Shutting the Doors to the Granfalloony Bin in Akron

A “sobriety club” in Akron is closing its doors because it is in debt, and about to be foreclosed upon by the bank. The “Today Club II”, which is operated by a group called “Sobriety Checkpoint, Inc.”, just held its last shindig. I like this quote from the article:

Regulars at the club say miracles happen inside the building where 15 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are held each week.

Why is it that God™ is so selective about dishing out miracles? I mean, God™ can miraculously sober up 5% of the Today Club’s regulars, but He can’t at least provide a little cash to help them make their mortgage payments on time. It seems like He would arrange something like a lottery winning, or at least an understanding banker. This baffles me just a little, but of course, I’m not God™.

It’s last call at sobriety cafe in North Akron

  • true believer

    Imagine this. Your brain is warped by drugs and booze. You come into AA and with the help of the group and some coercive language leading to indoctrination manage to get sober. Suddenly your brain is stimulated by the unfamiliar action of sobriety. You have a new consciousness, new friends, a chance at love and property.

    Under the influence of this scenario, it is easy to believe you have experienced a miracle.

    In AA nothing is said of the other natural physical power known as backlash. Many with long term sobriety ranging from 3 to 20 years begin to realize the fallacy of the program. The premise of the program and group is unsustainable for most. People end up needing more than AA has to offer and become disgruntled by the politics and manipulation of the self righteous long term member.

    The danger lies in the language of the groups. The member is hypnotized through repetition to accept an alternate reality. The steps and traditions are read hypnotically at the beginning of EVERY meeting. In this new reality it is implied that leaving the group and non compliance lead to death and failure. In this new reality, the member is pliable and easily manipulated by others in the groups. The teachings of the groups can lead to a self fulfilling prophecy of jails, institutions, and death.

    Consider this; there are many ways including AA to achieve sobriety. Educate yourself and choose wisely.

  • speedy0314


    my lower power tells me that the omnipotent, omniscient, [highly selective] drunk-saving one put everything he had into the sub-prime mortgage game about a decade ago.

    apparently, he went to the Fed to cry poverty even before Lehman Brothers (the omniscience thing giving him something of a jump on everybody else) but GW wanted a sit-down with Jesus or it was no deal.

    being a higher power of anyone & everyone's "understanding" he didn't have a lot of juice with Triune God, Inc. & he ended up going under in early September, 2008. AAWS made a boatload of phone calls & managed to keep the press from reporting on this.

    stay on your knees, though, kids — he still may actually keep you [s]OBER™. he's just a little light in the wallet these days.

    i report; you decide,


  • true believer

    I can hear the announcement; would those who are experiencing the promises please put a little extra in the basket?

  • ''They gave me a little hope,'' said the member of Alcoholics Anonymous with more than two years of sobriety. ''They remembered my name.''

    The club, he said, was placed in his path.

    Believing that you have nothing to do with your own decisions is a recipe for foreclosure.

  • Rick045

    Obviously, they weren't putting god first. I noticed several brand new door knob sets among the items up for auction. They might have saved the day if they had actually used them.

  • lucy

    I have seen this problem over and over and over again (Look at the plea for money on the Dry Dock Club in SF.)

    When it happens, it happens to a group which has purchased or leased a facility without any research as to whether or not the membership can afford it. A few "angels" sign the promisory note, and pledge to keep it open and then get out when they realize that (gosh!) dependent people expect to be supported.

    A second problem is the mismanagement or the stealing of money by the group treasurer. Treasurer is a thankless job which is hard to fill, and it is not unusual for an oldtimer to push a sponsee (who has trouble with money in his or her own life) into the treasury position in order to teach them how to manage money. The result is that the cash deposits become lighter and lighter because the treasurer is keeping the money to use for his or her own expenses.

    The treasurer is NEVER prosecuted.

    Several years ago, there was a grifter who had been an accountant at one time. He had embezzled funds from his clients, went to prison and come out with AA as a part of his parole. He volunteered to be treasurer (without telling anyone why he had been to prison) and began stealing from that club. When he was found out, he moved to a city 20 miles away and did it again. By the time he left this state, he had fleeced nearly 50 AA clubs.

