Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Tosh's Journal - October 22 (Oscar Wilde + Tosh + Lord Alfred Douglas)




TOSH’S JOURNAL

October 22

The love of my life is Bosie. I always felt nervous coming out in such a fashion and then allowing myself to care about a man who, in some circles, is not quite the perfect mate for an older man like me. How much I must take stock in this when he makes comments like “Tosh is the greatest force for evil that has appeared in the World during the last 350 years.” Really?

What did I do to this poor boy? I gave him some luxury necessaries, and most important, culture. I can’t believe I spent seven years with him, and now I’m in ruin, and he has moved on to a marriage like I was an experiment of some sort. He’s the love that dare not speak its name.  I made copies of the letters I sent to him. Those were better days, or were they? I have consistently been at the entrance of happiness, but never actually went through the swinging doors. I have been foolish with my money; in fact, “I fear I must leave; no money, no credit, and a heart of lead.”

I recently wrote to him, begging him to take me back. Why I do this, I haven’t the foggiest idea. Sometimes I wonder if I really loved or in love with him. I think I like the idea of me falling in love with him. That’s a big difference. There were tell-tale signs that this wasn’t meant to be, from the very beginning. Yet, I ignored all the warning signs, and jumped into the fire with both feet, and wearing gasoline as an overcoat to protect me from the coldness that’s life.

Not long ago, I saw him from a distance, and he has changed. What was youthful, and looking at the world in such a bright light, now, his features are turning downward, like he doesn’t want to be recognized as the beautiful man that he once was. Even that, I would take him back. I wish I could understand the nature of love and what nature has done to me. - Tosh Berman

Monday, October 21, 2019

Tosh's Journal - October 21 (Alfred Nobel, Edogawa Rampo & Lux Interior)



TOSH’S JOURNAL

October 21

Alfred Nobel invented dynamite, and he blew up my world. I had dreams every night for a whole year of obtaining the Nobel Prize for literature, and then… I didn’t get it. I brought this up before, but I can’t even begin to tell you how much it has disturbed me. I planned around my life on obtaining the prize, and the way I see it, I should have won. Day-after-day, I put words on a blank page, for not entertaining you dear readers, but to convey to the judges of the Nobel Academy my importance to my field of interest - which of course is (or was) literature. But now, and since I missed out on the award, I’m thinking of quitting writing and becoming a criminal. And no, not a literary outlaw type of criminal, but a true one. I will now devote myself to one purpose, and that one purpose will be destruction. If I can’t build up my world, then I’ll tear everyone else’s pathetic dreams down. If for not anything else, at least we will be placed on the same eye-to-eye level.

As Alfred once said, “Home is where I work, and I work everywhere.” I need to get to follow that advice to the “T,” and we’re not talking about Texas. Whenever something goes boom in the night, I’m the face behind the t-made disaster, even if you can’t see my beautiful face among the smoke. “Justice is to be found only in imagination.” Well, baby, I got a big head full of imagination!

The only one is stopping me from doing what I have to do is Kogoro Akechi, who is considered to be the greatest detective in Japan, and perhaps the world. He is a master of disguises, so I’m not sure who is around me. He can even do gender switches. One moment you’re in bed with a beautiful woman, and you wake up in the morning with a male cop. I get the impression that I’m being followed. Especially when I’m walking around Shinjuku. I often look at a window display, and through the reflection, I see a presence looking at me, and when I turn around, he’s gone. This happens a lot. I once received a letter from Akechi, mentioning that he was a fan of my writing. Even that, I suspect he is just buttering me up so he can nail me in the end. I need to ensure the end doesn’t happen.

When I step in a room, I make sure the keyhole is covered up. He’s not into technology. He likes to get his information from the old-fashioned way by looking through windows, keyholes, and occasionally reading one’s lips from a distance. He’s a very trained individual. Sort of like the shoe repairman, or plumber, he knows his trade well. Without a doubt, he’s an enemy. But an enemy I can respect. He also has manners, Unlike Alfred Nobel, who never delivers his promise.

Akechi and I share similar musical tastes. I have been told through my record store connection that he has been purchasing albums by Don Byas, and I’m not sure if he is doing that to pick up more clues about yours truly, or he has a genuine love for Byas’ music. I did see him once at a Cramps show. Both of us we’re located in the front of the pit, right in front of Lux Interior, and we both got red wine spilled on us. Lux had the bottle in his mouth, and he spat out the bottle as well as the wine. Both of us were wearing white suits, and since we were dressed alike, we also had the same splatter of wine stains as well.

To be terrorized, yet committing terrorism, is my lifestyle now. I will wander the landscape, and yet, I must keep my eyes open for Kogoro Akechi because, like Bob Ford shooting Jesse James, I must be vigilant and on guard at all times.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Tosh's Journal - October 20 (Tribute to Jean-Pierre Melville)




TOSH’S JOURNAL

October 20

The films I make are easily misunderstood. “I move from realism to fantasy without the spectator ever noticing.” I drive a 1967 Rambler through the streets of Shi-mo-ki-ta-za-wa, looking for landscapes to use for my films. So far, I have made three movies, and the filmgoer has pretty much accepted all of them. On the other hand, I don’t care if they like them or not. I know shit. I want to have fun, you know. “I like to take risks. My films never follow the current trend.” Perhaps that is the reason why I lost my audience.

My current film project is to do a film based on Arthur Rimbaud’s “A Season in Hell,” starring the musician Ivo Pogorelić. It was a matter of entering Hell itself to get funding for the film, but due to the success of “Le Samourai,” I found backers from a small theater group in Shimokitazawa, who want to expand their theater into the cinema world. Besides having a great looking star, Ivo is also going to supply the soundtrack, which will be mostly music by Chopin. The producers (the theater people) want to change the title to “Unhappiness Was My God.” To me, it sounds a touch pretentious, mostly due that I like crime films, with their short to the point titles. Some say poetry is the cinema, but I find it to be more suitable for the pulp crime narrative. So in my script, I have changed Rimbaud’s poetic prose into hard-boiled dialogue. It should work, especially coming from Ivo’s mouth.

