Thursday, September 19, 2019

Tosh's Journal: September 19 (Brian Epstein & The Beatles)



TOSH’S JOURNAL (Brian Epstein & The Beatles)

September 19

“I am determined to go through the horror of this world.” I don’t throw the dice, and I pretty much map out the plans on a massive desk in my office. I have four men in my office at this moment, and they are wearing leather jackets with button-up Levis and motorcycle boots. I don’t know if I should french-kiss each one, or dress them up for a party. Nevertheless, art-making and doing business is very well the same thing. John and George are, without a doubt the hottest here, and both are sort of emotionally damaged. Not sure why, more likely due to the loss of a family member, or just not fitting in the world. This is something that I totally understand, being left out in the world. I have been an outcast for my whole life, and I live in a world that hates me. So, I either drown in self-pity or make my own world. I have four young men here that will make a new world, for you, and without a doubt for me as well.

When I look back, I must have been dreaming. I was led into a cave, somewhere in Damn Liverpool, and I came upon a vision that hit me right away. I usually have doubts or have to re-think it, but here, was something that came upon me in a technicolour fashion, but clearly in a black and white world. It reminded me when I first went to London by myself, and I picked up on a beautiful man, who was rough on the edges, and eventually punched me out, and took all my cash as well as my watch, that my father gave me, for being such a good salesperson in our family business. It wasn’t a downer for me, it made me feel alive, and I was placed in a dangerous world, that I secretly have been craving for a long time.

I remember going into the cave and realizing that there was not an exit. I immediately felt the change in my life as soon as I enter the entrance opening. The heat was the first sensual overload, and it was like if I was going back to the womb, but not my mothers, but someone else’s uterus. A male version if there is such a thing. It wasn’t the audience that appealed to my senses but seeing four drunken musicians on the stage, that reminded me of the chap who punched me out and took my dole.

Before that, I just wanted to study acting, but my father was against that plan. He wanted me to work in the family business, and with half a heart, I did so. I eventually went to drama school, but I realize I hated school life. At the time, it was bad as my world but much smaller, and therefore I felt I couldn’t breathe in that environment. I then realize that I can be a performer, but I needed the right medium to work with. What I wanted to do was re-shape the horrible world and somehow make it into a better place I was ill in my stomach thinking of all the lies that I had to put up with. Here in front of me, is one way out, a new honesty at work, that will change mine as well as your life. John, George, Paul and….. Pete. That last name doesn’t fit well with the others. I must make a note to change that in the very near future.

I know very little about music, even though I work in the record store department of the family store, but I know it’s important to others. I recall a young man, or boy, who came in and asked for a song “My Bonnie,” and I remember his face being so disappointed when we didn’t have that record in stock. I almost wanted to come up to him and put my arms around him. It wasn’t eros, but more of a feeling or remembrance of my past disappointments. I feel if I could supply people a certain amount of happiness, and not deal with bitter disappointments, then I have contributed something to “this” world. Alas, there are for two worlds. I’m going to change one world and make it into my idealistic world. I have the tools or instruments right in front of me. I just need to fine-tuned or get rid of the Pete issue.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Tosh's Journal: September 18 (Greta Garbo)



TOSH’S JOURNAL
September 18

“I never said, ‘I want to be alone. ‘I only said ‘I want to be let alone! ‘There is all the difference.” One should be able to choose who you want to be with, or who you want to work with. This is my desire. This is my right. I was from Sweden and came to America to become part of the motion picture business. Well, I ended up in the industry, and I didn’t like it — not one bit. To improve my English dictation, I studied tapes made by Lord Haw-Haw, a British citizen who made broadcasts for the Nazis during the war. He at times used an upper-class British accent, while making statements over the radio, and I found it hypnotic. I try to imagine that it’s P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves whispering in my ear, but what he said sounded so beautiful, but the ugliness of the content was something I had to move aside. “The people of England will curse themselves for having preferred ruin from Churchill to peace from Hitler.” I played it over and over again, till I got his accent just entirely correct. I didn’t do this for a film role but to be part of a new world, and with that, I needed a new identity. By no means was I erasing my other personality, because I wanted to have the ability to switch roles or positions in life.

