TRANSCRIPT Oh No, Ross and Carrie!: Ross and Carrie Find the Source Family: Café Gratitude Edition

Ross and Carrie attend Café Gratitude’s one-night dinner inspired by the hippie-spiritual commune, the Source Family, and their famous Los Angeles restaurant. Plus, original members of the group speak, and Landmark Forum makes a cameo.

Podcast: Oh No, Ross and Carrie!

Episode number: 229

Transcript

music

“Oh No, Ross and Carrie! Theme Song” by Brian Keith Dalton. A jaunty, upbeat instrumental.

ross blocher

Hello, and welcome to Oh No, Ross and Carrie! The show where we don’t just report on fridge science, spirituality, and claims  of the paranormal, but take part ourselves.

carrie poppy

Yup, when they make the claims, we show up so you don’t have to. I’m Carrie Poppy.

ross

And I’m Ross Blocher. And today we’d like to get to the source of the Source.

carrie

Mm-hm, and be grateful that we have café’s in this world. [Ross affirms hesitantly.] And that this is a landmark episode—

ross

Well, don’t get people—well, okay, yes.

carrie

—about Father Yod.

ross

That tied together beautifully. Smooth like butter.

carrie

Thank you so much. I really have a fast thinking mind.

ross

So yeah, hey. We got to interact with the Source Family, which—

carrie

The Source Family. Maybe you’ve heard of them.

ross

—isn’t easy to do, because they haven’t been around since the mid-70s.

carrie

And some of them are dead.

ross

But a few of them are not. And there was going to be a reunion dinner, held in their honor at Café Gratitude.

carrie

Ross is doing ebullient, happy arms.

ross

I feel like I’m singing. I’ve got hands spreading out like the sun rising. Yeah, ‘cause I’m excited.

carrie

Yeah. Maybe a ballerina. So, the Source Family, if you haven’t heard of them, was a religious movement in the 70s in California.

ross

Picture hippies, picture people all dressed in white, people with long hair, free love kind of people living in a commune. Picture a charismatic leader with an increasingly large beard.

carrie

And they kind of kickstarted the whole health restaurant craze in California.

ross

Especially the Los Angeles area. And if you called them a cult, they probably wouldn’t bat an eye. They seemed to kind of embrace the term.

carrie

Oh, okay. One of those. The Raëlians had that going on, too, right? They were kind of like, “Well, let’s talk about what this word means. If you define it this way, sure. If you define it this way, well. Anyway, the swastika.”

ross

[Laughing] That’s a—that’s a really good way to inoculate your followers against other people telling you, “You're in a cult!” “Well, yes, and actually a cult is really just from the root word—”

carrie

“Meaning colt, a small horse.”

ross

“It is a culture, and we cultivate it.” Well, there’s a documentary called The Source Family which I highly recommend. You had seen it before. I had not.

carrie

Really good. It was the first gift Drew ever gave me.

ross

Oh really? That’s interesting.

carrie

On DVD.

ross

On DV—oh, I remember DVDs. [Carrie laughs.] Can I do that yet? Is it like 8 tracks yet?

carrie

We’re sitting in your living room and there’s like, a hundred DVDs next to us.

ross

So many DVDs. Some of those are blu rays.

carrie

But you remember them.

ross

I remember them. I totally do. So, we watched it on streaming on Amazon. See, see. [Carrie responds affirmatively.] Yeah, it’s a fascinating story about Father Yod who was originally—

carrie

Jim Baker.

ross

Right, not to be confused with other Jim Bakers. And like so many other cult leaders, just someone who is an interesting person with a lot of talents. He was like, a champion martial artist, he was a stuntman. He just seemed like generally someone who was well traveled and a man of the world. And then, you know, he grew out a beard and started collecting people and leading meditation classes.

carrie

I believe he studied under Yogi Bhajan.

ross

Yes. I think you’re right about that. So yeah, the documentary’s fantastic and they have a lot of great photographs, and like it’s really well documented. And a lot of that is thanks to a particular person that we’ll talk about who was at this reunion.

carrie

And who, I believe, co-produced the film.

ross

Yes. Yeah, so she was involved. And yeah, everyone we talked to at this event we’re about to tell you about was very positive about that film, even though it shows some of the positive and negative sides of the group. They seem to be pretty open about all that.

carrie

Yeah, I think it’s pretty even-handed. Well, we found out about this particular event because one of our very good friends, Matthew Strugar, maybe you’ve heard of him, he tweeted about it. And this is a very Matthew tweet. Well, first of all you should know the Source Family founded a couple of vegetarian restaurants in the 70s, and what this even was going to be was sort of a pop up homage to the Source Family restaurants. And the tickets are $75, so Matthew tweets a link to this and says, “Gross. The ruling class taking something that was purposefully geared toward serving affordable vegetarian food to the masses and repackaging it as a $75 meal with CBD doses and optional wine pairings.” And then a—

ross

A barf emoji.

carrie

[Laughing] Barf emoji. Such a Matthew tweet. So I immediately texted and was like, “Oh my god, Matthew, thank you for the heads up. We will make sure to go.” And then he was like, “I hate you.” [Both laugh.] I’d write back and be like, “Don’t worry, we just got tickets. Probably the last two. Oh, thank goodness you told us!”

ross

Are we part of the ruling class now?

carrie

Ugh. I guess. But we did it for a good reason, so you’d all know. So you all wouldn’t show up to the next one if you don’t want to, because you’ll find out about it.

ross

We did not pay for the wine pairings though. [Carrie responds affirmatively with “that’s right”.] Just the $75 ticket.

carrie

And the CBD came with it.

ross

I’m excited. So it was gonna be on December 5th.

carrie

Yes, 2019.

ross

And so reading through the invitation, one of the things that it spelled out was that there is a dress code for this event.

carrie

Yes. You have to wear all white or cream.

ross

I started thinking, “Oh, crap. What do I have that’s white?” Not a big part of my wardrobe, but especially in the pants department. White pants, not a common thing for men.

carrie

No, and I have very little white stuff, in part because I’m a person who menstruates. That’s a lot to deal with.

ross

Right. Right, white can be a bold statement, and a risky venture.

carrie

That’s why they do it in tampon commercials, to be like, “Look how confident I am!”

ross

I mean, and just in general, you know, you sit down on something, your pants get slightly dirty. Everyone’s gonna see it on white pants. Jeans, everything blends right in.

carrie

Yeah, white pants are really just a brag. It’s like, “I haven’t had to touch anything.” [Both laugh.] You know? “I’m so rich. I haven’t touched anything.”

ross

I know I have a white undershirt, no problem. I’ve got like a white dress shirt, I can wear that. I have some old bowling shoes that are white. The sole is coming off of one and like, flapping on the back, so I glued it shut for that evening. It kind of worked.

carrie

Oh, you wore the bowling shoes?

ross

Yeah, I was wearing bowling shoes, which have served me well. I’ve saved over the years. I’ve saved a lot of money on uh, renting bowling shoes. You know, even had some white socks. But what am I gonna do about these pants? So, couple days before we were gonna go to this dinner, Cara and I went out to—I think we started at Target, and there were no white pants there. Okay, what are you talking about. There was one place—I’m trying to remember the name of it—but we asked at the front and these people came up to help us and they laughed. Like, they laughed. The reaction was, “White pants? Okay.” [Carrie laughs.] And I said, “Well, it’s for a cult reunion dinner.” And they’re like, “What?”

carrie

[Laughing] “Let me defend myself.”

ross

Yeah. Cara thought this was very entertaining, me trying to justify this. And we went somewhere else, and then it was in the same shopping center with a Walmart. And I don’t shop at Walmart, but I was like, “I need white pants. Let’s go in there.” Even the lady at Walmart laughed when I mentioned wanting white pants. She said, “No, we don’t have that.” So I tried four places total. Was it Tilly’s? I think Tilly’s was the first one, where they actually laughed when I asked for white pants for a man. So, yeah. I was batting zero, and the closest you can get is like, tan, but that’s not cream. [Carrie responds affirmatively.] You know, or some other kind of—

carrie

I think they would have let you in, but not in the spirit of the thing.

ross

Right. They would not have turned me away. So, Cara very kindly suggested, “Well, I do have two pairs of white pants. One of them might fit you.”

carrie

There you go.

ross

“Your listeners would love that, if you were wearing my pants.” [Carrie laughs.] Tried on the first pair, nope. Not fitting, way too tight. Second pair fit fine. I had myself an outfit. Sent you a picture. “Look at me, I got all white. I can do it.” So I was wearing my wife’s pants with itty bitty useless pockets they put in women’s pants.

carrie

And now you know.

ross

I feel like that’s some form of discrimination.

carrie

Yeah. I mean, I think the reasoning is that pockets stick out a little bit, and then they cut off that subtle curve that people want in a woman’s pant. But it’s not worth it. The trade-off’s not worth it. Give me some pockets.

ross

Yeah. Utility over form.

carrie

Yeah. And I had to go to a Ross, your store—

ross

Hey. Did I help you out?

carrie

—and get an all-white outfit. You did, though you were very expensive.

ross

Oh yeah. You were getting all that on your way to the dinner.

carrie

Yes. Oh my god. So I went to see Weathering WIth You, which is the new movie by the guy who made Your Name, with my friend Abe—hi, Abe—and when it was over I was just like, “Oh, I did not plan this well. I don’t have time to go home. I don’t have time to go home!” Like, the movie was on the west side, the thing was on the west side. It just didn’t make sense and I hadn’t thought about it, so. Then I thought, “Okay, well, I can find like, a Ross or a Marshall’s or something.”

