Before anything else, to everyone on the East Coast, particularly in the NYC area, go to http://theidproject.com/gl_bwarner.htm for further info about my upcoming talk there on August 27th. I have two other area gigs which are as follows:
• Bluestockings - New York, NY - Author Event - Sunday August 26, 2007- 7 pm - Contact: Brooke -for info at Brooke@bluestockings.com
• Barnes & Noble - Greenwich Village - Author Event - August 28, 2007 - 7:30 pm
I just got back from the San Diego Comic Convention where, among other things, I had a lovely time at the Suicide Girls booth with lovely Bee Jellyfish and Cake. Bee said that the interview I did on her radio show is one of the most talked about interviews she's done.
Now I've previously said here in this blog that you don't need to subscribe to Suicide Girls to see my stuff on there. And you don't. They offer it for free to anyone who wants to look. But you know what? If you like what I write there you should probably think about subscribing to Suicide Girls. And here's why.
I'll bet dollars to donuts a whole lot of you out there either subscribe to or buy certain Buddhist magazines on a regular basis. And those mags may tell you great details about the Dalai Lama's latest comings and goings, who's been seen out on the town with Thich Nhat Hahn and what the Instant Enlightenment Roshis are selling this month. But they don't have articles every week by me in them. I guess that sounds obnoxious. But if you're reading this I assume you're a fan or at least you love to hate what I write. In either case you might want to support the people who are publishing it.
Bizarrely enough the folks at Suicide Girls actually pay me to write a column there. The money they send me each month has helped defer the costs of running our weekly Zazen classes at the Hill Street Center (I pay for that space) and helped me go out and do talks in far flung places. I wouldn't have even been able to go some of the places I've gone in the past year at all except for spending what I get from SG. I plan to use more of the dosh they send my way to do more Buddhist stuff in the future, including retreats and all kindsa things.
No matter what you think of their business, the people are Suicide Girls are supporting the Dharma. This is an amazing, wonderful and valuable thing. Naked girlie pictures are making it possible for lots of people to hear about Buddhism who would never have been exposed to it in a million, billion years otherwise. I don't really understand it myself. But these folks are making real Buddhism available in an area that had been heretofore untouched by anything of the sort. This is an incredible and mysterious world we live in.
Look. Even if you subscribe, no one's gonna make you look at the nudie pictures. That's up to you. They don't make me blush. It's really pretty tame stuff by today's standards. Then again I spent 11 years in Japan where the attitude towards such things is wholly unlike the Puritan inspired attitudes most Americans hold. When you live for a few years in a place where one of the top kiddie songs is all about tits it kinda makes you more at ease with things like the Suicide Girls. (See You Tube thing below. This is not late-night adult oriented anime. It's a kid's show called Zatch Bell)
Besides the nudie pix, if you subscribe to the site you can post comments right there under my articles instead of posting about them here.
No one at SG is telling me or even encouraging me to try and get you folks to subscibe. I don't get any bonuses for new subscribers. But I've just been thinking about it a lot lately and wanted to say this. For $4 a month you get 4 installments of my writing. I put in a lot more than a dollar's worth of work into those bastard things every week.
Anyway, you don't have to subscibe to get the articles. That's true. If you can't afford it, no problem. Or if you just don't want to, I'm not gonna try and make you. If it creates a big moral dilemma for you, maybe you should avoid that. Or maybe you shouldn't. It's up to you. But if you can I think a few more of you should subscibe.
Monday, July 30, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
Thanks to everyone who showed up at the Cleveland's Screaming premier. Not too many of you did, so a lot of people are going to be spending the next 10,000 incarnations as cabbages. I will pray for you as I eat my cole slaw. The ones who did show up were pretty enthusiastic, which was very nice.
AND for those of you who didn't get enough of my lisping Living On Purpose interview it is up here. So go listen.
AND Also it will be re-broadcast on www.radioearnetwork.com next Monday (3-5pm EST in the second hour) and Friday (11am-1pm EST). That's East Coast Time, guys.
Live the lisp! Love the lisp!
