Going to California

I’m now committed.

On Friday my friend Pirooz, director of Shoplifting from American Apparel, signed a lease for an apartment in Los Angeles, California that he and I will move into in June, 2012. On that very same day — perhaps at the exact same moment — I signed a contract with New World Library to publish my next book There Is No God And He Is Your Creator. This could come out as soon as Spring 2013 or might be pushed back to Fall. We’re not sure yet.

In the meanwhile, the audiobook of Hardcore Zen is on sale right now. Just in case you’ve forgotten.

And a new eBook collection called Hardcore Zen Strikes Again will be out any minute now. I think they’re still working out some kinks in formatting. I realized I couldn’t do it myself so the fine folks at Cooperative Press in Cleveland are handling that part. Up till now they’ve only done books about knitting. But Shannon, who runs the company, is a fan of my writing. So this will be their first non-knitting related title.

Hardcore Zen Strikes Again is a collection of essays I wrote for the old Sit Down and Shut Up webpage. Many of the articles I wrote for that page ended up reworked into chapters of Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies and the Truth About Reality. Many did not. Others were so thoroughly reworked you wouldn’t recognize them. It is articles from the latter two categories that I chose for Hardcore Zen Strikes Again. I’ve also included a chapter that was cut out of Hardcore Zen and an article I wrote for a Japanese monster fanzine consisting mainly of things I wrote about my work at Tsuburaya Productions that were also removed from Hardcore Zen. So the book is sort of like the bonus disc for Hardcore Zen. Hence the title. The essays are each accompanied by new introductions and afterwords talking about how my views on things have totally changed now and why the essays are shit.

Not really. But I am not nearly as loud in my writing as I was in 2001. I say pretty much the same stuff, just in a different way.

Those of you without Kindles or iPads or Nooks need not fret. There will be a print version as well. But the print version will be produced in limited quantities. Whether you’ll be able to find it in stores or not is still an open question. Probably you will.

Going to California is a big move for me, and, in some ways a thoroughly stupid one. It’s stupid because I could have saved myself a lot of hassle and just stayed in Los Angeles. But, really, things there at the time had become un-workable and I needed a change. It’s also stupid because I’m now making way less money than I was when I moved away and am going to a place where the rent is more than twice what I’m paying in Akron.

But it’s also a good move because I liked living in California. It’s sunny. It’s warm. It’s L.A., with all the weirdness that means. I’m going to try getting a teaching gig out there or maybe work in the film industry. Pirooz has a company, which is mainly just him right now, called Sangha Films. Years and years before I ever met Pirooz I had the notion that maybe there could be a Buddhist sangha whose livelihood was supported by making movies. Lots of Buddhist sanghas support themselves with commercial endeavors. Some sanghas make tofu, some bake bread, San Francisco Zen Center runs a luxury tourist resort (Tassajara). So why not movies?

I’m hoping to talk Pirooz into moving in this direction with me. But every time I say something about it he just sort of grunts noncommittally. We’ll see. I envision it as sort of a Zen version of Troma Films. Not in terms of the gore and splatter. But in terms of the way Troma is fiercely independent, knows its audience thoroughly, and makes its way in the world by producing movies that will never be big hits but always sell to its loyal core audience. Pirooz wants to make a zombie movie next. I’m trying to convince him to make it a Zen zombie movie. We’ll see…

Every choice a person makes in life affects their future in ways large and small, foreseeable and unforeseeable. Even a smile or a frown can make a huge difference. But some decisions seem more momentous than others. Signing that book contract and committing to a huge move in the same day seem pretty momentous to me. To be honest, I’m scared shitless. Maybe a year from now you’ll find me living in a cardboard box on Venice Beach trying to sell CD-Rs of my audiobook in order to buy burritos. But maybe not.

Sometimes you just gotta make a move.

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165 Responses

  1. Jinzang
    Jinzang April 28, 2012 at 5:43 pm |

    There is no cause and effect in physics. The laws of physics are acausal. Otherwise, they couldn't be time invariant. And the laws of physics are not deterministic. That's what all the fuss about quantum mechanics is about. Don't you think you should know what science actually says before arguing what science proves?

