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Hallelujah, bye and bye,
Michael Douglas
Michael Douglas and Gerry Armstrong

 

My old friend Michael Douglas from the Apollo and beyond died on July 11. He had been diagnosed with brain cancer in mid April. He was 56 years old.

Michael was the first Flag crew member I met, and became just about as good a friend in the Sea Org as friends were allowed to be. He was MEA I/C, in charge of Mission European Agency in Madrid, Spain, when I came through from the U.S. to join the crew in February 1971. MEA was a garrison mission with the job of relaying mail and bodies to and from the ship. I was in charge of our little group of recruits traveling to the Flagship, and was briefed in Los Angeles to call a Madrid phone number when we landed in Spain and ask for “Señor Douglas.”

Within a few weeks of my arrival on board, Michael returned from MEA to become the Apollo’s new Deputy Captain and Org Officer in the Flag Ship Org. The new Captain appointed at the same time was Norman Starkey. During the time Michael was D/Captain, I was the Boats & Transport I/C in the Deck Force, so was one of his juniors.
http://www.holysmoke.org/mo/apollo-crew-list-22apr1971.htm

My observation of Michael over the Sea Org years was that he had a quiet way of avoiding trouble, and a quiet way too of maintaining a degree of independence in a very independence-crushing group. He could get away with both avoiding trouble and with his modicum of independence because he was a competent and smart guy.

But I’ve remembered a thousand times a very funny incident when his independent streak did land him in extremely hot water. We were along side the dock in Agadir, Morocco, I think in the winter of 1971-72, and some huge swells began rolling into the port. The sky was clear, and there wasn’t much wind if I recall correctly, but there had been a monstrous storm somewhere in the Atlantic and we were getting its effect on the west coast of Africa. The ship started surging, slamming up against the dock and snapping lines, and was forced to go out to anchor for a few days to ride out the big seas. Just before the lines began breaking, Michael, seeing these huge waves coming in, had gone surfing.

Well, surfer Mike got busted from Deputy Captain, for dereliction of duty or some other of the usual crimes, and assigned to the galley, which was about as bad as it got back then because Hubbard had not yet created the RPF. Ironically, the Agadir flap was as good for my career as it was bad for Michael’s. I was in charge of Transport and ended up being the only crew member ashore while the ship was at anchor. So I took care of External Comm’s telex traffic to and from MEA by radio and by the ship’s agent’s telex machine, handled the people arriving to go on board, and saw to the other emergency needs the ship had. Not long after this, I was transferred to the Port Captain’s Office, where I labored and lived out my Apollo years.

Michael was generally a communications guy in the SO, first in the External Communications Bureau, which was in the Flag Bureau Org, and later as Hubbard’s personal External Communications Aide. Because I was on posts that took me ashore where I dealt with customs, immigration, police and the ship’s agent, I had some contact with Michael, who had to get air freighted traffic and missionaries, crew and students on and off the ship, and telexes in and out. The only occasions I recall when we spent some hours together on board in those years were during the annual all-night Flagship poker games, but those were pretty bloodthirsty affairs and there wasn’t much friendship happening.

We were thrown together again dramatically, when he was in External Comm and I was in the Port Captain’s Office, on what was supposed to be a short courier mission. The Apollo was sailing from one or another of our ports on the Iberian Peninsula (maybe Cadiz, but I’m unclear just yet) to Funchal, Madeira. Michael and I were fired to courier some mail to Madrid for transshipment to the SO’s continental relay offices, and then we were to rejoin the ship in Funchal. This was some months after the Madrid Eight flap, when the Spanish police picked up the MEA missionaires and several other Sea Org personnel on their way to the ship and jailed them for a week or so.
http://www.gerryarmstrong.org/50grand/writings/ars/ars-1999-02-24.html

By the time Michael and I were sent on our courier run, it was thought on board that the Madrid Eight situation and the Apollo’s long term black PR in Spain had been fully handled, and in fact it was thought that access to Spanish ports had been opened up for the ship as a result of the handling. Nevertheless, Michael and I triggered some alarm with the authorities at Barajas Airport, and we were hauled into an airport police office and detained for some hours. All our boxes of mail traffic were opened, the contents gone through, and our Scientology documents read. We were interrogated separately, bullied a bit by an American-English speaking agent that we surmised was DEA, and then let go to fly on to Madeira. Michael and I became the “Madrid Two.”

