Wednesday, December 12, 2018

TamTam Books at Alias Books East in Atwater Village


Alias Books East in Atwater Village has a selection of books published by TamTam Books.  

- Boris Vian's "Autumn in Peking"
- Boris Vian's "Red Grass" 
-Boris Vian's "To Hell With The Ugly"

& a book by Ron Mael and Russell Mael of the band Sparks.  "In The Words of Sparks: Selected Lyrics"  Edited by Ron and Russell, with a great introduction by Morrissey.  

And, also for sale is "Memory Before Action" text by Tosh Berman and art by Senon Williams.  Very limited and of course, very special.  All exclusively on sale at Alias Books East.  Located 3163 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, 90039.  For more information, here's their website: http://www.aliasbookseast.com


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Flashback: Issue no. 4, Winter 2013


As mentioned in another post, I'm absolutely fascinated with the magazine "Flashback," which is edited by Richard Morton Jack, with good music journalists, especially Richie Unterberger.  The focus of the publication is Underground rock music from the late 1960s to the 1970s.   Reading "Flashback" is very much like being in a dark room with one light bulb, and no awareness of what's happening outside that room on a regular basis.  Life stopped around 1975 or so, and your only reference is obscure recordings by even more obscure artists.   For instance, the front cover is the band Trees, which I'm sure most of you never heard of them.  Nor have I, they're a British folk-orientated group that recorded for British Columbia Records, and made two albums in 1970.   33 pages, with no ads, but plenty of photos, documents, images of contracts, and various flyers for gigs, but insightful journalism on the band by David Biasotti.

In this day and age of Twitter and online publications, it's fascinating that there is a magazine like "Flashback" that is beautifully printed and designed, and obsessed with bands that fell through the cracks of fame and attention.  Each article on a band runs from 20 to 30 pages, and all are clearly written to be the last word on the subject.  Researched to a maximum level, only a music geek can appreciate.  For those who only have a passing interest in pop music history should move on to the current Rolling Stone or some other mass-market publication, because "Flashback" is a beautiful and endlessly informative love feast on music and artists that are important, but never got their fame or sales in the marketplace.

Issue number 4, besides the interesting piece on Trees, also has a long article on the band Mandrake Memorial, which of this date, I actually located their debut album (which is on its way).    From Philadelphia and they were very much part of the psychedelic scene in that city.  Also is a memoir by Beverly Martyn, a singer who worked with, and married John Martyn.  A harrowing account of her life with the horrifying John which is depressing, but good to hear she's still about making music (as of 2013, my issue here is old).

There's a great piece on exploitation albums from the late 1960s and early 70s that were a knock-off of major hits of the time, including music from the underground scene.  Anonymous musicians who recorded such albums as "Blow Your Mind," "Hair The 31 Flavors," "Light My Fire" by the Firebirds and so forth.   And to top it off there's an excellent and lengthy article on various obscure mono and stereo recordings and which ones are better.  And if you can even purchase such records from the psychedelic era without being pushed into the poor house.  The reviews are plentiful, and very in depth with a focus on CD Boxsets as well as on artists like Harry Nilsson (who is probably the most known figure in this magazine to a general audience).

Each issue, so far, has a feature on a British music publication, and here we "Go."  I never heard or seen this magazine before, but as a publisher, and a fan of music publications, I find it obsessively fascinating on all accounts.   "Flashback" are moments of perfection, and an incredible guide to music I would never be aware of, or ever being in their presence.  I got my issues from Forced Exposure.

Forced Exposure website:  https://www.forcedexposure.com/Home.aspx


Friday, November 23, 2018

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Sunday, November 18, 2018

A Short Story by Tosh Berman


I buy art like others buy blankets to keep them warm in a freezing night.  I figured if it gets too cold I can burn the painting for warmth.  Excellent investment for one's mental and physical health.  I went to a poster shop in Westwood where they sell 20th-century prints of famous paintings. It was here where I purchased a print of Caravaggio's "The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, originally painted sometime between 1601-1602, but the reprint made in 2004.  

