Why I took the April Fool’s Day John Friend “interview” down.

Via Walk The Talk Show
on Apr 2, 2012
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The “interview” was fake. It never happened. John would never had said half that silly stuff.

It said April Fool’s in the article, and was posted on April Fool’s, and for anyone who actually read the whole thing, it was clearly fake (see below). Don’t worry: John didn’t give me any interview in which he asked me to be the new head of Anusara yoga (and wherein I declined).

My intent was not to make light of the situation, or make (mean) fun of John. The intent behind April Fool’s is to prank. To fool. I think I’ve demonstrated (in the public view) that I care about all concerned and am trying to be fair.

For those Friends of John who 1a) thought it was real or 1b) get offended by its tone 2) without reading it, let me clarify.

The interview never happened. It was an April Fool’s Day spoof, posted on April Fool’s Day. Its purpose, if anything, was to make fun of myself, elephant, crazy commenters, John and the entire “scandal” that’s rocked the Anusara yoga world, and now is appearing in mainstream media.

I can’t in all honesty apologize for penning an April Fool’s spoof. I am however sincerely happy to personally apologize for any confusion caused to those of you who didn’t realize it was April Fool’s day when this was posted, and who didn’t bother to read the text, which explicitly states that this is an April Fool’s day spoof.


Here’s the ending of the “interview,” for those of you who didn’t read it: 

Waylon Lewis

…But I don’t smoke potI’m Buddhist, as I might have mentioned.

John Friend:

This isn’t me talking.

Waylon Lewis:

It rarely is.

John Friend:

Hah. No, I mean, seriously, this is all some sort of dream.

Waylon Lewis:

Everything is a dream. Regard all Dharmas as dreams, as we Buddhists say.

John Friend:

Brilliant. Thanks for your wisdom, Waylon. And btw, you’re incredibly humble, charming, and good-looking.

Waylon Lewis:

You’re a bit…doughy. Happy April Fool’s, all.



> It was April Fool’s day.

> It says April Fool’s in the title

> And at the end of the article

> And now there’s a big apology for confusion/clarification up top on the “interview”

> And now I’ve agreed to take down the “interview”

> And I’ve offered this “apology.”

I continue to feel personal, genuine empathy for John and all involved in this situation—and I sincerely do not believe that this spoof is bad for anything. If I did, I wouldn’t have written it. In fact, speaking of harm, I think Team John’s evasive, defensive approach has made this situation far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far worse for Anusara and John’s reputation than it needed to be.

If I were involved, I would be happily providing different counsel than John has received along the way. Just take blame. Be personal, emotionally open. Tell the lawyers to take a hike, at least in terms of communication style. Then leave: get thee on retreat, surrounded by appropriate resources for personal growth.


Clifnotes for those who can’t be bothered, yet again, to read the whole thing, but who may’ve skipped right to the end, to get to the good part:

It was April Fool’s! Laughing at ourselves and myself and himself and the situation—not making light of it, but poking fun at ourselves—is healthy, in my view.

I thought it was funny, and many folks who read it did, obviously. Not mean-funny, just much-needed satire on an everyone’s-taking-themselves-too-seriously situation.

Obviously the other way–the whole suppress/control/lawyer tack, has not helped the situation.

As “we Buddhists say,” making fun of ourselves is serious business. Humor provides a moment that pops solidity and returns us to our fundamental, basic goodness—our don’t-know mind. ~ ed.

PS:  Finally, I’d like to clarify that I don’t think John is doughy. That was a reference to the infamous NY Times article calling him doughy. It’s a…joke.


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59 Responses to “Why I took the April Fool’s Day John Friend “interview” down.”

  1. Maureen Miller says:

    Man, I wish I saw that one…. sound like it was a good one.
    Thanks, Way. I totally appreciate your sense of humor.

  2. Shamma Lamma says:

    Man, I've seen you have to explain the concept of humor many times on this site.

  3. elephantjournal says:


  4. lisa says:

    I was so pleased to have been completely fooled until the end. Hook, line and sinker – good one.

  5. Sybil says:

    Take a chill pill people….lighten up for Pete's sake

  6. Shamma Lamma says:

    I actually had to read the whole thing though before I realized. For whatever reason, you had me for 3/4 of the article.

