Sunday, December 25, 2016

Have Yourself a Merry Little 2017...Bruce Handy

Have Yourself a Merry Little 2017

PHOTO: Judy Garland singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” in the movie “Meet Me in St. Louis.”

True, it’s not by BeyoncĂ© or Adele or Rihanna. It’s not even by anyone still alive. But I would like to nominate “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” as song of the year, because if any single tune reflects the miseries of 2016, and the anxious uncertainty with which we greet 2017, it is this 72-year-old holiday chestnut.

The song was introduced by Judy Garland in the 1944 film “Meet Me in St. Louis,” a picture that was itself looking further backward, to the turn of the last century. If this sounds like a Russian nesting doll approach to nostalgia, well, that’s only one facet of the song’s 2016-ness.

Like you, I’ve probably heard “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” dozens of times since Thanksgiving, and hundreds if not thousands of times more across previous holiday seasons. (Mileage will vary depending on how much time you log at Starbucks and CVS.) With its pretty, winding, bittersweet melody, which its co-author likened to a madrigal, and its lyrics about making the best of a rocky present with hopes for a better future, this unusually ambiguous Christmas song falls on the melancholy side of the moody-merry Yuletide music divide (the so-called Guaraldi Line).

To my taste, that is the side to be on, but until last weekend, I hadn’t paid much more attention to “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” than I had to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” or the odious “Frosty the Snowman.” The occasion was one of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s annual Big Band Holidays concerts, where I found tears running down my cheeks during an especially plaintive version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” sung by Catherine Russell and arranged by the tenor saxophonist Victor Goines. Introducing the song, Ms. Russell mentioned that she was going to use its seldom-sung original lyrics, and indeed they proved not only unfamiliar but also — surprising in this generally jolly context — provocative.

The most common version of the song begins:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Let your heart be light

Next year all our troubles will be out of sight

Instead, [this week in NYC] Ms. Russell sang:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

It may be your last

Next year we may all be living in the past

That’s not just melancholy or bittersweet; that’s bleak, more “A Raymond Carver Christmas” than “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

In “Meet Me in St. Louis,” Garland’s character, Esther Smith, sings “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to her youngest sister, Tootie, played by then 6-year-old Margaret O’Brien. (Garland, 21, was cast as a teenager and not happy about it.) The two are part of a bustling family of four young girls and one older brother growing up in St. Louis in 1903, when the city was gearing up for the World’s Fair it would host the following year. The thin, episodic plot hinges on a promotion the family’s father has received, which will require a move to New York City.

Some readers might think that a good thing, but the Smith sisters are crushed, understandably sorrowful that their lives will be uprooted, their friendships sundered, their rituals erased. Late on Christmas Eve — presumably the family’s last in its warm, sprawling, lovingly art-directed-for-Technicolor home — Esther finds Tootie still awake, worried that Santa Claus won’t be able to find the family chimney next year in New York. Esther has her own fear: that the move, just days away, will end her budding romance with the pipe-smoking, basketball-playing college boy next door. So she launches into “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” as a balm for both her sister and herself, Garland giving the song all the magnificent ache and vulnerability she had brought to “Over the Rainbow” five years earlier.

The lyrics Catherine Russell sang at Jazz at Lincoln Center were the ones the songwriter Hugh Martin first tried to sell to MGM producers Arthur Freed and Roger Edens, who laughed when he played it for them, telling Martin, according to his autobiography, that he was “on the track of something good” but that the song “shouldn’t be a dirge.”

Martin didn’t want to compromise (he claimed he wrote the song himself, though it is officially credited to him and his partner, Ralph Blane), but Garland’s critique was even harsher than the producers’: “If I sing that lyric to little Margaret O’Brien, the audience will think I’m a monster.”

Her response may have been testy because she hadn’t wanted to make the movie in the first place, or because she was concerned O’Brien would steal the picture, or because she didn’t trust the director, Vincente Minnelli (whom she would later marry), or simply because she was Judy Garland, but she wasn’t wrong, and thus were born the more familiar lyrics, though in the movie they don’t much soothe poor Tootie: The Christmas Eve scene ends with O’Brien running into the moonlit yard and, in a fit of rage and despair, smashing the family of snow people she had built that morning — which might sound a little much, but O’Brien’s traumatized sobbing sells it. (Before scenes in which the child star had to cry, her mother would tell her her dog was being put down.)

