Sunday, May 12, 2013

Yay for adventures we love to remember

Well alright, Peppers rocked an afternoon gig as the finale performance of the Environmental Summit in Portland, Oregon.  It was super cool to see and hear the Dalai Lama rap about all kinds of stuff. The guy is super lovable, humble, happy and is really good at saying things that make a lot of sense.  I especially liked the way he answered a question about what to do' when one is faced with issues that feel  insurmountable, yet one cares so about deeply them to the point of dismay' or something down that line but worded more eloquently. So in response he says something like "When an issue can not be solved, just do something else that is also positive instead." Anyway, whether that's what he meant or not, I find the concept that regardless of the size or solvability of the task at hand, what is really important is the state of mind we maintain when approaching the challenge or put another way, it is unhealthy to be so passionate about an issue that it makes you miserable and it is a more wonderful and successful choice to embrace positive productive mindsets.

This was not my first close proximity to a Tibetan Monks adventure. Back in '94 when I was mixing sound for L7 on Lollapalloza tour some of the Dalai Lama's Tibetan monks performed a prayer chant on stage to open the show.  The Monks, invited by Beastie Boys Adam Yauch, being somewhat budget conscience or just plain humble, were travelling in a rickety old dilapidated tour bus.  Well, a vintage tour bus in itself is not necessarily a bad thing but add in the persistence of the mechanical failures (think 'no air conditioning with a ton o monks on an over stuffed bus on a summer tour') and even more challenging, the fact that the social qualities of a bus driver tend to be proportional to the age and quality of the tour bus they drive.

I can't remember his name but I would regularly chat with the somewhat scraggly long haired tour manager who had the task of making sure a dozen or so non English speaking monks checked into hotels, showed up for lobby call, rocked their opening slot gig on time and found vegetarian meals across the US. All the while doing his best to convince their irate hillbilly bus driver that "no these are not some wacko robe wearing cult members smuggling drugs or creating terrorist plots."

Meanwhile the Monks were super polite and so curious about everything that looking after them was akin to herding cats. I recall one show but I don't remember the city where I was doing what we sound engineers do on a festival tours after an overnight drive straight into the next show, we wander aimlessly around the venue between catering, the bus and in my wanders I stumble across some back stage video games with unlimited free credits. I proceed to park myself there for a while when out of the corner of my eye, I spot one of the red and yellow robed monks looking over my shoulder. So after I die, I turn around, look at him, look at the game, look at him again and motion the international sign for "would you like to join" by pointing my hands in the direction of the open joystick and buttons for player #2. I motion again and finally, cautiously, reluctantly he begins to to move forward, I start the game, select his character, grab the control on his side and show him how to move the player around and push a few of the action buttons and then return back to my player. Walk to the left, then to the right, I get close he backs away, he comes closer and WHAP! I punch him in the head followed instantly by a feeling of remorse. I look over at him for a reaction and he is locked intently fixated on moving his little scantily clad female character. His little 'she' backs away sort of doing circles and aimlessly kicking  and punching air as he tries to discover the controls while I walk over, kick him in the head, SPLAT! specks of blood fly and I feel terrible again. The rest of that round and the one more round we played after was pretty much spent doing these little dances and I decided I would walk up and try and get in front of his punches and kicks, occasionally succeeding. After the second round, and as in awe of the absurdity as much as feeling traumatized by not knowing what to really do, I step back from the game, turn to him and smile, he smiles, he bows, I bow, I wave, he bows again and I walk away a word never spoken.  And that was the first and last time I played Mortal Kombat with a Tibetan monk.

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