ross

What did you think of Weathering With You?

carrie

I liked it not nearly as much as Your Name.

ross

Yeah, it’s no Your Name. Yeah.

carrie

No, it’s half as good, maybe.

ross

Yeah, if you haven’t seen Your Name, great film.

carrie

Your Name is incredible. It’s one of my top five movies. So I went to this Ross. I was like, “Just please let there be—I mean, I don’t care if it’s too big, I don’t care if it’s too long, I don’t care if it’s, you know, not my preferred gender style. I don’t care. Just get me white stuff.” And so I—

ross

“Clothe this body in white raiment.”

carrie

I can look terrible, that’s fine. So, I found a much too large sweater, a pretty too large pair of pants. I did find white tennis shoes, but somehow I left without those. When I got to my car, I didn’t have them, so I was like, “Okay, I think I can get away with my shoes.”

ross

Yeah, I didn’t notice.

carrie

I found a white backpack.

ross

You needed a backpack?

carrie

Well, I use a backpack instead of a purse. Okay, I found a white long-sleeve shirt that I will actually use, and everything else probably never will use again.

ross

A commitment to this event, into our investigations.

carrie

That brings the pocket drainer value up right there.

ross

So, alright. We made it to the Café Gratitude in Beverly Hills.

carrie

Yes, and this one’s actually called Gratitude Kitchen and Bar. But Café Gratitude is the chain.

ross

And there’s at least one other Café Gratitude in Los Angeles. There’s one up in Santa Cruz I ate at not too long ago when I was visiting my hometown.

carrie

There’s one in San Francisco as well.

ross

Yeah, that was the original.

carrie

Yup. I was reading all up on Café Gratitude today and I think the first one was 15 years ago.

ross

So the thing that really stands out about Café Gratitude is that when you go to order there, the menu is all phrased in terms of “I am…” and then you order your meal by saying, “I am—”

carrie

“Excited!”

ross

Yeah, it’s never, “I am hungry.” It’s, you know, “I am peacefulness. I am love. I am—”

carrie

Oh, are they always nouns?

ross

No, no. Sometimes they’re—

carrie

Oh, okay. Adjectives.

ross

“I’m playful. I’m magical. I’m trusting. I am purity.” Now I’m just making stuff up, that’s not on there. But, well, you’re supposed to say that to the waiter. I’m sure people are like, “I’ll have the purity.”

carrie

Right, right. For sure. And then they also ask you a question of the day when they come to your table.

ross

Oh. Now I’m trying to think if I got that the last time I went to one.

carrie

Yeah, they usually come around. Sometimes they’ll say, “Would you like the question of the day?” But some people just start saying it.

ross

Well, there’s only one answer to that.

carrie

But apparently some people—

ross

“No, thank you.”

carrie

—say no. Apparently some people do say no.

ross

Really? I guess that was the question of the day. [Both laugh.]

carrie

Yeah. So they have a very sort of hippie vibe.

ross

Was it like uh, “Who hit the home run at the end of the 1979 World Series?”

carrie

[Laughing] “You win a pie!” No. The only one I remember, I once went with our buddy, Roger Nygaard, and they came by and asked us, “What makes you happy?” And Roger immediately said, “That’s easy, me!” [Ross laughs.] So I just remember that one. But, so Café Gratitude is also kind of famous for having ties to Landmark Forum. The people who started it, Matthew and Terces Engelhart, they are big proponents of Landmark. I don’t think they’re official representatives or anything like that.

ross

And we know all of you have encouraged us to do Landmark. Hold your horses.

carrie

I don’t think that’ll happen. They have quite a gnarly NDA.

ross

Oh really? Okay.

carrie

Sorry everybody. But this will be your Landmark episode, because boy did I learn about it today.

ross

Okay. I’m excited to hear.

carrie

So we went to 419 North Canon Drive in Beverly Hills. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Very zhuzhy. It was very hard to find. I found it very hard to find. Did you not?

ross

It’s just hard to park. I ended up doing the valet thing. $18 for valet.

carrie

For God’s sake. Yeah.

ross

Come on.

carrie

This is all already too much money.

ross

Because it’s Beverly Hills.

carrie

Uh-huh. That’s correct. Oh, also about the original restaurant, there’s that famous scene in Annie Hall where—

ross

Oh, yes. That’s an important thing to mention about the Source.

carrie

Right, the original Source restaurant. So when Annie Hall, Woody Allen, and Diane Keaton are eating at this restaurant and, you know, they can only like, bean sprouts and wheat curd or something like that. Something very silly and mocking California’s health craze.

ross

Oh yeah, I think Woody Allen ordered the alfalfa sprouts and mashed yeast. Yup.

carrie

And that scene is actually filmed at the Source Family restaurant.

ross

Yeah. So yeah, it was the hip place to be. It was healthy food, vegetarian—vegan, actually.

carrie

Vegan at first.

ross

Yeah. And then at some point I think they gave in and started including dairy products.

carrie

Yup. They caved. They caved. Which is interesting, because the owners of Café Gratitude caved even more.

ross

Oh! [Carrie responds affirmatively with “mm-hm”.] I’m guessing you’re gonna tell me more about this. You look like you’ve got info.

carrie

[Blows raspberry.] So they own this chain of vegan restaurants, obviously have a big vegan clientele, and at some point they decided that they were gonna start slaughtering animals on their farm and it, you know, alienated a lot of their base.

ross

Oh yes, okay. I do remember hearing about this.

carrie

It was a whole thing.

ross

Well, as many of you have written into us about, there are a lot of cults and high-pressure groups that have restaurants. That seems to be a very common way to either get converts or to make money. It’s kind of like I’ve noticed that, you know, how often a church will have a school attached to it, or a pre-school. You know, it’s sort of like, oh here’s sort of the business end, and then, you know, it kind of supports this whole other thing.

carrie

Yeah. I’m trying to think, to me, is that an earmark of like, a high-pressure group or just a religious group? But I guess I can’t think of any chill religious restaurants.

ross

[Laughs.] But it’s something we’ve heard about a lot, and a lot of the things on our list are kind of these combination religious group slash restaurants. [Carrie responds affirmatively.] And of course it’s easy to make a connection with spirituality and eating.

carrie

And a lot of them, bless their hearts, have vegetarian or vegan food.

ross

It doesn’t seem like there’s ever any concern that like, a food will somehow be tainted. I don’t know why you would want to do that, anyway. You know, if you’re trying to win converts, you’re not gonna be like, “You might get salmonella here!”

carrie

I probably wouldn’t go to OSHA’s salad bar.

ross

Exactly, yeah. We do think, of course, of that famous incident with the Rajneeshpuram. Which is interesting, because as I was reading a few of the articles about the Source Family, one of the pictures showed all of these congregants together in white robes, and one person wearing the kind of red and burgundy—you know, the colors of Rajneeshpuram.

carrie

Sheila?

ross

I wondered if it was her or someone else from that group who just happened to be hanging with the Source Family.

carrie

And was just like, “You guys, white sucks for clothes.”

ross

As I recall, I think they started becoming active as the Source somewhere around like, ‘72, and then they—we’ll get into a bit later—but they left California in ‘75.

carrie

To go to Hawaii.

ross

Hawaii. Yeah. There’s more to say there.

carrie

So we got there, to the Source Family popup restaurant. Let’s see, the first thing that happened is we were kind of ushered into this cocktail area where you could get cocktails or tea.

ross

Yeah, and it’s interesting. So you show up at this kind of posh bar on a posh street and there’s a bunch of people wearing white, and you don’t know anybody, and you don’t know who’s who. So you see a bunch of people and there’s some people in their 70s and you think, “Okay, these might actually be the Source Family members, ‘cause they would have been much younger in the 70s.” And I started hanging around people just having conversations, just to hear what was going on. And there was one woman who was kind of holding court and there were two men listening to her. So I just sort of eavesdropped. And I’d already bought my mule cocktail from the bar, which was quite good.

carrie

Yeah, I had a good one too.

ross

Yeah. I like it. What did they put in there, turmeric or—

carrie

There was turmeric, and I usually don’t want turmeric in my drink, but really good in there.

ross

Yeah. Yeah, good stuff. So I was sitting there listening and after awhile asked her if she was in the Source, and she said, “Oh no, but my husband was-slash-is.” She referred to him as Cecil, but then she said, “Well, he was known as Explosion.”

carrie

Oh, nice.

ross

So this is something you’ll find in the Source is that everybody was kind of branded with a new name. Seemed like most people had the last name Aquarion, and then they would have some wild first name like Electricity or Explosion.

carrie

I’m trying to decide if I like Explosion or Cecil more. Cecil is a lot calmer.

ross

Yeah, and he’s got both options, so he’s winning the name game. [Carrie responds affirmatively.] It was interesting. She talked about it being the first “vaguean” restaurant.

carrie

[Laughing] Oh yeah, you kept saying it that way the rest of the night.

ross

I guess early on people were trying to figure out, are you saying vegan or are you saying vaguean?

carrie

Sure. Are you just from the planet Vega? I don’t know.

ross

She’ll be like the people in 20 years still saying “jif”.

carrie

Um, so I caught a glimpse of you, said hello.

ross

Yeah! Hey!