    From the Buddhist point of view cause and effect is an illusion. Don't you recall the first chapter of the MMK?

  2. anon #108
    anon #108 April 28, 2012 at 5:48 pm |


    It's late – not my fault! I have decided – of my own free will – to crash. I may have a think – can't tell yet – and see if I can come up with anything you don't already know about cause and effect. But – factors beyond my control – I have a busy day tomorrow. We'll see.

    Nite nite 🙂

  3. Harry
    Harry April 28, 2012 at 5:48 pm |

    Hee hee…The MMK, like Shobogenzo, must be a terrible book for literalists looking for simple truths to rhyme off what with all those things that seem like contradictions.

    The physics were were taught in school was so comfortably boring.


    Harry… or is it John?

  4. Harry
    Harry April 28, 2012 at 6:06 pm |

    … I think if we study MMK, and/or Shobogenzo for that matter, and, more importantly, bring our own practice to bear on them, we might find that both Dogen and Nagarjuna resolved the nihilistic philosophical fallacy that cause and effect, or anything for that matter, is 'an illusion'. Otherwise we might be whiling away our hours in a sort of remote, subjective dreamworld.



  5. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 28, 2012 at 6:12 pm |

    good luck brad!

    hope it works out for ya…

  6. Jinzang
    Jinzang April 28, 2012 at 6:17 pm |

    Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble floating in a stream;

    Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud,

    Or a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream.

    So is all conditioned existence to be seen.

    Who was the nihilist who wrote that?

  7. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 28, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  8. Harry
    Harry April 28, 2012 at 6:38 pm |

    I see we've moved away from Nagarjuna.

    Yes, that's a classic negation of *conditioned* existence or, as it might be rendered positively, an affirmation of 'unconditioned existence' (i.e. real things as they are).

    Nagajuna was concerned about the misinterpretation of this taken as merely an intellectual/philosophical negation of everything, and rightly so. It seems to be a persistent weakness in Buddhist philosophy:

    30. The victorious ones have said
    That emptiness is the relinquishing of all views.
    For whomever emptiness is a view,
    That one will accomplish nothing.



  9. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 28, 2012 at 6:39 pm |

    Good luck in Cali, Brad.

    It's possible that we live in a completely deterministic universe. Even if that is true, it's also possible that our tiny little brains have absolutely no chance of holding all the data needed to see this determinism. Thus, from the point-of-view of a tiny little brain, we appear to have free will.

    Anyone who wants to describe the difference between "real" free will and the "false" experience of free will, knock yourself out.

  10. Harry
    Harry April 28, 2012 at 7:01 pm |

    "Thus, from the point-of-view of a tiny little brain, we appear to have free will."

    Hi, Anon.

    Now there's someone using our tiny littel brain. I like it!

    It's sometimes said that we have an infinite amount of choices at our disposal, but maybe they only appear 'infinite' to us because, well, as you say, we're pretty dumb.

    We are limited beings in our bodies and minds in terms of what we can do relative to other observable beings who are limited in their conditions/ways; so it follows that this determines limits on what we can do in any situation.

    But how much more dumb is someone that is dragged around by their ingrained mental habits and habitual responses to various stimuli…?(people just like me! I'm not being preachy here) maybe at least we can achieve some sort of level of relative freedom compared to that?



  11. Ray Mustard
    Ray Mustard April 28, 2012 at 7:02 pm |

    Good luck in California and with the new material coming out. If you decide to walk from Ohio to cali stop at the Denver zen center

  12. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 28, 2012 at 8:03 pm |

    Free will is a product of ego, so is thought. When you attach to thought, you attach to ego and you will never be free. When the ego dies so does the debate involving freedom and determinism. Allow yourself to dissolve into the great cosmos without fear or doubt. Freedom is only that.

