Posts Tagged ‘Brass Band’

by James C. Stephens


June 20, 1975

 

nsa-pre-bicentinneal-convention-1975-button-snippet-from-have-a-gohonzon

1975 Pre-Bicentennial Convention in Hawaii featuring a floating stage in Waikiki Bay. A live performance for 50,000 spectators watching from the beach and from their hotel balconies.

Aloha!

Well, it’s getting closer. Only 36 more days. Tonight we’re going to be watching Mr. Murray and Mr. Rachey on a T.V. talk show. They’re being interviewed by a guy named Zooloo, like Johnny Carson Mainland style. I understand that it was a super successful interview and it lasted well into the allotted time. In fact Zooloo said this movement needs more publicity. It’s so interesting. This was not arranged PR, but rather this guy’s seeking mind about this Buddhism. Really groovy.

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The floating stage was an amazing engineering challenge as fireworks were shot off from the volcano, there was a rear projection screen and hundreds of performers were shuttled by boat at night to perform on stage. It was quite an amazing production to say the least. To bring a floating stage in required the EPA’s and Hawaiian Government’s approval. 

 

Many people I understand have been shakubukued by our warehouse. One heavyweight was really impressed, so impressed that he’s given us free laundry service. Daily no less. Delivers in one day. Other people have donated 88 construction helmets that normally run $7 a piece. Then there’s the bamboo. The Ranger is really amazing. Calls Rejicho, George.

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What you see is a Polynesian Village we constructed in the warehouse and moved in the middle of the night from the old Dole Pineapple warehouse to Fort DeRussy in downtown Waikiki. I was in charge of procuring the plants and was loaned over $500,000 worth of plants for the convention, which we returned of course. So kind of the locals. I helped Mike Strawbringer and other gifted carpenters, but was pulled off and assigned to do what I did best, raise money and ask for donations! Lol.

The Polynesian Village requires one hell of a lot of bamboo. I’m sure we’ve used well into 14,000 pieces of bamboo. Well, the Ranger let’s us cut in the bamboo forest reserve. They wouldn’t even let the Boy Scouts cut any during the big Jamboree. He’s the grooviest Ranger I ever met. Dresses in an aloha shirt. One morning he brought us 15 pineapples. Boy were they were delicious. After one bamboo run, he took us to they say one of the most beautiful places in Hawaii. It was definitely far out. Beautiful waterfalls and a refreshing dip in the pool of water at the bottom did me in. Of course no one else is allowed to trespass here. But the ranger really stuck his neck out and let us swim here. Unbelievable.

The construction of the convention is progressing on schedule, really beautiful. Everyday though we are getting more projects which is far out. The warehouse is really being used by Rejicho for Shakubuku. People can’t believe what is happening.

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Our Hawaiian “Aunt” and our little sister who dove for the puka shells and made us a lovely necklace which I later gave to my wife Elizabeth. Such good people.

The neighbors bring their friends by to check it out all the time. Beautiful grass huts. Just wait. You’ll cry when you come here. The Hawaiian members and our crew are becoming really close, just like brothers and sisters. One women’s division Lizzy made me cry when she brought me some beautiful puka shells she collected and strung herself. Invaluable.

The Human Revolution is very intense over here. I personally have never gone through such a period. Definitely a Summer Training Course of the highest magnitude. It’s about 10 times more intense in a strange way than a Brass Band practice. 88 guys you can imagine. Did you know there were 88 guys in the US Continental Congress? Myoho!

Pupukea is really beautiful, wow. The Hawaiian members have really put their whole life into that project.

hawaii-outrigger-canoe

Oh the water is definitely far out over here. Really clear and blue and warm. I and Mike were fortunate to go with 15 guys to do Gongyo with Rejicho and then go outrigger canoeing and surfing with Rejicho. I learned a lot that day to say the least.

So much to say but so little time now.

Awaiting everyone’s arrival!