I will be at the Hill Street Center tomorrow. But I am out of there like a shot the minute the Zazen ends. Was supposed to go to SD Comic Con today but my hotel reservation got royally screwed. So I booked a different (better as it turns out, people must've cancelled) hotel for tomorrow. This means I gotta whizz right out there if I expect to get anything at all done.
Posted by Brad Warner at 3:04 PM
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Here's a nice article that's going to be published in the upcoming issue of Shambhala Sun. You can also go here to read it on-line instead of as a PDF file. I'm not sure I see myself quite the way the writer does. But that ain't no thang. It's still an interesting article. To me it's interesting to be able to see that perspective. I don't see myself as part of any movement. As I've said a zillion times, I really, honest to God thought there was absolutely no possibility at all for Hardcore Zen to even get published, let alone become popular. Shows you what I know. Cuz last Friday for the first time ever in my life I was stopped on the street by someone I'd never met before who recognized me from the photos on the backs of my books. That's a very strange thing...
Anyway they wanted me to include a link to the Shambhala Sun website if I used the article here. So there it is.
Don't forget, if you're in the LA area tomorrow, you are hereby ORDERED to attend the screening of my movie Cleveland's Screaming at the Egyptian Theater.
Posted by Brad Warner at 9:33 AM
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Last night I was backstage at Ozzfest. Yep. It's true. Mr. D. Randall Blythe lead shouter of the massive metal band Lamb of God is, of all things, a Zen practitioner and fan of my books. Not only did he get me and my friends Bret and Ronny backstage, he dedicated their song Redneck to li'l ol' me right there in front of a city's worth of metal heads spread out across the hills of San Bernardino. Here's a video of the song:
We were on board that very bus you see in the video. Though the hot babes must have been elsewhere at the time. I did not see Ozzy, by the way, though I did spot Sharon Osbourne and Jake E. Lee.
I've never been backstage at a big-ass rock'n'roll concert before. That was pretty interesting. The organizers handle things very efficiently at Ozzfest. Set lengths and start times are strictly observed. It's fairly hectic before the show begins. This may nave been one of the reasons I never pushed all that hard to be a rock star. I mean, in the Eighties I gave it a shot. But even at the low level Dimentia 13 achieved, I could see that it was a damned hard way of life. I have a lot of respect for people like Randy who can handle it. I don't think I could have.
After the show the bands and road crews had a big ol' barbeque with more roasting meat than I'd ever seen. Luckily Randy was kind enough to provide a Bocca Burger for me. Those guys were chowing on nothing but sausages, buffalo wings, beer and Jagermeister. Not even buns for the sausages or chips to go with the wings. Like an Atkins Diet get-together gone mad.
There was sort of a biker party atmosphere happening, although you got the impression it was a little less dangerous than a real biker bash. Even scary looking musicians are kind of wimpy at heart. Still, had I not been invited into that group, I would have steered well clear of it. I talked for a while with Frank Novenic of Hatebreed. Frank's from Cleveland and was actually impressed to meet an ex-member of Zero Defex. It's not too often that happens! I guess we made some kind of a mark, like a piss stain on a wall. We both knew the late Dave Araca of The Guns (the Cleveland band, not the LA one). Frank has a tattoo from Dave as have a whole lot of people I know.
Randy is an intelligent, straight-up and kind of bookish guy in person. I'm gonna try and work out an interview or conversation with him later for a Suicide Girls piece.
Funniest comment of the evening. We're talking to this girl Melissa who is running away from a man she calls Leatherface. At one point someone about 15 feet away trips over a bunch of bottles and emerges unscathed, though the altercation makes a hell of a noise. Melissa turns to us and says, "I'm stoned. Did that just happen?"
At some point I'm gonna write this all up. But for now just an interrim report to chew on.
Posted by Brad Warner at 1:12 PM
Friday, July 20, 2007
My good friend Helen Jupiter just put up an article about little old me on Blogging L.A. It's nice. But who's the creepy guy in the Hawaiian shirt?
