The Pacific Group, The Atlantic Group, Midtown and Toxic Meetings within Alcoholics Anonymous.

I was a member of the Malia Discussion Group in Hawaii from 1976 – 1983 when I moved away and came to California. After Harry Lake, ( the co-founder) AA Hawaii Delegate,  died, things really changed and many women were  no longer lovely dovey to Mary Lake his long time wife and partner in life. They were two fabulous Hawaiian oldtimers-AA people that I knew like family. monica_harry_age21

Big Richard is on my left and Harry is to my right. After Mary  died the meeting felt apart. In AA when the leader dies, so does the meeting. This is very true with big meetings. The Malia Discussion Group held on Thursday nights from 8-9:30 pm, began in Kalihi in 1976. It was held in a Community Center, near the Kalihi Palama Settlement. There  were eight of us. I was the youngest member of the group. Everyone else was over 40 I think…. I was 19. We soon moved into a High School Cafeteria at Kalakaua High School in a very local poor Hawaiian neighborhood located in Honolulu.

The group blossomed over a short time to over 200 people attending. No meeting on the island was this active and well attended. The format was after a 10-15 minute share, we divided up into 10 tables, with 10 leaders ( you had to be a home group member to be a leader) , and we spent the reast of the meeting talking. This way everyone got time to talk. Great idea we all thought, and it was.

Once a month was birthday night and all the birthday people got on stage to share.

This was my home group for years. We held Busniess meetings every month or as needed and we had many great group discussions. I thought all good meetings in AA were run this way.

There is a post over on the fix that is talking about …

Here is the link …

I think that the groups that PG has influenced are some of the worst meetings in AA and it’s culture. I agree that the smaller meetings were always better. Creeps hide in bigger meetings because they can.

We will see….

Here is how it could play out. I finally realized this , thanks to my assistant Val, who is also a coordinator for a small Art Museum here is Los Angeles, It was because of her training with the volunteers that we put two and two together.



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47 thoughts on “The Pacific Group, The Atlantic Group, Midtown and Toxic Meetings within Alcoholics Anonymous.

  1. Hi Ms. Massive – C’belle12 the condescending anti anti aa troll is on the loose with her comments regarding the Fix article about AG and PG being prime examples of cult-type behavior.

    She can ignore the how these issues ‘affect AA as a whole’ all she wants, but at some point she’ll have to eat crow over the comments she makes.

  2. thanks for posting this Massive

    Clancy is a big deal here in the UK and most of the groups flagged on AA Cultwatch are Clancy spin off groups, he also speaks and sponsors via skype to meetings around the world including Australia. He’s a big shot in Bristol and in Plymouth and on the south coast, and in many London meetings. For Bristol, he flew in to speak at their reunion (I believe he was paid ….) etc etc, there’s quite a lot of info about him on the AA cultwatch site about his tentacles in the UK.

    The cultwatch guys (ok they are steppers but relatively sane and moderate ones) gave a big up to your film and said it should be taken very seriously, they also flagged and published the GB trustee letter about child abuse and rape. The UK does have sexual harrassment policies in AA but I’ve never ever heard or seen them referenced or anyone use them to do anything about abuse.


    (and I’m not surprised about what you have unearthed … disgusting)

  3. This is what what the UK AA Cultwatch have to say (amongst many other posts) about Clancy (or the venerable C as they call him):

    Clancy I is the head honcho behind what is referred to as the Pacific Group in Los Angeles. He has been quite tireless in his promotion of this clique over a number of years (not to mention himself, of course, which we wouldn’t dream of doing!). He also sponsors quite a number of individuals (as long as they don’t have beards) including our very own Wayne P (Plymouth Road to Recovery cult group) as well as the now deceased (thankfully) Michael Quinones (Mike Q) leader of the notorious Midtown Group(s) and serial sexual predator. The Venerable C himself recently featured in an article in The Fix (an online magazine dealing with addiction) entitled “AA Cults I Have Known” written by someone who has some acquaintance with the fellow. We were particularly struck by one reference to his conduct when speaking to a gathering of his devotees, the Atlantic Group. This, we thought, gave a particular insight into his true character.