I’m going to do one more job in the film business, and then I’m going to spend the rest of my life drifting. As I approached my 60th birthday, “in a few days, it will be the anniversary of the sorrow that never leaves me, that will never leave me for the rest of my life.” One can mark success in different ways, and for me, it is to be alone with my heart and some close friends. I always believed that there were two sides to me. One being a recluse and the other, a social person. But I cannot be treated like a performing monkey anymore. I resent my directors telling me to smile, not a smile, say my lines, not to say my lines, and so forth. I don’t feel like I have a strong sense of self, and therefore acting is a way of communicating with the public or the individual. People think I’m beautiful, but what does that exactly mean?

My last role will be playing twins that are conjoined by the head, to be exact by the eye. I’m playing both roles, so it will be tricky for me to convey two separate identities, yet one body. To be honest, the script is not that great, but I think it will be an exciting role, or two roles (they should pay me twice!) and then say goodbye to my so-called public life. What I have to imagine is having a part of me that is always there. What I have done is practise my lines in front of the mirror and pretending that the image is another character or my twin sister. For one of the sisters, I chose the Lord Haw-Haw accent (“Jairmany calling, Jairmany calling”) but for the other sister, who is a country singer - I try to go for a soft southern accent. It is sometimes tricky because I feel like I’m separating my soul in doing this part.

“There are many things in your heart you can never tell to another person. They are you, your private joys and sorrows, and you can never tell them. You cheapen yourself, the inside of yourself when you tell them.” So how does one sister keep her distance from the other, when physically they are together for always. One of the sisters is non-disabled, but the other one has spine bifid, which causes a height difference. So one has to carry the other around, but she made a bar stool, because it is the exact height, and just added wheels to the bottom of the stool. The able-body sister serves as the manager as well as holding the microphone when the other sings. The script is loosely based on a real set of twins, but of course, this being a film, many things are made-up. Once I finish that film, I will focus on nothing. I won’t disappear, but I will decline to participate in the film world, or any other world that is out there. It will just be me, and the private world of the other. I walk alone, but there is always another angel inside me that guides me through the murky waters that are known as life.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Tosh's Journal: September 17



TOSH’S JOURNAL

September 17

I barely exist. Well, perhaps to you, I barely exist, but for me, I am the star of my own world. I just don’t have the resources to make a proper appearance or become the person you think I should be. I’m a songwriter as well as a writer.  I don’t have a record deal nor a relationship with a publisher. Still, I can create something, make something that can be admired if you allow me that pleasure. I have the tendency, or some say the talent to choose the wrong type of woman. The ones that make me purr are usually married and married to powerful men. I want a taste of that power by being with their women. To taste what they have eaten, even though it’s a by-product of their ability, their position, it is still a high for me to get close to it. There is something in my DNA that makes me want to throw a punch before thinking it through. I don’t consider myself a vicious man, but once I taste their blood, it is like wine to my senses. I once read that there are no accidents or coincidences, that every gesture or thought is pre-planned. If I was meant to be productive, successful, and I guess happy, then it would happen.

I have been told that “You’ve got a million-dollar talent son, but a ten-cent brain.” The problem is that I need attention before anything else. I can’t stand being ignored or not to be the focus of attention. It’s always a shock to me when people don’t respond to me right away. Everything I do or see is an extension of me. I take a walk down Waverly Drive, and I know the architecture, the road signs, and even the trees as objects that should have a relationship with me. I find it odd that a thing can exist without me thinking about that thing. As I try to finish my memoir “I Am Not Ashamed,” I find myself in a deep sea of doubt, and that, to be honest with you, leave me scared. I wrote a song called “Angel of Death,” which confronts my fear of not being around. “Can you truthfully say/With your dying breath/That you’re ready to meet/The Angel of Death.”

My taste for married women came from the feeling that I’m alive and here at the moment. I don’t like to think about the next day or even the next minute. When you get to it, I want to be famous and admired - and the love or lust from a married woman brings that intensity in life. My girlfriend’s husband, Franchot, threw a punch at me the other night, he missed, and I broke his cheekbone. It felt good to do that.