So you can imagine how both Tootie and the audience might have reacted if the “it may be your last” lyric had stayed in the picture. Aside from turning filmgoers against Garland, it might also have traumatized them, given that “Meet Me in St. Louis” premiered in late November 1944, when the wars in Europe and the Pacific, though nearing their endgames, were far from over; the brutal German counteroffensive known as the Battle of the Bulge would begin just a few weeks later. Amid loss, separation and uncertainty, lyrics from Martin’s softened rewrite such as “Someday soon we all will be together / If the fates allow” were poignant enough.

“Not quite all, we know that,” the critic David Thomson has written of what he calls “the saddest Christmas song there ever was.” When Garland performed it at the Hollywood Canteen not long after the movie’s release for an audience of soldiers and sailors who were soon to ship out, she brought the house to tears, or so legend has it.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra has used the original lyrics before, including on the 2015 album “Big Band Holidays,” so it’s not as if someone fished them out of the trunk 72 years later to make a tart postelection point. I’m also well aware that our current challenges pale in comparison to fighting a world war with civilization in the balance. Let’s say we are somewhere on a continuum between that and facing a move from St. Louis to New York. Still, I have to confess the “it may be your last” line captured my near-apocalyptic mood — and maybe yours as well.

But the lyric that moved me to tears is the line that follows “If the fates allow” (and remained in Martin’s final lyrics):

Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow.

How prosaic, even homely as pre-rock era songwriting goes, and yet how perfect. Muddling through, somehow, may not sound particularly inspirational, but perseverance is often the best option at hand, when just moving forward, one inch or foot or yard at a time, can be a kind of heroism. At least that’s how it struck me listening to Ms. Russell, her deeply felt performance offering a subdued and cleareyed but still genuine optimism.

Is that a lot to hang on a single line from a Christmas song? Maybe. Frank Sinatra, feeling the lyric was too grim, asked Martin rewrite it when he recorded the song for his 1957 LP “A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra.” Martin came up with “Hang a shining star upon the highest bough,” a line that many other performers have used since. (Josh Groban bellows it on his lugubrious new recording of the song, which just hit #1 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart.) I prefer the older version, but there’s an implicit defiance in the Sinatra variant, a kind of valiant optimism — or maybe it’s go-down-swinging panache — which also suits blue-state moods this December.

In “Meet Me in St. Louis,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is the catalyst for a happy ending: Tootie’s backyard rampage prompts her father to change his mind about the move, and we cut to a dazzling climax at the 1904 World’s Fair, electric lights and handsome beaus suggesting a fine future for all. Happy endings seem a little more remote in 2016 — miles away, as they say, or at least as distant as the next election. In the meantime, we muddle through. It’s a start.
Bruce Handy is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and the author of the forthcoming book “Wild Things: The Unchildish Pleasures of Reading Great Children’s Books.”

Marriage (NYT December 2016)

Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person
By ALAIN de BOTTONMAY 28, 2016

IT’S one of the things we are most afraid might happen to us. We go to great lengths to avoid it. And yet we do it all the same: We marry the wrong person.

Partly, it’s because we have a bewildering array of problems that emerge when we try to get close to others. We seem normal only to those who don’t know us very well. In a wiser, more self-aware society than our own, a standard question on any early dinner date would be: “And how are you crazy?”

Perhaps we have a latent tendency to get furious when someone disagrees with us or can relax only when we are working; perhaps we’re tricky about intimacy after sex or clam up in response to humiliation. Nobody’s perfect. The problem is that before marriage, we rarely delve into our complexities. Whenever casual relationships threaten to reveal our flaws, we blame our partners and call it a day. As for our friends, they don’t care enough to do the hard work of enlightening us. One of the privileges of being on our own is therefore the sincere impression that we are really quite easy to live with.

Our partners are no more self-aware. Naturally, we make a stab at trying to understand them. We visit their families. We look at their photos, we meet their college friends. All this contributes to a sense that we’ve done our homework. We haven’t. Marriage ends up as a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be, binding themselves to a future they cannot conceive of and have carefully avoided investigating.

For most of recorded history, people married for logical sorts of reasons: because her parcel of land adjoined yours, his family had a flourishing business, her father was the magistrate in town, there was a castle to keep up, or both sets of parents subscribed to the same interpretation of a holy text. And from such reasonable marriages, there flowed loneliness, infidelity, abuse, hardness of heart and screams heard through the nursery doors. The marriage of reason was not, in hindsight, reasonable at all; it was often expedient, narrow-minded, snobbish and exploitative. That is why what has replaced it — the marriage of feeling — has largely been spared the need to account for itself.