    “Every year, to celebrate their anniversary, AG invites Clancy to speak at their meeting, hence the enormous crowd. On this evening, he told a story very familiar to AAs from the many tapes and conventions he has spoken at over the decades. He was entertaining, pausing for laughs and dramatic punctuation.

    Midway, he used the word “goddamit.” A young man piped up from the balcony to say, “Excuse me Sir, we have no profanity at this meeting.” It was clear he was attempting a teasing tone. It was also clear he had misjudged the room. The enormous hall froze, not unlike in an abusive household when a child calls out their cruel father.

    At that moment, as I fiddled with my name tag, I thought it would be a great chance to see long-term, revered sobriety in action. How would the man whose AA tapes had helped me stay sober 20 years earlier gracefully handle this interruption.

    In the event, there was no empathy for the psychology of the newly sober young man. Instead, Clancy played to the crowd. He expertly waited a few beats of pin-dropping silence, then leaned in to the microphone and said, “Shut up Bitch.”

    And then, hundreds of sober men and women burst into laughter. Some applauded, as if they were watching Louis CK take down a heckler. The young man turned bright red, and awkwardly raced out of the church. Of the several hundred attendees—many of whom claim to be “recovered” from alcoholism, and that their most important action each day is to “carry the message to the alcoholic who still suffers”—not one followed the young man outside. Instead, they turned their attention to Clancy and lapped up the rest of his honed speech, in which he assured the room that their brand of sobriety was more solid, more real and more lasting than any other.”

    How telling! The thug revealed in all his hideous glory!

    So if you want to watch a narcissist in action revelling in his own essential mediocrity by all means pay your money! It’s a free country (just about!). If you want the Jeremy Kyle version of recovery with a bit of humiliation thrown in go on down and get dirty with the Venerable C! He’ll put you in your place make no mistake! After all you deserve a bit of abuse! You’re ONLY an alcoholic!

    • Here’s hoping that young man kept running after he left the meeting and never came back! What a truth revealed moment about AA in general that story about the Clancy Meeting is.

  4. I came across some of clancys clones here in LA and they were downright creepy & arrogant,almost nazi really. There are hundreds of little clancys all over the rooms on power trips & scam artists. I detest those vermin!!!

  5. The first meetings I went to in Portland, Oregon, when I moved there in the early 90’s were at an AA Club called the URS Club (which I heard many times called the U R Sick Club and for many it was true!). I made the mistake of introducing myself to one and all as someone new in town and a couple of people who had this spin off fellowship group called “Circles of Love” that met at an off budget hotel by a Portland freeway exit cornered me after a meeting. They struck me as very creepy and cult-like even back then, wanting to build a Circles of Love house and trying to recruit AA members for this. I had the sense to stop going to the Club and to give a bogus phone number to them and I’m glad. Something about them struck me very much the same way AA strikes me now.

    I bring this all up as I wonder if the Pacific Group, these Clancy Groups, and that infamous group in the DC area that made headlines a few years back are anything at all like these Circles of Love people – a real agenda there smothered under kind words and New Agey BS. I’ve heard how much of a cult those meeting in the DC area are/were – sponsors picked out for you, living arrangments set up for you, if you should be female, pressure on you to sleep with certain males, work set up for you, pretty much a life surrounded by the cult 24/7. Circles of Love in Portland was an attempt at the same. Very creepy. My usual Cringe Shudder comment times 20.

  6. When I lived in London I saw the same ” aa gurus” and their little sects within the rooms. Power mad sponsers causing nervous breakdowns & suicides in vunrable members. Wilson thought he was continuing the work of Jesus Christ ffs. It is so easy to be taken in by these charlatons & self-deluded deacons who promise heaven on earth. Sadly I fell for the Promises crap & am dealing with the anger I have at myself for being duped but am learning to direct my anger at AA

  7. When I moved from New York to California in 1995 my friends used to joke with me that I would join a cult,little did I realise how right they were lol. That PG tried to recruit me a few times but gladly I had the strength to say no & I didn’t fancy cleaning the dog-shit from Clancys driveway like other people I knew who did!!

