Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Wow. The amazing Jeffro Smull of the amazing Missile Toe (see them Friday at the Davenport in Parma, Ohio) and the even more amazing CD TRUTH (see them again... when, Jeffro?) and, of course, 0DFx just sent me an MP3 of a rough mix of one of the songs 0DFx recorded in November. And here it is:

Go Blue Go Die!

For the story of how this song came into being lookee here:

The song was first performed by 0DFx when Johnny Phlegm played bass and then ownership was transfered to Agitated when Johnny joined that band. I don't think we did this song in 0DFx when I was in the band. But, as you can see in the video, I served as bassist for Agitated in 2005. The hardcore punk scene in Akron was a very incestuous place.

The new version, by the way, is the very first instance of a hardcore band ever having a modulation in a song. We're hoping to get this out on a CD next year along with several new 0DFx songs and remakes of all your old favorites.

Gosh dang, but there's some activity going on in the comments section of my latest Suicide Girls article. Here I go insulting Christians and Jews and Jolly Old Saint Nick*, yet who pipes in loudest to defend their faith but the atheists! It's pretty funny.

I have some thoughts on the subject and maybe I'll write them down one of these days. But I really feel like atheists behave in exactly the same way as any other religion. Sure there's no church of atheism and there's no agreed upon set of dogma or holy books (though there does seem to be an emerging general consensus on those matters) but when you see folks rushing to defend their faith the moment it even appears to have been insulted you know you're dealing with a religion. To me, religion is a state of mind that includes, among other things, the impulse to attack anyone who questions your faith.

Anyway, whatever. Like I give a shit.

Oh! My sister wanted me to point out that it was she who gave me the KISS DVD and not Santa (although the tag on the present said "from Donner") and that Skylar only just gave up on her belief in Santa this year.

Peace out!

* Actually, I don't think I insulted any of these things or even insulted atheists. Which makes me feel even more strongly about the knee-jerk reaction certain atheists had to the piece.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Happy Christmas, everybody! Today's musical offering is a number I like to call:

Snow Is Falling

This was Dimentia 13's contribution to Midnight Records' annual Christmas album in 1987. I think it was '87. That's the cover there to your left. I did another one of these the year before called "Christmas Comes to Those Who Wait." This song (Snow is Falling) is pretty cheezy, actually. The idea was for each band's contribution to act as a demonstration of what was on the band's records. So this song attempts to mash together all the various psychedelic stylings on offer on the first two Dimentia 13 LPs.

The Sanskrit section is an invocation for opening the Bhagavad Gita. I found it in a Hare Krishna book. The lyrics are supposed to be self-parody, but they're still embarrassing. I like the ending, though. Nice fake raga guitar.

We're all supposed to go out and see Alien Vs. Predator this afternoon. Woo-hoo! And I'm supposed to cook the traditional Warner Family Christmas Tempura. We'll see how that turns out.

Got a new article up on Suicide Girls yesterday. This will be my final bi-weekly article, it seems. From January they're making all the columnists once-a-month. Like the cramps. So any of you who want me to contribute excess writings to your blogs and suchlike, let me know. Especially if it pays.

I got the new KISS DVD, by the way. Thank you Santa!

Saturday, December 22, 2007


I'm down here in Knoxville now where I recently starred on an episode of my niece's YouTube TV show. Here it is:

And here's an outtake:

Her name is Skylar and she's 11. You can find more episodes of Skylar's show at her website. It's freaky to see an 11 year old doing stuff on her website that I can't figure out. We didn't have no websites when I was that age. She wrote the script for this, by the way. I just read what she wrote for me. Pretty good, I think. Note the you-really-are-an-idiot look she gives me at the end.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


I'm sitting here next to the men's room at the Las Vegas airport enjoying their free, but pretty sluggish Internet service. I may be too far from the hub to pick up the signal well. But this was the nearest place to my gate where I could find an electrical outlet. The Internet service at LAX is one of those you gotta pay $10 to use, so I never do. I suppose Las Vegas supports their free Internets with gambling and prostitution. But it's not like LA doesn't have plenty of money.

