Thursday, August 25, 2016

"The Age of Bowie" by Paul Morley (Gallery Books)

ISBN: 978-5011-5115-6 
I for one am very grateful to live in the 'Age of Bowie."  I can't think of another artist who either took me to other places, or I felt I could have a discussion with this artist about those places.  I never had an eye-to-eye chat with Bowie, except to recommend a Japanese bookstore in Downtown Los Angeles - still, such a remarkable music maker and cultural advisor.  Paul Morley's book on Bowie is exactly what one would think, if you have read Morley's other books and articles on the subject matter of pop music.   Morley is not a 'it has a nice beat, and I give it a five' type of commentator - he's more of a Walter Benjamin, but happily placed in the world of the pop music world. 

There is nothing new to read in "The Age of Bowie," if you're a long-term fan of David's work - nor is there any really new insights into the Bowie world, if you read the many (and many) books that are out there on Bowie, and which to be honest, are pretty good.  What you do get is the unique voice of Morley, and in a sense this book is more about Paul Morley than David Bowie.   And this, is a very good thing.  For one, this book was written quite quickly, in honor of Bowie's passing, but it is also a reflection on the pop eras that has passed for Morley as well.   most of the chapters, he lists records that were released during Bowie's own releases - and it gives the book a really nice framework.  

It also focuses on Bowie's obsessions and interests - and how that sneaked or became part of his music.  Morley has a really good understanding of Bowie's work, and he's a fan, but he's not an emotional lunatic fan like me.   He's like a detective going through the evidence and cooly remarking on each item that is on file.    The book will not please all Bowie fans, but it's a must for Bowie fans to read.  One of the many things I like about this book is that it's not a closed conversation, but a very open one - where readers can add their own thoughts and commentary.   It is also not an album-by-album critique - but clearly an over-all approach to the Bowie magic.   David Bowie was (and still is,) a superb adventure.  This book is one of a few that take that adventure and go with it. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

"Conversations with Robert Evans" by Lawrence Grobel

Rat Press

I'm on a Lawrence Grobel kick. This being the second book I have read by him - the first was "Conversations with Marlon Brando." This one is "Conversations with Robert Evans," who is a film producer, and one time the main honcho at Paramount Pictures. Evans, at the moment, is an idol of sorts for those who love the idea of Hollywood, especially mixing a certain amount of contempt and adoration. Evans is a superb hustler, who I suspect is not into the money, but more of the lifestyle - and that, he's really good at it. Classically good looking, he strikes one as an iconic figure, who will risk all, to make the movie of his dreams. And perhaps he did. He made a lot of good films, or was involved in a lot of good movies, yet again, it's more of an appreciation of a system than anything else. Throughout the interview or conversation with Grovel, he seems to consistently go into his press files - which seems huge. He's a guy who lives in the public landscape, and will die in the public eye. On the other hand, he has a pretty magnificent life - and I think for us amateur hustlers, this is something that is a goal to reach. Therefore, sadness is right behind us, and walking among us mortals.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

"Conversations with Marlon Brando" by Lawrence Grobel

Marlon. Brando. Icon. Also a very thoughtful man, if he's interested in the subject matter or having a conversation with a writer/journalist he admires or likes. I never was obsessed with Brando or his films, I like them, like I like ice cream, but I don't obsess about the cream. On the other hand, many people do obsess over Brando, especially regarding his personality, and his dislike of the acting profession - which I think is not true. 

He doesn't like 'professions' in general. But clearly he does like acting, and I think the reason he likes it, is because he's a very curious sort of guy. He likes to research and learn. And I think a big part of acting is the research part, and the ability to watch and listen to others. He's also quite funny in this book which is pretty much in the Q&A format. Clearly he asked for, and insisted, that this interview would deal with issues of the Native American world, and the horrible things that were done to these people. And in actuality, the best part of the book is Brando putting his thoughts and articulating his 'anger' regarding how the American Indian was treated in its past and also, in contemporary times. He's very observational and extremely smart fellow. And yes, he does talk about acting - but he doesn't gossip. Except for his dislike of Charlie Chaplin, because he treated his son very mean or rude manner. Also his brief commentary on Tennessee Williams, Kazan, is interesting. Again, he's a very talented observer and I suspect that if you are a friend of Marlon Brando, then he's a friend for life. It seems he has a series of long term friendships from people he grew up with. An interesting little book. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

"ANICET or the PANORAMA" by Louis Aragon (Atlas Press)

