Monday, August 24, 2015

Mount Mihara Part 1 (Travel Journal)

This late morning we all ended up in the car and headed towards Mount Mihara.   It’s an active volcano located right in the center of Izu Oshima, an island that is two hours (by speed ferry) from Tokyo.  Driving on the island cannot possibly be the easiest thing to do.  There is just the main road that goes completely around the island, and not one part of the highway that is straight. It is nothing but curves and sharp turns throughout the endless street.  If you drive completely around, it will take an hour.  I believe the entire milage of the circle is 35 miles.   To get to the volcano from the Haru Elementary School, where we are all working and staying for the Art Islands in TOKYO art festival - takes about 30 minutes. The one street that leads us to a dead end, so we can park and walk to the mountain, can only fit one car.   Yet, on this curvy road, it’s a two-way street.  One can’t see what is around the bend, and usually you come upon a car head-on.  So, one has to drive very slowly, and sort of hope that no one will hit you.  As for me, I hold my breath till we get to the point when we can pull over.

We then walk through a very lush and green pathway that takes us to the desert that is nick-named "Pluto."   The substance on the ground is fine black sand, with an occasional black rock.   The immense space on the top of the mountain makes the island, down below, looks small for some odd reason.  I did not feel that we came from down there, because "there" looks totally different when you're looking above the landscape. What I saw ahead of me was an endless black landscape that gave everything a shade of gray.   Also, I noticed that there was no evidence of life, except for us tourists.   No birds.   No insects.   No plant life.  Just black rock and earth.   There was also a strong wind that made me feel like I would be dragged to the bottom of the hill.  I suffer as a result of vertigo, and suddenly I couldn't take another step in front of me. I felt if the volcano itself was dragging me into its entrance of no return.

I went back to the car by myself, and wrote this short travel journal.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Sunday Series: Sunday August 23, 2015 (Izu Oshima Island, Tokyo, Japan)

The Sunday Series:
Sunday August 23, 2015

Izu Oshima, Tokyo, Japan

Every Sunday, here at the Haru Elementary School, my duties are to sweep the floors and clean up the bathrooms.  I’m here as an artist to take part in an arts festival that is taking place later next month.  From August to the end of September, the festival takes over the elementary school as their gallery and office space.  The school itself became something of the past, in 2009.   Being here now, it is like the entire population of students and their teachers made a run for it, and just left everything in the classrooms intact.  When I first walked in the door last week, it was an eerie feeling of a presence of not one, but many individuals who threw themselves from one classroom to another.  The school itself was under construction by the noted Japanese architect Takamasa Yoshizaka, who once worked as an assistant to Le Corbusier in Paris.  In fact, he translated Le Corbusier’s writings from French to Japanese.  Although I’m totally not sure about this, but I suspect that he designed this school sometime in the early 1960s.   On the property is an Olympic sized drained swimming pool and a baseball field - both are covered by natural growth with an occasional poisoned snake here and there. 

In the principal's office, where I do my daily writing, I’m surrounded by images of past awards, trophies, and various class photographs over the years.   The one thing that becomes clear from looking at the photographs is that teachers start multiplying faster than the students.   Youth, over time, eventually moved to the main land, more likely to Tokyo, and left the island behind.  I can’t speak for the property, but this structure has only been in existence for forty years or so.  Yet it’s a building from the past, and left to rot.  Artists, like rats, need space to do their art, so at the moment it’s a happy relationship between the recent past and the ‘now. ' Still, I feel a great deal of sadness seeing rows of trophies that no longer have any meaning for anyone.   At the time, there must have been great happiness, and nothing but a great future to look forward to.  But life had other plans, and what’s important then is now not-so-important anymore.  

There are a series of photographs on the wall of various teachers who once taught here - and I imagine now, most are dead.  The same for students.  How many of these serious looking faces are alive now?  Even the baseball diamond and the swimming pool are dead.  It’s summertime and all I can smell is death.   The sliding windows on both sides of me are open, and the mosquitos, dragon flies, and an occasional lizard crawls or flies in to bite or harass me.  I wear insect repellent like it is cheap perfume and I want to hide the smell of my decay.  