What matters in the marriage of feeling is that two people are drawn to each other by an overwhelming instinct and know in their hearts that it is right. Indeed, the more imprudent a marriage appears (perhaps it’s been only six months since they met; one of them has no job or both are barely out of their teens), the safer it can feel. Recklessness is taken as a counterweight to all the errors of reason, that catalyst of misery, that accountant’s demand. The prestige of instinct is the traumatized reaction against too many centuries of unreasonable reason.

But though we believe ourselves to be seeking happiness in marriage, it isn’t that simple. What we really seek is familiarity — which may well complicate any plans we might have had for happiness. We are looking to recreate, within our adult relationships, the feelings we knew so well in childhood. The love most of us will have tasted early on was often confused with other, more destructive dynamics: feelings of wanting to help an adult who was out of control, of being deprived of a parent’s warmth or scared of his anger, of not feeling secure enough to communicate our wishes. How logical, then, that we should as grown-ups find ourselves rejecting certain candidates for marriage not because they are wrong but because they are too right — too balanced, mature, understanding and reliable — given that in our hearts, such rightness feels foreign. We marry the wrong people because we don’t associate being loved with feeling happy.

We make mistakes, too, because we are so lonely. No one can be in an optimal frame of mind to choose a partner when remaining single feels unbearable. We have to be wholly at peace with the prospect of many years of solitude in order to be appropriately picky; otherwise, we risk loving no longer being single rather more than we love the partner who spared us that fate.

Finally, we marry to make a nice feeling permanent. We imagine that marriage will help us to bottle the joy we felt when the thought of proposing first came to us: Perhaps we were in Venice, on the lagoon, in a motorboat, with the evening sun throwing glitter across the sea, chatting about aspects of our souls no one ever seemed to have grasped before, with the prospect of dinner in a risotto place a little later. We married to make such sensations permanent but failed to see that there was no solid connection between these feelings and the institution of marriage.

Indeed, marriage tends decisively to move us onto another, very different and more administrative plane, which perhaps unfolds in a suburban house, with a long commute and maddening children who kill the passion from which they emerged. The only ingredient in common is the partner. And that might have been the wrong ingredient to bottle.

The good news is that it doesn’t matter if we find we have married the wrong person.

We mustn’t abandon him or her, only the founding Romantic idea upon which the Western understanding of marriage has been based the last 250 years: that a perfect being exists who can meet all our needs and satisfy our every yearning.

We need to swap the Romantic view for a tragic (and at points comedic) awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will (without any malice) do the same to them. There can be no end to our sense of emptiness and incompleteness. But none of this is unusual or grounds for divorce. Choosing whom to commit ourselves to is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for.

This philosophy of pessimism offers a solution to a lot of distress and agitation around marriage. It might sound odd, but pessimism relieves the excessive imaginative pressure that our romantic culture places upon marriage. The failure of one particular partner to save us from our grief and melancholy is not an argument against that person and no sign that a union deserves to fail or be upgraded.

The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true marker of the “not overly wrong” person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition.

Romanticism has been unhelpful to us; it is a harsh philosophy. It has made a lot of what we go through in marriage seem exceptional and appalling. We end up lonely and convinced that our union, with its imperfections, is not “normal.” We should learn to accommodate ourselves to “wrongness,” striving always to adopt a more forgiving, humorous and kindly perspective on its multiple examples in ourselves and in our partners.
Alain de Botton (@alaindebotton) is the author of the novel “The Course of Love.”

Monday, November 14, 2016

We Agnostics Valley / Sunday 8 pm / Map Picture


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Agenda for Day 2, Saturday 11/12/2016, of Three-Day Agnostics AA Conference

I don't have the full agenda of the November 2016 "three day, second international,  We Agnostics Atheistics Free Thinkers AA Conference."  It was held in Austin, TX.   For a view into the types of topics and agenda items, see below.

