Thursday, February 24, 2011


I'm going to be in a movie. And not a documentary either. I'm acting. The film is called Shoplifting From American Apparel and it is based on Tao Lin's novella, Shoplifting From American Apparel. I'm playing the character of Brad Warner who has been been given the role of Tao Lin in spite of sharing absolutely no physical similarities with the actual Tao Lin.

We started filming a couple weeks ago in Solon, Ohio at the home of Jordan Castro who is also acting in the film. It's a low budget indie movie and they're trying to raise the funds for the rest of the film even as I type this. On March 1st a trailer is going to be released and accompanied with a bunch of shots of us actors begging people to invest.

I own the book. But I left my copy behind at Jordan's house when it was needed as a prop. So I haven't read it all the way through yet, but I liked the first part. It's kind of a strange book where nothing much happens except that the protagonist gets arrested for shoplifting from American Apparel. The director, Pirooz Kaleyah has taken a cue from films like Adaptation and American Splendor in that the script is not an attempt to visualize the book. Rather it uses the book as a launching point for something that feels like the book but only very vaguely follows its narrative. I like it a lot. It's weird and surreal.

But making a movie is kind of boring. We shot for two days in Ohio and mostly I just sat around waiting for the cameras and microphones to get set up. I only have a couple of lines in the scenes we shot. I seem to be sort of a Peter Tork character in this. I'm kind of the dummie. I just go along with what's happening. But I'm writing a scene for myself in which I get to break out of that. Once the film is done I'll let everybody else guess which scene I wrote (assuming mine makes the final cut).

Today I went to Webster Groves High School where I spoke to Mr Kirschman's World Religions and Philosophy classes. It's always interesting to speak at high schools. I haven't done a lot of that. But it feels completely different from the usual speaking gigs I do. For one thing, the classes take place early in the day. And the students aren't really there by choice. Maybe they signed up for that particular class. But they have to be in school. So you get a mix of people who are really interested in what you have to say, and people who just want to go to sleep.

Luckily as a guest speaker, I'm sort of like that day's filmstrip on the life cycle of the monarch butterfly. I'm a break from the usual academic stuff they're forced to memorize. So I don't get too many used heroin needles thrown at me. Which is always good.

Tomorrow I'm back at the school again, after I help a guy with his graduate thesis on the transformative aspects of punkrock (I kid you not).

Don't forget that the following events are coming up and you are required to attend. If not, your grade point average could be affected!

THIS WEEKEND: February 26, 2011 (Sat) 7 PM I'm at Missouri Zen Center, 220 Spring Ave., Webster Groves, MO 63119

On March 5, 2011 (Sat) I'll be in Cocoa, FL, Zazenkai from 9 AM, Talk at 2 PM Brevard Zen Center 1261 Range Road Cocoa, FL

From March 16-20 I'll be in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in the Great White North! I'll post a schedule of events soon. There are several planned.

(I’m still taking a break from reading the comments section of this blog. If you have something you feel you must say to me in response to this, write me an email at If you just post something in the comments section, I will not see it.)


Rick said...

Do you get to wear a Godzilla suit?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Just remember the parable of Kwai chang caine(another wise oriental sage - sort of like you): Man who tie genitals and arms together then hang from same rope in hotel closet not escape from closet without help from ladyboy.

Chris said...

Hey Brad, your first book prompted me to start doing Soto Zen at the MZC. I didn't go very often there, but it is where I got my first dose of American Dharma in person. Now I sit almost every day and am miserable for it, but have a better understanding as to why. Thanks a bunch!

Rick said...

Buying Brad's books only enables his senseless addiction to food and shelter.

Anonymous said...

US President Barack Obama has called the leaders of the UK, France and Italy as international efforts to respond to the crisis in Libya gather pace.

Mr Obama outlined a range of possible measures, including plans for humanitarian assistance.

Earlier, the White House said all options were on the table, including sanctions. It said the military would present its own proposals to Mr Obama.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi meanwhile blamed the uprising on al-Qaeda.

Speaking on state television, he repeated claims that hallucinogenic drugs and Zen Buddhism had been given to young people to incite them to revolt.

Launching said...

Harry Wrote:

isn't saying already 'cut off' from the real instant/event of not saying anything? It's already 'leaping clear' of itself and any opposite that we can imagine such as 'silence' or 'not saying'.

The way of conduct indicated by Master Dogen is contained in a line that caught my attention some time ago (I'm still not sure why!)...

"The buddha way, in essence, is leaping clear of abundance and lack; thus there are birth and death, delusion and realization, sentient beings and buddhas."

... in not getting caught up in the abundance of activity or a lack of activity it allows for the whole drama of birth, death, delusion, realisation, sentient beings and buddhas to unfold... not as pairs of abstract, relative designations, but as real, express momentary facts."

Thanks for your interesting response.

I like the simple dynamism of 'Leaping clear', in the mix with 'originally transcendent', 'goes beyond', 'transcends'.

I think what I was exploring in my reification riff-ramble from your comment is something along those lines.

Whether we refer to the situation in terms of abundance or lack, being or non-being, etc... isn't the allowing to unfold also not 'cut off' from the processes of unfolding?

What I am struggling to articulate is that what you present as 'express, momentary facts' cannot be divorced from the drama unfolding.

Not saying and saying in other words describe contingent processes that 'leap clear' or squeeze out (to use a phrase that just popped up) as the real situation of not saying or saying.

In this case it is not just a case of abstract notions in synthesis, but the very 'synthetic' activity that is continuously unfolding, the texture of life, which includes linguistic interactions, the drama of my relationship to 'the word' or the leaf.

But to attend to this process reveals that their is no unfolding apart from each moment of the unfolded, the reconfigured 'real situation', word, leaf.

We realise both 'conduct' and conduction (my pun) 'leaping clear'. My [right] conduct is to [re] balance these aspects in tension, as my leaping clear with leaping clear, and yet there is nothing that falls outside the remit of conduction.

My intuition tells me that there is something about the mixture of a 'legalistic' and 'poetic' apprehension of such matters that bring out different aspects and how this relates to different contexts.

Almost apart from the conduction of such playful nonsense, it is difficult to realise aspirations from expectations. Sore knee.

Seagal Rinpoche said...

Asking outer conditions to make us okay will never bring success, because outer conditions are always changing.

Harry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jordan Castro said...


Grandpa Fidel said...

Please come back home. We miss you. Your country misses you.

Papa Squat said...


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