On the other hand, I won the battle, but I may have lost the war. It felt right at that moment, but now people are beginning to doubt me or even worse, not caring at all. There is only so much pain to go around, and I can’t be seen as the pain giver, because people will be tired of me. And then what? “Just a deck of cards and a jug of wine/And a woman’s lies make a life like mine/Oh the day we met, I went astray/I started rolling down that lost highway.” - Tosh Berman

Monday, September 16, 2019

Tosh's Journal: September 16 (Korla Pandit)



TOSH’S JOURNAL

September 16

I was obsessing over Korla Pandit, both the man and his music when walking towards the Central Library in Los Angeles. I looked up at the Standard Hotel to hopefully get a glance of someone up there. Usually, when I’m on the street level, I don’t see a thing. But I saw a sole man, looking at the view of downtown from the roof. I immediately thought if he was going to jump. When I went into the library and began working on my memoir, I read on Facebook that a man jumped from the pool/roof area of the Standard Hotel just now. I felt terrible because I thought maybe that guy up there picked up on my thoughts about jumping. But to be honest, I often think about that. While walking around downtown, due to the tall buildings, one is always aware that someone can topple over the roof or their window, and hit you while you’re strolling along the boulevard. When I read the responses to that post, regarding the unfortunate soul who jumped, most didn’t comment on his suicide, but more to the fact that it is unsafe to walk around the downtown area. One person mentioned that a bowling ball almost hit him while he walked past a ten-story building. Whoever had that bowling ball, used it to keep their window open, for air, I guess.

Nevertheless, I went back to my writing and thinking about Korla Pandit. I find him fascinating, because one, I love the sound of the organ. Pandit was an incredible musician, and myself being attracted to visually stimulating people, found him magnificent. He used to have a show called “Korla Pandit’s Adventures in Music” that was broadcasted every weekday on the Los Angeles TV station KTLA. He never spoke but looked dreamily into the camera while performing his music. Each episode was 15 minutes long. He looked like he came from somewhere exotic, such as India. He had a white turbine and usually wore a tuxedo. One story I heard was that he was born in New Delhi to a Brahmin priest and a French opera singer who traveled from England to India. Eventually, the family made it to the United States.

At the time he was doing his weekday TV series, he also did the music for the radio drama series “Chandu the Magician.” The main character Frank Chandler (“Chandu”) had the ability to teleport, astral project, mesmerize, as well as project illusions. He learned the secrets of the occult from the Yogis in India. In many ways, Korla looked like Chandu the Magician. Chandler, after learning the secrets of the occult was told by his Yogi teacher to “Go forth in the youth and strength and conquer the evil that threatens Mankind.”

As one knows, evil is everywhere. Kierkegaard has commented that “Since boredom advances and boredom is the root of all evil, no wonder, then, that the world goes backward, that evil spreads.” If one can lose oneself into an exotic world, then I feel that there is hope to at the very least, force evil back into the Pandora’s box. By instinct, I feel Korla brings Eastern wisdom into the Western world, or at least he did so when he did his 15-minute television show. Not saying a word, and looking into the camera, and playing his organ, he speaks with significant volume. Even with my slight knowledge of Korla Pandit and Chandu the Magician, I couldn’t save the man on the top of the Standard Hotel. To do good, one needs to be a professional. -Tosh Berman

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Tosh's Journal: September 15



TOSH’S JOURNAL

September 15

“A great many people have come up to me and asked how I manage to get so much work done and still keep looking so dissipated. “I have always been known to friends and foes to be the go-to-guy with respect to having a martini always near me. In all seriousness, “I know I’m drinking myself to a slow death, but then I’m in no hurry.” I have trouble sleeping at night, so I find having a chilled glass of martini at the bedside helps me sleep better. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I just reached the cooler, and take another sip, and I’m off to dreamland, where I try to imagine my life as a memoir. Which also keeps me up at nights, because I’m so damn busy remembering every little incident that went through my world from age 1 to 20. Youth is significant, but the memory of childhood is much more important. Luckily there have been substantial changes in the world of writing, one that “the biggest obstacle to professional writing is the necessity for changing a typewriter ribbon.” With the miracle machine, the laptop, I don’t have to worry about that. Now I can write till my fingers run off to the side, where the martini glass resides.

