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.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Sunday Series: Sunday No. 7

Sunday no. 7

A Sunday in the park, and who knows what we will see or experience at Griffith Park.  My wife and I wandered through the park without a plan or thought in our head.   We didn’t even do it for exercise, but more of a thought that we can discover something new in our lives.   Even though it was a sunny morning, there was something dark about the way the plants greeted us as we enter its kingdom.   Park Rangers managed to put speakers throughout the park, where they played Brahms 4th Symphony, which I have to say, is one of my favorite pieces of music.   The grandness of the melodies in this specific symphony matched the moodiness of the park itself. 

As we walked past the abandoned or closed merry-go-round, I felt a tinge of fear in my chest. I didn’t say anything to my wife, because I didn’t want to admit to her what I was feeling.  I knew from the very moment I opened my eyes, that we would go for this walk.  I sought to put it off, but she was very convincing that this activity would be good for the both of us.  “a healthy body makes a healthy mind,” someone once said, and I’m not sure if the author of that quote is still here with us.  Nevertheless, the first sense that came to me was the smell of fresh horseshit on the dirt walking path.  I also understand why people walk together in these hills, because for one, it is very easy to get lost, and two, if you fall down a hill, you may stay there till death takes over. 

As we walked on the pathway, I was trying to imagine what is around the corner.  The total unknown aspect was slightly scary to me.   As we walked on the pathway to whatever it is, I kept hearing sounds on the side of the hill.   We stopped, and looked at the direction and I can make out what we think was a human figure behind a tree.  It didn’t move, so we didn’t move.  After awhile, we stood there silently and chose to move on.  Around the bend we saw what looked like a skeleton of a dead animal.  My wife thought it looked like a human’s skeleton, but I thought “No, that’s not possible.” I took a stick to move the bones around, and I was convinced that it was an animal, but it must have been a large animal.  Perhaps an ape?  Are there wild apes at Griffith Park?

As we went further down the pathway, we saw a side of the landscape that looked like it had small tunnels, but were actually holes.  Me, being me, wanted to stick my hand in the hole to see what would happen.   I did so, and I touched something that felt like fur, but also it seemed dead.  By instinct I tried to pull the fur object out of the hole, but it wouldn’t budge out of the tight area.  My wife told me to stop, and after 26 years of marriage I did so.  Still, once I pulled my hand out of the hole, I smelled my fingers and there was a scent on it that seemed like death to me.  Then again, it could have just been the smell of my clear nail polish. 

Nature being natural, always struck me as an artificial world.  Once a human stomps on the side of nature, it becomes a mere representation of what we think is “nature.” When I put my hand in the hole or perhaps it is even a gopher’s entrance to an inner world, I still wanted to touch something that was part of another world. Clearly I don’t belong here.  Nor does anyone else.   For nature to be natural, it needs to be separate from the rest of the urban world. 

As I write, I ‘m surrounded by plastic plants, because I like the idea of nature, but I prefer the representation of it.  For one, these artificial plants will never die.  And two, the death of nature is very disturbing to me.  I walk in the park, and all I see is death.  Beautiful death, but nevertheless, death.  

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Sunday Series: Sunday No. 6 (February 15, 2015)

Sunday No. 6 (February 15, 2015)

I look back so far, that I can’t see what is in front of me.  Whenever I go to a concert, I’m totally focused on who is there, meaning in the audience.  Even when the music is being performed and the musicians are dancing on the stage, my eyes are still wandering around the theater, in the hopes that I see someone I know.  A concert has no meaning unless you fill it up with people you know.  The best part of the show is talking to friends online about how excited you are to go to the event, and then getting there a little bit early to hang out in the lobby of the theater - to both check out the merchant table as well as seeing friends.  The actual show starting is a combination of excitement, and disappointment at the same time.  The truth is we are excited to sit down and to see the show, but in reality we just want to communicate to others how excited we are being there, and want to celebrate the communal feeling that we all have.  For instance, I purchased a new suit for the concert, and I really want my friends to see me in my outfit.   It is not unusual for me to totally not remembering the actual show on stage, but I of course, have a crystal clear memory of every transaction that took place right before the concert.  I even enjoy getting in line for security.  There is something thrilling about having a pair of hands checking out your leg and torso for hidden weapons of some sort.   If it was me separated from the crowd, I would be offended.  But to be with the others, and sharing the experience of being man-handled, is actually quite superb.  We often get together and complain about the same things.

I started to appreciate music when my best friend brought me a copy of Sparks “Kimono My House” to my home.  He puts it on my turntable, and we immediately began to talk about girls.  At the time, he was going on a date with a girl that I liked a lot.  He knew it, and he loved to tell me sexy stuff about her.  He got great enjoyment in sharing their intimate moments with me.   I remember feeling jealous, yet turned on at the same time.  It was at that moment, when there was silence between us, that I noticed the music on the turntable.  I ask him whether he likes it?  He said “of course. I brought it for you to hear.” Which makes perfect sense.  It’s funny that I had a turntable in the house, because I only got it, because a friend demanded that I get one.  He claimed that if you like music, you must have the proper gear to listen to music.  At the time, I told everyone that I loved music, but in truth, I only liked to hear music either at parties or in nightclubs. I would never think about listening to music in one’s own home.  What is the purpose of that?

