Thursday, April 16, 2015

Tosh Berman at Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

Rare Bird, my publisher, was kind enough to invite me to sign  my book "Sparks-Tastic" at the Los Angeles  Times Festival of Books this coming Saturday April 18 at 10:30 AM.   Early, yes, but also the best time to visit the book festival before it gets too sunny and hot. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Sunday Series: Sunday April 12, 2015


Sunday April 12, 2015

Sickness took over my body two days ago.  I spent two weeks in and out of a court room, which besides holding two defendants and their lawyers, also held germs in captivity. I started feeling ill as soon as I walked in the court room.  With a will of my own making, I imagined not to get sick during jury duty.  After I was released, and not suitable for either one's case (both the defense and the state) I started to feel the strains of a cold.  I of course ignored it as much as possible.  I went to an outside concert in West Hollywood, and it was there that it was obvious that I shouldn't be out on a cool night.  Since then, I have had a hard time concentrating on my writing as well as my daily reading.  I haven't been sick for at least five years.  I tend to think it is due that I gave up eating meat -but I couldn't escape the clutches of justice.

For the past two days, I have been in bed reading about Los Angeles art history of the 1960s.  There are two books: "Out of Sight" and "Rebels in Paradise."   "Rebels" I find it a total gossip narrative which has very little truth.  The stuff I read about my dad (Wallace Berman) were at its worst, just plain silly, but also I was more alarmed that the author didn't have any sources backing up her story regarding my father.  "Out of Sight" I think is the better book, because I sense a real appreciation of the artist's work.  History, especially recent history (the last 50 years or so) is basically based on various individuals, and each one has a specific point-of-view - and if they don't have a point-of-view, they tend to make things up.   As a writer I never trust my opinion, in the words of Truman Capote, I'm not really a writer, but just a typist.



This Sunday (today) I wanted to go out in the sunshine and see a film later tonight.  Alas, my breathing, the night sweats, coughing, is a strong clue that I will stay in tonight.  More likely to be in bed all day.   My eyes get tired when I read, and the Internet bores me.  What I find fascinating is laying on my back on the bed and watching my ceiling.   I imagine that if I die, and I die in my bed, the last image will be the ceiling. I'm hoping that it will be this ceiling, because it gives me immense pleasure.  The lighting fixture for instance doesn't even work. I think we need to change the lightbulb, but for whatever reason, we just refuse to change it.  I like to think it is due to laziness, but I think it has more to do with let nature do the job.  I'm having trouble sleeping, so I look at the ceiling a lot for the last few days.  Both the natural lighting outside and the lamp on my side of the bed add interesting textures to the ceiling.  It is the one area where I can fully meditate and not think of anything.



For the last two days, I haven't changed my bed clothing or the sheets.  Nor have I taken a shower or bath.  In the sense, I'm rotting in the bed, and that also gives me a sense of peace or pleasure.  Since my cold is getting worse, I'm also enjoying the changes in my so-far mild suffering.  It is if life goes on, even though I have stopped everything.    Now, I must stop typing, and focus on my ceiling.  For some reason, I feel that the answer to the world is on that ceiling.  I don't understand what or why, but I do know that the focus is on that ceiling.

Friday, April 10, 2015

"Film as Film: The Collected Writings of Gregory J. Markopoulos" edited by Mark Webber

9780992837709  The Visible Press

As of this time and moment, I have seen only two films by the Greek American filmmaker Gregory J. Markopoulos.  "Galaxie" and "Gammelion."  If I was a cine-purist, I would have seen these films at the perfect location for his work, which is Temenos in Greece.  His life-time work is to have all his films to be presented in this location, which is outdoors, and some miles away from Athens.   Remote, and probably not that easy to get to - yet the journey itself I'm sure is magnificent, and if the two films I saw are example of his other works, probably more likely worth the trouble.   It is refreshing to come here upon an artist/filmmaker who doesn't compromise their work for....anyone!


  This marvelous collection of essays/poetry/rants/thoughts by Markopoulos is an essential to anyone who is interested in American underground film world.  Specifically in the heights of the 1960s through the 80s.  The source of these writings are from self-published works or Jonas Mekas' excellent publication of the 60s FILM CULTURE.  And some are lectures or introductions to his work throughout the world.  Markopoulos is on the same league as Stan Brakhage and Kenneth Anger.   An important artist, that the few only know or have seen his works.  As an anthology this book reads well - I think not only due to Markopoulos' writings, but also the editorship of Mark Webber, and the additional overall great design of the book.   Webber has put together tight chapters or sections that focus on his work as a commentator on other filmmakers, as well as focusing on his films and of course, the projection of his complete works in Greece, which is sort of an installation piece.

The two films I saw were pretty hypnotic, not only due to its editing, but also how one is drawn to his subject matter.  "Galaxie" is a compilation of film portraits of various (mostly well-known filmmakers/artists) in the New York world of the early 60s.  It is all an amazing snapshot of a time, but also you can tell how Markopoulos feels about his subject matters as well.  The film is silent, except what sounds like bells in the background, is 92 minutes and not one boring moment was had.   "Gammelion" is a study on a castle in Italy, and one is almost peeking around the corner.   It's a beautiful film and almost meditative in its approach at 'looking' at a structure.  Markopoulos has an eye for beautiful buildings and great looking people ("Galaxie").  The book is a must have if you make a film library, and anyone who is interested in film aesthetics must-have this as well. Hopefully this will not the last word on Markopoulos, but it is clearly the first - and that this book, is an exceptional book.