The beauty of this project is the fact that it will be my last film. One reason why I’m attached to “A Season in Hell” is because it was Rimbaud’s last book. Doing art is a bit like a slow death. I can stall the mortal moment when the end comes, by doing more work, but I think to have a small number of films under my name, will serve my purpose, artistically and financially in the long (short) run. “By being too sensitive, I have wasted my life.

” On the other hand, my “artistic” life is doing fine. The more I personally suffer, the higher my work becomes. It’s a double-edged sword, but I rather have good work than happiness anyway.

“In the morning, I had a look so lost, a face so dead, that perhaps those whom I met did not see me.” It is hard to drive my Rambler on the streets of Shimokitazawa, due to the smallness of the roads here, which are more like alleys that lead to nowhere and one comes back to a full circle. “A Season in Hell” (my version) is based on driving around here and trying to look for a parking spot. I can never find one, so I continue to drive around and around. Ivo is going to play the driver as he recites critical phrases from the Rimbaud book. He will dress like a French gangster, and I’m also thinking of adding some prose from a David Goodis novel as well. The juxtaposition of Rimbaud and Goodis’ text together can cause a certain amount of tension that will be good for the film.

I will mostly be shooting at night because I feel the material doesn’t work in the daylight. I’m also putting this in my contract that the film must be shown only at nighttime. Even if the theater is dark, I want people to leave the theater and find darkness outside instead of daylight. Everything must work in unison. My last film must be perfect. There is no second act in a European’s life. Once the film is finished, viewers can see my blood on the screen. Due that it takes everything I have to make a film like “Unhappiness Was My God.” The only high I have in life is to watch the finished work, due to the fact “I never drink … wine.”

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Tosh's Journal - October 19 (Crazy Cats, Tokyo Japan)



TOSH’S JOURNAL

October 19

I’m alone. There is not anyone here. To feel alone is a high. Human beings, by their nature, are social animals. My needs are food and something to read. Other than that, I have very little interest in anything else. By habit, I like to wander around Tokyo, but usually, I don’t give a thought to where I’  ’m going or what direction. I walk out the door of my family home here, and I go either left or right. I never have regrets if I make the wrong decision. Or give it special meaning if something fantastic happened on that trip. My life is simply an act of reflecting and then moving on as fast as I can.

As I mentioned, I have been out of work for the past two years. When I worked, I was a good worker; in fact, my co-workers were satisfied with me. But then I decided to change. There was no reason why I did so. I just woke up and chose not to go to work. I needed the money (still do by the way), but I said to myself, “Nah, I’m not going to work.” It was just an odd moment because there was nothing in my past or present that would make me follow such a crazy impulse. I only did something like that once before, when after a sound night’s sleep, I woke up and then sold my car and never drove since then. Why? Because I needed to leap into the unknown, but I never studied my impulses. I’m a creature of habit, but at times and unexpectedly, I can make the change into practice as well.

So here I’m in Tokyo, and I haven’t the foggiest idea of what I’m going to do in the future -meaning next year, next month, next week, and tomorrow… if I can throw that in as well. I won’t let myself be swallowed by self-doubt, because I go with the wind.

Around 25 years ago, I went to a movie theater in Tokyo that had a tatami mat, which means all customers had to take their shoes off before entering the theater. There were giant steps in front of the film screen, so everyone just sat on the tatami mat, or if they wanted to, they could easily lay down and look up at the screen. The film they were showing was such a remarkable work, and to this day, I don’t know the title of this film. All I can tell you that it starred Hitoshi Ueki and his band Crazy Cats. What is interesting about him and them is that they were musicians first, and then became successful comic actors as well. Watching the film, it reminded me of Frank Tashlin’s work with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. The beauty of the film is the fact that it looked like a comic strip taking place in front of my eyes. The location where the film is set is in Shinbashi, traditionally the playground for the salaryman.

I think back at that film presentation because now I’m obsessed with capturing the moment when Ueki walks down the street in Shinbashi, not having a care in the world. He just left his job, or what one thinks may have been his job. For all, I know he may only come into the office to have a free cup of coffee or green tea. By the expressions of the co-workers, they may have never seen him before. Therefore he takes up the character of a salaryman as one takes an identity out of one’s closet.

He was that type of character in all of the Crazy Cat films. The illusion of music being played in a small traditional Japanese bar that may fit five or six people, all of a sudden turns into a big-budgeted Broadway musical. Time and place are expanded just by whatever hits Ueki’s mood. Therefore when I walk on the streets of Shinbashi, I too will live in Hitoshi Ueki’s shadow.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Tosh's Journal - October 18 (Lee Harvey Oswald, Shinbashi, Lotte Lenya)



TOSH’S JOURNAL

October 18

“To exist to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.” I keep that in mind as I wander through an empty parking lot in Shinbashi, looking for a Chinese restaurant that is placed on the third floor. It is a Saturday night and not a person’s insight. Alas, the restaurant is closed.  After 20 minutes of walking overpasses that connect the large boulevard and then down steep stairs to the entrance of the lot, and then to climb two staircases to reach the floor of the restaurant - and it being closed seemed to be a slight miscalculation on my part. I should have known that these types of businesses are closed on a Saturday night. Also, it has been noted to me that this specific restaurant is the oddest eating joint in Tokyo. Shinbashi, a business district in Tokyo, is famous to me, due to the Japanese film series “The Crazy-Cats, which is a combination of Martin & Lewis mixed in with the world of the Salarymen. A lot of the key scenes in the film series were shot in this part of Tokyo.