My life changed when I found out that I’m a distant relative of Gilles de Rais, perhaps the first serial killer on record. The Frenchman was alleged to killing up to 600 children from 1432 to the spring of 1433. I personally don’t believe the number is that high, more likely 200. Nevertheless, being related to such a brute (although a refined one, according to historians) hasn’t helped me much. The dark cloud that follows me I think came from my distant relative. I try to think and behave like François de La Rochefoucauld, who seemed to be a reasonable gentleman of nobility. I bear that in mind while writing my memoirs and sipping my drink. He wrote that “true love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen.” I had a dream the other night that I was on an island, and I came upon a sophisticated party, full of beautiful women - one of them looked like Louise Brooks. When I approached her, it was like I wasn’t there. She didn’t acknowledge me, and I had the feeling that either I wasn’t there, or she wasn’t there as well. The whole party appeared to be projected from someone’s dreams, but, to me, it wasn’t from my dream.

“There is only one kind of love, but there are a thousand imitations.” So perhaps my dream the other night was my experience of falling in love, but the girl didn’t even exist. Can one love just an idea of being in love? The other part of the dream that I remember quite clearly is when I heard someone from the party saying “Why don’t you get out of that wet coat and into a dry martini?” At that moment, I woke up and reached for my chilled martini.

Book Musik Episode 7 Podcast: "Doctor Faustus" by Thomas Mann




Tosh & Kimley tackle a work of fiction on this episode - "Doctor Faustus" by Thomas Mann. A twentieth-century, German composer (very loosely based on Arnold Schoenberg) makes a devilish deal. We get into the esoteric weeds on this one and focus on the themes of what it means to be an artist in society and why the work of an artist is so mysterious and mythologized. A little Nietzschean nihilism, some blood, sweat and tears and a backdrop of warfare drive this conversation. This book is far too deep for us to cover in full, but we have fun scratching a bit of the surface.


Book Musik No. 7 "Doctor Faustus" by Thomas Mann

We even put together a music

Apple Music:  book-musik-thomas-mann-dr-faustus

book-musik-episode-7-doctor-faustus-by-thomas-mann


Saturday, September 14, 2019

Tosh's Journal - September 14 (The Lone Ranger)



TOSH'S JOURNAL

September 14

There is something so honorable about taking a stand in life, no matter what happens. I don't usually pray, but first thing in the morning, even before a cup of coffee, I knell in front of my full-length mirror and silently repeat to myself:



"I believe that to have a friend,

A man must be one.



That all men are created equal

And that everyone has within himself

The power to make this a better world.



That God put the firewood there

But that every man

Must gather and light it himself.



In being prepared

Physically, mentally, and morally

To fight when necessary

For that which is right.



That a man should make the most

Of what equipment he has.



That 'This government,

Of the people, by the people

And for the people'

Shall live always.



That men should live by

The rule of what is best

For the greatest number."


Many years ago, a bad man did an awful thing to my father, and ever since then, I swore that I wouldn't allow evil to come upon my house nor my neighbors. Usually around 9:00 PM, I go to my closet and get an outfit that resembles a Texas Ranger uniform, and with the cloth, from my father's leather vest, I made a mask to go with the outfit. I carried a pistol, but I swore to myself that I would never use it to take another's life. If anything, I would use it to signal help, or at the very least shoot a weapon out of the villain's hand. Sometimes I have missed, and I shot a finger or two off, but alas, it was a miscalculation of taking the wrong aim. Nevertheless, I use only silver bullets to remind myself that life is precious and not to be thrown away.

Also, as much as possible, I want to use perfect grammar and precise speech devoid of slang. If one is going to bring justice to the area, one has to set high standards, in case any children are following my career or my duties as a fellow citizen. Therefore I don't smoke or drink. I enter into the night because I embrace the darkness that surrounds the area. It is usually in the dark where bad men do evil things, but for me, I want to take the night back and bring it to its natural poetic, beautiful soul. I tend not to soil myself in such a fashion where I refuse to drink alcohol or eat fatty foods, but instead, I think water to purify my damaged soul.