ISBN: 978-1-90065-69-1 Atlas Press
"ANICET or the PANORAMA (Atlas) by Louis Aragon

The beauty of DADA is that it came from total disaster, in other words, total destruction.  Out of the ashes of World War One, came DADA.   Like pollen floating in an air stream across Europe, writers/artists got a whiff of it, and it stayed within their DNA.  Perhaps the first literature to come out of the French DADA world is Louis Aragon's "Anicet or the Panorama."  It's a dis-jointed tale of crime life, but told by a writer that is not overly concern about narration from A to Z.   That map is re-written by Aragon, who uses the life surrounding him at the time, which means Andre Breton, Max Jacob, Picasso, and others, who all make an appearance in this work of "fiction." 

World War 1 changed the young doctor Aragon, and the future World War 2, will change him again.  So what we have here is a very young Aragon facing up to, as well as articulating the world around him - which is Paris 1918/1919.   A snapshot of the time especially with the cinematic references (Pearl White serials, Fantomas) but nevertheless, a snapshot taken by a poet with his poetic sensibilities in place. 

Once again, Atlas Press, goes beyond their duty to come out with another beauty of a production, which is this book.   

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Eva Hesse by Tosh Berman

German born, Jewish and of course, had to be on the move during her childhood in the 1940s, Eva Hesse lived an intense short life. She died at the age of 34. Yet she is the gift that keeps on giving.   Like my other favorite artist, Yves Klein, who also died at the age of 34.  Both artists, when I look at their work, deals with life as a force to reckon with - it’s not about early death, but living life intensely and correctly.  That word “correctly” has a moral tinge to it, and I don’t mean it in that sense.  For these two artists, there were choices in front of them, and both made the correct decisions.  Hesse had a rather odd and complicated family life - a manic - depressive mother including a step-mom who had the same name as her, but also suffered from brain cancer.  Apparently within weeks of Hesse’s actual illness. 

Hesse worked in the medium of paint, but also did sculptures using latex, fiberglass, and plastics.  There is for sure a substantial argument for and against the lasting of the material she used in her art work, but I feel Hesse knew her art pieces wouldn’t last forever due to the material she chose for her sculptures.  There’s a beauty in thought, knowing what you leave on this mortal earth will not last.   I often think of her sculptures in that light.  There are two works of art displayed in the current exhibition “Revolution in the Making” at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel by Hesse. 

Eva Hesse "Aught"

“Aught” is four canvases with latex and filler stretched over it.  The photograph here (images give a hint of an artwork, but one really needs to see certain works in person) doesn’t show the fragility of the work.   Each canvas is different from the other.  Either by coloration or the aging of the work.  I could be wrong, but the four individual pieces that make up this work of art, I think, would have been identical, at the time they were made.  

Marcel Duchamp’s famous large glass art piece, covered by dust, and photographed by Man Ray is another work, that comments on time and how it affects art.   Not exactly a decay in the same sense of Hesse’s work, but the awareness of the passing of time, and to me, an obvious reflection or meditation.  It seems, when you read about her, Hesse’s life must have been difficult - yet the work she produced, is to me, a delight.  “Aught” changes over time, and that is what makes the work so powerful and beautiful.  Yet, it’s a work that needs to be re-visited many times.   The show has been up for four months already, so I come back to “Aught” repeatedly, and I feel each time I look at it, there is some sort of change - which I suspect it is more how I look at an object or art, but nevertheless, there is something about it that changes.  I imagine if you’re the owner, you can look at this work on a consistent basis for decades, noticing a change here or there - but for us (the others) we can only see it for short periods of time.  So with respect of time passing, it is not our time that is going by, but the work itself that is commenting on that passage from one point to another.  

Eva Hesse "Augment" 