The owner of the shop there at the time, Mr. Gagosian, had a wide selection of prints to buy, or even rent if one is on a budget.   I was taught at an early age never to rent or borrow and to purchase is the best policy.  Mr. Gagosian asked me what I was looking for. I told him that I wanted something that expressed the angst and worries of this sad century, but also something colorful to match the interiors of my living room.   He asked me what my budget is, and I told him that not to be concerned about budgeting and that I'm going to the boundaries of $50 to $100. 

He showed me a print of a painting by Edward Hopper, called "Chop Suey."   It's a very nice figurative painting of two women having a meal or chatting over a table, and there is a man and woman in conversation on the side of the painting.  The one thing that I found troublesome about the painting is the title.  "Chop Suey."  I didn't think the interior of the restaurant looks oriental.   And the other thing that bugs me is that one can see the signage outside the building saying 'Suey." Or to be exact, we can see the letters "U" and "E" clearly but we have to presume that the half of the "S" Is actually an "S."  And the "Y' could be easily a "V" in this painting.   I don't know why I'm focusing on the lettering of the side of the building, or perhaps what is a neon light - or even if the painting takes place in the evening.  The more I look at this painting I found it disturbing.  I asked Mr. Gagosian for a discount, due to the upsetting composition of the work.   It's initially $100, but I got it knocked down to $90.  

The other painting that caught my eye is a work by David Hockney.  "Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)."  I prefer if the painting is called "Pool with Two Figures."   I don't think we need the word artist in the title. Since it's a painting by an artist, why put a focus on artist again.  It's a colorful painting of a young man, who's dressed nicely looking at another young man in a swimming pool.    At first, I thought the man in the pool drowned, and we're just looking at a floating body.  But I think the artist would have called the painting  "Pool with a Dead figure and Young Man" or something of that order.  Still, I love the mountain range in the picture, and the composition is excellent. Plainly worth the $100, but then Mr. Gagosian told me that this print would be $150.  To my surprise, he wouldn't go down from that price.  I then immediately walked out of the store, thinking he would stop me.  I turned around the corner and again, to my surprise, he didn't run after me. I then walked back into his shop, and he knew I would pay the full price of $150.   

Nevertheless, for a total of $240 (plus sales tax), I can bring two decent paintings back to my home.   I learned that one should never fret over art prices, and to do so will make you look or sound cheap.  The worth of art is something beyond currency.  Although the money of a Monopoly game does look good. 




- Tosh Berman

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Revisiting or Re-read of "Places of My Infancy" by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

ISBN: 978-0-8112-2038-5

I read this book in 2012, and recently re-read it, due that "Places of my Infancy: A Memory" very much influenced me on my memoir "Tosh: Growing Up in Wallace Berman's World."   Both of our books are childhood memoirs, and what impressed me about Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's little book is that it is more about location, architecture, and things than people.   In my book, characters are essential, but what got me to keep on the page, to write, is actually the location of Beverly Glen and Topanga Canyon.  Lampedusa is an Italian or Sicilian aristocrat, and I often felt like I was a pauper prince.   Both of us grew up in extraordinary surroundings; him with the super wealthy, and yours truly in the bohemian world of the Beats and Hippies. 

When I purchased this book in New York City, six years ago, I was working on my memoir.  "Places of my Infancy" gave me the importance that character of the author and also the reflection of one's home, and how that affects the writer.   A significant book.  Down below is the original review I wrote for the Good Reads website:

Looking for a small book in size to read on the subway trips from Manhattan to Bushwick, I picked up the elegant Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's miniature memoir of his childhood "Places of My Infancy."  The most remarkable aspect of this book is that it's not about people.  It is about his home, or one should say estate in Italy during the turn of the Century.  

Reading this I reminded of "Against Nature" by Huysmann, but this is the real deal. At least through the eyes of an adult looking back at his life as a child.  Detailed architectural accounts of various rooms, including the dining room which has life-sized portraits of the owners (the first ones) eating their meals.  One would think why they would want a painting of themselves eating in a room where you actually take your meal?  But that's the charm of the super rich - if one could even use the word super in this category, it's more super-duper.