www.thevisiblepress.com

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

April 8, 1962: Telstar by The Tornados


April 8, 1962

I went to my local record store, Mono Records, to get the new Tornadoes album called "The Original Telstar."  I have heard the song "Telstar" on the radio and I was intrigued with the sound of outer space that somehow landed on KRLA airwaves. Most of my friends go out and buy 45rpm singles, but I have always preferred the 12" or 10" album format.  A lot of times, the songs are not as good as the more familiar hit song by the artist - but I feel I'm getting a full picture of that band or singer's work.  Also at this point I don't have that many albums in my collection.   Maybe 8 or 10 albums at the most.  I would get more, but the cost of albums, which are usually anywhere from $1.99 to $2.99 is expensive for me.   I had a job, but I didn't like it.  I was pumping gas at a Shell gas station on the corner of Fletcher and Riverside, but I found the customers rude - and my feelings get hurt really easily. 

I still live at home, and luckly my mom didn't kick me out when I reached 21.  I'm 22 at the moment, and I still feel like a new breeze on a hot day.  One day I'll move on, perhaps to a better world, but alas, my mom is a great cook.  She works during the day, so my responsibility is to do the house work, such as making the beds, cleaning the kitchen and bathroom, and organize the bills that come in by the date that they are due.  I'm sort of like her secretary.  On my free time, I listen to my small collection of recordings.

The Tornadoes are from the U.K. and they're an instrumental band.  Clem Cattini (24) on drums, George Bellamy (22) on rhythm guitar, Heinz Burt (20) on bass guitar, Roger La Vern (24), on piano and some sort of organ, and Alan Caddy (22) on lead guitar.   Together they're The Tornadoes.  Of the twelve songs that are on this album, their lead guitarist Caddy wrote two songs, and their producer Joe Meek wrote four - so I have to imagine that they are both the leaders of the band.  

One of my favorite songs on this album is "Popeye Twist," which uses the melody or theme song from the Popeye cartoon TV series.  Like the title says, they give the beat a twist, and it's a rocking number.  It's the last song on the album (side two) and it's a good way to say goodbye to the listener.  The album starts off with "Telstar" which is the hit off this record.  I imagine if they were making music in outer space, this tune would sound like it came above the clouds.  There is a sense of hope for the future. Yet to me the recording sounds a tad sad.  One thinks that there is nothing but hope in outer space yet, the way we treat people on planet Earth, would we even change our ways once in space?  So maybe that is why the recording is both sad and hopeful for a better world or happiness elsewhere.  

I'm also quite fond of "Love and Fury," written by Duke, which sounds like to me the introduction music to a great adventure story.  When I go to the movies, I try to see an action film, and if possible, in technicolor.  If I pay money for something, I want to be taken away from my everyday life into a world of beauty.  I especially like films that take place in a foreign country or culture.  "Love and Fury" sounds like the soundtrack to that type of movie.  It's bigger than life, and when I listen to it, I feel like I'm being sucked into a very special world.  Due that I share this small house with my mom, I listen a lot to my music on headphones, and this particular recording sounds incredible to my private ears.  

Which comes to mind this is not music one wants to share with others, but more of a private or reflective listening experience.  I sense bold emotions but told in a miniature manner, where a small gesture can lead to a bigger truth of some sort.   A lot of the songs here express a desire such as "Chasing Moonbeams," "Dreamin' On A Cloud," Ridin' The Wind," and "Jungle Fever."  These recordings were made in London, and what I have read is that since the war ended, they are still having difficulties with buildings still abandoned or blown up - and the economy is struggling.  So I have to imagine that these songs appeal to the citizen of London (and elsewhere) where they feel the disaster of the 20th century upon them.  I live in Southern California, where things are not that bad, but at least we got good weather.  So hearing this music in that situation or position, it makes me feel happy that I'm here - but on the other hand I have never heard such strange music like this Tornadoes album.

I know I should be looking for a job, or at the very least, think of my future.  On the other hand, when I hear "The Original Telstar," I feel that the future maybe here already, but I'm just not aware of it at this time.  I dream, and I know this album will be its soundtrack. 



Conversation Between Tosh Berman and Gerry Fialka - Where I give my Opinion about everything...

A two-hour interview where I expose all my feelings, thoughts, and god knows what else.  It's here and the gentleman who is interviewing me is Gerry Fialka.    It's here:

https://archive.org/details/ToshBerman

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Sunday Series: April 5, 2015



Sunday April 5, 2015

The closest thing I have, that I think are god-like is my parents.  When my father died when I was 21, it was not only a shock of losing a parent, but realizing that a god can die.  It was at that point in my life I realized that I couldn't count on a higher being or a person to help me out.  If anyone is going to pull myself out of trouble, it will have to be me.   One tends to surrender to a higher power.  Whatever that means to that person, but for me, that strikes me as a very dangerous position to be in.   Faith as a noun, is a thing that one believes in.  I understand the need to believe, and also to be part of something bigger than you.  Religion and family are such a grouping where one hopes to find comfort and hope.  Of course, there are even conflicts in both groupings, which do not make it either an enjoyable experience or give one a sense of security.  Throughout my life I remain outside the two categories, due that I find them both faulty as institutions and over-all, leads to either a controlling factor in one's life, or a game of loyalty.  In the city where I live, Los Angeles, I feel that there is a huge presence of gangs. I think of gangs as a family.  Usually there is a parental figure - or a father figure.  One joins the gang, either due to previous family practice, or the need to be part of a bigger group or family.  The Los Angeles Police Department is another gang.  It operates on the same plane as a criminal street gang.   But this is not the subject of my essay here, it's the return of Jesus to our planet on this Easter Sunday. 

