Monday, December 11, 2017

Boze Hadleigh Conversations With My Elders on Tea With Tosh

Boze Hadleigh is an author who specializes in writing books about cinema history and LGBT culture and film.  Here we chat about his book "Conversations With My Elders" (later republished under the title "Celluloid Gaze").  The book is a series of interviews with gay film artists and individuals such as Rock Hudson, George Cukor, Sal Mineo, Luchino Visconti, British great Quentin Crisp, and a man of all trades, Cecil Beaton.  I especially enjoyed the chapter and interview with German filmmaking genius Rainer Werner Fassbinder.  From the year 1987.


FOR NET NEUTRALITY-- I just did this and it really takes less than a minute.
1. Go to
(the shortcut John Oliver made to the hard-to-find FCC comment page)
2. Click on the 17-108 link (Restoring Internet Freedom)
2. Click on "+Express" (in the left column)
3. Be sure to hit "ENTER" after you put in your name (your name will then feature a Yellow box. Then put in the rest of your info.)
4. In the comment section write, "I strongly support net neutrality backed by Title 2 oversight of ISPs."
5. Click to Review, then Submit, done. - Make sure you hit submit at the end!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

George Herms Artist on Tea With Tosh

George Herms has been in my life forever. A close friend of the family, here I did an interview with him for my "Tea With Tosh" show. It's amazing to think that we lived in two different locations, and both places were walking distance from our home. One in Larkspur California and the other in Topanga Canyon. When I hear the term 'assemblage artist" I immediately think of George. Even more so than say someone like Ed Kienholz. He is also probably one of the most entertaining chaps I have ever come upon. A man of remarkable charm. - Tosh

Carmaig de Forest Singer Songwriter on Tea With Tosh

Carmaig de Forest, to me, is a unique singer-songwriter.  For one, his main instrument is the Ukulele,  and the majority of his performances at the time (the 1980s) was just him, voice, and ukulele. The beauty of his work is partly charm, but he is also a very good pop songwriter, with a political stance - but it's not one-dimensional.   The interview here is still fascinating.  He has good points on the craft and art of songwriting.  I love this episode, speaking as the host!  - Tosh Berman.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Dark Bob Performance Artist on Tea With Tosh

The Dark Bob came on my show "Tea With Tosh" sometime in 1987. A performance artist who worked with another "Bob" as in "Bob & Bob." At this time, The Dark Bob worked as a solo artist who did performances and recordings. A charming man then and a charming man now. I really enjoyed doing this show with him and recently I helped put together an event with Bob & Bob now. They are currently doing art and performances. Still strong work! - Tosh Berman.

"Ask The Parrot: A Parker Novel" by Richard Stark (The University of Chicago Press)

ISBN: 978-0-226-48565-2 University of Chicago Press

Richard Stark (Donald Westlake) should be studied at all writing schools. To write a Parker novel is more of a math problem than a series of moments inspired by passion. The ultimate anti-hero, Parker represents a professional who will do what he has to do, to survive or excel in his line of the profession - which is being a professional criminal. Parker is in a pickle, somewhere in the backwaters of a small community, avoiding an arrest, he teams up with a hermit of sorts, who is still sore about being fired from a horse racetrack. Parker, who is quick with psychological profiles on everyone he comes upon, he acts on not emotion, but intellect. Stark is just as great as a writer as Patricia Highsmith, another narrative writer who plots with the skill of a surgeon under tense conditions. Recommending the best Richard Stark "Parker" novel is pointless. All are equally readable and addictive.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Auralynn Nguyen Ikebana Artist on Tosh Talks

Once in a while I want to go into a world I know nothing about. I met Auralynn Nguyen a few years ago, and she does incredible sculptures with living plants called Ikebana. Like anything else from Japan or Asian culture, it has a fascinating history as well as a strong presence in contemporary times. Auralynn here shows her work but also explains Ikebana as an art form as well as a traditional craft and art. Also excuse the sound quality of yours truly. A faulty mic, but you can hear what I'm saying. - Tosh Berman.

Jonas Mekas A Dance With Fred Astaire on Tosh Talks

Tosh Berman of "Tosh Talks" chats about the wonderful book by Jonas Mekas "A Dance With Fred Astaire" published by Anthology Editions. In great detail, Mekas talks about working with Yoko Ono/John Lennon, Andy Warhol, Jack Smith and other greats in the independent underground film world.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Robbie Conal Political Poster Artist on Tea With Tosh

"Tea With Tosh" episode with artist Robbie Conal, videotaped in 1987.  Conal is an amazing artist whose work is political and very much in one's face.  In the 80s and if you lived in Los Angeles, it would have been impossible not to have seen his posters of various Republican politicans.  At the time of the taping, it was the height of the Reagan decade, and the Iran/Contra issue was on everyone's mind.   The one thing that shocked me while watching this episode this morning (for the first time in 30 years) was me mentioning Fawn Hall.   At the time, I would have never imagined meeting her in the future.  But alas, I did, and now she is one of my closest friends.  If you mention her name to me now, I wouldn't even think about the Reagan/ North connection.   Life is strange in how things turn out. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Carole Caroompas Artist on Tea With Tosh

Carole Caroompas is a fantastic painter, artist, and performer.  One of the reasons why I wanted to do "Tea With Tosh" was to exposed artists that I greatly admired, and feel that they needed more exposure at the time. This episode was filmed sometime in 1987.  It was a moment in time, but alas, due to the magic format of videotape, we can go back to the past.  In this sense, it's a great pleasure to spend time with Caroompas, and see her great work as art and performance. - Tosh Berman.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Tosh Berman Introduction on Tosh Talks

"A Dance with Fred Astaire" by Jonas Mekas (Anthology Editions)

ISBN: 978-1-94460-09-7 Anthology Editions LLC

Once in a while, a presence comes upon the landscape and shows an incredible amount of character and interest.   Jonas Mekas is clearly in that bracket of a human being.  Filmmaker, head honcho of the Film Anthology in New York City, as well as the Filmmaker's co-op, and writer.  There are many great writers who write about film, but Mekas is the best, because he clearly shows his love for the medium, and by his writing, he expresses that enjoyment of seeing the projected light on a screen.   There have been a few great books by Mekas on film and his life, but "A Dance With Fred Astaire" may be my favorite of his books.  

For one, it's a perfect entrance way to his world for someone who is not familiar with New York / European / World filmmakers, because if nothing else (besides his talent as a filmmaker/writer) Mekas connects to his world like no other individual.  He knows or knew everyone from Andy Warhol to Fritz Lang to Jacqueline Kennedy.   He is the other side of the coin of Warhol, in that in his own fashion he also attracted talent by just standing there.  Of course, that is not true.  He was the publisher and editor/writer for the greatest film publication ever, "Film Culture."  And his weekly column for the Village Voice was the most passionate and smart writing on artist's films and their world.  Like Warhol and his Factory, artists were drawn to Mekas, either by his passion or personality, but it was truly a wonderful culture that produced many flowers that bloomed into films, art, writing and so forth.  

There are so many amazing chance meetings that are listed in "A Dance With Fred Astaire."  For one, Fred Astaire himself who was invited by Yoko Ono to participate in her film by dancing in it, with Mekas following his steps best as possible.  So yeah as a reader, you are trying to put all of this in one's head:  Yoko, Jonas, and yeah, of course, Fred Astaire, with John Lennon.  Or the time he visited Jacqueline Kennedy and she casually told Mekas that Kennedy received an 8mm camera which he kept in his coat pocket the last few years of his life.   She went to the closet, found John's coat, got the camera out and showed it to Mekas.  At the time there is still film inside the camera.  One wonders what is on that film???   And where is that film and camera now?   There is also the incredible connection between Tony Conrad, Henry Flynt, and the UNABOMBER!   

"A Dance with Fred Astaire" is full of illustrations and the book is beautifully designed by Nicholas Law with art direction by Bryan Cipolla.  Creative Director is Johan Kugelberg, who has done numerous great books on cult faves.  Remarkable. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Russ Tamblyn Actor on Tea With Tosh

Russ Tamblyn my special guest on Tea With Tosh.   From 1987!  A superb gentleman.  A close friend of my father Wallace Berman.   Russ is an amazing actor/artist and tells some hysterical stories here. Love the man.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Richard Lloyd Everything is Combustible on Tosh Talks

My little commentary on a very fine memoir by Richard Lloyd, regarding his years with the band Television, as well as a great history of the CBGB's decade in NYC.   Excellent book.  If you have the chance please subscribe to my YouTube channel.  Thanks, Tosh Berman

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Peter Case Singer Songwriter on Tea With Tosh

An episode of "Tea With Tosh" with guest Peter Case.  A wonderful guy and a superb songwriter.  From the year 1987.

Robert Desnos - "The Punishments of Hell" (Atlas Press)

ISBN: 978-0-9931487-3-6 Atlas Press

As a teenager who loved to read, I couldn't get enough of The Surrealists.  Before I even found their literature on the printed page, I was intrigued by their sense of dress and haircuts.  There was also a 'gang' mentality when you see a photograph of all of them together.  It's them against the world.  It's that aspect that was a huge appeal for me when approaching the world of DADA and Surrealism.  Once I have bitten into the forbidden apple that is their work, I was hooked.  As of this writing, I'm still glued to their personalities and work.   There are many cliche aspects of Surrealism, but you can't eliminate the wit of some of its writers.  Robert Desnos is the proto-type Surrealist.  He's the guy who could go into a trance and tell a tale that would be mind-blowing.  Although, I suspect that he really wasn't into a dream state, but knew how to fool Andre Breton and company.  

"The Punishments of Hell" is Desnos first prose book.  Written in 1922, I think it was much later published in France.  As mentioned, the gang mentality is very much present, even in this collection of dream prose pieces.  All of Desnos famous friends are mentioned in the narrative, and being a work that was produced during the DADA stage, that was emerging into the Surrealist era, is a fascinating document of its time, place, and more important, the individuals.  Sexual in tone, but never pornographic (at least for the contemporary reader) there are 'shocking' imageries, in the flavor of the Count de Lautrémont, who was clearly the inspiration for "The Punishments of Hell."  Still, it's fascinating how crime and Westerns very much influence surrealist text like this book.  Both in the cinematic world as well as literature.  In a way, Desnos is writing a thriller but with a different type of imagery.  

The book is very dark but humorous.  All of the named figures who were friends of Desnos, pretty much end up dead in a bizarre fashion.  There is a homage to his associates and friends, but all living in a cemetery!   In the common grave, those who are buried are such inspirations to Desnos such as Jarry, Rimbaud, Pierre Souvestre & Marcel Allain (writers of Fantomas) and so forth.   A beautiful edition from Atlas Press, who seem never to fail the fan or reader.  

Thursday, November 23, 2017

"Roots, Radicals and Rockers: How Skiffle Changed the World" by Billy Bragg (Faber & Faber)

ISBN: 978-0-571-32774-4 Faber & Faber
Music artist Billy Bragg's history of Skiffle is a remarkable book. For those who don't know, Skiffle is music made in the United Kingdom by people (not all trained musicians) who used homemade instruments, including guitars, to perform blues and folk music, mostly that came from the United States. Lead Belly was the leading performer and songwriter that these young British musicians admired the most, and generally, it is their version of his songs which became popular and in turn, inspired rock 'n' roll in England. Nothing is by itself, and this narrative has the cold war politics as well as how the recording industry operated and tried to control their airways. The power of the teenager, both as a creative force as well as an economic strength is part of this story as well. Bragg did a magnificent job in capturing this large movement on these pages. The book is full of fascinating characters such as Ken Colyer, Lonnie Donegan (Skiffle's Elvis in one sense), Joe Meek and the whole traditional jazz scene, especially in Soho London. 

I have always been fascinated with the post-war years in London, and "Roots, Radicals and Rockers" is a wonderful journey into the world of contemporary music of that time. Also, fascinating to me is how another culture borrows from another to make something new. I would also recommend this book to anyone who is interested in British Punk rock because they share a similar DIY practice.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

"Paul Bowles on Music" edited by Timothy Mangan and Irene Herrmann (University of California Press)

ISBN: 9780520236554 University of California Press

Paul Bowles, the writer, meets Bowles the composer, who wrote music criticism in the 1940s.   The critiques he wrote in themselves are not that fascinating, but what's interesting is the culture that was presented in New York City during that era, and the coverage of the mainstream media at the time, with someone smart and brilliant as Bowles covering the "Waterfront." 

Bowles as most of us knows as readers is a writer of great skill but also wrote from a great distance.  His work, especially his short stories, is reporting another culture, which is odd, strange, and unknown to the westerner.   In a sense, Bowles was the head ant investigating the other culture for food and music and reported back to the American culture of that and future time.  What you see here is Bowles, primarily a composer at the time, writing about various music recitals/concerts that took place in Manhattan.  The majority of the events are classical recitals, but there are some side trips to see jazz (at mostly big venues) and folk (again, in major concert halls of the time).  He doesn't go to jazz or folk nightclubs to do his reporting, but mostly to places like Carnegie Hall and so forth.  So, in a sense, he's reporting on music culture, not for the specialist, but in most cases for the casual reader who looks through the newspaper for local news or events.  Some articles he did write for special interest publications, but even these pieces are geared for a broad readership.

As a writer and a publisher, as well as someone who loves music and music criticism, I find Bowles extremely important.  For one, I love his music, what I have heard so far, and two, it's fascinating to notice his 'place' in that society that was New York.  He was very interested in other cultures even in the 1940s, and often it seems like he went to South and Central America to discover new music, but was disappointed to realize that even then, countries were officially hindering certain type of music for a more commercial take on that world.   Bowles also covered film movie music for a specialist magazine in that field.  As far as I can gather, he would go to see the film, and just report on the music how it was used in the film.  That's interesting!  Also, he reviewed books on music (again, mostly classical, but some books on jazz) as well as recordings.  So he was probably one of the earliest critics to talk about records, for a well-read journal/newspaper, the New York Herald Tribune.   Also, there is an interview with Bowles, one of his last conversations with an interviewer about him working as a critic.  That alone is a fascinating document.