I'm waiting here to take a plane to Dallas, where my dad lives and then, from there drive with him to Knoxville where my sister lives. I'll be in Knoxville for about a week, then back to Dallas for a night, to LA for another night and then up to Tassajara for a few days R & R. Since none of the people who begged me to stay in LA offered me a place to crash while I'll be homeless for several days in between moves, I may stay up in San Francisco for the first week of Twenty-ought-eight.

Does anyone out there know Macs well? Since two days ago, my "Mail" program refuses to pick up about 90% of my mail. Not all of it, mind you. Just most of it. If I go to my .mac account on-line I'll have, say 12 messages. When I go to "Mail" I have, like 3 messages. The 3 that appear in "Mail" do not appear on-line, while the 12 that appear on-line do not show up in "Mail." This is becoming a huge problem. Guess I'll have to try one of them Apple Stores, but I doubt they have 'em in Knoxville. I tried checking my Preferences to see what's up there. But I didn't see anything wrong.

Also, thanks for the Bukowski poems. I'd never read him. He's pretty great, though. I'll have to read some more of his stuff. Plus he lived in Southern California. Maybe sane people do live there after all. Maybe I won't regret sticking around a little longer.

As for the vows of poverty taken by Buddhist monks, God I hate to burst people's bubbles (actually I love to), but here's what I've seen of this. Yes it's true that if you enter a Zen monastery in Japan you are allowed only the clothes you wear plus what you can fit in two back-pack sized things that are strapped to your shoulders, one hanging in front of your chest and the other on your back. The things inside these are strictly regulated. You can't just choose what you want. I don't know the list, but I know you get your three bowls, a razor, some underwear, maybe a toothbrush, your bedding and that's about it.

While you're at the monastery these are all you're allowed to possess. And you live on a square of tatami mat. All true. But, see, the thing is nobody lives their whole life like this anymore. It's like boot camp. You endure this for a period of several months and then go back home where your TV and DVD player, your PS3, your black leather pants and all the rest of it have been lovingly stored by mom and dad. Plus I have never been to a temple that didn't have all that kinda stuff and more for the monks and caretakers who lived there.

There may be countries where the poverty vows are taken more strictly than they are in Japan. But I kinda doubt it. My understanding of what goes on in Thailand, Tibet, China and Korea is that it's pretty much the same deal.

The training I had from Tim and from Nishijima Sensei just ignored the whole boot camp stuff and tried to instill a more evenly spread out habit of living less extravagantly. Still, as you've seen from my eBay auctions, I managed to amass a nice collection of junk. But, again, I don't know of a single Buddhist monk who doesn't have some similar vice. The difference is that their vices tend to be pretty modest. Tim's was a big collection of horror movies on VHS (don't know if he still has those). Nishijima lives amazingly modestly but he has a fairly extensive library of philosophy both Western and Eastern. Apparently Shunryu Suzuki had lots of pottery stuff.

In moving house recently I had to discard a whole lot of junk. It's absolutely incredible how much a person can acquire in a short time. But we live in a capitalist consumer-based economy. It is part of our duty to society, I think, to participate in a certain degree of consumption. This is not a bad thing in and of itself. But it can go too far very easily.

I think they might be calling my flight, so I'm signing off here. Bye!

Sunday, December 16, 2007


This morning I was listening to the never-to-be-released Dimentia 13 album "Don't Give It To The Cat." We recorded it in 1992 and before it could be properly finished, Midnight Records pulled out of financing the sessions. I didn't have enough money to finish it myself and was pretty fed up with the entire enterprise by then. All I have left is a tape of the incomplete mixes.

I still can't listen to most of the songs without remembering how awful of a time that was. But I did come across the following song, which I still think is good and whose mix doesn't sound completely disgusting:


This song is actually not about a girl as it seems to imply, but about my friend Jim Bradler, who died in his mid-20's of some kind of weird lung ailment that I never did find out much about. He was from New Jersey and had such a strong Jersey accent it sounded almost like a parody of a Jersey accent. He loved to imitate the vendors at baseball stadiums back east, "Bee-ah Hee-yah!!" (trans. "Beer here") Whenever he saw or even heard mention of some hot chick he'd say, "Gimme 'er numbah!" (trans. "Give me her [telephone] number") Hence the lyrics to the bridge of the song.