There is a man who has lived on the vacant hill next to our house for the entire past week.  He has a full beard and longish hair, and wears mostly a dirty white robe, whose fabric seems too heavy for this warm season.  He has nothing except a lamb that he carries around.  Often the lamb fallows him around, and both creature and man rarely communicate with any other.  He basically sleeps on the weeds, using the lamb as a pillow.  I have seen people with their dogs, but never have I seen a man and a lamb together.  It makes me feel funny about the wool sweater I have in the closet.  I hope to never wear it in front of this lamb.  



Today it's Sunday and it is Easter, and one could easily presume that this gentleman and his pet are part of the holiday.  There's a church down below the hill, and occasionally the patrons of this specific church stand behind the fence that divides the property between the land owned by the Department of Water and Power and the church.  Over the years, there have been disputes between me, DWP, and the church whose responsibility to clean up the mess that is left here by visitors, homeless people and various gang members.   Today, all eyes are on our current guess resident and his lamb.  

I can clearly understand someone who wants to help Jesus, but don't fully understand why anyone would want to 'serve' Jesus.   If one dares to approach him, he does preach to you - and I once asked him why doesn't he just write it down, that way people can read his views at their leisure.   It seems he doesn't work that way, which for me is unthinkable.  Because I like to write, and to this day I rather communicate to people either through a letter or e-mail.  For instance, I don't like the telephone.  Or to be lost in a conversation with someone.   But Jesus (the historical one as this fellow) prefers to dictate their belief through the art of oral narration.   I got the feeling, knowing that I write, would want me to take his dictation down, but that's silly.  There are computer apps and programs that can do that, if he had a computer.  Alas, he doesn't.  He just has his lamb. 

All of us, meaning the neighborhood came to the hill this Easter morning to see what will happen with our guest and his lamb.  We were all shocked to see that Jesus dug a hole it seemed, overnight, and at the moment, he is roasting his lamb over a flame and coal.  First of all, this is obviously a fire hazard, and second, being a vegetarian I was very much turned-off by what was taking place in front of me.  At first, I couldn't believe my eyes.  I thought maybe he purchased or someone donated some big hunk of meat for him.   My eyes and brain started to work together, and then I realized that the head attached to the rest of the body was the lamb.  The creature's face was still recognizable, and had fur still, even though burnt, you can make out the features - but the rest of the body was just meat.  The smell was horrible as well.  I don't understand why Jesus had to do this on our hill on what looks like will be a beautiful morning.   




Jesus had paper plates, and he started to cut the lamb into pieces and placing it on the plate, and he went out to the small crowd and offered each person a plate of lamb, with lemon on the side.   He came up to me, but I turned down his plate, but I was very polite and told him "No, thank you."  What I did notice is that the crowd that was around became very supportive of our Jesus, and the doubters became if not a friend exactly, at least showed some support.  As I stood there, I didn't feel like I was part of the family, so I went back to my house and played the vinyl version of Steve Reich's "Four Organs" on headphones.  For one, the music sounds better on headphones, and second, I didn't want to share the music with the outside world. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

"Showdown at Forktongue Canyon"

My dad, Wallace Berman, made this poster/flyer for a benefit that took place in Topanga Canyon in 1971.  Hardcore Topanga culture. 

Jean-Claude Vannier and Serge Gainsbourg's Lost Film Score: New CD Box Set.