As I was writing late one night, I felt a presence near me, and I turned around and it was an older gentleman.  I just presume that he was one of the artists here - so many come and go on a daily basis.  The odd thing is he sat behind the table that was once the principal’s desk.  He just sat there looking at me, with no emotion on his face.  He was dressed in a suit and tie, which is an odd outfit for an artist here, and especially in the wet hot weather   of August. It was strange, but then again I’m in a foreign part of the world, and therefore I don’t try to read one’s face, or clothing, especially since I don’t know the language or the customs of those who are from here.  One distinctive thing I notice is that when I saw him, the temperature changed and it became slightly cooler.  If he’s the reason to make the room more comfortable, then I’m perfectly ok with him being here.  And since this is an open studio for artists, it is common for them to come and go as they please. 

The room got warmer all of sudden, and I turned around and he wasn’t sitting at the desk, nor anywhere in the room.  He left.  Oddly I didn’t hear him leave the room.  But since I was totally involved in my writing, I really didn’t think too much about it.  When I finished my work and turned off the computer, I went to the hallway, and I saw the older gentleman slowly walking down towards the other rooms and making a left turn to one of the classrooms. Since I was going in the same direction, I went by the classroom expecting to see him there, but alas, he wasn’t there.  I of course, walked past the classroom again, but I slowly went back and forth in front of the room just to make sure he wasn’t there.  Nothing.  I entered and I did notice that it was cooler in this room than the hallway - which was odd, because all the windows were open in the hall. 

One shouldn’t do this, but I had some hot sake while taking a bath.  It’s dangerous because you can pass out due to the combination of the heat of the bath, the temperature outside, as well as the alcohol.  When I got out of the bath, while drying myself, I heard a noise outside.  I put my clothes on and walked towards the noise, which was coming from the hallway.   From the hallway, I could see a light in my office.  The sound, which was like one or maybe two people walking with the faint sound of a conversation.  It could be one of the other artists here, but I think not, because it was late, and everyone usually is asleep by now.  I walk towards the office slowly.  I wasn’t that fearful it was a burglar - my first thought it was an animal of some sort. Due that in the heat I keep the windows open in the office just to hopefully keep the air circulating.   As I slowly approached the entrance I stuck my head inside the doorway.

What I saw on the desk was a girl in what I think was wearing a Japanese student uniform - maybe 15 or 16, laying on the top, with her skirt above her panties.  I immediately turned away.    I then put my head through the doorway, and this time, she was looking directly at me.  No emotion in her face.  Just laying there.  As if waiting for me.  But also at the same time, I felt her gaze was really looking at nothing.  I felt panicked, but I didn’t want to make any harsh or sudden movement.  When I look towards the desk again, I didn’t see her.   Nor was there any sign of her in the room.   I stayed there for ten minutes doing nothing. I then turned the lights off and stood in the dark for a minute or so.  Nothing.  Unlike the last time I saw the old man at the desk, the temperature didn’t seem to change.  I was trying to logically figure all of this out.   There is nothing to figure out. 

It was a few days later, while looking at the wall while focusing on my writing, that I come upon her.  She is one of many in a classroom photo, taken outside my (the Principal’s) window.  She is sitting down in the front row, near the Principal.  What happened to them, or why, I don’t know.  Or perhaps it is just my imagination over-reacting due to stress, the heat, and being thrown into another culture.  Nevertheless I walk gently into every room in this school, not knowing what is around the corner.  

Izu Oshima, Japan

At the moment I'm in Japan, mostly staying on an island called Izu Oshima.   Lun*na Menoh is participating in the 5th International Contemporary Art Exhibition: Art Islands in Tokyo 2015.  As for me, I'm writing a new book which will be about the island as well as the rest of Japan.  The structure where we work is the Habu Elementary School, which was abandoned in 2009.  Since then, the arts festival, for their summer event,  have taken over the premise for the last five years.  It's a beautiful mid-century building designed by Takamasa Yoshizaka.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Sunday Series: Sunday August 16, 2015 (Tokyo)

The Sunday Series:

Sunday August 16, 2015

When you look upon the stars as you lay on a Shibuya pavement, it is not the star that you’re looking at, but a projection of a star on a tall building looking over the Shibuya crossing.  If one is to fall on a street, it is best that you do it here, because everyone is polite enough not to step on you.   So without that reflection, I’m happy to lie on my back and watch the projection, that is very much my life, taking place on the oversized screen.   I felt a kick on my side, and I looked up towards her direction.  It was Aki who by chance just came upon me.  She took my arm to pick me up, and she dusted my shoulders and butt, and told me to follow her.