He used to have pages of Penthouse magazine plastered all over his dorm room. I remember one girl-on-girl shoot that had the caption under one photo "the scents that mingled with their sighs." That line found its way into the song. He also had striking blue eyes. It was easier somehow to cast it as a song of lost love than to come right out and express what I really wanted to say.

This is for anyone who lost someone dear this year.

It's me on guitars, vocals and one-note organ; Joe Nofziger plays bass and sings harmonies, and Steve McKee is on drums.

OK. Enough of that.

Since a lot of people have written with questions, I think I ought to explain my attitude towards making money as a Zen teacher. Nishijima Sensei has always been adamant that Zen teaching should not be done for making money. I agree. If the motivation for teaching Zen is profit, that's no good. There's really not much money to be made in this line of work unless you cheat people anyway.

However, that's not to say that nobody should make their living as a Zen teacher. Both Kobun Chino and Shunryu Suzuki made their livings as Zen teachers, and I would never have come across this stuff had they not done so. It is possible to make an honest living in this business if you're both lucky and content with not being very rich.

I, personally, tend to skirt the issue by dividing what I do into two categories 1) my work as a writer, public speaker, film-maker and musician and 2) my work as a Zen teacher. I'm quite happy to take as much money as the market will bear for category #1 and to spend that money supporting what I do in category #2. I freely admit that since I tend to write and speak mainly about Buddhism, there is a lot of overlap between the categories. But that doesn't worry me a whole lot.

Some Zen teachers are supported by a congregation and that's nice. I have no quarrels with that and wouldn't mind terribly if I could make my way towards something like that without feeling like I'm ripping anyone off. But to quote Jiyu Kennet, Zen teaching is like "selling water by the river." You really do feel like you're standing right next to the mighty Mississippi charging thirsty people $10 a pop to have you point at the big giant raging river right in front of them and go, "You can drink that stuff, you know." But some folks need that. I know I needed it. Still do.

People gotta make their way in this world somehow, and the work of a Zen teacher is very definitely work. Hard work. And it's hard to do that hard work while simultaneously doing some other job. So more power to the people who manage to do it full time without another side gig.

And actually I am kinda bugged by people who think all spiritual teaching stuff should be free. Some dude complained at our last retreat in Shizuoka that he paid me $250 and could therefore expect some kind of service for his money. The truth of the matter, though, was that not a cent of his $250 went to me. In fact, I paid the same fee to attend the retreat as anyone else, plus I pitched in another $200 or so of my own cash to cover the shortfall that the standard fee per person didn't cover. Retreats cost money, friends. Tell me where else you can spend four days with three meals included and professional training for $250.

I have no quarrel with teachers who charge money for retreats or classes. I only expect them to be honest with students about what they're getting for their money.

Also it's important that profit is not the motivation. If you can make money in spite of not being driven to do so, great. That's all.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Here's an interview I did with the National Catholic Reporter (Reporter? Didn't even know her!). So now all you Cat'lics out there can justify doing some Zazen!

And don't forget to buy all my shit on eBay!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I put a shitload of stuff on eBay today. Have a gander.

It's impossible to communicate with absolute clarity. But it is sometimes possible to get facts straight. 2 or 3 bravely anonymous posters have implied that "Brad is unable to hold down a job" or words to that effect. Since I am currently looking for a new job, and since it's possible a prospective employer might look at this blog (God forbid!), I thought it would be useful to clarify.

I have worked for Tsuburaya Productions from July 1994 to the present. My current contract ends on Dec. 31, 2007 and won't be renewed. With more than 12 years at the company, I am one of its longest serving employees. In October 2007, Tsuburaya Productions was bought by TYO. The current president of Tsuburaya, Tsuneyuki Morishima, has told me that he campaigned hard for the new board of directors to keep me on, but he was unable to convince them due to their view that there isn't much business opportunity for them in the US right now (they're wrong about that). About half the full-time employees and nearly all of the contracted workers were let go by the new management. Mr. Morishima has also stated he wants me to continue doing work on Tsuburaya's behalf on a freelance basis.

