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Hardcore Zen

I noted a couple of posts ago that James sent me Birfday monies awesomeness (back in the summer) and I recently ordered three things online with it. 

This book represents 2007 Birfday Awesomeness #2. Thanks, James!

Brad Warner has really done it with this book. It’s a must-read.

I first saw it when we were in Toronto, killing time between a Blue Jays game and meeting up with a friend. We were in a Chapters, and of course this sort of thing catches my eye. Any book entitled Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies & The Truth About Reality is destined to float my boat. Unfortunately, I hadn’t the funds at that time to grab it, so I filed it into my Collector’s Brain as something to pick up eventually. And here we are today.

You should also know that I have a fondness for reading books about Zen. They come in all shapes and sizes and pretty packages, and they all say pretty much the same things. But I find that I feel calmer when I read them, and a lot of what’s in them makes sense at the time. Of course, the real test is applying that newly-gained knowledge to everday life, and I apparently suck at it because two days after reading such a book I’m right back to my goofy self. But still.

You’re wondering what any of this has to do with music, and how I’m going to go about validating this post’s existence on this Music Review site.

Hardcore Zen is a punk book, through and through. There’s no flowery language, no bullshit; just one man’s experience in punk music, the Japanese movie industry, and Zen, realizing his dreams and then finding out dreams may not be all one would hope. There’s a hard edge to what he says and if, like me, you read the usual books about Zen, the frank discussion here might be somewhat of a healthy shock.

Fortunately, I’m a fan of punk music, and so this style of writing appealed to me greatly. It’s in your face, honest, constantly moving forward, and it definitely has something to say. Just like punk. But you can tell he cares enough to take the time to write his thoughts down (this isn’t just a shot-in-the-dark vanity project or piece-of-shit time-waster). He’s fully engaged, throughout.

It’s the story of a young man growing up in Middle Of Nowhere, Ohio, playing in punk bands with names like Zero Defex and Dimentia 13. He also loves Japanese monster movies, especially Ultra-Man. So he ends up in Japan working on that very project. But along the way he also discovers Zen, and it tempers him, allows him to learn how to deal with life as it really is when everything gets very real in his face. He even gets to meet Gene Simmons.

This is not a self-help book, and it’s not your usual hoity-toity tome about one of the world’s major religions. It is blunt and to the point. It is a literary equivalent of that old Pink Fairies (later awesomely covered by the Rollins Band) song, Do It.

It is Punk Rock.

And it’s totally worth seeking out to read for yourself.

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