  7. Jennifer says:

    Oh man. I missed it. I could really use a good laugh after reading some of the comments on on Facebook. SEESH.

  8. elephantjournal says:

    How do these upset people put so much energy into being hurt and mad and so little energy into reading the whole thing? Apparently many thought it was real.

  9. elephantjournal says:

    Scott Hales hey, if people can't take a joke.. ; )

    Laura Fuller how to make a bad situation and make it worse. Props to you (and Im not fooling).

    Wendy Boller I enjoyed the follow up take down explanation almost as much as the impeccibly timed April Fool's original.

    Needle Rea Wish people would end the John F discussion/if they'd just leave him alone/ karma takes over

    elephantjournal.com Thanks for the incomplete thought/sentence/lack of punctu/ati/on Needle. Seriously, Needle, the way to move on from such controversy is to first deal with it honestly, openly, fully, while getting over ourselves in the process (if possible).

  10. JF says:

    I thought it was hilarious. Please don't think that your readers want to see you capitulate to any of this faux moral indignation. I

  11. haha–I missed the original, but this one is really funny

  12. ASG says:

    i thought it was funny and clever, but i guess only articles that are happy ra ra and infested with shri are allowed, not one laced with sarcastic humor as an april fools joke

  13. elephantjournal says:

    Well, it was meant to sucker you in, then hit you over the head with a big hammer of prankyness.

  14. amycomment says:

    This was my favorite April Fool's Day prank – ever! You totally got me. I wasn't even out of bed yet, and grabbed my phone to log into EJ to catch the latest Anusara hubbub. To my surprise there was something new… an interview with John Friend himself! I loved the set up – Skype, no one else in the room, against the wishes of PR folks and lawyers. The interview was so candid – I kept thinking something is off – but the whole situation is so "off" that in some crazy way it all made sense. When I got to the end, I realized it was a joke – but I had to re-read it again just to be sure. Then I thought about it all day. The best part about the joke is that this is the interview that many of us wished that John had really given.

  15. Doug Keller says:

    Sadly, humor was the only vehicle left to communicate to JF what would truly redeem him if he said it, truly meant it, and acted upon it. The only reason this comes across as a joke and even 'sarcasm' is the fact that it seems at this late date that he is unlikely to ever say or do such a thing. If he had actually said these things, it would not be a 'joke' at all, and actually quite mature and admirable.

    I have to say, Waylon, I did appreciate your even greater willingness to poke fun at yourself, even admired it.

    Before I caught on to the joke, I felt a glimmer of hope for Mr. Friend. Then…April Fools. Sigh.

  16. Anne says:

    The only reason I'm here was that I came online to find your email address. Quoting journalism professor Jay Rosen (via Twitter):

    "Newsrooms that, thinking themselves clever, publish fake stories on April 1 have no idea what they are screwing with. Staggeringly bad idea."

    This is my last visit to Elephant. I'll ask my friends who write for you to please cross-post to their own blogs.

    Not funny, not helpful, not kind.

  17. Awesome. I think both of these are hilarious. But then again, I'm a Prana Flow Vinyasa type of gal, so I'm not personally attached. Don't worry, 2 people called me "Weird" on my April Fool's article yesterday. Then they clarified… Weird in a bad way, not a good way. LOL. 🙂
    Till next year…
    Brooke Kochel

  18. Scott Newsom says:

    I don't see an actual explanation for why you took down the article. Why was that?

  19. Please. says:

    I find it very hard to believe that those critical of you did not "bother" to read the entire article. They read the article, knew it was a joke and did not think it was funny. It was, in my non-anusara, casual yoga practioner opinion, hypocritical and unprofessional. Most of all just mean. I doubt that humoring oneself at the expense of another being "…returns your basic goodness". Goodbye Elephant Journal.

  20. Terry Post says:

    There is no need to take it down, it is obviously a joke and a wonderfully written joke. It made my day because it sounded real at first and was what I've been w a i t i n g to hear from JF, a really real exchange of cut-to- the- bone communication between wise adults who understand humor as a vehicle of truth telling. The story around JF has been so tense, it was a relief to laugh.
    Thank you

  21. Grace says:

    Oh my god, ya big BABY.

