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

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.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

December 30, 2014

December 30, 2014

I have a series of role-models that I use, just to get myself out of bed every morning.  In fact, I have a closet full of role-models, because when you get down to it, it’s the clothing that makes the man, even if you are a bad dresser, it is the window to your soul.  Not the eyes.   When I was 33 years old, I received some money and resolved to spend every last drop of it on a trip to Europe.  I went with my friend Kimley, who I worked with at the Licorice Pizza store in West Los Angeles.   It was the first time that I did something so adult-like.  But now I remember the real reason why I went to Europe was to see a girl there that I had a brief affair with in Los Angeles.  I just wanted to continue the affair, but not here in Los Angeles, but in London, where she now lived.  One would say it was an act of love or passion, but the truth is I needed to remove myself from where I lived, so I can change, and change was the genuine passion for the trip.   Making love to her was just a side-dish.  I was curious about having a sex life in London, and would it be like anything in Los Angeles?   Ironically enough, I didn’t have sex at all while I was in London or in Europe - I mostly wandered around in various cold landscapes trying to find myself in a new light.

The role-model for this specific trip was Paul Bowles, a writer that I greatly admire.  To be the point, the one thing that impressed me the most about him was hearing that he traveled with many, many suitcases.  So I decided to not only bring two or three suits, including ties, and a hat to come with each suit, but also a mini-version of my library.  I remember choosing Frank Sinatra recordings as well to put in my portable cassette player.  Kimley also had her version of the cassette player with her music - so we had a he and she music thing going.  Memory is that she had Alex Chilton cassettes - both solo as well as with Big Star - and besides my Sinatra, I think I had Les Rita Mitsouko as well.   

The plan we made was to go to London first, and that was basically the whole plan for the trip.  We bought one-way tickets to London, with not the slightest idea when or if we will return to Los Angeles.  We both quit our jobs in the last day, and I remember leaving a note to my manager at the store saying the “next time you will see me, I’ll be a girl.” I haven’t the foggiest idea why I wrote that, but I wanted to do something dramatic and important-like.  

We went to London, and we stayed with the girl that I had the affair with.  It seemed on her part, that the affair was over, finished, and mostly forgotten by her.   That was a shock to my system.  Luckily I chose the Sinatra soundtrack for this trip, so it wasn’t a total disaster.  But I did discover London as an adult, and that was a real eye-opener for me.  For my whole life, I worshipped London as the cultural landscape to end all cultural landscapes.  But once I got there, I found it very cold, and there seemed to be a depression added to the cityscape.   To this day, I don’t know if it was me, or the city itself.   I think London recognized a poor soul, and tried its best to welcome me to the British world.   I think we stayed in London for three weeks, before proceeding to Paris.

I never been to Paris before, and it was even a bigger fantasy land to me than even London.  Everything I thought I would love about Paris, was truly there in front of me.   I think we stayed for three weeks, and then decided to take a train to Rome.   Rome only meant two things to me: Fellini and Pasolini - and that was it.   I remember we took a train and we traveled with a French grandmother and her grandchild.  They were eating cheese and bread, and were incredibly polite and quiet.  I took a nap on the train and woke up with an Italian grandmother and her Italian grandchild.  She was screaming at him, and he was crying and hitting her over her entire body.  At the same time, the grandmother was trying to cut pieces of dry salami for the child.  I had to walk out of the cabin with Kimley, and we both discovered that we were surrounded by Italians.  We were not in France anymore that’s for sure.  