A holy grail of the Gainsbourg-Vannier catalogue has surfaced after 45 years.
Serge Gainsbourg and Jean-Claude Vannier’s music for the 1969 film Les Chemins de Katmandou, thought to have been lost forever after the master tapes were supposedly destroyed, has resurfaced.
Earlier this year a copy of the master tapes was discovered up in an old suitcase by the daughter of Vannier’s former copyist. That’s Vannier in the photo above, holding the newly recovered music. The tapes have since been transferred and mastered, and portions of the score will finally be released on the forthcoming expanded reissue of Le Cinema De Serge Gainsbourg, a 5CD box set compiling the bulk of the influential French songwriter and composer’s music for film.
Le Cinema De Serge Gainsbourg will also include a number of additional previously unreleased score excerpts, including music from 1980’s Equateur (a film directed by Gainsbourg himself), and a newly discovered piece recorded by Gainsbourg and Vannier for the legendary score to Pierre Granier-Deferre’s 1970 film La Horse.
The box set, produced and compiled by Stéphane Lerouge, includes over six hours of music spanning 1959 to 1990, and includes collaborations with noted composers and arrangers Vannier, Alain Goraguer, Michel Colombier, Arthur Greenslade, and Jean-Pierre Sabar. Rare songs recorded with vocalists Jane Birkin, Anna Karina, Nico, Juliette Gréco, and Michèle Mercier will also be included.
The limited-edition 5CD box set will be released by EmArcy/Mercury/Universal France on April 20 (the proximity to Record Store Day is a coincidence). There has been talk of a vinyl release, said to include the Katmandoumaterial, but no details of a release date or tracklist has yet been announced.
Check out the artwork and tracklist for the CD set below. [via Mikey Jones]
Gainsbourg-Cinema300315
Tracklist:
CD1
1. L’eau a la bouche – Serge Gainsbourg
2. Angoisse – Alain Goraguer
3. Black march – Alain Goraguer
4. Les loups dans la bergerie – Alain Goraguer
5. Cha cha cha du loup – Alain Goraguer
6. Les loups dans la bergerie – Alain Goraguer & His Orchestra
7. Fuite du rouquin – Alain Goraguer & His Orchestra
8. Strip tease – Juliette Gréco
9. Some small chance – Alain Goraguer
10. Rendez-vous a la calvados – Alain Goraguer
11. Wake me at five – Alain Goraguer
12. Solitude – Alain Goraguer
13. Effeuillage – Alain Goraguer
14. Crazy horse swing – Alain Goraguer
15. Comment trouvez-vous ma soeur? – Serge Gainsbourg
16. Erotico tico – Michel Colombier
17. Rocking horse – Michel Colombier
18. Quart d’heure américain – Michel Colombier
19. Rendez-vous a l’eglise – Michel Colombier
20. Comment trouvez-vous ma sour? – Michel Colombier
21. L’escroc – Serge Gainsbourg
22. Scène de bal 1 – Michel Colombier
23. Scène de bal 2 – Michel Colombier
24. Chanson du forçat – Serge Gainsbourg
25. Le mariage de vidocq – Michel Colombier
26. Chanson du forcat II – Serge Gainsbourg
27. A vous de jouer, monsieur vidocq – Michel Colombier
28. Woom woom woom – Michel Colombier
29. Caressante – Michel Colombier
30. Wouaou ! – Michel Colombier
CD2
1. Sous le soleil exactement – Anna Karina
2. Jerks en cavalerie – Michel Colombier
3. C’est la cristallisation comme dit stendhal – Serge Gainsbourg
4. Photographes et religieuses – Michel Colombier
5. Boomerang – Jean Claude Brialy
6. Je n’avais qu’un seul mot a lui dire – Jean Claude Brialy
7. Anna – Michel Colombier
8. Le jardinier d’argenteuil – Michel Colombier
9. Les voyages du père la tulipe – Michel Colombier
10. French riviera – Michel Colombier
11. Dénouement et final – Michel Colombier
12. Breakdown suite – Michel Colombier
13. L’une et l’autre – Michel Colombier
14. Elisa – Serge Gainsbourg
15. L’horizon – Michel Colombier
16. Elisa – Serge Gainsbourg
17. Manon – Serge Gainsbourg
18. New délire again – Michel Colombier
19. New délire – Michel Colombier
20. Auto-stop – Michel Colombier
21. No no yes yes – Michel Colombier
22. Oh beautiful america/mister freedom march – Michel Colombier
23. Freedom rock/mister freedom – Michel Colombier
24. L’herbe tendre – Serge Gainsbourg
25. Ce sacré grand-père générique – Michel Colombier
26. Champêtre et pop – Michel Colombier
27. L’herbe tendre – Michel Colombier
28. L’adieu generique fin – Michel Colombier
CD3
1. Requiem pour un con… – Serge Gainsbourg
2. Psychasténie – Michel Colombier
3. Un noël – Michel Colombier
4. Joss a la calavados – Michel Colombier
5. Batucada meurtrière – Michel Colombier
6. Cadavres en série – Michel Colombier
7. La chanson de slogan – Serge Gainsbourg
8. Evelyne – Jean-Claude Vannier
9. Paris-bombay – Jean-Claude Vannier
10. Les chemins de katmandou (générique) – Jean-Claude Vannier
11. Jane et olivier – Jean-Claude Vannier
12. Transe party des haschichiens – Jean-Claude Vannier
13. Carte postale du népal – Jean-Claude Vannier
14. La horse – Jean-Claude Vannier
15. L’alouette – Jean-Claude Vannier
16. Western – Jean-Claude Vannier
17. Cannabis – Serge Gainsbourg
18. Avant de mourir – Jean-Claude Vannier
19. Danger – Jean-Claude Vannier
20. Dernière blessure – Jean-Claude Vannier
21. Cannabis – Jean-Claude Vannier
22. Sex shop – Serge Gainsbourg
23. Fontaine des innocents – Jean-Claude Vannier
24. Sex radio suite – Jean-Claude Vannier
25. Moogy-woogy – Jean-Claude Vannier
26. Close combat – Jean-Claude Vannier
27. Un petit garçon nommé charlie brown – Serge Gainsbourg
CD4
1. L’amour en privé – Françoise Hardy
2. Projection privée – Jean-Claude Vannier
3. L’amour en privé – Jean-Claude Vannier
4. Ballade de johnny-jane – Serge Gainsbourg
5. Je t’aime moi non plus – Jean-Pierre Sabar
6. Banjo au bord du styx – Jean-Pierre Sabar
7. Zanzibar – Jean-Pierre Sabar
8. Le choc est terrible – Jean-Pierre Sabar
9. Yesterday yes a day – Jane Birkin
10. First class ticket/yesterday on fender – Jean-Pierre Sabar
11. Mi corasong – Serge Gainsbourg
12. Passage a tabacco – Serge Gainsbourg
13. Chanson du chevalier blanc – Gérard Lanvin
14. Emmanuelle and the sea – Jean-Pierre Sabar
15. Goodbye emmanuelle – Serge Gainsbourg
16. Emmanuelle and the sea – Jean-Pierre Sabar
17. Sea sex and sun – Serge Gainsbourg
18. Melancoly suite – Jean-Pierre Sabar
19. Tapage nocturne – Bijou
20. Dieu fumeur de havanes – Jean-Pierre Sabar
21. La fautive – Serge Gainsbourg
22. La fautive – Don Ray
23. Je pense queue – Serge Gainsbourg
24. Dieu fumeur de havanes – Catherine Deneuve
CD5
1. Equateur (générique) – Serge Gainsbourg
2. Un cargo vers l’afrique – Serge Gainsbourg
3. Le physique et le figuré – Jean-Pierre Sabar
4. Dorothée (fuir le bonheur de peur qu’il ne se sauve) – Serge Gainsbourg
5. Accéléré historique – Serge Gainsbourg
6. En souvenir de fred a. – Serge Gainsbourg
7. Travelling – Jean-Pierre Sabar
8. Entrave – Jean-Pierre Sabar
9. Trave – Jean-Pierre Sabar
10. Travaux – Jean-Pierre Sabar
11. Charlotte for ever – Serge Gainsbourg
12. Stan/elodie – Serge Gainsbourg
13. La valse de l’au revoir – Juliette Gréco
14. Strip tease – Nico
15. La fille qui fait tchictitchic – Michèle Mercier
16. La noyée – Anna Karina
17. Hier ou demain – Anna Karina
18. Ballade de johnny jane – Jane Birkin
19. Goodbye emmanuelle – Serge Gainsbourg
20. Les chemins de katmandou – Fred Pallem
21. La horse – Marathon Men’S
22. Requiem pour un con – Serge Gainsbourg
Original source for the above information:

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Sunday Series: Sunday March 29, 2015



Sunday March 29, 2015

I loathe Sundays.  The day of rest is a day of thinking about resting.  Sunday is like being slowly buried alive.  Just as my face is being covered, Monday comes along, and you're dealing with the thought of once again, facing another Sunday.  To this very day, I'm still confused if Sunday is the first day of the week, or the last.  The vagueness of it, drives me insane.  I can never understand the mania about Sundays.  All I know is that by chance if I feel restless, it seems to be always on a Sunday.  Fucking Sunday.



The other thing that bothers me is that I travel throughout Los Angeles on the bus, and the bus schedules on Sundays are slow or non-existent.  Many times I find myself in a part of town, and not being able to get out of that area, due to the limited bus services on Sunday.  Once on the bus, no problem, but waiting for a bus that may or may not show up, is torture.  Also, there are few shade trees on streets or especially at a bus stop.  Direct sunlight which causes skin cancer is also part of the equation of life on a Sunday.

Sunday is also the one day of the week, where I think about the other six days of that week. For me, it's the period at the end of the sentence.  Rarely does the week work out OK for me.  So my depression kicks in on a Sunday, realizing that I was pretty much of a failure throughout that week.  When the thick Sunday paper hits my door every Sunday morning, the depression is so thick, I feel like I can't swallow.   The paper rarely has news of that day, but mostly looking back on the week - which is like looking at my weekly journal, which is mostly blank.   Which to be honest is a perfect self-portrait.



I've read that German and Swedish researchers have determined that Sunday is the most depressing day of the week for a lot of people.  It was suggested on one website to write a letter to yourself on a Sunday night, and the second part of the letter, imagine yourself doing something exciting.  Moronic advice which even makes me more depressed.

"The Sunday Night Blues" is the terminology for those who can't face the rest of the week, and realize that Sunday is just a reminder of things to come.  Which is partly true for me, but what I loathe the most about that specific day is that it's set up as a day of relaxation or meditative thoughts.  Those who control the calendar also control the world.  I'm even upset that there is a 24-hour day.  The restriction of days, months and even years I find to be restrictive and totally depressing with respect to the creative spirit.    If I was free of Sundays, I feel I could take each day as it is, and not what I imagined it would be.



I can't imagine anything worse than the Sunday Brunch.   The combination of breakfast and lunch.  More likely an excuse for those who can't get up early for breakfast, which leads to a sense of guilt of missing that meal and having lunch instead.  A world that is not causal made up this late morning/early afternoon meal - and it is usually a social outing, where one has to deal with the like-minded crowd.  It's a disgusting practice.   British author Guy Beringer coined the phrase "brunch" in an article printed in "Hunter's Weekly" in 1895.   Brunch was proposed by him as a stance against the meal after one goes to church.  It should be lighter in mood.  Beringer's theory is that the brunch will "put you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week."  For me, it is totally the opposite.  I can't stand eating with a group of people who honor the work week by having a meal together on a Sunday.

Also the Sunday brunch was a good excuse for those who are burned-out, due to their work week, to start drinking alcohol in the late morning.  Bloody Marys, Bellinis and Mimosas are the popular drinks tied to the image of Brunch on a Sunday.  In the United States, brunch became part of the social life in the 1930s.   The hotel restaurant also jumped in because a lot of restaurants were closed on Sunday - so there was a service that needed to be offered.  Traditionally it is agreed upon that brunch takes place between 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM. Oddly enough, this is the time-frame where I do most of my writing.



For years, I have refused to have "brunch" due that it cuts into my private time with pen and paper.   The fact that most have to have a social life while working, and then on the weekend they are expected to once again, have a "social life" is a life of misery.   One needs not only to eliminate the 'brunch' but also the concept of a day of imprisonment - known as Sunday.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Culture Trip on Tosh Berman

http://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/articles/tosh-berman-and-the-madness-of-literature/

A very nice write-up regarding my "2014" series as well as "June 1, 2014" chapbook that was recently released.   The link above will lead you to the article.  Merci "The Culture Trip.com."