As I wander into the night, I have to deal with the idea of revenge, but I do know that this is a fruitless form of activity, because that thirst can never be satisfied. If you go to that well, you will always find yourself back to that well, trying to drain the last drop at the very bottom. I did retire once and found someone else taking up my role or identity. If he followed the above creed or promise, I would be more understanding - but this man or creature decided to take the law into his own hands, by committing massacres one after another. So obviously, I had to go back into the night to clear my name.

After putting on the recording of "William Tell Overture" on the turntable, I approached the mirror again, and slowly put my costume on, knowing that I will never be able to leave my identity as the figure who fights for justice. I declare to the night and to all those who feel a false sense of security in the nighttime. I'm back.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Tosh's Journal - September 13 (Friday the 13, and the number 13)



TOSH’S JOURNAL

September 13

Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number “13.” The composer Arnold Schoenberg had a deep fear of that number, and in fact, died on Friday the 13th. He was reminded by his friend, mentor, and a fellow composer, Oskar Adler that when he attained the age of 76, and that the numbers 7 + 6 = 13. At that point, Schoenberg avoided multiples of 13 but never considered adding the digits of his age. For that whole year, Schoenberg suffered intense fear, in fact, the day he died he was feeling fine, but the thought of “13” made him go to bed, where he was sick, depressed and anxious. Like his friend Oskar, Arnold was also obsessed with the horoscope. A dear friend of Schoenberg, Oskar taught the great composer the rudiments of music and played chamber music with him. As well as being a member of the Society for Private Musical Performances, organized by Schoenberg as a private listening club for the purpose of playing modern music to other composers and those who are fans of the “new,” also gave spiritual advice as well as horoscope readings.

To go to the concerts presented by The Society for Private Musical Performances, you have to join the organization, and it was an attempt to keep out hostile critics who would attack the music or performances. On the entrance door as read “Critics are forbidden entry.” Also, the applause was not permitted after the performance of any of the music carried out by the musicians. To be a member, you have to be interested in modern music.  One is there to be exposed to the music that was being made in Vienna, 1918. It was regarded as a success because the organization gave 353 performances of 154 works in a total of 117 concerts. Schoenberg, who created the series didn’t allow any of his music to be played for the first two years of the organization. Instead, programs included works by Stravinsky, Bartók, Debussy, Ravel, Webern, Berg, and others.

When Schoenberg moved to Los Angeles to teach music composition at USC, he met a very young woman by the name of Amy Camus, who either came from Brooklyn or as she later claimed, from Callao, Peru. Nevertheless, she wished to study with him, specifically voice. She had a singing voice that was over four octaves from B2 to C♯7 (approximately 123 to 2270 Hz). According to the composer Virgil Thomson, her voice is “very low and warm, very high and birdlike”, but her range “is very close to four octaves, but is in no way inhuman or outlandish in sound.” This is a viewpoint not shared by Schoenberg.

Camus had an eerie sound, and it sounded like it came from another part of the world. Some would think “Peru,” but it could have been anywhere from Central or South America. As a European, Schoenberg had never been exposed to such a voice or a culture that Amy brought to the table. He was intrigued by the range and sound of her voice, but once she filled out the application stating that her birthday was on September 13, he withdraws that application and claimed to have lost it. Nevertheless, she did find some success, and eventually signed a record contract with Capitol Records, where she had numerous hits during the 1950s.

