So many questions remain unanswered about ROX #49, but chief among them is this: What's up with this guy?
We'd seen a flyer he'd posted somewhere around town, we called the number listed, and the next thing we knew, there he was.
I guess his name is Roger Berlin, but even that seems suspect. After all, he claims a number of aliases. He says he's also known as Father Donovan Von Jennings, the last exorcist ordained by the Vatican, for example.
Most relevant for us as residents of Bloomington, Indiana, he claims the name Rudinterra Yogananda. Indeed, he says he's the transmigratory vessel for Swami Rudrananda, aka Rudi, the renowned spiritual teacher. Back in the 1970s, Rudi established more than a dozen ashrams around the country; the one in Bloomington was especially prominent. Rudi died in a plane crash in 1973, and Roger claims to now play host to his spirit.
He also claims to have founded the DEA and invented the slogan, “Just Say No.” He says he's a time traveler. He says all this and more in a single interview, conducted in our living room at 344 S Dunn one December afternoon.
All these claims seem so outrageous when I type them, but Roger asserted them boldly, confidently, repeatedly. The effect was disarming and somewhat mesmerizing.
Even today I can't figure if he was delusional, or running some sort of scam, or doing some kind of bizarre and rather clever performance art. I'd like to think it was the latter.
Roger said he was born in 1951. According to the Social Security Death Index, a man named Roger Berlin died in Nashville, Indiana, in 2008; the record also says he was born in 1951. Could it be the same person? I don't know. But wherever you are, Roger, I imagine you're still baffling.