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Sunday Series: Sunday March 22, 2015



Sunday No. 11

Sunday March 22, 2015

In my many moments of pure crisis, I often find myself at the Santa Monica Pier - not only for the view of the Pacific Ocean, but more importantly, Zoltar the Fortune Teller.   I tend to make the wrong choice at the worst times in my life, so I choose to let fate take a hold of me, by giving my role of chance to Zoltar.   Like others in my troubles, I tend to look at a higher power to lead me out of the darkness into the lightness.  For whatever reasons, I have always been attracted to the Santa Monica Pier, not due to its tourist attractions, but the darkness that seems to lurk in the shadows between the arcade games.   It is one thing to be here in bright daylight with others, but to be surrounded by the machines themselves in the dead of the night, is almost a spiritual re-awakening.  I have to admit I felt fear when I'm here alone in the arcade, but also feel that I'm only a foot away from my existence, and therefore feel more alive than anywhere else or time. 

The Santa Monica Pier opened in 1909, which was a very much different world then.  The extension from land or beach to the sea, must have been a sign of significant meeting - in that one is honoring the horizon that the ocean represents.    For me, when I look out at the edge of the pier to the vast amount of water, I think there is no turning back once one makes that journey beyond the shore.  So, instead of going forward to the horizon, I turn my back to the ocean, and head towards Zoltar. 



This particular vending machine only cost a quarter, and lucky they had a change machine near-by.  I put my quarter in, and received a fortune from Zoltar saying: "You are a strong believer in fate."   At that moment, that belief was extremely strong.  I looked into Zoltar's eyes to see if I can receive a recognition of some sort.  Oddly enough, I couldn't get a fix on his eyes.  It seemed that he was looking away from me, perhaps as far away as my past.  "You feel you have no control over your destiny."   No shit Zoltar!  I often wander around the pier after midnight, hoping to see a sign saying 'don't jump into the ocean."   



Instead I look at my fortune card that came from the vending machine, and it tells me that my lucky numbers are 10, 12, 13, 2, 1.   Since today is the 22nd, and I didn't see 22 as among my lucky numbers, I felt I was on very dangerous ground.  All I could hear was the hum of the Zoltar machine, and the waves hitting the pier.  For whatever reason, I thought of a piece of music by Edgar Varése "Arcana."  The original arrangement consists of an orchestra with 120 musicians, and yet, here I can just hear Zoltar and the ocean.  Both have an organic quality, and I always thought of Varése as a composer tied closely with rural and urban sounds.   And here I'm, standing by the fortune vending machine, and only feet away from the majestic ocean, which is calling out to me.


As I was very much alone, I felt more romantic.  It started to rain, and I had no desire to hide myself from the tears.  Alas, I read the last part of my fortune, which reads "fate will be kind to you and you can expect your life to run on a smoother pattern."  I looked back at the ocean, and immediately realized that my destiny lies not there, but with Zoltar.   I made a promise right there, that I would never leave the pier, nor will peer pressure will ever make me jump into the ocean.  My thoughts, my life, are an island of contentment. 


Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Sunday Series: Sunday March 15, 2015



Sunday March 15, 2015

What I find fascinating about nature is that I have no interest in it.  Also I wonder, living in Los Angeles, if I can fully go into 'nature. ' Where I live, I'm surrounded by parks and mountain trails.  Yet, as far as I can gather, these trails were made by humans. So the very nature of either building a road or making a trail is already changing what is once 'wild' nature.   Most people don't even think about what is or what isn't nature, but for me, it's important to make the distinction between 'real' nature and 'man (woman) -made' nature.  Is the reflection we see, is that real or not real?  As I get older I crave to see or feel something that is real.  So far, when I take my walks in the hills of rural Los Angeles, I feel I'm on a movie set, than say a natural landscape that is untouched by human hands.



While reading up on the history of Griffith Park, I was surprised to learn that there was an Indian tribe called "Gabrielinos" (now called the Gabrielino-Tongva tribe) that lived in the area.  It seemed that Corporal Jose' Vicente Feliz was rewarded with a Spanish land grant in 1775.  Colonel Griffith J. Griffith acquired the land in 1882 and eventually gave it as a gift to the city of Los Angeles in 1896.  In 1934, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built retaining walls, hiking trails, access roads, maintenance, and restored some of the structure that are in the park.   The CCC camp, after Pearl Harbor was attacked, became a prison of sorts for Issei (Japanese people who immigrated to a new country), who were considered by the FBI to be 'enemy aliens. ' Griffith Park Detention Camp could hold around 70 men.   It seems that the major crime by these people, was the fact that they were part of the Japanese race.   As of today, Sunday, I can find no trace of this world.

The only thing I connect to is an image of Smokey the Bear.   Smokey has been around since 1944, so he was ten years old when I was born in 1954.  Throughout my life I was aware of Smokey, and he is the one consistent figure in my whole life.  So as I enter the park, he is the one that greets me.  It has been reported by the Ad Council, that Smokey is recognized in the U.S. BY 95% of adults, and 77% of children.  I have memories of having a Smokey the Bear lunch box.  The message that became very clear to me, was “only me, can prevent forest fires.” Whenever a fire breaks out in a forest, to this day, I feel responsible for the destruction.