We worked together again in Dunedin, Florida in December 1975 until about February 1976 in the LRH External Comm Bureau in Hubbard’s Personal Office. Michael was the LRH Ext Comm Aide and I was his Deputy. Hubbard, Mary Sue and the Pers Off occupied about eight units in an otherwise virtually empty condominium or apartment complex called King Arthur’s Court. Michael and I, with shifts of Commodore’s Messengers, handled all the mail and telex traffic for Hubbard, MSH and their personal staffs. Michael and I worked well together, and we made a pretty fun time out of a fairly stressful situation. The Flag Land Base was being set up during this period, and Hubbard was running the whole operation, including the Guardian Office, and whining about having to single-hand it all.

As is well known, the cult’s United Churches of Florida cover in Clearwater was blown in early 1976, and the media discovered Hubbard’s identity and his secret Dunedin location shortly thereafter. So he packed up his Cadillac and fled with Michael and Kima, who had recently married Michael, and who was then Hubbard’s Household Unit I/C. They drove north up the east coast, ending up in a brownstone in Washington, D.C. I remained in Dunedin as Michael’ s deputy and the relay terminal for all Hubbard’s dispatch and telex traffic to and from the Clearwater base and orgs around the world. Michael and I had, I recall, a pretty good time during this period, sending funny comms back and forth, maintaining the ruse that the old man was still in Dunedin, and keeping his lines running smoothly.

In May 1976 Michael sent me on a mission, along with Gary Reisdorf, and Messengers Clarisse Barnett and Jill Goodman, to drive across the U.S. from Dunedin and set up an LRH External Comm Bureau in some apartments that the GO had rented in Culver City, California for Hubbard, Mary Sue and their close staff. This was the location given the code name “Astra,” a very temporary base while the GO completed the purchase of the La Quinta properties, which were to be Hubbard’s “Winter Headquarters,” hence WHQ.

I only lasted a few days after Michael, Hubbard and the others arrived, because I got into my infamous argument with Nikki Merwin, Mary Sue’s Communicator, and Hubbard had me locked up in the GO Intel Bureau in LA in what would become the Celebrity Center International building. After a couple of weeks, Hubbard had GO Intel personnel escort my then wife Terri and me back to the Clearwater base where he had sent an order assigning us to the Clearwater RPF, as its founding members.

I remember during those seventeen months that I was in the CW RPF that one of the really sad moments for me was encountering Michael in the Fort Harrison Hotel and not being able to talk with him. He was on a mission of some sort from Hubbard, so couldn’t associate with an RPFer, and, of course, I, being an RPF inmate, couldn’t say anything to him.

At the end of 1977, I was ordered with Terri to WHQ, and spent the next eight months or so shooting movies with Hubbard. Michael was still doing his LRH Ext Comm hat, and was also by this time Hubbard’s “Investments Officer.” See, http://www.xs4all.nl/~kspaink/cos/rmiller/bfm21.htm But our paths would cross once in while during this period, and to a degree we renewed our earlier Sea Org friendship, until Hubbard again assigned me to the RPF.

Security was beginning to come apart at La Quinta in the fall of 1978, and the Gilman Hotsprings property was purchased to be Hubbard’s next “secret” base. I went with the RPF very early after the purchase to renovate a house on the Gilman property where he intended to live. Hubbard fled from the La Quinta properties, again with Michael and Kima, hid out for a period of time in a motel, and ended up in another set of apartments, this time in Hemet, a few miles from the Gilman base. I got out of the RPF in the spring of 1979, and was posted in Hubbard’s Household Unit, but rarely saw Michael because he was principally at the Hemet apartments, which those of us who knew of their existence simply called “X.”

Michael Douglas and L. Ron Hubbard ca. New Year's 1980
Michael and Hubbard at the 1979-80 New Year party at “X” in Hemet, CA. Hubbard chose a gambling theme, in violation of HCOB 16 March 1977. Several other photos of Ron the Gambler were in the set that Scientology stole from me in April, 1982.

In early January 1980, as is well known, I petitioned Hubbard to assemble an archive of his personal documents and work on getting his biography written. Around the same date, Michael and Kima blew from X. Both of them subsequently said that the reason was just one too many meals that Hubbard in one too many rages flung across the room. In any event, their blowing was a huge threat to Hubbard, who already believed himself in peril from the criminal prosecution of the GO Eleven, the ongoing IRS case, and the several civil cases then being filed. So not long after the Douglases blew, Hubbard fled again, this time taking with him Pat and Annie Broeker.