    I didn't know him, and went to a meeting with him during my very early cult years. I left my purse on the chair. and a month later spent three weeks convincing American Express that I had not bought 2 first tickets to Hawaii from Denver. I was convinced it had happened by mistake, until I learned the man and his wife had moved to Denver.

    He went back to prison, not because the groups rousted him, but because I wasn't the only one whose credit card he lifted.

  • Ben Franklin

    The article says that they bought the building for more than $250,000. None are too stoopid for this simpleton program. They also owe more than $28,000 in back taxes. Amends anyone?

  • I used to sit in the most god awful sober club you'd ever seen. I did not do it often, even in my AA crazytown days I knew it was grosser than gross. But I went there when I was particularly crazed or just feeling low. I am not sure whatever happened to that place, but man, what a craphole. There was a "board or trustees" who were disgusting , but seemingly nice in that that would "be there for you" if you were in need. um. Later, a woman who became unrecognizably fat from her archaic mood stabilizers told me that one of the guys–who had hands the size of smurf hats–had molested his little sister. He told her b/c he was doing a fourth step. She told me, as a way to smear his name, as he had dumped her. But she was not clever enough, in my opinion, to have made something like this up. The club, the memory of the meetings that took place there, and thinking about that icky, icky couple makes me sick to my stomach.

    I walked into AA the vulnerable, deer in the headlights girl–and people really liked me. Well, I am not sure if liked is the right word. Quickly, after getting screwed over by people, I became angry. People did not take kindly to it. However, like Speedy noted in another post, I did get the "thank you for your honesty" types responses.

    AA meetings in general are a shitty way to spend your life. I am less angry now. I am less angry because I got my life back. And AA did not give it to me, nobody did. I just finally wanted to live and not feel creeped out any more.

    it's funny, my ex old man (and father of my son) used to go. that is where we met. i was prolly thirteen stepped a little by him. whatever. anyway, he thinks AA is dumb and that it is a crock, but he never felt conned. he never swallowed the whole pill. he has no anger, he says. though i will tell you, he was glued to this site for a few days straight.

    rambling again…hope you all are having a super autumn saturday.

  • speedy0314

    wouldn't it be cool if you could use the "character flaw" defense at an IRS audit?

    i would be so down with AA if that could get that bit of legislation push through. man, i'd have a higher power & beatin' feet to a meeting the very second this (or any future) president signed that bill into law!

    a defective man can dream,


  • lucy

    did you guys see this? talk about infiltration of government…

  • speedy0314

    @ lucy:

    tough call on that one.

    could be the fecal fingers of AA at work or it could be the local zoning office actually doing its job (for once). that the "area" (however that's defined by the municipality's charter) has five liquor stores in the immediate vicinity sounds like fair enough grounds to me for denying the license.

    then again, i'd like to see that same charter's civic definition of a "fellowship" just to make sure things are even-steven.

    all things considered, i'm pretty confident san francisco can get by without another liquor store.


  • joedrywall

    Well according to the world best and most accurate news source God may be giving up his AA involvement, as well as other stuff that he is contracted with.

  • speedy0314

    @ joedrywall:


    in my book, there are only two things cooler than the onion — michael jordan & willie mays.

    zeppelin comes in at a VERY close number 4.

    [g]OD™ (while he's still on the job) bless us all,


  • Z

    TB it is true about the hypnosis.

    I am still angry and sad about the self destructive things I did as a result of 12 stepping and the ways I learned to think about myself in it.

    They would say I am "blaming" it for things I did myself but that is part of their ridiculous logic.

    After all, isn't it OK to give credit, as in, for instance, "I am happy about the experience I had with [whatever], and grateful for what I learned from it"?

    Or would the 12 steppers say, "Oh no, it couldn't be that any aspect of your good experience was provided by anyone but yourself" — ?

    (I am starting to think their prohibition on "blaming" is part of their avoidance of accountability and also their general support for any status quo.)

  • true believer


    I inadvertently replied to your comment in the community section.

  • Z

    @tb – got it over there! Yes, 12 stepping does sort of want one to turn into a passive doormat. Another contradiction: you are supposed to improve boundaries, they say, but that isn't exactly what they mean.