In his house, he had a theater that can hold 300 people, and his family would allow traveling theater people to do shows for the local citizens.  Some rich, but a lot were peasants.  Eventually, the theater became a movie theater. Lampedusa has a way to comment on changes that he remembers through his childhood.  

In the book, di Lampedusa admits that he is more attached to things than humans, and this is very much the tale of things - most cases the architecture of his home as a child, including detailed descriptions of rooms, furniture, etc.  But the truth (as he knows as well) that 'things' can tell a narrative better than a human at times.  Remarkable book.



Thursday, November 15, 2018

"Duchamp's Last Day" by Donald Shambroom (David Zwirner Books)

ISBN: 978-1-941701-87-4

If you are like me, a Marcel Duchamp fan, and one who almost purchases every book on this artist, you will need to read and own "Duchamp's Last Day" by Donald Shambroom.  It's a small book, beautifully published by David Zwirner that focuses on the last 24-hours of Duchamp on this planet on October 1, 1968.  His last day was pleasant.  He purchased some bricks for his very final and secret art project, as well as buying a book at a bookstore on Rue Saint-Germain des Pres.  He had a visit with his friend Georges Herbiet, a poet, and then later that night had dinner at Duchamp's apartment with Man Ray, his wife Juliet, Ms. Duchamp, Robert Abel, and his wife.   After dinner, Duchamp dies in the bathroom.   Ms. Duchamp calls a doctor and Man Ray to come over. Man Ray comes across with his camera equipment and takes the last photo of Duchamp.  A perfect evening!

In a sense, Shambroom discusses the thought that Duchamp's death is also a collaboration between Man Ray and the great artist.  And perhaps so, who knows, but this book is both respectful to the working habits of Duchamp and Man Ray, as well as a tribute to the Duchamp's personality and aesthetic.   I read it in my bathtub, and it's the perfect size for such a reading.  Buy, read, and enjoy. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Tosh on Tour for "Tosh: Growing Up in Wallace Berman's World" 2019


Thursday, January 31, 2019 at 7pm 
San Francisco, CA: City Lights Bookstore

We are looking forward to celebrating TOSH, published by City Lights! Tosh Berman will be in conversation with Natalia Mount, Executive Director, Pro Arts Gallery, Oakland

Thursday, January 24, 2019 at 7:30pm 
Los Angeles, CA: Skylight Books

In conversation with actor Jason Schwartzman. Skylight is located at1 818 N Vermont Avenue. For more info: events@skylightbooks.com & 323-660-1175.


Friday February 1, 2019, 7pm 
Berkeley, CA: Moe's Bookstore

Moe's is located at 2476 Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. For more info contact Owen Hill  owenmoes@gmail.com.  


Monday, February 4th, 7:30pm 
Portland, OR: Powell's on Hawthorne

Tosh Berman in conversation with Kevin Sampsell about his new book, Tosh: Growing Up In Wallace Berman's World.  Powell's on Hawthorne is located at 3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214. For more info contact: jeremy.garber@powells.com.




Wednesday, February 13, 2019 at 7pm 
West Hollywood, CA: Book Soup

Book Soup is located at 8818 Sunset Blvd.  For more info contact Jen Ramos at jramos@vromansbookstore.com.




Tuesday Feb 19th, 7:30pm 
New York NY: Aeon Books

Aeon Books is located at 151 E Broadway New York, NY 10002. For more info 917 675 7523  &  info@aeonbookstore.com





Thursday, February 21st at 7pm 
Brooklyn, NY: McNally Jackson

Tosh Berman in conversation with Gillian McCain. McNally Jackson's Williamsburg store is located at 76 N 4th Street Brooklyn NY 11249.  For more info  718 387 0115 & events.mcnallyjackson@gmail.com


Saturday, February 23rd 3:00-5:00pm 
Long Island City, NY: ARTBOOK @ MoMA PS1 Bookstore

ARTBOOK @ MoMA PS1 Bookstore is located at 22-25 Jackson Ave (at 46th Ave.) Long Island City, NY 11101.  For questions about the event: booksmomaps1@artbook.com T (718) 433-1088


