I just returned from a five-day Zen sesshin with Kazuaki Tanahashi at the Upaya Zen Center. But before I talk about that, I’d like to talk about Bob Casale.
I learned of Bob Casale’s untimely death at age 61 while I was on that sesshin. It happened the day before the sesshin began and I heard the announcement on the first day I was at Upaya. Bob Casale was better known to the world as Bob 2 of DEVO.
If you’ve read my book Hardcore Zen you already know that DEVO was a big deal to me. Their appearance on Saturday Night Live on October 14, 1978 set my little head spinning. I had heard of DEVO by then. They were local, coming from Kent, Ohio, which, like Wadsworth where I grew up, was a suburb of Akron. The Akron Beacon Journal had featured them a few times. So I knew what they looked like. But I’m not sure I’d ever heard them before the SNL appearance.
Up till I saw and heard DEVO I believed rock music might be dead. Even KISS who I already liked by then were so wrapped up in the overblown rock-star nonsense of the Seventies that I couldn’t really relate to them as anything but comic book characters made flesh. DEVO were more real and they clearly had a message. Yet they were funny and exciting rather than being obnoxiously brainy.
I met Bob 2 once in Santa Monica. He was introduced to me by Mary Grace, a regular at our Saturday morning zazen meetings. Bob 2’s son Alex was a friend of Mary Grace’s son. Bob 2 invited me to hang out and watch one of DEVO’s rehearsals for a tour they were about to start. It was an amazing experience that preceded my getting to interview DEVO frontman Mark Mothersbaugh (via my friend Christine who knows Mark through his wife) for a piece for Suicide Girls in 2010. Unfortunately it seems only the intro I wrote is still on-line. The interview appears to have been deleted so I put it at the end of this article.
Farewell to you Bob 2! You made an impact.
Here’s my interview with Mark Mothersbaugh in which I got him to tell me about getting John Lennon’s drunken spit all over his face:
Brad Warner: I’m about ten years younger than you and I grew up near Akron in Wadsworth, Ohio…
Mark Mothersbaugh: Oh! Where are you now?
BW: Right now I’m in St. Paul. But I live in Santa Monica.
MM: You made it out at least!
BW: Yeah. That’s important. Y’know I still get nostalgic for Akron.
MM: Then you visit and you kinda get over it.
BW: You realize why you left in the first place.
BW: I’ve done that a few times. Seeing you guys on Saturday Night Live in 1978 was a big deal for me. I’d already started playing guitar at the time. But I thought rock music was over. I thought I was working in a dead art form. And DEVO was something that was cool again. It really meant a lot to me.
MM: Well thank you.
BW: So I’m pretty excited that you guys are doing a tour and you’re reissuing the first album and Freedom of Choice. Is that right?
MM: Affirmative. They’ll probably reissue more of the catalogue. Those are just two that are linked up with some shows we’re gonna do.
BW: That’s cool. That first album I actually wore out. It got to where the record sounded like shit because I’d played it so many times. So what’s different about this new version? Is it re-mastered?
MM: Now that it’s almost absurd to put out records, they have some little extras that come with it. I think even the regular one’s gonna be yellow vinyl and red vinyl. They’re very high quality vinyl compared to what they used to make records out of in the old days. So they’re definitely collector’s discs. And the packages are enhanced. On some of them you can get different versions of it, DVD footage and stuff like that. (NOTE: The CD reissue of the first album contains a bonus live recording of the entire album played at London’s HMV Forum in May, 2009. The CD reissue of Freedom of Choice adds the contents of the DEVO-Live EP originally released in 1980 shortly after the LP. You can also order an Ultra Devo-luxe edition from their website that contains both re-mastered CDs, plus 2 bonus DVDs and a colored vinyl single.)
BW: Sounds great. So why are you doing this now?
MM: I think for DEVO we’ve decided that we’re shocked that no one came along to take our place. So we have to go back out there and start talking about de-evolution again and remind people what’s really wrong on planet Earth. So early next year there will be new music coming out. But for the uninitiated and those who were somewhere else when it happened we’re putting out some of the essential listening material to help bring them up to speed. And we’re doing shows to accompany the releases in a number of cities around the US. We’re literally doing album one on the first night starting on side one track one of the vinyl. Almost like you’re hearing live vinyl. We’ll play through the first side of the album and we’ll flip over and play the second side of the album.
MM: And the next night we do the same thing with Freedom of Choice. If you would’ve asked me a year ago if that sounds like I good idea I would’ve said that doesn’t sound like a great live show. What changed my mind was last May we played All Tomorrow’s Parties in London at the Forum and we did album one. I just thought, we never put them in this order and that vinyl was supposed to be act one and act two of a listening experience. It doesn’t have the same build as a live show. It’s something different.