carrie

You said, “Hey, you gotta get one of these mules.”

ross

Yeah, so we both had those, and yeah, we were just milling about for awhile. But it’s this kind of weird sensation of, again, just not knowing kind of who’s like us, just sort of there to—

carrie

This is new for you, too.

ross

Right. And uh, so yeah, just a lot of prodding conversations where you’re trying to get a sense of who people are. But eventually they do sort of call us in over the loudspeaker and say, “Okay, time to come get your seats.” There’s already little crowds around those people in their late 60s, early 70s, and so you don’t want to force your way in like, “I don’t know who you are, but I want to be close to this person because I think they might be in the Source.” So we ended up at a table of about maybe 8 or 9, 10 younger folk. Had a good seat to see all of the proceedings.

carrie

And there was one empty seat.

ross

Saved for Elijah.

carrie

I guess so. And, you know, I was thinking as we were sitting there, it really does make sense. This is—even though it is not in the spirit of the low cost vegetarian food, that’s for sure, it is in the spirit of the original Source restaurant, where they had painted on the wall a quite that said, “Food should be selected with confidence, eaten with pleasure, and digested with ease.” It’s just like totally the same vibe of Café Gratitude, where there’s words on the walls and things to ponder as you eat, and food’s not just about sustenance, no no. We’re going to talk about love and energy as we eat this.

ross

It was cool. They had recaptured certain elements of the original group. And they had little flyers around. There was one that had a picture of Father Yod surrounded by dozens of people, most of them in white, all of them looking very hippie-ish, and he’s looking like Moses. He’s looking like, you know, Charlton Heston playing Moses with his big, bushy beard.

carrie

Does he have a staff?

ross

He’s carrying a staff. Yeah, it would be hard to be more Moses-like than he is in this.

carrie

Yeah, that seems intentional.

ross

And so it says, “Father Yod, yahowah, and the Source Family.” So yeah, Yahowah, I think, was his name of like—that is the real name of God if I recall, and what they call their band.

carrie

Right, the Yahowah 13.

ross

Right, they produced music. I, of course, immediately after we watched the documentary, I bought three albums.

carrie

They any good?

ross

Uh… [Carrie laughs.] You know what? Yes, but also no. Of course, Cara immediately is like, “What is this? Why must you do this to me and play this stuff?” But it was, like purposefully they would go off-beat and just be crazy weird and wild.

music

Trippy, psychedelic music plays for several moments, then fades out as Ross speaks.

ross

And they would play at all these venues and even high schools. You’d think the high schools would be like, “Maybe we shouldn’t have this group playing for our kids and like, recruiting them.” But um—

carrie

Like a Jam Band kind of thing?

ross

Yeah, it’s like—right, it does feel like some people messing around inside of a studio or garage and just trying to shake things up, do things weird, and you weren’t expecting this. It was kind of the time of experimentation, you know, a little post-Beatles there.

music

Psychedelic music plays again before fading back out.

ross

But then, oh goodness, some things would just be kind of uh, well, racist.

carrie

Oh?

ross

Uh, yeah. Wait, let me play one track for you.

carrie

Okay. I didn’t expect that.

ross

See what you think of this. [Carrie responds hesitantly.]

clip

[Indiscernible dialogue with a heavy, fake Asian accent.]

carrie

Is this a white person? Oh boy. [Dialogue continues to play for several seconds.] You’re right, that’s racist. Whoopsidoodle. Yikes.

ross

Well, but some of it’s, uh, some of it’s pretty fun. Oh yeah, there was this one track uh, Father Yod, the guy’s just kind of like, whispering into the microphone.

clip

Father Yod: Yeah, you were stalling. You were very young, you know, but I’ve come. Yeah, I’ve come to find you. I’ve disguised myself as one of them. They didn’t know I wasn’t, and so they let me in. [Laughs.] I was—shh. To get out of here alive.

carrie

Oh, cool.

ross

Yeah, it’s like, “Ah yeah, I dig it.” And there’s this weird beat.

carrie

You might like Charles Manson’s music.

ross

Oh, probably. Yeah, I’ve heard a little bit, and—

carrie

Some of it’s kind of fun.

ross

—it’s very much in a walk step with this kind of thing.

carrie

Okay. Then I know the type.

ross

In the documentary they even had Billy Corgan, the Smashing Pumpkins frontman, you know, my favorite band—

carrie

Yeah. The secular band, Smashing Pumpkins.

ross

—talking about the influence of this band, and I thought, “You know what? That makes a little sense. Some of their weirder, longer stuff totally does feel like a response to this.”

carrie

Do you remember calling Smashing Pumpkins a secular band?

ross

Oh yeah.

carrie

[Laughs] It was when we did Go Fact Yourself and Ross was just describing Smashing Pumpkins, and just so naturally tossed off that they were a secular— [Both laugh.]

ross

You know, I spent like a year and a half listening to almost nothing but K-LOVE radio, and so it was a real big deal for me to listen on the side to the Smashing Pumpkins, Garbage, Radiohead, Oasis.

carrie

Sure. 20 years later, you’re still calling it a secular band.

ross

Secular band. Yeah, you know, you can take the boy out of the church.

carrie

[Laughs.] So, the menus at this event said, “Our aim is to purify the body, refine the emotions, elevate the mind, and liberate the soul, so that we can be of service to humanity.” And that was attributed to Father Yod.

ross

Well that sounds nice. Oh yeah, I was looking at this poster and I got distracted by the music. He looks, in this photo, entirely like—

carrie

Both, in unison: Gandalf. [Ross gasps.]

carrie

Cultural osmosis has worked on me!

ross

Now Carrie’s got her arms up in the same triumphant pose. She—

carrie

I knew a pop culture reference!

ross

Carrie has arrived. She correctly recognized that— [Carrie hums triumphant music in the background.] —Father Yod looks very much like Gandalf in this other photo. Quite a character, this guy.

carrie

But now I will name some Lord of the Rings characters.

ross

Do it.

carrie

Bilbo Baggins.

ross

Good, yeah. Correct. He found the ring in the cave.

carrie

Okay. Is he the hobbit?

ross

Yeah. Very good.

carrie

Okay. Either Frodo or Frollo. One of them is from Hunchback of Notre Dame.

ross

[Laughing] Frollo’s from Hunchback. But yeah, Frodo is Bilbo’s nephew.

carrie

Is that the handsome one, Elijah Wood?

ross

Yeah.

carrie

Okay. Sam.

ross

Yeah. Samwise Gamgee. Very good. But he’s called Sam.

carrie

Okay, good. Yeah. He has red hair maybe?

ross

They kind of all do.

carrie

Oh, maybe I was thinking of Harry Potter now. Is there a red—

ross

That’s Ronald Weasley I guess.

carrie

Okay. That’s it. Those are all the characters in Lord of the Rings.

ross

That’s pretty good.

carrie

Thank you. Are there any ladies in Lord of the Rings?

ross

Yeah. There’s Galadriel of Lothlórien.

carrie

Galadriel of Lothlórien. Oh, she’s going to prison for that college admissions scandal.

ross

Wait, she was played by Kate Blanchett.

carrie

Uh, no, the Lothlórien sounds like Lori Laughlin.

ross

[Laughs] Oh, okay. I see. I see what you did there. There’s Éowyn. There’s Arwen. Yeah, there’s not many women. There’s Rosie. Sam has Rosie.

carrie

Well, okay. Back to this dinner we were at.

ross

Oh, right! Yeah, the Source Family.

carrie

Ryland Engelhart got on the mic, and Ryland is the son of Matthew and Terces Englehart, who again, founded Café Gratitude. He’s a co-owner at this point, and he’s a young guy. He’s probably in his late 30s. [Ross responds affirmatively.] Very fit, trim, very enthusiastic, and the guy you would think of who would run a Café Gratitude. A sort of mix of like, hippie but also like, you imagine he gets up at 4 A.M. and he definitely has stocks.

ross

[Laughs] Oh, yeah. Okay, yup, gotta check on his stocks. Okay. Yeah, totally.

carrie

I think that’s kind of a unique niche of Café Gratitude. Their vibe is like, we’re going to combine spirituality and a kind of, I don’t know, very American go-getterism.

ross

Yeah, it’s a weird combination.

carrie

So Ryland says he’s the host of this celebration and this is a tribute dinner to the Source Family and to their restaurant. And then he says rhetorically, “And how did this come to be?”

ross

And so Carrie stood up and she yelled exactly how it all came to be.

carrie

[Laughs] I knew the answer. That’s not true. So he said, “Café Gratitude is a family operation that started 15 years ago.” Woah, what? I remembered that correctly. [Ross responds emphatically.] Um, and he said, “The inception was, we asked ourselves how do we create a place where people can come and be awakened to the presence of love and gratitude and nourishment? We wanted food and human connections.” So they started in San Francisco and he considers Café Gratitude a school of transformation. Now, to remind you, this is a restaurant. Let’s pull back a little bit.

ross

Yeah, you’re ordering food, you’re eating that food, you’re paying for that food, and then you’re leaving. Is that a—

carrie

Yeah, you’re on your lunch hour.

ross

—school of transformation?

carrie

But it does sound like working there is super intense, and I’ll tell you about that in a minute.

ross

I remember he referred to the Source as the cult classic, so—

carrie

Cute. Love it.

ross

Yeah yeah yeah, he’d already kind of introduced that.

carrie

He said he wanted everyone to be able to come to Café Gratitude and receive a seed of recognition that your life is a picture of your mind.

