There's been a touch of Internet controversy today about Beck's somewhat-impromptu show at the Echo tonight, first started by blogger Sketchytown, then picked up by the LA Weekly's West Coast Sound blog. Both blogs raised a flag about a charity cited on the show's promotional material, Educating Children International, which, according to the promo poster, will get the "net proceeds" of the show priced at a cool $35.
Nothing was mentioned about any connections with Scientology, and the website for the charity turns up an error message. So what's the official word from the Church of Scientology? Is Educating Children International a charity working with Beck's known (and controversial) path of spirituality?
It turns out it is.
When Pop & Hiss first contacted Scientology representative Karen Pouw, she did not recognize the charity name, but within 40 minutes or so she called back to say she had done some more investigating. She said it was part of Educating Children, a charity run by Indian Scientologist Mohammad Khalil Ullah, who has built at least three schools in South Asia, according to materials posted at the website www.educatingchildren.cc, a URL that Pouw also cited. Note the picture on the homepage of children celebrating in front of a school with a sign clearly stating "West Bengal Scientology Free School."
Pouw said about the charity, "We have volunteers there working in orphanages and getting children to school." She also stated, "I'm not speaking on behalf of Beck, but I believe his concert is in support of this charity."
When asked if Beck had a statement about the charity or tonight's show, his representative in New York declined to comment. A representative at the Echo did not answer our request for a comment.
The real question, of course, is whether Beck should've been more transparent about the show's beneficiary. If you're planning on going to the show tonight, does this change your mind or otherwise color your feelings about L.A.'s indie son?
-- Margaret Wappler
Photo: Benjamin Reed/Los Angeles Times