  8. It saddens to me to know that the Legions of Clancy are allowed to just get away with it again and again and again, while the vast majority of AA membership turns a blind eye to the rampant 13th stepping, trickery, manipulation, duplicity, corruption and immorality. The overwhelming majority of AA (especially Old Timers) are indeed well aware of what’s going on too. How rigorously honest of them!
    It’s not just in the major cities like LA / DC / NYC, but also in smaller cities and the suburbs like in NJ as this article briefly mentions. Ask anyone who was done AA time in NJ and they will have heard about The Sponsorship Group of Chatham Township. This group’s actions speak for themselves at this point. The bigger problem in NJ is that everyone else (in NNJAA / Area 44) just looks the other way and there is no willingness to address or resolve inside issues and problems that plague AA as a whole. The local NNJAA website promotes this horrible group and their anniversary every year also! Here’s the link:
    Mark your calendars but beware that it’s the same errant nonsense every year. Clancy gives a charismatic yet lame monologue, pontificating about his charming brand of snake oil. He will be making his annual NYC appearance around the same as well. The bigshots in NY (Atlantic Group and GSO/AAWS) just adore this guy, in spite of all the facts that surround him and his entourage. In the grand scheme of things, the bad apples really do spoil the rest of the bunch. Acceptance of Clancy and his practices are a damning condemnation of AA as a whole and will only lead to the continuing decline of this pathetic cult that should NOT have lasted beyond the 1930’s.

  9. @ Rob in Arizona.
    I think the circle of love morphed into a PG knock off called the Westside Group. They regiment what people where to meetings if they are to speak, requiring women to wear dresses and men to wear suits. The collections they take up, they keep for their own group and do not give monies to the AA central office. They run a large speaker meeting and fly the Clancy’s in from L.A.. I went to one of their smaller share meetings and was struck by the man who was chairing. One could tell he fancied himself a “city” man like from NY, LA, or even Europe. Everything about his chairing and how he ran the meeting exposed his deep narcissism. I was also struck by how as a newcomer to this meeting (but not to AA having spent 14 years cult stuck) the people who approached me had a strange shiftiness to their eyes. It was like they were fearful to reveal too much but probing to feel me out. As I didn’t give off the scent of a vulnerable newbie they quickly would move on, gliding through the room to find unfamiliar faces and perhaps takers of their particular brand of AA.
    I spent 14 years trusting sick people who lied and manipulated and I numbed myself out by redirecting my disillusionment back onto myself, what my part was, or how I could restrain my disease, sickness, and stinking thinking more through working the steps harder or better. Frankly I never worked the steps hard or well. I felt if I practiced the principal of honesty most things worked out. The problem was most of the people who stay in AA and end up controlling it are pushing around phrases about amends and step work and sponsorship and then end up outside the rooms being just as manipulative and deceitful as they ever had been. They end up being invested in being eternally broken so they never have to take responsibility because it’s their disease and their sponsor will tell them what to do to make amends. I feel for all of us who have had to listen to amends and then suffer the same offense from the same person over and over.
    I am so glad to be out and away from that group and am working through the dismay and anger I have at myself for being so foolish to have wasted 14 years in AA. I am also embarrassed for ever touting it’s ideas.

    • “It was like they were fearful to reveal too much but probing to feel me out.”

      Yes, I’m sorry to say I watched those behaviors for twelve years myself. I noticed that most of the super-sponsors and the old-timer gurus, (and the predators too I’m sure) became very polished in the art of luring information out of the vulnerable – while revealing nothing of value about themselves. They don’t even have to work hard at it because treatment centers constantly keep them supplied with vulnerable subjects. That’s also the mark of a good con-artist who knows how to set people up. You make some great observations. Thanks for a great post.