MM: I thought this is gonna have weird energy to it. But it was really great! It’s not a new concept. All Tomorrow’s Parties started a long time ago. And a lot of people are doing their albums live.
BW: Yeah, I saw Brian Wilson do Pet Sounds live.
MM: There’s a lot of people doing that. Now I finally understand it. I had never thought about it. But once I heard us do it I could think of a couple dozen bands I’d love to hear do their first album live. It made me think of when DEVO played Inland Invasion a few years ago. And Billy Idol came out and he played White Wedding and Rebel Yell and everybody was going crazy. Then he said, “Now here’s my new album!” And everybody’s kinda like… the wind went out of the sails. And the audience was kind of polite. Then after about 40 minutes of that he played Dancing With Myself and everybody went crazy again.
BW: That’s gotta be a weird experience, though. Cuz for you or for him it’s like this is what you did 20 years ago and it must not seem that relevant. But if the audience is into it…
MM: Yeah. But there are some things about doing that that are interesting. We play every year, though. The last 13 years we’ve done festivals, a lot of European and Asian shows, Australian shows, and a lot in the US. We played Lalapalooza a few times back like ten years ago. We’d do like three weeks a year, four weeks a year at the most and then that was it.
BW: And this time you’re putting it back together.
MM: Yeah. But there is an element where you’re going, I remember the first time we put on these yellow suits. I proudly felt like I was a McDonald’s cheeseburger in that yellow plastic box. And now 30 or 35 years later, I still feel like a McDonald’s cheeseburger. But now maybe it’s like a double patty cheeseburger!
BW: I was gonna ask you about that. Cuz it kind of surprised me. I was living in Japan in 1996 and I read about you guys putting on the yellow suits again and that was the last thing I ever expected to see DEVO do. But on the other hand it sort of made sense. Cuz you guys were never anti-commercial as such. You were trying to do it your own way.
MM: In defense of that, there aren’t any other bands that come to mind that all wear plastic yellow suits unless they’re DEVO tribute bands.
BW: That’s true!
MM: Everybody wears blue jeans. That’s the uniform of the last 50 years. People wear it and they don’t even know they’re wearing a uniform, but they are. That is the uniform. I think our yellow suits, when people call ‘em a uniform it makes me smile. Because at least ours was creative. We created it ourselves as opposed to just buying into Levi’s ads. DEVO wasn’t really about being sexy. We weren’t really anti-style. But style meant something totally different to us.
BW: Sure. That’s pretty evident.
MM: We wanted to look like a machine. We wanted to look like a team. At the time it was like Kenny Rogers…
W: I remember! God, that was awful. Talk about denim uniforms!
BW: Or it was like Elton John and his band, or Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. We wanted to look like parts of a machine on stage. We were more influenced by Agit Prop from Germany and Europe in the late 20s and 30s and Bauhaus, geometric shapes and the Italian Futurists and the Russian Suprematists. We were interested in pure art. And the yellow suits always felt to us like we were art. We thought we were in some ways much less commercial than anybody else because of that.
BW: Yeah. It’s funny that it became commercial. That’s interesting to me. You did Whip It and all of a sudden everybody was into it. But there was always that problem of did the mass audience really get it. Or did it even matter if they got it? There was that whole thing about Whip It being taken as sexual innuendo and all that.
MM: It’s only fitting that that would be the song that was most remembered in the United States and had the most airwave success. But that’s OK. People by nature don’t come to art or music to get educated or to get vitamins. They’re there cuz they’re trying to escape from the world. But DEVO managed to sneak in some vitamin-enriched information as a side feature and that was kinda good. Some people probably never got it and never would get it. But there were always those kids out there who wanted to know what it means. You might’ve been a fan of some band like that when you were a kid. Where you look at the album cover for every bit of information you can get. You’re looking for every clue. The posturing in the photographs, the type that’s picked for the title of the band and the album. All that stuff is really important to you at a certain age. It was to us too. We designed our own album covers and designed our own merchandise and costumes and stage shows. We totally understood the importance of all the areas of the aesthetic. It wasn’t just about sonic music or just trying to get on the radio. It was a lot bigger.
BW: The most brilliant piece of DEVO merchandise I saw at that shop Wacko in Los Feliz, the DEVO doll with the interchangeable heads.
MM: The company that did those, I wasn’t really into the style that they were doing the artwork in. I had plenty of arguments about it. But the big blow was that they weren’t doing a set of five. Because that’s what DEVO is. It’s a set of five guys. We went around in circles. And finally I said, we’re allowed to have accessories, right? They said, yeah. So I said I want it to have five heads so pole can change the heads on the dolls. A true DEVO fan would take the hit and buy five of them.