Saturday, March 9th, 3-5pm 
Los Angeles, CA: ARTBOOK @Hauser & Wirth

Tosh Berman in conversation with Claudia Bohn-Spector. ARTBOOK @Hauser & Wirth is located at 917 East 3rd Street Los Angeles CA 90013. For more info 213-988-7413 or contact Lacy Soto lsoto@artbook.com



For more information, check out http://www.citylights.com/book/?GCOI=87286100746120&fa=events&fbclid=IwAR10Q5i_uPZp4_hfPBonZ4mYrbLaRtGEQAnXIa3CivaunNy92tiEPcJjDjo#.W-xQkc6SnCo.facebook


Flashback: Issue 3, Spring 2013



As a music listener and a consumer, I'm fascinated with music culture.  Throughout my life I have purchased teen magazines like "16" to "KRLA Beat," to "Rolling Stone," and then, of course, the weekly British music newspapers like "Melody Maker" and New Music Express (NME).  As I got older, I became devoted to "MOJO" and "Uncut," which covers pop music from the past in an extensive manner.   I'm also a fan of "UGLY THINGS," which covers 1960s garage rock in a moment-by-moment detail.   I thought that was enough for my music-reading experience until I found myself with an issue of "FLASHBACK" Spring, 2013.

"FLASHBACK"s focus is on psychedelic rock/pop music culture of the 1960s and 1970s.  What makes the magazine unique is the intense focus on that subject matter, but also the number of pages it focuses on the artists on hand as well as the culture surrounding that band/artist.   The issue of "FLASHBACK"  I have is 208 pages, where 39, some fully illustrated with photos, or original reprints of that era, pages on the band Mighty Baby, who also is on the front cover of the magazine.   Now, if you are like me, who in the hell is Mighty Baby, and why do they warrant 39 pages (with no ads mind you)?   A band so obscure, that getting the original vinyl can cost anywhere from $246 to $674 for their debut album "Mighty Baby."  And according to Discogs, there are only five listings for sales for this album. So, it's a rarity.  "Flashback" is willing to put Mighty Baby on its cover than Syd Barrett, who has a significant article as well within and with 13 pages.

What attracts me to this particular issue is its obsession with their subject matter.  Syd Barrett is the only artist that is represented in this issue that I know of, and all the other pages are devoted to artists that I may have heard of in passing or none at all.  Speaking which, the Barrett article is excellent. It's an interview with the late Malcolm Jones, who was part of the Harvest label and produced half of the "Madcap Laughs," Syd's first solo album.  His insight into the making of the album gives me additional pleasure in hearing it again.  Then again, maybe I should track down Mighty Baby as well?

The beauty of FLASHBACK is their intense method of covering their music and bands/artists in a full reporting style.   Nothing is half-done, and they are not weary of putting many pages together talking about Mighty Baby and others.  As a casual reader of this issue, I couldn't put it down. I found Mighty Baby's history fascinating as well as on the other obscure bands such as San Francisco's The Common People, who within its 23 pages covers their career as well as being a bizarre rip-off of Moby Grape.  There is also a tremendous 23-page article on rock biographies/memoirs that is equally fascinating.  And an article (10-pages) on an obscure weekly music newspaper "Top Pops" which eventually became "Music Now."

Before I even got half-way through this issue, that I went online and ordered every back issue that is still in print.  I feel such obsession needs to be supported by another obsessive fellow (yours truly).

For more info on FLASHBACK and other issues:  http://www.flashbackmag.com

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Tosh Berman on GROWING UP IN WALLACE BERMAN'S WORLD!





Tosh Berman on GROWING UP IN WALLACE BERMAN'S WORLD!: Hello everyone! I talked with Tosh Berman, an influential and beloved member of the Los Angeles literary scene, on his new book entitled, Tosh: Growing Up in Wallace Berman's World. This book is a masterful story of growing up as the son of the well-known artist Wallace Berman, who is often referred to as the creator of Assemblage Art and was a beloved figure in the early 'beatnik' or hippie scene in California. Tosh recounts his unique childhood and talks openly about the cavalcade of luminaries that visited his home, his father's influence in the art world, and the impact of Wallace's untimely death on the young Tosh.  Tosh: Growing Up in Wallace Berman's World is published by City Lights books, and is a beautifully written, honest, and endearing memoir of a unique upbringing. The book will be available on Amazon and directly from the publisher. You can learn more about Tosh's book, and Tosh himself, here: http://www.citylights.com/book/?GCOI=87286100746120&fa=description Thank you, and enjoy the show!