My appreciation of music comes specifically from friends or people I’m interested in.  I often join music online chat groups, mostly if not fully for the reason of the people themselves.  There was a girl that I fancied and she told me she was a fan of a group called “The Hollywood Stars, ” who no longer exist.  I think they made one album, and even that, I’m not sure if that’s the case or not.  Again, I joined the chat list to stay connected to this particular girl.   I learned about the band through her, and I guess they came from Los Angeles sometime in the 1970s.  She gave me a cd-r of their music, but I never took the trouble to play it - but I told her that I liked the music anyway.  She told me that the cd-r was a recorded rehearsal for one of their shows - or maybe it was a demo tape they gave out to promoters.  Nevertheless, she thought it was pretty hot and rare, and I acted surprised and honoured to have received such a gift.   Through her and others, on the chat line we became a real-life sociable group, and would often go out to concerts together.  I never discussed music in detail with these people, but I would let them know that I do own the cd-r of the Hollywood Stars, and by this time, I think everyone in the group got a hold of it.  Damn, I even made several copies for my friends, now come to think of it.

All three of us met at my house, and as we wait for UBER to pick us up, I reflect on how grateful I am of culture and what it brings to my life.  Without it, I wouldn’t have the friends I have now.  At times, I feel that they don’t really know me, but I know them quite well.   As we get in the car and head for darkness of the night, my heart actually gets brighter for me.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Sunday Series: Sunday No. 5 (February 8, 2015)

Sunday No. 5

As a writer I have two interests.  Writing and going to Amoeba Music.  Nothing else really has a hold on my life.  The presence of my writing, which to be honest, blows me over.  To celebrate a perfect sentence or two, I usually go to Amoeba to celebrate my day of work.  Or to be honest, my half-n’ hour work in getting that sentence or two down on paper or computer screen.   The fact is right in the middle of the sentence, I’m already thinking about taking the bus to Amoeba.  I have the ability to think about two things at once.  My writing and the need to get to the record store.  I should stay home and finish the paragraph at the very least, but art is calling me, and like the salmon swimming against the tide of the river to reproduce, I too have a need to get to the record store in such a manner.

Like my writing, I don’t like to consider what I’m going to write about, until the very first sentence is written.   So in that spirit I go into the record store without a thought in my head.  Overall I know what sections the store to go to at first, because I started to have an appreciation of classical music.  The thing with me is I crave new sounds.   But I only like ‘old’ sounds, so what’s older than classical music?  Like most people of my generation, I discovered the classics through Stanley Kubrick.  If it wasn’t for him, I would more likely never heard of Beethoven’s music - although I knew the name, and often lie to people that I knew his music as well.  The fact is I discovered Beethoven through Wendy Carlos’ soundtrack to “A Clockwork Orange.” At the time of the original release of the film, there was nothing happening.  When you see Alex staring at you from the huge screen at the Cinerama Dome on Sunset Bouvelard, one becomes transfixed by that image as well as the music in the background.  Often when I write, I always have music in the background.  I avoid music with words or lyrics, because that would throw me off of my work on hand, but a nice drone or classical piece is like putting gasoline in my engine. I’m ready to roar with the appropriate sounds.

I purchased the latest Bob Dylan album “Shadows in the Night” and Glenn Branca’s “Lesson No. 1.” The Dylan is his album of standards, and Branca is one guitar rave-up.  On one level, it is just like the last part of a Yardbirds song, when all the guitars go crazy.  Glenn Branca is that part but with no chorus or words.  So it’s very hardcore and right-to-the-point type of music for me. At times, I just crave that guitar sound - and when you have at least five electric guitars going at once, well it is sort of like heaven.

Today being Sunday, I'm finding myself totally not motivated in writing a piece.   I wouldn’t say I exactly have a writer’s block, because I did write two perfectly fine sentences earlier today.  No, it’s not the writing, but more of a reflection problem.  I look at the window, with the Glenn Branca music blaring behind me, and I look at a tree, and oddly enough that image of the tree stays the same.  I look at it and think of it as a human body made out of wood, but that’s stupid.  A tree is a tree.  I of course start thinking of the tree as a “tree of life.” But no matter how long I look at it, and I even went outside to get another perspective, it is obviously a tree is nothing more than a tree.

I came back in, and got in front of my laptop.  Slowly sitting here, I am starting to realize that a whole world is opening up to me.  As I write, I’m in my living room.  I’m surrounded by my books as well as a decent, but not high-end hi-fi system.  Through the internet, I can order food to be delivered, so there is no reason for me to leave - like ever.   I’m feeling a certain amount of content of just being, and not thinking about it.  My existence is both, important and non-important.  If I die while writing, more likely it will take several days for someone to discover my body.  Therefore it’s imperative to always dress well, even at home.  Not only must I have clean underwear (of course), but also to make sure I dress like it will be the final day of my life.   The things around me, the objects on my work table, must tell the definitive narrative of my life.  With that intensity how can one possibly be ever bored!

