Thursday, April 02, 2009


The title is a line from one of the later Ramones songs.

My appearance on Geek Entertainment TV with Violet Blue is now on-line. You can watch it, but I can't. The Internet connection here craps out before the interview ends. Which may be just as well because I can't stand watching myself that much. This, by the way, is the reason there aren't more podcasts and suchlike on my site. I do all this stuff by myself, and much of what I do and don't do comes down to how much I can stand to look at and listen to my own blathering. I'm taping nearly every appearance on this tour. But I don't want to watch them! If anyone out there is geeky enough to want to deal with this stuff maybe we can talk...

Speaking of which, while I'm chilling here waiting for the Southern Dharma Retreat Center retreat to begin, I thought I'd let you know how this tour is operating since a lot of people keep asking.

While my publisher has been helpful and cooperative, especially their long-suffering publicist Kim Corbin, they didn't set up or finance the tour. I think publishers only do that for authors who are already so mega-popular they no longer need anyone to set up or finance their tours. This is how everything in the entertainment business seems to work. After the tour was already set in motion they kindly sent me some money to keep me from starving while out on the road (thank you!). But setting up the tour and figuring out how to keep from going broke on it has been all up to me.

A couple of people I've met while I've been out here have been surprised to find me wandering around the various places I go on my lonesome. They assume I must have roadies or minders or a retinue like Elvis' Memphis Mafia, like the Dalai Lama or Tich Naht Hahn have. Nope. It's just me most of the time. Groupies? I wish! Not a single pair of panties has been thrown at me so far.

For this leg of the tour I borrowed my 19 year old nephew's Dodge and have been driving myself to the places I need to go. Does His Holiness drive himself around North Carolina and Tennessee in a car full of empty Mountain Dew bottles and fast food wrappers? I doubt it! I'm just sayin'...

In order to finance this little venture what I've done is find gigs in various places that pay and then tack on non-paying gigs in the same geographical area. Book signings at bookstores never pay, for example. The only one I've done that's ever paid me anything was a store in Northern California who gives authors a free book of their choice. Another place gave me a coupon for 10% off. People assume authors get paid to appear at stores and sign books. But I doubt that ever happens except possibly when an author is so mega-huge they don't need to get paid for such things. So it goes.

This is why when people say, "You should come to Fred's One Stop Bookshop in Wallawalla, Washington, they'd love you!" or whatever there's not much I can do with that. If I managed to get a paying gig at, say, the University of Washington at Wallawalla, then I could go do a signing at Fred's One Stop Bookshop. Otherwise I'd have to pay my own way out there and be out-of-pocket for the whole trip. The royalties from the ten books I'd sell at that signing wouldn't cover it.

My philosophy on Zen teaching is that it should be as close to free of charge as possible. Retreats cost money. Zen centers cost money to keep up. Someone has to pay for that. This is why donations are always gladly accepted. But no one should ever be denied the dharma because they can't afford it.

My philosophy as an author, on the other had, is that it's a business. I do it for a living. I have no qualms about getting paid for that because writing is work. It's work I enjoy doing, but it's still work. People should get paid for their work. Artists should get paid for their art. I am very adamant about this point. I have no patience at all with people who believe art should be free. Sure it should be free! And you shouldn't get paid for your days at the office either! Of course there is some overlap in what I do. But that can't be helped.

Most days on the tour I get up, I do my zazen and then I get on the road to the next place. I only talk for 2-3 hours each day. But it's incredible how much energy that takes. Anyone who looks at performers with envy because they only work a couple hours a day has no idea what's actually involved. I overbooked myself on this tour and have been getting pretty wiped out because of that. But I still do my zazen every night before bed. Sock Monkey joins me most days.

I like to see the places I go to, so I'll usually take a look around wherever I am. Sometimes the nice people who host me will take me places. Sometimes I'm on my own. On very rare occasions I get recognized. This has happened three or four times so far. Usually it's when I'm nearby wherever I'm supposed to speak. So like KISS during the make-up era I can be anonymous.