On my journey here and on the streets of Shinbashi, I kept hearing the voice of Bobby Troup and Anita O’Day singing a duet. Oddly I don’t think they ever made a record together. Yet, in my mind, I can hear both voices singing, perhaps “On Route 66.” I always have that talent of taking something that is out there and somehow making it mine. I look at the world as one big reference library, and I’m just a guy roaming around the stack and aisles of ideas, trying to connect “C” to “Q.” For instance, I could have sworn that there was or is a store that is devoted to Lee Harvey Oswald as an iconic figure. Not that far from Marilyn Monroe or Elvis. His presence becomes more important than who he was. The more literature out on Oswald, the more obscure he gets, and eventually, he becomes a symbol that is empty.   Yet we know he is part of a landscape that caused either pain or awareness that things will never be the same again.

I was drinking a bottle of Chinese sake, which causes me to lose time and memory. Or even oddly enough, causes me to make my memory up. Therefore this Oswald store may not even exist. But why do I clearly remember the key chain being sold at this store that represented the foreign-made rifle as well as his image (the mug shot) after he got arrested for murdering the Dallas cop. There is something of a Huell Howser in me that likes to see Tokyo as a series of objects that somehow people contain these objects as livable space. It seems impossible, yet here I’m, slightly dazed and of course, confused.

Lotte Lenya of Berlin could easily be part of the Tokyo landscape, as well. Never have I ever been in a city where one can watch the daily life of going to work, being at work, and then going to Shinbashi, before going home for dinner.  Having that quick drink of beer or sake, as you gather dutch courage to make it back and knowing you will be facing the exact actions the very next day.  Ms. Lenya (Weill) had the power to convey the struggles of the mice against the machine that is society. “Metropolis” has many forms and disguises, and I see it here in Shinbashi, as I can still smell the tension of the new high-rises fighting against the low-life, and culinary level of the eating places that serve the white-collar worker. I always inspired to be the A. J. Liebling of Tokyo where “I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write faster than anybody who can write better.” To document time as it passes by me, in such a violent manner, is truly being alive at the very moment of realizing that this is it.

My only refined moment is to attach my earphones to my ears and listen to the sarcastic voice of Catherine Ringer, and I wander the streets of Shinbashi. I’ll never go back to that Chinese restaurant in a vacant parking lot, nor be able to find the Lee Harvey Oswald store, that again, could have been part of my imagination - as well as the Chinese restaurant. All I know is that I can express myself in a world that may not exist.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Tosh's Journal - October 17 (Montgomery Clift, Nathanael West, & Miss Lo...



TOSH'S JOURNAL

October 17

I’m drinking coffee here at the Meguro headquarters and reading the letters sent to Miss Lonelyhearts. Since I’m über-broke at the moment (and more likely for the rest of my life), I have been writing for The Japan Times, and they recently gave me the job of writing the Miss Lonelyhearts column. The column runs every Tuesday, so the work is not all that demanding, but I must go through 100 letters or more per week, and it kills my creative fun reading time. On the other hand, the letters are entertaining as well as a touch creepy from time-to-time. All the correspondence is from throughout Japan.  All, if not most, are written by foreigners, which are no surprise since the paper is orientated to the English language. I didn’t realize how many people are lonely here in Japan, and most of it is due that they don’t know the language or culture here. Me I just a visitor myself… so how in the hell can I give these people advice? For example:


Miss Lonelyhearts,

“I have been living in the Kyoto area for about ten years, and I have been teaching English for six out of those ten years. The problem is I have a big crush on my boss, who is Japanese, and really can’t speak English. I can only speak English, and I’m having a hard time conveying my need for attention from him. I suspect he’s married. I know he likes whiskey and water - and that is about him. Am I wrong to feel something special for my boss? Elizabeth"

“Dear Elizabeth,

At the end of the day, all we know is that the sun goes up and the sun comes down, around dusk. Beyond that, what do we know? I hope my answer helps you.” Best, Miss Lonelyhearts


“Miss Lonelyhearts,

I feel terrible. I’m 45 years old, have a young son, and a wife. We moved here from Billings, Montana, so that I can work in the computer field in Hakata. For the past month, I have been having an affair with a co-worker who works under me. She is much younger, fun, and I enjoy being here with her. The thing is I don’t love her; I just like having sex with her. The terrible situation is that I have lately been short on money, and I find myself time-to-time going through my wife’s purse for extra cash here-and-there for my dates with the co-worker. I know this is wrong. I often feel guilty, but this somewhat makes the sex better with my co-worker - at least on my part. I don’t think I should feel this way, yet, damn the torpedoes! I am going to hell. Can you give me some sane advice? I know this is WRONG. Best, Burt from Hakata”


“Dear Burt,

Pain is a four-letter word. We all have felt the pain, yet pain is hard to overcome. Yet, surely, as the wave hits the beach, we must go on. I hope that this answer helps you. Best, Miss Lonelyhearts"

I have consistently been told that I have a comforting presence, especially with girls who are going through terrible breakups with either their husbands or boyfriends. I appear to be there when some sort of disturbance happens. More like instinct is at work than planning out my life to fulfill someone’s misery. But writing letters to people, I don’t know, or even know if these problems are real or just a projection of what they need or want in life… I think the big question is, “what is life?” And I do ask that to myself all the time. The answer, to be frank, is that I don’t care. I don’t care about the people who write to me. Nor do I care about my friends who are going through difficulties. All I know is that I have to look like I care, and therefore I do care, but I know, deep down, that I don’t care.

