your self-definition, you need to abandon any philosophy or system that quiets you down. You need to continually awaken yourself, to arouse yourself mentally, to attack your systems of thinking. Because you don't want peace, you want an answer."

Rose talked for awhile longer and when he finished the audience silently filed out. I had seen Rose irritate people before. It comes with the territory for a man who places Truth above all else. But whether due to Rose's bluntness or to natural attrition, the Sunday sessions only had about half as many attendees as Saturday's, and all day long I'd hear snatches of conversation about that "negative man from West Virginia." Overall, though, the Chautauqua feedback was positive. We broke even financially, and with one semi-successful program behind us I was ready to take the show on the road.

Augie was not as optimistic. On the drive down to Benwood the next day to post-mortem the week-end, he was obviously very worried. The next Chautauqua was planned for Cleveland, and in light of Rose's reception in Pittsburgh, Augie saw trouble ahead. I talked up the positive points of the weekend and tried to transfer some of my optimism to him. I couldn't understand how Augie, whose near-childlike faith in Rose had carried him through so many successful projects, could now be so worried.

"These Chautauquas just aren't going to attract the kind of people who can listen to Rose being Rose," he said with finality. We rode the last few miles in silence.

When we arrived, Rose was in high spirits. He had always made me feel welcome, but now that we were working together I felt like a special door had been opened for me in his home. We sat around the kitchen laughing and drinking tea, Rose poking fun at Augie's frightened look after he had introduced him as a speaker, and at my inability to sit still behind the table where I belonged while he was talking. I felt like the three of us were sharing a special joke, one that we might even be playing on the rest of the world.

And then, almost offhandedly, Rose announced, "One thing for sure, though. I'm not talking at any more Chautauquas."

I figured Augie would be relieved by this unexpected and almost unbelievable news. But his arguments were from the heart.

"Mister Rose, I'm not interested in putting a year of my life into bringing together a bunch of astrologers and crystal gazers. The whole reason for these programs is to find people who can understand your message."

"Yeah, but my message is sour music. You can't sugarcoat the truth, and I'd rather say nothing than be dishonest with people. These Chautauquas have real potential, and the group is larger than any one individual. I'm hoping the group will survive long after I kick the bucket.

"Besides," he added with a smile, "someone has to make sure the toilets are clean."

The next day Augie and I left for Cleveland with Rose's blessing and not much else. We had little more than pocket change between us, no income, and of course, no TAT expense account.

We moved into the local "ashram," a tiny rundown apartment in the Little Italy section of East Cleveland. Four members of the local TAT group were already living there in a space designed for two, but Augie and I squeezed in anyway.

Each morning we'd walk to Lopresti's Bakery for two loaves of Italian bread hot out of the oven, then over to the Mayfield Emporium for a stick of butter and a package of figs. After eating we'd head out to the appointments Augie had set up the day before--dream analysts, astrologers, numerologists, psychic healers, theosophists, Jungians, palm readers, mediums. I never knew what to expect.

Augie was fearless, self-assured and overwhelmingly optimistic about The Grand Work of the TAT Society. He exuded success and confidence, and nearly everyone regarded him as some sort of New Age boy wonder. Strangers invited him into their homes, agreed to speak at the program for nothing, introduced him at their group meetings, placed announcements for the Chautauquas in their newsletters, and provided names and references for our next day's work. It was magic and momentum--the Albigen System in action--and I was thrilled to be a part of it.

We met sincere people who knew a little, and charlatans who professed to know a lot more than they did. I was intrigued by the occultists who had so fully explored their chosen paradigms that they somehow managed to derive some insight, if not wisdom, from a relatively narrow field of study. I met a psychic who informed me that late in life I would marry my high school girlfriend, a Virgo by the name of "Jan" or "Jane." A tarot reader examined her cards and advised me I would be practicing law in West Virginia within a year. An iridologist looked into my eyes and correctly told me which bones in my body had been broken. All of them saw the Chautauquas as a chance to reach people who otherwise wouldn't know they existed.

When I was the monitor of the Pittsburgh group, promoting the Pyramid Zen Society was a pretty straightforward affair. We were looking for Truth, plain and simple, and for people who were desperate enough or fed up enough to look with us in earnest. Pitching the Chautauquas was a different matter. We were dealing with a much more diverse set of people, many of whom had mixed motives. But Augie adapted quickly, and became very adept at convincing the greedy there was money to be made, the vain there was glory to be had, and the fringe groups that we were all taking different paths to the same end.