ross

That sounds like a Deepak Chopraism. “Your life is a picture of your mind?” No, that doesn’t parse as anything.

carrie

But also, you’re gonna come in and receive a seed of the recognition that your life is a picture of your mind.

ross

[Laughing] Ah, that’s worse.

carrie

So I know what he was getting at, because I read his parents’ book, which is called Sacred Commerce: Business as a Path of Awakening. [Ross responds emphatically with “woah”.] Maybe the grossest book I have read for this show.

ross

Sacred Commerce. Okay.

carrie

Ugh. Already hate it with the title, but they do talk about that whole idea of like, if you believe you’re in abundance, you are in abundance, and your state of mind is everything, and that sort of thing.

ross

I’m just trying to think of like, other words that would go less well with sacred, like “sacred automation”.

carrie

[Laughs] “Sacred defecation.” “Sacred evil?” That almost sounds too right. Yeah, but they’re into that whole idea of like, whatever you think you create, law of attraction kind of thing. And as I was reading this book, I kept thinking like, “Well yes, your mind can stand in the way of you. That’s absolutely true. But also sometimes it’s not your mind. Sometimes that’s not the problem. Sometimes there’s just like, no food, ‘cause you live in a country that’s impoverished.” [Ross responds affirmatively.] Then your mind isn’t the problem.

ross

Yeah, and I feel like it always then becomes our duty to point out all of these counter-examples they’re obviously—

carrie

Missing?

ross

Yeah, pushing out of their minds for the moment for this convenient, very first-world consideration of the world and how things come together in your favor.

carrie

Right, which is fine to think about, but like, at least acknowledge that that’s not universal. You know? Yeah.

ross

So people like us don’t have to be like, “Children are starving in Africa.”

carrie

[Laughing] Right, let me interrupt your weird talk. So he said, “You can be in many places in this moment, but if we put attention on gratitude we feel an overwhelming fullness.” Yeah, alright. So then he said that actually when he was moving from San Francisco to LA, someone gave him the Source Family archival book.

ross

Yeah, that sounds cool.

carrie

Yeah, and he said he was completely mesmerized by it, and he thought, “Wow, Café Gratitude really could be the second coming of the Source Family, but in a sincere and playful way.” [Ross responds affirmatively.] He didn’t just want to come and serve food. He was gonna create spaces where people feel love and gratitude. And then he met Isis Aquarion, so.

ross

Yes. So she is a former member of the Source Family.

carrie

I think she like, basically considers herself a current member, I guess.

ross

Yeah, that’s true. Yeah. She’s keeping the flame alive. Still very much obviously cares about Father Yod. I believe she was one of his partners. He had—well, at the end, quite a few. That’s part of the story is that he started originally with one much younger wife that he married as Jim Baker still, and then he became Father Yod and over the years he finally, you know, started adding additional women to his collection. And good for her, she stood up and was very upset about this and very publicly disagreed with him about. So that was Robin, his legal wife. Uh, but then Isis, one of the later 13 wives that we’re talking about, she came up and she gave a little bit of an introduction. She said that this evening was cosmically planned.

carrie

Aww. Yeah, and she had actually helped plan it. I guess the chef at Café Gratitude had said he’d always wanted to do a pop-up dinner tribute to the Source Family. And so this all just sort of like came together, it was just kismet.

ross

She’s got long hair, dark with, you know, some grey in it, and kind of tied back in a braid behind her. Very tan. Yeah, if you just looked at her, you know, you wouldn’t guess like, her past. Just looks like a normal person you’d see at the supermarket.

carrie

For sure. So she said that Ryland and Mario, the chef at Café Gratitude, had called her and said they wanted to do this and, “Oh, of course I said yes!” And then she said, you know, “The 60s and the 70s, I call them a crossover time in the U.S. There was this shift in energy, and the feeling tonight anchored in this room is that this night is gonna take on a life of its own.”

ross

Okay, so does that mean there’s another shift coming?

carrie

It felt to me like the Source is restarting tonight. Like we are all now in this new group, is like, that’s the energy that was coming on me anyway. Maybe that was just my inference.

ross

Oh wow, okay. This is an important moment, the start of something big.

carrie

And it was. I’ve never seen those people again.

ross

Yeah, that’s always something to consider, that, you know, they were all waiting for the age of Aquarius and supposedly it came, and so you wonder.

carrie

In 2012, I think.

ross

Oh yeah, depending on who you talk to, maybe. But you have to ask, what’s different?

carrie

Right, and if you can’t really see what’s different, you have to think about it, then maybe it’s not that different.

ross

[Laughs] Exactly. Behind all of them they had a projector playing, maybe clips from the film, or at least a collection of clips, and there had been audio earlier. And it was funny, at some point like, the noise from that background playing was conflicting with one of the speakers. So, disturbing him. He couldn’t really concentrate with that tiny—

carrie

White noise.

ross

—soundtrack coming, right, from the projector nearby. So they paused it, and it just perfectly paused on this closeup of Father Yod. [Carrie laughs and affirms.] With, you know, you can see like, really close up, his eyes—

carrie

Teal Swan eyes.

ross

—intensely staring at you. And he has arresting eyes, and then just the big, unruly eyebrows bushing out, and the beard bushing out. And so it’s just staring down at all of us, paused. [Laughs.] And so we spent a lot of the night just with this intense stare from Father Yod—

carrie

And 30 people bring out their cell phones.

ross

—projected right above a sign saying “grateful” spelled out in cursive with flowers. So, it was just—it was a weird feeling. But like, this is so appropriate in this room full of people dressed in white. Oh, except we haven’t mentioned, there was one man who came in wearing all black.

carrie

Oh, that’s right. Cheers to him.

ross

And we’re like, “You go. You go buddy.” Eventually he took off his jacket and he had white underneath.

carrie

Oh, did he? Okay. So also Isis did tell us she was gonna take questions at the end, so think of those. And then it was time to start eating, so.

ross

Yum yum.

carrie

Yeah, we gotta bless the food first, so we did that. So everything was vegan, and the first course I think was a nut ricotta and some kind of fruit.

ross

Yeah, persimmon and kumquat. They called it sunchoke.

carrie

Oh, man. It was really good.

ross

Yeah, it was nice.

carrie

And then this guy sitting across from us, who apparently we can use his real name, what’s his name?

ross

Yeah, Phil Warren.

carrie

Phil Warren.

ross

We’ll call him Phil, ‘cause that’s his name.

carrie

[Laughs] Now, if we had needed to change it, we would’ve sat here and gone, “Okay, Phil makes me think of filling up so we’ll call him Empty. No, that doesn’t make sense. Okay, we’ll just start thinking of famous Phils.”

ross

“Yeah, okay, well if your glass is half full, you’re an optimist, Optimus Prime. Prime number, primo, I had a friend named Jeff who went by Primo Jeff. We’ll call him Jeff.”

carrie

Perfect. Yup. That’s how this show operates.

ross

But no, he’s Phil.

carrie

So he had made a commitment to have an adventure every day. Every day.

ross

Yeah, that’s a tall order.

carrie

Some of them have to get small, but we heard mostly the big ones. So, he had wrestled alligators at a geothermal hot spring in Southern Colorado, and he was, about that, he’s like, “It does suck. Every minute of it.” [Both laugh uproariously.]

ross

I happen to know now, uh, you told me about a Vice piece about these people in Texas who, every year, there’s this surplus of snakes and they’ll go out and they’ll harvest the snakes, and they have a like beauty pageant? It gets tied into cutting up snakes. It’s very sad.

carrie

Oh, no.

ross

And so there’s one scene where they cut up a snake—

carrie

In Texas?

ross

In Texas, yeah. There’s a bunch of these rattlers. And they have the heart of the snake, freshly cut— [Carrie makes a disgusted noise.] —and they offer it to him. You can see him in the footage. So, there he is, having his adventure of the day. Just takes it and eats it.

carrie

Oh, you eat it. Ugh.

ross

Yeah. Fresh heart from a snake.

carrie

Okay, well, that’s not vegan.

ross

I was just reading an article about how animals that can be seen as even pests or overly pervasive, you know, you think of the carrier pigeon or the mole, you know.

carrie

The beautiful rock dove, yes.

ross

An animal that’s everywhere, and you think, “Oh, they could never go extinct.” But guess what? They can. You know, as soon as everybody thinks, “Oh, you know what? It’s fair game, you can shoot as many of them as you need to.” They can go away if you keep doing that and upset the balance.

carrie

Yeah. Also pigeons are beautiful.

ross

I worry about those snakes.

carrie

Yeah. Makes sense. So Phil, he asked our names and we said, “Ross and Carrie.”

ross

Yeah. Maybe not in that order, but you know, we were introducing all of ourselves around the table and trying to remember everybody’s names. Everyone seemed really cool. Phil and the guy next to him, both of them seemed really knowledgeable. So we’re talking about all these kind of esoteric things, stuff you might find in Atlas Obscura, and, you know, they know about them, or we know about them. Ao we’re, you know, having great conversation, but he keeps looking at this guy to your right, and saying like—

carrie

“I know you from somewhere!”

ross

“Where have we met? I’m gonna figure this out.”

carrie

And so then he would roll through this list of strange things he had done in the last few years—

ross

And every now and then we’d say, “Oh, yeah, I went to that.”

carrie

“We did that.”