  • AndyM

    They need to organise a benefit concert. I hear there's a red hot bluegrass banjo combo called Dr Bob and the Good Ol' Timers that would be happy to oblige.

  • AndyM
  • Z

    My God, they're painfully bad! And "Nobody will do you like Jesus will do you." Hm. He'll "do" you, and then if you're faithful, he'll make you a ruler of others. That's what they sing, and it sounds like the 12 step structure. Shock 'em, rebel. Their whole thing is that you can't think for yourself, do for yourself, act on your own behalf, and it is completely pernicious. So here's David Byrne with a STOP MAKING SENSE solo to counteract that awful band!

  • AnnaZed

    "…I am starting to think their prohibition on “blaming” is part of their avoidance of accountability and also their general support for any status quo."

    Good point. Really this deserves a whole post of its own. The whole prohibition against blaming anyone else for anything, ever, is not only bizarre it is frightening.

    You know, sometimes things actually are someone else's fault or the fault of the economy or can be ascribed to actual damage done. The most obvious one is the AA gold standard of demanding that victims of rape and child sexual abuse "look at their own part." I was never (no matter how deluded I became) taken in by that toxic junk. I can recall in the very first months of my AA experience being told by an otherwise pretty kind older female AA guru lady to look at my own part in my having been attacked when I was child. Yes, it was a terrible, terrible thing that happened to me and yes even now in my 50s I still deal with the fall-out, and yes (obviously) my excessive drinking had something directly to do with managing the emotional devastation of that experience and you know what; foisting on me at a time when I was exceedingly vulnerable the idea that I might have had any part at all in being criminally victimized is not only absurd it is a form of psychological violence. Fortunately, even though I was a bit shaky at the time I had the wherewithal to say "what the fuck are you talking about? I was a child!"

  • SoberPJ

    Thanks Z, I needed a little David Byrne …

  • Z

    My very dark, but I think ultimately true of 12 stepping and its logic:

    They want you to withdraw from a full life, to start living only in little bits, and then eventually withdraw completely into their fold. Into their fold, that is, if you have a way to be supported when you get to be as disabled as they want you to be. If not, you'll be on the streets, and they'll like that too.

    My point: I hypothesize that you can indulge in their stuff if you have money, and you can fit the flip side of that model if you're on the streets. There isn't much else in their ultra depressed and depressing world view.

    Their little techniques like asking incessantly, "what was your part in it?" are ways to tire you out and destabilize you. It is THEY who never look at themselves.

    I think McGowdog might be right, "AA is for 'real alkies' (according to the Bill W definition)" — which only shows how inadequate it is for most, I'd say.

  • Z

    NB. Typos above. Line 1: "ultimately true VIEW of…"

    What I mean by disabled: they really do want you to be emotionally disabled (powerless, you know). I kept on thinking: "if I really think of myself and of the world in the way you want me to, I will not be able to function." I asked about that and they said: "if that is the result you get, that will be where you need to be."


  • Mona Lisa

    Like so many of AA's concepts, the notion that one must look at one's part in things sounds like a decent concept on its face. After all, lots of people do go around blaming others, blaming the world, looking at everything and everyone except themselves–and that's not a particularly productive way to go through life. The problem is that in AA, the concept gets twisted up beyond recognition and applied without discernment to situations where it makes no sense. There is a vast difference between a selfish SOB like Bill W being encouraged to look at his part in messing up his life, and an abuse survivor being ordered to look at her part in her own abuse.

    I've probably written about this before, but one of the hardest things I went through in AA was being told I had to make amends to my mother because I resented her for some of the things that happened during my childhood. My sponsor insisted that I "would drink" if I didn't do this RIGHT AWAY, when I had only been abstinent a few months and didn't know which end was up. So I did it, and only resented my mother MORE as a result, which meant of course that I had to make ANOTHER amends, which ended up in a fight. Fortunately I was in therapy, and my therapist supported me in dropping the whole amends idea and working through my issues with her help. Eventually I did this and my mom and I have a good relationship today, but that's no thanks to AA or my sponsor who could not see beyond the knee-jerk idea that being mad at somebody is awful and must be dealt with by making amends. The worst part was my sponsor cawing at me "you'll drink! you'll drink!" as if she was in possession of all knowledge about me and what I would or would not do.

