Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December 31, 2014

December 31, 2014

Oddly enough it was exactly a year ago, when I was at a new year’s party at Tricia and Mike’s house, where I sat by myself, and thought, "I need to have a new life for the upcoming new year."  I have always had a fantasy of being a criminal - not one that would kill or harm people or even property, but the identity where people would look at me and say “he’s a criminal.” Or at the very least I would hear people slightly talking behind my back saying “Tosh, I hear he’s up to no good, if you get my drift.” The “drift” will be common knowledge based on false-hood.   Nevertheless if I just keep my mouth shut, people will be able to tell tales about me, and therefore a narrative or two will come out of the woodwork.   There are only a few people who know me.   If I was going to make myself into a visual pie, 50% know of me due to my father the artist, 30% due that I’m a publisher, and 15% know me as a writer.   Then there will be 5% who know me as an actor.   Not often, but every few years, I get approached by people due to the fact that I played the role of “Boy” to Taylor Mead’s Tarzan in Andy Warhol’s “Tarzan and Jane Regained… Sort of.” Since then, I have acted off and on, mostly in the film works of Relah Eckstein, but without a doubt my most famous role is “Boy.”

Over-all my reputation is quite solid.  The only crack in the image was when I was discovered in someone’s house, eating their toast in their kitchen. I didn’t know these people, or never been to their home, but I had the urge to go to a stranger’s kitchen and make myself some toast.   The thing is that they only had whole wheat bread, and I always prefer Wonder bread.   I snuck out of the house, purchased a loaf of bread, and once again broke into their home, to make myself the perfect toast.  At that point, I was noisy in the kitchen, because I was trying to find the butter knife, and obviously I was going through a lot of drawers in the kitchen.   The owner of the house (I think he was or is the owner of that structure) came into the kitchen and asked who I was, and why I was there.   It was a good question (or two), and my first reaction was to tell him that I was a writer - and to be perfectly honest, I haven’t the slightest idea why I was in their kitchen.   I told him, that I act by my impulses, and I never really think about it.  I offered him a piece of bread, and asked him if he wanted toast.  He said yes, but he preferred the whole wheat bread.  I said “of course.” I took a slice and put it in his toaster and I sat down at the kitchen table.  He sat down with me, and we didn’t say a word to each other.   He had his toast, I had mine, and after we finished eating, I told him I had to go.  I said goodbye and left his home.

Since he’s a neighbor and only lived maybe a block or two away from me, I ran into him this past twelve months.  Mostly here and there, but commonly in the Ralphs Market on Glendale Bouvelard.  One time I saw him, I was in the bread aisle, and our eyes connected to each other.  I just pointed to the bread and shrugged my shoulders.   He then walked away like that moment didn’t exist, and perhaps it was best to forget the entire incident.  I will never do that again.

On the other hand, I have become very attracted to paintings by Henri Matisse, but only his still life portraits of food on a table.   It didn’t exactly make me hungry, but when I look at these paintings or the artwork in various books I have in my collection, I felt vacant.  I very much wanted to become part of the painting, but I just couldn't. The distance between the image of the food on the table, and where I stand, seemed like a long highway.  Perhaps an endless highway, where I will never reach that table.

Now it’s December 31, 2014, and I feel that my life in the next twelve months will be one of radical changes.  I do not have proof of this, there are no letters stating my existence for the next year, but I just feel in my bones that the year 2015 will hold some promise, and some failures as well.  I’m feeling very hesitant to leave the house, because I fear I won’t be able to get back in.  Maybe that is why I went to a stranger’s house, in hopes of expanding my territory - but alas, I now know that was a mistake.   Nevertheless one learns from their mistakes, and as I write, I look at the front door of my living room, that leads to the outside world.  After I complete this sentence, I will get up, and go, and leave my home.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

December 30, 2014

December 30, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 29, 2014

December 29, 2014

December 29, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 28, 2014

December 28, 2014

December 28, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 27, 2014

December 27, 2014

December 27, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 26, 2014

December 26, 2014

December 26, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 25, 2014

December 25, 2014

December 25, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

December 24, 2014

December 24, 2014

Today is our wedding anniversary.  26 years ago, I married my wife.  On this day, my wife and I are separated by 17 hours time difference as well as the great distance of 5,474 miles.  I can only reach her on the telephone, due to the fact that she has no internet access.   She has been gone since December 3, and I hopefully expect her back on January 23.   Till then, I have been marking my time by writing my daily narrative for Facebook and my blog.   I have consistently been fascinated by the passing of time, and how it affects one or a group of people.  For me, now that I’m alone, I noticed the seasonal change (even in Los Angeles), and über-mindful of the sun going down and rising.   All my mornings this year is taken up by writing and posting hopefully by 11:00 AM. Usually by the afternoon, I am totally drained by that morning’s work, and I just read or watch a film.  One thing I notice, is that I have been watching more European films alone. When I’m with my wife, I like to watch Japanese films together.  For one, Japanese is her native language, and for me, it’s a way to share or be exposed to her culture.  At the moment, Hulu Plus has quite a few Japanese films from the Criterion Collection.  As the husband, I am also the film curator in the house.  But when I watch a film with her, I ensure that it is a title from this collection.  For one, it is always excellent, and two, I find Japanese films very moving.  Even the Yakuza dramas, I find a tear in my eye.