Sunday represents a day of rest, but I can’t allow myself that form of thinking.  Everyday, including Sundays, are to be regarded as time passing, and how one deals with the aspect of a series of moments going by - is the art of living.   So yes, that tree outside my window is essentially both important and not important, but what is important is that I notice that tree.   And I think of you as well, my dear readers.   When and if when I do die at my table working on my Sunday piece, I’m thinking of you, till my last dying breath.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Robert Greene discusses his and Catherine Texier's translation of Jacques Mesrine's "The Death Instinct" at Skylight Books

ROBERT GREENE discusses his and Catherine Texier's translation of JACQUES MESRINE'S THE DEATH INSTINCT

The Death Instinct (Tam Tam Books)
France's Public Enemy Number One from the late 1960s to the end of the 1970s--when he was killed by police in a sensational traffic shootout--Jacques Mesrine (1936-1979) is the best-known criminal in French history. Mesrine was notorious both for his violent exploits and for the media attention he attracted, and he remains very much a public media figure in France and Europe. In 2008 there were two feature-length films based on his life, one of them starring Vincent Cassel in the lead role. Mesrine wrote The Death Instinct while serving time in the high-security prison La Sante; the manuscript was smuggled out of the prison and was later published by Guy Debord's publisher Gerard Lebovici (who briefly adopted Mesrine's daughter, Sabrina, before being assassinated, a few years after Mesrine). The Death Instinct deals with the early years of Mesrine's criminal life, including a horrifically graphic description of a murder he committed early on in his career and a highly detailed account of the workings of the French criminal underworld--making this book perhaps one of the most intriguing and detailed anthropological studies of a criminal culture ever written.
Praise for The Death Instinct:
"Jacques Mesrine was a modern Robin Hood. Modern in the sense that his story includes violence, spectacle, and that he is not just a figure of legend. He did not let the tabloids write the only version of the story. He wrote this remarkable book. About the only thing Guy Debord and Michel Foucault ever agreed on is that this book is a top read." --McKenzie Wark, author of The Beach Beneath the Street
"Unputdownable, incendiary real-life noir. With a touch of Belle-Epoque anarchist criminal Bonnot, nurtured by disposition, pathology and war. No wonder Situationists admired this escape-artist-sociopath, whose sense of honor and justice was matched only by his contempt for society. In literate and lucid contraband prison prose which, as Mesrine says, mixes all the genres: “burlesque, gore, violence, friendship, and fugitives on the lam.” Too bad this "man of a thousand faces" isn't around to help deal with present-day bank corruption, or, for that matter, the prison-industrial complex."--Woody Haut, author of Heartbreak and Vine and Pulp Culture: Hardboiled Fiction and the Cold War
Robert Greene is the author of five books: The 48 Laws of Power (Penguin), The Art of Seduction (Penguin), The Strategies of War, (Penguin) The 50th Law (co-written with the rapper 50 cent, Harper Books), and Mastery (Penguin)He is currently at work on his next book, The Laws of Human Nature (Penguin). He has previously translated from the French, Considerations on the Assassination of Gérard Lebovici, Guy Debord (Tam Tam books). Robert Greene lives in Los Feliz.
Robert Greene photo by Susan Anderson
Event date: 
Thursday, February 12, 2015 - 7:30pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los AngelesCA 90027
By Jacques MesrineRobert Greene (Translator), Catherine Texier (Translator) 
ISBN: 9780966234688 
Availability: On Our Shelves Now 
Published: Tamtam Books - November 2014 

The Sunday Series: Sunday No. 4 (February 1, 2015)

Sunday No. 4

It is not my natural mind-set to face an audience or a large group of people in a contained, maze-like space.  I’m doing a signing at the Los Angeles Art Book Fair that is located at the MOCA/Geffen museum.  On one level, it is an incredible fair, with tons of books and art related images from one booth to the next.  And then after being practically over-whelmed with the art books, one suddenly discovers that there is another large room just full of zines and its culture.  To really appreciate the art book world, one needs to spend the entire three days at this fair.  Nevertheless my purpose today is to sign my late dad’s album, which is called “Wallace Berman - In Conversation.” It’s a secret recording of my dad talking about art, curating exhibitions, and cultural life in Topanga canyon circa. 1968.  It’s an amazing document on many levels, but what is shocking to me is that I’m somewhere on that album, but more of a presence that was upstairs from the room where the conservation between my dad and guests took place.  I don’t think you can hear my voice, but I’m there.  And the sense of me being on the recording, in a very vague way, is a sharp contrast for me to be at this fair to sign copies of an album that exists in a world that is placed in my history, which at this point, is only  a memory.  