  13. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote April 28, 2012 at 11:01 pm |

    "That which we will…, and that which we intend to do and that wherewithal we are occupied:–this becomes an object for the persistance of consciousness. The object being there, there comes to be a station of consciousness. Consciousness being stationed and growing, rebirth of renewed existance takes place in the future, and here from birth, decay, and death, grief, lamenting, suffering, sorrow, and despair come to pass. Such is the uprising of this mass of ill.
    Even if we do not will, or intend to do, and yet are occupied with something, this too becomes an object for the persistance of consciousness… whence birth… takes place.
    But if we neither will, nor intend to do, nor are occupied about something, there is no becoming of an object for the persistance of consciousness. The object being absent, there comes to be no station of consciousness. Consciousness not being stationed and growing, no rebirth of renewed existence takes place in the future, and herefrom birth, decay-and-death, grief, lamenting, suffering, sorrow and despair cease. Such is the ceasing of this entire mass of ill."

    (SN II 65, Pali Text Society vol. 2 pg 45)

    So how does one act in the absence of will, intention, and preoccupation? I would contend that what we truly believe causes us to act, like the hypnotist's subject responding to suggestion, and that such action can take place in the absence of will, intention, or preoccupation, just as a hypnotist's subject can be moved without the exercise of their will or intention.

    If you grant that this is possible, then the collection of experiences and that make up what we believe cause our action. We think it's our exercise of will or intention that sets us in motion, physically and mentally, because we have never watched ourselves move without volition, but actually we have no more choice about it than the subject in a deep trance.

    Those who think they can resist hypnosis are generally the easiest to hypnotize, that's my understanding. Those who think what they believe has no relationship to their actions, haven't realized what it is that they truly believe.

    (Good luck, Brad!)

  14. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 29, 2012 at 1:45 am |

    The cat – what about the cat – is he coming with you Brad?

  15. anon #108
    anon #108 April 29, 2012 at 2:56 am |

    Pictures, John! Where are the pictures?

  16. anon #108
    anon #108 April 29, 2012 at 3:12 am |

    We cannot know how things really are. But we can develop and modify models that work – representations of how things appear to be. I’m content to recognise how things appear to be, while understanding that the way things appear to be is only the way things appear to be. That goes for a quantum acausal Universe, too – just another model of the way things appear to be. Not to be confused with 'how things really are'.

  17. anon #108
    anon #108 April 29, 2012 at 3:15 am |
  18. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 29, 2012 at 4:48 am |
  19. King James
    King James April 29, 2012 at 5:21 am |

    Jinzang said…
    Don't you think you should know what science actually says before arguing what science proves?

    That is just homeopathetic.

    Matthew 7:1 "JUDGE not, that ye be not judged.
    2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
    3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
    4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
    5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."

  20. Jessica
    Jessica April 29, 2012 at 7:54 am |

    "Up till now they've only done books about knitting…."


  21. john e mumbles
    john e mumbles April 29, 2012 at 7:55 am |

    Malcolm, a year ago or so the fellow that put together my website took a pile of old Mumbles Pubs (many that are not accounted for in the collections w/that link) with the intention to post facsimiles of at least some of the covers. Occasionally images accompany comix that wind up for sale on E-bay and other sites…
    Thanks for asking!

  22. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote April 29, 2012 at 8:34 am |

    From article 3 on the physics of free will linked above:

    "The thing Einstein overlooked was that his very act of weighing the box translated to observing its displacement (say, dr = r2 – r1) within the Earth's gravitational field. But in Einstein's general theory of relativity, he'd found that clocks actually do run slower in gravitational fields (a phenomenon called 'gravitational time dilation')

    (…formulas here…)

    In other words, after the displacement (r2 – r1) arising from the measurement, the clock is in a gravitational field different from the original one." -"Copernicus"

    I'm no physicist, not even much for mathematics, but it's interesting!

    I think it says Crum's a star, although the gravity of his & Brad's situation will be different after any measurement, such as by the stars and aliens in the L.A. basin.

  23. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote April 29, 2012 at 10:16 am |

    and welcome to California, a place where a primitive can write a rocker and get a shout out, out of the blue:

    Ride my Llama

  24. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 29, 2012 at 10:24 am |

    You move will, in part, compensate for the thousands that are leaving California every month.

    "It's one big step for Brad, one small step for California."

    "in 2007, 6% of California's population moved out of state" and, of course the republicans were in power.

    now, the neoCONS want to blame the democrats for the damage that the neoCONS did… and the unions.

    neoCONS have no reflective thinking, thus, they will remain failures forevermore.