Helen is (was?) the lead editor at the Suicide Girls newswire and is the one responsible for getting me the gig over there, for which I shall be eternally grateful. Which reminds me, I gotta go work on the next Suicide Girls piece.
Posted by Brad Warner at 12:25 PM
Thursday, July 19, 2007
I'm in Phoenix waiting for a weather delayed plane back to Los Angeles. I was in Montreal and Detroit this trip.
While I was waiting I wrote back to about 50 people who'd written me up to 2 years ago. I really don't know how to keep up with the correspondance I get. Apologies to all of you out there with burning questions who've been waiting ages for replies. What you need to do is get enough people to buy my damned books that I can quit my paying job and sit around answering e-mails all day.
While in Montreal I experienced both an isolation tank and one of those sound & light machines that are supposed to produce instant meditation "deeper than a Zen monk." So all of you crumb-bums out there who told me I couldn't say anything about that stuff unless I actually tried it can bite me.
And by the way, the "you can't criticize it unless you try it" argument is total bullshit. I have a reasonably good idea that dog shit does not taste like chocolate without ever doing a blind taste test.
Anyway, I'm writing up my research for Suicide Girls. Watch for it soon.
Plus GO SEE MY GOSH DARNED MOVIE next Wednesday July 25th at 7:30 PM at the Egyptian Thetare in Hollywood, Californy. Do it. You must. Or I'll beat you up.
Posted by Brad Warner at 11:43 PM
Monday, July 16, 2007
Last week I was interviewed by Lynn Thompson for her radio show Living On Purpose. You can listen to the interview on line by clicking on this bunch of words that are in a weird color right here. Or you can click on the title of this article.
I'm listening to the first part of it right now. But I gotta run. I'm in Montreal at the Fantasia Film Festival, which is something I do each year for the company I work for. Then I'm off to Detroit's Still Point Center (info in the article right below this one).
I'm listening to it now. It sounds like I have a lisp.
Oh Hell. It's 10 AM. Which is 7 AM on my internal clock. I really gotta get out of here. Bye!
Posted by Brad Warner at 7:03 AM
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Here at last, the interview from KRON-TV San Francisco's morning show:
Henry Tenenbaum is a fave of 0DFx guitarist Tommy Strange. Who is the ugly-looking hairy guy in the weird-ass Halloween witch costume, though?
And don't forget on Wednesday July 18 at 7PM, I'll be at Still Point Center 4347 Trumbull Ave. (South of Warren Ave. on the corner of Canfield and Trumbull) Detroit, MI 48208 Phone: 313-831-1005
Posted by Brad Warner at 11:09 AM
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Sorry for the belated mention. On Wednesday July 18 at 7PM, I'll be at Still Point Center 4347 Trumbull Ave. (South of Warren Ave. on the corner of Canfield and Trumbull) Detroit, MI 48208 Phone: 313-831-1005
This is my second visit to Still Point. I had a splendid time there last year and it was a pretty good turn out. Home of the White Stripes, Destroy All Monsters and second-home to The Ghoul, it's the perfect market!
See ya there!
Posted by Brad Warner at 11:36 PM
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Yesterday I saw Amanda Palmer of The Dresden Dolls (my new favorite Weimar meets Punkrock drum & piano duo) do this thing that the Hammer Museum near UCLA is putting on called "Conversations." Basically they invite two celebrities who don't know each other to sit on stage in the museum courtyard and talk to each other for two hours. Amanda got invited and named Henry Rollins as the celeb she'd most like to talk to (apparently she also requested Noam Chomsky, but Noam wasn't available). The resulting conversation was really, really interesting. I was pleasantly surprised because I didn't know what to expect. I don't think Amanda and Henry knew what to expect and were probably as surprised as the rest of us.
I'm sure if you search around on-line somebody must have posted a blog about the talk. So I'll just stick to my own impressions. One of the most interesting things they hit upon was the way nearly everyone in the entertainment biz tends to feel like they don't really belong there. The only ones who are cocky enough to think they deserve to be famous probably won't be famous very long. Henry Rollins said that when he acts in a film he sometimes feels like at some point the Acting Police are gonna break down the door and arrest him for not being a "real" actor. He said he feels the same about any of the things he does, including writing books, singing and all the rest. Then Amanda (I think it was Amanda) said that she's seen the same thing with a lot of people, particularly any who are good at what they do. If they're a doctor, they always feel like the Doctor Police are gonna come in, or the Lawyer Police or whatever it happens to be.
