Title: A bit late: Some Berlin demo impressions
Author:
a089@hotmail.com (R.Bolungi)
Date: Fri, 7 Nov 1997 20:04:05 +0200


If you think this too long or my English is too bad, just read the last
3 paragraphs for the best scene of the demo!

I'm not a hard-core Co$-critic just a casual reader of ars. I was
"attracted" when the cult offered some mios to shut down Factnet. So the
Berlin crusade was the first chance for me to meet face to face with the
coming world leaders. Accidentally I found a *11* year old 1000-ASA
slide film, which I thought was great to capture some glowing BTs at
night, so I took my camera with me.

When I arrived around 2pm, my first impression was: Happiness. Clear
blue sky, sunny, chilly, lots of colored balloons and a relaxed and very
crowded crowd. Somebody who wouldn't know, might have thought its a
lottery with great prizes, because the people were so packed in front of
a small tent where they seemed to give away their goods.

Second impression: Just regular people, in fact too regular to be true.
There was not one whom I would remember because of his/her appearance.
I've seen quite some demos in Berlin, but never one, which was made up
of such a unidentifiable group of people.

To get an overview I went up to the balcony of the "Europa-Center" and
took some pictures. I have no experience in guessing crowds, but 30.000?
No way. A spokeswomen of the police showed up and I asked her. "Well,
around 2000 and we don't think there will be much more...". So today
they needed their personalized reality really badly.

I went down and pushed myself through the "masses" to get a glimpse of
what was going on in front of that small tent. It was easier than I
thought, because when they saw my camera they let me pass politely -
everybody with a recording device would tell the world about this
historic event. 

Eventually I saw somebody speaking. I think it was Mike Rinder (the guy
in the grey overcoat). What striked me, was his emotionless, dull face.
Despite the good vibrations coming from the crowd, there was no sign he
felt allright. More like: "I know it's just a big lie, but I'd have to
kill myself, if I admit it" or "Holy Xenu, we called for arms around the
world, and now I'm standing here with 2000 people".

When they started marching to the Brandenburg-Gate there was this
cheerleader-guy Schaper. Although Tilman described him as kind of
dangerous looking (if I remember correctly), for me he acted more like
an aged Club-Med animator on speed. For some time he just yelled in
staccato : "Free-dom-now--free-dom-now--free....". The funny thing was,
to amplify his voice they only had two tiny megaphone speakers which
distorted his already rough voice grotesquely. So just from listening it
sounded like some radical arabic fundamentalists are going to bomb
Berlin if Germany won't be converted to the Islam or something.

He was so eagerly screaming and singing these monotone and highly
repetitive slogans that almost nobody tuned in. Only the front row with
Hayes and some other Co$-celebs sang with him for the cameras, but even
they seemed a bit embarrassed about his overboard and fanatic style.
Later he delivered the joke of he evening.

When I took some photos on the viewing platform of the Siegessaeule (a
column where the demo made a 90 deg turn), there was a cameraman with a
Betacam next to me. He spoke english and I asked him whether he's from a
tv-network. 
"No we're filming this for scientology"
"Are you hired?"
"No, ah..I'm a member"

Jesus Christ!!! 

My *very first* contact with the evil empire, the bad, the dark side, a
human mind distorted and bent by the cult of greed and power! Actually
it was so cold and windy, I wasn't very impressed. Second, there was
nothing about him that fit into my cliches of Scientologists. No
staring, no strange faces, no monotone voice, no controlled or
uncontrolled gestures, no strange behaviour, no nothing.

But I was still interested, so I tried to start a conversation. Very
casual, informal, no pushing. I had to keep it going since he wasn't
very talky. This is a transcript from my mind, hope he doesn't claim
copyrights!

Me: You are lucky with the weather, yesterday it rained all day
- Him:  Yeah...
So how many people do you think there are?  
- [mutters] Hmm..well...dunno...should have been more....
Police said 2000 at Breitscheidplatz.
- [sad] Really?...hm...
But they look more, right now! 
- Yeah guess so.
So how long have you been a member?
- 7 years    
Have you ever felt bad about the membership, or did you regret it
sometimes? 
- Um..no.
What was your biggest win?
- [he thinks for a while] Well, you know, I'm doing video-clips
- and other short features, and it helped my creativity,
- it just helped me to do what I wanted to do, you know, expanded my
- abilities.
Whats your position in the hierarchy or bridge or whatever you call
it...
- [suspicious] You know quite a lot about Scientology!?
Well, since 2-3 months I've been reading this internet newsgroup
about Co$, before that I knew almost nothing about it.
-[a bit uneasy] I see.
So are you already a clear?
-[proud] Almost, next year.
All in all, how much did you pay for that?
- Uhm.....about...uh...12.000$
Thats pretty inexpensive! I heard you have to pay 100.000$ and up?
- Well, it depends, I also gave donations. I gave [ proudly
- names some Co$-group] 4000$ and also 8000$ to [more proudly
- names another Co$-group and even more proudly shows me the
- golden button he received for the donation].
So what do you think, why are the people so mad about Co$?
- You know, in the states we are just a regular church without any...
[I cut him off] Wait a minute, the criticism is all over the world,
theres not one country where you are welcome, in the States are as
many critics as everywhere else!?
-[grinning] Well, at least its nowhere as bad as in Germany. 
On german TV they showed some kind of auditing-session filmed
with hidden camera - it was disgusting.
-[laughing in disbelief] Maybe it wasn't an auditing-session !?
It was on a public channel, they are not allowed to beef things
up like the commercial networks.
- Just buy the book "Dianetics" and read it, than you can judge it.
Thats what they all say, but I don't know. If only half of what
the critics say is true, it's still much too much.
- [he looks to his people down on the street, thinks, but no answer]
And when you read what kind of guy Hubbard was, I wouldn't trust him.
- [again thinks, no answer]

His colleague shows up: "Come on, come on we've gotta go to the top of
the demo. They are reaching the Brandenburg gate"
- You mean there's no car for the equipment?
"No, come on lets go!"