“Augment” is a funny title for the other piece that is in the exhibition.  It’s layers of latex canvases that are laid on the floor on top of each other.   It’s a beautiful piece of sculpture, but it reads like a painting to me.  I think due to its flatness, but it is 17 units or individual pieces that make up “Augment.” I don’t see this work as a passage of time, or dealing with decay -but more of a design that is somewhat hypnotic, and for some odd (unexplained) reason reminds me of layers of bacon on a plate.  And although I do not eat bacon, I think the bacon itself is a beautiful looking meat.  Yet, it’s the repetition of the pieces that give it a funny aspect, where one approaches this work as almost like slices of a whole bread loaf.  There is a natural or environmental aspect of the work, but I don’t feel that is the intention.  I think it’s more of the fact that it exists, and that is the sole purpose of this work.   Seeing layers of the same thing is kind of funny in an absurd manner.  I read an interview with Hesse, that is in the “October Files” series, where she mentioned that repetition in her work is - “Because it exaggerates. If something is meaningful, maybe it’s more meaningful said ten times. It’s not just an aesthetic choice. If something is absurd, it’s much more really exaggerated, absurd, if it’s repeated.” So, “Augment” works in that absurdity, but it is also a pleasure for the eye.  It relaxes me, and perhaps it the repetition of seeing the same object over and over again, that gives me such contentment.   “Augment” and “Aught” are separate works, but they are also a brother and sister or two sisters - nevertheless, it’s in the same family.  It was shown together only once in 1968, and this is the first time in 48 years that these two pieces have been rejoined, for this specific exhibition at Hauser, Wirth & Schimmel.  Artworks in a room tend to have a dialogue between themselves, and if you look, one can make connections between the two pieces.  “Aught” can mean ought, which suggests a sense of duty or responsibility.   “Augment” is making something greater, by adding to it.  So “Aught is four individual pieces hanging on the wall, and then finally on the ground you get 17 pieces which make up “Augment.” The visual and word pun is Duchampian in a sense, but it also plays with the concept that ‘more is better than less.’ 

As I mentioned, I’m often drawn to the Eva Hesse works in this exhibition, because it  suits my hungry eye, but also there is something provocative  and funny about these two works - and now that they are together, I feel a bit more of a whole person.  Perhaps, you will feel the same.   

Monday, August 8, 2016

Jimmy Page: 'Lucifer Rising' (Original Soundtrack)

I'm always disappointed when a major music figure doesn't follow their muse more.  Jimmy Page seemed to be on the right path with respect to this music he put together for Kenneth Anger's film "Lucifer Rising."  A musician in his studio making music.  It's a superb piece of work.  The best thing he has ever done.  I know he did a limited-edition release of this album, and only on vinyl.  Sadly I don't have it, nor the recording above.   But it's a beauty.

- Tosh Berman

Friday, August 5, 2016

"Mad Like Artaud” by Sylvére Lotringer / Translated by Joanna Spinks (univocal)

"Mad Like Artaud” by Sylvére Lotringer / Translated by Joanna Spinks (univocal)

I read books on Antonin Artaud like a Dodger or Yankees fan eating peanuts in a game.  I can’t get enough of Artaud, and almost every book on him, at the very least, is super interesting.  “Mad Like Artaud” by Sylvére Lotringer, is the best.   So good in fact, that at times have a hard time believing that Lotringer actually interviewed these key people who were Artaud’s doctors as well as the woman who ran his literary estate.   By hook or crook.   

In French literary circles the issue of Artaud and his madness and therefore his stay in a mental hospital during the occupation is quite controversial.   The Letterists had a campaign to annoy the doctor who helped (or destroy) Artaud in the mental hospital - and here we get fascinating long interviews with two of Artaud’s doctors: Jacques Latrémolière and Gaston Ferdière.  Lotringer is very aggressive in his questioning for both doctors, but more so for Latrémolière, who clearly didn’t care for Artaud’s work.  In fact, he finds it hard to believe that he has any importance whatsoever.   On the other hand, Ferdière has a great appreciation for Artaud and his work - and, weirdly enough, has the hatred from the Letterist.    What is interesting, as we get an inside view of Artaud’s craziness as well as his life in the hospital.  At the start, he almost starved to death, but due to his friend, the poet Robert Desnos, he was spared the misery.  So now we have the push and pull of people around Artaud, and in a way it is sort of madness in itself.   The most saddest to me is Paule Thèvenin, who is a controversial figure in the Artaud world.  She was the head of his literary estate, with some unhappiness on the part of his family.  Still, the bitterness comes through after many years. 

There is some fiction in the book, where Lotringer meets Artaud as an dying old man - which makes the whole book kind of hmmm.  Nevertheless, a fascinating book, and truly a superbly written one as well.   For sure a classic Artaud study, but also a fascinating look into the world of a French mental hospital in the post-war years as well as during the occupation.  A must for the Artaud lunatic, but also anyone who is interested in 20th century French literature. 