Imua,

Jim

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by James C. Stephens


Monday, February 26, 1979

Jamesinfrontoftemple

Russ Isobe (Brass Band), Jim Jay (District Leader), James Stephens, and Bruce Barnes (my best man) doing some type of activity at Myohoji Temple around the time of the New York Convention in 1976..

Last night Russ Dilando, Jim Jay, and Paul Diamond called me to enlist my support for their Monday morning speech at the staff’s weekly meeting. (North American Headquarters Staff Meeting in Santa Monica on 525 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica).

Immediately after Mr. Williams finished morning Gongyo,  Jim Jay went to the front and asked for people’s attention. He said he wanted to say a few words regarding Mr. Williams recent visit to Seattle. First he asked if any one minded him talking. They said nothing. I said, please speak. Everyone looked at me. No loyalty to Jim from anyone in the organization even though he worked there for three years. Mr. Williams asked if he could talk, no one said anything. I’m sure they fear for their jobs.

He (Jim Jay) talked of what happened when he asked Mr. Williams about his salary. He said he wasn’t going to tell him and would not and that it was none of his business. He (Jim Jay) said that he was on staff for three years.


Notes: The notes above are all I recorded at the time. Here’s what I remember about the event.  Jim Jay was my leader for a time in Sepulveda Chapter as was Russ Dilando. Paul Diamond was one of my members. Chico Olivera another member of Sepulveda Chapter was there as well.

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Sue Bennett, Sue Nigh, Chico Olivera, Paul Diamond, Paul Wilkes, Purdy Tapola, Gary Shelton, Dave Creek, Larry,  (That’s all I remember–Sepulveda Chapter)

We were all Youth Division leaders and very zealous radical students who went after our practice with everything we had. Most of us attended California State University Northridge.  As for the event at the Headquarters, everyone there (probably 80 staff) knew us all very well. We were fixtures at the Headquarters, leaders in Brass Band, leaders in the Youth Division, all graduates of the NSA Study Academy,  pulled Toban duty at the North American Headquarters, Santa Monica Headquarters, Malibu Training Center,  Myohoji Temple, helped build the Malibu Center, the Santa Monica Headquarters, members of the Soka Group, Traffic Control Division, Stage Crew at various conventions. In other words, we were not just troublemakers, we were zealous for kosenrufu and concerned about the direction of the movement. We had invested our lives fully. Held meetings six to seven times a week, on Friday’s we had discussion meetings which started at 7:00 pm and if there were no guests, we’d go to the streets and do shakubuku til we found them, invite them to our meetings and had meetings sometimes until 1:00 am.

So, when everyone in the room started swearing (I won’t repeat the words), others were saying “let them speak.” Probably Gary Curtis who had been a part of the Berkeley Free Speech movement in the 60’s. Finally, Jim Jay got up and started asking where all of our money was going? We wanted accountability.  After Jim finished up his short message, we realized we had been stonewalled,  got the message, and left, and went our separate ways.

Brad Nixon

Brad Nixon, SGI Organization Department Chief (screen capture from his son’s film about his life- Bladfold).

About three hours later, I received a call from Brad Nixon, former Seattle Headquarters Chief, who  was now working at the North American Headquarters in Santa Monica as the head of the organization department, who was a friend and said to me, “Jim, you better lay low.”  I asked, “Why?” He responded, “When I was going out to lunch I heard two men behind me, ‘Let’s go get our 357 magnums and blow these guys away.'”  Needless to say, I laid low. I failed to mention that I lived just across the street about three doors down from the North American Headquarters in Santa Monica.  It didn’t lessen our zeal for reform, but only fueled it. I won’t mention their names here, but will say that years later, I did confront one of them and he said, “Yes, I did say that and was very angry. My wife always said that I needed to get my anger problem under control and at one point held that 357 magnum up to my head and said I’d better. I have ever sense.”

We all get angry over things that threaten us and I hold no malice toward either one of them. Glad they didn’t go through with their threats, but I was always a bit on edge whenever I’d go to the Headquarters or General meetings.

Just watched Brad Nixon’s son’s film about his father’s life. I am very troubled by his passing. Our path’s crossed when he came down to Los Angeles for that once last chance. His warning did save my life and the lives of my family. Tough film. Very well done.

Brad Nixon. Bladfold, A Film about Brad Nixon

by James C. Stephens


bamboo-forest

Friday, May 23, 1975

Came home around 12:30 daytime after Toban and showered, slept for about 3 hours. Went back to the warehouse, ate and got back to work. One of my dreams definitely came true tonight. When I was a young boy we used to travel to the beach; and on our way I always saw this little thatched Hawaiian type grass hut and I used to hear this song, “Little Grass Shack.” Well tonight I was taught by the grooviest Hawaiian Women’s division Helen, Margaret and Lizzie how to weave palm leaves. What a gas!

They’re becoming my good friends.

Saturday, May 24, 1975

Today we worked our bodingas off. Our crew is really uniting. Last night my project chief Mik Strawbinger and Dan  Pardo came over and we talked over a couple of beers then some cafe ole. Got to bed around 3:00.

We had a daimoku campaign in our group today and really got a lot accomplished. We switched off chanting about 20 minutes a piece. I must have chanted around an hour and a half today. I needed it too. I took my temperature and it was about 100 degrees and of course it made things a taste uncomfortable, but the daimoku saw me through the day.

I talked to one guy named Joel, a black guy and really had an incredible talk about racism and political activity. Very interesting talk.

Sunday, May 25, 1975

Had a mother of a tug-o-war. First our crew lost, got the most rope and were set. Next time we got set evenly and what a fight. We pulled and growled and fought. Finally in a last ditch effort we united to Wa-shoi and pulled the other team over the line and we claimed victory!

Tuesday, May 27, 1975

Went through mucho human revolution today. Carpentry puts me through changes like Brass Band training.

I understand that in a memo on the ABC campaign that this convention determines the success or failure of NSA. To me that is a very heavy responsibility for all of us. In a way I’m really scared for Mr. Williams. That’s why I am determined to try my damnedest to support anyone I have to follow, happily!

This afternoon during the height of my frustration with our Tiki hut, Mr. Murie had bought three big 5 gallon containers of ice cream and fudge. Perfect time, it made everybody relax and made it easier to go back to work joyfully.

Wednesday, May 28, 1975

This morning did Gongyo and instead of chanting for just my own shoga, I thought more of taige. Our group, headed by Mike Strawbinger; Mike Tamani, Dana Weeks, and Jo Michaelburger and myself all got to go to the Bamboo forest to cut 1000 stocks of Bamboo for the Polynesian village. Like a dream come true. So beautiful being inside a bamboo forest. Incredible feeling of serenity, but at the same time adventure. And what a view from the trail of the ocean wow!

Only one bad incident. Not really bad, but it put a perspective on why we were in this forest cutting the bamboo. One collegiate type guy with a mustache, beer in hand came walking down the trail emitting the worst possible vibes. Telling us how screwed we were for cutting down the bamboo, his friends for world peace. Jesus never intended this. A totally arrogant attitude that my words can not express. He asked me if we had a permit and I asked him if was a park ranger. He said, “Yes.”  I said, “Yes, we do. Talk to the man up by the trucks. Well later I went up on top and told Andy Hirama, Mr. Hirama’s son the details he told me.

“See that man?” referring to a gentlemen sitting on the ground watching the proceedings taking place. “That’s the park ranger.” Well, I really had a laugh.

by James C. Stephens


February 20, 1975

Tuesday I got up early did a couple of things. I read for awhile and finally decided to take a shower. All of a sudden I heard some knocking on the window. It was ________.

We were both nervous, but happy to see each other.

I really feel something that I feel I can define now. I love her as a human being, we have something really deep in common. She sees me as a Bodhisattva and knows I’m true to her and concerned about her life. I vow to my Gohonzon to see her enlightened in this lifetime and with 3 happy boys.

One million daimoku for _______ to go to the Hawaii Convention and for a strong practice.

Today, no in fact last night I went by Mr. Mitchells and told him I’d be unable to take the job just part-time. This morning Mr. Mitchell woke me and told me I was hired and that I’d be using his Datsun station wagon.

So now I have it. I think I’m going to wash it. Bye.

April 10, 1975-Wednesday 2:30AM

President Ikeda’s guidance.

“A swan seems to swim calmly, but under the water and invisible to us, it paddles unceasingly. For this reason, it can glide smoothly. The leaders may be compared to the webbed feet. Through their strenuous efforts behind the scenes, the whole organization can advance with reassurance.

The new leaders of the future should not be here types who deal with matters merely through their own abilities. A good leader is one who harmonizes all the people in a group,be it a company or home, so that they can put into use their full individuality and potential and work smoothly.”

swan-photo

April 11, 1975 2:35 AM

In about one month I will of had the Gohonzon five years. I can not tell you how happy I am at this moment to realize my fortune of meeting this practice.

This evening we did Brass Band gongyo with Mr. Bond. Each day I’m realizing so much more about my life. I just read over my diary about my experience with ___________.

Now I see it with a much deeper perspective. It brings tears to my eyes and it affects my heart, but in  a much different way than two weeks ago. Of course its natural to be horny and feel you’re God’s Gift to women, that’s a male’s nature. But now I feel a bit more hesitation about the sex end. Sure it goes through my mind, but now I think much more about others happiness and constantly remind myself of my unfortunate experience. Sure its hard sometimes to women off your mind, but now I’m thinking much more about the serious campaign we are engaged in now. The Blue Hawaii Pre-Bicentennial Convention. I’m nervous. I have made a new resolution for the past month or more to develop the YMD in our district. For awhile some new YMD were coming around. Now they have titaned strongly. They don’t hate NSA, they love it, but are just too lazy to practice this philosophy. Now before I would have been depressed, but instead I have resolved not to give up. I know that the Gohonzon’s benefit is there but I have but to struggle and develop through the obstacle to obtain the great benefit.

Even though the Shakubuku result does not show at the moment, I am confident that we will very definitely shoot up very soon.  I feel that the YMD movement is taking on new power. I have seen Jeff Silver take on new interest, even make some suggestions about the Shakubuku campaign. This is my benefit, knowing this is from trying to capture some of Soshibucho’s YMD spirit. Shibucho is letting me help with the YMD report. Also I’m back in Brass Band. Last week I had to lead a major portion of a drum section practice. Definite steps to increased human revolution. I have also assumed the responsibility through Shibucho of being the Chapter representative of the University Club. I got a raise at my job of $25.

Three days ago Scott and I started a 2 hour toso every night until May 15 or later. This is a great benefit to me because I need this daimoku fortune to develop myself.

I’m finally starting to think of the person I want to become. Soshibucho is a great encouragement. Another benefit is the Shakubuku Shockwave I was able to go on to Santa Barbara recently. Shoshibucho was there. I shakubukued a girl and she joined. Sunday night I got a huge benefit. I had sort of blown Sunday, but nevertheless I felt like going to Santa Monica to get recharged. I dropped off some cards from the UC at the JHQ. No one seemed to be around. I talked to Jim Jay in the phone box for awhile and as I was about to leave he said Homencho was in the office talking to some people. Why don’t you try to get in. So I did and ended up listening to guidance for about 2 hours on various subjects from the Hawaii Convention to YMD spirit. Well time to chant some daimoku.

by James C. Stephens


Sunday, March 17, 1974

This morning I awoke at about 7:30 and put up the flag at the JHQ (Nichiren Shoshu Headquarters in Santa Monica, California) and did Gongyo with the Brass Band. Afterwards I promoted some World Tribune and did some cleanup at home. From about 6 pm I helped Scott Wilson with the TCD (Traffic Control Division) at the JHQ. At about 9:45 Scott and I frantically exchanged pants. He needed some whites since he was leading the meeting. Strangely when I left I got some whites about 2 minutes before the TCD meeting. After the meeting I rode back to the JHQ with Scott and stuck with him while he was finishing up some last minute adjustments on the bus lists. We then walked out front and what a fortunate rhythm. Honbucho Hall drove up. We talked to or should I should say he talked to us for about 20 minutes outside the Headquarters. He asked my name and if I was on the list. He also told us he was not going to South America and that Mr. Williams was going to be back this week.

Honbucho interspersed guidance on the TCD spirit when he talked to Scott and I (more tommorrow).

Tuesday, March 26, 1974

Recently, I have been thinking about my plans for the next five years…In the past few years I have though casually over the possibility of starting a business. I thought first of a restaurant business, but reviewing the state of our economy in so far as the food prices I have postponed such a goal until I have and also the economy has reached a more stable period. Inside my own life I have seen many problems which have been reflected to me by my environment and colleagues.

The major problem I don’t know, however I wouldn’t call them problems, just realizations. My cultural background was never too firm. Being raised in Montana is quite a contrast to being raised in L.A. But at the same time I realize I can’t compare myself to other people. Rather I have to go through a Cultural Revolution within my own life. Such a revolution I believe involves exposing myself to much literature and a much wider variety of experiences in my life.

11:15. I have been seriously thinking about starting a business or a small shop dealing with skiing. Mainly it would involve waxing, sharpening, and repairing skis. Also I would like to be a center for ordering skis of racing prototypes. Of course the idea is still in the idea stage. Mainly I have to start talking around and see what such a business involves.

Yesterday I applied for a job working for a campaign for Baxter Ward. Unfortunately it had already been filled, however I plan on working for his campaign for Governor after the convention. I talked to Shibucho and he said it wouldn’t hurt doing it 2 or 3 hours a week or so. I really feel it would be a valuable experience. I have been thinking about learning some languages.

Both of my new members have turned in their money for the convention. Their names are Gary Sheldon and Chris Collinge. They both are really groovy.

I think a plan for my cultural change would involve 20 minutes of study periods on several different fields of interest:

20 minutes on science, 20 minutes on history, 20 minutes on economics, etc. Definitely reading current magazines and many great literary works. Right now I’m starting on Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment.  20 minutes study of Buddhism is a definite necessity to my development. Well it’s late and I must get some rest so I can find a good job tomorrow.

One last thing. Sunday the TCD went to San Diego to look the area over for the convention. It was a definite success and I’m sure a valuable experience for the convention. I told Shibucho about our TCD activity. He gave me permission and guidance to be strict on our TCD. The four TCD are myself, Arnie Roff, David Valencia, and Chico Olivera. Tomorrow night, I’m in charge of 5 TCD to protect the Koteketai practice.

Saturday, March 30, 1974

Wednesday, I again looked for a job and planted some seeds for job possibilities.

Sunday, March 31, 1974

We had a TCD meeting and surveyed the parking lot in the rain.

by James C. Stephens


Tuesday, October 30, 1973

Saturday,  I went over to Soshibucho’s (Gary Curtis) and talked with him while he was working on refinishing his VW body. He is always busy while talking to members. It’s far out. He told me to either get with it in school or get the hell out. He told me to find a master in my field and related his experience in photography of his similar problems. He also told me what Mr. Fukushima said of getting guidance—1st receive. 2nd Forget. 3rd chant dmk to remember and practice.

 

Wednesday, October 31, 1973

Last night’s Western Territory with Vice President Williams was a fantastic new beginning for Sepulveda Chapter and for each one of us. Russ Dilando was appointed Sepulveda Chapter Chief. I really feel we will definitely advance and further I resolve to help make our Chapter #1 in Shakubuku in the world.

After Mr. Kikimura, Vice President Williams rose to the podium to the Fanfare of the people! Tonight he really more than ever before shined to me. Maybe it’s me changing, but he really hit home. First he talked about the 1974 Convention in San Diego in April. He said we had to have some new thing so we are going to have the Mexico-San Diego Convention on the Ice, so you better start figure skating! “Do you like the idea?” #! Hai!! The theme is NSA entering the Winter and then we’ll have a Brass Band, Koteketai, and Bagpipe parade, ON THE ICE!!!!!!!!! And also a parade down main street. The November General Meeting will be in San Diego.

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Throughout the meeting Mr. Williams related President Ikeda’s guidance to establishing our lives in society. 1974 President Ikeda has named Year of Society. Our society has become the 3 No Society.

  1. No ideology for people to trust.
  2. No emotions. But people with Gohonzon really bring these feelings out of their lives.
  3. No interest. But with us every year you travel, horseback rides, skate or flying across the world.

by James C. Stephens


August 21, 1973

I realize I haven’t written in my diary for awhile, but sometimes it’s difficult to write of your experiences. The Sho-Hondo convention is getting closer everyday. It seems like yesterday it was 200 days until the Convention, now it is just 53 or so days.

About three weeks ago, I was struggling to get my money in for Tozon, now I am really struggling to get the right spirit for reporting to the Dai-Gohonzon and President Ikeda. I have really been chanting for 3 goals I have in front of my Gohonzon. 1) 3 Gojukai by October 1; 2) To play for President Ikeda; 3) To develop a seeking mind and fighting Abutsubo spirit.

I have been getting really incredible benefits. At my one job Benson Jones I got alot of responsibility and developed alot at that job. Remember I was thrown into jail for traffic warrants? Well, I really chanted to do Hendoku-Iyaku on that problem. Just last week I was laid off my job because I wasn’t a fast enough typist. My feeling was fantastic because I was chanting for a way out of that job, because they wanted me to work for a year full time and I wanted to go back to school. Anyway, when my boss laid me off he told me to forget the $122 he’d loaned me to bail me out of jail and on top of that he paid me my regular wages for a weeks work just to look for a new job. Incredible!!!

While I was working at Benson-Jones I took on a second job, which I received guidance from my assistant Chapter Chief Russ Dilando to do. For two weeks I worked two jobs. Sometimes working for 24 hours in a row. It was an experience I will never forget. Those two weeks seem like they lasted for 2 months. It is really strange. On Thursday morning I would get up early, do Gongyo and go to work at 9:00, get off at 6:00, catch a bite to eat on the way to Santa Monica for Band practice, leave at 10:30 to be at work at 11:00. Then at Alphy’s Restaurant I would work my rear off washing dishes continuously for 8 hours. What Human Revolution! Come home between 7 and 8:00, do Morning Gongyo and go to work from 9 to 6:00. Get home from work and hit the sack. Get up at 9:30 or 10:00 do evening Gongyo and go to work at 11:00. After work on Saturday nite I would go to Band and after Band on Sunday go to work again and then the next morning back to work again at my regular job. Some Gongyos were really strange.

One morning I remember chanting and then falling over. I couldn’t help but laugh. Driving to work was a strange experience. One morning I literally had to pull off the road and take a 15 minute nap to be able to make it to work. Even then it was a terrible struggle. I would have definitely continued to work like this for my tozon money, if it hadn’t been for my district chief Mike Lisagor. As I was heading out the door to go to work on a Friday nite, he met me at the door of my car and told me to call in sick. So I didn’t go to work and was consequently fired. Mike told me to depend on the Gohonzon.

I definitely feel that the guidance I followed was the cause to get such a large settlement from the accident my dad and I had last December. I got $800 which paid off my tozon of $650 and also the $450 for my VW.

My health was definitely not too good as a result of all those hours.


 

Sho Hondo: The Grand Main Temple near Mt. Fuji housing the main object of worship of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism.

Dai-Gohonzon: The large wooden object of worship which Nichiren Daishonin carved and inscribed with his name that was enshrined in the Sho-Hondo.

Tozon: Making a pilgrimage to worship the Dai-Gohonzon at the Head Temple Daisekiji, near Fujinomiya, Japan.

Hendoku Iyaku: The practice of “turning poison into medicine,” or obstacles into benefits.