Friday, October 24, 2014

October 24, 2014

October 24, 2014

I often dream of having an identical twin brother.  As a child I used to play in front of a full-length mirror and pretended that the image was my twin.  It wasn’t out of loneliness, but more fascinated with my image being reproduced, and therefore a double image of me.   And now as an adult, I still have the same fascination with my image - especially when I walk by a mirror or a reflection off a store window.  I never told anyone this, because this type of behavior is usually not looked upon as something healthy.  Nevertheless it is something important to me at the very core of my being.   The only twins I have ever met were two beautiful women, who often appear in numerous stage shows in Los Angeles and beyond.  I once showed up at a meet-and-greet, at a comic book store, where they were promoting a video they made.  I approached one believing it was the one that I knew quite well, but I was wrong, it was her sister.  She caught my mistake and told me that "you got the wrong girl here."  She was sweet about it, but I was embarrassed about my mistake. For some reason, I wanted to be above of such a common error, but I failed miserably.

I was bullied a lot of times in school, both in elementary and high school, and I try to imagine my twin brother there, fighting off the goons and saving me from disgrace, and knowing that he looked like me, I could feel stronger.   This of course was a fantasy, but as the punches and hair-pulling happened, I imagine this throughout my beating.  It made me feel better, and the thought of that image, I never cried.  No matter how hard they hit me, or yelled insults.   With my imagination, I felt stronger than them.  It is probably why I’m a writer.  It is probably why I’m obsessed with the Kray twins.

Reginald and Ronald were from East London, and they started off as amateur boxers, and I have read that they often boxed against each other.  One can wonder if when they threw a punch onto the other, were they thinking they are brothers, or was it a punch toward their self-image.  I can imagine throwing a punch at the mirror image of me, but I would just end up with a cut-up bloody hand.   But here, you are infecting pain on one another.  It must have been an intense boxing moment or two.  Later on, they became the twin kings of London’s crime world.   It has been reported that they could communicate without speaking to each other.   Whatever this is quite true or not, it seemed to cause fear among their henchmen as well as their enemies.

Around the same time, Paul and Barry Ryan were making an appearance in the music world.  Paul wrote the songs and him and Barry performed them.  To my ears they sound like a weaker version of The Walker Brothers, but nevertheless seeing Barry and Paul on the same stage or even in photographs, unnerved me.  I think due to the fantasy I had to become a singer.  I couldn’t carry a tune if my (or your) life depended on it.  But if I was a singer, I of course would want to have an identical twin brother on the stage with me.   To look at each other while singing appears to be heaven.  Nevertheless, I’m torn between the two twin brothers.  I imagine that the Krays met the Barry twins, but I just wonder what their reaction would be like?   They could go out socially, with Ronnie ganging up with Barry, and Paul can be with Reg.  That, I think, would cause a spontaneous disturbance whenever they enter a nightclub or restaurant.  But the truth in the matter, is that if I had a choice, I would prefer the Krays.

When I’m alone, I feel powerless.   Yet, with an identical image with me, floating around yours truly, can be enticing and I imagine one would feel more powerful.  The Krays are all about power.  It’s not money or even a life of riches, but more of a show, or a theater performance.   The Krays, even though they’re criminals, they are more of a performer than say the Ryan boys.  They had a good understanding of “theater, ” and what it means to the people outside and inside their social circle.  The fact that both of them were reportedly brutal, adds a certain amount of shine to their image.   So being alone, bullied, and often feeling stupid. The Krays are immensely important to me.   Reg, Tosh, and Ron having a night out.

TOSH BERMAN reads and discusses his book of poetry THE PLUM IN MR BLUM'S PUDDING, with special guest RUTH BERNSTEIN

TOSH BERMAN reads and discusses his book of poetry THE PLUM IN MR BLUM'S PUDDING, with special guest RUTH BERNSTEIN

The Plum in Mr Blum's Pudding (Penny Ante Editions)
“My hours of leisure I spent in reading the best authors, ancient and modern, being always provided with a good number of books; and when I was ashore, in observing the manners and dispositions of the people, as well as learning their language; wherein I had a great facility, by the strength of my memory.”

- Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels

The Plum in Mr. Blum’s Pudding is Los Angeles native Tosh Berman’s first printed collection of poetry. In 1989, Berman left the United States behind, moving to Japan after learning his wife's (artist Lun*na Menoh) mother was ill in Kitakyushu. The Plum in Mr. Blum’s Pudding was penned while both rapt and lost by this transition. Gracefully toiling between the quirky and earnest, these poems describe the liminal space of the foreigner caught between the strange and the familiar. The result is surreal and unclassifiable, a book of love poems overshadowed by isolation and underscored with curiosity and lust.