  • Z

    It seems the 12 steps want you to apologize to people who have wronged you for noticing it.

  • AndyM

    I think that 12 steppism is largely an exercise in psychological projection, and in particular Bill Wilson projecting his own peculiar flaws, hang-ups and guilt onto others.

  • AndyM

    I think 12 steppism is largely an exercise in psychological projection, and in particular Wilson projecting his own flaws, hang-ups and guilt onto others.

  • AndyM

    Or did I already say that?

  • tintop

    AA has only one tool: 12 step. And, all drunkards are alike. So, all have to "apologize". Sure. z is right: it is for real alcoholics; a specific group of people with a given set of characteristics. Others have to turn themselves into a pretzel in order to fit in.

    It is not necessary to fit in.

  • Rick045

    It is what it is. The basic text hasn't changed in over seventy years. Founded primarily by a bunch of white businessmen in the post prohibition era. Some things that we take for granted and openly talk about today weren't even mentionable in those times. Even divorce was still a big social taboo when Lois founded Al Anon. It's kind of weird to consider that when Bill wrote about going off to war, he's talking about World War One!

    This stuff never had any business being packaged and sold as a one size fits all treatment in the first place. Medical treatments change, religions don't.

  • tintop

    Rick, I agree on all points.

    AA/12 step is not, by any means, one size fits all. AA/12 step applies to a small group of people.

    It has not changed since 1935; and, that, basically, is the time in which it belongs.

  • Z

    Perhaps what most irritates me about them (I keep coming up with a "worst thing," I know) is that they think you shouldn't take care of yourself. Because that would mean you had an identity. You have to drop charge of your life (it would be "controlling" to have your life in order) and wait for them (as if!) or God.

    It's weirdly patriarchal, reminds me of being a child of needy parents. Perhaps is the same phenomenon.

  • AnnaZed

    AndyM says: "…I think 12 steppism is largely an exercise in psychological projection, and in particular Wilson projecting his own flaws, hang-ups and guilt onto others."

    Oh, this bears repeating (so the double post is ok and probably some form of God's will).

    (I jest!)

    The whole entire AA "program" ~ soup to nuts ~ the entire Goddamn thing is designed very specifically to accommodate Bill Wilson and his very specific personal dysfunction.

  • SoberPJ

    There is a percentage of the population that generally share Bill W's personal dysfunction. There are many more that share just portions of it. Some of Wilsons observations about how and what a substance abuser thinks and does are more or less accurate. Where it breaks down is in the solution to the dysfunction. Just because I can identify with the way somebody else thinks and acts, does not mean their contrived solution is applicable to me. Let's look at this –

    I can identify strongly when someone describes a headache. How it feels, what they do, and what they think when they have one. Good conversational bonding occurs, it's normal under the circumstances. I understand and empathize with their situation.

    That does not mean that I will immediately ascribe to any solution they may propose on how to get rid of my next headache. If they said I had to do something like the 12 Steps to get rid of my headache, they would be seen as clearly and unequivocally wacko. But somehow the 12 Steps are applicable to a serious medical situation. But they won't even cure a headache?

    Going one step further. Let's suppose they said to take two aspirin or Tylenol to get rid of my headache. That makes more sense because that is what almost anyone with a persistent headache would do – and it works a very high percentage of the time. Now, let's say headache medication only worked 3-5 % of the time and had a higher rate of problems than any other headache remedy, including doing nothing for your headache. Would those medications still be allowed on the market? No, either regulators or market forces would most likely push them out of existence. So, why does the poorly performing faith-healing approach to the behavioral problem of substance abuse get a pass from regulation and market forces? It really is amazing and pathetic. I mean, it's not like nobody knows it's a failure. Look at postings on this site and many other sites, people know the 12 Steps are crap and many like me have serious time in the asylum af AA so we are not uninformed.

    I have left the "recovery" genre behind. I am not in some imagined recovery. I don't drink. I used to drink, I don't anymore, period. The recovery books are out of my library and the belief that horribly bad things are going to happen to me if I turn my back on the movement, I now consider mythology. I will never go back. The spell is broken.