Nevertheless, now that she is gone for the season, I have been sitting here in her studio to do my writing.  I think I do this so I can feel closer to her, because all her belongings and artwork are here.  My World (my office) is too cold for me, and it just reminds me of “me,” and I don’t want to think too much about “me.” Which of course, that is exactly what happens - there is only “me.”   When she is here, then “she” is here.  The me becomes more of “me and her.” That’s perfect.

As a creature of habit, the only way I can fill the void that was her, is to write everyday.   I was recently struck by the artwork of On Kawara, a Japanese artist who lived in New York City, who did a series of paintings a day with that day’s date as the subject matter of his work.  It has been noted that if he doesn’t finish a painting of that specific date, he would destroy it.   I can understand this, because if I miss one day’s posting, then it would ruin the entire series.  For instance, if I die before finishing this essay or tomorrow, the whole work I have done so far this year, is also destroyed.  Also, like Kawara I want the viewer or the reader to reflect on the date that my narrative is placed.  I want them to consider what they did on that date, and how that can possibly relate to my narrative.

I have very few things to offer this world, and hopefully by writing these daily pieces for the year 2014, it will have some sort of meaning to my readers.  Or perhaps not.   My job is to write the pieces, and the reader’s job is either to read or ignore them.   Both are perfectly OK with me.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

December 23, 2014

December 23, 2014

It is nearly the end of the year, and I still haven’t shown anything of great worth.   I turned 60 this year, and I am flirting with the idea of taking heroin (nah) for the first time in my life.  If my information is correct, the number one country that produces heroin is Afghanistan, and number two is Mexico.  The United Nations estimated in 2005, that there are over 50 million people worldwide who uses heroin.  What I find interesting, is that heroin becomes the prominent factor in a person’s reputation - even though he or she is a great artist, if they’re a heroin user, that becomes more known than their art.   For instance, the first thing I think of when I hear the words “Charlie Parker, ” “Anita O’Day, ” “Tim Hardin, ” and “Chet Baker” is their heroin use, not their enormous talents as musicians.  “Johnny Thunders” also comes to mind when ever I hear his name.  The first thought is heroin.

So one loses their identity once they become a junkie.  Be that of the narcotic or the public’s love affair of those who morally fail their duty as an artist or a human being.  Cocaine has a strong image, but mostly in a group setting.  Heroin suggests alienation, remoteness, rejection, outlawness, and also a sense of “exoticness.” To become a junkie is to join a family.  I think most addictions are the source of being part of a group.  The worst thing that can become of a human being in our culture is to be separated from the group.  In other words the family.   Like everything else in the world, the family can bring great sense of comfort and joy, or entrapped those who can’t leave the family.

There is strength in numbers, and how many of us desire to join something that is much bigger than all of us. Everything from churches to gangs to even schools, brings us a sense of comfort.  I believe that there is obviously a need to become an addict, as well as a need to be a reformed addict.  Either way, you are still part of a group.  Heroin is interesting because it is basically an anti-social grouping.  I never smoke pot, but I have been in social settings where pot is offered and shared.  The same as for cocaine.  Drinking and heroin strike me as more of a solitude form of addiction.  For instance I like to drink, but I get immense pleasure by drinking alone.  It’s solitude, but with an edge.

My favorite musicians are junkies.  The question: Is it because they take heroin or is it my knowledge beforehand?   Perhaps I like the image of heroin in the context of music.  Oddly enough I never think of drugs when I hear the name “Brian Jones,” but on the other hand “Keith Richards” is all about heroin.  It does not represent a fair comparison of course, but the image speaks louder than the music at times.  To see someone rotting away is not a good thing, but for some reason if that person is an artist, we get off on it.  Why is that?

Heroin, it seems, is never a positive drug.  On the other hand, could William S. Burroughs or Alexander Trocchi exist without heroin?   Once you’re involved with heroin, you either become a junkie or an ex-junkie.  You’re still in the family.   Due to that experience, you are then seen as worth something to our culture - either as a cautionary tale, or a victim.   The world turns, but the love of misery, especially seeing someone else’s misery is a luxury in today’s culture.

