Monday, October 29, 2007

Roky Erickson at the El Rey

I saw Roky Erickson at the El Rey Theater last night. For those who don’t know, Roky Erickson was the leader of the 13th Floor Elevators, the world’s first psychedelic rock band. The Elevators were from Austin, Texas, of all places. In Austin, Roky and the band faced constant harassment from the authorities who didn’t like their long hair and their anti-authoritarian message. Roky was busted for possession of a single joint. For this crime he was sent for three years to the Rusk State Hospital for the Criminally Insane where we was subjected to electro-shock treatments. Whether it was insanity or not that led him to smoke dope, by the time he came out of Rusk he wasn’t quite right anymore.

In the late Seventies he started releasing records again. But his lyrical themes had changed from starry eyed tales of spiritual exploration to dark examinations of the hidden horrors of the mind. Songs like Two Headed Dog, I Think of Demons and Creature With the Atom Brain found an audience among punk rock kids and Roky seemed on the verge of a major comeback. His song Bermuda (about the Bermuda Triangle) was a major inspiration to this young punk guitarist at the time. But bad management deals left him broke and by the early Nineties Roky was under the care of his mother who was ill equipped to deal with his deepening mental difficulties.

In 2001, his youngest brother Sumner gained guardianship over Roky and began to see that he got the professional treatment he needed. These days Roky is back and better than he ever was.

I’d never seen Roky live before, but the show I witnesses last night blew away any of the many recorded live shows I’ve heard. He was in amazing form. The years have made his voice even more abrasive, which only makes him sound better than before. Brian Wilson, whose story is similar to Roky’s in many ways, usually has a piano in front of him when he does live shows nowadays, though he rarely plays it and even when he does the instrument is not audible to the audience. But Roky played mean rhythm guitar throughout the show and even a few solos, all very much audible to everyone in the theater.

He was backed by a band he called Evil Hook Wildlife E.T., though the members looked too young to have been the original Evil Hook Wildlife E.T. who backed him in the Eighties. In addition to a firey lead guitarist, and rockin’ drums and bass, there was also a steel guitar player who added just the right touch of country to the sound.

I met Roky the day before at a book signing held at the Silent Movie Theater on Fairfax Avenue in LA. He signed copies of his new biography Eye Mind: The Saga of Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators, The Pioneers of Psychedelic Sound by Paul Drummond and presented the film Creature with the Atom Brain, the inspiration for his song of the same name. When I got up to the front of the line I asked him if he knew John Battles. John is a friend of mine from Chicago who kept a correspondence with Roky throughout the Eighties. Roky said he knew John, “He’s in Chicago,” he said, “He sends me lots of horror movie stuff!” I was impressed. With all he’s gone through it’s amazing he remembers his fans. “Thank you for bringing him up!” he said, smiling as he handed back my book.

Roky Erickson has always been kind of a hero of mine. Not for being crazy and taking drugs — which he hasn’t done for many years now anyway. But because of the way he sticks to what he does artistically in spite of everything. I’ve tried to approach my Zen teaching in the same way. Which is why you’re all cordially invited to bite me if you don’t like the way I do this stuff. Go find someone you do like and leave me the fuck alone, all right?

Anyway, for those that need to know, here’s the set Roky played:

1) Cold Night for Alligators 2) White Faces 3) Don’t Shake Me Lucifer 4) Mine, Mine, Mind 5) Two Headed Dog 6) Night of the Vampire 7) Bloody Hammer 8) Splash 1 9) The Beast is Coming 10) Creature With the Atom Brain 11) Starry Eyes 12) Before You Accuse Me 13) I Think of Demons 14) Bermuda 15) You’re Gonna Miss Me ENCORE: 1) The Interpreter 2) The Wind and More 3) I Walked With a Zombie

Got gigs in Ohio I should remind you about:

November 7th at 7PM I'll be at the Akron Public Library downtown.

November 7th (same day) 0DFx (the hardcore band I played bass in in the early 80s) will play the Matinee in Akron after the talk at the library.