ross

Yeah, Carrie would say, like, “Oh yeah, I’ve been there!” And so, he’d say, “Okay, but—” and then he’d turn back to that guy. “But, we—why do I know you?”

carrie

“Was it the UFO convention?” Oh, we went to that!

ross

Oh, yes, Contact in the Desert, yeah—

carrie

We went to that. So finally, he was like, “Well, gosh, everything I bring up, you guys have been to.”

ross

So yeah, then the conversation would reroute. So this became a running gag of the night, really.

carrie

Yeah, we had done all the things. So then, I started feeling allergic. Remember?

ross

Oh no, that’s right, yeah, right off the bat!

carrie

Yeah, my tongue starts swelling up, started itching, and I was like, “God dang it, I can’t eat much else of this.” So here’s an update about my allergies, because remember I got that blood test that said I wasn’t allergic to nuts. So I was like, “Okay.” So I started eating nuts, and sometimes it was fine, and then other times it wasn’t fine. And I was like “What the hell?” Someone on Twitter suggested that I might have something called Oral Allergy Syndrome. Which is basically where you’re allergic to certain types of pollens, and your body mistakes similar proteins in raw fruits and nuts as those pollens. They’re just similar enough that it gets in your mouth, your mouth’s like, “Hang on! I think you’re eating cotton!” or whatever. Has a reaction, but kind of by the time it goes through your system, it’s like, “Oh, wait, you know what, I think that was apricot.” So, um, I went to Kaiser, and I said, “Hey, I think I might have this thing called Oral Allergy Syndrome.” And they said “Great! The only way to find out is to shoot you up with everything, and if you don’t react, but you’re still reacting in your mouth, you have Oral Allergy Syndrome.” So I got a million shots, didn’t react to any of them. I have Oral Allergy Syndrome.

ross

Hey, okay, alright. Well, narrowed that one down. Knowing is half the battle.

carrie

Yeah, so anyway, I didn’t eat much of the rest of my $75 dinner.

ross

Aww. Yeah, I think you gave me the rest of your first course, or what was—

carrie

I passed everything around. You ate some of that like, rice salad thing, and other people ate my dessert. I was just giving it to everybody.

ross

I even got to finish off your third course, the mushroom soup. That was amazing! I think you were just trying to save room, because they were serving five courses.

carrie

Oh, no, no, I was just—I would take a bite of it, and be like, “I can’t do it.” It was all very nutty.

ross

I loved that mushroom soup. Yeah, so the second course was a—artichoke chowder? Oh, that was good, too. Um, the third course was that mushroom soup.

carrie

It was a delicata squash, and roasted broccolini at some point?

ross

Probably my least favorite thing was that crispy rice salad. It was weird, it had the consistency of popcorn.

carrie

It tasted like popcorn, that was very strange.

ross

Yeah, though it looked like rice. They had a Catalan cheesecake, was the fifth course. So yeah, good sized meal, and then I got to eat some of Carrie’s food, and it was the cheesecake that Phil across from us had a reaction to.

carrie

Oh, he did, okay.

ross

Yeah, he was like, “Oh, shoot, I’m allergic to this.” So he had to stop. But, Carrie, enough about food. Let’s go back to what we were wearing.

carrie

Oh, right. All white.

ross

So yeah, so you had white shirt and backpack, did you have a bra?

carrie

I had a bra on, but I couldn’t tell you if the bra was white, I just don’t remember. Ross, I don’t remember. Was your bra white?

ross

It was not. I was not wearing a white bra, I can tell you that. Well, if you had to choose a bra, what would you recommend?

carrie

I would get a Third Love bra. If I were in the market for a bra? Come on.

ross

I’ve heard about them. Did you know that breast shape matters when finding a good fit? In about 60 seconds, Third Love’s fit finder quiz helps you identify your breast size and shape, and find styles that fit your body.

carrie

That’s so weird that you bring that out, because Oh No, Ross and Carrie! is actually supported in part by Third Love bras.

ross

Are they now?

carrie

Yeah, and they use the measurements of millions of people to design bras in over 80 sizes with all day comfort and support.

ross

And their bras feature straps designed not to slip—

carrie

Oh, it’s the best.

ross

—tagless labels—

carrie

Good.

ross

—so I don’t have to cut those off of my wife’s bra. [Carrie laughs.] And—you know, ‘cause those labels, they don’t want to stay in place. They want to stick up.

carrie

It’s true.

ross

They want to stick down. And lightweight memory foam cups.

carrie

And every customers has 60 days to wear it, wash it, and put it to the test, and if you don’t love it—which you will. You will. But you can return it, and Third Love will wash it and donate it to someone in need.

ross

So smart.

carrie

So smart. I really like my Third Love bra, and I probably am going to buy another.

ross

Okay. Excellent.

carrie

Yeah. You heard it here.

ross

Well, Third Love knows there’s a perfect bra for everyone, so right now they’re offering our listeners 15% off your first order.

carrie

Go to ThirdLove.com/ohno right now to find your perfect fitting bra and get 15% off your first purchase.

ross

That’s ThirdLove.com/ohno for 15% off today.

carrie

You should do that. Anyway, back to my allergies.

ross

Yeah, so were you now uncomfortable the whole meal?

carrie

Yes, I was.

ross

Aww. Boo.

carrie

But next came a speaker up to the front, and this guy’s name was Philip. I don’t think I caught his last name. Did you?

ross

Yes, uh, thankfully they had written this really nice program of the food you were gonna get and the various activities. And so his last name was Deslippe. So, Philip Deslippe.

carrie

Ooh. Philip Deslippe. Like it.

ross

I hope I’m saying that right. D-E-S-L-I-P-P-E. But he’s a professor of religion at UCSB, Santa Barbara. He came up and they said it was gonna be a ten minute talk. I think it was more like, I don’t know, sixteen minutes or something. But I loved it. He was kind of contextualizing the Source Family within sort of the broader religious landscape of America, and how LA sort of became the center of religion for decades, whereas originally he said there had been kind of previous hot spots. You had Boston, right, some Boston. You had Mary Baker Eddy, the founder—

carrie

And discoverer.

ross

—yes, of Christian science. And then you have Chicago, with Madam Blavatsky and Theosophy and these other ideas. And then you had LA and the Foursquare church and all of these groups like, you know, Charles Manson, and of course Father Yod and the Source Family. And then he was mentioning a lot of other groups. He mentioned Paramahansa Yogananda, who apparently, because he kept mentioning food connections, Yogananda I guess introduced the mushroom burger.

carrie

Oh, okay. News to me.

ross

Which makes me like him even better. And he also—

carrie

You like those big like, portobello mushroom burgers?

ross

Eh, I’ll do it. I’ll do it. I won’t seek it out, but uh, it can be done very. He also mentioned a figure called Krisna Venta. So I leaned over to you and I said, “Oh, oh, I’ve heard of him.” Yeah, he had a group up in the Oxnard area, Simi Valley, that my stepmother lived very close to growing up. So she remembered hearing about this community out there, and the guy with the big beard and the long hair, and WKFL, for wisdom, knowledge, faith, and love. Something like that. [Carrie responds affirmatively.] And uh, some disgruntled I think former members planted a bomb, and he died in the explosion.

carrie

Oh my god.

ross

Yeah, pretty wild stuff. So when I nodded knowingly at that, Phil sitting across from us was very interested. So after the talk, he was like, “Oh wait, what was that one?” Anyway, so the other Phil, the speaker—

carrie

We are really getting our “Phil”.

ross

Yeah, he was just giving all this great information. It was really well written, too. And I was just thinking like, “Oh, I hope this is published somewhere.” I feel like I need to reach out to him and ask him like, “Hey, that talk you gave, can I get a copy of that?”

carrie

I’m sure he’d be delighted.

ross

Yeah, it was a lot of great history and, you know, what we do with this podcast really posts so much gratitude to the religious movements in Los Angeles. [Carrie responds affirmatively.] This is such a hot spot of almost every belief we have here available. So he was talking about all the factors of celebrity and climate and all these other things that kind of contributed to creating this atmosphere. So I really enjoyed that.

carrie

Yeah, and he mentioned that some of the earliest vegetarian restaurants were in LA, and actually the first raw vegan food restaurant in the U.S. was in LA in the 70s. And then he said he met Isis somewhere, and I didn’t quite understand where he met her.

ross

He had a really clever way of it. He had ingratiated himself with Isis. He said if you ever want to get close to somebody, offer to photograph them.

carrie

Oh. Touché.

ross

‘Cause most people will be like, “Sure. I’ll take some nice photographs.” And so that’s what he did. They got to know each other, and she started sharing stories with him and confiding in him. Yeah, it was an awesome talk. Lots of great context. Well written. I highly recommend this talk that you have no access to.

carrie

[Laughs.] One thing that he said that I thought was really cute is he asked Isis, “Oh, in a lot of the footage you’re all talking over each other, doesn’t that annoy you?” And she said, “Well, we were a real family.” She said, “Every family is a little dysfunctional.”

ross

And people clapped for that. Yeah, and I liked that too. Any time you get a group of people together, the ideal group with the ideal ideals and, you know, live the perfect life, but you’re always just gonna have, you know, humanity stepping in. You’ve got your oddballs, you’ve got your weirdos, you’ve got your people going through things. And, you know, it’s just gonna veer off course.

