Oct 31, 2006

Ten Books Tom Wants You to Read

In a 2000 article Tom listed….

Ten books everybody should read because they’re not remotely enlightened until they do.

Understanding Media by Marshall MacLuhan
The Archaic Revival by Terence McKenna
The Tao of Physics by Frijdof Capra
The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are by Alan Watts
The Masks of God by Joseph Campbell
On Glory Roads by Eleanor Munro
The Banquet Years by Roger Shattuck
The Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets compiled by Barbara G. Walker
News of the Universe by Robert Bly
The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James

How many have you read? What would be the 10 most enlightening books in your experience? I guess I’m 60% of the way to being remotely enlightened.

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Oct 29, 2006

A Robbins vs Rumi Smackdown!

Speaking of Rumi/Robbins comparisons... I always think of Robbins as a poet without the line breaks. So perhaps it would be fun to compare some Rumi poetry that I love with some Robbins 'poetry'. Of course there are no winners or losers. As the taoist says, it's all good. I should clarify when I say Rumi I mean Rumi-as-interpreted-by-Coleman Barks. I don't think I've ever seen a really good Rumi poem done by anyone else. Plus Rumi's Islamic religiosity is wisely understated in Barks work. Jonathin Curiel wrote, 'For example, Barks says he rewrote a Rumi line that originally read in English, "out beyond what is holy in Islam and what is not permitted in Islam" to "out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing." ' That's much more universal to me. We don't have to remove any unseemly religious dogma from Tom's work.

Some Rumi:

In your light I learn how to love.
In your beauty, how to make poems.
You dance inside my chest,
where no one sees you,
but sometimes I do,
and that sight becomes this art.

Some Robbins:
Ziller tiptoed into the gloom.
He scooped Amanda's face up in his vision
weeding out the paleness, the thinness,
the plastic vines runing out of her veins and nose,
the arms that lay askew like broken wings.
He was afraid to burden her with a kiss.
The magic words he had to say for her he barely whispered.

Anybody else want to take some good poetry and let it snuggle up to some Robbins prose. Line breaks are optional. Either leave a comment or email me and I'll host a post under your name or nom de net.

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Oct 27, 2006

Another Writer being compared to Tom

At the Morgan Library in New York City on Wednesday night, three Bay Area writers -- Yiyun Li, Micheline Aharonian Marcom and Nina Marie Martinez -- were among 10 authors to receive this year's Whiting Writers' Award, which comes with a $40,000 cash prize.

Nina Marie Martinez, who grew up in San Jose, is a high school dropout, former punk rocker and Marx-quoting single mom whose writing has been compared to Tom Robbins'.

San Francisco Chronicle

Has anyone read her yet?

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Oct 25, 2006

Dharma and Weezer

Tricycle Magazine Editor's Pick

Tricycle is a great Buddhist magazine, and they provide some content for free on their Editor's Pick page.

I'm excerpting from ,

Rivers in the Stream (August 4, 2006)
By Amy Karafin
Weezer front man Rivers Cuomo cultivates lovingkindness, mindfulness, and a vow of celibacy amid the madness of superstardom.

The celibacy didn't impress me much, but his approach to mindfulness and creativity were pretty cool.

Following the initial letdown of low sales and poor reviews, Cuomo, dejected, left Harvard and in 1998–99 devoted himself to a rigorous study of creative methods. Secluded in his Los Angeles apartment, he set out to understand what defined great music and to devise techniques for making it. This drive to analyze and break down the creative process would eventually lead him to the dharma, but at the time it brought him to Nietzsche, Goethe, and Stravinsky, among others. He charted songs, studied artists’ methods, painted his room black, unplugged his phone, and reveled in discipline. Looking back on this period, in 2004 he wrote in his second Harvard application essay that “My goal was to purge myself of all weakness so that I could write ‘perfect’ songs as reliably as a machine.”

And then he discovered Rumi whom I call the Persian Tom Robbins-in-love and Hafiz the Persian Tom Robbins in-a-belly-laugh.

Cuomo set out once again to demystify the artistic process.