I stayed in the Sea Org for almost two more years, posted in the LRH Personal PRO Bureau, working on Mission Corporate Category Sortout (MCCS), gathering up Hubbard biographical documents, and assisting Omar Garrison, who had been contracted to write the book. In my case, it was Norman Starkey flying into a rage that finally convinced me that it was time for me to blow too. My then wife Jocelyn and I escaped to Canada over Christmas 1981, and then returned to southern California, where I was going to continue working with Omar in one capacity or another.

Not too long after our arrival back from Canada, Jocelyn and I got in contact with Michael and Kima, who were then living in Palm Desert, California, not far from the La Quinta properties. They had developed some wog ® contacts while in the SO, and had gotten into the real estate business after leaving. Michael was a significant encouragement to me during this period to stand up to the Scientology cult and to talk about the Hubbard lies and the organization fraud I had discovered. In retrospect, I think Michael transferred on to me his own anger at being lied to, defrauded and abused by Hubbard, and to some extent I took on Michael’s desire for justice from the cult as my own crusade.

In the first months after our blowing the cult, Jocelyn and I hung out quite a bit with Michael and Kima, and Jim and Nancy Dincalci. At one point, the idea arose among us to sell some photographs of Hubbard that we had acquired in the Sea Org, and for which there was a collectors’ market. The Douglases had some unique photos they’d taken during the periods they’d lived with Hubbard, Jim had a set of photos from 1973 when he’d lived with Hubbard in Queens, New York, and I had an album of photos from my wedding to Terri on board the Apollo.

As is known, the cult stole the photos, and when I went into the CMO building in LA and demanded their return, Terri told me to get a lawyer. That grand theft threw the six of us ex-SO members together in a new legal relationship, and led to my going to see attorney Michael Flynn and getting him to defend me against the cult. And Flynn’s defense led to the famous Breckenridge decision, which mentions the Douglases and Dincalcis and the photos incident.
http://www.gerryarmstrong.org/50grand/legal/a1/breckenridge-decision.html#5972

During the years I was in litigation with Scientology, up until the December 1986 “settlement,” I saw Michael very rarely. We occasionally talked by phone, or I exchanged cards with Kima and him. Michael was on a spiritual journey during this period, tried for a ministership from Unity, and studied all kinds of mystical writings and disciplines. I worked in the law business and was immersed in the anti-Scientology litigation and the global effort against Hubbard and Scientology fraud and criminality.

We saw each other in Los Angeles in December 1986 during the “global settlement” that Flynn had arranged with Scientology’s lawyers for himself and his “clients.” Michael, Kima and Nancy, who had no filed claims against the cult, were each given $7500 and signed “settlement agreements,” not quite as onerous as the one I was required to sign. Nancy has testified that, in order to get her to sign, Flynn told her, as he told me, that she couldn’t legally sign away her basic Constitutional rights, and that the “ contract” was unenforceable. See, e.g., the “settlement agreement” between Flynn and his clients for the factors involved in the amounts paid by the cult.
http://www.gerryarmstrong.org/50grand/legal/a1/flynn-clients-settlement- agreement.html

Picnicking with Michael in 1987, I think in Napa County.

At the beginning of 1987, I moved from Boston, where I had been working for Flynn, to California, and purchased a house with Michael and Kima in the Berkeley-Oakland hills. After my years in the Sea Org and five years of fair game and litigation, this was a reasonably relaxed time for me, and I think it was relaxed and comfortable for the Douglases. I incorporated The Gerald Armstrong Corporation (TGAC), and spent hours writing, drawing and getting strong. Michael and I started a business together, the Whynot Group, we invested together, hung out together, and did all sorts of things together. During one period of some months, the three of us got up every morning and went running together, although I think Kima just walked with their dogs. Running wasn’t to be Michael’s thing either, however, whereas it rapidly became mine, and after a while our morning runs ended. We still went on all sorts of walks or hikes together in the SF Bay area, but my running partners changed to the fast folks I started racing with.

In 1989 I bought a new house and moved from the home I shared with the Douglases, but stayed in close touch because we were only about a half mile apart in the hills. During those years, all of us, the Douglases, Dincalcis, other ex- Scientologists and non-ex friends, spoke freely among ourselves about our cult experiences and knowledge. It was natural, and all of us knew that it was impossible to live a sane life and to get over the cult trauma and brainwash without talk about those experiences. We didn’t make any public statements about Scientology, and didn’t attack the cult, but none of us obeyed the restrictions on our speech imposed by the “settlement agreements,” because all of knew they were impossible and legally unenforceable.

