The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The Happiness Industrial Complex

Posted on | December 30, 2018 | Comments Off on The Happiness Industrial Complex


Young people (and by “young,” I mean under 40) generally know nothing about the 1960s, except what they’ve seen in movies or on TV, and therefore some are falling prey to the same scams and hustles that typified the so-called “Age of Aquarius.” For the benefit of these young fools, therefore, I must explain that during the 1960s, a lot of alienated youth in the West got heavily into Eastern mysticism — yoga, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. — which became a sort of racket, and sometimes turned into weird cults. Shady characters were able to pass themselves off as gurus and “enlightened masters” possessed of esoteric knowledge, and attracted followings of naïve spiritual seekers. Many thousands of American kids from middle-class suburbia devoted their lives to a perpetual adolescent rebellion against their parents, and this phony Eastern “enlightenment” gold rush that began circa 1967 was one aspect of that rebellion. Rejecting Judeo-Christian religious tradition (with all those “Thou shalt not” moral restrictions), the spiritual seekers of the 1960s also rejected the tradition of Greco-Roman philosophical rationalism. To explain why these young fools abandoned every tradition of their own culture, in order to pursue an ill-informed attempt to emulate the beliefs and practices of Oriental paganism, would require a more thorough explanation than I could provide in a blog post. The relevant point is that this trend gave rise to an entire industry of “spiritual” hustlers, who cashed in by selling themselves as teachers of Ancient Wisdom, which was usually mixed in with a lot of self-help pop psychology and pleasant sounding slogans about peace and love.

Remember Julia Baugher, a/k/a Julia Allison, the used-up “fame whore” whose wasted life became a sad parable of Internet celebrity life?

Julia Baugher at the Burning Man festival.

As part of her effort to “re-invent” herself (i.e., to find some way to get paid without having to work an actual job), Ms. Baugher convinced a publisher to give her an advance for a book grandiosely entitled Experiments in Happiness: How I Learned to Live a Life Filled With Love, Creativity, Meaning…and a Little Bit of Magic. She was unable to deliver the manuscript she’d promised, the publisher attempted to get her to return the advance payment, and there may have been threats of legal action involved, but that’s irrelevant to my point, namely that Ms. Baugher’s pursuit of happiness led her to some strange places. She became a fixture on the “alternative” music festival circuit, running around with her DJ boyfriend “Rain Phutureprimitive” (a/k/a Chad McNally) until he decided he was into “polyamory” (a/k/a, screwing around, threesomes, orgies, etc.). She went to the annual “Burning Man” festival in the California desert where in 2014, she married herself in an “exuberant celebration & sacred ritual of self-love.” Along the way, Ms. Baugher spent years “studying and developing a deep faith and integrating ‘New Age’ ideas like yoga, acupuncture, meditation, ashrams, and holistic medicine into my life.” In other words, this young woman born during the Reagan era, who had attended an eminent Catholic university, went traipsing down the same path of Eastern mysticism previously trodden by all those idiot hippies of the 1960s.

Now a self-proclaimed “Change Activist” and “Social Alchemist,” Ms. Baugher is all about devotion to her spiritual “sisters,” including trips to Bali with her “best girlfriend” Myka McLaughlin. Whatever . . .

The ‘Change Activist’ and her girlfriend in Bali.

You see that “happiness” is marketed as a commodity by clever hustlers who understand that in an affluent society there are millions of people like Julia Baugher, born into middle-class comfort, who are desperately in search of some deeper meaning to their empty lives. There are corporate executives and other successful people who believe their career achievements and wealth entitle them to a greater share of happiness than is enjoyed by the common rabble. These would-be consumers of “happiness” represent the demand side of a market equation from which spiritual hustlers hope to get rich by providing the supply. Like the hippies of yore, however, the 21st-century seeker of spiritual enlightenment doesn’t want anything to do with the Bible or Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics or the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. Insofar as any belief system is part of the Western cultural tradition, this is sufficient to render it obsolete, invalid and worthless in the eyes of the spiritual seeker, who either craves “ancient wisdom” from some non-Western culture, or else will prefer a trendy new belief (e.g., “climate change”) as the basis of his enlightened worldview. After all, if happiness and “enlightenment” can be found by any hillbilly yokel attending a Baptist church in Kentucky, there isn’t much social status to be gained by this pursuit. No, the upwardly-mobile middle-class college-educated spiritual seeker prefers to believe in something exotic, and this requires innovation by the hustlers of the Happiness Industrial Complex.


Say hello to Sah D’Simone, a homosexual immigrant from Brazil who, at age 23, became co-founder of a now-defunct fashion magazine, Bullett. After he was ousted from his position as creative director of Bullett in 2012, D’Simone embarked on “an intense journey of self-discovery, one that led him to silent retreats with monks in Nepal”:

A 30-day meditation retreat turned into a life-changing sojourn that completely turned his life upside down. Being so in his head for so long healed him, but it also forced him to confront his pain, those who hurt him, and his traumatic past.
“The experience allowed me to rewrite my past,” he says. It was letting go of his past, of his enemies, of those who hurt him that Sah says allowed him to grow. “Forgiveness came with finding a space within myself to let go. “It isn’t that suddenly unpleasant triggers and memories disappear. You realize that holding a grudge is so damaging to you. It ages your body and brain and boost cortisol. You’re drinking poison thinking about the other person while they’re living their life.”
Actively letting go, Sah says, is what’s allowed him to take power back into his own hands.