I hate myself for not caring. I think to be human to be concerned about your fellow suffers. Yet, when the moment arrives, I know how to act like I’m caring. When you get down to it, I don’t know myself that well, and therefore you shouldn’t either.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Tosh's Journal: October 15 (Kato, Michel Foucault, S.S. Van Dine, & P.G....




TOSH’S JOURNAL

October 15

“The Voice of love seemed to call me, but it was the wrong number.” That seems to happen a lot in my life, and yet, I tend to keep moving on. Although I have been financially strapped for a while now, I still keep a man-servant with me. I had to sell off my rare vinyl and books, but I think I made the right choice. A butler is a sort of combination of spiritual advisor as well as taking care of one’s schedule and clothing. In a way, it is like an I-Phone, but I prefer the human touch to the mechanical one. Kato was born in Kobe, and eventually ended up in Los Angeles as a student of the English language and to study the fine art of Judo. When he was thrown out of language school, due to an overnight game of Go, where some say he swindled various participants of their parent’s pension money.

Nevertheless, I hired him as a butler, and he moved in with me in my single room apartment at the time off Melrose Avenue. Over time I got married, and people come and go in my life, but my butler remained with me thick and thin. And due to his cooking, the thin part is losing out to a considerable amount of fat. Even though I’m suffering from the physical point, I’m gaining in a peace-of-mind that is opening doors left and right for me. Of course, eventually those doors shut tight as soon as I leave the exit, but I go through life as an experience, and not as a result.

I began to write a detective novel that is based on my life. Not the case itself, God no, I never even seen a dead body before, but the fictional detective is based on my character. I’m not one of those writers that can write third person, only first-person narratives. Even when I dream, it is me watching the dream unfolding in front of my eyes. I’m in the audience, and oddly enough, the figures in my dream narratives are not based on people I know. They are usually an archetype of a specific type of person — usually the slut, the loser, and so forth. But when I awake, I can’t write the narrative as a nameless observer. I need to be in the story as well, and it has to be told from my point-of-view. Therefore my character is a foppish dandy and one who is part of society that is slowly decaying. As people who know me, decay is very much a process in life that I find fascinating. Kato always supplies me with clothing that is slightly worn or torn even. Maybe the collar is even moderately stained. It’s imperative to show life as it moves from one plane to another - and a detective murder narrative is very much part of that world. For instance, I come upon a room where there is a lifeless body, and my detective character comments and to quote from my book “The Canary Murder Case”: “Why the haste, old dear?” I asked yawning. “The chap’s dead, don’t y’ know; he can’t possibly run away.”

When you have a man-servant, one takes a stand in life that says I’m going to drink that cup of life and not find a dead beetle at the bottom. The ability to transform oneself into something hopefully better is one of the great things regarding to be alive in such a horror show of a world. “I don’t feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning.” And there lie the great adventures that come upon us.  As we slip into a world that looks like the outside. It is an inner landscape that Kato and I dwell in. I once asked Kato if “trousers matter?” He told me that “the mood will pass, sir.” - Tosh Berman

Book Musik: "Year of the Monkey" by Patti Smith


Tosh and Kimley discuss Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith. As a punk rock icon, she rocked our impressionable teenage souls and now she’s taking us on a dreamy literary excursion with her latest memoir. Patti Smith may be best known for her groundbreaking albums “Horses” and “Easter,” but we find that her latest writing takes her to an even higher plane. She shares the ups and downs, both personal and global, of the year 2016 – the Year of the Monkey.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Tosh's Journal - October 14 (Pooh the Bear, Cliff Richard & The Shadows,...



TOSH’S JOURNAL

October 14
“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” I followed that advice to a “T” and it left me miserable and quite alone. But alone is perfectly OK, because I can’t stand the mindless chatter of my fellow citizens, even if it is to go from point A to Z, there is too much noise that goes with it. To find that one piece of silence and to be able to groove with it, ah, that’s amore! Even poetry is way too loud for me. I recently picked up a book of collected poems by e.e. Cummings, and man is he unnecessary loud or what? “Yours is the light by which my spirit’s born: - you are my sun, my moon, and all my stars.” Total shite. When you compare it to Dean Martin’s song and to quote:

“When the moon hits your eye

Like a big pizza pie, that’s amore

When the world seems to shine

Like you’ve had too much wine, that’s amore.”

The above song is blaring, but it also fits perfectly as a form or stanza. The e.e. cummings poem is also a lie. I don’t believe him when he writes such sentiment - even he was a life long Republican who supported Joseph McCarthy, so fuck him anyway. On the other hand, the Dino song perfectly reflects a realistic approach to life, that doesn’t make moral demands on one’s ability to love or not to love.

Even that, I need to secure myself from the brutality that lies in front of me. Life, to me, is a series of elimination. There is such a thing in having too much. When you have it all, you forget where you’re standing, and therefore space becomes more important than the clutter that surrounds you. As a child, my mother read me “The House of Pooh Corner,” and there is a segment that explains everything important in my life. To quote”

“...” But what I like doing best is Nothing.” “How do you do Nothing?” asked Pooh, after he had wondered for a long time. “Well, it’s when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it, What are you going to do Christopher Robin, and you say, Oh, nothing, and you go and do it.” “Oh, I see,” said Pooh. “This is a nothing sort of thing that we’re doing right now.” “Oh, I see,” said Pooh again. “It means just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear and not bothering.” “Oh!” said Pooh.”

Now that’s amore! La Monte Young had a conceptual piece that was equally important to me. He recommended to draw a straight line and follow it. That, and his composition “The Well-Tuned Piano,” which in a typical performance can last five to six hours - is just heaven to me. There is no beginning, and no end, just an existence where you float upon what’s inside your head, and only the beat of your heart is the only rhythm one needs.