Living near Griffith Park, I feel that it’s my almost private playground.   Although I do share it with a million other people at the very least, I still feel like it’s a reflection of my life.   My wife and I walk up to the Griffith Park Observation to look over the magnificent landscape that is Los Angeles, which as we all know by now, is the greatest city on the West Coast.  It is interesting to note that the Observatory opened up in 1935, around the same time that the CCC was building up the park.  A utopia vision of the mixture of nature and the stars - the perfect partnership.  Being a long-time fan of “Adventures of Superman” TV show, I was happy to discover that they used the Observatory as Jor-El’s laboratory on the planet Krypton.   We went inside of the Observation to see the Foucault pendulum as well as the refracting telescope, Zeiss. The song "Lost in the Stars' came to my mind as we sat there and watch the stars appear on the ceiling.  Someone behind me made a 'moo' sound, and at first, it annoyed me, but I followed him up by doing a rooster.  It was a full audience, and it seemed everyone looked at us in the darkness or one or two voices saying "shut-up."   We did, and speaking for myself, I just pretended it didn't happen in the first place.



When we walked out of the Observatory, I noticed a statue or a bust of a face.  I walked up to it, and I admired the way the sculpture captured the hairstyle of the person's face.  The next time I get a haircut, I want to bring this bust with me to show to the barber what type of haircut I want.  It's very difficult at times, to communicate with a hair-cutter in exactly what you want.  For instance, if I tell them that I want my haircut to be a combination of Elvis 1956 mixed with touches of Bowie's Ziggy haircut of 1972, I would mostly get a blank stare.   But here, bringing this statue, I think would solve that problem.  A photograph would be helpful, but bringing an object that is 3-dimensional I think is better.  That way, the hair-cutter can see the object from all sides and angles.  Then again, maybe I'm putting too much thought on to all of this.

As we walked down the hill taking us to Los Feliz boulevard, we ran upon a pack of coyotes that were eating something that was once alive.  I wasn't sure if the victim was human or beast, but we just walked down the street and paid no attention to the carnage in front of us.  Griffith Park means many things to people, but for me, it is a reflection that is life, but life as being projected by yours truly on a very warm Sunday afternoon.  

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Sunday Series : Sunday March 8, 2015



Sunday No. 9
Sunday March 7, 2015

As I sit here looking at my tree outside the window, I notice that the seasons play havoc with its leaves, and therefore so does nature with my beard.  I never liked to shave, due that I find the daily procedures boring.  I have a thick beard, and if I wanted to be totally clean-shaven, I need to do it every morning.  Sometime ago, I decided to only shave once a week.   Only on Sundays, I would shave.  But the weekly process of trimming the beard and then getting a razor was like being in school. I don't like to be told what to do -either by teacher or nature.  It wasn't that long ago that I started to see a barber for a hair trim and shave every Sunday.   A shave and trim costs $60, while just getting a full-shave is $35.   I have this thing where I detest odd numbers coming up on my bill.  So just to avoid that, I always throw in a trim as well to make the total into an even 60.



I like to think my haircut is as precise as my personal life. Neatness is a sign of a civilized man, and to this day, I'm bothered to see if some male is either wearing his hairstyle wrong, or the clothing is off.    Socks to me is the real test.  They should match with something that you are wearing.  Shirt or even, a hat is good if it's the same color or pattern as your socks.  It's a little gesture, but the actions will take you far.  Also it serves as a mental exercise as well.  To locate the right pair of socks with the correct shirt can be a treasure hunt, but if you're good at it, the awards are plenty.  I have noticed that most women are aware of the sock and shirt combination.   The best or as I call it, my masterpiece is the argyle sock that matches the sleeveless argyle v-neck sweater. Powered blue button down shirt, either opened at the neck or buttoned up - your choice.  But the color combination is a real winner.



Every Sunday I do my best to dress as the best I can before I see my barber in Echo Park.   He knows me well enough (not my life, but what I prefer in a haircut and shave).  I remember the first time I saw him, and it was a joyful experience.  I got into his barber chair not knowing what to say exactly.  I always felt it was beneath me to show an image of the haircut I wanted.  To articulate your desires verbally to your barber is the best form of communication.   I told him that I wanted a haircut that was short as possible on the sides, and a tad long on the top.  He asked me if I wanted a "1" or a "2" for the sides I told him that I didn't know the difference.  He cut my hair to a "2" on the side, and then showed it to me.  It was long.  I told him a "1."  He then suggested a 1 and then a "2" and will cut half-an-inch on the top.   That sounded perfect and that is exactly what he did.



The best part of the haircut is when he focused on the hairline above the ears.  I was obsessed that he cut it in a way where the skin was shown, and that the whole area had to be 'clean' with no hair whatsoever going over the ears. He also spent time tracking down all the hair on my ears as well.  One of the things I hate the most is finding hair in or on my ears.  I hate to see it when I'm talking to a male person, and the first thing I notice is the hair either on the ear, or worse coming out of a nose nostril.  I do have poor eyesight, but still, the details are extremely important.  At home, I have a check list of things that must be looked at on a regular basis - which includes hair on the ears, coming out of the nose, and hair on the nose.  And eyebrows must be trimmed at all times.  Bushy eyebrows cannot be helped, but surely one can keep them trimmed and for God's sake don't allow hair between the two eyebrows.  One doesn't need a bridge between the left and right eyebrow.



The beauty of having a shave is being in someone's power.  As soon as the shave starts, my eyes are closed shut.  To this day, I have never seen a straight razor blade approaching my face.  The first thing he did was put a lotion on my face, and then a hot towel covering everything except my nose.  Once removed he forces my head to one side and starts to work on the neck and on up.  I can actually feel every hair being cut on my neck. Not exactly painful, but there is the feeling of something being cut off your neck and face.  The slight pain is part of the procedure, because every time you feel the tinge of pain or discomfort, you get an award of a soothing cream or hot towel or both.  When I shave I always shave upwards, but not once does he do that.  It is all downstrokes, and the whole procedure takes at least a half-n'-hour. It never fails, that I think of Sweeny Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street while feeling the blade against my throat.   Somewhere in that procedure he put on something that stung me slightly, but the smell was Royall lime.  I remember the scent of the after-shave, because my Dad wore it all the time.  There was one time he picked me up from the ground to kiss me, I must have been three or year years old, but I clearly remember the smoothness of his face right after he shaved as well as the royal lime scent.