I've only been fired once from any place I worked, and that was a part-time position I had as a teenager. Nearly every other time I've left a workplace, the management has asked me to reconsider and stay on longer. So, in fact, I am very much able to hold down a job, thank you. At least I haven't resorted to using my position as a lineage holder in Zen to sell people phony enlightenment experiences. Yet.

Those of you in Los Angeles who've been begging me to stay may be happy to know that I've decided to hang in here at least another few months hoping I won't go broke doing so. But I may ask you to be a bit more generous with the donations seeing as how about half the money necessary for my use of the Hill Street Center for the past 3 years has come out of my own pocket. And that pocket will become much shallower come January. Those meals Yuka cooks for you on the one-day retreats ain't free.

I view my work as a writer as a job that I should get paid for and I have absolutely no qualms about that. But I do not believe one should operate as a Zen teacher for financial gain. If you're lucky enough to get donations to help pay for that work to the point where you can forgo the day-job, that's fine. I don't see that happening anytime soon in my case. I'm hoping, starting this year to earn most of my money through writing. But writing pays way less than working for Tsuburaya did, at least so far. So there ya go. If you got a job to offer me in the Los Angeles area, let me know.

Feel free to by-pass this posting and continue commenting on the previous thing if you so desire. I just thought I ought to clarify this matter.

Monday, December 10, 2007


I discarded the following as my new Suicide Girls piece for this week. But I thought it was sort of OK. So here it is for all y'all.

But before that, here's yet another song. This one was directly inspired by Dogen and is the climactic finale to my rock opera Hovercraft. It's called:

The Weight of Things

The intro is incredibly long. And if you listen close you'll notice that almost all of the instruments present in the intro drop out before the vocal starts and are replaced by other instruments. Since I only had 8 tracks to work with, I had to accomplish this by writing a section that allowed enough time to drop one instrument and grab another.

Anyway, here's what I wrote:

Some people just don’t get it. But that’s OK. Some people just aren’t ever gonna get it. And you have to accept that.

A certain segment of the audience that reads what I write assumes I’m just a seething bowl of anger. I’m really not. But I guess I can understand why people think I am. They see a sentence like “Genpo Roshi is a useless piece of shit and his Big Mind® process is a scam,” to take a recent example, and they think, “Gosh. The only time I would call someone a useless piece of shit and say his life’s work was a scam would be if I was totally enraged.” So they read their own emotional state into what I say and make assumptions accordingly.

This doesn’t just happen with me or the stuff I write, of course. It happens all the time, to all kinds of people who write or say all kinds of things. I probably get a bit more shit from it than some people because I’m writing in an idiom where you’re expected to project a bunch of phony baloney “inner peace” all the time. I just can’t play act that well, though. I’ll leave the play acting to guys like Genpo.

The question of whether I’m an angry guy or not is entirely irrelevant. But the matter of human communication is an incredibly important issue.

We human beings have developed language to a higher degree of precision than any other creature we know about. We are so good at communicating our ideas to each other that we can do all kinds of really amazing things like put people on the moon, cure gonorrhea, or build computers so that we can look at each other’s unbelievably cute kitty cats.

Because we’re so good at conveying certain things to each other, we tend to assume that everything we say is received exactly as intended by the people we say it to, and that conversely, whatever we think someone is saying is what they're actually trying to convey. Of course, if you ask anybody they’ll always tell you they know that’s not true. But check yourself some time and you’ll see that, in spite of knowing full well how things can get misinterpreted, you still tend to assume most folks you talk to know what it is you’re trying to say. And when you read or hear something you assume you get it. When that doesn't happen we’re pretty quick to blame the other guy.

When people don’t get what I say I’ve found it’s always more useful to assume I’ve communicated badly. I’ll even pretend that’s the case when I know perfectly well the asshole I’m talking to just wasn’t putting in the least bit of effort to try and understand me. It’s a good tactic to put assholes like that off guard and diffuse a situation that might get tense otherwise.

Part of the way in which we communicate is by making assumptions regarding people’s moods. And that’s OK. But it’s just as vital not to necessarily believe our own assumptions. It’s also not important to insist that people communicate in the way we believe they ought to communicate.