  10. People who are angry at A A are sometimes bearing burdens of unresolved resentments. I have such a person in my apartment complex. Maybe what you are saying is true. Maybe not true. But don’t you realize that if you would produce one piece of evidence to substantiate your allegations you would receive more support for your cause or case. I have not seen anything that you have written to substantiate what you are alleging. Gossip to me is what the name implies.If someone is hiding from something within themselves at the end of each day it is they who will have borne the punishment they had so much desired to inflict upon another. Proof. A person can also be sued in a court of law for liable,defamation,and a host of legal actions. I am always very,very careful when I think I need to accuse and when I do I back it up with the facts and proof. You have not proved to myself or many others what you say against “Clancy” is true. So I must rule in favor of “Clancy”. Are you just another person that has ill-will against A A ? I do know for a fact and can prove it with evidence that A A saves lives,restores families,etc. . You cannot say the same for yourself. Perhaps because of your rhetoric that you drive someone away from A A that needed and wanted it. But they read your blog and said what is the use ? I’ll just put a bullet through my shackled mind and be done with it all. It has been said if you were a thief before you came into AA you will be a better thief when you sober up. If that is true I cannot do one thing about it. That is my suggestion for you. I read what you complain about . The first thought that comes to mind immaturity . Grow up. You don’t need to blast out against another for revenge. If you do not you will continue to suffer. Be someone else. In your case- do not be yourself. Watch that ego too. Your friend, Randy

    • First, Randy, you are not my friend. You can take that phony AA attitude and use it in the cult where that degree of passive-aggressive phony demeanor is commonplace.

      Second, you need to realize the truth about the teachings in the cult of AA. Do the research, as many of us have. Your cult isn’t even remotely what you seem to think it is.

      Thanks for the uninformed and AA-slanted scolding – very entertaining. In the cult of AA no one that criticizes the cult or its members in any way is right or even has a right to their opinion. You just proved that once again.

    • @ Randy- Here’s quoting your comment:
      “Maybe what you are saying is true. Maybe not true. But don’t you realize that if you would produce one piece of evidence to substantiate your allegations you would receive more support for your cause or case. I have not seen anything that you have written to substantiate what you are alleging”

      Randy I’m not sure who the “you” is you refer to that should be producing evidence. There is no one person or entity that has “evidence” that challenges the tenets and effectiveness of AA. Rather there is a collection of studies and empirical evidence that, should you deign to research and discover, substantiates the tenets, opinions and experiences of many who have shared on this site. Here is a lead that might get you started on your quest for “evidence”. Its an article written by a Dr. in 1964.
      (From the September 19, 1964 Saturday Evening Post.
      By Dr. Arthur H. Cain )

      Google it, download it, review it and if it pleases you, write a fourth step on it. When you actually have made the effort to research and look into the “evidence” then come back and share what you think about it then.

    • Randy- You are not my freind. Its not your place to come to my blog and tell me to grow up. But you are so use to AA where you and your kind have been bullying new members for years.

      I had alot of time when I left AA….so I know your GAME> Still…

      Your post is like spj and others have said.

      AA members who are like you are just …weird…..and you have no boundaries and you think you are above everyone else.

      Get off my blog !!!! and dont let the door hit you on the ass on the way out !!!

    • Drive someone away who needed and wanted it? So you consider AA the person’s savior. AA must allow people to smoke weed for you to be that far off reality’s grid. What about millions of people who left AA and it can be verified alcohol causes NO problem for them. They are healthy, not addicted, and they are not being mind raped, either.

  11. Maybe the real question is why so many people are so fragile these days.
    I have never understood the need for a ‘support group.’
    Why does anyone require a group of strangers to be a facsimile of caring friends in which to lean on for daily life.

    This country was not founded by whiny, weak men who needed to talk, talk, talk out their problems to strangers.

    America was founded by hard-asses who endured more in a day than we do without electricity, running water, and adequate medical care.