For the past ten or so years, I have been listening to Cliff and The Shadows, trying to bring myself closer to a culture that I understood being essential to one’s mindset. I even danced in front of the mirror, imitating the choreography of that band’s intimate and quite beautiful dancing, but even that, I was hearing someone else’s noise, and I needed to live and reflect on my “noise” than someone else’s. Therefore the dream that is in front of me is one of my own makings, and with that knowledge, I jump in with both feet and not a thought in my head. - Tosh Berman

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Tosh's Journal - October 13 (Lenny Bruce & Emil Cioran)




TOSH’S JOURNAL

October 13

“I’ve invented nothing; I’ve simply been the secretary of my sensations.” As I walk around Asakusa, I found the theater where Lenny Bruce performed, totally in English on Rokku-Broadway. It’s an area that is full of small theaters, and it is regarded as the home of 19th and 20th century Japanese comedy. Bruce, being the king of American stand-up comedy, decided to do a show here in the late 1950s, but did his act in English. Ten or so years after Japan surrendered to the United States, this series of islands had to cope with another alien invasion. What I have read is that he bombed at the Toyo Gekijo theater. It wasn’t his subject matter, but the fact that he insisted on doing the entire act in English, which in the 1950s, was not a common second language in Japan.

Nevertheless, it is not what he says that is so great, but how he says it. I rarely follow his narratives, but instead, I’m glued to the visuals of the man on stage. The way he snaps his fingers in key lines, it is virtually done to wake one up in the audience. In other words, he’s absolute music to me. But as a visitor or tourist, I tend to like to see performances in languages other than English. And English is the only language I know. And what I know beyond language is music and visuals. So in that sense and my thinking, Tokyo is the perfect landscape for me. Here, I can enjoy my misery in peace because chaos is all around me. I can’t figure out how to work with anything here. Toilets are impossible. So many push buttons to push, but all in kanji, so I can’t read what it is for or even why. But on the other hand, “Chaos is rejecting all you have learned, Chaos is being yourself.”

I went to the “Band of Outsiders” cafe in Shibuya, which is a venue devoted to Jean-Luc Godard’s film “Band à part.” It’s an interesting place because all the customers here are encouraged to speak only lines from that film (in Japanese), and of course, at 9 PM every Tuesday night, there is the famous line-dance done in the movie. Sometimes there are up to 15 people doing an exact imitation of the dance done by Anna Karina, Sami Frey, and Claude Brasseur. With a few glasses of sake, I get the encouragement to join the dance. In my mind, I try to imagine Lenny Bruce dancing as well. I snapped my fingers like everyone else in the dance, but my thoughts are not on that film scene, but Lenny, as he performed in front of an indifferent Asakusa audience.

“The fact that life has no meaning is a reason to live — moreover, the only one.” Therefore I venture into the night and try to find substance, but alas, even that, is just an illusion. Yet, the beauty of the moment of getting lost, or having the mist of the rain hit your face, is truly what to live for. “Melancholy: an appetite, no misery satisfies.” I go to Disk Union Shibuya, down to the basement in their jazz store, to hear the melancholy playing by Art Tatum, and suddenly remembered that my life is full of right turns when I’m left-handed. No wonder I don’t connect to this world. And happily so.

- Tosh Berman

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Tosh's Journal - October 12 (Doc Savage & Aleister Crowley)




TOSH’S JOURNAL

October 12

The voice of Aiwass came upon me as I about to fall asleep. It finds out about me when I’m either in the mood of exalted hope or dread. “The voice was of deep timbre, musical and expressive. It tones solemn, voluptuous, tender, fierce, or aught else as suited the moods of the message.” He, and it is for sure a male, speaks in English and very clearly, without an accent that can pinpoint where the voice came from. The voice seems to come from the corner of my bedroom. He’s not there or here, but alas, in my heart and soul. I imagine Aiwass as an “angel,” but one who looks over me. He recites me tales that I write down, and therefore I become known as Clark Savage, Jr.

I was raised since birth by my father (perhaps Aiwass) and other scientists to become the most shining example of a human being concerning physical strength, intelligence, and physical fighting skills. In other words, a perfect human being. I’m a physician, surgeon, scientist, adventurer, inventor, explorer, researcher, and a poet.

Needing a headquarters, I set up a lab and living area on the 86th floor at the Empire State Building in New York City. No one can be a living fort by itself, so, therefore, I have five assistants:

- Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Blodgett “Monk” Mayfair, an industrial chemist.

- Brigadier General Theodore Marley “Ham” Brooks, an accomplished attorney.

-Colonel John “Renny” Renwick, a construction engineer.

-Major Thomas J. “Long Tom” Roberts, an electrical engineer

-William Harper “Johnny” Littlejohn, an archaeologist and geologist.

I watch over conditions in Palestine, Guantanamo Bay, and elsewhere where evil is being done in the name of “good.” In a world of shadows, I hear Aiwass, and he tells me wise ways. It angers me that my fellow citizens think Aiwass as a subjective presence in my life, when, in fact, he’s entirely objective in his manner in communicating with me. My assistants and I stand ready to battle the wrong and turn it into a right. Let me make this pledge to you:

“Let me strive every moment of my life to make myself better and better, to the best of my ability, that all may profit by it. Let me think of the right and lend all my assistance to those who need it, with no regard for anything but justice. Let me take what comes with a smile, without loss of courage. Let me be considerate of my country, of my fellow citizens and my associates in everything I say and do. Let me do right to all, and wrong no man.”

With my headquarters on the 86th floor, I have a private high-speed elevator that leads to my fleet of cars, trucks, aircraft, and boats. I will use all my strength and wisdom in bringing justice to a world that laughs at common decency. “In the absence of willpower, the most complete collection of virtues and talents is wholly worthless.” I have the will to do what I have to do. As for faith, “I slept with faith and found a corpse in my arms on awakening; I drank and danced all night with doubt and found her a virgin in the morning.” Or in other words, “I have never grown out of the infantile belief that the universe was made for me to suck.”