  • Sober PJ, Good for you. It has been hard for me to completely let this mythology go, as this would mean that I have invested so much time in, well, shit. But the truth is that the recovery movement is shit. It could be worse, I could still be there.

  • lucy

    @Sober PJ. My favorite description –

    Self-help is an enterprise wherein people holding the thinnest of credentials diagnose in basically normal people symptoms of inflated or invented maladies, so that they may then implement remedies that have never been shown to work. –Steve Salerno

  • SoberPJ

    @ lucy… awesome! But I think the entire self-help world does not fit the description. The motivation and goal setting portions of the self-help industry don't say I have a disease, but some do call me lazy and not focused… and at times they are right… 🙂

    When AA says I have a spiritual malady or a soul sickness, they are full of sh*t !

  • Z

    I actually agree with Lucy on the self help industry, which overlaps a lot with 12 stepping. Sure, there's a place for goal setting, time management, and motivation but what the self help industry (which I wasn't familiar with until I started 12 stepping) really does is attribute invented maladies to people. Stuff like fear of commitment, fear of success, "loving too much," all of these things are vague and often wrong/misapplied.

    What if fear of commitment is really (if to a person) — lack of serious interest in that person, lack of interest in marriage as a form of life — i.e. not an illness but just an inclination?

    What about fear of success — what IS that — ? I remember saying, "This exam is going to be hard and I am stressed out, I am going to get a shiatsu massage for this" and having someone say back, "You do not fear failure [I hadn't said I did in particular, it was just that lots of people really did fail and one had to be really ready], you probably fear success, because success would mean graduating and moving [two things I, for one, really wanted to do] … so if that person had been a counselor and I had been being counseled, I suddenly would not have gotten to just go get a shiatsu massage, I would have had to scratch my head and find in my soul the "truth" that I "feared success" … and that right there would have drained energy and focus from the actual matters at hand.

    This is the sort of reason why I oppose that whole industry, it is not reality based and it is bent upon finding these weird problems in what are often entirely normal situations, that is to say, it is bent upon projection.

  • Z

    …and P.S. actual therapy may find subtle problems one did not realize were the roots of one's malaise, but self help and 12 stepping have these freakin' recipes they impose upon people with no evidence.

    And the other part of this rant is, that if you don't like the recipe or see yourself in it, it's denial.

    Precisely when the shoe does not fit, you are supposed to wear it, and if you think you know what shoe fits, you're arrogant and wrong by definition, and on the other hand if you say the shoe fits, you must only be saying that so easily because really, your problems are yet deeper … all of this HAS to be true because you MUST be a liar in denial.

    At least this is the logic I've found these denizens to use, and it's all a con game used to confuse and beat you down into joining some sort of Group. It is really pernicious (my word of the day).

  • Ben Franklin

    To add to what Sober PJ was saying, researchers at one time did not know how aspirin worked. They just knew from repeated empirical evidence that it had an effect-your headache went away. They know now how aspirin blocks a certain enzyme that mediates a pain pathway. How does 12 step work? Nobody knows and not very well. If 12 step were a drug it would have been pulled from the market a long time ago.

  • SoberPJ

    @ Z.. if I identify that I don't like aspects of my behavior or other areas of my life and I want to change them, I have found value in the Self-Help section. It isn't all bunk. People have used motivational and goal setting techniques to completely change the direction and outcomes of their lives without having to buy into labels. If someone writes a book about how they were miserable and demotivated and this is what I did to change my life and lays out a seemingly viable plan that has worked for others, I might give it a try. Every Olympic athlete has a motivational coach and uses visualization self-help techniques. People can achieve things they never thought possible when applying viable self-help methods. It happens all the time. Sorry, can't agree that the whole self-help industry is wrong, but I can agree that a lot of it is worthless and even harmful as is the case with the 12 Step stuff..

  • Z

    But you're talking about life skills and how-to books, which are often useful and which I believe were the original self help books (I think I learned on this site that the first self help book was about understanding the legal system and learning how to "help yourself" to do simple legal procedures rather than depend on lawyers).