I find it funny when people are nervous about approaching me. I guess I can kind of understand. I'd be a little nervous approaching, say, Robyn Hitchcock or Paul Stanley if I saw them at Ralph's supermarket (I was in line in front of Peter Fonda there one day recently). But I'm fine with it. It's a weird, weird thing having people you've never met know all kinds of intimate details of your life. But as long as people don't invade my space it's fine.

So there you have it! I'm starting a 4-day retreat this evening, so I probably won't post here again till that's over.

My next stop is April 5, 2009 (Sun) at 4 pm at the Asheville Zen Center in the chapel behind WNC Community Health Services, 10 & 14 Ridgelawn Road (near corner of Haywood Road in West Asheville). Then on April 6, 2009 (Mon) at 7 pm I'm at The Regulator Bookshop 720 Ninth Street, Durham, NC 27705. On April 7, 2009 (Tues) at 7:30 pm I'm doing a Dharma Talk at the Zen Center of Chapel Hill, 5322 North Carolina Highway 86 (2.5 miles north of I-40 Exit 266) Chapel Hill, NC 27514. More details are linked to your left<<<<<<.


Harry said...

On a roll!!!

Anonymous said...

It's a Long Way to the Top
(of the comments ;)

Anonymous said...

D'oh! Harry, you suck!

Harry said...

That's "Top Sukka" to you, Anon-boy/gal!

Alphonzen said...

Im glad that you are doing well, Brad. I was talking shit about you a few posts ago, but I take it all back.

Im such an asshole sometimes. Back to zazen.

Skipper Kim said...


Just wanted to say that publicizing your books brings me pleasure not suffering!

Keep up the great work!

Kim Corbin
Senior Publicist
New World Library

Rick Matz said...

Since you're on the move all of the time, maybe you should try sticking up 7-11's along the way.

Anonymous said...

"sticking up 7-11's along the way"
is definitely better than
blowing-up 7-11's
along the way.

Anonymous said...

If you think it's weird, stop telling them about your life!

So, one shouldn't have to pay for Zen teaching.. OK, but is the quality of instruction the same at all places? Do expensive membership rates and the corresponding revenues attract the most skilled teachers to such places? Unfortunately it seems equal access is only a theoretical concept across all aspect of this society.

So... keep donating, even if Zen masters claim they don't want the dough and that they'll teach for free. Don't take that for granted.

Mysterion said...

His Bradness sed:
"I'm just sayin'..."


And there you have it, all the fits that's news to print. Roadies, eh? Groopies, eh?

My sis plays piano for an American (read liber-al) Baptist Church and THEY provide her with roadies so she doesn't have to lug her Fender Rhodes 88 and amp up the stairs...

Maybe it you took up Punk Xtian Music as a vocation... Don't sweat it, my sis isn't a Xtian either.

I just got my next (no pay) dramatic part in the mail so I gotta go work on my lines.


Mysterion said...

The quality of instruction is better at free, infrequent Zen places. The quality of 'canned' or 'deadline derived' Zen instruction is a little on the Hawaiian Spam side. 25% less BS than New Buddha Pure.

Just my unqualified opinion, leave it or ake it with a grain of salt.

Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

Apropos of nothing, here's a video my wife sent me of dolphins blowing bubble-rings and playing with them.


Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

I just watched the interview, and "Zen-wrapped karma"? That's completely different than "Zen Wrapped in Karma...". VB is going to Buddhist hell (which is like Robot Hell, but for Buddhists). I really liked the first comment: ...that guy sounds just like the speech thing in osx!


Mr. Reee said...

A timely post. I was wondering how Brad was getting around, because that's typically out-of-pocket for an author, and like he said, it doesn't pay.