carrie

And it says to me that that’s not too high control of a group, because like, the most you can control somebody is by getting in their head so they control themselves. They’re silent all the time and when they see the leader they don’t say anything, because they want to see what he says, and then respond to that. You know, that’s the most control you can have. But when someone feels like they can just talk and express themselves, that’s a good sign.

ross

Yeah, that’s true. Though certainly it does sound like there were elements of that control when Father Yod was there and in control. But uh, yeah. So that was pretty fantastic. I enjoyed that.

carrie

He said that Isis had donated a bunch of her materials from the Source Family to UC Santa Barbera. And that this is really unusual, the amount of documentation she had done, because she was basically the Source Family archivist. That, like, no other groups have this kind of representation. He was very impressed. And um, he said, “You know, the 1970s was the height of kind of this kind of communal living. There were almost 14,000 communes at the same time as the Source Family, and this is what I study, and we never have this much photography, letters, you know, all of these original sources.”

ross

You might say she’s a primary source.

carrie

[Laughing] Exactly. So we all clapped and wooed for Isis. And then, uh, he said they’re keeping them in the UCSB archives, so you can go and see them, and they’re digitizing them too.

ross

Ooh. Okay, that sounds like that could be a fun field trip.

carrie

Yeah. So then we get Ryland again. Our old buddy Ryland. What’s he gonna say?

ross

Eh, not much, but he’ll take a long time doing it. [Carrie laughs.] Uh, but he was mainly introducing our meditation coming up. So we had Peter Oppermann coming up to lead us in meditation on the philosophy of “I am”, and so as you breathe in, you breathe in— [Both inhale deeply and struggle to say “I am” simultaneously.] It was just hard to say while you’re breathing in. And then you breathe out something like—

crosstalk

[Both speak while exhaling.] Ross: —courageous. Carrie: —beautiful

ross

And then repeat, and we did that for quite awhile, which is always nice. Always nice to do a breathing exercise.

carrie

Always feels really good to hold my breath. That in is good, but the holding, ugh. So good.

ross

So when people say don’t hold your breath—

carrie

I’m like, “Fuck you, I’m gonna hold my breath all night. I love it.” [Both laugh.] That’s the hardest part of holotropic breathing, to me, is you have to eliminate that in between breath. So unsatisfying. Yeah, so Peter Oppermann is a meditation teacher, and I guess a good friend of Ryland’s as well. And Ryland said that one of the things that connects Café Gratitude and the Source Family is this whole philosophy of “I am’s”, so that’s why we were gonna do that meditation. And the meditation finished on, “We are hungry,” which I thought was very cute.

ross

[Laughs] Yeah, that’s a good way to finish that.

carrie

And that’s when we got your favorite chowder.

ross

Oh, good chowder. Man, yeah, all this food was great.

carrie

I have in my notes here that you noted that you sleep next to a haunted doll at this point in the conversation. 

ross

Oh, well, I know that Phil across from us was talking about Dybbuk boxes, and we were chatting—

carrie

Oh yeah, what is that?

ross

Uh, there’s just like, haunted dolls on eBay. There’s this original story of this haunted box, kind of a tiny curio that held items, but it had been sealed with wax. And it was—originally the person who owned it had been cursed and like, all of her family had died, and yet somehow she had a granddaughter and the granddaughter sold it in a garage sale and someone got it. All these terrible things happen to them, and, you know. It’s just like when we were reading the haunted doll descriptions, there had been this really elaborate storytelling that you’re really paying for. So now you can buy all these other Dybbuk boxes, but there’s this original one. And so I was telling Phil about how a friend of mine and fan of the show, Kenny Bittle, had done a really great write-up for Skeptical Inquirer about the Dybbuk box. So I was recommending that, and I think I mentioned that yeah, I still have one of my haunted dolls that sleeps next to me every night. I don’t even think about it, you know. She sits next to Frodo the bear actually, and some of my other stuffed animals that are next to the bed.

carrie

My only haunted doll—‘cause I think I gave mine away at a live show. I had two and I gave one away at a live show. The other one I left in Boston under a monument.

ross

[Laughs] Okay. Right after the amazing mushroom soup, we had on the menu CBD oil. [Carrie responds affirmatively.] So this is an extract from cannabis that does not have the psychoactive substances.

carrie

Right, no THC.

ross

So there’s a lot of products sold. We could do a whole episode just talking about CBD and the various things that’s supposed to be able to do.

carrie

And uh, Sawbones has a great episode about it, so—

ross

Oh, excellent.

carrie

—hop over there.

promo

Music: Guitar strums as singer counts out “One, two, one two three four.” Up-tempo guitar and harmonica music plays in the background. Justin McElroy: Hi, everybody! My name is Justin McElroy. Dr. Sydnee McElroy: I’m Sydnee McElroy! Justin: We’re both doctors, and— Sydnee: Nope. Just me. Justin: Okay, well Sydnee’s a doctor and I’m a medical enthusiast. Sydnee: Okay. Justin: And we created Sawbones, a marital tour of misguided medicine! Sydnee: Every week I dig through the annals of medical history to bring you the wildest, grossest—sometimes dumbest—tales of ways we’ve tried to treat people throughout history! Justin: Eh, lately we do a lot of modern fake medicine. ‘Cause everything’s a disaster. But it’s slightly less of a disaster every Friday, right here on MaximumFun.org, as we bring you Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine. And remember: Sydnee: Don’t drill a hole in your head. [Music ends.]

ross

Good show. So they were passing around their, you know, primo, high-level, quality CBD oil.

carrie

It’s so funny though like, people act like, “Yeah, CBD, this is so exciting, we’re being naughty.” And it’s like, I mean, you know, you can make alcohol out of a potato. We don’t get excited when you pass around a potato.

ross

[Laughs] Yeah, a fair point. So, yeah, it’s a tiny little bottle with a stopper in the top, and it says in the back that it’s “THC free”, but it’s “supercharged—”

carrie

Oh damn.

ross

“—CBD.” On the front it says “inner peace.”

carrie

Ooh! Big claim.

ross

Yeah, and so we’re supposed to take—how many drops was it? Like five drops? A certain number of drops on our tongues.

carrie

Something like that.

ross

So, I’ve never taken CBD oil before, so I didn’t know quite what to expect. It was sort of like a milky white.

carrie

Oh, that’s right, it was white, which is weird. I’ve never seen that.

ross

Very strange. And it was a little bitter. Just a tiny bit. Uh, but otherwise fine, and I was just kind of waiting to see what it would do to me. I think it was supposed to give us, like, a deep sense of calm?

carrie

Yeah. The claim around CBD is that it’s the calming agent. [Ross responds affirmatively.] Yeah. And I think some people also say that it’s pain relieving, though I think that is less supported by the evidence.

ross

Okay, interesting. I don’t know if I felt noticeably calmer afterward?

carrie

Yeah, I don’t think I did. I mostly felt itchy.

ross

Oh, right.

carrie

But at this point, I also texted Matthew, and was like, “Ugh, Matthew, thank you so much, you would hate this. You would hate it so much. We’re taking CBD, we’re talking about love, we’re about to do a minute of ‘laughter yoga’.”

ross

What does he have against love? [Carrie laughs.] That’s right, laughter yoga.

carrie

[Emphatically] Yes!

ross

So many of you may remember our investigation, one of our favorites. When people ask us, “Alright, but what things do you think are actually beneficial, or happen to work out, or you would recommend to people?” Laughter yoga. [Carrie responds affirmatively.] It’s a great idea. You get together with a bunch of adults, you act silly, you laugh.

carrie

It’s so bizarre, and great.

ross

You fake it until you’re all laughing sincerely because it’s just so weird what you’re doing. And so, yeah, they instigated just a minute of laughter yoga.

carrie

Yup.

ross

We did it, we laughed the whole round.

carrie

We laughed until it was sincere laughing. So then, Isis got back up, and she was ready for some questions.

ross

Yeah! And as she was standing out there, you could see Explosion, and also one of the other older gentlemen. I think it might have been Electricity. Both of them looking very much like Gandalf the White. Long white robe, long white beard, they were kinda rocking the Father Yod look.

carrie

Nice. someone’s gotta do it.

ross

But yeah, she took questions from the audience.

carrie

Now maybe we should mention, Father Yod is not around anymore.

ross

Oh, right, yes! So—

carrie

This is a bit of a spoiler for the documentary.

ross

Oh, it’s totally a spoiler for the documentary. So, if you’re about to watch the documentary, I dunno, maybe skip forward 30 seconds, or something like that. [Carrie imitates the sound of a tape being fast forwarded.] We mentioned in 1975-ish, I think, he had to leave LA. There was starting to be mounting pressure. They had lived in Los Feliz for a while and had to move up to a canyon. They were trying to like, keep 200 people in this one house, it was madness.

carrie

This was all during—the Charles Manson stuff was happening at the same time—

ross

Right, so then public sentiment was really starting to turn against these people, like, “Oh, you were gonna be the next one of these groups.” Thankfully, the Source community never culminated in acts of violence or self-harm, though some of the things Father Yod was saying sure made it sound like it could have gone that direction. So they moved to Hawaii, got very similar treatment there. People didn’t want them there, either. And one day, Father Yod led his followers out, and he was gonna try hang gliding for the first time. ”Why not? Let’s do it, let’s jump off of a cliff.”

carrie

I think there was some element of like, “I don’t need to practice, because I will float” kind of thing.

ross

Yeah. Very confident. A few people were worried. But yeah, he jumps out there, and he’s flying beautifully, and then all of a sudden, the wind drops out from under them and he crashes.