ISBN: 9781937561413 Univocal

- Tosh Berman

Monday, August 1, 2016

Lun*na Menoh Conducting Her Version of Maurice Ravel's BOLERO

Lun*na Menoh conducting her own version of Maurice Ravel's BOLERO.  All sounds from the sewing machine.  What she has done is take Ravel's masterpiece back to the Industrial Age, when the sewing machine first started to appear in people's homes.  Probably the first mechanic machine that appeared in the everyday home.  Ravel's dad worked in a factory, so he was aware of the rhythms of the factory, and then therefore "Bolero."

Lun*na worked from the original score by Ravel, so it is probably one of the most accurate versions of the orchestrated piece in existence.   It's 18 minutes long, which was the original length that Ravel wanted for Bolero.   Some orchestrations speed up the piece, but Ravel consistently asked for it to last 18 minutes. Lun*na honored the composer, by following his suggestion.  As well, as bringing it all back to the factory.    Pretty much a masterpiece by both Ravel and Lun*na.

- Tosh Berman

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Two Albums I Purchased Yesterday (at Mono Records)

I used to own this album in 1977 (the year it was released) but had to sell it to Moby Disc for money for some reason I totally forgot.  Nevertheless, it has been in the back of my mind for 35 years of so. As I was taking one of my strolls down Glendale Blvd, I found a copy at Mono Records.  A great record store.  The best thing about a record store is when you go in to look for a specific album, and you find something else instead.  And usually something much better than the other record you're looking for.  The above John Cage album fits that category.  Prepared Piano pieces on a double album, and on the great Tomato Records label.   Beautifully mediative as well as intense.  How does two work together is sort of like enjoying a Tom & Jerry cartoon. You need the violence, as well as the pairing of the duo. 

On the same record store visit, I found this fantastic album by Jack Scott.  Recorded in 1958, as well as in Detroit (I didn't know he lived or made music there).   This is a fantastic rockabilly album of great strength .  Jack wrote most of all (except one) of the songs on this album.  "The Way I Walk" of course is the masterpiece here - and the extra happiness is that the recordings are in mono, which gives it that extra concentrated punch over the speakers.  Released in France, this album must have been on a steam liner, and then crawled to Glendale Blvd.  I'm happy to have it in my home.  Also the combination of Cage and Scott is rather good.  Again, going back to Tom & Jerry, the perfect yin and yang.  Separate, but yet, together. 

- Tosh Berman

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Our Trump by Tosh Berman

The beauty (and I'm using that word 'very' loosely) of Trump is that one can't really comment on him.   You can expose him, you can look at his tax returns, break into his e-mail account, interview every woman he may or may not harmed, go through his business records, and re-visit his older quotes, and you will get zilch.  Because we already know all the answer to all above.   Trump doesn't have the higher moral ground, so therefore, he does not have to follow any moral code, except his over-the-top egoism.   There are no rules in his world, because such nouns have no meaning in his life.   He's a combination of a good James Bond Sean Connery era villain and a character out of an Alfred Jarry work of fiction.  In other words, he's a mess, and he does not give a damn.   He does whatever he does, because he can.

In a way, he is like a reflection off a mirror.  You want to read these things in and on him, but that is virtually impossible.    At times, I think he clearly wants to lose the election.  He has the ability to say the most ridiculous things at the right time (for him of course).   His recent comment on Russia should search and locate more of Clinton's e-mails is almost DADA like, in that he is only reflecting on the fear of the Democratic Party world and throwing it back like Nero as he lights his interiors to start the big fire.

To be honest, he himself is not that interesting.  What's interesting is how such a figure can single handily destroy the Republican Party.  It's not an issue of money, but more of a talent he is, to surf on the surface, and somehow makes it profound to his audience and enemies. And Trump, not only desires love, but also hatred.   To him, it's equal, and a win-win situation.  He is for sure, thin-skinned, when it comes to criticizing him, but he looks at the bigger picture, which is, people are talking about him.   The thing is, and this is a true oddity, you can't really make fun of him.  Because no matter how outrageous the parody is, he's way beyond the parody.   Or, when one makes a speech against him, it comes off just plain, compared to a Trump performance.  And make no mistake, he's a performer like any politician, but he is actually more of a genius type than say Clinton, who is just normal.

Normal is OK.  If we are honest with ourselves, we actually crave normalcy.   To get up in the morning, and make it to the evening, that is what we all crave and want to happen.   Trump hates that.  If he can throw in a wrench at a machinery part, so it will break down - that makes him happy.   The fact that the Democratic Party likes to dig a deep hole in the ground, and put their heads inside that hole - with respect to the ills of the world, Trump doesn't care to do that route.  He adores destruction.  Trump sensually embraces chaos.  Call him names, make fun of him, it's all a sense of beauty and entitlement for Trump.  The highest of the high is to get a piece of property, build something on it, and then stamp it with your name on the top floor.  So everyone can marvel that building, as it is. Which is a self-portrait of Donald Trump.  And of course, there is nothing but interior rot and decay within that structure, but who will notice that?