BW: Talking about other bands, I’m sure you must know Polysics from Japan.
MM: Yeah. We played with the last time we were over there.
BW: What do you think of them? They’re so DEVO.
MM: They are! And they do some of our stuff better than we do it. It kind of freaks me out. And their fans love it. I don’t know what their fans think of DEVO. They’re so into Polysics maybe they don’t even know. And they’re a great band live.
BW: Oh yeah. I like them a lot. One other thing I wanted to ask you about because I’m from Akron. You guys did a show at the Akron Civic Theater last November in support of the Obama campaign. How was that to go back there? I know Chrissie Hynde from The Pretenders was there and The Black Keys played too.
MM: That was appropriately unpleasant and also had a lot of pleasant moments too. Of course there were members of my family who were really upset that DEVO was supporting Obama, which I could not believe. I said, you guys are in the most most depressed butt fucked part of the country. Why would you be against getting rid of blood-suckers? They could not see it.
BW: I know. I never understood how Ohio people could support the very forces that were oppressing them.
MM: But it works. On the other hand we played at a place we hadn’t played in, in 30 years. It was almost 30 years to the day of the last time we played at the Akron Civic Thetare. And we wrote a lot of our early songs in less than a mile radius from that building. So it was kind of interesting to be back there. And Chrissy, who was kind of freaky on the phone before then, when we got to the show she was a total pro. It was really pleasant to work with her. And The Black Keys, I’ve always liked them. It was my wife’s idea. She said why don’t we do something for Obama. She was worried because Ohio was a swing state in the last two votes before that and had gone Republican at the last minute. So we went back there to say, come on exert your freedom of choice. And I think that that’s what won Obama the campaign, the DEVO concert.
BW: It probably was.
MM: Well if you want to be honest about it, probably not. But it was kinda nice to play there. The energy was really good. Everybody was really great. Akron-ites were excited that we were playing there again.
BW: Yeah, you were rejected there at the time and then you come back and everybody thinks it’s great.
MM: That’s fairly common. Bands have to leave their hometowns to get discovered. Especially if you’re doing original material. There was no appreciation at all for that back in the Seventies. We would lie and say we were a Top Forty band so we could get a gig. We’d be up there going, “Here’s another song by Aerosmith. It’s called… Jocko Homo!” At that point there’d be some out of work factory guy who was bummed out anyway, some Vietnam vet who came back and the factories are all closed he doesn’t know what he’s gonna do with his life. He’d slam his beer down and go, “That’s it! You callin’ me a monkey you mother fucker?” We’d once again get paid to quit, beat up, chased out or a combination of the three.
BW: That’s amazing. Cuz I’m friends with a guy I think you know, Rod Firestone from the Rubber City Rebels.
MM: Oh yeah! God, that’s a name from the past! We spent a lot of time with Rod during the formative years. He was instrumental in DEVO having a home base in Akron cuz he had a club that he opened and he allowed DEVO to play there. Then, of course, we ended up bringing Pere Ubu down there too. That was like the cultural island in an otherwise really dark, culture-less factory town.
BW: He always likes telling stories about The Crypt (a bar that originally catered to workers at the nearby Goodyear factory which Rod Firestone and his band-mate Buzz Clic transformed into Akron’s first punk rock club).
MM: It was a cool club. I was the soundman for a while for his band.
BW: Yeah, he told me you were the soundman for the Rubber City Rebels! They still play a few times a year. I met them when they did a tour of Japan. I was reading about you in David Giffels’ book about DEVO. Do you like that book, or is that a touchy subject?
MM: We weren’t part of it. We weren’t interviewed for it. It’s got a lot of misinformation in it. My feeling about that is, whatever. There was this one guy who was tangentially connected to us for a while who got involved. And it’s definitely the story of DEVO from the point of view of this guy who didn’t get to be part of the band.
BW: The story I wanted to ask you about from that book isn’t one of those stories. It’s in there about John Lennon coming up to you…
MM: That’s true.
BW: I wanted to hear that story.
MM: When we started going to New York we turned into a phenomenon. Which was pretty cool. Every time we whether it was CBGBs or Max’s Kansas City after the first show that we played it was a mob scene. It was always packed. In New York at the time it was customary for people that were celebrities to be able to call Max’s or CBGB’s or the other clubs and say, this is Mick Jagger and I’d like to bring Charlie Watts and Keith Richards to the DEVO show tonight and Bianca my wife and a couple friends. And they’d go, OK and put them on the guest list. But then they’d charge that against DEVO’s part of the take.
BW: (laughs) That’s awful!