This is something I feel myself. Only it's the Zen Police I'm worried about. It may be the reason I'm so uncomfortable in Buddhist robes. I feel like any minute somebody's gonna "out" me as not being a real monk.
In fact, though, this does actually happen. But it's never anyone who has any actual credentials in Buddhism who tries to out you. It's always some jag-off who's read way too many D.T. Suzuki and Alan Watts books who's got some highly developed ideas of what a Zen teacher ought to say and do. I especially love the guys who shriek, "BUDDHA SAID DO NO HARM!!!!!!!" at me on their little blogs because I said something that offended (harmed) them or -- more often -- that they believe might offend somebody else. They should all go be butt buddies together, that's all I can say...
When I first published a book on Buddhism I became aware of the tremendous pressure that exists out there in the big wide world to conform to a certain ideal about what a Zen teacher should be. It's a very vague, but generally understood consensus image we all carry around. And when I say "we all," this includes me and includes a lot of people who've studied and practiced Zazen for years and really ought to know better. But we all have a strong habit of buying into these consensus images society provides for us. In the case of Zen you can see this consensus image in fictional characters like Yoda in Star Wars, Kwai Chang Caine in Kung Fu or even the weird idealized portraits the media has of real people like the Dalai Lama or Tich Naht Hahn. Of course there are a tremendous number of assholes -- and I won't name names, but I'm sure you can guess -- out there who play to this image and try and present themselves as the living, breathing embodiment of it. Yeah, right. Believe whatever you want, friends and neighbors.
At one point in my so-called "career" in this business I made an attempt to conform to this. But it was a pretty half-assed attempt. It felt so incredibly wrong that I could see it was doing me a whole lot of harm (see above) to try and be that non-existent thing people seemed to want me to be. In turn it does other people tremendous, perhaps even irreparable, harm when guru guys of various sorts present themselves in that way. It creates tragic fantasies that are nearly impossible to undo. The best way you can "do no harm" is to present yourself exactly as you are.
I can dig what Amanda and Henry were saying because I know I'll probably never feel like a "real" Zen teacher. I mean, I have all the proper credentials and pedigree. But I often feel like I cheated my way into receiving those certificates and robes. Amanda Palmer said when she plays a concert she sometimes looks out at the audience in amazement thinking, "Wow, I really put one over on these people!" Actually, that's not a quote. I didn't take notes. But something like that. Anyhow that's exactly how I feel sometimes when doing a Zen lecture. Or even when writing a book or a stupid blog entry like this.
But there is one difference. Maybe. I don't know if Amanda Palmer and Henry Rollins know this. But I suspect they do or they couldn't be the tremendous performers they are. And that is that anyone who might try and "out" you as not the "real" whatever it is they think they know all about, those people are just as big of posers as you are. This includes the Acting Police, the Music Police and especially the Zen Police. The whole world is made up of nothing but posers. The only "real" whatever it is you can ever be is to really be yourself. The practice of Zazen is intended to do just one thing and that is to help you understand what you really are and to enable you to be that person. If that person isn't what society thinks he or she should be, that is of no consequence whatsoever.
This is what Dogen goes on and on about in Shobogenzo when he writes about "meeting a true person." Not someone who lives up to some groundless ideal of what a Zen teacher or student is supposed to look like, but someone who is truly himself or herself. But also keep in mind that what you think you are and what you actually are, are two very different things. There may be no relation at all between the image and the fact.
It's Sunday today which means it's gonna be Monday in Tokyo in a couple hours. So I gotta go do some "real job" stuff. See ya!