Since 2016, D’Simone has been self-employed as a “Holistic Health & Happiness Coach, Raw Vegan Chef, Meditation & Yoga Instructor, Humanitarian” whose specialty is “helping people move forward through obstacles and change into living evolved, elevated and expanded lives.” He recently published his first book, 5-Minute Daily Meditations: Instant Wisdom, Clarity, and Calm, which is in the top 20 of Amazon’s bestsellers in the category of Taoism. Interestingly enough, his ex-fashion model sister has also re-invented herself as a hustler of happiness:

I dropped out of college and moved to NY when I was 21 and soon after got into Bravo TV’s “Make Me A Supermodel”. It was a very interesting experience. They wanted a blank canvas, but more and more I began to notice how much I had to say, and how much I actually wanted to create and be free.
There were fun moments, of course, especially when I lived in Paris and London, but when I came back to NYC, my brother Sah D’Simone was starting Bullett Magazine, and asked me to be the photo director.
I was completely disassociated with my body from binge eating, to not eating, to drugs and alcohol, all to hide and suppress my feelings. . . .
In the spring of 2014, Sah came back from his first pilgrimage to India and stayed with me. His stories led me to question my whole existence in a new way I had never really done before. That summer I broke up with my boyfriend of 7 years, saved enough money and bought myself a one-way ticket to India. . . .
Bodh Gaya was my first stop, the place where Buddha became enlightened. I met my first teacher, the incredibly witty and profound Ven. Sarah Thresher, an English Buddhist Nun, during my first 10-day silent retreat.


So there you have it — the gay former fashion magazine editor and his ex-model sister are now prepared to sell you the Secret of Happiness™ at their week-long spiritual oceanside retreat in Mexico:

When was the last time you felt completely free? When was the last time you dedicated yourself to the things that bring you true joy? This special retreat was designed for you to come play, heal, and create deeper connections to yourself and nature in the hidden paradise of Mazunte, Mexico.
These seven days are carefully curated to allow you to take charge of your personal growth while being held in the supportive healing container. In addition to daily meditation, yoga, and breathwork practices and wisdom talks, you will be given ample opportunities to explore the town and go on adventures. The adventures include hiking, swimming, sea turtle and whale watching, rest by the ocean, massages, local culture.

  • Cultivate self-compassion and self-acceptance
  • Become present and emotionally intelligent
  • Learn how to feel at home in your body
  • Nourish your mind and body with group practices, wisdom talks, and local healing foods
  • Fall in love with yourself and life all over again

The brother and sister team of Sah D’Simone and Moun D’Simone created this one of a kind retreat out of love to help you reconnect with your bliss and your heart’s desire. You will return home, rejuvenated and ready to live a more joyful, fulfilling, and creative life.

The cost of this “personal growth” experience is $1,200 per person, with a shared room, or $1,700 for a private room. Add in the round-trip airfare which, JFK to HUX, would be about $300, and this weeklong vacation — no, wait, I meant to say, spiritual retreat — will cost you around $2,000.

There’ll be no Baptist hillbillies from Kentucky down there watching the whales and listening to “wisdom talks” in Mazunte, I’ll bet.

“Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”

That’s from a book of ancient wisdom, and anyone — whether a Kentucky hillbilly or a Brazilian homosexual — could benefit from studying it. But you see it’s impossible to get rich by urging people to read the Bible and pray, to follow the familiar and humble paths of Christianity, in an age where young fools want to believe they need to take a pilgrimage to India or a spiritual retreat to the Oaxaca coast in order “to live a more joyful, fulfilling, and creative life.” Folks who can afford to spend $2,000 on a Mexican vacation don’t want to read the King James Bible or listen to any sermons about sin and salvation. No, they want 5-Minute Daily Meditations, Buddhism, “Holistic Health” and “wisdom talks.”

Well, I’ve never been to Mazunte or studied with Buddhists in Bodh Gaya, but I do know a thing or two about what’s called street smart, and I know what a scam looks like when I see one. Why are so many people who think of themselves as “elite” such easy marks for an obvious hustle?

There is such a thing as an honest hustle, but paying a gay fashion magazine editor to teach you all that secondhand Buddhist hippie “peace and love” crap? That makes as much sense as paying a washed-up fame whore like Julia Baugher to give you relationship advice.

Of course, I have no esoteric insights to share, and I’m not fool enough to imagine anyone would pay me $1,200 to teach them how to “cultivate self-compassion and self-acceptance” or whatever. All I know is that the Five Most Important Words in the English Language are:




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