Friday, November 2, 2018

BOOKS: How & Why with Tosh Berman, Mary Dean, Eddie Ruscha & Senon Williams. Nov. 3rd


"Places of My Infancy" by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (New Directions)


Looking for a small book in size to read on the subway trips from Manhattan to Bushwick, I picked up the elegant Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's miniature memoir of his childhood "Places of My Infancy." The most remarkable aspect of this book is that it's not about people. It is about his home, or one should say estate in Italy during the turn of the Century.

Reading this I reminded of "Against Nature" by Huysmann, but this is the real deal. At least through the eyes of an adult looking back at his life as a child. Detailed architectural accounts of various rooms, including the dining room which has life-sized portraits of the owners (the first ones) eating their meals. One would think why they would want a painting of themselves eating in a room where you actually take your meal? But that's the charm of the super rich - if one could even use the word super in this category, it's more super-duper.

In his house, he had a theater that can hold 300 people, and his family would allow traveling theater people to do shows for the local citizens. Some rich, but a lot were peasants. Eventually, the theater became a movie theater. Di Lampedusa has a way to comment on changes that he remembers through his childhood.

In the book, di Lampedusa admits that he is more attached to things than humans, and this is very much the tale of things - most cases the architecture of his home as a child, including detailed descriptions of rooms, furniture, etc. But the truth (as he knows as well) that 'things' can tell a narrative better than a human at times. Remarkable book.

"Places of My Infancy" is an influence on my childhood/teenage memoir "Tosh" (City Lights Publications).   Focusing on my youth, I realize, after reading this book, that placement or the landscape is equally as important as the characters that are in my book.  I read "Places of My Infancy" in 2012, as I was writing my many drafts of "Tosh."   An essential book for me as a writer.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Tosh, Growing Up in Wallace Berman's World




Tosh, Growing Up in Wallace Berman's World



If you wish to purchase my book "Tosh: Growing Up in Wallace Berman's World"  by pre-ordering it, you can do so on this City Lights page. Just follow the link above.   The consumer will be notified when the book is released as well as getting a 30% discount off the retail cost of $16.95.  As an author, I like to support the publisher as well as the indie-bookshops in real locations, as well as some of the hipper-retail locations on the web.  Thank you in advance - Tosh Berman

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Wallace Berman Curator Sophie Dannenmuller on Tosh Talks





Wallace Berman Curator Sophie Dannenmuller on Tosh Talks

Sophie Dannenmuller is an expert on my father the artist Wallace Berman as well as curating three Berman exhibitions at the Galerie Frank Elbaz in Paris. The current show that is up now (until October 11, 2018) is called "Visual Music." It focuses on the connection between Wallace's visual sensibility and his love of music, that is very much part of his art. Sophie and I talk in great detail about Berman's art, as well as the culture surrounding Wallace, such as the Beat Generation, and figures like Jack Kerouac, Allen 
Ginsberg, William Burroughs and so forth. I'm very happy how this conversation turned out, and I think one who has an interest in the Beat Artists and beyond, will find this fascinating. Your host Tosh Berman, Tosh Talks.

The painting behind us is by the artist Jean-Francois Le Merrer.

Monday, September 24, 2018

"Wallace Berman: Visual Music" by Sophie Dannenmüller (Frank Elbaz Gallery)


For those who are interested, you can obtain the catalog to my dad's (Wallace Berman) show at the Galerie Frank Elbaz website. It's a limited edition with a beautiful essay by Sophie Dannenmüller who also curated the exhibition.  Get it here:


Sunday, September 23, 2018

September 23, 2018 / Tosh's Diary (Paris/Los Angeles)


September 23, 2018

The flight was somewhere between 10 and 11 hours long, and it was boring as hell. The service on the airline Air France was outstanding.  But there were delays at the airport, and the plane took off about an hour late. The Charles DeGaulle airport is enormous of course, but one of the interesting aspects of its architecture is the wooden ceilings.  At LAX Bradley terminal I feel we are in a series of confined spaces, but the vastness of the boarding gate in Paris is immense, and it actually becomes a vanishing point when you look in the front of you.   