Saturday, November 12, 2016
8:30--9:50 a.m.
               Salon F:                Yoga and Recovery - Colby S.
9:00 – 9:50 a.m.
               Main Ballroom:  What is WAAFT?? – Vic L., John S., , Nick H.
               Salon G:               The Importance of Trust in Sobriety, Russell C.
               Salon H:               All is Clouded by Desire: Chris N.
               Lonestar 2           AA Meeting - We Agnostics, Olympia, WA (Maureen M.)
               Lonestar 3           AA Meeting - We Agnostics, Lafayette, CA (Russ H.)
10:00 – 11:20 .m.
               Main Ballroom:  GLBTQ Discussion Panel: Moderator - John C.; Mikey, John L., Brooks L.
10:00 – 10:50 a.m.
               Salon F:                Freedom from Fear of coming out (as an atheist) in Traditional AA, Barry W.
               Salon G:               WAAFT Alanon Workshop - Stephen G.
               Salon H:               Women’s Meeting Workshop, Kristina J.
               Lonestar 2           AA Meeting - We Agnostics, Columbus, OH (Ed S.)
               Lonestar 3           AA Meeting - Safe Harbor, Philadelphia, PA (Liz S.)
11:00 – 11:50 a.m.           
               Salon F:                International Panel, John C., Suzanne G, Iain H       
Salon G:               The Spiritual Life is not a Theory, George M.,Garry U
               Salon H:               WAAFT, Should we change the name? Vic L., Pam W.
               Lonestar 2           AA Meeting - We Agnostics Group of AA, Indianapolis, IN (Joe S.)
               Lonestar 3           AA Meeting - Godless Heathens, Carbondale, CO (Pat Y.)
11:30 – 12:50 p.m.
               Main Ballroom: AA and the Law: Gregg O., Larry K.
12:00 – 12:50 p.m.
1:00 – 1:50 p.m.
Main Ballroom:  Atheists, Agnostics, Addict, Alcoholic, Ken S., Anne J.
               Salon F:                History of Atheists & Agnostics in AA, Roger C.
               Salon G:               Newcomers meeting workshop, Iain H., Glenn G.
               Salon H:               Meditation & Recovery, Chris S. David
               Lonestar 2           AA Meeting - Beyond Belief, Austin TX (Joseph M.)
               Lonestar 3           AA Meeting -We Agnostics, Dallas, TX (Emery S.)
Saturday, November 12, 2016 continued
2:00 – 2:50 p.m.
Main Ballroom:  The Use of Secular Steps at AA Meetings, Roger C.
               Salon F:                Decline and Fall of AA, Jerry F., John H.
               Salon G:               Living Cyber: Podcasts, blogs, social-media, online meetings, recovery and
                                             fellowship on the internet.
Moderator: Joe C, (Toronto) Rebellion Dogs Radio,
Panelists, Chris A, (St. Louis) Recovery Revolution Podcast
Panelist, Tammi S, (Valley Ford, CA), My Life Is A Work In Progress Blog
Salon H:               “Living Sober” Book Panel, Peter T.
               Lonestar 2           AA Meeting - We Agnostics, NYC (Deirdre S.)
               Lonestar 3           AA Meeting - Freethinkers/Atheists/Agnostics, Savannah, GA ( Mary C.)
3:00 – 3:50 p.m
               Salon F:                Women’s Meeting, Kristina J.
               Salon G:               Young People’s Meeting, Pat Y, Meagan M., Barry F.
Salon H:               Men’s Meeting,  John L.
3:30 – 5:30 p.m.
               Lonestar 1, 2, & 3             WAAFT- IAAC Business Meeting with the  
Board of Directors Meeting: Vote on a New Name, announce next WAAFT IAAC City, Ratify the bylaws, etc.
4:00 – 4:50 p.m.
Salon F:                Solutions Based Therapy, Linda S.
Salon G:               Slogans Workshop, Mikey
               Salon H:               13th Stepping, Erin G.
5:00 – 6:00 p.m.                .
               Salon F:                Traditions Meeting, Ted B.
Salon G:               Small Town AA - Courtney S.
Salon H:               Anger & Resentments David B.
Dinner on your own – explore Austin
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
               Austin Room:                     Spoken Word, Poetry etc. Thomas B. & John H.

Waterloo Room:              Comedy Improv Workshop, Patricia T

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Essay on Charlie Polacheck

Copied from the AA Agnostica Blog in case anything should ever happen to it there.

