Tuesday, June 4, 2019

June 4, 2019

June 4, 2019

This year, besides my regular writing sessions, and YouTube channel "Tosh Talks," I also do "Tosh Talks Podcast" which is me chatting away about subject matters that interest me, and hopefully you the listener will find interesting as well.   There was a snag concerning Facebook policies.  I posted an image of the Japanese writer Shūji Terayama with his theater troop of actors, which has a nude or two, and that got me banned on Facebook for 24-hours.   I wrote back to Facebook to let them know that the photograph is of an artist and his actors, but alas, they still thought it wasn't a proper image for the Facebook website.

On one end, I have to acknowledge that Facebook is not my property, and therefore, me using the Facebook format or site is truly me being a guest there.  Still, I'm bringing art, information, cultural views that will not hurt anyone.  Facebook is famous for not taking down specific videos or websites that are proven to be false, yet within minutes, they took down an image of Terayama.

Still, as a guest of sorts, I feel unwelcome on their site.  We will see what will happen in the future.  Meanwhile here's my "Tosh Talks Podcast page down below.

Tosh Talks Podcast Page

Wallace Berman at Art Basel 2019

The picture above is a 'model' or mock-up of the Frank Elbaz Gallery booth which will be at the Art Basel 2019 fair.   A room devoted to Wallace Berman's art, which, of course, happens to be my father.  The artworks are for sale, so for those who are going to the fair, do drop in and visit my father's work.  Moreover, say hello to the Elbaz Gallery as well.  I can't wait to see the installation photos.  - Tosh Berman

More information:  Wallace Berman at Art Basel

General information about the Festival, including dates:  Art Basel 2019

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Sisters 1

My Wife Lun*na Menoh's new YouTube adventure. With Saori Mitome.  A project with her band Les Sewing Sisters. In Japanese.  Watch it!

Saturday, May 18, 2019

May 19, 2019 (Tokyo)

Tokyo is such a powerful combination of visual overload as well as fatigue from being surrounded by people that I need to take a walk in a forest that is dark and cool.   Yoyogi Park encompasses Meiji Jingu, and for me, it grasps my mood as if wearing a tight glove over a fist.  There is a significant walkway that goes to the shrine, but I found this path off the road that goes directly into the forest.  As I walk, I hear nothing else except for the crows, which seems to be chattering endlessly.  I believe these birds have a complex skill in communicating.  It's interesting to note that I often feel inarticulate and a sense of vocabulary leaving me, yet the crow can chit-chat until exhaustion.

Crows are known to attack people, steal food off a plate if you are on a picnic, and attack smaller animals.   It seems that they have nothing but contempt for the human race.  It's rare in Los Angeles, but as a child, I remember a crow diving toward me and taking a chunk of my hair out of the head.  I was told that they use human hair to build their nest for their babies.  So, going to a city that has an over-population of crows does leave an emotional scar.  No one was around, yet the birds seemed to surround me as I walked deeper into the pathway.  I didn't even know where this road would lead me to.  After a while, I realized I was just following the sounds of the crow.

The fascinating aspect of the forest or Yoyogi Park is that it is made by humans, not nature.  I have a distaste for 'real' nature, and I prefer the touch of human hands in creating a natural landscape.  Beyond the crows, it is ironic that they took over that is basically an invention of humans.  The perfectly designed park, but overtaken by crows.  It is similar to seeing President Trump in the White House.  The architecture was made to serve another purpose, but the guest who wouldn't leave took over the premise, and here we are, wondering how things collapse in such a fashion.

Friday, May 17, 2019

May 18, 2019 (Tokyo)

Vinyl shopping is an obsession of mine, but also I realize that it is also a tool for me to tour Tokyo on foot and train.  Tokyo is unique and not like any other city, but in a fashion, it reminds me of Los Angeles, in that metropolis' have a series of smaller villages that all together composes the city.  Shibuya is very different from Shinjuku, which in turn is different from Meguro, my home in Tokyo.  Each neighborhood has a specific identity.  Today I pretty much spent time in Nakano, which has a shopping arcade and building called "Nakano Broadway."  I think most would consider the actual building ugly, but for me, it has a certain charm that is hard to define.  It has no aesthetic, and it is open to others who have a taste for the bizarre, or the imaginary world of the Otaku. 

While walking in the complex it does have a smell of sweat, or perhaps their plumbing is not in order, but still, the scent brings out a sense of passion for what they may be looking for.  For example, I got totally fixated on a magnet bookmarker.  It had a flower textile design and I thought to myself, I need that bookmarker.  Yet, as every sense of my body told me to buy it, I resist and almost ran out of the stationary store.  All the Otaku shops open at 11 or even noon and close at 8.  Very solid hours, and I feel that the people who work here are comfortable with the schedule.  

One of my favorite shops in Tokyo is in the Nakano Broadway complex, and it's the store Tacoche, which is a combination of a gift shop, zine store, and art/cinema books, with a selection of Japanese underground music on the CD format,  all dealing with the Underground or counter-culture subject matter.  Tightly curated, with lots of handmade manga or zine subject matter.  I can't think of another shop in Tokyo that covers the underground world in such a splendid manner. Their hours are 12 to 8, and they are open every day, but beware that some of the shops are closed on Wednesday, which seems to be the independent shop's Sunday.   http://tacoche.com/

Since I'm a fan of the print media, going through vintage mangas at Mandarake is a wonderful experience.  Not only that, Mandarake is probably the largest manga books and culture store in existence.  They have a huge basement shop in Shibuya, but I prefer the mall approach at Nakano Broadway.  There are several Mandarake shops here, each one focusing on a specific subject matter or it can be used or new.  The thing is, the inventory is insanely huge, but still feels curated as well. It's a store of taste, and my favorite part of the complex is their used publications - such as vintage photo books, but also old Ben Hecht novel translated into Japanese, that looks like it was published in the 1930s.   http://www.mandarake.co.jp/

The toy shops, many, and mostly vintage toys from the 1960s, all dealing with Japanese pop culture of the time.   I have a deep nostalgia of a past that's not mine.  For some reason, I'm drawn to this world.  Perhaps to reclaim my youth, but my imaginary sense of youth.  

Thursday, May 16, 2019

May 17, 2019 (Tokyo)

Deeply jet-lagged, I walk the streets of Tokyo without knowing what direction or desire.  I feel like I have to move or I sleep or experience some version of death.  On the other hand, for the next four days, I'm alone, and therefore I can roam from morning to evening and back to morning again.  I ended up at a chain coffee shop in Shibuya a block away from Tower Records having a cold glass of their tap water and black coffee.  I usually sit by their indoor fountain, which generally I find it meditative.  Unfortunately, they had the water turned off, so the glass fountain, or is it plastic, had old water stains on it which reminded me of the retainer for my teeth.  It's tough to clean the fastener, and I find it disgusting.  Therefore I'm in a bad mood.

To escape my dark thoughts for the day, I went to RecoFan, which is about two blocks away from the coffee shop.   When I look for records, I usually don't have a thought in my head, which, of course, is total bliss. In that state, I found a copy of the Tornados' second album "Away From it All" produced by Joe Meek.   As one knows who reads my blog, I have a thing for Meek's production.  It's interesting to note that Meek arranged to have a photo of Heinz on the back cover of the album, announcing that he is now a solo artist, but did play bass on seven tracks on this album.  It took me about three hours to find this record.  A gentleman from Asia, who speaks perfect English, asked me for advice at the music store.  Both of us had the same problem.   If you buy 5 used albums or singles, you get ¥200  off each title.  He can only find three, and I was struggling with a choice of two and having a difficult time to find other records I wanted.  Which is basically a 'me' problem, because it is one of the great record stores in the world.  It's a smaller version of Amoeba feet wise, but jammed pack with vinyl, CD, and an impressive selection of used 45 rpm singles.  They also have an excellent selection of Japanese pop/rock as well.  I did find a Guernica album there, but I already have it.  Still, the Asian gentleman wanted to know if we could put our purchase together for the discount.  I declined because even though it made perfect sense, I just didn't want to be there for the discount.  As a buyer or collector, it's essential that I purchased records that I need, and not out of a 'deal.'  

Exhausted, I went to a local market near my home here in Meguro and found an overabundance of raw tuna.   I  had rice at home and decided to buy a package of tuna, and at home, I'll make sushi rice, which is a combination of white rice, vinegar, and sesame seeds.   I actually like the sushi rice better than the fish that is either mixed in or lays on top of the tuna.  If one gives me a bowl of rice, I would be happy and content. 

I feel my life must be a great disappointment to my readers and fans.   I made a note to myself to make my self more interesting.  Perhaps even to write more about food.  The truth is, I greatly admire meditating on all sort of things, and then writing about my feelings on that subject matter.  Of course, who cares about how I feel about things!  Still,  on the way home I did go to Tower Music to buy the music magazine "Record Collector," which is cheaper to purchase here than in Los Angeles.  It's essential that I have reading material on long plane flights.  Even although sometimes I just nod in front of the small video screen, I find reading material a safety net for any chances that boredom reveals itself to my world.   Tower Records is 6-floors of music.   Each floor is devoted to a specific region or type of music.  The last time I was here K-pop (Korean) shared space with J-Pop (Japanese), but alas, K-Pop has the whole floor to itself.   Of the boy-band world, it's interesting that Korean pop acts are making a presence in America at the moment. So, the fact that a whole floor is devoted to K-Pop music is an interesting change. Also on this floor were a significant number of young girls screaming because a band or boy band was doing a signing.  Classical music used to have the entire floor by itself but now shares its space with Jazz and World Music. 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

"Another Ventriloquist: Stories" by Adam Gilders

ISBN: 9780982964200
There is something wonderful being in a bookstore and picking up a book due to its cover, and then buying it because you read one of the short stories while standing in the store.  At first, Adam Penn Gilders reminded me of Lydia Davis, but only superficially due that both authors wrote short-short stories.  They also write/wrote strange narratives in a minimal style that becomes maximum in texture and emotional reflection.  Gilders has a dry sense of humor, and the fact that these small narratives are about married couples or the workforce in an office, there is something desperate that is not spoken.  It's tragic that Gilders died in 2007.  I would have liked to see more books by this excellent writer.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

"Oscar Wilde's Basil Hallward" by Tosh Berman for The Brooklyn Rail

My brief essay on Oscar Wilde's fictional artist in "The Picture of Dorian Gray" for Brooklyn Rail.  Thank you Barry Schwabsky for the invitation!

Read it here:  Oscar Wilde's Basil Hallward by Tosh Berman

ARCHITECT OF STARDOM: Irving Mills and Duke Ellington

Part of my "Architect of Stardom" series on 'Please Kill Me' website. Here I focus on Irving Mills, the manager of Duke Ellington, among other greats.

 His “Elvis” was Duke Ellington, but he did far more than manage the careers of the Duke, Cab Calloway, and Hoagy Carmichael. Irving Mills got his hand in every aspect of the music business—managing, publishing, recording and leading his own band. He may, in fact, be the unsung father of the modern music business in America. - Tosh Berman

Read it here:  ARCHITECT OF STARDOM: Irving Mills and Duke Ellington

Monday, April 29, 2019

Songs of David Bowie by Chris O'Leary on Tosh Talks

Two books (volumes) by Chris O'Leary that covers every song David Bowie released, as well as obscure b-sides, and recordings not released. Remarkable information which makes these books essential to the Bowie Library.

And here's the podcast version: Songs of David Bowie by Chris O'Leary on Tosh Talks Podcast

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Saturday, April 27, 2019

I took an LYFT to Old Town Pasadena to have lunch with two gentlemen from the Norton Simon Museum.   We agreed to meet at an Indian restaurant called 'All India Cafe' on South Fair Oaks Avenue.  I have never been there, and it is very much a neighborhood joint in Pasadena.  Although they have a brother/sister cafe in Glendale (on Brand), it seems family owned with a tightly knitted group of employees there.   I had spinach mixed in with bite-size potatoes and rice on the side.  I never know what to do in an Indian restaurant.  I feel each dish is meant to be shared, but we all ordered separate dishes.  Still, there is something enjoyable about Indian cuisine that is comforting.  I think the mixture of potato and spinach is a perfect combination and somewhat organic relationship to me.   On the other hand, I was concerned about having rice with potato which is delicious, but is that too much starch for one's diet or need?  

They brought copies of my book TOSH to sign for the stock in their book/gift store.  If I'm not mistaken, I think I have my book in all museum shops in Los Angeles.   It was a delightful way to spend the early afternoon.  The weather was perfect, in that it was sunny, but not the sun of hot direct rays, but more of a lightness that bathes one's soul.   Also, the company was excellent.  I enjoy spending time with people who work in museums or galleries.  I have no interest in the so-called 'art world' when it is displayed as a business, but when it concerns 'culture,' I find that fascinating. 

When I left the cafe, I immediately got on the bus that takes me to Hollywood and Vine.   The trip, if the traffic is not too heavy, takes about 40 minutes.  Which is good, because it gives me time to read this fascinating book by Marjorie Muir Worthington called "The Strange World of Willie Seabrook."    I know nothing of the authors but was curious after reading about this book on the Spurl Editions website.  Seabrook was a travel writer, adventurer, and I suspect a Sadistic soul.  He committed suicide in the 1960s, but this memoir by his ex-wife is a fascinating read so far.  It's a hard book to put down.   I found a copy of the book in the Los Angeles Main Library, but I plan to purchase the Spurl Edition as soon as possible. I want to have it for my library.  

As usual, I went to Amoeba because I had some credit.   For obvious reasons I spent the entire rest of the afternoon as it turned into early evening, looking at album sleeves and letting my mind wander into a beautiful state of exploration.   The connection of the art on the album sleeve and music is an interesting relationship. I imagine hearing the music just by studying the cover, with the fonts of the lettering as well as the illustration/photos.   I purchased The Kinks' "Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoaround - Part One" which for an odd reason is very hard to find on vinyl these days.  And when you do find it, the price is usually around $50, but I found this copy for $24.  Not in perfect condition, but it is one of the great Kinks albums, and I'm happy to have it in my possession.  The other two albums I purchased "Booker T. & The M.G.s' "Green Onions" and a best of a package by The Undertones called "All Wrapped Up," which has a really terrible cover.  Still, The Undertones were magnificent pop music makers. 

I took the express bus back to Sunset and Alverado and then got on the 603 to home.   Which gave me more time to read the Worthington memoir.   In the next few days, I have to decide if I should continue writing my journal, or work on a fictional project.  It really depends on how well TOSH does in the reading market.  It seems by the appearance that the book is selling well, and the reviews have been overly positive.  So who knows?

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Tosh Berman meets Marcel Duchamp on Tosh Talks

Tosh Berman Meets Marcel Duchamp on Tosh Talks

Tosh Berman talks about the Pasadena Museum retrospective exhibition of Marcel Duchamp's artwork, curated by Walter Hopps in 1963. Tosh reads a chapter from "Tosh: Growing Up in Wallace Berman's World (City Lights Books)," focusing on meeting Duchamp.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A beautiful day, weather-wise in Los Angeles.   I went to work in Downtown this morning, feeling a little light headed and in a very relaxed state.  Whenever I have to wake up early for either a work situation or doctor visit, I usually don't need an alarm clock to get me out of bed. It's generally through a dream where I hear a female whisper in my ear "Tosh."  That usually wakes me up. Before work, I re-posted one of the old pieces I wrote for "365."  Today is Pete Shelley's birthday. If he were alive, he would be 64.  The same age as me.   A remarkable songwriter and the first three Buzzcocks albums are pretty damn perfect.   Also, his solo work is equally amazing.  I have often wondered why he didn't stick with the solo work.  Shelley had an interest in electronic or experimental music which gave his pop songwriting side a certain edge.  The songs were pretty, but there was harshness or layers of textures that combined with the heart-filled lyrics become a powerful formula.   Shelley went on to make music with Buzzcocks, and a classic song here and there would show up on later recordings.  Still, I miss him greatly.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

This morning I uploaded my latest podcast which is yours truly reading the Marcel Duchamp chapter from my book "Tosh."  Lun*na added my theme song which is something I put together based on her sewing machine noise/music.  It works well in the context of a theme song (of sorts).

Yesterday was a sad day due to the burning of the Norte-Dame Cathedral in Paris.  I always see that building/structure as something from the 11th-century as well as gothic literature.  Even without the poetry of the place, I feel that the building has its own life.  Also as a building, it's location is essential when I'm walking around without a map.  I always recognized the Norte-Dame from a distance, so I know that I'm close to various other locations in that area of Paris.  For instance, Shakespeare and Company.  Without the Norte-Dame, I think I could never find that fantastic bookstore.  It was late yesterday that I realize it is a functioning church, but I never see Norte-Dame in that light.   To me, it's a scary, beautiful building.  The church itself has no meaning beyond its beautiful structure and textures.

It's funny how some people react 24-hours later (the Americans, who are excellent in having an opinion as soon as possible) on the possibility of the Cathedral being re-built, and its ability to raise a great deal of money to do so.  Some Americans are commenting on isn't it better to give money to starving children, or whatever the pet cause is at the moment.  Same as some who complain about Bernie Sanders being a millionaire.   What does that have to do with the issues he brings up.  For some reason, people feel that a Socialist shouldn't have money.   Alternatively, it is hypocritical to have money and yet for fair representation in politics.   For one, I think those who bring this up are just pissed off that Senator Sanders even exist on this world.   With respect to the Church, the Norte-Dame Cathedral is not just a building, but an iconic spot for the last 800 years.  Buildings do come and go, but the Cathedral represents more than just a structure.

After finishing up the Podcast, I worked on my piece for the Please Kill Me website. We have been going back and forth on this particular essay, and I enjoy the communication with their editor.  Everything he has brought up is something to make the piece better.  As a writer, working with an editor is the best relationship.   I love them.

I just got back from a walk through Downtown Los Angeles. Beside Echo Park Lake, I love wandering around Downtown due to its architecture.  I always get the feeling that I need a martini while I'm in Downtown, but I avoid hitting a bar at an early hour.  I drink, but I'm not yet a full alcoholic.  At 64 I'm always looking for an adventure.

"Tosh Talks" Podcast: Meeting Marcel Duchamp

Tosh Berman reads a chapter from his memoir "Tosh: Growing Up in Wallace Berman's World" (City Lights) regarding his meeting as a 9-year-old with iconic artist Marcel Duchamp. Photograph by Julian Wasser, at the Pasadena Museum's opening for the Duchamp retrospective, curated by Walter Hopps. -Tosh Berman

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