When we arrived in Rome, a young good looking man immediately took our suitcases and told us to keep pace with him.  We didn’t think twice if it was alright or not, in fact, I thought it was a Paul Bowles type of thing.  So of course we followed him.  He took us to a hotel that had marbled floors, but no bathroom.  I remember I had to piss, so I pissed in the sink by the side of my bed.   I found Rome to be more Pasolini than Fellini, and I was profoundly impressed with the Roman police, because of the way they were dressed.  The motorcycle cops had knee length leather boots, and carried small machine guns.  Their helmets were beautifully designed and I loved how they look.  In fact, the entire police force was good looking.  Some even had a feather in their cap.   I never come upon dandy cops before in my life.   From Rome we went to Florence, which seemed like the perfect Italian city - I remember hearing the Style Council in all the pizza joints as well as the fine restaurants.  We went to Venice, but only for a day.  We were thinking of staying over night, but the hotels were either crowded or very expensive.  Also the city was too beautiful for me.  Ironically enough, at the time, there were posters and banners all over Venice, for an upcoming retrospective Futurism exhibition.  The irony being that the Futurists wanted to pave Venice with cement.  Now, Venice is still there (or barely) and Futurism is something out of the past. 

From Florence, we went to Munich Germany.  The first thing I saw when I left the train was a German with a Hitler moustache and wearing leather shorts.   And beer.  It seems Munich was very much drunk on beer.   We went to a beer garden, and ordered beer.  The beer came in huge glasses, that seemed obscene to me at the time.  Nevertheless I drank the whole glass, and not exactly did I become intoxicated, but really full.   The third surprise was the food that they served at our hotel.   For breakfast, we had cold luncheon meats and soft -boiled eggs.   It was pretty disgusting.   My thoughts on Munich were that it was downtown ancient German culture.   Also it was very clean.   The people and the streets were both immaculate.   From there, we went to Hamburg, because the Beatles went to Hamburg.  Also my grandmother was from Hamburg as well.   This port town was very impressive to me, because we went to another beer garden and someone threw a glass of beer over our heads and it smashed against the wall.   I didn’t know if this was the usual Hamburg greeting for visitors, but I tipped my hat towards their aim.  Also Hamburg was very sexy, due that both men and women wore leather pants. It was like the whole city was either pre-beatle Hamburg look or more likely Jim Morrison fanatics.   We then went to West Berlin, which at the time, appeared to be in the middle of East Germany.  I remember being on the train and German police came on with German Sheperds to check out our passports. 

Once we arrived in Berlin, it felt like Los Angeles to me.  The cops there wore short-sleeved shirts, and seemed to be more casual.   Also the streets were wide, and unlike the streets of Europe.   One thing that stays in my mind was going to a bookstore and that store having a gigantic display of Herman Hesse books.  It seemed that they re-issued the books with all Andy Warhol covers.  At the time, I thought it was a weird mixture of having Warhol doing the Hesse covers, but then again, perhaps it is him going back to his roots as a graphic designer for book and album covers.   Also we visited a large record store, and I was amazed to see all the vinyl albums were unwrapped - in the words they weren’t shrink-wrapped like they are in the States.   It’s the little things that make the big impressions while one travels.

After being in Berlin for a while, we went back to Paris and stayed there I think for three or four more weeks, and then back to London to fly back home.  We intended to stay forever, but we both ran out of money.   To this day, I don’t really plan ahead, the only reason I leave a place is either out of boredom or the money ran out.   But I did wear a suit everyday on our tour of Europe.   A year later I got some more money and went back to Europe again - this time alone.   Yet, I was still in a Paul Bowles mood.  I will be for the rest of my life. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

December 29, 2014

December 29, 2014

I can’t imagine a world without women.  That would be just my definition of hell on earth.  Throughout my life, I have been drawn to a woman that is both creative, seductive, smart, and is aware of the “role” of a woman in a very corrupt horrible culture that we live in now.  I have consistently been embarrassed by my gender, with respect how the world has treated women.  In no fashion or style can I claim to be not a sexist, because I was born in a sexist world - therefore I must be a sexist.  Sadly the same goes for racism.  Without a doubt we live in a racist world, so how can we not be racist?   It’s a social disease that must be cured, but the first step is to realize that we exist in such a horrifying and horrible world.

The beauty of a woman is extremely important to me.  It’s a dangerous concept, because beauty can be only skin-deep, or it can be an entrance to a complex world where if one added aesthetic feelings as well as sexual attraction, which in most cases are very hard to define.  One time in my life it could be just clothing and nothing else.  If a woman wore a certain color, or fabric, it would immediately turn me on.  I could never figure out how that worked exactly.  The second thing that turned me on is situations where a female has a role in a highly controlled situation.   The maid, the nurse, wife, or a woman from a particular culture and country.   It’s very mysterious how that works out to a man’s sexuality.

For me, it would have to be the taste of the exotic, which in reality it does not have anything to with anything.  It’s a visual thought, or a distant feeling that somehow is important to one’s sensual history.   In most of my life, I have worked in a bookstore, and I have always been attracted to women who work in such stores.  A woman who carries a book around is a picture of pornography for me.   I remember one time I was on a bus, and I saw this young woman reading a vintage paperback movie tie-in edition of Alberto Moravia’s “Contempt.” My first thought was where did she get this edition of this book?  Then I noticed that she was quite beautiful, and I couldn’t separate her from the book she was holding.  Is there anything more exquisite than a pretty girl holding and reading a book with Brigitte Bardot on the cover?

I wanted to approach her, but I couldn’t think of anything to say to her.   I saw her again on the bus, maybe a month or two later, and again, she was reading a favorite book of mine by Andrew Loog Oldham - and I couldn’t fathom why this young woman is caught on the bus reading two of my favorite books.  Especially, to remind you, two very obscure editions of a book.  The Oldham book could only be purchased as an import, and it is not an easy book to find either on the Internet or in a bookstore.   For that reason alone I had a sexual fixation on her, but I just didn’t know how to approach her, or even make a comment to her.  The series of moments were too perfect, and therefore I didn’t want to destroy the spell of the moment, by saying something idiotic or stupid.

Women are objects of desire.  The question I have is why do I feel that way?   It is only when I spend a great deal of time with a woman that I realize that they are just as complexly as a male, and at times I even forget that there is a gender difference between us.  But the initial impression is like a lighted match on a long fuse, and it burns slowly.  Logic is scattered out of the window, and I’m left amazed that I’m in a world that I can’t fully explain, but surely I have strong feelings for.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

December 28, 2014

December 28, 2014

Everything I do have a beginning, a middle, and then an end.  Life doesn’t often naturally follow that pattern in life, but alas, the role of a publisher can frame the world in a certain light, and therefore that’s TamTam Books.  I don’t want to last forever, but the moments I’m here, I want to be the best that I can be.  Everything else is nothing more than a distraction to me.  Some think it is a matter of luck, but I feel that luck have nothing to do with it.  I think luck is an invention of those in power, who insist that everyone gets a fair chance in grabbing the big award that is only inches from their grasp.   “Like a modern ‘wheel of fortune’ the message is ‘all is luck; some are rich, some are poor, that is the way the world is … it could be you! ”

When we’re down, it is good to believe in shit, because that is the one thing we have in common.   The president of the United States shit, I shit, you shit, even birds in the sky shit.  At least three times in my life I had birds shit on me from a distance.  Is it luck that I’m shitted on?  “There is nothing more natural than to consider everything as starting from oneself, chosen as the center of the world; one finds oneself thus capable of condemning the world without even wanting to hear its deceitful chatter.” Therefore to make the chatter louder, I began to publish.

The author Robert Greene brought me the idea of publishing Guy Debord’s “Considerations on the Assassination of Gérard Lebovici.” The book is fascinating because it is both a critique of the spectacle as well as Debord’s defense to his intimate friend Lebovici, who was also his publisher and financial backer for his films.   As I read this book, it seemed that one of the key titles for Lebovici’s press, was Jacques Mesrine’s “The Death Instinct.” Like the Boris Vian titles, I needed to publish all the main works from these authors.  To do just one book would be pointless.  I thought of my press as a structure or a building.

The foundation or basement will be Boris Vian’s “I Spit on Your Graves” and “Foam of the Daze.” The first floor had to be Debord’s “Considerations…. And Mesrine’s “The Death Instinct.” One without the other would have been incomplete.   In this house of TamTam Books, then there was a need for Vian to have separate rooms for “Autumn in Peking,”  “Red Grass,” and then a special wing of the building to go to Vian’s alter-identity Vernon Sullivan’s “To Hell With The Ugly,” and “The Dead All Have The Same Skin.”   To give focus on the world of Vian, I had to co-edit a book “Boris Vian’s Manual of Saint Germain des Prés”  And if you are going to mention Vian, then you have to add Serge Gainsbourg to the mix, which means publishing his short novel “Evguenie Sokolov,” as well as the magnificent biography on Gainsbourg by Gilles Verlant.   The attic is Debord’s book as well as Mesrine’s - and there we have the perfect structure that is TamTam Books.  For spice and color, I added the selected lyrics by Sparks, as well as an art book by Lun*na Menoh.

Now that I have my house, I realized that it is built on flammable paper, and can easily be burned down.   So what I left here is a series of thoughts, images, narrations, and a pathway for a future traveler, who may want to connect the dots or string that are attached to Debord to Vian to Gainsbourg to Mesrine.   I went full-circle, and therefore, is there a need for me to publish again?  “In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles.  Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.”

As I merge my publishing into my writing, I’m slowly erasing the line between publishing and writing. The one thing that will be consistent in my make-up, is to read.  Often I felt like a magician in front of an audience and I’m just showing parlour tricks-of-the-trade.  I give you illusions, because you have a need for them.   Supply and demand, and I be damned if I fail in supplying you the illusion you need.  “The passions have been sufficiently interpreted; the point now is to discover new ones.” As a fellow traveler, I will sniff out what culture has to offer, and try to re-package it into another item or at the very least, a shiny new toy.  In other words, “nobody kills me until I say so. ”

Saturday, December 27, 2014

December 27, 2014

December 27, 2014

“It’s not what you are, it’s what you don’t become that hurts.” I was simply born, so that is good.  From that foundation, I tried to build myself up.  On the other hand, “underneath this flabby exterior is an enormous lack of character.” The promise that I had, I sort of lost it, due to my laziness, and being so indifferent to my suffering.  I often felt like I was watching myself on the big screen that just got smaller and smaller.  When my wife and I split up, I moved to sunny California, and somehow I brought nothing but drought and a bad cloud over my head, that seemed to rain, but nowhere else.  My friend Harpo and his wife invited me over to dinner, and since then, I haven’t left the dinner table.   The great thing about the house (besides my hosts and the daily grub) is that they have a magnificent Steinway piano.  Harpo doesn’t play piano, and I never could understand why people haver a large piano in their living room.  I guess it’s a room decoration of some sort, or just a prop to show one has some form of culture or another.  As for me, I’m a damn good piano player.

I have another friend, Glenn, who is also a fellow traveler in the pill world.  We share our stash and end up talking about music for the whole night.  One of the reasons why my wife threw me out of the house, was due to the long-night pill fueled talk sessions I had with Glenn.   We often sat at the piano, when I had the piano, my wife has it now - anyway he would sit at my left and would handle the left-side of the keyboard, and I’ll do the rest.  The funny thing he would play Bach, while I played Gershwin at the same time and place.  This would drive my wife batty, and I think that incident was the one that broke the camel’s (or my wife’s) back.

Since then, she married the owner of the Lowe’s Theater movie chain in New York City.   I miss her greatly.  I’m perfectly happy at Harpo’s pad, but I miss my old piano and my gal.  It seemed she married him right away after our divorce, which I thought was not that respectful.   And now, both are using my piano as a furniture piece in my once lovely living room.  On a lonely night, I called her and happened to wake her up and her husband.  She started to yell at me, and I was trying to get a word in, but she just kept the verbal abuse.  Finally during a moment of silence, I just asked her if I can just ask one critical question, just one important question.   She said go ahead.   “What movie are they showing at Loews on 3rd Avenue?” The silence afterwards was deafening, especially when she hung up the phone.   I don’t know.  “I’m controversial.  My friends either dislike me or hate me.”

“Once I make up my mind, I’m full of indecision.” Therefore, I’m quite comfortable on Harpo’s living room couch.   I made a fort of some sort, where I put string up one wall to another, and added a big bed sheet to cover the space up.   I felt like a kid who had a secret fort, but the odd thing was the fact that it was placed in my friend’s living room.   The truth is, I could spend my whole life there, but eventually I noticed that dinner time didn’t happen all the time.   I made sure I had reservations, but it seemed Harpo, and especially his wife, seemed to ignore my dinner appointments at the dining table.   Slowly, and very clearly, I was getting a message that perhaps I should move on.   Harpo once told me to my face that “Every time I look at you I get a fierce desire to be lonesome.” How awkward is that?

I just can’t help myself.  “I was once thrown out of a mental hospital for depressing the other patients.”  Over time, and I have to be honest here, a ‘short’ period of time, I alienated all my friends.  My check book looked like Swiss cheese eaten by a hungry mouse, and I would just play on Harpo’s piano, endless songs by Gershwin.   My depression had no bounds and clearly I was sinking in a quicksand, but of my own making.  “What the world needs is more geniuses with humility, there are so few us left.” So I sit by the piano to make some sense of my broken being, and try to remember that “happiness isn’t something you experience; it’s something you remember. ”

Friday, December 26, 2014

December 26, 2014

December 26, 2014

I love the world, but the world doesn’t love me, or at the very least, they misunderstood me.  I never wanted to cause harm, but I usually don’t have any choice in the matter, due that I bring my work out in front of the public, yet, I’m met with indifference, or at the very least, ridicule.  I’ve been laughed at ever since I was a child, and it got worse when I turned into a teenager.   The rejection of my father’s death, as well as going through a painful teenage era, left me scarred, but from that pain, I have become a stronger person - even a stronger artist.  In my own fashion, I try to bring the beauty to the world, but somehow it always turns into disgust.

I made the perfect album in the late 1950s, with my pals Marshall Leib and Annette Kleinbard.  I wrote a lot of the songs, but also played guitar and sang back up.   At the time, I was going through a lot of emotional pain, but I feel that the album best expressed the times I lived in.   Sadly, the album didn’t sell, but I did have a song that became a hit, with a stunning vocal from Annette.   Yet, I decided being in a band or the artist was sort of the loser’s position, when you can actually work in the back room, and therefore be able to have a vision of the world that is out there.

The thing is you can place yourself anywhere you want on the record, but you never escape from yourself.  I’m always walking alone in the darkest side of the street.  If I had the choice I would bring nothing but joy to the world, but something fucks up for me, and I don’t understand why the world is so hostile towards me.  I can’t go on, to lose the one, I hold so dear, which is my audience. “I’m dealing in rock ’n’ roll.  I’m, like, I’m not a bona fide human being. ”

I went to Tosh’s dad’s art opening, and I remember finding myself in a crowd of fools.   I started to speak to Tosh, and then Tosh said to me “I’m not Tosh, but I can bring you to Tosh.” I told him to bring him over here.  Tosh came to me and said “Hey man how are you doing?” I said to him, “How do I know you’re Tosh?” It really bugged me when people give me shit, especially in public. I feel that they are going out of their way just to embarrass me.   I had my bodyguard with me, and I went up to people I didn’t know, and told them I can just snap my fingers and have them beaten up.  I positioned my thumb over my shoulder and told them, “see that guy there, all I have to do is snap my fingers, “ and you’re through man.”

I don’t even know why I react that way.   It just builds up in me, and I finally just couldn’t take it anymore.  I just want to punch all of them in their faces, but that is my peculiar version of a kiss.  It’s a sign of love, and yeah, even if I throw the cripple down the stairs, I’m going to come out as a winner.   You know I’m a cripple inside, and "no one in the family is safe when I sashay."

Thursday, December 25, 2014

December 25, 2014

December 25, 2014

Santa Claus throughout my history, had been a significant presence as well as a disappointing figure for me.  He was the first figure in my life, where I realized that I have been had.  My mother told me stories that she either heard Santa around the household, or saw him fly over our house the night before Christmas.   I believed her because she didn’t over-do it with the description.  She was neither excited or shocked to see Santa in the neighborhood.  I, on the other hand, still remember waiting for the appearance of Santa, and not really being able to sleep that night.   One can’t over-estimate the importance of a Christmas morning for a child.  It was the one day where everything seemed right with the world.

My earliest memory of Christmas was waiting for my dad to wake-up.  Of course, I wanted to tear into the packages as soon as possible - but my dad always seemed to over-sleep that particular date of the year.  I’m now convinced it was a mild form of torture of some sort.  As he slept that morning, I did nothing but look under the Christmas tree, trying to somehow send ESP messages for him to wake up.  I even remember going into the bedroom, and sitting on the floor to see the first sign of eye-movement on his part.  Nothing.  He was truly asleep.  How is that possible, that it is Christmas, and for whatever reason he’s still asleep?  That didn’t make sense to me as a child, and I have to admit it still bothers me 50 years later.

Over the years, I realized that Santa brought me toys or gifts that were not like the other toys my parents or grandparents bought me.  Through my dad and mom, It was usually something I asked for, or toys my parents knew I would want or have an interest in having them.  The Santa gifts were generic, in fact, it could be a gift for anyone or from anyone.  I have no memory of making a list of things I wanted for Christmas.  With respect to my parents, it probably took them a while for them to figure out what I wanted.  To this day, I’m very touched by the quality of presents that came upon me, through my parents.    I had a mixture of items that were passive, like a board game, but then they would offer me presents like a globe of the world, or a camera.   I also remember getting an electric guitar and an amp, but that was through my grandparents.  Nevertheless, I do not remember receiving a present that I didn’t like.  

 The Christmas of 1965 stands out because that was the Christmas where I remember every present.  A “Man From U.N.C.L.E." set with toy machine gun, membership card, and I think a badge.  Also from Dean Stockwell, I received the albums Rolling Stones’ “Out of Our Heads, ” “Herman Hermits on Tour, ” and The Animals “Animalism.” I remember those presents because three or four days after Christmas, our house was totally destroyed by a mud slide.  Not only that I lost those presents, but I also lost all my clothing, furniture, and documents that proved that I existed in this world.   It was the first time that I realized that objects that I own, can be destroyed or taken away from me.  It had a profound affect on me, with respect to possessing things.   And though I can remember what my parents got me that Christmas, I have no memory of what Santa brought me.

Nevertheless it is best not to be bitter after all these years, and that wasn’t exactly the worst thing that happened regarding the issue of Santa Claus.  When I was in school, in fact in a school room, a fellow student blurted out that Santa didn’t exist.  At the time, this struck me as being absurd.  Of course Santa exists, because he was seen in our neighborhood, as well as hand delivering my presents for the last ten or eleven years.  But by that afternoon I realized that something was up.  Now come to think of it, Santa’s handwriting (he always left a card with his gift) seemed to resemble my mom’s handwriting.   That was the moment when I realized that Santa didn’t exist.  Once my fellow student pops the Santa balloon, then common sense kicked in.  I didn’t feel exactly bad, but my world was altered in the sense that Santa was the only figure that I sort of believed in.  I never had a belief in God, angles, ghosts, spirits, or to be honest, Jesus.  But I did have faith in Santa Claus.  Losing our home in such a brutal manner, and realizing that Santa didn’t exist, changed me from being a boy to becoming a teenager.  It was the long tunnel that I had to enter, and I did enter, and I came out at the end of the tunnel.