Every couple of days Augie would call Rose and report in careful generalities the highlights of what was going on. If Augie did most of the talking he'd come away from the call upbeat and revived. If the call was long and Augie did the listening, he'd come away deflated and depressed. Within a hour or two, though, he would have worked himself back up to his normal level of self-confidence--which sometimes bordered on a conviction of infallibility. As we set about our next tasks after a call like that, I sometimes wondered whether we were operating under the advice Augie had heard from "headquarters," or from the personal instincts he felt were his prerogative as field commander.

Whatever his method, in less than three weeks he had set a date, secured a hall, and lined up twelve speakers for the program. We left Cleveland for the farm feeling proud of what we'd accomplished in such a short time, but the closer we came to West Virginia the more nervous Augie became.

"I know that dream analyst from the bookstore is money-hungry but I had to put her on the program to get her mailing list. Besides, how bad can she be. Right?"

"Right, Aug."

"And that guy with the speech impediment from the psychic research group. You can still understand what he's saying, can't you?"

"If you concentrate hard enough, eventually you get his drift," I assured him.

"I mean, how many quality speakers can you find in a place like Cleveland, especially who'll talk for nothing?"

"Relax. Mister Rose doesn't expect the twelve apostles."

"Don't be too sure."

It was easy for me to be upbeat. I wasn't the guy on the hot seat who had to live up to Rose's standards. I was just along for the ride, enjoying the feel of the path beneath my feet. I had no reason to believe that our motives were anything but pure, our efforts, diligent, and our results, commendable.

We drove straight to the farm, where Rose was supervising the building of the summer Chautauqua pavilion. The first thing I noticed as we pulled into the parking area was that a new road had been cut through the deep woods behind the farmhouse and a lot of noise was coming from that direction. Augie and I got out of the car and headed that way. As we approached, the sounds of shouting, trucks, hammers, and chain saws got louder and more distinct. At the end of the new road was a scene of high activity--maybe fifteen or more men engaged in various construction tasks.

The tangle of trees and underbrush where my original tent had been pitched--and destroyed--was now part of a large clearing, in the center of which sat the crude framework of an enormous building. Twenty oak logs at least two feet thick and two stories high had been sunk deep in the ground, while logs about half the width and twice as long crisscrossed the huge posts. Larry was dragging more trees out of the woods with an old truck, while Al and a guy I didn't recognize chain-sawed the logs to size. At the peak of the framework, twenty feet off the ground, Rose sat astride a log, supervising the hoisting and placement of the next cross-beam.

I wanted to jump right in and help, but instead took my cue from Augie, who did not like physical work. He stood well back from the action and surveyed the activity agreeably, like a general watching his well-disciplined troops on the battlefield. Rose, who was aware of our presence, continued to oversee the setting of the posts and beams, standing on the cross-members, rearranging ropes, shouting directions and occasionally pulling on the lines himself until his face was red from the strain. Though nearly sixty years old, when he worked strenuously alongside youths he became youthful, and looked the equal or better of any twenty-year old on the crew. After setting the last of the posts, Rose climbed down the ladder and greeted us. It was lunch time and we walked with him down the road towards the farmhouse, along with Chuck, who acted as foreman for the building project.

"It's amazing no one's been killed down there," Rose said, smiling but serious. Despite the coolness of the overcast autumn day, he was still perspiring from his efforts. "I lost my grip on a sledgehammer and it zigzagged through ten men like somebody was steering it. It's a miracle it didn't hit anybody."

"We were all convinced he did it on purpose as some kind of magical feat," Chuck said.

"Magic, hell," Rose said. "I lost my grip. And yesterday one of the ropes broke carrying a two-ton log..."

"Five seconds after Mister Rose warned us not to get underneath the ropes because they might break," interrupted Chuck, shaking his head in amazement. "Two guys moved out from under the beam after he warned them, and boom, the rope snaps."

"They were old ropes," was all Rose would offer on the subject.

We followed him into the farmhouse, which was overheated by a roaring fire in the wood stove. Rose got a coke out of the refrigerator and took a seat in the meeting room. "So how's the circus going in Cleveland?" he asked, snapping the pop-top then taking a long drink from the can."

"Circus is right," Augie said, jumping at the opening Rose had given him. "You've never seen such a bunch of fruits and freaks. We've been from one end of that city to the other and we're lucky if we've met a half-dozen sincere people."

"Well, that leaves you six people short. You said there'd be twelve speakers, right?"

Augie looked uneasily, even a bit irritably, at the guys who were drifting into the room to listen in. Whatever he was hoping to accomplish with this visit wasn't going to be any easier with an audience.