  25. LL Cool Jundo
    LL Cool Jundo April 29, 2012 at 10:45 am |

    Going back to Cali?
    I don't think so.

  26. john e mumbles
    john e mumbles April 29, 2012 at 12:32 pm |

    William T. Vollmann possibly talking about free will -or not:

    Is death not that scary for you?

    Well, it's always scary and it'll get you sooner or later, and since it's going to get you sooner or later and it's scary, then why not do what you want to do. You're not going to be immortal by refusing to take chances…

    I think it's kind of liberating to be mortal and it really it can't be much worse than it already is; therefore, why worry?

  27. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 29, 2012 at 1:27 pm |

    if you choose not to decide you still have made a choice.

  28. Mysterion
    Mysterion April 29, 2012 at 1:32 pm |

    Is death scary?

    Not in the least.

    Been there, done that, bought the tee shirt, wore it out.

    Of course, it depends on how you define "dead." What we once called dead (e.g. 20 years ago) isn't death at all. As long as you have alpha waves, somebody is home.

    Al those "near death" experiences that were written about in the 70s, 80s, and 90s were not even close! The brain chemistry was chugging along – especially the endorphins [human beta-endorphin (beta h-EP)].

    I spent 4 hours in an 'alpha only' state and it was nothing. No body thetans, spirits, aliens, or other beings entered or left my body. I was not visited by god, mary, jesus, Jack Kerouac, Hadda-laff-yet Hubbard, Jibraaiyl (Gabriel), or even the Comte Saint-Germain! And I have a vast amout of respect, relitively, for gurus like Guy Ballard!*

    Birth is more traumatic.

    You have something to complain about afterwards!

    *"Absence of proof is not proof of absence."**

    **sarcasm – recognize sarcasm???

  29. Mysterion
    Mysterion April 29, 2012 at 1:37 pm |

    But (some) people want to believe!

    want = desire

    desire = EPIC FAIL

    But go for it! There is nothing 'wrong' with turning the wheel of birth-death cycles 10,000 times.

  30. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 29, 2012 at 2:57 pm |

    well they give me all kinds of advice…

    designed to enlighten me

  31. Jinzang
    Jinzang April 29, 2012 at 4:50 pm |

    That is just homeopathetic.

    I don't understand what you are trying to say. I'm not allowed to comment about science because I use homeopathy? And to make your point, you quote the Bible? How does any of that make any sense?

  32. laporie
    laporie April 29, 2012 at 4:58 pm |

    Sometimes you just gotta make a move. Good luck.

  33. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 29, 2012 at 6:11 pm |

    jinz – trolls fishing for u. swim on by
    brad – new book title might land you on colbert or maybe charlie rose

  34. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 29, 2012 at 7:17 pm |

    Are you taking Crum? If you're coming through St. Louis, I'll take him!

  35. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 29, 2012 at 7:28 pm |

    Brad you need an agent. Why don't you have one already? Never mind, just get an agent.

  36. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 29, 2012 at 8:45 pm |

    Brad's agent

  37. Mysterion
    Mysterion April 29, 2012 at 9:33 pm |

    Homeopathy, like the Bible, is based on belief rather than a preponderance of the evidence.

    A long time ago, I recall MacWorld giving Apple some sort of award for an internet 'server' that fed the web to Mac Weenies (Classics) via AppleTalk.

    Of course Homeopathy Trade Journals would endorse homeopathy just as christian trade journals would endorse the bible.

    It is "preaching to the choir!"

    Well, Apple is a big technology company based on Consumer Electronics. They are completely out of the server business and almost out of the Desktop business.

    Just as there are many who never "converted" to Apple, so too there are those who never "converted to homeopathy, christianity, or catholicism.

    Belief is belief whether you package in in a book, a bag, a box, or cocoa.

    There is just something "organic" about it!

  38. Michael Gibbs
    Michael Gibbs April 30, 2012 at 3:41 am |

    Good luck in Cali, Brad! I need to move some place more tropical someday. Winter in Ohio becomes a little less tolerable to me each year (though this very strange winter wasn't to bad).

    If you ever need a mildly handsome fat guy to be in your movies, contact me. Ha!

    Sam Harris's The Moral Landscape is really good. I have't read Free Will yet.

  39. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 30, 2012 at 7:39 am |

    Brad-san, I believe the title for your new book is a quote from Joshu Sasaki Roshi. You will give him credit for this, yes?


    Congratulations on the book contract, and good luck on the move back to Cali,

  40. Mysterion
    Mysterion April 30, 2012 at 8:42 am |

    Michael Gibbs said…
    "(though this very strange winter wasn't to bad)."

    It's called the tipping point.

    A friend of mine that works in Earth Sciences over at Menlo Park said:

    "the next 8 years will be an 'E' Coupon ride and then REAL weather disasters (e.g. hyper hurricanes*) will start."

    *500 mph winds

  41. Jinzang
    Jinzang April 30, 2012 at 9:35 am |


    First, on the subject of Apple, they are still very much in the computer business and will be so as long as they are in business. Phones, mp3 players, etc. are synched to a home computer and Apple would be crippled without a presence there.

    Second, my belief in homeopathy, is not mere belief. it is based on my personal experience using homeopathy. It is exactly the same as my belief in meditation. If I had waited the usual important people to tell me meditation works, I would still be waiting. And the same is true for homeopathy, even more so, as it competes with the most profitable industry in America, except for the oil business. Expect a backlash against meditation, yoga, etc. when doctors start to suggest patients use it instead of drugs.

  42. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 30, 2012 at 9:51 am |

    mysterion said: "A friend of mine that works in Earth Sciences over at Menlo Park said:

    "the next 8 years will be an 'E' Coupon ride and then REAL weather disasters (e.g. hyper hurricanes*) will start."

    *500 mph winds"

    Hahahaha mysterion.. The funny things you silly Californians want to believe! 500 mph winds?? You sound like Harold Camping!

    Show us the science or keep your ludicrous beliefs in the Bay Area.

  43. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 30, 2012 at 9:54 am |

    brad, your book's title is Joshu Sasaki's quote! I hope you truly will give the credit to him!

  44. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 30, 2012 at 9:59 am |


    You love to tell us how you are a non-believer when the truth is your faith and belief put most xtians to shame. It's too funny!

  45. Dean Taciuch
    Dean Taciuch April 30, 2012 at 10:08 am |

    Anon, I came up with the title in the mid 80s. Brad stole it from me without permission or accreditation.


  46. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 30, 2012 at 10:13 am |

    Spent my days with a woman unkind, Smoked my stuff and drank all my wine. Made up my mind to make a new start, Going To California with an aching in my heart.
    Someone told me there's a girl out there with love in her eyes and flowers in her hair. Took my chances on a big jet plane, never let them tell you that they're all the same. The sea was red and the sky was grey, wondered how tomorrow could ever follow today.
    The mountains and the canyons started to tremble and shake
    as the children of the sun began to awake.

    Seems that the wrath of the Gods
    Got a punch on the nose and it started to flow; I think I might be sinking. Throw me a line if I reach it in time I'll meet you up there where the path runs straight and high.

    To find a queen without a king,
    They say she plays guitar and cries and sings… la la la
    Ride a white mare in the footsteps of dawn. Tryin' to find a woman who's never, never, never been born. Standing on a hill in my mountain of dreams, Telling myself it's not as hard, hard, hard as it seems.

  47. mekong46
    mekong46 April 30, 2012 at 11:22 am |

    Troma! Zen Troma, ha ha only in Los Angeles!

  48. Dean Taciuch
    Dean Taciuch April 30, 2012 at 1:11 pm |

    I would like some credit for coming up with the title "There Is No God And He Is Your Creator" over twenty years ago. I copyrighted the phrase and have a song by that title.

    I will be talking to my lawyer.


  49. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 30, 2012 at 2:16 pm |

    "Thete Is No God And He Is Your Creator" is such an uninspired, non-creative title that I think Brad would prevail in a case filed by Sasaki or Dean, under the unoriginal works exception to copyright.

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