Posted by Brad Warner at 11:14 AM
Friday, July 06, 2007
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
I missed Canada Day by a few days. So here's wishing all you Americans out there a happy Fourth of July. The earliest Fourth of July I have any clear memory of was probably 1973 or '74 in Nairobi. We went to the American embassy -- the same one that al Quaeda blew up many year later -- and hung out with bunches of other American ex-pats who lived in Kenya at the time. My mom and dad weren't much for hanging out exclusively with other Americans, as were many of the Americans who lived there. So I can't remember ever seeing any of those people again. But they had fireworks and watermelon and hot dogs. I remember learning that the closest equivalent to a hot dog you could get in Kenya was a Vienna sausage and that they were not pre-cooked as were the ones you got in the States. So you couldn't just go into the 'fridge, grab a hot dog and eat it cold.
When I lived in Japan I never bothered with any of the Fourth of July celebrations put on by the embassy. I tended to avoid contact with most Americans living there since they were generally kind of disgusting people. Loud, obnoxious, drunk. Wooo-hoooo!!! Look at me!!!! I can drink beer on the street and make a lot of noise!!!!!! Nobody stops me!!!!! Yacccccchhhhhhhh!!!!
Not my kind of crowd, really.
The Fourth of July before I went to Japan, which must've been 1992, I was attacked on the street for no reason. That kinda made me decide it was time to get out of the country.
Today I'm s'posta go to my friend Greg's swimming pool in North Hollywood and hang around. That sounds like fun.
When I went to Japan I was completely disgusted with the USA and wanted nothing to do with it ever again. Now I don't feel like that. The USA has some good points. For one thing you can eat hot dogs right out of the 'fridge. Though I don't eat hot dogs anymore and I guess it wouldn't matter if you ate a raw soy dog anyway.
Interesting diff between Japan and America: In Japan, fireworks displays are an on-going thing all Summer long. Sometimes they're tied in with holidays like O-bon. But sometimes they just decide to have one on some random weekend night. But over here we only do fireworks on one particular day.
The graphic today is from a CD I bought yesterday by a local Los Angeles experimental duo called "ing". Apparently they put out a new CD every month. I love the cover of this one and bought it having no idea what the music would be like. I still haven't listened to it.
Posted by Brad Warner at 10:52 AM
Sunday, July 01, 2007
Lone Wolf put a comment linking to a video interview with David Chadwick, author of Crooked Cucumber, the biography of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. Click here to go to it or click on the title of this article. You have to scroll way down the page, but it's there. I haven't watched the whole thing. But it contains the only film I've ever seen of a talk by Suzuki Roshi. That's pretty cool.
And in the interview Chadwick answers a question I always hear, which is how do you get motivated to do Zazen practice. The answer, which Chadwick poses a bit more politely than I'm about to, is fuck motivation, just practice. He compares it to writing, which I can relate to. Any writer knows that if you only write when you're specifically motivated to do so you won't produce anything worthwhile. You just gotta sit down and do it. Same with Zazen. You set a time each day for Zazen and you do it then, whether you want to do it or not, whether it feels like you think it should or not. You just get down and do it.
Another question I'm getting a lot lately, sometimes phrased with a sense of urgency that's a bit scary, is what kind of Yoga practices can you do to limber up enough to do full or half-lotus. In my case, I could always do full lotus even from an early age. I just couldn't hold it very long. It's kinda weird cuz I wasn't very flexible otherwise. Anyhow, I limbered up enough to do a full sitting period in full lotus by just doing it as long as I could stand, then adding a couple minutes more, then changing positions to Burmese style. After a few months I could do 40 min. with no real problem.
For Yoga exercises, I don't know all that well & besides it's a bitch to try to describe Yoga exercises in words. But all Yoga practice is said by some to be preparation to sit in full lotus. So just go to your local McYoga and spend $15 on the intro class, then corner the teacher afterwards and ask for advise. That's a lot better than asking me anyway, cuz you'll be talking to someone face to face who can see what your real physical state is like. Yoga teachers are generally really sweet people who want to help everyone they meet, so take advantage of the suckers! (But not too much, OK)
Now I gotta go do some more work...
(Don't forget, come see my dang movie if you're in the LA area July 25th)
Posted by Brad Warner at 11:21 AM