Originally published in 1990 by “Cole Swift & Sons” (Japan) as a small hardcover edition of two hundred copies, this new edition acts to preserve this work and features an introduction by art critic and curator Kristine McKenna and an afterword by Ruth Bernstein.

Tosh Berman is a publisher and writer. His press, TamTam Books, has published works by Boris Vian, Guy Debord, Serge Gainsbourg, Jacques Mesrine, artist Lun*na Menoh, and Ron Mael & Russell Mael (Sparks). He is the author of Sparks-tastic: 21 Nights with Sparks in London. As the son of artist Wallace Berman, Tosh has delivered talks and various essays toward furthering his late father’s artistic legacy including his influential folio series, Semina (1955–1964). He resides in Los Angeles.
Ruth Bernstein lives in Highland Park where she writes postcards and collects books.
Event date: 
Friday, November 21, 2014 - 7:30pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los AngelesCA 90027

Thursday, October 23, 2014

October 23, 2014

October 23, 2014

When I was living in London in the late 1970s, I was invited to go to an “adult” party at Diana Dors house.  I haven’t the foggiest idea what “adult” party meant in Diana’s house, but of course, I was a very curious young man at the time.  I knew of her slightly, mostly that she was the British version of Jayne Mansfield, and that she made an album called “Swinging Dors, ” which at the time, I never heard.  Oddly enough, her arranger Wally Stott, also arranged the classic Scott Walker recordings of the 1960s.

While in London at that time, I went to a pub called “The Blind Begger” on Whitechappel Road. I didn’t know at the time, but the pub is a well known hangout for gangsters in the East London area. Ironically enough, it was also the original site which the Salvation Army started.   I went in by myself to have a quiet pint of Brown Ale, when I was approached by a gentleman by the name of Terry Denton, who started a conversation with me.  He was a bit tight (drunk) but mentioned that he was going to a party at Diana Dors house and he got a special invitation specifically from her.  He was told by her that he could bring another gentleman to the house that night.  Normally I would say no, but for some odd reason I was intrigued, and decided to take up his kind invitation.  I mentioned that I don’t know anyone in that world, and would it be still ok if I came with him to the party.  He said “no problem.” So off we went, and we found a taxi in the late night to take us to Berkshire, just outside of London.  

Once we arrived, I was surprised regarding the house, not knowing what to expect once I got there. From the outside, it looked like a quaint, but decent sized home.  Terry let himself in and I stood behind him.  He said to follow him in, and off I went into what I think was the living room.  There were approximately 30 people there, with maybe more than half, young girls.  They all look like starlets of some sort, but I wasn’t clear if they were in the entertainment world, or even woman who are professionals in the party world.  Terry immediately introduces me to a pair of sharp suited gentlemen, who strongly resembled each other.  One was called Ron, and the other I think, his name was Reg, or something like that.  I was later told by Terry that they are twin brothers.  Eventually I was introduced to Diana Dors herself. She was full-figured, had a beautiful face, although at the time, she looked well-lived, if you get my drift.

She threw her arms around me, and mentioned if I needed anything that I should help myself to whatever is out there.  The way she said that to me, I wasn’t sure if she was talking about drinks, or what look like drugs being passed around.  Or perhaps it was the woman there!   Terry took me by the arm to introduce me to a pretty brunette, whose name I can’t remember now.   When I shook her hand, Terry told her that “Tosh here is an American and he’s producing a film in London.” I gave a glance towards him, but he didn’t return the “look” back to me.  What I remember was her accent was really strong.  I could only make out every third for the fourth word from her lipsticked mouth.

Nevertheless I was really communicating with her, and Diana came from behind, and took both of our hands, and directed us to another room in the house.  Once there, I realized we were in a bedroom and there was a couple going at it like stranded dogs in a dog park.  I didn’t know what was happening… well I did.  But at the same time I didn’t. The couple got out of the bed, and went towards a full length mirror and he started fucking her against the mirror.   Meanwhile, my heavily accented lass took me by the side of the bed, where she sat down and started to unzip my pants.  She began to serve me a service, that I didn’t expect would happen three hours ago.  Afterwards after we finished, I lost her in the crowd at the party, and noticed another room where I can hear a film projector going. I went in, and it was Diana, Terry, and the twin brothers watching hard core porn film.  I realized that the setting of this film was the bedroom that I just left.  Obviously she had a camera hooked up, and more likely filmed me at the peak of my or “our” adventure.

I found myself back in my flat, in sort of a dazed state.  Terry was kind enough to organize a ride back to London with the twins.  They were polite, but I felt I shouldn’t say too much in their presence.  I also felt that I witnessed something that shouldn’t be repeated or reported in a public forum.   So let’s leave it at that.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

October 22, 2014

October 22, 2014

The love of my life is Boise.   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 the 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.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October 21, 2014

October 21, 2014

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 the purpose of 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 literature 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’m needing 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 repair man, or plumber, he knows his trade well.  Without a doubt, he’s an enemy.  But an enemy I can totally 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 were 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 spitted out the bottle as well as the wine. Both of us were wearing white suits, and since we were dressed a like, we also had the same splatter of wine stains as well.