    The frozen midwest was settled by men, women, and children who endured more hardships than we have–and you either toughened up or you died. No one had a ‘support group’ to go to nor did they have phones to call people if they wanted to drink.

    They just did it, they carried on, and they didn’t have the free time to sit around and flap their jaws about their ‘issues.’

    Bill Wilson was not the devil but then again, he wasn’t made of much.
    He wouldn’t have lasted very long on the frontiers and he wouldn’t have made a very good cowboy, because cowboys made their own way, and didn’t live off of women.


    • I knew a cowboy once who touched his inner child and found out he was gay…. Just to warn you all. Stuff everything and walk like your tough. Man up!

      {sorry. I could not resist a silly reply.}

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  13. Ive seen narcissists in the Pacific Group style in my meetings. One became angry with me because I did not pick up a piece of candy for a chubby girl who dropped it in front of me at the meeting. This guy stands in the door at one meeting as if to gauge people. He stares at me. A clique of them tried to run me out the meeting. My so called sponsor said she couldn’t work anymore because I was dating someone who drinks and she told me I needed to go to al anon – then I run into her at an al anon meeting about seven months later saying how she needs to get back into al anon. She was projecting her own relationship issues on me. But I would like to go to a Pacific Group meeting because they seem to be fairly successful and I think I can take people in aa with a grain of salt. Ive been in aa for seven years and I know that I can accept or not accept what people say as I want.

    • I know a broken down, dirty, smelly prostitute who stopped drinking in AA. She got her kids back, has a job in the health-care industry now, dresses beautifully and is one of the sweetest, least selfish, most beautiful people inside and out I’ve ever known.

      She works the Steps daily, reaches out to others in AA for help and to help, and walks hand in hand with her HP in peace and radiates joy and serenity.

  14. “It saddens to me to know that the Legions of Clancy are allowed to just get away with it again and again and again, while the vast majority of AA membership turns a blind eye to the rampant 13th stepping, trickery, manipulation, duplicity, corruption and immorality. The overwhelming majority of AA (especially Old Timers) are indeed well aware of what’s going on too.”

    Can you prove these things?

    • No? I enjoy Clancy’s talks. He’s not perfect or my H.P., though, thankfully, because I would certainly drink again if so. Indeed, I’ve met some unsavory characters in the rooms. I choose not to follow them or allow them to interfere with my efforts to stay in constant contact with my M.P. AA isn’t for everyone. It requires a level of honesty very, very difficult to achieve and to maintain, to say the least. But, to exchange an alcohol fueled lifestyle compared with a life infused with the presence of the divine, is worth my utmost.

      • Bill- you said ” I choose not to follow them or allow them to interfere with my efforts to stay in constant contact with my M.P. AA isn’t for everyone.” Good for you – We are not talking about you. We are talking about the many vulnerable – unsuspecting new and sometimes older members who are groomed for a rapist to attack a trusting good AA person.

        you also said — It requires a level of honesty very, very difficult to achieve.. When people have SUD they need real help not made up quasi religion pseudo arm chair psychology.

        SMART RECOVERY, SOS, WFS, Moderation Management, and using Naltrexone may be a better fit for many. AA is a very antiquated society – Thats all it is . and it has become a cult. There were articles in the 1960’s calling AA a cult.
        I dont think you are in need of any help – Move along.

      • you said It requires a level of honesty very, very difficult to achieve and to maintain, to say the least

        This kind of statement is really arrogant. Like AA is some magic mushroom path into ” honesty. ..honestly I met some of the sickest , sociopath people IN AA. Yea some good eggs…. so what …there are good people everywhere.

  15. I just wanted to connect with the creator of this article. My parents met and married young in 1973 in Hawaii. We traveled the world but I never had a connection with my grandparents. I only flew home to Hawaii if someone close to my parents passed away. That was the only time we would see each other, on a sad occasion. I only knew them from stories that other people told and was too young to understand what was going on. I was wondering if you could tell me about them. They were Harry and Mary Lake.