This is especially true in the current age of open communications. We’re already dealing with a deafening cacophony of voices spreading malicious misinformation, trying to incite anger, attempting to humiliate or intimidate and all kinds of other such stuff. It’s only gonna get worse. We need to find a way to deal with this stuff.

In my line of work I’m often told that I have a responsibility to express myself in ways that are incapable of misinterpretation, lest I lead others astray. But there’s nothing you can say and no way you can say it without someone misinterpreting you. That’s just how human communication works. Shit, Hitler thought Buddha’s message was, “Kill all the Jews.” No matter what you say, someone out there will take it wrong. That doesn’t mean you have to stop saying stuff.

Of course we are all responsible for what we say and we need to be careful. It’s important not to say things with the deliberate intention of inspiring anger, hatred, humiliation and all the rest. But even if you do take care not to do such things deliberately there’s no way in heck you’re ever going to be able to censor yourself so perfectly that absolutely nothing you say can ever be taken any of those ways. There’s really no point in trying to do so.

I take a lot of shit from people who believe that any kind of Buddhist teacher must express himself in the standard issue calming, soothing, stilling manner they’ve come to expect from guys who play Buddhist teachers on TV shows or scam artists who make money imitating that style while claiming to be the real deal. I just can't do it, though. I've tried a couple times in my life and it was awful.

Those of you assume I'm angry at Genpo -- or whoever you assume I'm angry at -- will assume whatever you want to assume. It's not my problem. If some of you would rather have me project an image that has folks assuming I'm all blissed out and sweet all the time, well, I'm sorry. But I won't. I've seen too much damage caused by that shit already. I refuse to contribute.

But more important than what I do or don't do is what you do. It's how you react to what you read that matters most. And not just to what you read from me, it's how you react to whatever you read. You are responsible. We all are. The Internets have created a world where everyone can broadcast whatever message they want very loudly. How do you respond to all that noise? Are you an information junkie, flitting from one blog to the next, wallowing in the muddy beauty of your own indignation or feelings of affirmation? Is that a healthy way to live?

Sunday, December 09, 2007


Yesterday during our all day Zazen thingy, I suddenly recalled this song I recorded about ten years ago and I thought you guys might enjoy hearing it.

All is One

I envisioned this as the climactic finale to a rock opera I never got around to finishing, which is why it has the long, elaborate and ridiculous ending. I worked on this one forever, overdubbing onto the basic track a bazillion times on a number of occasions.

The reference to a big black car with a silver bird on the hood was about Noboru Tsuburaya, president of Tsuburaya Productions, who hired me to work there. He had a gigantic Cadillac with a silver bird on the hood. He'd probably only just died when I wrote this. I think the "you" in the song was going to be some specific character in the rock opera. But I don't really remember. Anyhow, it doesn't matter. Maybe it's you, dear reader!

I'd explain more. But I think the song conveys it better.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


Today's Buddha's Enlightenment Day (Rohatsu) and we're having our monthly one-day retreat. No time to write.

Here's a song of mine I just dug up called Examples of Innocent Anemia. This one's about ten years old, I think. I don't really remember much about it. But it sounds like a recording from Japan and not Ohio. Hummable.

Gotta scoot!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Here's a little number called Truth as performed by Dimentia 13 at the Phantasy Theater in Cleveland probably in 1992. The line-up was me on guitar and vocals, Joe Nofziger on bass and vocals, Dave Swanson of Rainy Day Saints and sometime member of Guided By Voices on drums and Carl Olsen on keyboards. I added a bunch of overdubs to this recording around 2000. Joe sings lead on this, though I usually took the vocal in Dimentia 13. That whole night he dedicated every song to Laura. I have no idea who Laura was. Maybe our friend Laura Rachel? The song is by Chris Cacavas and Junkyard Love. Joe taped it off the radio when he lived in Germany and we learned it from his crappy cassette. I finally found the original much later. Our version is better. Note the little tribute to The Pretenders at the very end. I love the lyrics to this one. Wish I wrote it...

Graham Barlow kindly pointed out that ads for Gempo Roshi's Big Scam, Big Mind® have been appearing on this site in the little ads Google puts there. At first I thought I'd complain. But actually it amuses me that a few pennies of the massive loads of dough that charlatan rakes in with his fucked up fake Zen nonsense is going to me. Thanks for the pennies Gempo, you useless piece of shit. Gimme a ride on your motorcycle sometime.