MM: So every night we played in New York we’d have people like Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper, all the filmmakers, all the actresses, all the people in bands. There’d be Frank Zappa’s band or whoever was in town. Brian Eno, Robert Fripp. They all showed up on our guest list. But that just meant we’d have to beg for gas money to drive back in our Econoline that held all the equipment and held the band. We didn’t have any place to stay. We’d have to crash inside the van.
BW: That’s like a twelve-hour drive back to Akron from New York. I’ve done that.
MM: Something like that. I don’t remember how long it was back to Akron. But I remember one night we were sitting outside of Max’s and we’d just played a set. I was waiting for everybody to leave so I could go in and finish unloading our equipment and drive back to Akron. I was in the passenger seat. And I looked around and it’s John Lennon and Ian Hunter from Mott the Hoople. They’re really drunk and they come out and John Lennon stuck his head in the car. And he got up about six inches from my face and started singing “Uncontrollable Urge” really loud. He obviously understood that the “yeah yeah yeah” part was a permutation of what he’d done. And the opening of the song, I don’t know if you ever paid attention, but it goes like dah-dah-duh-DAH, dah-dah-duh-DAH.
BW: Oh yeah! Like I Want to Hold Your Hand!
MM: Yeah. I took it right off I Want to Hold Your Hand. Then the “yeah yeah yeahs” come in. So he knew it was a mutation of him. And he sang it for me right there with alcohol stinking spittle right into my face. I was in shock and about as high as you can get for the rest of the night. I couldn’t believe it.
BW: That’s amazing.
MM: And him and Ian, they just kinda put their arms around each other and started wobbling down the street singing the song all the way down Park Avenue or whatever street that was.
BW: I’m really looking forward to the tour and the new album. What’s the new stuff like?
MM: It sounds like DEVO, that’s for sure. Some of it sounds like it’s early, some of it sounds like the third or fourth album. And some of it is like the later stuff with more electronics. But lyrically it’s the same as what we always did. If it has anything to do with love it’s usually kind of absurdist. Other than that, without lecturing, we talk about the issue of de-evolution and things falling apart.
BW: Are you bringing the guitars back then?
MM: Yeah there’s some really good guitar stuff. One of the things I insisted Bob 1 (lead guitarist and Mark’s younger brother) do was I told him he had to play a lead that outdoes Smart Patrol. I told him this has got to be his new signature solo. So we’ll see if other people think of it that way.
BW: I’m looking forward to it and to the tour. Good luck!
MM: And thank you, Suicide Girls!
* * *
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Registration is now open for our Zen & Yoga Retreat at Mt. Baldy Zen Center May 9-11, 2014
The events page is now updated! Take a look at where I’m gonna be!
You can see the documentary about me, Brad Warner’s Hardcore Zen, at the following locations (I’ll be at all screenings except the one in Ithaca):
– March 11, 2014 Ithaca, NY
– March 15, 2014 Brooklyn, NY
– April 20, 2014 San Francisco, CA
I was another fan who was blown away by DEVO’s SNL appearance. I was the only person in our group who knew anything about DEVO before that night and had the rare experience of “being-in-the-know”.
All my friends were freaked out and it was great fun watching it happen.
I only saw them live only once, at the Canyon Club, Agoura Hills, in 2005. The crowd was a wonderful mix of over the hill (me) and really young. DEVO had the main members and some newer (session?) guys that added a lot of energy. I wore an old illuminated Burning Man costume that was impressive enough to get me an invite to an after show party in LA.
I’m not a night person so I didn’t go. I don’t regret that decision at all because I had a PERFECT evening at the show and didn’t need anything more.
Thanks Spudboys for all the joy.
I saw ’em in the early 1980’s in a small hall that held maybe 500 people. Incredible show. I understand they were on the verge of reuniting for another tour. Sad. He was too young. R.I.P. Bob.
On the internet there’s this file :
Devo – Satisfaction – Live 1980 Central Park
The beginning sounds like some Fat Boy Slim remix.
At that time the were also The Sex Pistols (Prodigy’s shared grandparents) and the Stooges & Iggy Pop who where an alternative to the rock stardom.
Talking about $$ :
Having internet (Skype) Dokusan or other Soto interaction could be as honest as charging for a live presence … ask Jayce R. for a way to do it.
Maybe you do it already, or someone else already suggested it.
Hey Brad i like you because you are a nice, sweet and honest person, that doesn’t mean that i always agree with you.
It used to be, if a person died before sixty years of age, I’d think that sad because they were too young. Now it seems that way if they’re less than eighty. I’m hoping by the time I’m eighty, I’ll be ready to go, but I just might think less than a hundred is too young.
Actually, sad or not depends more on how a person lived and how life ends. I don’t know Bob – maybe he found the jewel of his life, maybe not. But the death of any artist deprives the world left behind.
