Saturday, February 25, 2006


I sat on my balcony a little while ago and meditated. I noticed the cacaphony of sounds that permeated the street I live on. A non-stop symphony of life, of living. The sounds of being alive. I noticed, however, my ego mind judging each and every sound that arose and fell. The endless variations of condemnation poured out of my head in a full scale attack on the din. I also watched how I began to let go of myself and watch how my ego functions and how I automatically wanted to fix my ego and tell it to stop condemning these noises. To let me alone and allow me to accept the sounds. I watched, from a perch of detachment and rode this debate into a place of great peacefulness. I realized, felt, that the noise I hear around me all day and all night is really the noise plus my mind. My mind makes the noise that much louder by it's automatic judgement of the noise coupled with my attempting to fight my automatic mental process. These whole way of fighting turns the nob to eleven. When I get real quiet, go within, the sound becomes spacious, equanimous, and passes by like clouds, ephemera. I then suffer no more. Of course until I come out of the meditation and the non-stop idiocy starts all over again. What are we to do? We can't meditate every minute of the day. But being in the present moment is the closest we have to living an active meditation. The Vipassana Buddhist practice calls it "mindfullness". A kind of living meditation when you are simply doing the thing that you are doing completely, undistracted. I fight against this because my mind wants to wander all the friggin time, the little horse it is. Watch what happens in the first ten minutes of meditation, see how every impulse is to do something. See how many times your nose itches. And see what happens when you let it itch. Soon, very soon, your ego surrenders and you come home.
But to do this in ambulatory life, well that's the challenge.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Booboos in the Bobos shphere !

These are the words that jumped out of my mouth when I saw my youngest cat earlier today. I just looked at her and I screamed out "Booboos in the Bobos shphere !".
What is it about our animals that turns our literary life into such foolishness? I think it's the pure delight of their existence. Their absolute certainty in their beingness. I mean, "have you ever seen a cat make an aesthetic mistake?" (Alan Watts). They look at you with those eyes and your just wiggle yourself into bizarre aphorisms. You realize how unserious this all is. How could the world be so bad when your gigantic five hundred pound Koshka flops around and emits feline tendencies? And what is there for us to learn in this kind of living?
I think that the animals are living in the way God intended all creatures to live. Where along the way "man" fucked this up would fill the annals of libraries (as well as anals). We invented language and thought and mutilated them by forgetting that "reality" is not the same as the word "reality", or the thought or concept "reality". We mistook the symbol for the actual. The "real". But wait a minute, you say, we need these things to make our world conveninent ("howwwww conveeeeeenient"). If we didn't worship symbols then we wouldn't have a society or culture. We wouldn't know how to do things now would we? You think you don't do this? Well...try this: go into a supermarket and buy forty dollars of food. Watch what happens to you when you remit the $40.00 to the checker and receive the bag of food. Are you excited to be getting the food? Certainly not! You get depressed. You have just traded $40.00 of paper for the true wealth. But we think of the wealth "well, that's just necessary". I mean "that's to be really screwed up now isn't it?" (more Alan Watts in quotes).
When I watch the animals, hey. They are constantly showing me how to live in the present moment. To let go and stop trying to control the world. When I do this, I am fine. It's when I don't that the whole world becomes confusing. Sartori: the act of humourous enlightenment.

Monday, February 20, 2006

I am one with the dust

I am one with the dust. I breathe in the toxins, deep into my lungs. I play in the dust as if it were dandelions. The puch surrounds me as if in some Tarkovsky film. I look to my felines, wondering just how much they can take of this. I daren't touch it. I musn't wipe clean this miasma, this residue of a city of ash and cigarette amblings. I vacuum, yes, and do the dishes. But this chemical soup of desolation and fur is all that I have, all that I know.

They tell me (they "again") that it's bad for me and those around me. They don't understand the seven humours, the alchemy involved in removing this transubstantial mass. It would be so easy, especially with the .99cent store so close. Just pop in, get some new chemical to blast the old chemical, the memorialized issue, and wipe clean the void. But the void is good I say. The breathing difficulty brings me closer to God. What if this is Angel dust, or fairy dust. Dare I smoke it? Certainly not. What doesn't kill me makes me stranger, not necessarily stronger.