To be terrorized, yet committing terrorism, is basically 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.

Monday, October 20, 2014

October 20, 2014

October 20, 2014

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 Shimokitazawa, looking for landscapes to use for my films.  So far, I have made three movies, and all of them have been pretty much accepted by the film goer.  On the other hand, I don’t really care if they like them or not.  I know shit. I just 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 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 having a small amount 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 greater 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 just continue to drive around and around. Ivo is going to play the driver as he recites key 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 in the 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.  It’s important that everything works 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 actually 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. ”

Sunday, October 19, 2014

October 19, 2014

October 19, 2014

I’m alone. There is not anyone here. To feel really alone is a high.  Human beings, by their nature, are social animals.  My needs are basically 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 fellow 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 a habit 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 totally obsessed in 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 just come into the office to have a free cup of coffee or green tea. By the expressions of the fellow 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 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.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

October 18, 2014

October 18, 2014

“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 in sight. Alas, the restaurant is closed, and after 20 minutes of walking overpasses that connect the large boulevard and then down a steep staircase 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 Salerymen.  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, but oddly I don’t think they ever made a record together.  Yet, in my mind, I can clearly 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 really was.  The more literature out on Oswald the more obscure he gets, and eventually he just becomes a symbol that is empty, yet we know he is part of a landscape that caused either pain, or an awareness that things will never be the same again.

To be honest, 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 own 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 home 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 a 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. So I made a straight line, and walked that line till…

Friday, October 17, 2014

October 17, 2014

October 17, 2014

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 really 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, and 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,

In 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 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 really bad 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 terribly 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 don’t know why, but 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 just 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.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

October 16, 2014

October 16, 2014

“I have a habit of leaving places at the wrong time, just when something big may have happened to me.” I love to escape and locate the source of my pain, which is a desire for my own personal version of anxiety. “Life is a solitary cell whose walls are mirrors.” My very reflection is a source of endless entertainment for me.  Everyone who knows me that “writing is my vacation from living.” So to be in a room that is endlessly reflecting yours truly, is a form of heaven that is man-made.  Or I should say Tosh-made.

I’m sort of like the elephant that left the jungle to visit the big city.  Tokyo is not exactly a big city, but more of a metropolis. It’s bigger than life, and the source of my work here is supposed to be bigger than life, which means bigger than Tokyo.  “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” With that in mind, I set out to take the world that is out there, and somehow make it mine.  The only way I can do this is to edit what I want, and not want, and place it on a blank page.  The problem is people have a tendency to pull me in a direction I don’t want to take.  They do it, because they’re concerned about my welfare, or even for egotistical purposes from the other party.  Once you have your mission, it is almost an art form to stay on the narrow path, and not let the unfamiliar noise remove you from that road.  It’s easy to get lost, and there are so many false street signs to tell you to go in that direction or “in that way,” when in fact, by instinct, you know you’re doing the right thing.  Even if you do cause a certain amount of destruction here and there. “To live is the rarest thing in the world.  Most people exist, that is all. ”

What I fear the most is missing the last train home.  To be stranded and knowing your existence second-by-second till the next train arrives, many hours later.  Or going to a lecture that is in Japanese, yet not knowing that language, but just sitting in the audience trying to figure out what can’t be understood at that moment and time.  Time is stopping.  Time is not moving.  Time there waits for no one.

I came from the jungle to be here, and I realize that one can’t fully leave the jungle, because it is home. And the characteristics of the home are terrible.  A famous philosopher wrote that “the proof of the pudding is in the eating!  So what!  We are interested in the mechanism that ensures that it really is a pudding we are eating and not a poached baby elephant, though we think we are eating our daily pudding!” To analyze the world in a sense is to cut yourself open with a sword and letting your intestines to fall out of your stomach on to the sidewalk.

As I write, I can hear the sound of wind running through the space between the buildings. It’s eerie, but the music is beautiful. It makes me sad that I will never write anything that is as beautiful as that sound.  Nevertheless I will never go back to the jungle.  Home is there, but here I tend to lose myself, and to be totally lost, is a blessing.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October 15, 2014

October 15, 2014

“The Voice of love seemed to call me, but it was a 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 than 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 great 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 an end 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 really 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. ”

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October 14, 2014

October 14, 2014

“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 is 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 - also 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 the 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 that is 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!  Le 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 making, and with that knowledge, I jump in with both feet, and not a thought in my head.