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<<<<<<.