So my assistants and I go in my limousine and play “New Rose” by The Damned, and I try to see the world as a reflection of my soul, which I share with Aiwass. There goes the night. - Tosh Berman

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Tosh's Journal - October 5 (On James Bond's Dr. No)




TOSH’S JOURNAL

October 5

“Dr. No” was not only the first James Bond film, but the first film after my dad took me to see after forcing the movie theater in Larkspur to let me in to see Roger Vadim’s “And God Created Woman.” Most parents or fathers, to be specific, usually take their children to see Disney films or family-like narratives. Not my father, he wanted to take me to see “Dr. No.” It was at the Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, and the location was just magical. I was 8-years old and knew the importance of movie stars, even at that young age. I knew that they were important because their handprints were on the pavement in front of the entrance. At that time, I wasn’t conscious of the names, but I just knew that these people were really something. Also, I knew that some were dead at that point, and never experiencing death at that time, though it was a tad creepy. To leave one’s handprints after they go on to the other “world.” With that in mind, I entered the palace of dreams to see one’s nightmare.

The Oriental setting of the theater was perfect for Dr. No. Bond was pleasurable, but Dr. No was better. I identified with the villain because one, he expressed a world that I didn’t know, but by instinct, I knew that it would be a better adventure. Dr. No was the son of a German missionary, who abandoned him and his mother, a Chinese girl with a good family. He eventually ended up as a member of the Tongs, but working for himself; he stole funds from the gang. They eventually caught up with him, and to torture No, they chopped his hands off. Over time, he had hands made of metal that was able to crush metal figurines with them. The fact that he was a freak and outsider had a massive appeal for me. He was evil but understandable. “What is a monster? A being whose survival is incompatible with the existing order.”

As I grew older, and after my father passed away, I think of that film as an object that I shared with him. The trauma of the loss made me wary of having objects once owned by him, but at least in theory or idea, I have “Dr. No” to share with him. That particular piece of art had a profound effect on me on many levels. I became a fan of American noir films due to the theme of the outsider being forced by fellow citizens to take action in a manner that is perhaps not correct or right. Nonetheless, who can decide such decisions as one goes through life wearing blinders like a mistreated horse in Central Park. I tend to see the world in black and white. Not because of the duality of those two non-colors, but more about the levels of gray that come up in such an image. I spend life in the gray area, not in the world of absolute fact.

I recently started to collect film stock that was shot or photographed by John Alton, the Prince of photographic shadows. Through his eyes, I can see the origins of Dr. No’s world - not exactly as exotic, but in substance very toxic in its vision of purity gone wrong. My favorite actor of that period is John Hoyt, whose face seems to be made in celluloid perfection for Mr. Alton. I can never remember the narration because that has traditionally been the least of my interests while watching a film. Nevertheless, the face and how it is projected on the screen is what I find interesting. Even with “Dr. No” I have no recollection of the plot. Just the image of Dr. No reflecting on his metal hands. That says more to me than anything in this world.

Fashion Forward: The Sounds of Los Angeles' Visionary Les Sewing Sisters by Keith Walsh

Photo by Stevo Rood (ARood Photo)

Here's an interview with my wife Lun*na Menoh about her Les Sewing Sisters' project:


Frontier Cabin from "TOSH: Growing Up in Wallace Berman's World"


Thanks to Gregory Fullerton for finding the original ad that suckered me (and my dad) into buying a log cabin when I was a very small boy. I wrote about it in my memoir "TOSH: Growing up In Wallace Berman's World" (City Lights). Even looking at it now, I still want to send $1 to this company for their log cabin. One of the first times in my life where I came to terms with the word 'disappointment.' - Tosh Berman

Friday, October 4, 2019

Tosh's Journal - October 4 (A plea for supporting Tosh Berman for a Nobe...



TOSH’S JOURNAL

October 4

“I long ago came to the conclusion that all life is 6 to 5 against.” I have to tell ya, I’m at the end of my rope, and it fits my neck perfectly. But that’s OK because I’m keeping my eye on the ball, and I’m not going to lose that ball. So far, I have put out two books: “Sparks-Tastic” and “The Plum in Mr. Blum’s Pudding.” One work is a non-fiction account of yours truly following a band (Sparks) I love in London, and the other book is a collection of poetry written in Japan. At this point and time, and looking at my bank balance, I really need to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.

 I haven’t worked at a paying job since 2012. At this time, I have lived on my wit and charm, but that can only go so far in today’s world. I somehow managed to purchase (well borrowed, to be honest) money to pay a one-way ticket to Tokyo, hopefully, to find not an adventure, but some sort of moolah. My only talent is to be able to write. I’m really bad at showing up at work or even working with co-workers. Usually, I’m despised by my fellow citizens of the time-clock, and I mostly made some dough on the side, by running an on-going crap game in the employee room at a specific retail store, even to this day, I can’t mention.

I’m the guy who came from nowhere - and I wasn’t going anywhere, but somehow I got I kicked off somewhere. At times, I feel like the dice are loaded, but not towards my favor. So dear people, my readers, and Facebook friends - I just need to ask you a favor.

I really do need to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, and I can’t wait till next year, because there may not be the next year for me. It needs to be this year. Now, as I see it, my main competitor is the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. I came to Tokyo to plead with him not to accept the award if he is the chosen one. I ask, because I need the attention, and even more critical the cash prize that goes with this award. As I last heard, the award amount is now $1,100,000.00. Now, if I get the award (and the money), this will enable me to do nothing but write. I know you, people, out there are enjoying my daily postings on my blog and Facebook, and I have to remind you that I’m not being paid for this work. I did have an agreement with Facebook C.E.O. Mark Zuckerberg to get a certain amount of payment if people out there pushing “like” on my page. Sadly I didn’t get enough “likes” for his taste. That is what I get for working for a guy who was born in 1984 ... if you get my drift.