This time, his determination to harness and master his creativity brought him somewhere unexpected: love poetry. In 2003, the band’s producer Rick Rubin gave him a copy of The Gift, a collection of poems by Hafiz, and Cuomo was taken with the fourteenth-century Sufi poet’s odes to love. He started reading the Tao Te Ching and contemporary writers such as Dzogchen teacher Ken McLeod. He delved into the work of the mystic poets Rumi and Kabir, whose verses he used as a guide to spiritual communion—not with God, but with music. Cuomo’s previous songwriting aids had ranged from Tequila and Ritalin to physical pain and induced emotional states, all of which had complicated his life and eventually lost their potency. Now he began thinking about improving his concentration and eliminating ego as a means of making better songs. He gave away many of his possessions, made a vow of celibacy, sold his car, fasted, and started volunteering six days a week to prepare meals for people living with HIV. He had also just discovered Vipassana.

Rivers had a childhood right out of a Tom Robbins novel. His first word was Buddha. :-)

The ease with which Cuomo slid into meditation practice may have had a lot to do with his background. His parents had first met at the Rochester Zen center in New York, where Cuomo and his younger brother, Leaves, spent their first years. “From the time he was born, he was in the culture,” Shoenberger explains, remembering baby Rivers pointing to a picture in the communal home’s meditation room and saying one of his first words: “Buddha.” When Cuomo was six, Shoenberger, by then divorced, moved with the kids to the Yogaville ashram in northeastern Connecticut. They lived in the ashram itself for only a year but were part of the community for eight. Rivers and his brother attended the Yogaville school for three of those years, where they practiced mantra meditation as part of the curriculum. Shoenberger meditated with her kids at home, too. When Cuomo would miss his father, they would go into the meditation room, light a candle, and send his dad some love.

And it's all about creativity which I would say next to LSD is Tom's "Way". And I guess reading Robbins is part of my "Way." What's your "Way"?

As serious as Cuomo is about his spiritual path, though, he is quick to point out that he originally sought out meditation as a tool for songwriting. What he discovered was that his attachment to the creative process was part of the problem. “My compulsive creativity is very harmful and definitely doesn’t produce the best results. It’s a painful paradox, but the more you can let go of those compulsive urges to create, the better a creator you’ll become.” He credits his Vipassana practice with bringing a new sensitivity and better lyrics to his songs, qualities he felt he had lost after Pinkerton. But he has an ambivalent relationship with the creative urges that come up during retreats. “It’s getting more intense, actually. The last two courses I had so many creative impulses and was so tempted to indulge them and start developing my ideas. It’s just constant.” During his last course, song topics and hook lyrics kept popping up. “They’re just so juicy and enticing, and I want to dive into it and start working on it, but I have to wait.” At the end of courses, he busily scribbles down everything he can remember.

The song “Pardon Me,” one of the tracks on Make Believe, came to Cuomo during metta meditation. “Sometimes I hurt you so,” the lyrics go, “I know that I can be the meanest person in the world/ So I apologize to you/ And to anyone that I hurt too. . . . Pardon me.” Other lyrics, like those of “We Are All on Drugs,” seem to be about craving as a root of suffering: “We are all on drugs/Never getting enough. . . . I want to reach a higher plane.” In the end, though, the lyrical inspiration is just a fringe benefit. Cuomo’s in it for all the right reasons: “The material is better because you’re down in a deep place. But if you don’t cling to those ideas, then you’ll go to an even deeper place, and so on, and so on, and so on.”

As he put it in a recent blog post: “The purpose of the precepts is to make my mind calmer so that I can meditate better. The purpose of the meditation is to help my singing, songwriting, performing, and just about everything else in my life. See? It all makes sense. :)”

Yeah it does make sense...sensual, sensory, sense.

Rivers' blog

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Oct 22, 2006

We are all jelly donuts

A member posting as marxmarvelous has sent in Tom's famous Jelly Donut speech.

Among the confections favored by sweet-toothed Germans is a jelly-filled pastry called "the berliner." Now, in the German language, articles such as "a," "and," "the," etc. are never placed in front of nationalities or other nouns that designate persons according to their place of origin, although articles, quite naturally, are placed in front of pastries. So, strictly speaking, when President John F. Kennedy intoned on that historic day in 1963, "Ich bin ein Berliner," what he actually said was, "I am a jelly doughnut."