We went to a Doutor coffee shop that is two or three buildings from Tower Records.  It’s a good meeting place because one, it’s huge, and two, pleasantly bland.  I, for one, like a space that doesn’t have too much of an identity.  When I write or think, I like to be in an environment or landscape that is totally neutral.  Doutor Coffee fits all the requirements for me to focus on empty space, and with my imagination, I can feel every inch of that space to my liking.   Even on such a Sunday evening, the coffee shop is full of people quietly chatting or students working on their schoolwork.  When I come in with a pen and a notebook, I pretty much fit in this world of total bliss.   Of course, as others are doing English sentence diagrams. I’m trying to find some form of structure for me just to exist in.

Once you get in Doutor, you have to find a table as soon as possible.  It is very difficult to find seating in a coffee shop in Tokyo, especially in the afternoon and early evening.   Locate space and place your belongs on the seat and table itself.  Then back to the counter to order your coffee.  No one steals anything in Tokyo, at least go through one’s bag or purse.  Well, it's possible that it can happen, but it doesn’t happen that often in Japan.   We brought our coffees to the table, which was about six feet away from the smoking section, which is an open room.  When you look at their section, you can’t see a figure, just large bellowing white smoke.  Once in a while you see an arm or head poking out of the smoke, but then within seconds it disappears into the tobacco mist.

Tokyo is such a formatted city.  One can only fit in, and it’s very difficult town if you chose to embrace the system, yet remain apart from it.  It is best to be like me - never learn the language and allow yourself to be thrown into one situation after another.  A typhoon can come, and like the powerful wind, one is picked up and placed in another landscape.  It is very much like Buster Keaton in his film “Sherlock Junior.” Except it’s Tosh Junior, and the location is Shibuya Tokyo.

Among other things I have been suffering from jet-lag, which makes it impossible for me to focus on things on hand.   As I talk to Aki, I notice that her mouth was moving and I was responding to what she is saying, but I haven’t the foggiest idea what she is actually commenting on.  I wish I could quote her, but the sound coming out of her mouth is just that - vowels without meaning.  She may have been speaking to me in Japanese.  A language I don’t know, but I pretend to know in dicey situations.   Such as this one.  I then become aware that she may know that I’m missing the bouncing ball here, and that makes me panic, but I hide it well with my acting ability to look interested through my eyes and hand gestures.  But as I look at her, I can feel my eyes crossing, and I now wonder if she notices.  She then asks me if I’m feeling OK?  Shit.

What I would do now to be able to go back to the Shibuya crossing, and lay myself on the ground and just let the neon lights bath me with its rays.  Even in the hum of people talking in the cafe, I can hear the cicadas in the air, as if pulling me outside.  The temperature is around 90, and the humidity is high as well.  The whole city is like being in a kitchen with the oven fully on.  The heat is intense, and I feel embarrassed that my hands are sweaty as well as my wrists.  When I place them on the table, it seems I leave a pool of water, and I quickly swipe the moisture off the coffee table.

I ask her if it’s ok if we go to a record store - someplace like Reco-Fan.  I want to escape the heat, but I also don’t want to have a conversation.  I just want to move among the vinyl bins and if we need to chat, we can do it there.  The record store is about three blocks in a large building, which name I totally forgot, but that’s OK, because Tokyo is just visual to me.  I never think of a language when looking for a structure or place in the city.  It is always the shape of the building that stands out, or if it's near another shop.  I often miss the building by walking right by it, and I try to imagine how I could do such a thing?    Reck-Fan is on the 4th floor, so we got into the elevator.  The door opens to a paradise, and even in my weak state, I have a smile on my face.   Right away I found two albums that I have been searching for eons: One is “We Want Billy” which is a live recoding with Billy Fury in the early 60s, with Joe Meeks’ band The Tornados.   The album itself is not great, but it holds a lot of history for me.  Also I love the cover.  The other album is a Japanese release of songs the Rolling Stones recorded, but for other people.  The songs are all produced by Andrew Loog Oldham, and they either showed up as 45 rpm singles or demos.   It’s an intriguing way to look at a bands’ (The Stones) work, through this specific route in trying to sell themselves as songwriters.