The cultists, of course, continued to black PR me publicly and to file false statements about me in court. I was troubled and saddened by these attacks, but did nothing in response until the fall of 1989. At that time, because of threats from cult attorney Lawrence Heller after I was served with a deposition subpoena in the Bent Corydon litigation, I was drawn back into active participation in Scientology’s dirty fair game war. I’ve detailed this part of history in various declarations and other writings.
http://www.gerryarmstrong.org/50grand/legal/decl-1990-03-15.html
http://www.gerryarmstrong.org/50grand/legal/decl-1990-12-25.html

In 1990 I moved to Sleepy Hollow in Marin County and into a new house that I’d had built as an investment project. Michael and Kima moved into the house I vacated in the Berkeley hills and rented out the first home on which I still held a mortgage. In August, as I’ve written about many times, I was inspired by the Middle East crisis to give away my worldly possessions, which included TGAC and my home, and to forgive the debts owed me, which included the paper I held on the two Douglas homes. Scientology made my renunciation, which had nothing to do with the cult, a legal issue in 1993 when they sued me on the utterly fabricated allegation that I’d given away my assets to make myself judgment proof so I could violate their “settlement agreement.”
See, e.g., http://www.gerryarmstrong.org/50grand/legal/decl-1994-01-13.html.

In August 1991 I starting working as the legal assistant of attorney Ford Greene, whose office was also in Marin, and who was at that time fighting day and night to save Rick and Vicki Aznaran’s case from being lost in the cult’ s standard avalanche of summary adjudication motions and other paper. Scientology tried to enforce its “settlement agreement” by motion against me in LA Superior Court, and, when that failed, in 1992 filed a lawsuit in Marin County. I worked with Ford into 1995 and litigated that case and two more the cult filed against me. In October 1991, the Oakland Firestorm destroyed both the homes I had owned with the Douglases, and virtually all their personal belongings, and they too moved to Marin.

Michael went back to university during this period and got a degree in psychology, and he took up surfing again. We saw each other from time to time, but what the cult was doing with me and able to get away with unlawfully in the Marin Court became a source of some distress for him. In early 1995, I wasn’t working with Ford and having to defend myself without a lawyer, had no computer or printer, and approached Michael to borrow some money to be able to continue the fight. He told me that he had been threatened by Mike Rinder that if he helped me in any way he would be in a lot trouble, which Michael took to mean that Scientology would sue him for breach of contract, as the cult had with me.

I was devastated by Scientology’s extortion and interference with our relationship and filed a declaration in the Marin litigation detailing what had happened and what Michael had told me. The cult then filed a statement they got Michael to sign in which he denied what he had earlier said. Having nowhere else to turn to at the time, I filed for bankruptcy, which slowed the Marin proceeding down, and gave me time to sell some artwork and buy or borrow the equipment I needed. But the Rinder threat really destroyed Michael’s and my friendship.

I continued the legal fight in Bankruptcy Court and in Marin Superior Court until the beginning of 1997 when, because of my discovery of Scientology’s IRS fraud and because of the cult’s continuing threats I went to Canada. I sent Michael and Kima Christmas cards most years, but it was obvious to me that they didn’t want to be in touch. They moved to Kauai where the surfing is paradisial, and I believe I found Michael’s name mentioned a couple of years ago on a surfing web site. I see that he had a counseling job at a health spa and resort on the island http://www.purekauai.com/healthresortsteam.htm and I just found his obituary on kauaiworld.com: http://www.kauaiworld.com/articles/2003/07/17/obituaries/obit14.txt

Another old friend sent me Michael’s e-mail address after he was diagnosed in April. I sent him a note and happily he responded. So there was a bit of a reconciliation at the end. The Scientologists still have a pettiness to expiate, but there’s plenty of time for that. I miss Michael, and there’s plenty of time for that too.

I kind of think he’d like this old gospel tune right about now.

Some glad morning when this life is o'er,
I'll fly away.
To a home on God's celestial shore,
I'll fly away.

I'll fly away, O Glory,
I'll fly away.
When I die, Hallelujah, bye and bye,
I'll fly away.

When the shadows of this life have flown,
I'll fly away.
Like a bird thrown, driven by the storm,
I'll fly away.

I'll fly away, O Glory,
I'll fly away.
When I die, Hallelujah, bye and bye,
I'll fly away.

Just a few more weary days and then,
I'll fly away.
To a land where joy shall never end,
I'll fly away.

I'll fly away, O Glory,
I'll fly away.
When I die, Hallelujah, bye and bye,
I'll fly away.

http://members.tripod.com/Synergy_2/lyrics/flyaway.html

Some day me too, Michael.

Gerry

 

 
 
 
 

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