carrie

He’s never practiced, and he doesn’t know what to do.

ross

And so he hits his back severely. I think breaks his spine, or something along those lines where he realizes he’s dying, and he is, and he does.

carrie

Yeah, and it took like, hours for him to die, and everyone’s just standing there watching him.

ross

It’s terrible, because they recorded so much, and you can hear audio in the documentary of him as they’re all saying, “What do we do for you? How do we help you?” And you can tell he’s kind of irritable, like, “Oh. Oh, I’m just—I’m dying, now.”

carrie

Yeah. “Yeah, my back’s broken. I dunno. Hum.”

ross

“You can’t do anything.”

carrie

Yeah, rough.

ross

Yeah, really rough.

carrie

So, now, Isis takes questions, and they’re mostly pretty tame questions, I’d say.

ross

Yeah, some people wanna know about the free love aspect. [Carrie responds affirmatively.] She kind of played that down a bit.

carrie

It was really funny. She was like, “Yeah, we did believe that, but we didn’t have orgies or anything.” And then the two guys behind her go, “Well, there was one time.” And she turned around and she said, “What? Oh, I didn’t know about that.”

ross

And she’s like, “Was I not invited?!” [Ross and Carrie both laugh.] So there was at least one orgy.

carrie

[Laughing] Yeah but, you know, a lot of the questions were sort of like, “How would you encompass the philosophy of the Source Family?” You know, these sort of, like, big picture thematic questions. And that became an invitation for her to sort of, I dunno, say a bunch of nice words. “Oh, it was all love, and freedom, and friends, and forever, and soft, and glow.” You know.

ross

She had kind of a good answer for what was sort of the question that was percolating in my head, which was the same thing I often ask people about the Early Church. Because they’ll point to, like, “Oh that was the perfect time. They had fresh instruction from Jesus, they had the holy spirit, and everything was great.” And so, then, I think the natural question is, “Well, why did it go away? Why is self-sustenance not one of the attributes of a perfect society?” And so, that was kind of my thing, is like, “Okay, well then, if this was such a great way to live, why did it peter out right after his death?” And I don’t think it was put to her that way, but she had kind of an answer, which was just that, “You know, this was a thing for its time, and it was the right time, and it was a wonderful thing, and I’m so glad to have been there.” And I’ve gotta say, that’s a good answer.

carrie

And she said that now this time she feels a shift again, like she feels like really on the precipice of something. [Ross affirms.] So, I had a question. I think I got to ask the last question.

ross

Yeah, what was it?

carrie

I said, “Who do you think Father Yod would vote for in the 2020 election?” And everyone kind of laughed but groaned, but you know, it was like— [Carrie makes a strained groaning sound.] This noise filled the room, and she didn’t quite hear me. And so she said, “What’d you say?” And so I had to say it again. Everyone’s like— [Carrie repeats the same noise.] And she said he wouldn’t vote. He wouldn’t want any part in it.

ross

He was never political.

carrie

And he would be so disgusted by what’s happening right now.

ross

Okay—wait a second. If you’re disgusted—

carrie

Yeah! You should act on it.

ross

You have one thing you can do about it, and that’s vote.

carrie

Uh-huh, yeah, that’s how I felt too. As I was leaving, I was texting Drew, and I was like, “I think Father Yod sucks.” Like, I mean, if that’s accurate, then what you’re telling me is that he was all talk.

ross

Though, if he’s like many other group leaders of his ilk, I’m sure if he was there, he would hear her say that and be like, “Wait, no I have a correction. Because I always have a correction.”  

carrie

[Carrie _laughs.]_ Touche.

ross

“Turns out actually I’m highly political.”

carrie

“I’m running for president.” [They laugh.] So, there you go. Also, she didn’t elaborate what would disgust him about this time, you know? I don’t know, that I was curious about.

ross

But she seemed like a sweetheart.

carrie

Yeah, I like her a lot.

ross

And she’s doing the Lord’s work, keeping the group preserved.

carrie

And we’ll see if this pans out, but I asked her if she wanted to be on the show, and she said yes.

ross

Sweet! How exciting.

carrie

So, fingers crossed.

ross

Alright, let’s hope.

carrie

Well, let me tell you just a tiny bit about the connection between Café Gratitude and Landmark Forum. So yeah, Matthew and Terces Engleheart are big fans, and they actually encourage everyone who works at Café Gratitude to attend Landmark Forum. They say that they’ll pay 50% of their tuition. Landmark’s pretty expensive, so that’s a nice discount, but—

ross

Hefty price tag.

carrie

Still pretty expensive.

ross

You said they’d gotten in some hot water for this. For not just encouraging but requiring their employees to attend Landmark Forum.

carrie

Yes, well, so, I think they would always say, “No, it was just encouragement.” But at least they were sued by maybe just one former employee who said, “Well, yes, they said it was suggested, but also that I wouldn’t be promoted unless I did it.”

ross

We were kinda surprised when Ryland, while giving this talk, very openly just mentioned that, you know, “We have all of our employees go to the Landmark Forum.”

carrie

“And it’s changed my life, and it changes their life.” And this comes up indirectly, in their book Sacred Commerce. They don’t actually mention Landmark until the very last page, when they’re suggesting links. But the whole book is just full of philosophy that I recognized as Scientology-adjacent. And as many of our listeners know, Scientology influenced a bunch of these groups that we cover, and one of them was Est, which was the original Werner Erhard group that ended up dissolving. And then his followers bought all of the teachings and sort of re-packaged them as Landmark Forum. And evolved them, somewhat. Okay, so, the first thing I noticed in Sacred Commerce was that the foreword is written by someone named Megan Marie Brown, and boy she comes out swinging. She’s like, “When I started working at Café Gratitude, I had multiple sclerosis. But it got healed and I am all better. In three years, I’ve healed myself.” Okay, so this book came out in 2008, so it’s like, this should be look-up-able. So I found a recent interview with her from a couple years ago talking about managing her multiple sclerosis outbreaks.

ross

Wow. Okay, you get completely healed—

carrie

There’s that. So, this book is called A Manual for Building A Spiritual Community At The Workplace, and it just contains the most obnoxious quotes. Okay, so here’s a couple. “Your angels of doing will want to swallow your seraphs of being.”

ross

Oh, no. I prefer Scientology to that!

carrie

There’s more.

ross

They have better quotes.

carrie

This might be my favorite, and by that I mean the one I hate the most. [Ross laughs.] “Thank God for the environmental crisis, without which we would lack any planetary consciousness, any sense of one world.” Hmm. “Some—” [Carrie laughs.] “Some establishments display signs that say ‘We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone’. We, on the other hand, we say that although you may not be seated and dine with us, our interaction with you will come from being of service to the whole, the one being. Tending to the collective wounds, and opportunities to heal.”

ross

[Laughing] Oh, man, if I’m being kicked out of a restaurant, don’t spout that at me.

carrie

I would love to see that on a sign. Oh, my god. ”There have been many times when one of our employees stands on the top of a chair in the middle of a crowded Café, and asks everyone to pay attention as he or she reads our mission statement out loud.” [Carrie tapers off into laughter.]

ross

[Through laughter.] Okay?

carrie

Oh, my god, um—

ross

This is wild.

carrie

I know. “When trying to become rich, I put post-it notes all around me that read, ‘I love money, and money loves me!’”

ross

[Emphatically] Okay.

carrie

When you follow the Sacred Commerce path, they say, “Now you get to live the extraordinary life of a merchant priest, a director of consciousness, a managing partner for God.”

ross

Hmm. Wow, yeah, what a weird conflation of language.

carrie

Yeah, it’s all just this like, hyper-capitalist—

ross

And yet trying to mix it with this weird hippie religiosity. Spiritualism. Wow, okay.

carrie

Which is totally the vibe of Landmark from what I can glean. I’ve never been, but, yeah, the stuff I’ve read about it, it feels like it’s very much that way. _[_Ross responds affirmatively.] Just a few more awful quotes. “Loving money. Money is an expression representation of the divine presence of abundance that is everywhere, always. Money represents the inner quality of abundance; the knowingness of always being provided for in the same way a photograph of your children represents the inner quality of love.”

ross

Oh, goodness.

carrie

Now, a meeting at Café Gratitude sounds especially insufferable. Apparently they gather everyone in a circle, and one person speaks at a time, and has to start with, “I love and honor myself, and I am happy to share myself with you.” And then the others all respond, “We love and honor you, and are happy to listen to you with love.” And then that person continues their sentence.

ross

Oh, goodness. [Carrie laughs.] Certain moments in our investigations, like, we know we haven’t been there and heard that, but, you know, certain times when there are these intonations often said in unison as a group, or as a call and response, and you think, “This is what a cult sounds like.” [Carrie agrees emphatically.] And something like that, when it’s a long, complicated, multi-part phrase that you say in response to someone else, it’s in unison with others. It fits the bill.

carrie

That doesn’t mean that that’s, you know, a sufficient, um, recipe for a cult, but—

ross

It’s a checkbox.

carrie

It’s a pink flag. Also just like, the language of Scientology is so prevalent, and upset is said so many times. And the completion processes is mentioned—

ross

In the terms of, like, having an upset.

carrie

The only time I really hear that is like, an upset in the polls. That feels familiar. But like if I said, “Oh, Ross had an upset. His bike was stolen.”

ross

Yeah, I did. And it was.

carrie

I’m sorry.