I'm for writing that is willing not merely to record but to transform, writing willing to wrap itself in the chiffon of dream and the goatskin of myth, writing that cannot be intimidated or usurped by any ideology, writing that has the wisdom to admit that much of life is indisputably goofy, and that has the guts to treat that goofiness as seriously as it treats suffering and despair.

I'm for writing that sings in the shower. I'm for writing that shoplifts lingerie at Frederick's of Hollywood, and searches the clear night sky for UFOs. I'm for writing that quivers in your lap like a saucer of jello and runs up your leg like a mouse.

I'm for writing that knocks holes in library walls.

I'm for writing that calls its own number, on a telephone line made from the nose hairs of Buddha.

I'm for writing that shall fear no evil, lo though it walk through the valley of the shadow of lit crit.

I'm for salty writing, itchy writing, steel-belted, nickel-plated writing, that attends the white lilacs after the heat is gone.

I'm for writing that rescues the princess and the dragon.

I'm for writing that runs with the women who run with the wolves.

I'm for writing that glugs out of the deep unconscious like ketchup from a bottle, writing that can get drunk on ketchup as well as on champagne, drunk writing, intoxicated by beauty and ugliness alike รข€”but as scornful of mediocrity as if it were a hairball coughed up by a poisoned cat.

I'm for writing that resembles alchemy. I'm for writing that has an

I'm for writing that works all year on its Mardi Gras costume, sewing on feathers and bottle caps with a silver thread; writing that hums the notes that Miles and Dizzy and Thelonius hummed, that combines the motorboat scat that babies sing with that ongoing chirping requiem that some attribute to the central nervous system and others to the angels.

And lastly, I'm for writing that slips into hand-tooled Italian shoes, knots a fine Harvard Cravat about its neck, buttons on a heavy black cashmere and wool topcoat, climbs from a bullet-proof limousine onto a privileged podium in a beleaguered city, and with dignity, and with pride, and with compassion, says to an entire planet that is hanging on to every word, "I am a jelly doughnut."

Tom Robbins

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Oct 19, 2006

Tom's Letter to the Editor


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Weekly Koan

Weekly Koan:The Shot
[Dick Cheney] "carelessly handling a rifle accidentally shot himself in the head. Now, long as a rifle is, you might shoot yourself in the foot accidentally but in the head? Maybe a ricochet? No, the man was in the middle of an open field. How did he do it?"

Answer next Monday

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Oct 16, 2006

Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad

Synchronistically with our discussions of how Robbins' work seems to spark romance between the readers of it and the people they introduce to it, I received an email from a very aptly-named girl. She told me about a band with the same name as the subject line of this post. (amazing coincidence!)

She said, "I met someone this summer who changed my life, leading me on to discovering Tom Robbins in an epiphonic way. I read Villa Incognito (and am on to Jitterbug Perfume, as soon as my needy little hands can reach it)....and have noticed insane relations to my life and my spiritual connection with this person through Robbins' work. " Ah the spark!

She said, the band "draws extreme thinking and mindset influences from Robbins." and "They have a song called "Just Because You're Naked...[doesn't mean you're sexy]" in reference to the song written by Dickie on his guitar....on the last page of Villa Incognito."

Sounds great.

An Article in the Denver Daily News tells more.


This time, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad turned to author Tom Robbins and his book, “Another Roadside Attraction,” for advice. In the book was a traveling circus, the Indo-Tibetan Circus, and traveling with the circus was a band, the Giant Panda Gypsy Blues Band.

“It was a description of the greatest band ever imagined,” said Searl about how Robbins portrayed the band. “I imagined being in that band.”

While Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad sure doesn’t have the luxury of traveling with the Indo-Tibetan Circus, they have found themselves a short school bus to tour the country in and a bunch of psychedelic fun along the way. Each stop in each city is a new experience and a new trip.

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The Purpose of the Moon

I received an email asking about a stage version (possibly amateur) of The Purpose of the Moon by Tom Robbins. Apparently the play was not written by Robbins. Has anyone else heard of this play? I haven't but I'm very curious about it.