  16. I got sober in the Pacific Group and I used to go every Saturday to what is called “the yard”. We (about 200 of us) would quickly pick up dog crap and mow the lawn. It was more of a social thing and there were so many of us you might pick up one dog turd a year and not cut the grass with the power mower at all. And we all got a nice FREE lunch and enjoyed a day playing sports and laughing with friends.

    There were things about Clancy I didn’t like but he is not the monster that some people think he is. He is a brilliant, VERY funny and VERY creative person (he came up with “Elsie the Cow” at an AD Agency) and he is also a very insecure person (like most of us) and he had shock therapy and was institutionalized for a time.

    In other words, a very sick alcoholic man who has stayed sober now for almost 60 years.

    When I was in the PG, a few of us would actually jokingly call it the Pacific CULT and we called Clancy “Cranky” and we called the big Wednesday Night Meeting “the slam dance”. There was a lot of much needed humor in those meetings and Clancy has an amazing sense of humor.

    He also said the thing that kept me in AA because I didn’t know if I was really an alcoholic as I didn’t get into as much trouble as many others. He said “drinking is not our problem. LIFE is our problem & Drinking was the solution”

    Thank God I heard that.

    He isn’t perfect and he did used to piss me off many times but he has truthfully helped many people.

  17. HE has also grabbed women’s breasts in public – which is illegal and I was told he made women he sponsored give him blo jobs as part of sponsoring them.

    • I knew many of the women he sponsored and that is NOT true.

      I’m not saying the guy was a saint (he isn’t) but I see a lot of things he did have gotten blown WAY out of proportion.

      The PG is NOT a cult, it is more like a boot camp for people who really need to stay busy to combat their depression and anxiety and I can tell you that it works. And I had many good friends in the PG who have moved on and are doing well.

      • He told people for YEARS to not take their SSRI’s anti depressants and people killed themselves. Call a cult or not – That group is Insane – – WTF is a boot camp- telling people they have to wear a dress or a suit to an AA meeting – telling people who to date – and many reports of people being raped by men in the group. Also the WOMEN are so controlling it looks like STEPFORD WIVES – AA is not a solution for depression – they should see a PhD therapist trained in addiction . I know MANY PG poeple who contacted me who have also left AA and think that group and your “leader” Is nuts and abusive.

        • I called him once to ask if a guy I was sponsoring should keep taking LITHIUM for his depression and he said yes, it was ok to take it.

          When I was new, I asked him if I should keep seeing the psychologist I was going to and he told me it was fine, but I would probably hear the same things in AA that the psychologist would tell me.

          I decided to quit going to him and told him I had joined AA and the psychologist said “That’s great!, Those people will really help you”

          The “suit” (just a tie) and dresses were only when you were a speaker or getting a birthday cake.

          Again, he is not a saint, he pissed me off more than once, but he is not the monster you think he is.

  18. I went into the Pacific Group a broken person. I needed structure and discipline, I needed friends and a new way of life. The old way was not working anymore.
    I found some of the best friends that are still my friends today. I spent 4 years
    in PG. I went to 7 meetings a week for the entire 4 years. I played volleyball
    in Clancy yard every Saturday morning. I went to every watch.
    It is just AA with manners!! If someone is at the podium you do not get up
    for coffee, you do not go use the restroom, You shut up and listen. If you have
    a commitment you dress. Dress up and show up!. There is always a breaktime
    for restroom and coffee refills. We are saving lives. PAY ATTENTION

    • BS_ OMG what a strange post- what bizarre behavior for adults-
      ” you shut up and listen” yea in a cult I guess- he is not a good leader at all. ok you went there 7 days a week – geez – I think that is way too many meetings. I heard him speak in Hawaii in the 1970’s – he creeped me out .

      I have be reported many disturbing stories of a sexual nature and sexual misconduct about him. and no you are also killing people – Many for years were told by “him ” to NOT TAKE their medication for depression. He is not a doctor or a therapist. Many committed suicide – didnt they ?

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