As I was sitting in the barber chair, I was suddenly in another place, location and time.  The music being played over the barbershop sound system was Charlie Parker, when he was making recordings for Dial records in Glendale, California.  A sound that was very much part of my childhood at the family home.  So the combination of the scent, the hot towel and the memory of the smooth skin of my dad brought me into another dimension.



The images that were in my brain eventually became a black and white 8mm film, and once the towel was removed, and I opened my eyes, the world was in Technicolor.  The first time, the first trip is always the best, and after that, you're just trying to capture that lost moment.  Although my face is right, the hair perfect, and the shave as smooth as that girl's ass - I'm feeling out of time.  Like a stray dog knowing where his food is, I go back to the barber shop every Sunday to get my emotional fix for the rest of the week.  

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tosh Berman Reads & Discusses the "2014 Series" at Alias Books East on Friday March 20, 7:30 P.M.




Here's a quick peek at the cover (one of four colors) of June 1, 2014, one of the pieces Tosh Berman will read Friday the 20th at Alias Books East. 7:30pm. Punch & Pie Served.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Sunday Series: Sunday No. 8 (March 1, 2015)



Sunday No. 8

Since today is Sunday, this is the day where I’m going to build my ideal record shop within one of my rooms in our house.   I often dream of living in a record store - but not just any record store, but one from the 1950s or early 1960s.  The mid-modern interior plus music is a seductive image for me.  In my dreams, I have often looked at out-of-print albums and just being amazed that I’m holding them - but alas it is only a dream.  But as they say, “dreams can happen.”  



For the vinyl, I basically sold everything except the house and clothes I wear on a daily basis.  The artwork was sold, as well as my car and the wife’s car as well.  I also went on a diet of just eating one meal a day, to save money to purchase not only quantity but quality vinyl as well.   I went to various dealers at the Pasadena Swap Meet in the Pasadena City College - and purchased a great deal of vinyl.  Around 3,000 pieces.  I have a sizable classical section, which is mostly the label Columbia “Masterworks, ” series; the so-called six eye label. Then of course, the complete Dial Jazz recordings as well as Miles’ Columbia releases (of course, and again, the six eye label) as well as every release from Reprise Records, the label started by Frank Sinatra in 1960.  And for good measure most of the releases from Capital Records 1950s era.   Then I have a sizable section of Factory Records, and of course, The Beatles Apple releases - but not the actual Beatle recordings, but the other artists who had albums issued on that label. 



The actual room which will now be a record store is 100 feet by 100 feet.  It’s a decent size room and it used to be our living room.  Using vintage photographs of authentic record shops from the 1940s to early 1960s, I pretty much have the design for my dream room.   I had to re-do the walls and floor, and I actually covered up a window by placing it with a giant image of the Columbia six eye label.  I went for the art deco meets mid-century retail interior look for this room.   Since the windows were removed, I could put up album displays on the walls, and then I built a long counter, where I placed the turntable and register machine.  Even though it’s a real register, there is not any money in it.   I also built a magazine rack and filled it with vintage 16 Magazine, Tiger Beat, old copies of NME, Melody Maker, and the first two or three issues of Rolling Stone Magazine (when they were still situated in San Francisco).   The turntable I purchased for the space is The Thorens TD 124, which was first introduced in 1957, but mine is actually from 1966.   The additional Goldring 850 cartridge with the Rega II tone arm made this the ultimate turntable. It’s very important that when playing vintage vinyl that you also use a vintage turntable as well. 



After finishing the decor and getting the inventory together, is to add a very important element in the whole picture.  I needed a very beautiful and sexy girl to work behind the counter as well as help me to keep the records in their sections.   With that in mind I needed to re-finance my home, to raise funds for payroll to finance such a person.   I went to Amoeba to locate the most stunning woman employee there, and believe me there are plenty of beautiful eye-candy material.  But I also need a woman who can talk and think about vinyl as well as looking good in a 1950s vintage dress.   No slacks or casual wear is allowed in my private record store.   Also she must be single, and not be involved with anyone else, besides me of course. 



I choose a girl by the name of Virginia.  She had long straight blonde hair that came to her derrière, and I made sure she wore short skirts, due that she had long lovely legs.   I also insisted that she be barefooted while working in my record store space.  So there was a touch of the Sandie Shaw aspect of her as well.  She totally agreed to everything, and it was an extra plus that she was very much into 20th century classical music and was quite a fan of the composer Luciano Berio. 



The genius touch, was to be able to add a small bar at the left side of the sales counter.  That is where I kept my various bottles of wine, as well as sake (planning to add Japanese showa era pop music) and whisky.  The opening day when everything came together was on Sunday March 1.   Virginia showed up for work in a proper work attire, and I eventually got myself a drink of whisky and water.  I sat down and while she was behind the counter she put on a copy of Berio’s “Sinfonia” with the composer conducting the piece.  As I approach my older age, I realized that one shouldn’t have to compromise their stance in the world.  This privileged place, or room, with Virginia, is and will be my final statement left on this world. 


-Inspired by Lun*na Menoh & Boris Vian.