ross

Thanks.

carrie

And then there’s just a bunch of stuff about, uh, getting clear. Clearing the—yeah. Which, our listeners will know, is very similar to Scientology.

ross

Yeah, I knew it was influenced by Scientology, but wow. It’s always amazing just to see the language so boldly kind of lifted.

carrie

Just to get my own mind around this, I ended up making this crazy flow-chart of the different groups that have been influenced by Scientology, and how they all connect. And there you can see Landmark at the kind of middle, and Father Yod somewhere near the top.

ross

Carrie’s drawn a great flow-chart here. I’m gonna take a picture of it, with my cat. My cat Evening is in the background.

carrie

Thank you, it’s by no means complete.

ross

I’m gonna see if I can get this to focus.

carrie

So yeah, Father Yod studied under Yogi Bhajan. Someone else who studied under him was one of the leaders in Ordo Templi Orientis when it was re-founded. Very strange bedfellows. Then of course, Ordo Templi Orientis is connected to Jack Parsons, which is connected to Scientology, which is connected to Est, which is connected to Landmark Forum, which is connected to Café Gratitude. QED.

ross

They’re all connected.

carrie

Yeah, we are all connected, that’s the point. Thank you so much for listening.

ross

Amazing. Oh, that’s cool, I’ve never seen that visually depicted. So then, after the Q&A, we had a bit of an ecstatic dance.

carrie

Oh yes, that’s right!

ross

That was the way to finish off the evening.

carrie

What was it, was it, “Let The Sunshine In”?

ross

“Spirit in the Sky”. That’s what we were dancing to. [He starts singing, with Carrie repeating the last beat of each verse in falsetto] Set me up with the spirit in the sky Is where I’m gonna go when I die _When I die, and they lay me to re_st Gonna go to the place that’s the best [Speaking normally.] So, we danced around to that for a while. That was fun. There were a wide variety of dance styles.

carrie

Another moment that I texted Matthew and said, “You would hate this so much.” [They laugh.]

ross

Alright, so, and that’s how it all started, was him saying how “disgusting this whole thing sounded.”

carrie

So really, this is all a thank-you note to Matthew. Thank you so much for recommending this, for saying, “Ross, Carrie, you gotta do this!”

ross

We appreciate that, Matthew. As we are heading out and about to leave, Phil sitting across from us—he was still trying to figure out how he that other guy sitting next to you. But he said, “Oh, I really enjoyed our conversation tonight, here.” He gave me a business card, he said, you know, “Love to hear from you.” And I said, “Okay, well, I’ll send you an email.” He said, “Oh, well that’s not on the business card, but, you know, hit me up on Facebook.” And so I did that. I connected with him, and a little past midnight, he wrote me, and he said, in all caps, “WAIT. YOU’RE—OH MY GOD. I’M LOW-KEY FREAKING OUT.” So literally every adventure—he’s told us about all of his adventures—“Every adventure I’ve had for like the last three years, someone brings you guys up. I wast trying to place your names, but now that I realize that’s your podcast, I’m just enamored. How awesome!” Uh, and then he said he was gonna celebrate the serendipity by taking Benadryl, because he was still suffering from that cheesecake.

carrie

I’m feeling you, Phil.

ross

Yeah, so we ended up—we met up, we shared some stories, and yeah, we’ve overlapped a lot. He said he went to the Ordo Templi Orientis, that same star-sapphire lodge, shortly after we did.

carrie

Oh, how funny.

ross

And so they were super paranoid and protective, and he’s like, “What’s up with this group?” And he said he only stayed for one meeting, because it just wasn’t comfortable.

carrie

Oh, gosh, sorry Phil.

ross

Yeah, and yeah he’d gone to contact in the desert. He’d done all these very similar things, so it was fun sharing these stories with him.

carrie

Well, even if he had thought of it, Phil did the right thing, which is, don’t mention it in the moment. Keep it low-key

ross

Play it cool. Let’s have the experience.

carrie

Then you can email us later and say, “By the way, I knew who you were the whole time.”

ross

So, it was fun, good to see him again there, and uh—

carrie

And now you’re in love.

ross

—reading and dinner. Yes! And we’re expecting children.

carrie

Okay, great. To come over and say hello.

ross

Yes.

carrie

Okay, cool.

ross

We’re expecting children, to be the future.

carrie

[Laughs] And they will be.

ross

Teach them well, and let them lead the way. And after the ecstatic dance, that was it. Everyone collected themselves. We all evaporated out the door. We gave each other knowing nods and smiles as we waited for our valets, and that was it. Yeah, I guess we could rate this?

carrie

Yeah, wouldn’t know whether to rate the Source Family, this dinner, Café Gratitude—

ross

Father Yod, Isis Aquarian—

carrie

Sort of Landmark Forum, Sacred Commerce

ross

Electricity as a name. [Carrie laughs.] Or Explosion vs. Cecil, there’s so many things to rate—

carrie

Cecil’s a really good name.

ross

Wait, hot drinks, were there hot drinks?

carrie

I don’t think so. Though when I got my cocktail, I know they said cocktails or tea. I didn’t see the tea. I don’t know if it was iced, if it was hot. God, we’ve really—we’ve let you down as relayers of information. I don’t know.

ross

But the meal was good. [Carrie responds affirmatively.] So thumb sideways on that one. Yeah, so it’d be hard to know what to rate here. I want to say it’s too bad we didn’t get to meet Father Yod. I don’t know if that’s the right way to say it, but he sounded like a fascinating character. And if you wanna see him naked, and other interesting things about him, definitely check out that documentary. It is very entertaining. We’ve seen many documentaries about these kinds of groups, and I’d say it’s one of the better ones. [Carrie responds affirmatively.] Well, that’s it for our show. Our theme music is by Brian Keith Dalton.

carrie

Our administrative manager is Ian Kramer.

ross

Our editor is Victor Figueroa, thank you Victor.

carrie

You can support this, and all our investigations by going to MaximumFun.org/donate.

ross

Thank you to all of you who do. That really makes what we do possible. So we can keep having all these fun adventures, and running into Phil. [Carrie laughs.]

carrie

But keep it cool, Phil, keep it cool. And if you’re in San Francisco, come up and see our SketchFest show!

ross

Please do! It’s happening this week.

carrie

Yeah, the 21st.

ross

We’re gonna be in Cobb’s Comedy Club on Tuesday, 8 P.M. So yeah, come by, say hi.

carrie

Oh, also, random, but I want to thank the listener who donated to Drew’s and my gift registry. Someone found our wedding registry and already gave to it. A listener who I don’t personally know was the first person to give. Really sweet.

ross

Aw, that’s nice. And, uh, I’ll follow up just a little bit. In our last episode about Richard-Lael Lillard, the psychic, we mentioned wanting to hear from Trump voters or supporters who listen to our show, because, you know, we talk a lot about what a terrible person he is. And uh, I think we’ve gotten four responses so far. And uh, we really appreciate that, that there are people willing to listen across the aisle. I think that’s really cool. We need more of that, so good on you for that. Not for supporting Trump. [Carrie laughs.]

carrie

Yeah, consider voting for someone else.

ross

One of them did say, like, “I did support him, I don’t anymore.”

carrie

Okay! I’ll take that.

ross

And remember, from Sacred Commerce:

carrie

“We celebrate every dollar earned as a sacred exchange.”

music

ONRAC Theme Song

promo

Music: Upbeat, cheerful music with clapping in the background. Jesse Thorn: Hey, gang! Jesse here, the founder of Maximum Fun, and with me is Stacey Molski, who is—among other things—the lady who responds to all of your Tweets. Stacey Molski: Hi everyone! I also send you newsletters. Jesse: Uh, so anyway. Something really awesome. You! MaxFun listeners have given us the chance to do something really cool on behalf of our entire community, and we wanted to tell you about it. Stacey: Last summer, following the MaxFun drive, we put all of the enamel pins on sale to $10 and up members, with proceeds going to the National CASA/GAL Association for Children. Jesse: Your generous support and enthusiasm raised over a hundred thousand dollars. Our bookkeeper, Steph, would be quick to tell me the exact total is $109,025, to be exact. Stacey: Your money will go toward pairing kids who've experienced abuse or neglect with court-appointed advocates or guardian ad litem volunteers. Jesse: In other words, kids in tough spots will have somebody in their corner. Knowledgeable grown-ups who are on their team through court dates and life upheavals and confusing situations, whatever. Stacey: The money we raised together is going to help a lot of kids. Jesse: Whether you bought pins or not, you can help us build on that $109,000 foundation. Make a donation to support National CASA/GAL, and help some of our nation's most vulnerable children, at MaximumFun.org/casa. That's MaximumFun.org/casa. Stacey: And seriously, thank you. Our community rules. [Music fades out.]

speaker 1

MaximumFun.org.

speaker 2

Comedy and culture.

speaker 3

Artist owned—

speaker 4

—Audience supported.

About the show

Welcome to Oh No, Ross and Carrie!, the show where we don’t just report on fringe science, spirituality, and claims of the paranormal, but take part ourselves. Follow us as we join religions, undergo alternative treatments, seek out the paranormal, and always find the humor in life’s biggest mysteries. We show up – so you don’t have to. Every week we share a new investigation, interview, or update.

Follow @ohnopodcast on Twitter and join the Facebook group!

People

How to listen

Stream or download episodes directly from our website, or listen via your favorite podcatcher!

Share this show