"Oh, we've got twelve," he said. "And they aren't too bad. Some of them are pretty good, actually. None of them are devil worshippers or anything. But it's hard finding heavyweight speakers on lightweight subjects."

"I don't care how much they weigh, Augie. We're not running a sale barn where we get paid by the pound." The guys who now ringed the room laughed. "I don't want you snapping up the first twelve people you meet just so you can fill up the program."

"I didn't take the first twelve people I met," Augie replied, the restrained evenness in his voice revealing both hurt and anger. I could understand Augie's reaction. There were a lot of times he had to reject potential speakers without hurting their feelings. I also saw Rose's point, because occasionally, swept along by humor or flattery, Augie would extend an offer to someone we'd previously agreed wasn't up to the task.

"This is the real world we're dealing with, Mister Rose. Everybody's got an agenda out there. I just don't think we're going to find perfect people with what we've got to offer."

"I know what's out there, Augie. I don't expect you to find speakers who are enlightened." The way the guys nodded, it was obvious Rose had been talking about this while we were gone.

"A lot of those people are interested in money," Rose went on, "and in a way I don't blame them. Money's not the most important thing, but it's more important than most things. If it weren't for money, I wouldn't be able to do what I'm doing. But if money's their primary game, we don't want anything to do with them. They'll twist everything they say to get that almighty buck. I just don't believe in eating at the alter.

"I know youíre doing a helluva lot of work up there, Augie. I don't want to see it wasted. But the easiest person to sell is another salesman. And I don't think you see how easily you get snowed into thinking that you're getting something from somebody, when you're the one who's really being enlisted into the other guy's power trip."

Augie slumped in his chair and kept silent. Probably because it was not directed at me, I could see the wisdom in Rose's warning. All the while Augie was pitching people to help out in our venture, I could see they were sizing him up, trying to figure out what they could get out of him. Although we never discussed it, I figured Augie knew what they were thinking, and even led them on a bit to believe that if they really came through, maybe he could be talked into working for them.

"To some people it might look like all we're doing is putting out some half-baked speakers to talk about piddling topics," Rose went on, "but the overall aim of this venture is the highest work of man, and consequently, it attracts the most insidious forms of adversity. No matter how clever you think you are you've got to constantly be on guard against your own vanity. Otherwise, the fox gets caught."

Augie looked hurt and confused as Rose continued.

"That goes from the top on down. Nobody is immune. In order to keep this group from becoming a personality cult, I try to have no personality. Maybe I try too hard," he chuckled.

The telephone rang, and Rose got up to answer it. He listened, voiced a few words of concern, wrote down some directions, then hung up.

"The stake-body truck broke down with a load of lumber from the saw mill." His words were like a call to arms. Everyone left the room and moved outside, where Rose gave orders about tools, a tow bar, and who would drive which vehicle to where.

Augie and I stood in the yard watching everyone scurry about us, the "highest work of man" completely forgotten.

"Looks like we came a long way for nothing," Augie muttered. I disagreed but said nothing. Not yet in the line of Rose's fire, I still had the luxury of believing that we must have gotten what we came for.

We started over to the van. Rose, carrying a length of thick rope, joined us.

"Damn junkers. We just put a new transmission in that truck and already it's shot. Itíll probably take the rest of the day to haul it back here." Then, as if remembering something, Rose stopped and leaned against Augie's van, his face transformed by a look of calm serenity and understanding.

"Maybe you think I'm being unreasonable," he said softly, "expecting you to fill the programs with saints and virgins. Believe me, I know what's out there. I've spent the last thirty years looking for one person who would pick up this work and really go with it. One person who would say, 'Yes, this is it, this is what I want more than anything else. What do I have to do to find out who I really am?'"

He took the rope off his shoulder and placed it on the hood of the van. "Well, I haven't found that person and I'm not getting any younger. Eventually, my life's work will come down to what I leave behind. And I'd rather leave nothing than have my work twisted by some phony or pervert, especially somebody I let lecture under the group banner."

The roar of engines called him back to another role. He picked up his rope and climbed into the passenger seat of an old blue flatbed truck, and with a wave he was gone.

Back in Cleveland the next day I reassured myself that good results on the Chautauqua trail would iron out these minor differences of opinion between Rose and Augie. Instead, success seemed to highlight what I came to recognize was an essential philosophic difference between them.