[Return to LA Agnostics Homepage here]

Father of We Agnostics Dies

Charlie P
Charlie P. was the co-founder of the first AA meeting ever to be called “We Agnostics” in Los Angeles, California, in 1980. He achieved another first when, in 2001, he launched another “We Agnostics” meeting, this time in Austin, Texas.
By Shawn M.
I learned tonight that my AA sponsor, Charlie P, passed away in Austin, Texas at the age of 98.
Within recovery communities, one hears much about sponsors. Charlie was both a son of a gun and a saint. Also, the most spiritual man I have ever encountered. That is really saying something about a guy who claimed to be a raging atheist (more on that later).
Many years ago I was “meeting shopping” and in the Los Angeles AA Directory I noticed a meeting called “We Agnostics.” There is a chapter in the AA Big Book titled “We Agnostics.” In essence, the chapter emphasizes that all drunks come into AA as agnostics and godless but, over time, they rid themselves of that ridiculous concept and see the path towards a Higher Power (code speak for the more commonly used word – God). I thought this “We Agnostics” meeting was either one of two things, a Big Book thumpers meeting or – just maybe – something more interesting. It was indeed more interesting and was located on Barrington Avenue in a big old wood home which was part of the Unitarian Fellowship.
My first meeting there truly made me see the unique, complex components that make up the AA fellowship. This was a group of people that did not subscribe to any notion of canned theology or cultish adherence to anything besides this: “no matter what” one does not put alcohol anywhere near the lips or nostrils. Also, if craving or life itself made you feel like jumping out of your skin, you must pick up the phone and talk with another meeting member. We help each other “no matter what.” That was the guiding principle of the LA We Agnostics AA group. Simple concept.
At the end of this meeting an old guy, obviously from NYC, asked me if I was a real alcoholic. I answered in the affirmative. He handed me a piece of paper that looked like one of the slips from a fortune cookie. This guy, Charlie, told me to call him sometime and we’d chat about the Higher Power stuff or anything else about being an alcoholic in the rooms of AA. By the way, the piece of fortune cookie paper he handed me simply said “Charlie” and had a seven digit phone number (he assumed, even then, everyone still lived in the 213 area code). Charlie had brought the AA We Agnostics format to California.
I still have that little slip of paper.
I called Charlie. It was a journey speaking with Charlie. After a month I asked Charlie to sponsor me and he laid out his ground rules. The criteria were, for me, stern and disciplined. This man was not into holding my hand.
He was not an easy sponsor. Doing the Steps with Charlie was hardly a warm, pleasant experience. Brutal in fact. Much better than almost any shrink I had ever encountered and overwhelmingly wise. That was my first Steps go around. Subsequent redoing of the Steps work proved simply enlightening with Charlie. It helped keep me sober then and still does now.
As the years passed, I watched Charlie perform countless acts of real kindness – without an audience. For example: I was at meeting when a deeply disturbed schizophrenic whose personal hygiene was lacking raised his hand and asked for a meal and a ride to a shelter. Charlie quietly took the man and led him out the door – and then into his car. Nobody noticed but me. Not a word was spoken about it. The personal hygiene deficient man kept coming around and the same routine continued for well over a year. Once he (the lacking-hygiene man) showed up clean shaven with clean clothes and looking nourished and healthy. Charlie’s doing. This is but one small example. Charlie gave again and again – without looking for attention. To him, having acts of kindness witnessed or acknowledged somehow cheapened the act.
He was not merely about the 12th Step but adhering to a life of giving of oneself – always with unconditional love.
Charlie Polacheck
A memorial service was held for Charlie in Hollywood, California, on April 22, 2012. Megan D., (co-founder of the “We Agnostics” meeting in 1980 in Los Angeles) spoke at that service. Click on the image to hear a recording of her remarks.
Charlie claimed to be a staunch atheist. His heritage was Jewish but unlike many atheistic Jews, Charlie did not observe the holidays or traditions. That would have been a treasonous act to Charlie. Yet, in later years, after endless hours discussing the definitions of God from the perspective of many belief systems and the nature of the universe from a philosophical stance, Charlie said to me that he had discovered a definition of “God” that he could tolerate. That power greater than himself was the “E” in the equation “E=mc2.”
That worked for Charlie and I can embrace his logic.
Charlie’s higher purpose and power was the act of loving and all the Energy (the “E” in “E=mc2” equation) contained throughout the universe (both known and unknown). Charlie gave unselfishly and saved countless lives. He did not care to keep score. He was a very devoted loving husband, father, grandfather and great-great-grandfather. Charlie was significant contributor. He saved lives and reinstalled the ability to experience joy into many hearts. He was a holy man.
Charlie had a good run. A life worth living and I am forever grateful to have known this man.
In honor of Charlie, let’s never forget the “no matter what” principle of the Los Angeles We Agnostics. My salute and love to Charlie P.
Charlie P, AA founder of “We Agnostics” in Los Angeles, California in 1978 and in Austin, Texas in 2001, passed away on February 27, 2012, after a year of failing health.  He was 98 years old and had 41 years of sobriety in AA.
He had many sponsees and affected the lives of many people in AA. Since and in response to Shawn’s post, others have shared their knowledge of Charlie:
An elder statesman (by Richard N): As an “elder statesman” of the fellowship, he was never demanding, always accepting. He got all teary-eyed when I told him about my estranged daughter’s phone call, after several years of not speaking to me, and then more years of my successful sobriety. She said, “I feel like I’ve got my Daddy back.” As a loving father himself, he really identified with that. Charlie was a Jew and definitely an atheist, so I don’t think the Vatican will canonize him any time soon. But in my loving memory he will always be Saint Charlie.
Candles and Charlie (by Sandra B.): I remember Charlie from my early days in sobriety and I knew he was an atheist. Started We Agnostics group and was one of the best AA members to ever have graced the earth. I call myself a Christian and I can’t hold a candle to Charlie. RIP Charlie P.
He made a difference (by Bruce K.): My life is infinitely richer having known and loved Charlie P. He made a huge difference in my life, and the lives of countless others. He taught us the true meaning of living rigorously honest, consistently responsible, and unconditionally loving lives. And this very public atheist was truly one of the happiest and most spiritual people I’ve ever known. Those of us fortunate enough to have known him will carry little bits of Charlie’s message and love with us, and we’ll pass it on to others so that they also can also benefit from Charlie’s experience, strength and hope. Thank you Charlie P.
He was legit (by kkash): Charlie. My friend. He lived the richest life of anyone I have ever known. He was brilliant, always cheerful, adored by his family, admired by his friends. Charlie shared his secret to living well often and it was this: “To live well, practice these principles – rigorous honesty, unconditional love, and consistent responsibility.” He was legit.
His legacy continues to help (Nick H.): I met Charlie when he moved to Austin in 2000. He also handed me one of his pieces of paper with his name and phone number. During his last 12 years in Austin he became an icon (as it were) of the AA community in Austin and was loved by many all along the belief continuum. Through his influence the number of freethinkers meetings in Austin went from 0 to 6 per week. He has directly and indirectly helped and his legacy continues to help many people who would normally have walked away from a less tolerant AA.
Charlie remained active in the program, holding AA meetings at his bedside and receiving AA visitors up to the last week of his life. Two memorial services were held for him, one at the Northland AA Club in Austin, Texas and a second in Los Angeles, California. You can read more about Charlie in A History of Agnostic Groups in AA.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sunday Night Driving Instructions