The serious problem I have of being in a crowd is I fear many things.  One, I’m quite shy, and I’m not really used to be in a position where people need my attention.  And due to the fear, I have a habit of forgetting people’s names - even friends who are very close to me.  There is a name for people who “fear” in forgetting - athazagoraphobia.  So I have that as well as agoraphobia, which is the fear of open spaces or of being in crowded public spaces like markets, or popular book fairs, like this one.   So the combination of my shyness, agoraphobia, as well as the killer blow, athazagoraphobia, makes this experience quite painful for me.  

I know the face, and I know it very well. The problem is when I try to place a name with that face.  Also most people are usually offended if you can’t remember their name at a specific time, and that can cause great anxiety on my part. I never want to offend someone, but at the same time, I am slightly turned-off by people who feel their title, their given name, is something that is more important than their being.   A name is just a title. It really doesn’t explain who or what you are.  I know who you are, just because of your personality, your looks, and so forth.  A name doesn’t convey the depth of the essence that is “you.” Yet, here I’m struggling at a signing, trying to remember the names of people who are in front of me.  The pure torture of it, causes an incredible anxiety within me.  

At the moment, there is this beautiful woman in front of me.  In fact, I have often had sexual fantasies of her - and for whatever reason, of course due to my combination of phobias, I can’t recall her name right away as I ‘m in the position to sign “For _ love, Tosh Berman."   I want to replace the dash so strongly, especially for her, but the name, the spelling, just doesn’t come to me at the moment.  She was polite enough to slip her name in the conversation during this transaction, but then there is this horrible awkward moment of her knowing that I totally forgot her name.  And I have known her for at least 20 years or so.  20 years of lusting for her, yet when the time of great importance comes upon me, I totally forgot her name. 

I feel a great sense of disgust with myself, and of course besides the hatred, the shame as well.   And now, she has a copy of the album, and when she sees it, she will think of the moment that I forgot her name.  I don’t think she will hate me for it, but for sure, there will be a tinge of disappointment for as long as she keeps that album.  Also, when I think of the album, I will go back to that moment as well.  So, the one thing we will share in the future is the failure of memory and communication.   As a writer, it's the finalized blow to the body. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Book Signing with Tosh Berman at the Los Angeles Art Book Fair 2015


Sunday, February 1, 3:00PM

Berman will sign copies of The Plum in Mr. Blum's Pudding, published by Penny-Ante Editionsand Sparks-Tastic: Twenty-One Nights with Sparks in London published by Rare Bird Books.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

THE SUNDAY SERIES: Sunday No. 3 (January 25, 2015)

Sunday No. 3

I don’t fully understand how on one Sunday, Mary could watch her son Jesus being nailed to a cross.  It is the source of pain through duty, which in turns can become a pleasure.  Faith is important, and even important to fight for the vision, but still, one would think they could hustle themselves out of this situation.   If not a direct bribe, then surely charm could have worked.  When I was a child of nine or ten years old I liked this girl at school. She's ‘sort’ of admired my personality, in that she could spend numerous hours on the telephone with me.  She was the first girl I have ever talked to on the telephone, that was my age, and the conversation went longer than the average.  Usually when I was on the telephone, it was just to answer the phone and direct the caller to either my dad or mother.  Here, she called me directly to talk.   I don’t know when eros enters the picture, but without a doubt, being nine or ten, the phone calls were erotically charged.   It wasn’t penis into vagina charge, but more coming out of the pores of our skin as well as our brains.  We were connected, but it was mostly a playtime version of phone sex, without the physical conclusion or release of that conversation.   She would play games with me. For instance she would spell out to me: I.L.O.V.E.Y.O.U. By the time she got to the V. I almost lost it on my end of the line.  I told her that she was spelling too fast, and if she can do it slower.  She did: I…L…O…V and so forth. 

We never saw each other outside of the school.  Our physical relationship was totally on the playground. I have no memory of sharing an actual class with her, and I don’t remember how we first met.  I’m very shy with girls, and especially as a child.  So it makes sense to me that she must have approached me on the school playground.   My mom would make me a bag lunch, and my pal and I often sat together and shared our lunches.   I think she was latina, and the food she brought were Mexican or classic Mexican-American food.   Mine was something out of “Father Knows Best. ” Usually a sandwich, apple and milk or juice in a container.  I was very much devoted to my lunch box, which showed images from the TV show “Man From U.N.C.L.E.  It was my favorite show, and besides the lunch box, I also had a Man From U.N.C.L.E. Spy kit, which consisted a membership card (showing that I’m a member of U.N.C.L.E.) and a plastic gun that can turn into a machine gun.  In my opinion, my name Tosh Berman, was just as exotic as Napoleon Solo.  

One day, I was flirting with her on the school playground.  At that age it is hard to convey how you feel about someone else, when in fact, you are not really clear about your yearnings.  In many ways, I yearned for this girl, without understanding why I felt that way.   She was a perfect package of beauty, niceness and a touch of wickedness.  Cruelty is sometimes a medium of expressing oneself.  I held her hand once or maybe twice.  It was like an electric current hitting my whole body.   Being so vulnerable, and especially in a school setting, with all our peers walking by and noticing us.  Her friends would tease us, and this I can see clearly bothered her.  Instead of being defiant to her school friends, she backed away from me.  That was painful, yet we still communicated, but the nature of our relationship changed. 