Monday, December 22, 2014

December 22, 2014

December 22, 2014

The one clear enemy I do have is the past.  I just have to claim it, and then go forward.  To go backwards is against human nature.  Even if we were all machines, it is built for the purpose to go ahead, not backwards.  “The past is necessarily inferior to the future.  That is how we wish it to be.  How could we acknowledge any merit in our most dangerous enemy: the past, gloomy prevaricator, execrable tutor?” I wake up to the smell of mildew, which is the scent of the past trying to overcome the essence that is the present.  I just want to destroy the chains that’s holding me back, and culture as well.  Tradition is nothing more than a prison.  I wish to break free, and therefore we need to destroy what is keeping us entrapped in our culture.

“I have everything, yet have nothing; and although I possess nothing, still of nothing am I in want.” For the upcoming new year, I plan to destroy my past, so I can truly live for the moment, and for the future.  If I can somehow leave my house on the 31st, by throwing a lighted match over my shoulder into the aging timber that makes my home…. Into ashes.    The bridge between me and the world seems to get longer and longer.  How I desire the train that will take me from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes.   The faster the speed, the more conscious I’m of my surroundings.   If I can take a dying shitty city like Venice (Italy and California) and pave it over with cement, I would be so much happy.  On the other hand happiness is such an illusion.  But then again that is the reason why I write: to make illusions for a world that is already a mere illusion.

“Why, Italian Futurists, have you slavishly reproduced only what is commonplace and boring in the bustle of our daily lives.” I crave the sounds from my inner rhythm.   To be restricted by a form that has been in place for centuries is truly a human-made nightmare.  I can’t stand the silence, because the world is naturally noisy - “music is organized sound. ”  

As a poet I even feel constricted by just using only paper and pen.  I’m also concerned what is outside the paper, notebook or book.  Why shouldn’t the table that I write on, not become my work as well?   The world that all of you gave me is either left or right, wrong or right, this and that, him or her, or her and her, or him and him - and so forth.  What I crave is to jump out of the jail cell you made for me, and totally express myself using every essence of science, thought, and body.   You pretend to show me love, but in fact you’re my rival.  “I embrace my rival, but only to strangle him.”

The greatest invention is the machine.  It has allowed us to focus our attentions, and even more important, our time on things we desire.  Anything that wipes out the current world is all right with me.  We all have a need to clean ourselves, and what better way than a bath that is a mixture of war, mayhem, desire, and fresh clean water.  “Time and space died yesterday.  We already live in the absolute, because we have already created eternal, omnipresent speed.” “Let’s murder the moonlight, ” and embrace the essence of our passion, which is the beauty and purity of speed, for the purpose of movement, change, and the love of neon.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

December 21, 2014

December 21, 2014

“Growing old is like being increasingly penalized for a crime you haven’t committed.” The thought of growing old doesn’t bother me, but I’m feeling very vain about my looks changing.   Not long ago I took a self-portrait of myself, with direct sunlight hitting my face.  It was just like looking at the future, or what I would look like in ten years.  I didn’t like it.

Then and there I decided never again will I take a photograph of myself, or allow anyone to do so.  I have a wrist watch, and that very day I threw it on the ground and stepped on it.   A dead watch represents time being stopped.   Yet, even with that, I can feel the energy being sucked out of me.  The only thing that still lives within my system, is anxiety.   It is just like a leaky faucet that drips consistently.  No one else can hear the sound, except me, and I feel cut off from my fellow citizens.  I’m sure there is a pill to make it go away, but I don’t want to cut off the only thing that I can feel.  Even though it’s misery, it is still, essentially, a feeling.   When one doesn’t have that many choices, you have to roll with the dice.

I have read that today is the winter solstice, which means the daylight will be short, and the darkness longer.  The temperature has dropped, but for the life of me, I just don’t want to turn on the heater.   Once I do that, it is admitting to oneself that things have changed, and although I like to think of myself fading into darkness, it is more like time standing still. You can’t go forward or backward.  My editor Diana told me this: “I’m not sure that digging in our past guilts is a useful occupation for the very old, given that one can do so little about them.  I have reached a stage in which one hopes to be forgiven for concentrating on how to get through the present.” At the moment I feel like a wrapped present, covered by ugly Christmas wrapping and a string with a bow that is too tight.  I just want to do away with all that packaging, and just become my natural state.  In my normal skin.   The skin of a ventriloquist’s dummy.

It would be an interesting experience to sit on one’s lap, and not have a thought in my head.  I’m just responding to the ventriloquist - it’s an one-sided conversation, where I ‘m pretending to respond, but in fact, I’m nothing but wood and pieces of plastic.  Not exactly alive, but neither am I dead - more like ‘living a life’ that’s imagined.