Man! I woke up at ten o’clock this morning. I don’t think I’ve woken up that late since I was like 25. I used to be a late sleeper when I was a rock musician. You have to be when you get back at 4 AM from a gig. But these days even on the rare occasions I actually do get back from a gig at 4 AM I still wake up by seven. This is one of the many reasons I can’t do those kinds of gigs anymore. I guess I must be really jet-lagged from all that travel!
Anyway, this girl named Sarah was minding my apartment while I was away (after the magnificent Teresa Hurray got done with her turn there, during which she completely overhauled the place and made it much more livable). Sarah’s a big Beatle geek. And I have two copies of the Beatles Anthology book. One was given to me by the folks at Chronicle Books when I was working on the book about Eiji Tsuburaya I did for them. So I decided to give one of those copies to Sarah.
But inside the book were two very interesting photos that I’ve posted here today and that I wanted to write about. The first one is there on top. It shows, from left to right, Peter Rocca, Nishijima Roshi, me and Taijun Saito. It is the only photo I have taken on the day of my Dharma Transmission ceremony.
Peter also received the Dharma that day. In the first draft of Hardcore Zen I mentioned this. But my editor thought that if I included Peter he would become a character in the book and would draw the reader into another story that wasn’t really the one we were trying to tell. So Peter ended up on the cutting room floor and I’ve always felt bad about that. But here now is the evidence! Sorry Peter!
Taijun was Nishijima Roshi’s jisha (assistant) at the time. She had coached me on how to wear my kesa (Buddhist robe) for hours and hours and yet it still kept falling off. Here she is adjusting it for the umpteenth time that evening. Before she fell in with Nishijima Roshi, Taijun had trained in a temple where they take these kinds of things very seriously. The photo was taken by Yuka, who always liked taking photos of me when I was looking especially stupid.
The other photo must have been taken around the same time. It shows me with actor Susumu Kurobe. Kurobe played Hayata, the guy who transforms into Ultraman in the original 1966 TV series. In order to transform into the towering 120 foot tall superhero, Hayata always raised a thing called the Beta Capsule into the air. There’d be a blinding flash of light and Ultraman would appear.
In one famous episode, Hayata accidentally raised a spoon into the air (he’d been having lunch when disaster struck in the form of a marauding monster). This episode actually caused a huge stir at the network. Apparently they couldn’t abide by the idea of the hero of the show making a mistake. But Tsuburaya Productions rallied around director Akio Jissoji and insisted the scene stay in the show.
ANYWAY I was out to dinner with Kurobe-san and prevailed upon him to recreate that scene with me in front of the restaurant. Cool, huh?
The reason I was having dinner with Kurobe-san that night was somehow related to a legal case we were pursuing in Southeast Asia at the time. A film producer in one of those countries had appeared on our doorstep sometime in the mid-1990’s with what he claimed was a “contract” entitling him to all overseas sales rights to Ultraman.
The document itself (we never called it a contract at the office) was highly dubious. It got the names of the shows wrong, it contained no mention of any sort of remuneration, parts of the document seemed to have been typed in at different times like someone had fed it thru a typewriter after it had been initially created trying to add new lines in but make them look like they’d been there from the beginning. Furthermore, the “contract” was supposed to have been signed in 1974, yet the man who possessed it had taken 21 years to claim the rights it had allegedly given him.
In short, he had a very weak case. But he somehow convinced the president of our company to sign a letter of apology for having violated these rights. He was making a big pest of himself and implied that he would go away happily if only we just apologized in a friendly and gentlemanly fashion.
Amazingly, the president of our company gave him the letter of apology he demanded. From then on the Southeast Asian movie producer used this letter of apology as evidence that the dubious “contract” was, in fact, legitimate. He was able to drag the case through the courts for ages.
The moral of the story is, if someone has a very weak — or, as in this case, pretty much non-existent — case against you, never apologize for something you didn’t do, especially on paper. It will haunt you forever. They’re still fighting this in the courts, though thankfully I no longer have to work on it.
It was such a slimy thing to do, demanding the letter of apology when he knew full well he had no case at all without it. I’m still amazed that it worked. Only someone truly naive would sign such a thing. But, my God, what kind of lousy, amoral sleezebag asks for a letter of apology when he knows full well he only intends to use that against the person he gets the apology from? It’s truly sad. (Oh sorry, commenters! I know I’m only supposed to give beautiful Buddha blessings to everyone in the world… Feh!)
I’ve written up this story about three dozen times on behalf of the company when I worked for them and it always made me mad. Now it just seems sad. At least I know that if I’m ever asked for a letter of apology over something I didn’t do I ain’t signing it! And let that be a word of advise to all of you. Don’t say you never learned nothin’ from this blog!
I’m sorry. You guys wanted some “dharma” didn’t you? OK. I was gonna write a piece about jukai, the precepts ceremony. I performed a jukai ceremony last week and one the week before that. I don’t do them very often. Lots of Buddhist teachers do them constantly. I was gonna try and write out my own personal philosophy about jukai and why I so rarely do it. But I’ll save that for next time when I’m not all jet-lagged and full of nostalgia. OK?
See ya soon!