It dawned on me that I was feeling much better, and I decided to purchase the two albums and Aki, and I left the store.  I asked her if she would come with me to the Shibuya crossing and lay on the ground with me.  She said yes, for reasons that will never be clear to me, but as we approached the crossing, I grabbed her hand and as soon as the walk sign went on, we ran to the center and placed ourselves on the pavement, looking up to the stars that are not there.  But we both shared a certain amount of imagination, and as the thousands walked around us, I tried to count the stars that were in my mind.  I lost count after ten.  She made it to fifteen.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Sunday Series: Sunday August 9, 2015

The Sunday Series
Sunday August 9, 2015

The stench that is America.  You can smell on one’s hair and clothes. It is just like cigarette smoke in a crowded bar.  After awhile, the smell of dirty smoke lingers on you like it was a 3D object.  Some days, I just want to throw myself over the Los Angeles River, but it’s not deep enough to drown, just to crack your head.   The "Martini Drinkers of Los Angeles" is the only club that I’m a member of.   I have kept the membership up, even days or months, where I have nothing to eat.  Which due to my long habit of martini drinking, I always have the olive instead of the lemon peel.  Lemon peel is more delicious, but with hunger, the olive can be filling.  The Queen of the Tarts just came into TAIX bar, and I make sure the remaining olive is in my mouth, because he will take it for sure.  Us hunger boys can smell the hunger off others. 

The girls here are really something.   Sunday night is group sex night.  Buy one drink, the additional drink is free.  I go with my baby, and we do the can-can in front of the band stage.  The drumming is no-stop-keep-going.  Someone told me the Kray twins own this place.  I should have guessed from the interior.  It’s very rear if you get my drift.  The woman at the bar, she is by herself. I think she’s an actress.  I have seen all her movies.  Even the bad ones.  But wait, she looks too much like her, so it can’t possibly be her.  Is it?

I’m with the boys, and we’re talking about the waitress.   Each time I go to town, I see her face, serving the drinks, without a sense of violence in her movement as she approaches the table.  I rather be with the boys, now that I’m dressed up like a man, and standing up on my own two feet.  We have our matching cufflinks, and ties, and the blue oxford button up shirts - we stand together or we fall individually.  

I’m so drunk, that when I leave the bar, and look up at the night sky, I started to count the stars, but eventually I lose count and would have to start over again.  My partner in crime was supposed to write down the numbers as I counted them off, but he has other things on his mind. Shoot the stars out, because they’re so distracting, yet so beautiful.  I like to smell the night air, because there is something so deadly or sleepy that’s out there, and I feel like I’m walking on someone else’s property.   I tiptoe back into the bar with my pal, and we continue our drinking.

One drinks after another, and I’m scared to even look at the final bill.  I don’t. I just hand the waitress my card, hoping that she will make it go away.  My life as told through the eyes of the beautiful young waitress. She is so much smarter than me.  She is the one with the mostist.  As my eyes glaze over the table, I focus on the half full (I’m an optimist) glass of whisky, and I think “Dear God, now what?” 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Patriotism - The Rite of Love and Death (1966), by Yukio Mishima

Tosh on the Island of Izu Oshima (Japan)

I will be spending my time on this island called "Izu Oshima," for the annual arts festival called "Arts Islands in Tokyo."   Lun*na Menoh is invited, and therefore her husband, yours truly, will come along for the adventure.  I'm hoping to write a book about my experiences on the island as well as on the festival itself.

The above photograph is a satellite photograph of Izu Oshima, and the darkened area with the perfect round hole is an active volcano by the name of Mount Mihara.  Which by the way, in the 1930s, was the number one suicide spot for young lovers.   I don't plan to jump in, but one never knows.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Sunday Series: Sunday August 2, 2015

The Sunday Series:
Sunday August 2, 2015

This Sunday, it will be exactly three years ago that I left my job as a book-buyer for a well-known bookstore in Los Angeles.  Off -and-on, I have worked there for twenty-five years.   The last 15 years are pretty much straight through.  From the end of 2009 to August 2012, my chief role was to buy books for the store.   Without a doubt, it was the best job I have ever had.   There wasn’t a day, even though sometimes it was a struggle, that I didn’t enjoy.   For me, it was like being on a beautiful island, surrounded by books and interesting people.  I never underestimated the customers as well as my fellow workers at the shop.   Also, it was one of the few things I have done in my life that I felt was a total success.  Of course, one makes mistakes here and there, but over-all I’m very proud of the work I have done at this bookstore. 