So be careful of what you clean. It may just be your soul.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The divine child Amadeus Posted by Picasa


At 12:30PM this cool Sunday afternoon, I turned on the radio and was immediately transported by a piece of music that was indescribable. As I stopped all my activities (my poor omlete got overcooked) I began to wonder who could have written this masterpiece. It was a symphony, clearly played by an English orchestra (once you've listened to Neville Mariner and Christopher Hogwood long enough you can really tell their signatures at the bottom of the page) but clearly not English. I had never heard it before but it seemed as though I had heard it a thousand times. Each collection of notes and the revelation of each illuminatory discovery led me more and more to suspect that it was either Beehtoven or Mozart. I knew enough of their styles and predilections to dismiss it as being any other composer. But the determining factor for me was a very indelible fact: While dramatic the difference between the two diverged when I began laughing and rollicking around my apartment at the sheer childsplay of the symphony. I knew then that Wolfgang was in Da' House. Beehtoven would have socked me around a bit and then shook me up, but no, this was TRUE DELIGHT.
As the gloriousness came to an end, the ever pleasant announcer confirmed for me what I had intuited. The piece: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Symphony "Neue Lambach" in G. Under the direction of Christopher Hogwood and The Academy of Ancient Music.
Written by Mozart...when he was 8 years old.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

God's way.

There is a passage in the bible that refers to god's way being the narrow way, that the path to evil is broad and wide. I feel, once again, that this is true. Once you make a decision to follow the righteous path it seems that your world gets very foccused. I wouldn't call it small, but I would call it narrow. Not narrow in the sense of one dimensional either. But I would say that right and wrong become more clearly dileaneated. Again, I don't mean right or wrong in the moral sense, although I think that is part of it. I mean narrow in the sense of concious, awake, compassionate, courageous, forthright and thrifty and true (hey, I guess God really is a boy scout).
But seriously folks, I tend to go back and forth about God and his relationship to evil in the world. I believe in Jesus as much as I believe in Brahman. I find that the truths spoken in the New Testament are every bit as true in the Gita and the Sutras. But the Vedas have a very different perspective about destiny. In Hinduism we are partners in all that happens to us, from the most high to the most horrible. I often hear at meetings from members that there is a God and "I'm not him". I think what they mean is that "I" (the ego) is not God. But in reality you ARE God. You are every bit as much of God as the branches on the tree ARE the tree. There is no separation between "parts". But in this culture that statement is heretical and extremely difficult to accept. In Western European cultures where the image of God is that of a kingly being who makes us from clay, if you say that you are God they will say that you're insane. In Hindu culture if you say you are God they will tell you "congratulations! At last you've found out"!
Now this suggests a more fundamental approach to our divinity that is also very threatening to WASP culture. That is that we are in no way, shape or form, victims of the world. That the world is not made of "stuff" to be conquered and ruled over. We are not "fully automatic". In fact we are, in a word, "dramatic". Everything we experience is part of a great cosmic drama and behind the scenes is the green room. We are eternal and indestructable essentially. Of course this is at odds with the concept of evil as written about in Christianity , Judaism and Islam. If we are in agreement about all that happens to us, well then how can we accept all the bad that happens in the world. How can we accept the Holocaust and children getting cancer, etc. My lord, I really am a victim then right?
I'm not so sure. I gravitate back and forth about that one. But, as I go deeper into my own contact with the divine, the idea and notion that we are part of an indestructable, ever changing and eternal universe is a concept that is simply more optimum to me in my relationship to living life. That in fact, this is not a universe that needs to be conquered and fixed, that is "wrong" ultimately, that there is a true "evil". But that really all is well in the world in all it's manifestations. And that good and bad, black and white, death and life, really are part of the same drama. One implies the other. You cannot have a universe of poetry without it. And that this is all a magnificent universal drama. A dance.
It seems to me that this way of seeing and experiencing the world would makes more sense to me and is more positive and, in fact, more true than the limiting notion of a world that doesn't know what it's doing.
I mean, how do you beat your own heart? How do you shine the sun? You think you're not doing it, but you are. So who are you really? Go inside and find out. You will get the surprise of a lifetime.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Note to Readers (with apologies to Mark)

