Can punk rock and Buddhism coexist? Can you slam dance with compassion? Noah Levine's Dharma Punx (HarperSanFrancisco) answers the question on the title page, but the journey he relates here is as important as the conclusion. Like many in the vast sea of memoirs, Dharma Punx sets sail in the well-charted waters of addiction and recovery. As a teenager Levine, son of the Buddhist teacher and author Stephen Levine, finds outlets for his rage and depression in punk rock, drugs and alcohol, and crime. But when he wakes up in a padded cell after a suicide attempt, he reconsiders "all the spiritual shit" he'd rejected growing up and turns his rebellion inward. Reminiscent of Jim Carroll's The Basketball Diaries (a lot of friends die), Levine's book eschews sensationalism and self-pity to candidly document his struggles and his ensuing spiritual quest. Determining that "the whole punk movement is based on the Buddha's first noble truth, the truth of suffering," he comes to realize that "the real revolution must take place within one's own mind and heart." Still a punk but now a meditation teacher and youth counselor as well, Levine will discuss Dharma Punx at 7 PM on Wednesday, July 7, at Transitions Bookplace, 1000 W. North, 312-951-7323.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Elisabeth Fall.