Since I left the job, I have been living off my savings, which I see disappear on a daily basis.   While working, I tend to add services such as cable, more internet speed, and dining out.  Slowly I have been eliminating some of the service, and I pretty much stopped eating at restaurants.  I also used to go to expensive markets like Gelsons, but now, I tend to shop for generic brands in discounted supermarkets.  I ate meat, but now gave that up, which in hindsight, is good for my health.   My breakfast every morning is instant oatmeal, and at one time, I would empty two packets for breakfast, but now, I only eat one packet of instant oatmeal.  I add water of course, but very little, to make it more thick, and therefore more filling.   I avoid lunch and focus on having broccoli head and a plate of pasta for dinner.  My wine of choice is Two-buck Chuck.   I get a buzz which helps me in the long run to forget my everyday struggle or my lack of inner-happiness.  

I have a large library, and I tend to either re-read my books or go to the library, which I’m extremely fond of.  You tend to have to wait for popular titles, but the price of books is pretty expensive.   If I have the money, I don't mind spending it on books, but then I have to think about the use of electricity in the house.  I normally like to read at night, but to save money I have all the lights out - about an hour after dusk.  It doesn’t save a whole lot, but everything helps.  To save water, due to the cost of the Department of Water and Power, and the drought, I pour myself a big glass of water in a glass, and I place it in the refrigerator.  I sip on it throughout the day which helps with hunger and it is also something I look forward for the duration of the day.  

I miss my work greatly, because it was a job where everyday I had to do something.  Purchasing books for a store are pretty much seven days a week type of occupation.  Since it’s a busy store, I needed to re-stock the titles as soon as they were sold.  The public gets hungry for books, and therefore I had to supply their hunger. The same I do at home now for my body and soul.  

I have heard that in Japan, they put a lid over the bath to keep it warm, and therefore the whole family can use it, after showering.  What I do is fill the bathtub up with water, and completely shut the room up - even closing the window.  The temperature gets cooler of course, but it is never frozen, perhaps due to the Southern California climate.   Nevertheless I just use a dime-sized drop of shampoo and the latter I use it to wash my body as well.   I perhaps go through this procedure every other day.  I don’t do that much physical activity, so I rarely sweat, unless the humidity is high.   To minimize my life in such a way has become an art to me.  Besides writing, I have very little tools to express myself, and I think through poverty, I found a medium that suits my purpose.  Currency is the cancer of the 21st century.  I prefer to live without it and just focus on the everyday needs one may or may not have.  We’re all individuals, and we each have our specific issues that we must deal with.  Mine is to go to disappear into the entrance of nonexistence.   To open that door, and to stick one’s head through the entrance, and then jump in, sounds like a beautiful ending to this narrative.  

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Sunday Series: Sunday July 26, 2015

The Sunday Series:
Sunday July 25, 2015

A peaceful Sunday.  That is all I want.  I go to a movie theater in the suburb to see a comedy or even a comic book movie to take my mind off my troubles.   Many times I go to see a film and haven’t the foggiest idea what I have just seen.  Mostly I allow my thoughts in my head to be projected on the large screen in front of me, and I don’t even wish to dwell with what those thoughts mean or what they represent.   Most movie theaters these days only process digital images than film.  As of last March, 38,719 screens (out of a total 39,789 screens) in the United States have been converted to digital.   So in truth, am I even seeing a film?   Or a reproduction of a film?  Or should the credits now say “A Digital Production by Judd Apatow. ”

The beauty of modern theaters is how they convey the feeling that you’re in a first class compartment of an airplane.  The seating is very comfortable and one can even push back to recline and place your head facing the screen upwards.  A holder for your drink, and plenty of room on the armrest on each side of the chair to place your elbow or even arm.   It is also pleasant to be in a darken theater to see the projection of the latest digital release.   

The one thing that does bother me is the customer that comes in and seems nervous.  I have always felt that was me, in a sense, that I come to a movie with thoughts or problems, and the purpose of me being here is to leave my troubles outside the theater, for at least a couple of hours.   But I can feel that customers irritation or oddness, which totally destroys the experience of seeing a movie in a theater.  I thought that I should contact an employee of the theater to let them know that there is a customer who is giving out bad vibes, and therefore I’m not experiencing the enjoyment as fully as I should be entitled to.  

He keeps changing seats.  First he is sitting in my row, and I’m in the middle of the theater.  He then moves in front of me, and idiotically he sits in front of me.  He has a role of seats he can sit in. Yet he chooses the seat right in front of me.  I moved a few seats down, and when the coming attractions come on, I tend to watch him than watching what is on the screen.   Now I notice he have an object in his hand, and it seems he is looking at the object instead of the digital projection.  It isn’t a cell phone.  What is it?  

He puts it back in his pocket.  The film is starting.   The dialogue is funny.  Yet he doesn’t laugh nor does he look like he is paying any attention to the film.  Once in awhile, I see him glancing at me time-to-time.  I make sure that I don’t capture his eyes when he does so.  I sometimes wished that the cinema was totally blacked out, except for the screen.  The whole idea of being in a cinema, at first, was to be part of the audience.  But the reason I’m at the cinema is really the size of the screen, and the fact that one can lose themselves to the images in front of them, as well as being surrounded by the digital projection’s Dolby sound.  

The disturbing aspect of this environment is the customer mouthing off to the screen, but I can’t fully hear him, due to the volume of the movie being so loud.     I wonder if he feels he’s being pulled into the narrative of the movie, or is he living in his own narrative with its own unique soundtrack?    The weather is so hot today, and all I want is to lose myself in an air-conditioned theater, yet, I can’t focus on my comfort, due that this guy is making me totally uncomfortable.   If I was a normal guy, I would go up to him and tell him to shut-up, or please leave the theater, but I’m fearful of approaching a stranger.  When you are part of the audience, one hopes that we are all on the same wave length - yet clearly this ‘gentleman’ is on another planet.

If I just close my eyes, all of this will go away.   My thoughts are projected on my eyelids.  I see abstraction from the lights bouncing around the screen.  I find this to be the perfect cinema.   Not digital, but human.   No one exists, except me.  I, alone.  Finally.  

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Sunday Series: Sunday July 19, 2015

The Sunday Series
Sunday July 19, 2015

This is Sunday. The day my life changed.  Hopefully for the better.  I have joined the circus last week, and my first performance will be today at the Hollywood Bowl.  Ever since I was a teenager, I had an obsession about being a juggler.  I even considered to go with my friend Robert Greene to a clown’s school in Italy, where they teach you the fundamental or basics of juggling.  I didn’t want to wear clown make-up, due to my fear of clowns as a child.  I find it slightly creepy, and I never out-grew that feeling of fear, when I come upon an image of a clown.  There are many groupings in life, and the Clown Gang is one that is the scariest of them all.  I remember as a child, walking down Venice (California) street called Electric Avenue, and seeing a group of clowns in make-up, but oddly enough, wearing street clothing. They were just sitting on the street and drinking out of a brown paper bag.  They were also smoking, both cigarette and marijuana, which made them even more sinister looking than normal.  

When I walked by them, one of them yelled out something to me.  I pretended not to hear them, but then as I tried to pass them on the street, one of them touched my shoulder and tried to force me to the ground. I kept on walking and I heard them yelling behind my back.  I refused to look over my shoulder, and I just kept going straight to my destination. It was then that I saw a brown paper bag fly over my head and shattered against a building’s wall.  I still cringe, when thinking about that moment and time.  It is odd, that now at the age of 60, I want to join the circus.  

“Cirque Musica' is a new traveling circus, that is nothing like the circus of my youth.  For one, they use a full live orchestra for their music, as well as having a school based in Southern Florida, where they trained all their performers.  They flew me there from Los Angeles to the South Florida Circus Arts School, and I never been to Florida before. In fact, I have never been to a Southern state in the United States.  Once I got there, it reminded me very much like California.  Yet, the weather was very high with respect to the humidity.  I never liked to sweat, and since I started training as a juggler, I sweat a lot. 

The school trains you under the hot sun, and I think they want to make sure that you can concentrate with all the bowling pins in the air.  The act itself is not that difficult, but the concentration is the art.   One must focus on the amount of objects you have above you, and not to get distracted either by who or what is walking by you, and of course, including the glare of the sun.  There is a zen-like peacefulness I get when I juggle alone. 

The powers-to-be at the circus suggested that I change my name to Beni Hasan, which had a nice exotic touch, and therefore I will appear in performance with that name.  Along with clowns, jugglers are looked upon as the type of performers of base morals or even dealing in witchcraft.  Believe me, if they actually saw my act, they will know that this is not the case whatsoever. 

I can’t count the times that I hit my instructor in the head with a bowling pin, due to my so-called skills as a juggler. While flying back to the Burbank airport (sometimes called Bob Hope airport) from Florida, various administrators from the circus school suggested that I may be more interested in working in the merchandise table at the Hollywood Bowl tonight.  The fact that my performance will go on tonight is making the entire school sick to their stomach.  I said “no deal.” I’m Beni Hasan, and I’m going on the Hollywood Bowl stage this Sunday night.  For an artist, when one is told that you won’t make it, or you can’t - well, that is like putting a red cape in front of an angry bull.  Of course, I am going to head towards that red cape as if it is an opening to another universe. 

My 60 years on this plane is pretty much of a joke.  No one is laughing, except me, and I laugh hard.  Even in my bed, wide awake from thoughts of failure, I pretty much mapped out the performance in my head.  Some count cows jumping over a fence, but for me, I’m counting the balls that are floating above my head, till I fall asleep.  In my dreams, I imagine myself in a show in front of an audience of old girlfriends and they’re watching me fail all over again.  I threw one bowling pin up, and then the next - and finally I have three in the air.  But the women in the audience are calling out my name to distract me from what I’m doing. I break out into a sweat, almost a panic, and then I let one of the bowling pins fall down to the ground.  I hear laughter from the audience and I wake up in a sweat. 

As I wait backstage at the Hollywood Bowl, I notice my fellow performers are ignoring me. I’m nervously throwing the pins in my little practice area, and basically dropping each one to the ground.  It is a remarkable moment when you either realize you don’t have the talent you think you may have, and when people around you clearly know that you don’t have the talent.   I put on my make-up on.  It has been decided by the powers to be, that if I was going to go on, I need to wear clown make-up.  The thing is if I drop the pins, it would look like a comedy clown act. Everything is a performance here, including my life.  I feel the need to drink water, but then the spotlight goes on the stage, which is the signal for me to enter that light, and clearly and with nothing but fear in my stomach and head, I run into the spotlight. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Sunday Series: Sunday July 12, 2015

The Sunday Series:
Sunday July 12, 2015

Today being Sunday I just heard the news that the bid I put in for Detroit's Fisher Building (1928), as well as the near-by Albert Kahn (1930) building was the top price - and I have both buildings for 12.2 million dollars.   A tad beyond my budget, yet, it is always wise to jump into the flames than run around it.  First of all, the Fisher Building is located on 3011 West Grand Boulevard, not far from the Motown Museum.   Like the other building with his name, Albert Kahn designed The Fisher Building.  The building was built and commissioned by the Fisher Brothers, who had a company called "Fisher Body" who made the bodies for automobiles.  The building mostly consists of office space with retail on the bottom two floors.  There is likewise the Fisher Theater, which is an elaborate 2,089 seats - mostly focusing on Broadway related musicals.  Now, the building housed the headquarters for the Detroit Public Schools - which I may just have to kick out, because of my plans for the space. 

The building is 28 stories high, and I plan to have my living quarters on the top floor.  To wake up in the morning (or even in the evening) and to look over Detroit, will make me feel like a king or emperor.   A little over a week ago, I visited the Fisher Building, where I walked on every floor - room to room, office to office, and even through its various storage rooms. I wonder how long would it take for me to use every toilet in this remarkable building.  For my entire life, I had an empire in my mind, but now the palace will be in front of me.  I can even bring over guests. 

With some assistance from the "Welcome to Detroit" website, I'm hoping to invite a few hundred over for dinner and drinks.  It is important to welcome the citizens of Detroit to my new home.   I know it must feel strange to have a stranger move into such an iconic structure such as The Fisher Building - and on top of that, also the Albert Kahn building, which is in walkable distance from the Fisher as well.  

The Albert Kahn Building was built and commissioned by Fisher Brothers as well.  It was completed in 1931, and is ten-stories high.   There is an underground tunnel connecting the two buildings together.  At one time, Saks Fifth Avenue department store had the grand floor - but alas, that was in the past.  In fact, a lot of things were in the past.  There have been many mistakes, and promises broken, but now, it is time to look at the present and perhaps even in the future. 

To be truthful, I have never cared for people.  On the other hand, always was fascinated by architecture - especially skyscraper buildings.  I love the idea of a structure that comes from the imagination, and therefore an ideal portrait of a human.  Living day-in and day-out and accepting one's limitations strikes me as an act of cruelty.  To stand a few miles away from your structure and thinking 'it is mine, ' is surely one of the higher moments one can experience.   In real estate, 12.2 million is not that much.  Yet for that amount, I get giddy with excitement that is similar to removing my pants in front of a beautiful woman.  To stand erect in front of a beauty, is surely a series of moments that I treasured.  I at one time, many years ago, was wandering around Grand Avenue, and since no one was around I did just that - I removed my trousers.  As I felt the blood racing in my loins, I looked up at the Fisher Building swearing one day that it will be mine.

Who could have foreseen the financial collapse of Detroit?  It seemed that I wished it upon this great city, so I can obtain the building of my dreams.  The capitalist mode of production is where one can lose everything and where one can win all at the same time.  I have lost, with great intensity, but I never lost sight of my goal.  To obtain a vision, that will clearly be my self-portrait.  The Fisher Building will now be known as "Tosh Towers," or "TT."   I'm clearly thinking of having the whole building to myself.  So I can wander from floor to floor without seeing another - and perhaps I would hire a small crew to handle the elevators. It would be nice to come here in the morning or evening if there is a need, and have them greet me as I enter the grand door. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

FFS (Franz Ferdinand and Sparks) live in Paris (26.06.2015)

As anyone who knows me, I'm a hardcore Sparks' fan.  Recently they teamed up with Franz Ferdinand to make an album (it's excellent) and are now touring the world.  Here is a recent concert done in Paris, France. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Sunday Series: Sunday July 5, 2015 (Detroit)

The Sunday Series
Sunday July 5, 2015

I wouldn't say he is a hero, but clearly the blood that runs in Henry Ford's veins are the same as mine.  I too have a passion to run an empire.  To organize a series of assembly lines to produce a product or better yet, a beautiful piece of machinery, is like kissing the devil on the lips.  I never liked working for anyone, because I don't like to be told what to do.  I like to do the telling.  No boss over me and watching me sweats over his dreams.  There is only one dream, and that dream is mine and mine alone.  There is nothing more beautiful than an industry making sounds in a factory.   Day-in-day-out is poetry in rhythm.  The meditation of eight or so hours spent in a large room with your employees making a vision - not their's, but your vision, which is pure poetry.  The kind of balladry that is popular and beautiful for everyone.  Today, being Sunday, and I'm in Detroit, I like to look back when I lost control when I came face-to-face with the man who sold the world.  

To be in the mind set of Henry Ford, I have read his four volume set of books "The International Jew."  Nazi Youth leader, Baldur von Schirach, was quoted at the Nuremberg Trials that Henry Ford was the most influential American, a figure that German youth can look up to.  In Hitler's office, there was both a portrait of Henry Ford as well as a well-thumbed copy of the "International Jew" on his desk.   I have spent a great deal of money and capital to obtain copies of books that Ford had in his personal library.   Although personal funds don't allow me to live in his mansion or even the same-size type of house, I can for sure make my bedroom into a tribute to Henry Ford.   Here in Detroit, whenever I walk on the streets, I see his magic on almost every object and structure.  

Antoine de La Mothe-Cadillac, a French explorer and adventurer, is credited as finding "Detroit," in 1701, but it is Ford that made and put Detroit on the map.  Even though the origin of the word "Detroit" is French, make no mistake, that Detroit is all-American.  This city of champions, in everything from making the perfect automobile to the superb athletes who win for the city.   This is where I belong.  With the winners, not the whiners. 

"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal." I found a tailor in Detroit to dress me close as possible to Henry Ford.  The pictures I have seen of him, I admired the suits that were tailored made for him.  A man without a suit is like a man without a city.  I never like looking at failure in the eyes.  My thinking is "don't find fault, find a remedy."   The one thing I hate about my life is whenever I felt doubt about something.  I can feel it in my stomach.  The sense of feeling displaced either by history or by a group of people, is a terrifying prospect.  I don't even want to go there.  "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right."   I need to get on the right side of history, and never balance myself on that moveable line in the sand.  

Detroit is a paradise as a dream.  From my second story bedroom window, i can see the Fisher Building, and one day, I will be able to walk through its golden entrance and the doorman who opens the double door, and the boutique  as well as the gentlemen's shop on the first floor, will know me by name.  "Welcome Mr. Berman, may we serve you."