The end of the demo had just passed us and the Br-Gate was maybe 2 km (1
mile) away, so this really was his bad hair day. All in all there was
absolutely no strangeness, aggressiveness or applied tech about him, he
only seemed not to be very confident of his church. Later I could kick
my butt, for not having asked about Xenu and his BTs.

The stage at the Brandenburg-Gate was quite big for an audience of 3000
people. They had very good equipment, crisp and clear sound, a really
excellent band (2 drum-sets, a lot of brass, guitars, keyboards), medium
lightning, a lot of people on stage and almost nothing to say.

Sabine Weber the german host would announce one "very big surprise"
after the other so there was no room left for some regular surprises.
She seemed very self-confident, but there was no warmth or empathy
coming from her and the way she handled the crowd had something of a
rigorous nurse: "Come on I wanna hear more - what are we here for - come
on louder..."

There were always one or two songs followed by a speech. 

The first speech I remember was from the NAACP guy. He was the first who
had some charm. He opened with: "Now give yourself a big hand" and there
was a big applause. The problem was, had the others not much to say, he
had absolutely nothing to say.  Besides some right-wing extremists the
discrimination of blacks in Germany is much lower than in the US and the
discrimination of their *religious* beliefs is 0. (When the famous hotel
Adlon fired a black waitress because her hair "didn't look european
enough" the media jumped all over it) So being unable to contribute sth.
meaningful he just repeated a little routine from the Breitscheidplatz:

They denied us  a concert hall - BUT WE ARE HERE !
They denied us hotels - BUT WE ARE HERE !
They denied us conference rooms - BUT WE ARE HERE !
They denied us power supply - BUT WE ARE HERE !
They denied us transportation ...... 

and went off with a "There isn't more I can do for you" face. I just
wondered whom he meant with "WE"?  
We, the blacks? Besides Hayes I didn't see any.
We, the Scios? I don't think he is a member (no BTs visible).
We, the religiously discriminated? See above.

A "very famous" solo-trumpeter (never heard of him) was announced.  The
band began playing "Mission Impossible".  When the guy started his solo
of the well known theme, he played so awfully wrong that they had to
fade him out and the band backed him up. Obviously he hadn't warmed up
the trumpet properly, because later during "Shaft" he showed his
expertise. 

During a short break suddenly someone shouted loudly (in german): "YOUR
EYES ARE LYING!!". He repeated it a few times and there was some nervous
laughter from the Scinos which swept slowly through the crowd as the
sentence was translated in different languages. This was the utmost
conflict I recognized during the entire day. (Besides 2 poor lonely
hooligans who looked for some good fighting, but were kept in save
distance by the police)

BTW languages. Most of the flags were from Switzerland. The US flags
were a small minority. Also, the majority of the crowd responded to the
german announcements before they were translated into english. So either
every US-Scieno learned german or there weren't much.

Most of the people were 35+, I guess. Most of the music was for people
35-. A "very famous" female singer did some great rock cover-versions. I
really enjoyed singing "Freedom" (the Blues-Brothers song) together with
the Scienos. Nobody seemed to notice that a SP helped them with good
vibrations.      
  
The only speaker who used the word Scientology in his speech was an
older professor from the university of the Vatican.  He was announced as
the biggest of the big surprises. Having seen so much big surprises yet
the crowd applauded like usual, so Frau Weber had to pump it up again,
it was a bit embarrassing: "Come on, more, more - I wanna hear more...."

Hayes did 3 or 4 songs and I really liked it. During "Shaft" he had
almost nothing to sing and nothing to play, so he tried to conduct the
band, but they played perfectly tight to the drummer and didn't care
about his aerobics in front of them. Very amusing.

The finale was quite emotional with heavy light-effects, mini fireworks
and everybody singing hand in hand on stage. It was sure nice for them.

It was dark now, very cold and I thought it's over. But it wasn't.
Instead of taking the subway to get some rest, some hot tea and sth to
eat, they were told to *go* all the way back to Breitscheidplatz with
candles in there hands - thats maybe 3-4km (2miles). I felt really sorry
for them. For almost six hours they had to stand, march, sing and
applaud in the cold and now they should march again into the dark.

I took the subway, got some hot tea and sth. to eat. 2 hours later I
came by the Breitscheidplatz and thought it really must have been over
now. Of course I was wrong.

Some one or two-hundred people were packed in front of the small tent
and Mister Cheerleader Shaper was on stage still going full throttle:
"And now lets sing all together: FREEEEHEEEEEDOMM,
FREEEEEHEEEEEDOMM.......... ". It was just unbelievable.

Now here comes the best: After another and yet another routine he
enthusiastically and triumphant shouted: "DO YOU WANT TO GO HOME?".
Without any delay the crowd shouted back: "YEAHHHHHH!". For a moment he
was completely dumbfounded. That wasn't the expected answer, in fact it
was the opposite of what he wanted to hear. So like a stubborn child he
says: "Well, but *I* don't want to go home! Ok, let me hear you just one
more time, ok? Just one last time... "

It was so hilarious, but nobody seemed to notice it. So for the
72.000.000th time they started to sing some stupid melody with the word
freedom in it, and were finally released.



Radobar
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