As I've said, anyone who goes for Big Mind® gets what they deserve. Think you can get instant Enlightenment for a hundred fifty smackers? Go for it. And those of you who harp on me for harping on it all the time, make sure Gempo pays you for that. OK?

Also, some dude posted: We imagine the ground of being must be far, far way, off in a distant galaxy or buried deep in some mystical place we can only reach with the proper sitting posture or via cultivating some proper state of mind under a properly transmitted zen teacher. Such beliefs are just as erroneous.

Sounds nice. But it's wishful thinking, I'm afraid. And if you think I'm saying that just to get you to come study with me, you think pretty highly of yourself. I got enough trouble as it is. Still, I'm not gonna bullshit you. Proper posture is a requirement. No two ways about it. Sorry.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


I'm writing this today from the Psychobabble Coffee House in Los Feliz (part of LA, just east of Hollywood). The chick who made my herbal tea is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen in my life. Their website is weird, though. But Psychobabble has played host to way more of these postings than Angel Falls coffee shop in Highland Square, Akron. And I gave them a plug. So I s'pose Psychobabble deserves one too.

Before I get down to the Zen stuff, long-time reader Jules Agee (who may be one of the first people who wrote me regarding my old webpage a million years ago, if memory serves) is doing a run for cancer and needs your donations. So go support the guy. OK?

I've been thinking about impermanence a lot. In fact, that may be the true theme of the new book I've been working on. I realized I needed to clarify about my new book cuz even though I thought everyone knew, it seems like they don't. It is another memoir-ish philosophical type book about Zen, like Hardcore Zen and Sit Down And Shut Up. So don't worry. It's basically the harrowing story of my life this year in which, as Husker Du said it would, pretty much everything has fallen apart.

It's also related to something really profound 0DFx drummer Mickey X-Nelson said recently. They were working on transferring the new 0DFx tracks we recorded last month to (evil) ProTools and encountering all sorts of unforeseen difficulties. He said something to the effect of, "It's like in the movie The Fly, all you wanted to do was move this thing from one place to another, but..." I think life is always like that.

There's an old koan that ends with the line, "From birth until death it's just like this." I've always liked that line. It really tells you all you need to know about Buddhist philosophy. Everything important, anyway.

We're always looking for something permanent and unchanging, something reliable. Everyone is. All the things we imagine will be permanent never are -- family, friends, marriages, houses, possessions -- they'll all fall apart some day. Even if they last until we die, we still die and then all our stuff is gone all our relationships are over, all our beautiful memories blow away like smoke, everything we did falls to dust.

This year I've been faced with loads of impermanence. My mom died, I lost my job, my grandma died, important relationships in my life went sour... Lots of impermanence. It's been a lesson. That's for sure. Thank you, Jesus, for all your lessons this year! (Brad says as he secretly raises a defiant middle finger to the sky)

In the midst of impermanence, we seek for something we can count on forever but most of us never find it. The only reason we fail in our search is because we're not paying attention. That which is permanent and perfectly reliable is staring us right in the face even as we look past it searching for something else. The empty and silent present moment of which we are just a superficial manifestation is eternal and unchanging. It is the essential ground of our being. We imagine the ground of being must be far, far way, off in a distant galaxy or buried deep in some mystical place we can only reach with the proper spiritual guidance (fully paid up, of course, major credit cards accepted).

But the present moment is always right here. There's no place it can go. It's never hidden from view. When you die it will be right there beside you, just the same as it is now.

There's another Zen koan in which a student goes to his master all excited because he thinks he has The Answer. The Master asks what the answer is. The monk says, "The child of fire comes seeking for fire!"

The master says, "That's bullshit. You have no idea what you're talking about!"

The monk gets all weepy and begs his master to tell him the real truth. The Master says, "The child of fire comes seeking for fire."

Our intellectual understanding is worthless. The monk was able to present his understanding only as a superficial intellectual construct, not as a living reality. All the master did was tell him the very same thing, only for the master it was a real, living thing, not a theory.

Whatever. That girl behind the counter here is so hot...