A hundred and twenty-five people attended the Cleveland Chautauqua in December. Over two hundred people came to the February event in Columbus. To Augie, bigger crowds were proof that we'd hit upon a successful format that we could package and take to the next city. Rose warned that we were getting lazy and complacent and merely looking for an excuse to put on "more of the same." To Augie, more revenue meant more opportunity and bigger budgets. Rose still sweated every nickel and chided us about the "extravagances" and "flourishes" of long distance calls and newspaper advertising. Augie complained about being second-guessed over every move and started making more decisions on his own. Rose intervened less and less, which relieved Augie and worried me. I knew Rose wasn't the type to ignore problems for long, especially those that might interfere with The Work. We still had city programs to put on in Akron and Washington, D.C. before we broke for the summer Chautauquas, and I hoped we could get through them without any major blow-ups.

Akron was our biggest success yet, with more attendees than seats to put them in. Augie moderated the program while I handled operations. I rushed around giving orders, making decisions, and feeling important--until I bumped into Rose in the church kitchen, supervising a half-dozen women who were frantically trying to prepare two hundred and twenty-five meals before noon. I felt a sudden wave of guilt for the ego-high I had been riding, and had the urge to confess, explain, apologize--anything to let him know I hadn't forgotten who he was and why we were here. But it was Rose who spoke first.

"Who's minding the gate?" he asked irritably. I immediately hustled out of his kitchen and back to my post.

The tension eased in the afternoon, with the program running smoothly and Rose's meals out of the way. I wandered over to the book table where Rose was joking with Tim, our remarkable book salesman. Each Chautauqua, Tim had managed to sell forty or fifty copies of The Albigen Papers to people who probably never made it past the first chapter, assuming they opened the book at all. That day he had already sold a book to everyone who had stood still long enough to listen to him, and with nothing left for either of them to do, he and Rose were relaxing in the foyer.

"You know, Mister Rose, you're always selling yourself too short," Tim said loudly, still in his ebullient salesman mode.

"That's because I am short," Rose replied with a chuckle.

"You know what I mean," Tim said. "You've had an Absolute spiritual experience, but you're wrapping hoagies in the kitchen while some nut's in there preaching about flying saucers."

For several minutes Tim continued to press Rose to take his rightful place in the spotlight while Rose did his best to humor him. The presence of an older lady standing within earshot of Tim's flattery clearly made Rose uncomfortable. Unable to curb Tim's enthusiasm Rose finally turned to her and explained, "I've got his wife locked up in the trunk of my car. He has to say these things."

The old woman smiled politely, and Rose started to walk away. But Tim was not finished. "Mister Rose, do you know who you are?" he said, his voice rising and filling with emotion. "You're God. That's who you are. You're God."

Rose smiled and pointed towards the woman. "If I'm God, then she's the Virgin Mary." Everyone laughed except the woman. She turned noticeably pale and quickly disappeared down the stairs.

"You better go check on that lady," Rose said to me. "We may have offended her."

I went downstairs and found her sitting on a couch, sipping her coffee with trembling hands. I sat next to her and began to make small talk.

"Oh, you don't have to worry about me, young man, I'm all right. It's just that, well, that person upstairs..." She took another sip of coffee then continued.

"You know how that tall boy was going on and on about how the other man was so wonderful and smart and holy?" I nodded, but I don't think she noticed.

"Well, it was really getting on my nerves. I was thinking, 'What kind of cult is this?' And finally, when he said to the older man, 'You're God,' I thought to myself, 'Yeah, right. If that guy's God then I'm the Virgin Mary.' And the thought had no more popped into my head than he said it out loud, in words, just the way I thought it!"

She put her hand on my elbow. "Does he do that sort of thing all the time?"

"Not all the time, no. But often enough to keep us on our toes."

She shook her head and stood up. "Well what's he doing in the kitchen, then?" With that she hurried up the stairs to the exit.

After the Akron Chautauqua, Rose suggested Augie and I split up. He sent Augie on to Washington, D.C. to arrange the next event, and me back to West Virginia to help prepare for the summer Chautauquas. Being around Rose at the farm each day, I was there for the aftermath of Augie's phone calls reporting how it was going in D.C. It became clear that Rose was becoming exasperated with their disagreements and lack of communication. He began to say that the whole operation was "slipping," the ominous term Rose used to describe an irreversible descent into mediocrity and eventual failure. Although his criticism was directed at Augie, it was obvious my name was somewhere on the indictment, too.

"Augie keeps saying he wants to shine a light on me," he said once. "But what he really wants to do is shine a light on himself by reflecting it off of my bald head."