Sunday Night Culver City We Agnostics
6666 Green Valley Circle
8 pm
"SHARE" building

[Return to LA Agnostics Homepage here]

From Sepulveda Southbound:
   Go past Jefferson
   Continue past Westfield Mall (on your left), but continue straight
   Under the 405
   Light at Centinela, Turn Left
   At Chevron Light, take Left.
   SHARE 6666 Building, on your Right.

From Sepulveda Southbound (Method 2)
Past Westfield Mall, then immediate left on Green Valley Circle
   However, you will take this in a large, eventually right-turning loop until
   you reach SHARE building at left, just before Chevron on right.

From Sepulveda Northbound
   Right on Centinela [just before you would go under the 405]
     Left at Chevron, SHARE on your right.

From La Cienega/La Tijera/Centinela Area Northbound
   From the three-way intersection area of these roads where there is a big mall,
   Take Centinela west about 3/4 mile to the Chevron Station,
   turn right, SHARE quickly on your right.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Sunday Night Culver City AA Meeting Protocol

We Agnostics Meeting Format
(Sunday Night Culver City)

[Return to LA Agnostics Homepage, here.]

Good evening everyone.  Welcome to the 
[Sunday Night We Agnostics] group of 
Alcoholics Anonymous.

My name is ___________ and I am 
(an alcoholic.)  Are there any other
 alcoholics here tonight?

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women
 who share their experience, strength and hope with
 each other that they may solve their common problem
 and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only
 requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. 

There are no dues or fees for AA membership; we are 
self-supporting through our own contributions.
 AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics,
 organization or institution; does not wish to engage
 in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes 
any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober
 and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.