As one gets to their seat, you are confronted by a lack of space, but I’m mentally prepared for that. I brought two books with me for the reading.  The main book is Alexander Trocchi’s “Cain’s Book” which I purchased in a bookstore in Paris called the Red Wheelbarrow.   Across from the Lexingburg Gardens.  As far as I know, or at least on this trip, I came upon four English language bookstores. All were good.  Any John Calder publication is a good book.  It’s the British version of Grove Press or the sister or brother of that excellent publishing house.  Calder had an extraordinary vision as a publisher.  I still haven’t finished the book, and every time I feel sleepy, I try to close my eyes to drift off to sleep.

Nevertheless, sleep is impossible for me on a plane.  My sense of travel is being at a location. I don’t actually like the physical aspect of traveling.  I hate luggage.  I really don’t like airports. I loathe going through security.  And I generally don’t enjoy the ride to or from the airport.  I love being at my destination.  But the compromise to get to that direction of the destination is a horror show for me.  I envy fictional characters like James Bond, or Tom Cruise in “Mission Impossible,” where there is a subtitle that says “Berlin,” and therefore you know the main character is there in that city.  I too want to travel in such a manner where a subtitle shows up under my body, and I’m immediately at that location.  You never see Bond buying a plane ticket or waiting at the airport. Nor is he busy making sure he has a European wall plug for his laptop computer.  The one groovy thing I do have is that I rent a portable wi-fi set.  I discovered this when I went to Japan, and in that country, there is not that many ‘hot spots’ for internet use.   Carrying this small pocket-sized wi-fi is a dream.  The battery lasts for six hours, so one should turn it off when not in use. Other then that, it’s perfect. 





We got back home around 10 PM, and I drank a few glasses of wine, checked my e-mail, and tried to feel like I was back home in Los Angeles.  My brain was here, but my body thought it was still walking on Germain-des-Prés. I have a hard time with jet-lag.  Forcing the body and mind to be in one place is a problem for me.  I heard one should just drink water on the jet, but of course, I drank wine.  It’s free on international flights!  Still, I don’t think I can ever beat this feeling of being displaced in time and space.  I got up early and went to work at ARTBOOK (917 E 3RD Street, Los Angeles 90013) to take images for me to write about - and then I walked around Downtown Los Angeles.  It still feels like I was in Paris.  Even though I was walking down Spring Street, I felt the next corner will be rue Oberkampf in the 11th arrondissement.  Which by the way is named after Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf, an 18th-century German-born French industrialist. He invented the first machine for printing wallpaper.  



Lun*na and I went to the Tony Berlant opening at the Kohn Gallery (North Highland Avenue, Los Angeles 90038) and the dinner afterward at Michael and Caroline’s home for the artist.  The show is pretty great.  Tony’s work is basically collaged with images printed on metal, or tin, and put together by steel brads, which gives the art a multi-textural feel.  Some are flat pieces while others are sculptures.  Also, I really like the works that are horizontal when placed on the wall.   They stick out so one can see both sides of the artwork.  So, in a sense, they are sculptural, but flat as well.  Interesting combination. I made a note to myself to come back to the exhibition to spend more time with the art. 
 Tosh Berman

Friday, September 21, 2018

Chris Curtis and Board Games on Tosh Talks





Chris Curtis is a great friend of mine, and someone I admire, due to being a great human being, but also his taste which is very articulate and refined to a perfect point in his ability to express what he likes and why.  His current passion is board games, which is a subject I knew nothing about.  After watching this show the viewer will be fascinated with the board games history, and it's cultural importance in society.   We discuss my favorite childhood games that came from TV shows from the 60s and beyond, but Chris gets into the nitty-gritty of the gaming world.  - Tosh Berman, your host for Tosh Talks.