I knew he was right. Seeing Rose in the kitchen during the Akron Chautauqua had crystallized what I knew in my heart was true. Augie and I had been on a giant ego trip, with the Chautauquas as our vehicle. I vowed to myself to bring the programs back in line with Rose's vision, but when I tried to come up with ways and means, I drew a blank. While Rose's criticism was direct, his solutions, especially in regard to particulars, were vague--maybe purposefully so. Despite the fact that he foresaw Augie's personal ambitions eventually getting the group into trouble, the complaint he voiced most often was that the rest of us were leaning on him, and that we never did any thinking on our own.

Nothing we did seemed to please him, but doing nothing displeased him more. How we were to find quality speakers, or get the word out with less expense, or recognize the sincere seeker among the crowd, was never made clear. Evidently Rose saw his role as pointing out the problem, and our challenge, to find the solution. By the end of a few weeks of this Rose felt certain that the Washington Chautauqua was going to be a bust. As a last resort he suggested I leave for D.C. to see if I could help out.

I arrived in Washington with a new perspective on the Chautauquas and my role in them. Since the first day I met him, Rose was always pressing people towards action, inspiring them to do, to put effort into the search and to transform themselves into a vector. The Chautauquas were the first chance I'd had to do what he was always prodding us to, which was to put every spare minute into The Work. Naturally, I assumed there'd be some automatic "spiritual benefit" to the process, and in my hurry to collect my reward I confused the hot ego rush of self-importance with spiritual progress. The forces of adversity, which Rose said were always working in opposition to genuine spiritual effort, had found easy prey in Augie and me. We'd been fed just enough success to fatten up our heads to the point where we no longer could hear the man who set us on the path.

Through a combination of graceless bludgeoning and subtle surgery, Rose had finally gotten the message through to me and I hoped I could pass it on to Augie before it was too late. But within a day or two of arriving in D.C. I realized that Augie was operating in a different world, with a different state of mind, and nothing I might do or say was going to change it. Augie lost no time educating me to the fact that the Washington area was too vast and cosmopolitan for the homespun approach that had served us so well in Pennsylvania and Ohio. This was the big leagues, he said.

I tagged along with him as he made the rounds and it became clear that--whether due merely to a swelled head or to an accurate assessment of the situation--Augie had definitely changed his style. Instead of the eager, sincere, and somewhat naive seeker from West Virginia, Augie was now a spiritual power broker with a string of successes under his belt. The group leaders we met were more polished, cynical, and worldly-wise, and I was surprised at how confidently and effortlessly Augie talked their language. His phone calls to Rose grew less frequent and more contentious, and often ended without the friendly note that Rose normally tossed in to let us know that, whatever our differences, we were all in this together.

In the end, only about eighty people attended our Chautauqua at the Kay Spiritual Life Center at American University, including one resigned, irritated man from West Virginia who had come to work the kitchen and witness what he predicted would be a "fiasco."

The people who attended the earlier Chautauquas were most often friendly dabblers in the occult who were grateful for the chance to get out of the house and meet some kindred souls. The Washington, D.C. audience, however, was sophisticated and generally unimpressed with the "more of the same" fare we presented. Augie kept up a good game face and tried to put a positive spin on the situation, but by the end of the first day his facade was cracking, even though he still clung to one last hope of claiming victory. Our prize speaker, a physicist from Kent State, was scheduled for the next day. His main claim to fame was that he had tested Uri Geller's psycho-kinetic powers while a professor at Stanford.

"I really think these people will respond to him," Augie said. "He's got credentials."

Unbeknownst to us, however, our headliner had agreed to allow an eccentric hypnotist, Ander P. Jobe, to share the stage with him. Physically, Ander P. Jobe looked like a wild man, with a scraggly beard and long gray hair flying out in all directions. In later years, retelling the story, Rose would describe him as looking like an "anarchist," after those ninteeth-century political cartoons of unkempt men in waistcoats holding bombs with lit fuses.

During the physicistís talk, Ander P. Jobe proceeded to perform a clumsy demonstration of his hypnotic powers, which were pedestrian at best. Then he worked himself up into a wild frenzy and, incredibly, pulled a gun. As the audience gasped he shot three times at a young man on stage, who screamed loudly then slumped to the floor. Rose, standing at the back of the room shaking his head, was one of the few people present who recognized it as part of the act. The rest of the audience went into a panic. Terrorized men and women screamed, threw themselves onto the floor, or fled on hands and knees towards the exits. It was indeed a fiasco.

Augie was so depressed afterwards he literally climbed into bed and stayed there for several days, refusing to see anyone or take any calls. When he finally emerged and accepted a call from Rose, it quickly escalated into a heated argument that resulted in Augie either resigning or being kicked out of the group--depending on whether itís Augie or Rose telling the story.

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