That’s overly optimistic talk.
Can’t tell which is worse: optimism or nihilism.
I prefer to remain in the middle, in all honesty.
” But the death of any artist deprives the world left behind.”
I’m not sure…
That was a great little Akronite homeboys interview, Brad. Thanks for re-posting here.
“But that’s OK. People by nature don’t come to art or music to get educated or to get vitamins. They’re there cuz they’re trying to escape from the world.”
Seventeen year old Joe Bush got a high school assignment to make a video reproduction.
He chose history as a theme and tucked it all into two minutes.
He took pictures from the internet, added the track Mind Heist by Zack Hemsey (from the movie Interception) and…DEVOLUTION!!
and without the band, doing something old but never better (IMHO):
Andy, I agree with you.
Sitting in the rain in California. Bukowski’s dead, his cats live on.
Brad, in your absence no comment thread wrote about Dogen’s “The Circle of the Way”- thank you very much- I’ll just be leaving now- remember, don’t open the bottle until I’m gone- really seriously:
The rain’s ten fingers, eh?
Grab fun stuff.
Good grab indeed. I laughed. I did a spit take just like the frogs.
Also, meant to say last time around how much I enjoyed the description of your sharting Rodin/for wife.
Now, That’s Entertainment! Bravo!!
That was twice Andy mentioned his wife in bedroom antics. Perhaps they should just leave a videocam on all the time – they’d be sure to strike niche gold sooner than later.
Stavros! Is that you?
Minkfoot, That is my private family name is Stavros. I threaten you with mods. You have made me foaming at this outrage you scoundrel! Andy makes laugh and express perfectly my feelings. You canada zennists should come to warm place and take walks and etc.
You welcome but only the behaving ones.
Reminds of Ivan Kupala. Google Images gives eyeful. Not many nights one can dance naked in water and jump the fire, in cold, cold Belarus or Vermont. Aphrodite don’t like naked in the winter, but the Ð´Ð·ÑÑžÑ‡Ñ‹Ð½ÐºÑ– are always bare beneath the furs.
Stitches! Why do I hang out with people whose truth is so much stranger than fiction? Oh- that’s right- they are so entertaining!
“Our Comrade the Electron”- transcript with slides of a talk about Termin, the Russian electronics wizard who invented the theremin, by Maciej Ceglowski:
Fascinating article, Mark. Cheers.
Love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.
You all sound like entertainment-saturated hipsters with your heads stuck up in the cloud.
Why don’t you watch some real films like Ikiru or listen to sophisticated good music like In Gowan Ring?
No wonder Europeans tend to look down on the average American for their **** sensibilities.
I also feel it is important to support artistic integrity, especially in this time of over-stimulation. Ikiru is a fantastic and timeless work. I don’t know “In Gowan Ring”, but Morton Feldman’s “Rothko Chapel” is peaceful and attentive.
Also, knowing that one is seeing can be the focus, other than evaluation of what is seen.
Thank you for your response, Brent.
I feel most of your posts are more contributive than other people here.
I have not listened to much classical music, but it is good. I will look into Morton Feldman, but the problem is I do not have much of a musical ear. My tastes in music is not as sophisticated as my tastes in literature, poetry, or film.
My point was people should be more selective in what artwork they choose to immerse their minds in. Art-house films like Ikiru, The Man Who Planted Trees, The Seventh Seal, Zerkalo, Stalker, Rang-e Khoda, or w/e can help in deepening one’s awareness.
I recently watched environmental documentaries, one called “Green Gold” and the other called “Symphony of the Soil”. I will soon have my B.S. in Neuroscience too. (to the poster “Seriously”) “Seriously”, you can go fuck yourself and die in the gutter.
Posting random videos of pop songs says more about one’s character than the insults directed to me, “Seriously”. Also, if you want to insult me, then be direct about it, bitch. I don’t appreciate sly attacks on my character.
thanks for the recommendations, Cos’; I know that swearing has been shown to relieve tension, and I pray that one day it will.
The thing with the music, if I may say so, is that a person can dance; in fact, I think all the crew would probably agree with me when I say a person can’t help but dance, so in that respect it’s a lot like “Seventh Seal”. Here, for example, one of my favorites that’s already been referenced, for your twitching pleasure (as it were):
I give you olive branch. Come to warm Cyprus and we deepen awareness taking the walks and making list of sophisticate culture . We will laugh like Zarathustra at little canadian zen phoney. HA HA HA HO HO HO
I just don’t think sitting Zazen is the only expedient means. I think sitting 25 minutes a day is fine, but I think 9 hrs per day for 1 week is overkill. Sesshin is not good for the knees or ankles or health in general.