He gives a new angle to the phrase "Dharma Bums"

Maybe we need a regional community network to support wandering writers? Give them a place to crash, food to eat, a hot shower, drive them to the next place, and send them on their way. Like a hot potato. :D

Anonymous said...

I think that maybe Brad is making an appeal for a little help or support on the second length of his tour. If you think about it he is our dharma brother and he is carrying an important message. Whether you agree with him personally may not be the issue in this case. I think that we should do whatever we can to support a messenger of the dharma in whatever way we can:)


Anonymous said...

All you need to know about Dharma:

Sit in half or full lotus for at least 30 minutes
morning and evening everyday until you are dead.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Blow bubble rings.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

"How could it be permissable to gather followers and associates, toil in pursuit of dust for love of fame and profit, neglect the rules of ethics and destroy proper conduct? Grasping one lifetime of ease becomes myriad aeons of pain; if you develop like this, you are calling yourselves Buddhists in vain."

Master Tung shan (founder of the Cao dong (J. Soto) school of zen.)

Anonymous said...

In which case, how strange that we should have heard of:

Master Tung shan (founder of the Cao dong (J. Soto) school of zen.)

Jinzang said...

OK, but is the quality of instruction the same at all places?


Do expensive membership rates and the corresponding revenues attract the most skilled teachers to such places?

The quality of a teacher has nothing to do with how much they're paid. Teachers don't go shopping around for the zendo that pays the most. Most centers are either run by their founder or one of their founder's students.

Unfortunately it seems equal access is only a theoretical concept across all aspect of this society.

Most Buddhist centers pay their bills by some combination of donations and seminar fees. Fees are structured according to what a person with a middle class job can pay. Sucks to be a student or poor in the American Buddhism, but that's how things are.

mtto said...

I think even a poor person or student could swing the $5-$10 at Hill Street. If you can't, you can still come. It is a donation, not a fee. The rent gets covered just fine every month these days. Your presence is generosity, too.

On a separate note, I think most Buddhist retreat centers offer scholarships and work/study programs.

Anonymous said...

I'm a student.

I stopped going to my local
zen center because I couldn't
afford to pay my share and
I don't want to be a
freeloading leech.

Sitting alone is about as
cheap as it gets. Just
$6.55/hr, i.e., the
opportunity cost of
not working my
minimum wage

Not only does it suck
to be an unsupported
student in America,
it's brutal.

Anonymous said...

Dude! Your tour could pay for itself
if you had some dancing Suicide Girls
along for the ride. That and a catchy
bass line would certainly get people
to open their wallets.

Jinzang said...

I stopped going to my local zen center because I couldn't afford to pay my share

Pretty much any center would rather have you than your money. I'd go back.

Mysterion said...

"How could it be permissible to form a cult, gather followers and cronies, dash off writings, and toil in pursuit of objects for love of honor and advantage? - Tung-shan " source
source 2

Hmmm... so now Brad is forming a cult?

Person 1 is accusing person 2 of doing what, in fact, person 1 is trying to do.

The Republicans in America have used this ploy for decades - with artial success under Reagen, Bush 41, and Bush 43.

Only the profoundly stupid fall for that line of thinking.

Mysterion said...

Note 2

I NEVER visit SFZC without kicking in a donation - just to cover the cost of those who are less able. There is no shame in not giving for any reason (e.g. the talk was boring, it was a first visit, I want to save enough for lunch & a cab, etc.)

Donate when you can, not when your ability to do so is stressful. Yeah, I know, the Widow's Mite is our parable.

O.K., so do guilt for 30 seconds and just detach from guilt and go on with life.

Breathe in,
breathe out.
Repeat, if necessary.

Eshu Martin said...

Hilarious. I'm headed to Pittsboro, NC mid-April for a sesshin at the NCZC with Gentei...sort of my dharma uncle in the Sasaki line. I noticed last year that you do retreats at Southern Dharma, perhaps our paths will cross sometime.


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