When time, things and people change and you feel the pavement under your foot turn into quicksand, you become desperate.  When you get used to being alone, and for a brief series of moments you get the attention that you crave… and then seeing or more likely feel it slipping away, is a pretty horrible existence.  Especially for a small boy.   I was nibbling on an oatmeal cookie that I got from home, in fact, my mom baked it.  I wasn’t hungry, and I was thinking maybe I could re-charge my relationship with her, if I offered half of my cookie, or damn it, just give her the whole cookie.  I went up to her and she was surrounded by her friends, who clearly didn’t want me around.   To be surrounded by a group of people who clearly didn’t like you, was like being stoned in public.  I could never figure out why they dislike me, except maybe for my shyness, and the feeling that I couldn’t add anything to this social group.  Also my hair was quite long, and most of the boys either had crew-cuts or very short haircuts.  Not only was I called a girl by these fellow students, but also my teacher called me one as well when we were alone one time.  I was walking in the hallway after getting some water from the drinking fountain, and walking towards me on the other side of the hall was the teacher.  As we passed each other, he said “girl.” He didn’t even look at me, when he said it, and he just walked on by.   I didn’t feel like a girl. Nor did I feel I looked like a girl.  I like girls, and I want them to like me, but I couldn’t understand why something so simple had to be so complicated.  

Nevertheless feeling shamed in front of her social group, I threw my oatmeal cookie in her face. I told her “it’s for you.” Seconds after that action that to this day fills me with shame. One of the boys in her group came upon me and pushed me to the ground.  As I tried to get up, he hit me in the face.  Again, I was on the ground, and he just kept pushing me down with his foot.  The girl was crying, which made me felt worse than being humiliated in front of the group.  The next thing I remember is the teacher who called me a “girl,” coming by and picking me up from the ground.  He talked to everyone around me, and he gathered that I was the guilty one.   And in truth, I was guilty.   Yet, again, I was hurt that no one factored in the emotions I was experiencing at that moment.  The girl understood my actions, and the boy just wanted to look good in front of her by defending her honor.   The teacher didn’t care for me, so I felt very alone that specific time and place.   To this day, on a Sunday, I look back at my time, and cringe.  The tragedy of the moment is still very much part of me, and who I am.  Yet, with that sense of guilt and feeling being misunderstood, I still look forward to tomorrow, hoping better days will come. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Tosh Berman and Hal Glicksman Sign "WALLACE BERMAN - IN CONVERSATION at Los Angeles Art Book Fair

Tosh Berman and Hal Glicksman will be signing the vinyl album "WALLACE BERMAN - IN CONVERSATION" at the Los Angeles Art Book Fair at the Geffen MOCA on January 31, 2015.  2PM.  G09.


A previously lost recording published for the first time, featuring Wallace Berman - discussing his work, art and literature with Shirley Berman, Hal Glicksman, Jack and Ruth Hirschman.

Recorded by Hal Glicksman at the Berman family home, Topanga Canyon, 1968.

Mastered from the original tape recording, with a text by Tosh Berman.

“When I hear Wallace on this tape, I still can’t recall his voice or sound.  Some years ago, Hal Glicksman played this tape to me and my mom when we were planning the retrospective right after Wallace died.  What shocked me is that he was playing it in the background at a meeting and I didn’t have the foggiest idea it was my dad on that tape.  I spent the first 21 years of my life with Wallace, and when he died, his voice disappeared as well.”
 – Tosh Berman

Vinyl LP available to order from:
and from specialist retailers.

LP launch and
Saturday 31st Jan 2015
at 2pm. Table G09.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

"Wallace Berman - In Conversation" 12" Vinyl Album (Edition of 400) Published by Edition Muta

A previously lost recording published for the first time, featuring Wallace Berman
discussing his work, art and literature with Shirley Berman, Hal Glicksman,
Jack and Ruth Hirschman.

Recorded by Hal Glicksman at the Berman family home, Topanga Canyon, 1968.
Mastered from the original tape recording, with a text by Tosh Berman.
“When I hear Wallace on this tape, I still can’t recall his voice or sound. Some years ago, Hal Glicksman played this tape to me and my mom when we were planning the retrospective right after Wallace died.  What shocked me is that he was playing it in the background at a meeting and I didn’t have the foggiest idea it was my dad on that tape. I spent the first 21 years of my life with Wallace, and when he died, his voice disappeared as well.”
– Tosh Berman
Published 2015
Vinyl LP | 55m 55s
MUTA 05 / ISBN 978-0-9850044-6-0 / Edition of 400
Co-published with Derringer Books

You can purchase the album online here:

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Sunday Series: Sunday No. 2 (January 18, 2015)

