If the going didn't get rough, we wouldn't have Action Figures.
So, now I am going to write about the situation in Arizona with the frozen dancers: a dead boy, a butterfly lady lama, and a gringo geshe.
Maybe it is none of my business. Maybe I should keep my big mouth shut. Originally, I wasn't going to say anything at all. But, in the back of my head, I have this nagging idea that maybe a few words from a damaged, bent, and bruised old scoundrel might be of some passing value. Like a drunk, maybe... who thinks everything he says is important. Or, maybe the tinny, piano-in-the-parlor voice of wearily accepted experience.
Hot blood, passion, aggression, the painful throb of sexual jealousy, and the gnawing thirst of sexual desire are not altogether unknown phantoms. There are wild ghosts in the Vagina Forest. They are how most of us wind up born, how some wind up realized, and how others wind up dead.
No matter how you try to gild the lily -- calling it universal, nectar-bliss this, or churn-emptiness that -- you are still pointing a golden gun with a suicide trigger at the open sky. Whether you come from a Strip Club culture that pays to watch, or a Penis Painted on the Wall culture that likes to be reminded, that trigger is always dangling down, just waiting to be squeezed.
Ours is a society where people will pay, and pay dearly, to buy stuff they see in movies. You can purchase Harry Potter wands, Gryffindor ties, and brooms to compete in Quidditch. It's called the "back end," and it is huge. Revenues from sales of back end merchandise often exceed that of total box office.
Except, the wands don't work, the ties are essenceless, and the brooms don't fly.
"Back end" is what is left when the lamas turn their attention elsewhere. It is what remains when the lights go up and the show is over. It is what Mr. Geshe Michael Roach and Mrs. Lama Christie Roach nee McNally bought and resold at their Hogwarts Experience down in the Arizona desert. It is what other movie-goers are buying and selling to one another at other roadside attractions.
Oh yes, there are others... in some you get to play ordained, and dress up in robes. In others, you paint signs and go shout at the Dalai Lama when he comes to town. Some theme park rights are licensed, others are counterfeit. This is America. We have Original Joe's, Original Original Joe's, Joe's Original, and Rocky Upteem to guide us.
As one fellow put it, we have the franchise running away with the brand.
Mr. and Mrs. Roach are married on April 16, 1998 in Little Compton, Rhode Island. The marriage is kept a closely guarded secret. A well publicized climb to ascendancy is noted: foreign speaking engagements with elaborately dressed stages, grand publications offered, enterprises launched, a picture feature in the New York Times. He appears in his monk's robes. She is dressed in ethereal white. Mr. Roach tells the Times they are celibate spiritual partners: they have vowed never to be more than fifteen feet apart from each other.
Somehow, and we do not know exactly how, Mrs. Roach manages to get more than fifteen feet away from Mr. Roach, and a good deal closer to someone initially described as an "attendant." The attendant's name is Ian Thorson. Mr. Roach files for divorce from Mrs. Roach in September 2010, in Yavapai County, Arizona Superior Court. Mrs. Roach marries Mr. Thorson a month later, on October 3, 2010, at Montauk, New York. She is again dressed in ethereal white. Her divorce from Mr. Roach becomes final on December 1, 2010.
On or about April 22, 2012, Mr. Thorson is found dead, lying beside Mrs. Thorson. Cause of death is listed as "dehydration." He is cremated in Willcox, Arizona on April 26, 2012: the last time his family sees or hears from his wife.
May I so humbly offer that the cause of death was not dehydration.
My mind wanders back to my own Montauk seashore, so many years ago. I picture my shining angel as she was then. She is wearing Lama Christie's dress. This is autumn of 1971 before Christie McNally was even born. She is a stunningly beautiful fairy princess. To this day, that is how people remember her: for her beauty. She is a famous blue dakini. We are a spiritual couple. We are rich.We take long showers together. When I visit the barber, she comes along to supervise. When she visits the doctor, I sit in the room. We make the social circuit together. We are envied. We leave the cottage at Montauk Point and travel to Vermont. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche marries us in October, a month after our divorces become final. For the wedding, we pass out flowers and oranges and bottles of beer.In the colorful purse she got in Kathmandu, she carries a .38 Smith & Wesson Bodyguard Special revolver. Beneath my vintage Tibetan silk brocade shirt from Rinpoche, I carry a Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife, down my back, between my shoulder blades. The first thing is always, "Raise your hands!"
The days are golden. Life doesn't weigh very much when it is well lived. The nights are long and sweet. You beg the hours to last forever. The promises are forever, forever, forever. The promises make it heavier. We gamble against the odds, and rely entirely on love. Always, we think. Yes, always.
Screaming tears and shattered goblets on expensive hotel room floors. Clothes torn and thrown from windows. "I gave up everything for you!" "Why can't we live a normal life?" "Why are you such a dirty little trick for the camera?" "I saw how you looked at him/her her/him." Broken bottles. Shots fired in frustration. Knives thrown in desperation.
In the interval between their Montauk marriage in October, and being asked to leave their Arizona retreat cabin in February 2012, Mrs. Thorson delivered three blows to Mr. Thorson with a Bowie knife. He was sutured. No doubt the "sorry" was as long, sweet, and slow as the starry Arizona night. One wound was described as "near a vital organ." The knife was a wedding present. Mrs. Thorson had a Japanese sword she fancied. She of the ethereal whiteness fancied cold steel. When she recounted the wounding of her husband, she said she did not know the knife would cut.
Mr. Thorson kept his mouth shut. He loved her. Sometimes he hit her. She loved him. Sometimes she cut him. She did not know the knife would cut. They did not know love kills.
With blood on the sheets, sirens in the distance, she whispered through tears and clenched teeth, "I love you. God help me. I love you enough to kill you." I swore that I would never give her up, no matter what. I swore that I would protect her always, no matter what it cost. That I would take all her sins upon my self, like the knife between my shoulders. I stumbled off for suturing. She lost her nerve, but I only lost a name and a city. I knew love kills.
I cannot bring myself to say tsk, tsk. I am too goddamn disgusted that here, after all is said and done, not only can you bleed in the name of love, but you can fuck yourself to death in a half-suicide cave, the other half just dreaming; this, in the name of "Lamaism," grabbing back-end, branded merchandise like you just watched "Dirty Dancing."
Please, take a lesson from shattered life.
Don't believe the movies are real.
Throw away your souvenirs.
A boy is dead, a girl is living with her own version, and an old man is on the telephone with his lawyers. People in the media, people in general, people on the 'Net, people like me are hashing over the situation, but we weren't there. People are tossing blame around, like pennies in a pool, but we weren't there.
I think nominally "Buddhist" cults should be done away with. I think demagogues should be shown the door. I think we should all lighten up on each other, accept that we are human, and accept that we all make heavy mistakes.
For that boy to die this way wounds me so deeply.
I thought I had gone somewhere so others would not have to go. Forty years ago, I told everyone that knives cut. I demonstrated that seductive demons wobble on the edges. I told everyone that desire, anger, and delusion kills.