I don’t ever want to sit more than 1 hr ever again.
I think a practice should include more things than one focal point. It should include stuff like immersing oneself into deep artwork, solitude in natural scenery, writing poetry (or engaging in any other creative tasks), securing oneself a stable income so some social mobility is granted, and etc.
You guys are not practical at all. It’s almost like the endless Zazen has crippled your intellects. The whole point is to live aligned with the “background of stillness” and while Zazen is useful, too much of it can give counter-productive effects.
Stop it with the ad hominems. I only became annoyed after I saw “Seriously” insult me indirectly. I’m fine with direct insults but indirect insults piss me off. I’m a very direct person if you couldn’t tell.
For me, when people like something I think is careless, I feel negative, and it happens easily to have some negative thoughts about the person. But this is happening on the Earth, and where is the Earth, exactly? Where is the universe? I really don’t know. I don’t even know why I am here, or aware. Since that contains everything, how can I know so well what should be or should not? At least the bad art makes the good art stand out better!
Seriously is right. Everything is better in the Mediterranean.
What do the people of Cyprus think of the Italians?
I am not the right or wrong Bent. I fly above this like Eagle, dance with the beautiful girl, eat the goat cheese and wine, stand on cliff edge 3-4 time week. The italians are my beautiful cousins, but I spit on their no balls and their Roman arrogances.
You two give me large headache and vague many words. Are you are as bad as Andy with much of the shit on his foot and no respect for lovely wife. Yes! maybe you are like canadians fakers. You must not be pussy CosmicBrainz: MAN spit on Man then have big hug and laugh and drink and dance etc, Write the poetry with blood on top of cliff and soar high.
I have no more of a second for this. I go eat and Uzo it large. HA HA HA.
Eat the flesh of weekend, my friends, before your ass grow cold and flat like zen girlie boys.
Hyperactive default mode network.
Salient network is impaired.
“Seriously” is derp derp.
Transition of Dharma to stupid.
Shitstained Record of Unoriginal (transl. by Dickson Murky)
“The Truth in Hypocrisy”
The end has come. Riots in the streets, children to feed. Stray cats and dogs abound. Lifelessness in the man’s eyes overcome by fear. In the middle of it all, looking around. Not even the poetry of the Greats can soothe the confusion of what was lost.
Find myself outside the Zendo.
Forgetting whether “I” have ever done Zazen or not, simply walking around the center just taking in the trees with melancholy. The voice in my head chatters in despair of what has come. Does my age, accumulated experience, or thoughts matter at this point? Trying to hear a poem to console me but only a morbid silence. Give up with the thinking and judgments of good and bad. The end of defining myself, of measuring myself, to the fiction that is no one.
Without thought, automatically walk into the Zendo… Is it right to say “again” or whether I was ever here but now? Suddenly hearing the drones zoom above, knowing this may be the end, no one to speak to. Who am I to find myself here? People say they would do Zazen even to the last breath, but the echoes of my trembling joints are my only companions in here.
Mind gone blank for a second, and a reformation of everything that was or will be.
Legs crossed with nothing to say or think – sitting. There is no wall in front of ‘me’, there is no ‘me’ in relation to the wall, but everything paradoxically felt to have a “say”. There is no death but only a flowering End.
Explosion of erect spine dismantled.
A poem resounds signifying the end of Becoming:
“From here to there,
You sought –
and fought –
Amongst the background of issuing stillness.
Lingering in the cascade of life,
the facade of such stillness 
unbounds to reveal itself 
As a hand that lets go of the wilted flower.
Glistening petals flying to the bright moon.”
Poem by Emily Dickinson
That boy he need to be free of that candy poison, friend Brent. Some of spicy pastourma and halloumi. Maybe some mouthful wine. All the fabrication sugar make a fool in his eyes. The women will shirk him else with no strong blood in his heart. (They can tell, yes) … Aya, this my head is now at war! I stay off the hummus and ouzo for the one whole week or I will do massive emptying of guts – like the CosmicBrainz.
You’re not doing a good job mocking me.
Your word salads are not the same as my messages.
Are you trying to indicate all manners of speaking ultimately reduce to word salads though? That’s weird.
DEVO was just ‘strange.’ I hope they eventually made enough to compensate for their time and effort…
(notice the “burned time-code”)
massive emptying of guts –
I watched the whole 5 minutes, again.
I heard samurai were actually very short, about 4’8″-5’3″.
I think practically all Asians, including Vietnamese, know this. It seems like the West is the only one that glorifies Japan’s horrific and bloody past. I mean every country has had a horrific and bloody past, in some time periods, but why praise the samurai and not the farmers who were more honorable?
Honestly, tired of Japanophiles. Sepukku was stupid.