    What Lucy and I are talking about is maybe more often directed at women and falls also in the realm of pop psych (although once you're "diagnosed" with one of these faux syndromes, there's a "self help" book to help you fix it). A lot of this really is bunk and antitherapeutic, but it meshes with the 12 step truisms and, via the counseling industry, gets into what passes for actual therapy and also into conventional "wisdom."

    This is where I think 12 stepping gets a lot of its hold on people: its truisms mesh with so much other conventional wisdom. And stuff like "depression is a chemical imbalance" (well, OK if / when that's true, but what if it's a reaction to oppression?) or "marriage takes work" (but what if that is beside the point?) … etc.

  • speedy0314

    @ you, you, & you, too, pal — don't think you're wiggling out of this one!

    still answering the really BIG questions … however glibly:

    for three easy payments of $29.95 i will introduce you to the introduction which hints at the truth, the way, & the light! and if you act now, we'll throw in the breakthrough quantum pan-geo-energy maximizer which fits easily into any purse or wallet — and gentle reminder you haven't swallowed enough bulls**t or listened to enough truly enlightened blah-blah-blah!

    operators are standing by. CALL NOW!

    what's so funny 'bout …,


  • Z

    Salerno's book seems to say part of what I mean:
    A blurb says: "The self-help industry should not be dismissed as silly but benign, says Salerno, and he documents how it has undermined psychology, education and health care in this blistering critique."

    And that sums up my issue … although reviews of the book aren't all positive.

    Keywords for me here would be self help and 12 stepping as abusive "discipline" practiced upon people they don't even describe – let alone have solutions for. (I evidently want to write a scholarly tome on all of this … I could make a research career on this alone … 12 stepping as both product and co-creator of modern malaise, and as ways of training people to think that everything is fine but them.

    OK. End of rant for now although I am trying to figure out how to understand this topic.

  • SoberPJ

    It's a huge superset that probably needs definition of subsets to address adequately. Like, is the Kama Sutra self-help, how-to, or textbook? 😉

  • Z

    Kama Sutra, ;-). I could go on and on about instructions and advising because of my job, we have lots of both and give lots of both and it's a huge issue. But it seems that one of the main topics in this blog is distinguishing between good and bad instructions and also considering the way in which these are given (i.e. with what type of authority, with what motives, etc.). Part of my issue with 12 stepping and its vagaries has to do with having to sift through so much advice and advising generally, and so much stereotyping, projection and social control delivered under cover of "advice."

    Here's my concrete example for this hour: I have 4 projects right now; I'm putting more than is necessary into 2, not enough into 1, and almost none into 1. In self help speak I could get down on myself for this: what failing in me is causing me to divide time so unwisely? The truth is I am working most on the ones I have the materials for, which means I need to see how to get the materials for the others. But the 12 steppy way of looking at it would be to DISREGARD the lack of materials and say all I needed was an "attitude change." That's my objection to the self helpy logic that wants you to look to personal failings as the root of everything.

  • SoberPJ

    z … have you ever studied the concept of "knowing"? It is like there is a chemical tag that gets associated with a thought/observation and that makes in "known". People establish whether they are right, based on what they "know". Like your example of the papers, most situations require mutiple factors to be combined to get to "know" what is right for us in any given situation. It is intellectually lazy to not consider multiple factors before a course of action is taken or a judgement is made. Yet, this is just what the 12 Step world does. People can hear 5 words and "know" the outcome ( alledgedly) and then prescribe what you should do to avoid that outcome( 12 Steps, Pray, Help Others, etc.). If one practices that type of thinking for an extended period of time, complex situations get reduced to one dimensional responses. Mental shortcuts to get to answers become the norm and the brain "knows" they are right even without adequate cognition on the situation- like the thought stopper stepper sayings. I could see this happening to me and am working to reverse it. I have embarked on forcing my brain to think in larger terms and gray areas and "what if's" by modeling complex business situations where there are no easy answers – just a thousand shades of gray and endless what if scenarios. There is no "just keep coming back"or " get off the pity pot" or "do another 4th Step" in the solution set.

  • Ben Franklin

    Hey you brought up Salerno, this is a great article on his blog: