Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Surviving Gilligan's Island (without credit)

Probably, if I wanted to add this to my IMDB page, I could. 

Recently, my friend Mu Sang Sunim (pictured all the way on the left in this photograph) brought up a strange, fleeting television appearance he and I had made along with Mu Ryang Sunim, a former monk who also lived in California at the time.

It was, literally, my first day in Los Angeles.  August 2001.  Twelve years ago exactly.  I had been invited to move here at serve as Abbot of Dharma Zen Center.  I had gotten off a plane and been met by these two senior monks in the Kwan Um School of Zen.  As a welcome, they took me to Venice Beach, where we had lunch and then went for a walk by the ocean.

And since it was, after all, Los Angeles, we soon came across a camera crew that considered us interesting.  They were doing on-the-street interviews for a documentary or docudrama entitled Surviving Gilligan's Island.  They asked us a few questions.  Could we remember the theme song?  (Mu Ryang Sunim did!  I didn't, really, but I could whistle.)  Also, as men, did we prefer Ginger or Mary Anne?  Not a monkish subject.  They made us shout "Ginger!" so we did.

We forgot all about it and several months later, I got a call from Reverend Kusala, a monk at the International Buddhist Meditation Center. "Mu Mun!" he said urgently, "You were on television last night!  I think you have a problem."  At first I couldn't even remember, and then realized the Gilligan thing must have aired.  The Reverend Kusala -- a wonderful man but very very serious -- was genuinely alarmed by this "mistake."  But he is also a problem solver, and said, "Here is what I think you should do.  I think you should call your sangha together and just explain everything that happened, maybe you were jet lagged or something, and you didn't know what this was, and you should say it was very unskillful and you apologize."

And in response I said, "But you are a great monk!  Shouldn't you apologize for watching this show?" 

And after that, we all forgot about it again.  For twelve years. And then Mu Sang Sunim asked about it, and I wondered if it got posted on YouTube.  Sure enough:

And there we are, at 51:39 and again at 54:10.

Should I be deleting this post and not telling you about it?  Oh well.  Too late. 


Kelly said...

Dare I admit I'm a major fan of Gilligan's Island? Yes, I am. And I'm not ashamed of it!

Al said...

I'm just trying to figure out what you're supposed to apologize for? Having an opinion about Ginger?

Anonymous said...

just found this - i directed the movie and remember meeting you and asking you the question. thank you again... paul