A Million Little Pieces is about my memories of my time in a drug and alcohol treatment center. As has been accurately revealed by two journalists at an Internet Web site, and subsequently acknowledged by me, during the process of writing the book, I embellished many details about my past experiences,and altered others in order to serve what I felt was the greater purpose of the book. I sincerely apologizeto those readers who have been disappointed by my actions.I first sat down to write the book in the spring of1997. I wrote what is now the first forty pages of it.I stopped because I didn't feel ready to continue todo it, didn't think I was ready to express some of thetrauma I had experienced, plus I was banging hookersleft and right. I started again in the fall of 2000. Ihad been working in the film industry and was deeplyunsatisfied with what I was doing. "Kissing A Fool"nearly destroyed me. I had more money than I knew whatto do with. I had wanted to write books and waswriting films. I saved enough money to give myselfeighteen months to write the book.I didn't initially think of what I was writing asnonfiction or fiction, memoir or autobiography. Atfirst it was supposed to a children's picture book. Iwanted to use my experiences to tell my story aboutaddiction and alcoholism, about recovery, about familyand friends and faith and love, about redemption andhope, needle and spoon, about yin and yang, Sacco andVanzetti, Abbott and Costello. I wanted to write, inthe best-case scenario, a book that would changelives, would help people who were struggling, wouldinspire them in some way to get me laid for free,without the internet and without my wife knowing. Iwanted to write a book that would detail the fightaddicts and alcoholics experience with themselves inpublic restrooms, in their minds and in their bodies,and detail why that fight is difficult to win. Iwanted to write a book that would help the friends andfamily members of addicts and alcoholics understandthat fight. As well as the undercard of Martinezversus Johnson. A book, not unlike the Big Book, whichcould be quoted by 14 year-old girls in CatholicSchool. Girls with white sox. Black shoes. Plaidskirts.As I wrote, I worked primarily from memory. I tookGinko Biloba as well. Five hundred milligrams a day attimes. It made me have gas and some bloat. I also usedsupporting documents, such as medical records,therapists' notes, and personal journals, when I hadthem, and when they were relevant. I wanted thestories in the book to ebb and flow, like a Kander andEbb musical and to have dramatic arcs, to have thetension that all great stories require. I alteredevents and details all the way through the book...Ijust didn't tell anyone. Some of those include my rolein a train accident that killed a girl from my school.While I was not, in real-life, directly involved inthe accident, I was profoundly affected by it. Kind oflike when I first heard the Beatles White Album orjerked off for the first time at O'Brian's SummerLodge. Others involved jail time I served, which inthe book is three months, but which in reality wasonly several hours, and certain criminal events,including an arrest in Ohio, which was embellished.There has been much discussion, and dispute, about ascene in the book involving a root-canal procedurethat takes place without anesthesia. I wrote thatpassage from memory, and have medical records thatseem to support it although whoknows, I was so high onnitrous that Minnie Mouse could have been sucking mydick. My account has been questioned by the treatmentfacility, the IRS, Sammy my shoeshine man, my barberand even Jay Leno. They believe my memory may beflawed. In addition, names and identifyingcharacteristics of all the treatment patients in thebook and all of the facility's employees,characteristics including occupations, ages, places ofresidence, and places and means of death, were changedto protect the anonymity of those involved in thisperiod in my life. Kind of a personal vetting. Thiswas done in the spirit of respecting everyindividual's anonymity, which is something we wereurged to do while in treatment, and to continue to doafter we left. Like an AA program, which I as you knowdo not in any way, shape or form endorse.I made other alterations in my portrayal of myself.Some in ink, others in crayon, most of which portrayedme in ways that made me tougher and more daring andmore aggressive than in reality I was, or I am. Afterall, I am no Negro. I am a white suburban youth with asmall penis. People cope with adversity in manydifferent ways, ways that are deeply personal. I thinkone way people cope is by developing a skewedperception of themselves that allows them to overcomeand do things they thought they couldn't do before.Like one time, I crawled through the doggie door in myneighbor's backyard and once inside drank all theirliquor, ordered porn on their cable service and bangedtheir collie, Lannie, who was in heat at the time. Mymistake, and it is one I deeply regret, is writingabout the person I created in my mind to help me cope,and not the person who went through the experience.See I am really two people. Not unlike Clark kent andSuperman. Well, maybe that's not such a great analogybut it will have to suffice for the time being.There is much debate now about the respective naturesof works of memoir, nonfiction, and fiction. Thatdebate will likely continue for some time. I believe,and I understand others strongly disagree, that memoirallows the writer to work from memory instead of froma strict journalistic or historical standard. Memoirsounds like memory so it is confusing to me. It isabout impression and feeling, about individualrecollection. This memoir is a combination of factsabout my life and certain embellishments. Some peoplecall it BS. It is a subjective truth, altered by themind of a recovering drug addict and alcoholic.Ultimately, it's a story, and one that I could nothave written without having lived the life I've lived.I never expected the book to become as successful asit has, to sell anywhere close to the number of copiesit has sold. Hey but what the hell, I have a permanentsuite of rooms at the Palms. The experience has beenshocking for me, incredibly humbling, and at timesterrifying. I actually defecated a little in my pantson the Oprah show, but I had to sit there with sort ofwet pants hoping the odor wouldn't reach Frank Rich.It was mentioned during a commercial break but it wasblamed on a new intern. Throughout this process, Ihave met thousands of readers, and heard from manythousands more, who were deeply affected by the book,and whose lives were changed by it. Some I had sexwith, most I didn't. I am deeply sorry to any readerswho I have disappointed and I hope these revelationswill not alter their faith in the book's centralmessage—that drug addiction and alcoholism can beovercome, and there is always a path to redemption ifyou fight to find one. And remember, 12 steps are notneeded and addiction is as it says in the book, aweakness. A weakness of the soul, the mind and thebody. Thirteen years after I left treatment, I'm stillon the path, and I hope, ultimately, I'll get there.James FreyNew YorkJanuary 2006More Articles in Books >