If you are new to this meeting 
we would like to get to know you. 
Is there:
- Anyone in their first 30 days of sobriety?
- Anyone from outside the area or 
at this meeting for the first time?

We will now go around the room and introduce ourselves
starting at my right.

The We Agnostics Group maintains a tradition of free expression.
 We neither oppose any religion nor endorse it. 
  We neither endorse atheism nor oppose it. 
 Our only wish is to assure you that anyone may achieve recovery
 in AA without having to accept anyone else's beliefs 
or deny their own.

At the end of the meeting we will have a 
moment of silence, 
and on the count of three, repeat the AA responsibility pledge.

It is a custom in this meeting to read Appendix Two of the Big Book
 of Alcoholics Anonymous.  This week, I have asked 
   ___(NAME)__   to read it. 

[Appendix II is clipped at bottom]


Are there any AA birthdays this week?

Leader shares for ten minutes.

I May call on those who raise
 their hands or those who don't. 

 No cross talk, and please limit 
your share to 5 minutes.

Our time has run out.
We will now observe our 7 th  tradition.
 There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership.
 Please remain seated while we pass the basket.

Are there any A.A. related announcements?

 When Anyone, Anywhere Reaches Out For Help, 
I Want The Hand Of A.A.. Always To Be There.
 And For That, I am responsible.



The terms “spiritual experience” 
and “spiritual awakening” 
are used many times in this book which, 
upon careful reading, shows that the personality
 change sufficient to bring about recovery
 from alcoholism has manifested itself among 
us in many different forms.

Yet it is true that our first printing gave
 many readers the impression that these 
personality changes, or religious experiences,
 must be in the nature of sudden and
spectacular upheavals. 
Happily for everyone, this conclusion is erroneous.

In the first few chapters a number of 
sudden revolutionary changes are described. 
Though it was not our intention to create such 
an impression, many alcoholics have nevertheless 
concluded that in order to recover they must
 acquire an immediate and overwhelming
 “God-consciousness” followed at once
 by a vast change in feeling and outlook.

Among our rapidly growing membership of thousands 
of alcoholics such transformations, though frequent,
 are by no means the rule. 
Most of our experiences are what the psychologist
 William James calls the “educational variety” 
because they develop slowly over a period of time.
 Quite often friends of the newcomer are aware 
of the difference long before he is himself. 
He finally realizes that he has undergone a 
profound alteration in his reaction to life;
 that such a change could hardly have been brought 
about by himself alone. What often takes place 
in a few months could seldom have been accomplished
 by years of self-discipline. With few exceptions
 our members find that they have tapped
 an unsuspected inner resource which they 
presently identify with their own conception 
of a Power greater than themselves.

Most of us think this awareness of a Power
 greater than ourselves is the essence of 
spiritual experience. Our more religious
 members call it “God-consciousness.”

Most emphatically we wish to say that
 any alcoholic capable of honestly facing
 his problems in the light of our 
experience can recover, provided he
 does not close his mind to all 
spiritual concepts. He can only be defeated
 by an attitude of intolerance or belligerent denial.

We find that no one need have difficulty
 with the spirituality of the program. 
Willingness, honesty and open mindedness
 are the essentials of recovery.
 But these are indispensable.

“There is a principle which is a bar
 against all information, which is proof against
 all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man
 in everlasting ignorance—
that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”

—Herbert Spencer

Tuesday Night Los Feliz Parking Ideas

Parking Ideas for Tuesday Night Los Feliz AA Meeting
(730 pm)

[Return to LA Agnostics Homepage here]

Street Parking - Maybe! Have an adventure!

Possible Free Lot:
  Barnsdall Park, W. on Hollywood Blvd,
  Said to be open & free til 10 pm

Pay Lots:
Bank of America Lot, Evening Parking $5
Vermont @ Prospect (Vermont just N of Hollywood Blvd)
Parking lot is west across street, from Starbucks

Melbourne Lots
Two blocks north on Vermont then 1/2 block East on Melbourne
A couple of $4-$5 lots

Note: North Vermont is an active restaurant district
(Over a dozen; Thai, Sushi, Greek, Italian, Steak, French, Diner, Indian, Etc.)
Also a Movie Theater & the Skylight Bookstore

Click on the Map to Enlarge:

Enjoy restaurants and night life on North Vermont Avenue: