THE ZEN STOOGES in “BEDLAM IN NIRVANA”


Before we do anything else THERE WILL BE A ZAZEN CLASS AT HILL STREET CENTER THIS SATURDAY MAY 5, 2007. I just now got it together to re-do the calendar for this month. Class will most likely be cancelled the following week (May 12, 2007). In any case I won’t be there on May 12th. But I will be there tomorrow.

To those of you who’ve bought my new book, Sit Down & Shut Up! Thank you! You may yet save me from becoming a hobo in the streets. I’m really worried about my “real job.” Gotta go back to Japan next week & argue with them. I may have to stand out on the freeway offramps with a sign that says, “Will teach Zen for food” after I come back. I ain’t gonna make a living on book royalties, that’s for sure!

ANYWAY, I found a mistake in the book. Those of you who have the book, turn to page 74. Look at the bottom of the second complete paragraph. What’s written there says: “To really suppress anger, you have to suppress the urge to avoid the beautiful juiciness of it all.” It’s supposed to say, “…suppress the urge to enjoy the beautiful juiciness of it all.” So go get your Bic and fix that. It’s OK. I told you to do it. So don’t worry about messing up the book.

Here is the second of my Zen versions of the Three Stooges. As before, if you click on the cartoons you’ll get larger versions.

I present it complete with spelling mistakes and the wonderful notion only a 20 year old could concoct that getting up at 5 AM is really early. If I ever revise this Shemp will say “No more gettin’ up at 4 AM.”

The point of this comic was to illustrate the idea of “makyo.” I talked about this in Hardcore Zen. Makyo literally means “world of demons.” It refers to hallucinations and altered states that can be encountered during Zazen practice. The so-called “heightened states of consciousness” that are the goal of many meditative practices are regarded in Zen as states to be avoided. Here we see Shemp get it all wrong. The comic is also based on the Three Stooges short “Bedlam in Paradise” in which Shemp dies and goes to Heaven to be greeted by his Uncle Mortimer, played by Moe. That was one of my personal favorite Stooge comedies. I always liked Shemp a lot. His best work is often every bit as funny as Curly’s, though he rarely gets the recognition he deserves.

I really tried to be a cartoonist there for a while. But nobody ever bought my submissions. In retrospect I might’ve broken thru if I’d kept after it. But I knew I was never gonna draw superhero stories or any of that garbage. When I discovered Peter Bagge’s work in Weirdo Comics that was a big revelation. But even he took a while to create his masterpiece, HATE! That’s pure genius and there’s still nothing else like it. If I’d stayed with cartooning I’d like to think I would’ve gone a similar direction. Maybe Hardcore Zen would’ve been a graphic novel instead. It still could be. But I dunno if I wanna draw it. I can still doodle. But I don’t really have any technique to speak of. It’s hard work making a character look the same in consecutive panels. I remember really laboring over that. And backgrounds. Christ, you have to draw the backgrounds over and over in each panel and get them right each time. It takes a lot of patience. Kinda like zazen…

17 Responses

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  1. Jinzang
    Jinzang May 3, 2007 at 5:41 pm | |

    I thought big Japanese companies never fired their employees? Another myth bites the dust? Good luck with your job.

    Here on the East Coast everyone considers 5 AM terribly early. I don’t tell people how early I get up for practice, they’d consider it evidence of cultism. Maybe everyone in California gets up early for the long commute.

  2. Gregor
    Gregor May 3, 2007 at 9:58 pm | |

    Oh god that was a really funny cartoon. Unfortunately, its a bit of an inside joke, you sort of limited your audience.

  3. Lone Wolf
    Lone Wolf May 3, 2007 at 9:58 pm | |

    Brad- Thanks for the correction. I usually hate writing in my books, but I grabed a pen and changed the mistake anyway.

    LOL! I enjoyed The Zen Stooges, especially the “Welcome to Nirvana” comic. I’m sure some Buddhist (or non-Buddhist) mag would publish those toons. Matter of fact, did you ever think about creating your own Buddhist magazine, ala Hardcore Zen, since so many Buddhist mags have people like Ken Wilber or Genpo “Big Mind” Roshi in them each month. Just a thought!

    I was really inspired by the Kurt Vonnegut event I went to last week in Indianapolis, so I’ve been randomly reading parts of A Man Without A Country. Kurt Vonnegut was a secular humanist. In this book Kurt says, “We humanists try to behave as decently , as fairly and as honorably as we can without any expectation of rewards or punishments in an afterlife.” To me, this is the same attitude a Buddhist should have.

    Kurt then makes a joke based on his Humanist beliefs. He says, “And if I should die, God forbid , I hope you will say, ‘Kurt is up in heaven now.’ That’s my favorite joke.”

    Brad- Whatever happens with your job situation, I hope things work out well for you.

  4. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 3, 2007 at 11:58 pm | |

    Brad, best of luck with your job. It’s gotta be a total bitch sometimes for you to juggle all the things that you do.

    Consider my copy of SD & SU corrected; I bought it today. Can’t wait to read it; I will start tomorrow.

    Zen Stooges rule! LMAO!

  5. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 4, 2007 at 4:01 am | |

    I have a confession to make:
    What first inspired me to sit
    was a cartoon by R. Crumb.
    (Something along the lines of
    “silently sitting still is the
    only sane thing to do in an
    insane world.”)

    Funny how things happen. If it
    hadn’t been for LSD, Bob Crumb
    would not have become R. Crumb.

    And he sure does know
    how to draw a “nappy-headed ho”!

    BTW, “lone wolf”, great Vonnegut
    quote a little while back — the
    one about being caught in the
    amber of the present moment.
    Here’s another:
    “Life is high school.”

  6. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 4, 2007 at 4:13 am | |

    “Sit Down and Shut Up”, p. 51:

    > The members of al-Quaeda can
    > do what they do because they
    > believe their religious leaders
    > have the authority of God to
    > take on the responsibility for
    > their reprehensible actions.

    Um, you may want to look a little
    deeper:

    Nafeez Ahmed

    The Power of Nightmares

    Apropos of those unwilling to question
    the official story of the
    state-media propaganda machine…

    “Never underestimate the power of denial.” –American Beauty (1999)

  7. TearJohnDown
    TearJohnDown May 4, 2007 at 7:03 am | |

    I’ve decided it’s due time to stop trolling this blog (it’s been years, I believe) and actually say hello.

    Good luck with Tsuburaya Prod., although don’t I recall your being a bit nervous when they relocated you back to the US? Better to make sure you’re stepping on an over-ripe eggplant rather than an egg-bearing frog.

    BTW, the comics are hilarious, and I’ll be going out to pick up SD&SU; once my patcheck clears later today.

  8. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 4, 2007 at 8:25 am | |

    “Never underestimate the power of denial.” –American Beauty (1999) “

    “Never underestimate the power of the mirror principle.” — A big Zen poser

  9. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 4, 2007 at 8:45 am | |

    lol that’s a pretty big mistake. it completely chanegs the meaning of the sentence.

  10. Scott
    Scott May 4, 2007 at 11:04 am | |

    Brad, good luck and if you win your “argument” write a blog post on how you did it. All of us other Gaijin that work for Japanese companies would love to be “enlighted” by your wisdon on that subject.

  11. Igor
    Igor May 4, 2007 at 6:29 pm | |

    It could be a pretty cool autograph if you actually make a correction in the book yourself :)

  12. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 5, 2007 at 8:02 am | |

    “Sit Down and Shut Up”, p. 73

    This makes me *very* angry.

    I’m going to have to KILL you
    with my angry music!

  13. rchinn72
    rchinn72 May 5, 2007 at 12:54 pm | |

    Brad,
    I’m digging the new book. It’s been a good read so far, I’m having fun and taking my time with it.
    Anyone have any thoughts on the use of earplugs during zazen? I live in Chicago..which I’m soon changing from the Windy city to the Loud city. I’m a drummer, so I usually have plenty of earplugs laying around. One day while attempting to sit, my neighbors that live from above decided to have some kind of elephant stampede… actually this happens pretty often, so I popped in some earplugs and continued to sit.
    I really only use them if there seems to be a lot going on upstairs.
    I know that closing your eyes during zazen is a no-no, just wondering about closing your ears?

    I’m thinking when in Rome with a jackhammer, do as the Romans do…wear earplugs!

  14. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 5, 2007 at 2:02 pm | |

    BREAKING NEWS Paris Hilton to become Zen Master., really!

  15. Bill
    Bill May 5, 2007 at 2:53 pm | |

    Got your new book, very nice. I think that there are a lot of folks who will relate to the way you present Zen in an modern way. Also, I liked your article on Suicide Girls about giving everything way….or not! Having been a middle class white male growing up in the 60s, 70s, 80s,……I can really understand the difficulty of trying to be a “Monk” (whatever the heck that means) but still living in the real world…..well the bottom line is that you live where you live and there is nothing to find so just SIT! Anyway, it was a good read.

  16. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 6, 2007 at 12:23 am | |

    Go read the new SG article. Brad seems to be right on the money this time (because he agrees with me regarding reincarnation) :)

  17. Anonymous
    Anonymous June 14, 2007 at 2:14 am | |

    Hey, I recently added a news widget from http://www.widgetmate.com to my blog. It shows the latest news, and just took a copy and paste to implement. Might interest you too.

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