He doesn't have an ounce of deepness and or a sense of irony (or perhaps he does, we will never know).  But like Shakespeare's work, we can look into the world that these characters' make, and see perhaps a vision of who we are.   So in a nutty way, I'm grateful for Trump destroying one-by-one the other contestants in the Republican race, because one, he exposed their hypocrisy.   These others, think exactly like him, but Trump's genius was to expose his thoughts without any filtering.   So, what we have is a monster of sorts, but one that is clearly visible.   The danger is, not him specifically, but the fact that there are other monsters lurking in the shadows.

  I have gone on and on about the drone issue.  But think about it.  We have a presidency that uses the drone on a regular basis.  He himself has shown fears of future presidents misusing the drone system.  And he, himself has killed many.  One can argue he killed the bad guys, or even perhaps people who deserve to die - but that is a form of judge, jury, and executioner.   If you like Obama's approach, and if that is fine with you, then great.  But if the drone system under the eyes and heart of someone like Clinton or Trump - will you be OK with that as well?  And not to be a buzz-kill, if we can operate drones, then we have to presume others can as well.  I walk around my neighborhood, and I often see amateur drones in the air.  Annoying things, to hear and see when you walk among a beautiful landscape.   Then one starts to think what can be attached to these machines.  Cameras, and the unthinkable.

It seems that we are quite pleased with a well-intended speech.  The beauty of a velvet voice embracing our battered emotions, is not a bad thing at all.    It's a seductive device, because that is basically what a speech is supposed to do - especially in the public space - which is not really a pubic space, but we are allowed to enter, mingle, and listen, and then leave and wander into the evening.  If it's a really good speech, we can forget all the bad things, except fear.   Because we do need the fear to motivate ourselves.   It is a sexual instinct of sorts.  We desire things that we can't have, but we can fantasize and almost taste its fruit.  To taste fear, is like eating Trump alive.  If we can munch on him quickly, we hope that will feed the fear, or at least, contain it for awhile.  On the other hand, Trump still doesn't care.   Win or lose, it's the ride that is important to him.

  The Democratic Party, and I have to imagine the Republican Party, it's the win that is the goal and the great importance.   For the first time in my existence, we are facing a gentleman (ha) who cares not at all what we think of him, just as long as we have Trump coming out of our collective mouths.  If the political parties lose, they will consistently find blame somewhere else, beyond their mistakes or lack of vision.  The rotten thing, is that now the pandora's box is opened, there will be more Trumps on the horizon.

- Tosh Berman

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Lun*na Menoh and "Bolero" on KCRW

Lun*na Menoh discusses Maurice Ravel and Bolero and her upcoming performance of performing Ravel's Bolero this coming Saturday.  Hear it here:

Monday, July 25, 2016

Season Finale!!! Transitions Episode 14: Conversations with Lun*na Menoh

"The Undiscoverable Reading" an essay by Tony Duvert

ISBN 978-1-58435-135-1 Semiotext[e]

"The Undiscoverable Reading" an essay by Tony Duvert (Translated by Bruce Benderson) with drawings by  Eli Langer (Semiotext[e])

Tony Duvert is a very hard sale. Due to the fact that he has an interest in pedophilia and criticized modern child-rearing. In the 70s, due to the sexual moral times of that era, he could get his work published, but since the 1980s he was pretty much ignored by the mainstream press and even from the Underground.  Which is a shame, because Duvert is a very interesting writer and thinker.  Semiotext[e] the brilliant press are the only one's that are publishing his work, and the booklet I have just read, "The Undisoverable Reading" is hard-to-find.  It's a 40 page chapbook, with no bind, but I read it twice, because I found it to be difficult and enticing at the same time.   In this essay, Duvert writes about the nature of literature and how reader's perceive literature - both as someone who may write books, as well as its readers.  The reader in a sense, meets the author.  He starts off writing about an ad selling classic literature to a normal family, and gives a funny picture of that type of ad- and then he goes into the advertisement of a company selling a service in 'how to write,' and gives a picture there of a young girl about to start her novel or some sort of creative writing.  From there, he digs into the deeper world of why people read, but also the nature of avant-garde literature when it mixes with the mainstream world of books.   The writing is very dense and one has to concentrate - but as I said, I was compelled to read it twice in a row - and each read was enjoyable experience.   This work was part of the Semiotext[e] box set that was sold at the Whitney.  I think the whole collection is sold out, but I think for sure, worth the trouble to locate this box of chapbooks.   As a brand, you can pretty much trust the Semiotext[e] publishing house to always, or at the very least, put out interesting titles.  

- Tosh Berman

Gilbert & George "Bend It"

Cut Piece ✂ by Yoko Ono

Yves Klein "Anthropometries of the Blue Period" y "Fire Paintings" [1960]

Francis Bacon Fragments Of A Portrait - interview by David Sylvester

Marcel Duchamp 1968 BBC interview

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Evening Series: Volume 3

The Evening Series : Volume 3

When the sun goes down, and the stars come out, it is at that moment I put on Elvis’ “Worldwide 50 Gold Award Hits: Volume 1” on the turntable.  The recordings are in Mono, and what I have here are the original Mono mixes.  The sounds bounce out of the speakers with a certain amount of intensity.   I met Elvis once when I was a child.  He and his buddies used to play touch football in our neighborhood park every Saturday when he was in town.  “Town” being Los Angeles.  To be specific I’m talking about Beverly Glen Park on Beverly Glen Blvd .  He would show up late afternoon, and they would play till the darkness came.  They left at dusk in a series of expensive looking cars, and it was like seeing ghosts during the daylight hours. 

The last time I saw Elvis was not long ago.   I was at the Four Oaks cafe having a beer, late at night, you know around 11ish.  That’s late for me. I have to get up early for work, especially on the weekends.  He came in by himself, and there was no one else in the cafe.  He took the counter seat across from me.  He told the waitress behind the counter that he wanted to have a coke in a bottle.  She served him the coke by getting it out of the fridge and sliding it across the countertop - and he caught the bottle before it was about to fall off the end of the counter.  He said to her “Thanks Mam.” He looked at me, and I looked at him.  She looked at her dish towel while drying a dish or two.

As I was finishing off my beer, he called out to me ‘hey do you want another?” I just smiled at him and said “sure.” He then got the waitress’s attention, and said “give Tosh another beer.” I was surprised that he knew my name, even though we have met briefly in the park, it was some time ago.   “Tosh, do you mind if I sit with you?” I said “sure, come around.” I then asked afterwards saying that, “or do you want me to come over there.” He smiled, and made a gesture to get up, but then sat down again.  As I got up, he then got up, and I sat down.  We did this for a few more seconds, and we began to laugh hysterically.   He then said, “tell you what, I’ll meet you half-way.” I said “OK.” “I’ll count up to five, and we will both get out of our seats at the same time.” I counted one, he counted two, I counted three, he counted four, I counted…. Five!  And we both got out of our seats by five, and we sat in the middle of the counter bar. “Wow that was something.” Elvis had a funny way of phrasing the most obvious thing, at the right time and place. 

There was a juke box in the corner of the cafe. I asked him if he minded if I played a song. He said “sure go ahead.” I went over and found a song by The Cramps called “Human Fly.” I put the quarter in, and the needle hit the vinyl, and I began to shake. I started to dance for about a few seconds, and then Elvis got up and started dancing with me.  We danced really close without touching each other.  He took out his comb, which was like a switchblade. He opened it and began to comb his hair while dancing.  He then handed me the comb and I put it through my hair as well. I can sense the hair cream on his comb, and it felt good to put it in my hair.  After the song was over, we went back to our seats. 

I bought him another Coke.  I immediately thought of the Frank O’Hara poem about drinking Coke.  Elvis knew the poem and he said that he loved it.  He started to recite it to me:

“Having a Coke with You
is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy…”

I told him to stop there.     

We sat there for a while without saying a word to each other.  I still had his comb in my hand, and I gave it to him.  He took it, and put it through his hair, just once.  He drank down his coke in one gulp, sort of burped, and he then smiled at me.  He got up, and rubbed my two shoulders, and said “I’ll be seeing you.” And I said, something like “Yeah.” He walked out of the cafe, and went straight into the darkness outside. He disappeared.  I finished my beer, and I got up, and I too went into the darkness.  Who knows what we will find in total darkness?  

- Tosh Berman, July 23, 2016 (7:30 PM to 8:30 PM)  (Poem by Frank O’Hara)