So now, I must call upon you. All of you. I want you to write a letter or e-mail to the Swedish Academy in Sweden and comment that “Tosh Berman should win this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature.” That is all you have to mention. I did send copies of my book to the Academy, so they know who I am. I understand that some members of the Swedish Academy even “liked” my page. Also, if you can, please do “like” this post, because that too could bring attention to the Swedish Academy. Also, it has been noted that the Academy has, at times, awarded writers who lean to the left. Well, I’m here to let you know that I’m a hardcore leftie. I don’t believe in any political party in the United States. Pro two-state solution for Israel and Palestine (hardcore pro-Palestine by the way), and for every left-wing movements that took place in Central, South, and North America. So I should fit in their category of a writer who does ‘good’ in their writing.

Here is their address:

The Swedish Academy

P.O. Box 2118

SE-103 13 Stockholm



Their e-mail address is sekretariat@svenskaakademien.se.

Do write to them, and tell them that you demand that Tosh Berman should win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Come on, people. You have read my books, you have enjoyed my daily writings here, so please do something and help support a fellow writer. A fellow artist. A fellow human being.

Also, if you can “like” (if you’re reading this on Facebook) this post, it may help me as well.


Thank you (in advance),


Tosh Berman

Writer

"A Short Treatise Inviting The Reader To Discover The Subtle Art of Go" by Pierre Lusson, Georges Perec, and Jacques Roubaud (Wakefield Press)

The Asian game GO is sometimes thought of like a brother/sister to Chess. Pierre Lusson, Georges Perec, and Jacques Roubaud think that's hogwash. In this funny beautifully designed book, the gods of the Oulipian world express their take on one of the oldest games on this planet. The book serves as a manual on how to play, but I think to most readers it's a witty take on game-playing as well as how literature plays into that landscape. There are moments of hysterical humor, and the writing of the book (not sure who did what?) is almost a parody, exposes deeper appreciation of game-playing as one does in everyday life. A remarkable little book.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Tosh's Journal: October 3 (the Mickey Mouse Fan Club)



TOSH’S JOURNAL

October 3

Throughout my life, I have been fond of the Charlie Chan film series and the Flash Gordon serials as well. One of the things that I picked up from my father’s generation is the love of the adventurer who faces the deadly Orient. That far-off culture that is wise and smart (Charlie Chan) and ruthlessly evil as well (Ming the Merciless and Fu Manchu). As a child, one is approached by the things he sees on the massive (cinema) and small (TV) screen. It is not just one angle, but the fact that my entire culture is based on a fantasy of some sort. When I was a child, evilness came from the Orient. I used to play on the streets of San Francisco Chinatown, thinking of myself as Flash Gordon battling the aliens that were invading Earth - which was basically, from my perspective, a very white planet at the time.

What is fascinating is that the actor Charles Middleton (Ming) and Warner Oland (Charlie Chan) were white. Both played a character from the Orient. At the time, even in my childhood, I knew that these actors were non-Asian, but it never bothered or broke the fantasy for me. I was living in a world that was totally one-dimensional. Even though my parents knew and were friends of people who were otherwise not white, I still felt like I was in a white world, and that was the only world that existed. I never even question it.

The only TV show I watched as a child was the Mickey Mouse Fan Club. I was fascinated with the show because I felt that the kids on the show were like me. White. I wouldn’t have been upset if an Asian or black child would be on the show, but the fact that the issue never came up is an interesting way to examine that world. Children from all over the world probably belong to the Mickey Mouse Club, but what does that mean? But even that, the kids on the show were exotic to me. It was white, but it was a weird “white” to me. I didn’t belong to that culture. My “culture” was to adopt characters that I was fond of and pretend to be that person, as I marched up and down Grand Avenue, Chinatown lost in my fantasy of chasing dragons and monsters - mostly who were produced in the mysterious Orient. There was something sinister about the Mickey Mouse Club, but I could never put my finger on it. For one, the theme song written by Jimmie Dodd, who can be seen as the auteur of the Mickey Club clan. Probably the first song that I have ever sung to myself: and I would also sing along with Jimmie at the end of the show as well. The lyrics are:



Who’s the leader of the club that’s made for you and me?

M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E

Hey there, Hi there, Ho there! You’re as welcome as can be!

M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E

Mickey Mouse! (Donald Duck!)

Mickey Mouse! (Donald Duck!)

Forever let us hold our banners high,

High, high, high!

Come along and sing a song and join the jamboree!

M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E

Mickey Mouse Club!

Mickey Mouse Club!

We’ll have fun

We’ll meet new faces

We’ll do things, and we’ll go places

All around the world we’re marching...



Who’s the leader of the club that’s made for you and me?

M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E

Hey there, Hi there, Ho there! You’re as welcome as can be!

M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E

Mickey Mouse! (Donald Duck!)

Mickey Mouse! (Donald Duck!)

Forever let us hold our banners high

High, high, high!

Come along and sing the song and join the jamboree!

M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E

Yeah, Mickey!

Yeah, Mickey!

Yeah, Mickey Mouse Club!



Spoken:

Now Mouseketeers

There’s one thing we want you

Always to remember



Come along and sing our song

and join our family



M-I-C

K-E-Y

M-O-U-S-E



Through the years we’ll all

Be friends

Wherever we may be

M-I-C

K-E-Y

M-O-U-S-E



Mickey Mouse

Mickey Mouse

Forever let us hold our

Banner high



Now it’s time to say goodbye

To all our company



M-I-C

Spoken:

See you real soon

K-E-Y

Spoken:

Why? Because we like you!