November 9th my movie Cleveland's Screaming will be shown at the Beachland Tavern in Cleveland. There'll also be live performances by 0DFx, CD Truth, Cheap Tragedies and This Moment in Black History.

November 10th 0DFx plays at the Spitfire Saloon in Cleveland.

November 12th I'll give a Zen talk at Lambert's Tattooing and Body Piercing (I kid you not) in manly, he-man Mansfield, Ohio at 7PM (Sponsored by the Mansfield Zen Center).

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Associated with the Associated Press + Ohio Gig List

Wow. Lookee. I got a big ol' article in the Associated Press. A writer named Eric Talmadge showed up at our retreat in Shizuoka in September in order to write a story about it. Though he had no great interest in Zen, he made it through the entire retreat, all those millions of hours of zazen, work assignments, meal services, ceremonial crap and the whole bit. That's a dedicated writer! Heck, Jim Krane, my old friend and bandmate from the legendary Eric Nipplehead Project, writes for AP and all he does is run around Iraq interviewing soldiers and militants.

Seems like this Eric -- Talmadge, not Nipplehead -- had a fine time at the old temple. You can find about a hundred variations of the article by typing in his name and mine into Google. MSNBC picked it up as did AOL and a bunch of local newspapers including one in Taiwan. Here are a few links I found.

Honolulu Advertiser


Taiwan News Online


Lubbock On Line

The El Paso Times

The Ventury County Star

The Clarion Ledger (this one uses a different photo from the others)

A list of various other places that carried the piece

It's always the same article with different titles, sometimes edited or expanded a bit. It's nice. The quote about "letting your mind shut off" doesn't sound like me to me. But who knows what the heck I say sometimes.

Recently I've been feeling that zazen itself in unassailable. If I can use a big word like that. What I mean is that zazen goes on as long as you hold the posture, no matter whether you're happy with it or not, or whether it feels like you think it ought to or not, or whether your legs and your ass hurt or not. Doesn't matter. When you go to a Zen thing just imagine it's like a weird yoga class where they only do one pose and they hold it forever.

Got gigs in Ohio I should remind you about:

November 7th at 7PM I'll be at the Akron Public Library downtown.

November 7th (same day) 0DFx (the hardcore band I played bass in in the early 80s) will play the Matinee in Akron after the talk at the library.

November 9th my movie Cleveland's Screaming will be shown at the Beachland Tavern in Cleveland. There'll also be live performances by 0DFx, CD Truth, Cheap Tragedies and This Moment in Black History.

November 10th 0DFx plays at the Spitfire Saloon in Cleveland.

November 12th I'll give a Zen talk at Lambert's Tattooing and Body Piercing (I kid you not) in manly, he-man Mansfield, Ohio at 7PM.

Some of you been complaining I don't write enough "dharma" on this blog anymore. Stop yer whinin' ya cry-babies!* I do an article every two weeks for Suicide Girls, which always has a link on the blog. Plus -- shee-yit -- I used to have to walk 15 miles through the snow at 3 in the morning to get just one little dharma sentence before I got booted in the face by my teacher and told to fuck off and die. Deal with it. Besides, I'm getting to the home stretch on my third book and the blog articles were getting to be a bit of a distraction from what needed doing there.

Rock on.

* Oh my God he insulted us. The Buddha said DO NO HARM!!!!!!!!**
** Get a life, numbskulls.

Friday, October 05, 2007


I'm back. And so are the damned Holosync ads. Look. There's no such thing as meditation by machine. Bag those CDs.

Anyway, here's a better view of that thing that Ian MacKaye signed at Air's Video in Tokyo. You can kinda sorta see his picture in this one. Ian MacKaye is still alive. Apparently a rumor of his death has been spreading across teh Internets. But I was sad to learn of the death of Mike Offender. Mike Offender was the bass player who played the killer lick that opens up MDC's classic "John Wayne Was a Nazi" on the LP version (though not on the single version). That little lick was a big influence on me cuz it said you could play innovative bass lines in hardcore, something I always strove to do in 0DFx. I'll say a Hanya Shingyo for Mike tonight.