Please email Dale at da5e@yahoo.com if you have info. It would be a great find.

The picture with this post is by Dennis Magdich and I found it on the website at The Purpose of the Moon Go there to read the piece.

"Since all things become what we pretend they are, fake happiness is as good as the real stuff." --Tom Robbins

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Oct 15, 2006

Making Love Stay: The Research

You'll be glad to know that science is marching on to help us explore the Aftrlife. The following reseach has actually been funded by the government:

ORNITHOLOGY Ivan R. Schwab and the late Philip R. May received a grant to explore and explain why woodpeckers don't get headaches.

This could explain how they make love stay. And so can you!

More on making love stay research:

MEDICINE: Francis M. Fesmire for his medical case report "Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage”.

Hiccup. What's that sound. No, I do not have the hiccups. Thanks anyway.

If the following one is about Tom then they totally have the wrong guy.

LITERATURE: Daniel Oppenheimer for his report "Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly."

They all received the Ig Nobel Prize for their research according to Ken Levine in message his blog

Three out of four scientists surveyed said that Tom Robbins is good for your sex life.

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Oct 14, 2006

Miles of Smiles

Does anyone else wish that html didn't so often switch the text smiley face to a graphical smiley face? The colon/parenthesis is a simple indication of a smile that fits typographicaly into the flow of the text. While the graphic form is a brightly colored shit-eating grin that dominates the whole message. :-)

Imagine how those smiley faces would screw up Tom Robbins' prose.

What do you think about the smiley face? Do you use it on the computer? Anywhere else? Got it tatooed?

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Oct 13, 2006

Granddad's House

...at Tim [Leary's] house ...on any given Sunday the guest list included Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Tom Robbins and Earl Mc Grath. "You never knew who would be there," Brice recalled. "No one had any ego or attitude because Tim was the man. It was like a bunch of cousins getting to know one another. This was granddad's house and we were all cousins and we could hang out. It was congenial and nonthreatening."

From Timothy Leary by Robert Greenfield

There was a copy of Villa Incognito in Johnny Depp's movie, Secret Window. I guess Depp and Robbins were buddies.

What strange places have you spotted Tom's words or books?

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Oct 12, 2006

Mashed Banana Sunlight

I've always loved that description in Another Roadside Attraction. Well here in Southern California we've got the real thing today. Our sunset is golden with light cloud formations that look lit. As a cartoon said of a glorious sunset, "Author Author" Well Tom is author enough for me and his words are always a handy way to enhance my experience of beauty.

Have there been occasions when you've remembered some of Tom's words that have enhanced your passing reality?

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From Robert Greenfield's Timothy Leary

After Tim Leary made an appearance in Seattle...Tom Robbins found himselfdriving down "a long street along the waterfront in Seattle and there wasa reader board outside of Ship's Seafood Restaurant which said, 'Turn on.Tune In and Drop Out with our seafood buffet.'"

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Oct 11, 2006

Socks Win! Socks Win!

Guest Post by Mary Witt

"In 1964, [TR] lived two blocks from Allen Ginsberg in the East Village and, that fall, marched side by side with him in a LEMAR (Legalize Marijuana) demonstration. Robbins then went to hear a lecture by Timothy Leary at Cooper Union. The hall was packed, but Robbins got a seat close enough to see that the color-blind Leary was wearing red socks with his tweed suit. From that point on, Robbins wore red socks for years. (Later he began to wear mismatched socks...as a constant reminder of the 'clarity of vision' that can only come from swimming against the stream." (from "Aquarius Revisited: Seven Who Created the Sixties Counterculture That Changed America" by Peter O. Whitmer with Bruce VanWyngarden) Tom Robbins and Hunter S. Thompson were two of the seven.

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Oct 10, 2006

Tom the Tall Celebrity?

ABC News has an article that lists Tom Robbins as one of our tallest celebrities.

Sitcom star Brad Garrett tops the TV world at 6'9" while
Howard Stern, Tom Robbins, Vince Vaughn and Michael Clarke Duncan stand at 6'5".

To see the actual heights of these famous people, click on the slideshow to
the right and above.
Yeah, this picture is of TIM Robbins. I'd say Tom is just shy of 6 feet.


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