I keep meaning to update this dog goned blog. But for the past week or so I’ve been running around like a crazy person. I’ve also got a bunch of requests for articles that I need to get to. If I can manage to think of something to write you should be seeing pieces by me in Shambala Sun, Whole Life Times and Alternative Press before too long.
It’s kind of interesting to be so in-demand and yet at the same time so completely obscure. I’ve noticed a very modest rise in attendance at the Saturday morning Zazen sittings at the Hill Street Center. But the increase has been so slight that I am yet again convinced that my career as a writer and my work as a Zen teacher are two very different things.
Anyway, I’m gonna try and write a bit about my trip up to Northern California. Here’s the gig-by-gig version.
TUESDAY JUNE 12, VIRGIN MEGASTORE, SAN FRANCISCO: I was pretty psyched about this gig since I’m a fan of the Virgin Megastore. Of the big chain record stores in the USA they tend to be the most well-stocked. In Tokyo, HMV took over that honor when Virgin closed its big shop in Shinjuku. But I’ve yet to see an HMV in the USA, so Virgin is still the best over here. I didn’t draw an enormous crowd. But the people who did show up made up for that in their enthusiasm.
WEDNESDAY JUNE 13
9 AM Interview with Gary Gach of BuddhistChannel.tv: This was a lot of fun. Gary’s a long-time Zen student and San Francisco resident. He actually typed the answers I gave to his questions verbatim into his computer as I talked. I’d never seen that done before. Then he showed me some of the cool sights in SF’s North Beach area.
1:30 PM Lunch at New World Library: I got to see where my new book was published and got to meet the people responsible. They also publish The Power of Now, which Paris Hilton bought and posed with before going to jail. So they have a huge blow-up of that photo on the wall. Nice place, nice people.
4 PM Radio Interview with Anthony Wright: A long in-depth interview for radio by another long-time Zennie from the Bay area. He tunes pianos for a living, so his show is called Atunements. This will be podcast later. I’ll post a link here when I get it.
7:45 PM Radio Interview with Michael Sammet of KZSC in Santa Cruz: This was very cool cuz Michael had obviously read my new book thoroughly and had very specific questions. You don’t normally get this in radio interviews. It’s usually like, “So you were punk rock and now you’re Zen, tell us about that.” But actually none of this day’s interviews were like that. We even had a phone caller on this one!
THURSDAY JUNE 14, GATEWAYS BOOK STORE in SANTA CRUZ: It took forever to get to Santa Cruz from San Francisco. Luckily I ‘d stopped by Amoeba Records before I set out and bought a Yoko Ono compilation CD. It was all her early screamy stff, very hard to take but somehow a good soundtrack for endless traffic jams. I go back and forth on playing music while driving. Mostly it just annoys me these days unless it’s something I actively want to listen to. I don’t like to turn on the radio just to have some sound happening like most people seem to. I’m either actively listening to something or I just turn it off completely. Anyway, the bookstore was fun. Kind of a new agey shop like Bodhi Tree in LA, but smaller. Afterwards John Malkin, author of “Sounds of Freedom,” who did a great interview with Nishijima Sensei (I need to find the link), took me to eat at the Satur’n Cafe. It’s a vegetarian malt shop. Seriously.
(Prior to going down to Sant Cruz I met Mark Nagata, owner of one of the world’s most extensive collections of Ultraman memorabilia. Very cool.)
FRIDAY JUNE 15
2 PM Interview with Tony Dushane of Pirate Cat Radio: Fun interview at a cool coffee shop in the Mission district. Tony has interesting facial hair, a kind of Ghoulari-ish goatee. Wish I could grow one of those. The show’s called Drinks With Tony, and can be found at drinkswithtony.com (my interview’s not up yet, but keep checking)
7:30 PM After Dinner Talk at San Francisco Zen Center: This deserves an article of its own. I’m working on it. But for now I’ll just say it was a very good crowd, all very interested in Dogen. There’s way too much I want to say about SFZC than I can write here.
10:20 PM Interview with Richard Ciccarone at Pirate Cat Radio: Actually Richard does a show with a woman whose name I’ve totally forgotten. That was fun. The interview questions came off a Starbuck’s application. It was actually really interesting to try and make philosophical type observations based on those.
SATURDAY JUNE 16, COPPERFIELD’S BOOKS in PETALUMA: Petaluma is this neat old town way North of San Francisco. I think it’s even past the Marin County border in whatever county is next. This was an interesting crowd. They mostly looked kind of like Northern California former hippies, but they had a lot of good questions. I have a secret affection for ex-hippies. As a punk rocker, I’m supposed to hate the hippies. But I never have. In Zero Defex I used to wear bell bottoms sometimes just to annoy hippie-haters. I could go on and on and on about the Sixties. But I’ll spare you. 1966 was obviously the peak year creatively. For all the talk of the Summer of Love in ’67, to me that seems like the year when the whole thing started going sour. By ’68, it was turning decisively negative and yet The Beatles did my 2nd favorite album of theirs that year (The White Album, their best is Revolver from ’66). Blah-blah-blah…
SUNDAY JUNE 17
8 AM Interview on KRON-TV with Henry Tannebaum: Tommy Strange, guitarist for Zero Defex and long-time resident of San Francisco told me he liked Henry Tannebaum’s show Gardening With Henry, so I figured this would be all right. And it was. A very short interview with me in stupid Buddhist robes. Fun. I’ll post it whenever the folks at New World Library get around to sending me the tape.
10 AM-NOON: Hanging out with Tommy Strange. You have weird interactions among the members of a band. Although you work together it seems like every four piece band will break down into two 2-person friendships and a more basic working relationship with the others. Me and Mike, the drummer, were friends in the Zero Defex days while I didn’t ever get that close to Jimi (vocals) or Tommy. The first two times I saw Tommy in San Francisco after 20 years were a bit awkward. But now we’re gradually turning into pals. Back in the day I was too in awe of Jimi or Tommy to be really friendly with them.
3 PM Green Gulch: I attended a precept ceremony at Green Gulch, SFZC’s organic farm in Marin County. Very interesting place.
5 PM San Quentin Prison: I just wrote a very long article about this for the Suicide Girls website. It’ll “go live” at Noon on Saturday June 23rd. See it there. And remember, you don’t have to join to see the articles. And you won’t see any titties and bums unless you actually sign up and pay money to do so. So don’t worry.
On Monday I came back to LA. But life’s adventure never stops.
Remember we have an all-day Zazen on Saturday June 23rd at the Hill Street Center (details to your left). There are stills spaces avaialbale. BUT YOU MUST RESERVE BY FRIDAY!!! Last month a couple people reserved at like 11PM Friday night or even sent mails we didn’t get until Saturday morning, or just showed up. We really can’t accomodate more than twelve people at these all-day things. Walk-ins are fine on the other days. But please reserve a spot early for the all-day ones. OK?