Japan had cool farmers and great poets, but its samurai and clan culture was stupid. Very divisive. Also, people have the impression they were better than they were.
I forgot what time period it was, but Japanese were encouraged to intermingle so their offspring turn out to be taller.
The recent comment threads have been crazier than a hotel full of Scientologists in Clearwater, Florida.
I read on and on on this blog that “sitting is to be Buddha”, Ok, why not.
But to you personnally, how long did it take to be true?
Did you just sat down that very first time and said to yourself “WOW, i’m a Buddha” and went away happy as a child with his first ice cream or like Mickey Mouse going to meet Minnie, a bunch of flowers in his hand?
Or did it take you “some time” and pain, and bore and doubts?
So once you sit, it’s done, or do you get “improvements”/increments in your very own buddhaood?
Because to “be a Buddha” is a whole, or can you get half-buddha or two spoonful of it?
When illusion spin her net
I’m never where I want to be
And liberty she pirouette
When I think that I am free
Watched by empty silhouettes
Who close their eyes but still can see
No one taught them etiquette
I will show another me
Today I don’t need a replacement
I’ll tell them what the smile on my face meant
My heart going boom boom boom
“Hey” I said “You can keep my things,
they’ve come to take me home.”
(Peter Gabriel, “Salisbury Hill”)
Who knew!- all the women I’ve ever met know all the lyrics, and I’m always just humming along ’cause I can’t quite make ’em out. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, but I like the above lyric better than I like the song. However, he made it up to me with Sledgehammer and many others.
Except Howlin’ Wolf’s and Mick Jagger’s lyrics, those I can get. Here you go, Boubi; the real truth about Brad’s addiction, all the spoon-fulls of it:
Advice doesn’t help lovers!
They’re not the kind of mountain stream
you can build a dam across.
An intellectual doesn’t know
what the drunk is feeling!
Don’t try to figure
what those lost inside love
will do next!
Someone in charge would give up all his power,
if he caught one whiff of that wine musk
from the room where the lovers
are doing who-knows-what!
(first three verses of “Sing Loud”, which are hard to find on a casual search on the internet- seems the religious sites censor this part of the poem)~ Rumi
Comrade CosmicBrainz, I gifted olive branch and once more. There is understanding you must have: though I am sophisticate in cultured and can make big list to prove of this, I am wouldn’t you believe young in the English language. Brian and Janice who owned that bar in Karavas I worked, teach me even when hairs being on chest.
Result of this I still must have to copy some the word phrases especially showing WILL TO POWER of true FULL BLOOD MAN who knows the soaring that in my own language finds honor and who can dropkick zennist girlies without tears. In your own great arm wrestle with Mumbles over animal rights examples I found in yours – to when reprimand the minkfoot. It is the Celebration!
You must secretly understand my thoughts that find you of genius at the times occasion, yes! – Why, for being at college and study brain at 13-14 years boy old how true this must be. You even reach the stage of dark night of the owl in deep poetry attempt before hairs are thick.
But I am already the superman and only biggest ad hominem in village. You wait until you grow thick hairs on lip before the pussy crying and gut emptying girl go. And I teach you. I visit and eat the beef raw with this man (with you too! eh) who few of only not canadian pussy: Below
“A one… two– A one… two… three… four…
Half a Buddha, philosophically,
Must, ipso facto, half not be.
But half the Buddha has got to be
Vis a vis, its entity. D’you see?
But can a Buddha be said to be
Or not to be an entire Buddhi
When half the Buddha is not to be
Due to some ancient injury?”
Ken Wilber :
The enlightened sage today is not necessarily freer than the Buddha – because
timeless emptiness has never changed – but he or she is fuller and able to
experience one ness with a lot more of manifestation.”
“Hello, and welcome to Flag…”
Mmm! Flag and Wilber warm my deep goat.
Han Shan’s Poem #117 (Red Pine Translation)
I deplore this vulgar place
where demons dwell with worthies.
They say they’re the same,
but is the Tao impartial?
A fox might ape a lion’s mien
and claim the disguise is real,
but once ore enters the furnace,
we soon see if it’s gold or base.
I deplore this vulgar place –
There is no vulgar place; all is conditioned reflex and dependent origination
where demons dwell with worthies-
Nor are there demons or worthies
They say they’re the same-
A man says they’re the same
but is the Tao impartial? –
The Tao is neither impartial nor partial
A fox might ape a lion’s mien
and claim the disguise is real,
This is of concern to a conditioned man not knowing the Absolute
but once ore enters the furnace,
we soon see if it’s gold or base.
Gold is an arbitrary value given to a state: choiceless awareness is without
Your sheepish, conditioned intellectual responses do not really get to the heart of the poem.