Photo from https://www.etsy.com/shop/VintageMadeByDucky/about?ref=l2-more-about

Sunday No. 2

It took me awhile, but I think I arranged a chance to fuck “her.” It seemed like it took forever to get her to my point of view, that I was desperately trying to convey to her.   Her beauty has been a consistent heartache as well as a pleasure of sorts.  To want something, and being so close to “it, ” is like walking across two skyscrapers on a thin rubber-band in the wind.  She is standing perfectly still in front of me, but the wind is pulling me back, sideways, and this time, I hope forward.   She would often drop hints of sensual adventure, but once I try to act upon them, it is like it never happened.   Either by design, desire, or just a cruel version of torture, she would wear this piece of jewelry on her body that is like waving a red cape in front of a horny bull.  It was a thin chain that is connected to her waist and goes up to the back, and then around her beautiful neck.  If she was wearing a blouse it would appear to be a thin necklace around her throat.  But when she is wearing her backless black dress, you can see the full design, except the part that is connected to her, what I imagined, is her perfect waist.  When I was with her, especially in public, I could barely stand it.  

I’m consistently on the telephone with her, and she slipped in the information that she was planning to wear the “necklace,” in case I was planning to come over her house - which it seems she will be alone.  My reaction is like the wolf in a Looney Tunes 1940s cartoon, where my eyes are jumping out of my sockets, and my tongue is rolling over my thick lips.  I told her for sure I will be there, and since it’s Sunday, I’ll bring some things over.  Neither one of us works in the sense of “work,”… like Monday you have to go to work type of thing.  Personally I was daydreaming that I would be spending a week in her bed, while I trace my fingers against her jewelry.   In fact, I wanted to remove her jewelry piece, and with a felt pen, draw another version on her skin.   For the whole week beforehand, whenever I saw a felt pen on a table, or in a stationary shop, I would get an erection.  While we were talking and arranging a meeting just now, that is exactly what I was thinking.   Before I left the house I took at least three pens with me and put it in my bag.  

I knew she had a turntable in her apartment, so I stopped at Amoeba to locate Brian Eno and Robert Fripp’s “Evening Star” on vinyl.   Some years back, I remember having sex with this music in the background.  Side two is “An Index of Metals, ” which lasts for the whole side.  I think 28 minutes.   Perfect time length for intercourse, as well as climaxing at the end of the track.  Knowing this piece so well, I can use it as a guide of sorts, while actually fucking her.   I did find the album, although used, and looking at its surface, I did see scratches on the vinyl.  In theory, I thought this will be OK, and may even add creative tension in the sex act, with this in the background.  

As I was heading out towards the line to purchase the Eno/Fripp album, I saw a 45 single by Timi Yuro called “Interlude.” I stopped.  I turned around and picked the single up. This was a song, that I wanted like forever.  Timi was a favorite singer of mine, and often I felt, mine alone.  She was an American, died young, and had a big voice for a little girl.  This song, for me, is the ultimate doomed love song.  I often cried when listening to it, and that was embarrassing because a friend of mine had the single.  I tried to buy it off him, but he refused. He told me that once I find it, the song will bring new meaning to you.   I looked at the grooves of the vinyl, and it looked like it never has been played.  The store wanted $12.99 for it, and who am I to argue if the price is too high.  What I’m buying is not only art, but something that is essential to one’s life, or even identity.  With that in my hand, I started to walk towards the cashier, when all of sudden something caught my eye.

It was the front cover of an album by an artist or band called Perfume Genius.   I was struck by the beauty of the young man on the cover, and I immediately went to the record like an abandoned cat in a rain storm approaching a neighbor’s cat food plate.  The song titles were intriguing to me, especially the one called “Queen.” With my I-Phone, I found the track on YouTube, and watched and listened to it at that spot.  It was the glam rock song of my desires.  I gave up hope of ever hearing a new glam song, and this one with its pansy sexuality, was superb.  I played found another video of his, called “Body, ” and that too was magnificent.  When one discovers a new record or a new sound, it is like falling in love.  One wants to go around and shake people from their shoulders and tell them to listen to this.   Common sense told me that this was not a good idea.  So I took that album and put it under my arm with the Fripp/Eno album as well as the Timi single.  While standing in line to purchase the goods, she called me and told me if it is ok to come later over her house.  I said sure, and she said that she is really looking forward to seeing my face.  I felt good hearing that.  Also it gave me a chance to get back home and listen to the records.

Every time I play a record on my turntable, it takes me five minutes or so to clean the needle.  I’m obsessed with getting the best sound possible on my set-up, and I actually enjoy the procedure in preparing a record listening session.   I quickly checked the Eno/Fripp record to see if it’s in a good condition, and for a used album, it looked like it wasn’t played a lot.  There was a crackle here and there, but overall it sounded good, and therefore perfect for tonight’s planned love-making.    I then put on Perfume Genius “Too Bright” album.  

“I Decline” is the first song on side one.  At this moment, I ‘m taken to another place in my world.  I don’t even recognize where it is, but I know I like it.   Then comes the song “Queen.” It is like someone put a knife on my chest and cut it open, and released all the tension within me.  “No family is safe when I sashay.” I keep lifting the needle after the song is finished and replaying it.  I remember in Jean Cocteau’s “Orpheus” when the main character, a poet, would sit in his car parked in his garage listening to messages on the car radio from the underworld.  I feel the same way when I hear this song.  “Queen” is communicating with me directly.  Slowly, as I meditate on the song, it becomes clear to me that life is so multi-dimensional.  

Once the whole album was over, I immediately went into my work-space and got my head-phones and played the whole record again.  One of the things I admire about the record is its sonic textures.  The melodies are all strong, but there was something ‘ugly’ about the sound as well, which brings out the beauty of the lyrics and melody.  Due to the cord attached to the mixer, I couldn’t sit on the couch, so I got a big pillow, and lay on the wooden floor.  As the sound overcame me, I fell asleep and I had this odd dream of me being in bed and someone entering the bedroom.  It was a ‘she’ and I presumed it was my desirable obsession with the jewelry.  As soon as she got in bed in total darkness, I reached out and said her name.  She then told me that it wasn’t her, but someone named Sue. I didn’t recognize the voice, and I didn’t do anything. I just pretended that I fell asleep.  When I woke up, I hear the needle going back and forth at the end of the record. 

I then put on the 45 rpm single of Timi Yuro’s “Interlude,” and time truly became a dream.   I slowly realize that my desires are a dream.   There is my life as a living being, but beyond that, and through music, I realize that I am something more.   Not necessary a  better person, but I’m not the same guy that morning, then I am now this evening.   Time is like a dream, and my lust for her, has changed into a beautiful melody. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Sunday No. 1

Quiet Sunday is a loud Sunday for me.  The quietness around the house just opens up the inner sounds of my body, and my thoughts appear to me as a forceful speaker.  I want to shut it off, but I can’t. So today I decided not to have my bottle of wine.  I drink a bottle every night.  Either with my wife or by myself.  I get buzzed, but I never get drunk.  Or is being buzzed being drunk?  The difference is if you were in front of me, you wouldn’t think I was drunk.  I never get too boisterous, or opinionated and really, a bottle of wine for me is a way to pass time.  Time is the enemy that takes so prisoners. 

Sunday is the first day of the week.  I’m often reflective on that day, where I think what happened the previous week, while thinking about the upcoming week.  I keep a calendar for the purpose of not forgetting to pay off bills, or if I have luncheon or dinner appointments.  My life is very quiet, and therefore my thoughts are ringing out proud and loud, as I try to make sense of my existence.   Around 7 PM, is when I open the bottle of wine.  The first sip to the last is an adventure that I travel within.  

The things I like to do when drinking wine is to read, watch TV, or having a meal.  The hard part I think of not drinking wine, is the eating part.  Food is good, but wine makes the food desirable.  I usually drink two glasses of wine with a typical meal.  I also like to have a glass of wine before the meal.  It’s the initial glass that I drink slowly, while I write or listen to music on my laptop.  It’s a meditative moment where I’m focused on the drinking as well as the writing or music on hand.  Drinking wine doesn’t make the conversation better, or makes the music more enticing - but it adds a certain texture to those two distinctive practices. 

If I have the option, I rather drink wine alone.  Which is odd, because wine traditionally is a drink that one shares with another.  The thing is I have so many things to think about, that’s all in my head, I rarely have a need to verbally express myself to another person.  Wine in a way is that other person that’s in my head.  I don’t need wine to be social, in fact, I can amuse or be interesting to someone else without the effects of alcohol as a partner-in-crime.   Wine doesn’t impress me, or anyone else, it is a friend that puts his or hers arm around your shoulders, as you think or notice the passing of time.   As of right now, I’m writing without my bottle of wine, which is uniquely weird!  I don’t feel I need to have it for me to write.  The thoughts come out OK, but I do like wine as an object that is located in front of me.  When I do drink wine with respect to writing, I always prefer white.  White wine (all categories) allows me to think without the thoughts getting muddy.  Red wine usually puts me to sleep or often I feel like I’m moving in slow motion.  Red is for sure good for noticing time and what it’s doing that moment.  I become extra-aware of the moments passing - where with white wine, it is more about speed, and getting lost in whatever is on-hand at the moment you are drinking. 

My favorite day of the week to drink wine is of course, Sunday.  Traditionally it’s 24 hours of reflection.  Many go out to walk around the reservoir, or maybe see an afternoon movie, but I prefer to sit in front of my stereo speakers with a bottle of wine opened in front of me, and just let the intoxication take me to another space or place.  I like playing vinyl albums, because you have to leave your seat, and flip the record on its other side.   If you just think about time, it is usually 20 minutes per side, so I know for at least that amount of time, I can just focus on what I’m hearing and listening to.  The music is often just a soundtrack to my thoughts as if it was a ship passing between two giant icebergs in the far Atlantic. 

It is very odd not to feel the effects of my favorite drink at this time of night.   The truth is I never feel fully sober.  Mostly due to the toxins of the world that I breathe in and out on a daily basis.  My perception when I walk outside is sometimes overwhelming, due to the noise of the traffic and the volume of the crowd in various shopping centers and malls.  I also have a hard time dealing with people directly, especially on the telephone.  The only place where I feel totally comfortable is within my head with the buzz of a bottle of wine.  

I’m very curious to find out what will happen if I don’t drink my bottle of wine tonight.  Will minutes ring loudly in my ears as time passes?   What I do know is - schedule is addictive.  I think it even goes beyond addiction to drugs, drink, or any other vice one can think of.   Writing is very much an addiction as well.  The calendar is addictive. There is nothing more comforting than looking at your calendar and seeing your life being mapped out by the hour.  Drinking at night is also a sense of comfort.  It is a process through which to remark on the passing of that day, and that the schedule will go on at the present and into the future.  In other words, addiction is living.  And right now, I’m living to the fullest. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

THE SUNDAY SERIES starting Sunday January 11, 2015

Ladies and Gentlemen, 
Did you really think I would go away? Starting next Sunday, I'll be starting my "SUNDAY SERIES." Every Sunday I will post a new story. Some of it will be true, some of it will be blue, and some will just exist in its own natural naked state. Hopefully you will enjoy it, as much as I will enjoy writing the pieces for you. - Tosh Berman, January 4, 2014.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December 31, 2014

December 31, 2014

Oddly enough it was exactly a year ago, when I was at a new year’s party at Tricia and Mike’s house, where I sat by myself, and thought, "I need to have a new life for the upcoming new year."  I have always had a fantasy of being a criminal - not one that would kill or harm people or even property, but the identity where people would look at me and say “he’s a criminal.” Or at the very least I would hear people slightly talking behind my back saying “Tosh, I hear he’s up to no good, if you get my drift.” The “drift” will be common knowledge based on false-hood.   Nevertheless if I just keep my mouth shut, people will be able to tell tales about me, and therefore a narrative or two will come out of the woodwork.   There are only a few people who know me.   If I was going to make myself into a visual pie, 50% know of me due to my father the artist, 30% due that I’m a publisher, and 15% know me as a writer.   Then there will be 5% who know me as an actor.   Not often, but every few years, I get approached by people due to the fact that I played the role of “Boy” to Taylor Mead’s Tarzan in Andy Warhol’s “Tarzan and Jane Regained… Sort of.” Since then, I have acted off and on, mostly in the film works of Relah Eckstein, but without a doubt my most famous role is “Boy.”

Over-all my reputation is quite solid.  The only crack in the image was when I was discovered in someone’s house, eating their toast in their kitchen. I didn’t know these people, or never been to their home, but I had the urge to go to a stranger’s kitchen and make myself some toast.   The thing is that they only had whole wheat bread, and I always prefer Wonder bread.   I snuck out of the house, purchased a loaf of bread, and once again broke into their home, to make myself the perfect toast.  At that point, I was noisy in the kitchen, because I was trying to find the butter knife, and obviously I was going through a lot of drawers in the kitchen.   The owner of the house (I think he was or is the owner of that structure) came into the kitchen and asked who I was, and why I was there.   It was a good question (or two), and my first reaction was to tell him that I was a writer - and to be perfectly honest, I haven’t the slightest idea why I was in their kitchen.   I told him, that I act by my impulses, and I never really think about it.  I offered him a piece of bread, and asked him if he wanted toast.  He said yes, but he preferred the whole wheat bread.  I said “of course.” I took a slice and put it in his toaster and I sat down at the kitchen table.  He sat down with me, and we didn’t say a word to each other.   He had his toast, I had mine, and after we finished eating, I told him I had to go.  I said goodbye and left his home.

Since he’s a neighbor and only lived maybe a block or two away from me, I ran into him this past twelve months.  Mostly here and there, but commonly in the Ralphs Market on Glendale Bouvelard.  One time I saw him, I was in the bread aisle, and our eyes connected to each other.  I just pointed to the bread and shrugged my shoulders.   He then walked away like that moment didn’t exist, and perhaps it was best to forget the entire incident.  I will never do that again.

On the other hand, I have become very attracted to paintings by Henri Matisse, but only his still life portraits of food on a table.   It didn’t exactly make me hungry, but when I look at these paintings or the artwork in various books I have in my collection, I felt vacant.  I very much wanted to become part of the painting, but I just couldn't. The distance between the image of the food on the table, and where I stand, seemed like a long highway.  Perhaps an endless highway, where I will never reach that table.

Now it’s December 31, 2014, and I feel that my life in the next twelve months will be one of radical changes.  I do not have proof of this, there are no letters stating my existence for the next year, but I just feel in my bones that the year 2015 will hold some promise, and some failures as well.  I’m feeling very hesitant to leave the house, because I fear I won’t be able to get back in.  Maybe that is why I went to a stranger’s house, in hopes of expanding my territory - but alas, I now know that was a mistake.   Nevertheless one learns from their mistakes, and as I write, I look at the front door of my living room, that leads to the outside world.  After I complete this sentence, I will get up, and go, and leave my home.