And, speaking of 0DFx, here's an article about my movie Cleveland's Screaming from Scene magazine in Cleveland. The Cleveland premier will take place tomorrow night (Oct. 6th) at 9:15 PM at the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. Y'all be there!

Too jet-lagged to post more right now.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Here is is, people! Photographic proof at last that while I used to be cool, I am now a know-it-all phony prick in robes surrounded by sycophantic fans who worship my thoroughly wiped ass day and night. Yeah, that's right, mutha-fucka! Bow down to ME! All the way to the ground, you little weasel! Worship ME, like the DOG that you truly are! Praise my attainment of the most high ENLIGHTENMENT, you scum sucking slug! Bask in my radiant greatness and feel the glory that a worthless scurvy vermin like you could never hope to achieve in a thousand million kalpas! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-haaaaaaa!!!!

Actually it's a photo taken at the precept ceremony I performed for Ren Kuroda. In this part of the ceremony you bow down to the teacher and ask to get the precepts. Once they are given you get to sit on the fancy chair while the teacher circles you with his head bowed praising your most high and mighty ass for taking the vows. There's video too. Go take a look.

Some people at the retreat asked if they could get copies of Nishijima's pamphlet on the precepts, which I quoted from and which you can see me holding because I don't have the ceremony memorized. It's on line at this link for free so go get it and print one of your very own!

And here's a shot taken out the window of Ren's apartment. Actually this is a temporary place till he gets the water lines fixed at his real apartment. The weird pinks and yellows in the photo aren't real. It's some kinda artifact or something from the digital camera. The window looks out over the Roppongi district. Roppongi is where all the embassies are. In the eleven years I lived in Tokyo I think I went to Roppongi all of three times. I'm not a major fan of places like this. Each night when I walk back to Ren's apt. I'm accosted by at least a dozen Nigerian guys who want me to go with them to nightclubs. It's not the least bit fun or interesting and I never have been able to suss out why it's so popular. Sex, I guess, and alcohol. But you can get those in cooler places. Go figure.

The view looks exactly like a miniature set from a Godzilla movie, particularly this one used in 1974's Terror of Mecha Godzilla.

Monday, October 01, 2007


In a few hours my latest Suicide Girls piece will be up. It's 11PM Monday here in the Big Mikan (Tokyo) which is 6 AM in Los Angeles. I'm going to bed soon. But I'll stick a link in here when I get up. I'm wondering if this one will cause even more people's brains to explode than the little tempest in a teapot below. You asswipes really are starved for entertainment, aren't you?

Here's a few boring things to keep you occupied till things go wacky again. The first is an umbrella vending machine I spotted near Ren's house where I'm staying now. These are by no means common in Japan. And, just by the way, I have never seen one of the used schoolgirl panty vending machines you always read about. Though I did once wander into a shop where they sold used panties in plastic baggies with photos of the girl who was supposed to have worn them. That was culturally instructive.

This one I shot at a video shop called Airs in Shinjuku. Airs specializes in bootleg rock videos. Just about any concert that was ever video taped or filmed is available on DVD there. All the rock stars know the place and make a point of stopping by when they come through town. The staff usually gets them to take a photo and sign a thing called a shikishi, which is this special sort of cardboard thingy that people sign over here. Even Billy Joel signed one. And the Metallica guys signed several during multiple visits. Beck, Peter Buck and Joey Ramone are also represented along with probably hundreds of others

This one is my favorite. It's Ian MacKaye ex of Minor Threat and Fugazi. You can't really see the photo attached. But he's looking mean with his hand outstretched like maybe he's waiting to get a royalty payment. He wrote, "These are all bootlegs!"

I saw the Google ad for the stupid Holosync meditation machine was back. So I complained about it again. Hopefully it'll stop appearing. I don't mind ads for the Zen alarm clocks or Southeast Asian adventure vacations. But if I keep getting kooky meditation shit I'm gonna stop letting them run the ads at all. Seems like their robot just chooses the ads based on content. So any blogger who writes about meditation must want ads for the Holosync. Think again Mr. Roboto!

Asswipe robot...