How would you know. You merely quote from books without having been there.
I agree, much of the things I say are delusional, but there are moments where I do speak from the heart.
That story I wrote on February 28, 2014 at 2:44 pm is 50% but 50% valid.
My teacher tells me not to reflect back on Zazen or glorify lest I make an internal prison for myself. Each time you enter the Zendo you must die to everything. When you sit down, you let go of all expectations and it’s the first time you ever said. The “you” that sits is also not the same.
The point I’m making is you have to let thinking break down and reform itself, then the wall of the Zendo no longer exists in opposition to “you” during deeper sessions of Zazen. Actually, there is no “duration” to Zazen even (20 min vs. 2 min) because those are conventional designators that, while affirmed, don’t have merit when “having been there”.
Thinking doesn’t break down and reform itself.
Intellectual speculation stops.
Dieing to everything is dropping the intellect.
So then why speculate on what happens during Zazen, gauge your level of understanding to others, say what “is” or “isn’t”, and so forth? It reminds me of this koan:
“Chao-chou, teaching the assembly, said, “The Ultimate Path is without difficulty; just avoid picking and choosing. As soon as there are words spoken, “this is picking and choosing, “ “this is clarity.” This old monk does not abide within clarity; do you still preserve anything or not?”
At that time a certain monk asked, “Since you do not abide within clarity, what do you preserve?”
Chao-chou replied, “I don’t know either.”
The monk said, “Since you don’t know, Teacher, why do you nevertheless say that you do not abide within clarity?”
Chao-chou said, “It is enough to ask about the matter; bow and withdraw.”
”• Blue Cliff Record, Case 2
“‘what I have found is anything said from the “I” or “you” viewpoint is complete nonsense
if you read the koan carefully you will see how chao-chou keeps to the third person !” – friend
Actually the Ultimate path is quite clear. There is no first person or third person.
The Ultimate Path, being the background of stillness, must ‘flow; through you and be creatively expressed in order to constitute real, personal understanding.
For example, this poem by Wang Wei
Creativity is very important in the path. Whether you slap someone with the kyosaku or paint or walk in the woods, your creative endeavors are your own.
Form is emptiness and emptiness is form, afterall… Dichotomizing the Ultimate path from other things is bound to fail.
somtimes i think the yyy’s picked up where devo left off.
Brad’s comment thread is fun because the wiley crew turn the compost heap with joy and abandon, even while appearing to spread dung. We seldom get any on us (that’s a joke, ma’ friends!).
‘Chao-chou said, “It is enough to ask about the matter; bow and withdraw.”’ What a fine fellow, wiping someone’s behind like that. We should all be so lucky as to have our wives use our real names in a thread. Straight down and to the left, that’s right; where’d the old goat go, uphill or into the abyss? Why do I say, got no compass, don’t show me your map, gps got nothin’ so get the pluck out–
One needs to get with the program.
Do you know where they’re handing them out?
however canadian rock is WAY BETTER then americano.
and absolutely no one does hockey like we do. but well..we invented the game(and basket ball was invented by a kanuk too btw). it’s ok, you’re welcome. no need to thank us for insulin, honkey, basket ball, or influencing the states with the idea of public health care…iknow iknow…the list is endless…but really it’s ok guys. seriously, enough is ‘nough ok?
although, i could use a box of Timbits an a double’double.
DON’T GET ME STARTED ON GRAMMATICAL SPELLINGS!
canadian rock rulez!
Justin Bieber is canadian? are sure?
btw, how do you know about video?
uh, sorry (blush) wrong link…
CANADIAN ROCK RULEZ !
ok, back to zen.
there is no such thing as zen.
on another completely unrelated devo topic. here is the wheel of life pictures that clearly reflects the hindu’esk nature of original buddhism (imo)
Well, I personally think Zen is more Persian in character than Indian. Bodhidharma was Persian, for example.
This paper by Dr. Masato Tojo argues about Zen/Chan’s Persian influences:
Moreover, Bodhidharma is referred to as Persian in Chinese and Japanese sources.
Also, An Shigao was the first to bring Buddhism to China. He is mentioned frequently in Chinese texts as a Bodhisattva. He was a Persian/Iranian during the Parthian Dynasty.
Buddhism was big in Iran during the Parthian Dynasty, but it died out by the persecution of Sassanid Zoroastrian magi. Zoroastrians killed off Manichaens and Buddhists whereas the Arabic invaders of ~650 AD killed off most Zoroastrians (a small minority exists in Yazd, Iran still – they most migrated to Northern India and became what is known as “Parsii”).
I give big embrace to all – even to jiesen! You are all my children. Come, come and taste my love all round, all welcome.
I go wash foot now.
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