M-O-U-S-E


Jimmie was in charge of the club.  He was a role model for the kids on and off the screen. Not only was he like that on the show, but also the cast was invited to his house for backyard barbecues and sing-alongs. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my love for the Orient made me aware of another world than the one that was projected into our house. There are many levels of illusion, and this is only one. As a child, I founded something quite creepy about Jimmie Dodd and his Mouse theme song. I didn’t know why, but over a short period, I realized that Ming the Merciless meant more to me than the Mickey Mouse Club. It didn’t damage me, but I know that there was a whole world out there, and I became interested in knowing where Charlie Chan and Ming came from. Totally fictional characters, I do know that, but I was curious about how they came to be in my culture. Over time, I realized that I wasn’t the focus of the world’s attention. That I was pretending to be Flash Gordon, which in fact, I much preferred Ming. It is incredible to think that the “American” culture can bring such great geniuses like Eddie Cochran, yet one would define themselves as a world that was made up of “white culture.” Not saying that it’s terrible, but actually, kind of evil when you think of it. And with that in mind, I realized that I am part of an immoral culture that doesn’t even know why it is doing what it does. To this day, we tend to see the other world as indeed “other.” When in fact we’re projecting that image to suit our purposes either by our stupidity or naiveness. As Eddie would say “, that’s really something.”

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Tosh's Journal: October 2 (Richard Hell, Wallace Stevens, Jack Parsons, ...



TOSH’S JOURNAL (Richard Hell, Wallace Stevens, Jack Parsons, & Graham Greene)

October 2

“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.” This evening was me wandering around the ground floor of the Shinjuku station with my eyes closed and just having the crowd pull me in the direction of not my choice. For once, I didn’t want to be conscious of where I was going, and closing my eyes at the point when everyone is leaving the station after the trains arrived was an excellent way to look for direction.

I opened my eyes at the staircase that leads one to the east exit of the station, and I felt “human nature is like water. It takes the shape of its container.” So this is where I’m, and this is the direction I should take. I walked up the stairs and came upon a series of neon lights. It was close to 8 in the evening, and I found myself at the Kinokuniya Bookstore in Shinjuku-Dori. Without a thought in my head, I found myself on the sixth floor in the English books section. It seemed that they had every edition of Graham Greene’s “Ways of Escape,” and I found this passage in the book: “Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic, and fear which is inherent in a human situation.” I have to say he makes a good point. As I read on, among the crowd there, I came upon another quotation: “But it is impossible to go through life without trust; that is to be imprisoned in the worst cell of all, oneself.” Alas, that is true, but I can only find solitude and happiness when I’m, or what one calls, “oneself.”

I’m stranded. As a fellow spy, Graham knows that the world of solitude is the only place one can feel at home. Happy at home? Happiness is an illusion, and I don’t believe in magic unless it’s connected to Jack Parsons, a fellow traveler of pleasure. To project oneself by the power of the mind and imagination is not that different from taking an object and making it go to outer space.

“Death is the mother of beauty. Only the perishable can be beautiful, which is why we are unmoved by artificial flowers.” The great insurance executive Wallace Stevens wrote that, and he’s correct, but then again, has he heard of Shinjuku? Artifice is death, but it’s imagined by someone alive, and there lies the irony of feeling alive and being attached to the real world. If one can stay conscious of both the artificial and the natural world, then you can beat the odds of not getting lost. But once you fully accept one over the other, then you’re a lost soul. “It’s great to be anywhere as a writer. It saves you from implication in the ugliness of the place and justifies your being there. You can spend all day jerking off as long as you describe it well.” That statement alone is why I’m such a massive fan of Richard Hell’s work. All my life, I have lived on the margins of society, and even though I can touch the world, it is a landscape that doesn’t want anything to do with me. The beauty of rejection is similar to wander around Shinjuku. As long as they keep the neon lights on, I can exist in one’s own cell. - Tosh Berman

Tosh Berman & Devin Johnston reading at The Observable Reading Series in St. Louis


October 7, 2019
7:30 p.m.

Tosh Berman
Tosh Berman was born in the late fifties in Los Angeles, the son of Wallace and Shirley Berman, mainstays of that scene described by the California historian Richard Candida Smith as “Utopia and Dissent.”  Raised in Topanga Canyon, his early adult years were taken up in poetry — his eighties poems The Plum in Mr. Blum’s Pudding were re-printed in 2014 — and public access television production.  Ultimately he has been called upon to be executor of his father Wallace’s estate.  Tosh: Growing Up in Wallace Berman’s World is just out from City Lights.  The publisher of TamTam Books, Tosh Berman vlogs on YouTube and writes cultural journalism that’s published widely.
Devin Johnston
Devin Johnston was born in 1970 in Canton, New York, and grew up in Winston-Salem.  Educated at Oberlin and the University of Chicago, he teaches now at Saint Louis University.  He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Far-Fetched (2015), Sources (2008), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Aversions (2004), and Telepathy (2001).  His prose writing includes the critical study Precipitations: Contemporary American Poetry as Occult Practice (2002) and Creaturely and Other Essays(2009).  A former poetry editor for the Chicago Review, Johnston co-founded and co-edits the literary publisher Flood Editions with Michael O’Leary.

Dressel’s Public House
419 N Euclid Ave,
St. Louis, MO 63108

The Observable Readings Series, brought to you by St. Louis Poetry Center, welcomes poets to Dressel’s Public House (CWE) on first Mondays.  Reading begins at 7:30 p.m. in the upstairs loft of the restaurant.
Suggested $5.00 donation at the door.
Curated by: Jeff Hamilton & Joshua Kryah