    This "article" explains why you put the JF thing up, not why you took it down.

    Why the hell did you take it down? It was (initially) convincing and ultimately /funny/. You had to know it would piss people off before you stuck it up there. Unless you were threatened by JF's lawyers, I find the fact that you took the article down seriously LAME. Even then, unless they had a case, your turning tail is LAME.

    You made a point and a good one. A lot of people don't agree with you. SO WHAT? You can't write relevant, biting satire without raising ire. You can't make everyone like you no matter what you do, so why not be authentic? Why back down?

    In my view you weakened Elephant Journal by bowing to the outrage and taking the article down. If someone was dumb enough to make it all the way through, see the "Happy April Fools" message and /still/ believe it was true, it's their own damn fault they're upset, not yours.

  22. myriamsofialluria says:

    i read it all the way through, I just think this topic needs to be laid to rest for a while and there are so many other things you could have made fun of. It made my heart sink, first to read it, and then find out it was all a big joke, because whether you think so or not, continually calling attention to a very unfortunate situation is not very compassionate or funny, in my humble opinion.

  23. BJ Galvan says:

    I read it and it was in poor taste, beyond poor taste.. purposefully injurious, kick the man when he is down. Thank you for apologizing.

  24. Apoptosis says:

    Injurious? In what way? By saying what people want to hear from JF and never will, therefore highlighting his insincerity and hubris by comparison?

    JF injured himself. He opened himself up to this and much worse. This April Fools article was nothing. A harmless bit of fun. I'm honestly at a loss to see why this is such a big, hairy deal to people.

  25. G.C.Aloha says:

    I saw the title and at first was interested to read it, then saw the April Fool's disclaimer and decided not to. I thought it probably was in poor taste to make a joke out of this awful situation, and for that reason, I made the choice not to read it. I don't know how people didn't see in the title that it was an April Fool's joke, but I personally hate getting suckered.

  26. RYNO Motors says:

    I read it all the way through. It was not clear that the whole article was a joke or perhaps you HAD spoken to John and the two of you were making a joke or what exactly it was. There was also "new information" in the "article" -such as, that John had sold half of Anusara to the new board- which could be entirely true – leaving it possible that it was an interview with him since so much actual information has come out through elephant journal. I agree with above posts- you do not say here why you took it down, you simply defensively explain why you put it up. I was left contemplating your actions and the article.

    I wonder if perhaps you may have forgotten that many of us out here are having very real consequences in our professional careers and ability to support ourselves due to this whole thing. Additionally, we've gone through two months of our spiritual community being fractured apart, friendships strained or lost, deep disillusionment, loss of meaning in a spiritual practice for some, suffering over the actions of our teacher and a strong uncertainty in a community very close to our heart for many of us. In that context, making a joke of these things, while they are still in the middle of playing out seems neither kind nor compassionate which, when I last checked, were also strong Buddhist values. I'm fine with not taking ourselves too seriously- this is very important. However I do not appreciate your choices here. I do not think they reflect well on elephant journal or on your discernment as an editor.

  27. Leah says:

    Wow, you never quit do you Doug. I have read some of your comments on "Kula Without Borders," interesting stuff. Maybe one day you'll let all at sadness and hurt go, I wish you much Shri!

  28. elephantjournal says:

    Hah. Let me be clear…IT WAS APRIL F…nevermind.

  29. elephantjournal says:

    That's fine. Not thinking something is funny is completely your right. But saying you thought it was real even though you read the whole hting? I find that honestly hard to imagine. See you around.

  30. elephantjournal says:

    There wasn't any outrage from readers in comments. It was (at least yesterday, in the context of April Fool's) universally acknowledged (in comments, at least, I understand now that many folks who didn't read to the end were confused—and again I say how can you put so much energy into being mad when you put so little energy into reading what's making you mad?).

    I'm fine with taking something down if I see it's been hurtful. That wasn't the intent. I change my mind. Most flexible, rational, reasonable people do. You can call it "LAME" in ALL CAPS or "turning tail." I call it not wanting to hurt people who missed the joke—even when I personally can't imagine how they managed to do so.

  31. elephantjournal says:

    Sorry, but it's news, and it's our community, and friends, and we've covered this fairly since the beginning. I love how you think we're being mean to Anusara or John, and most of the yoga world thinks I wish I were spooning with him at night. Why don't you and the other side get together, talk, and get back to me on what I'm allowed to type?

  32. elephantjournal says:

    I'm surprised at you. I think what's in poor taste is obfuscating and suppressing and bullying and being vague and hiding behind lawyers…when John, an intelligent, caring man whom I respect and like to this day, could have just come out and been honest and forthright to begin with, and then let the chips fall where they may.

  33. elephantjournal says:

    Seems like you didn't read the above, you were in such a rush to offer your opinion on the above. I was not making a joke of the situation. I was making fun of the self-serious nature of this situation—without making light of the very real sadness and damage that has occurred. Thanks.

  34. elephantjournal says:

    Well, funny, the comments were universally "I get the joke" on the actual post that I agreed to take down.

    Seems like I should put it back up, since my agreeing with John to take it down has earned elephant, and myself (which is fine) only the hate and criticism of people too serious to laugh as ourselves.

  35. elephantjournal says:

    Thank you!

  36. elephantjournal says:

    You article was amazing, yesterday! And I saw comments saying whatever was completely inappropriate and hurtful about your prank article. Maybe that's true. But I love April Fool's, and see the holy purpose in it.

  37. elephantjournal says:

    I could quote you 108 journalism professors, let alone the whole of the Onion, who might disagree with your Jay Rosen. And they'd all be a lot more active in journalism than most professors.

  38. elephantjournal says:

    I wish you much Shri, she says, anonymously, to someone who has the guts to be non-anonymous, and she only wishes him "much Shri" after insulting him! I love passive aggressive yoga people.

  39. Mr. Science says:

    Waylon, please stop sound-biting Trungpa Rinpoche with tags like “as we Buddhists say”.
    You don’t speak for “we Buddhists”.
    As far as I am concerned you misrepresent Buddhism much more often than you get it right.
    It is not a badge for you to wear.
    As far as the April 1 article is concerned, I don’t have an opinion, but hiding behind your “Buddhist” sense of humor to justify your position regarding whether or not people should have taken offense is an affront to Buddhists who don’t use their spiritual tradition as a week kneed way to legitimize their for profit blog.

  40. sabrina says:

    A shameful exploitation of the Anusara situation to get traffic. Have a little respect for the people who were harmed my all this.

  41. Vision_Quest2 says:

    Ohhh, so do I.

    Especially when they shoot themselves in the foot!

  42. Doug Keller says:

    Thanks. For those who don't know, 'shri' is a dessert made from cloggy condensed milk, tons of sugar and goopy rice. Perhaps it is the new 'peaches and cream,' or a covert wish to throw a pie in your face. Or perhaps 'I wish you much Shri' is the new 'Bless his heart'

    Wishing 'shri' is the glitter-bomb of the yoga community. No offense to gay people intended here — at least they have a real complaint against injustice.

  43. robertwolf681 says:

    I'm genuinely flabbergasted. The words 'teacup' and 'storm' spring to mind.

    Waylon, from the excerpt I read above, I found the interview hilarious. My only criticism is that you chose to remove it in the face of what appears to have been some kind of collective hissy fit.

    C'est la vie.

  44. ASG says:

    word! many of us wish it were a real interview which john was forthcoming and replied with straight answers… the real injurious part is the half-baked replies john has given so far

  45. Courtney says:

    I'm not sure that you can be a real journalist, and a Jon Stewart/Daily Show "journalist" at the same time. Antics like this cost you credibility, and that's all you really have to bank on as a real journalist.

  46. Terry Post says:

    It was April Fool's Day! Give it a break

  47. Andrew Gurvey says:

    Keep up the good work and the insightful comments, Doug. I've been a fan of yours for a long time.

  48. yogijulian says:

    oh good grief.

  49. yogijulian says:

    and wtf happened to the thumbs down icon?! pussies.

  50. julie says:

    is this the jf?