As for Schoenberg, he was offered a chance to do the soundtrack to a Hollywood film. The studio wanted him to write incidental music as well as a major theme in the film’s beginning and ending credits. But Schoenberg insisted that if he takes the job, he would need to have complete control not only of the music but the entire soundtrack of the film, including all dialogue spoken in the movie. The producers were taken back by his demands because they have not previously heard such a thing. Sadly, the studio had to turn him down, and a young Les Baxter was approached and ended making the music for “Ritual of the Savage.” The film never came out, but it did become a Broadway show, that unfortunately wasn’t much of financial success. It was reportedly inspired by the book by Raymond Roussel called “Impressions of Africa.” The producers pulled the plug of that show after only 13 performances. - Tosh Berman

Tosh Berman at Beyond Baroque, Reading from TOSH with Interview with Pat Thomas: Feb 14, 2019


Tosh Berman will read from TOSH: Growing Up in Wallace Berman's World (City Lights) and also chit-chat with Pat Thomas. Do come and support the Beyond Baroque world as well.

Saturday, September 14 at 8:00 PM

Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center
681 Venice Blvd, Venice CA 90291

Thursday, September 12, 2019

"Artaud 1937 Apocalypse: Letters From Ireland by Antonin Artaud" Translated & Edited by Stephen Barber (DIAPHANES)

ISBN: 978-0358-0153-8
"Artaud 1937 Apocalypse: Letters From Ireland by Antonin Artaud" Translated and Edited by Stephen Barber (Diaphanes)

Through my parent's world, the face of Antonin Artaud was very much part of my landscape.   In my dad's studio or workspace, there were usually photos of Artaud taped to the wall.  His face was beyond handsome to me.  Almost beautiful, but with disturbing touches of his mental illness, he was the poster icon for those who were insane and highly creative.  If the punk world had Syd Vicious, and the 90s had Kurt Cobain, then Artaud was a figure of revolt, but in a solemn manner.   He was an actor, poet, theater fellow, but he did his uncompromising work, and maybe even impossible to follow through.  Still, Artaud's essays on the theater, peyote, cultural studies and his inner pain are something that speaks to those who are out of the world.  Perhaps even more important, those who wish to remove themselves from such a (so-called) sane world.

In a state of insane mania, Artaud went to Ireland in the year 1937.  Without money or a specific plan, he became the village idiot, with his cane, who he felt it belong once to Saint Patrick.   "Artaud 1937 Apocalypse" is a small book of his correspondence to 'friends' in France, that even to this day, is a frightening read.  The difference from hearing someone ranting on the street, and reading these letters, is Artaud's poetic vision.   A superb stylist, even when he's on the brink of total mental collapse. 

I can imagine being Andre Breton (some of the letters were sent to him) and be either amused or read with horror.  Still, what is painful to understand is the raw emotional state of Artaud's mind.  Stephen Barber did a remarkable translation, and his afterword is excellent as well.   Artaud believed in apocalypse scenes.   In truth, as he was put in a mental hospital in Paris, during the occupation and World War II, perhaps his visions were actual projections of things to come.   A remarkable little book. 

Tosh's Journal - September 12 (Bathtubs)



TOSH'S JOURNAL

September 12

If I have one addiction, it is the sweet addiction of taking two or three baths a day. In the past, this was not a big deal or a person would barely raise an eyebrow about it - but alas, us citizens of Southern California are experiencing a drought that is severe, and more likely (and we have to be honest here) will kill us. I can imagine shortly that visitors will come to visit the landscape, and it will be full of skeletons with their skulls in a dry ditch. So, there is a certain degree of guilt now when I take a full bath or two (or three).

What I have done is put an extra bathtub in my bathroom. When I either flush my toilet or use the bathroom sink, the water automatically goes into the main tub which is made out of fibreglass. Since I'm the only one who uses the bathtub, I'm not concerned if the toilet water is slightly dirty, or if there is some strain of toothpaste from the sink that ends up in the main tub. The other tub, is used for the evening, and what I do is to transfer the bathwater from the first bath to the second tub. Meanwhile, whenever I walk by the restroom, and of course, due to my liquid diet, I need to use the toilet consistently. So the water supply is reasonably fresh for the main tub.

It is common knowledge that John Russell, 1st Earl Russell (who also served as Prime Minister) invented the bathtub for the full adult body. Before that, it was the size of a glorified dishpan. The "modern" bath came to the United States as recently as 1842, and it was reported that the tub was made from mahogany lined with lead. The bathtub for whatever reason was a controversial topic matter, until President Millard Fillmore had one installed in the White House. After that, bathing in a full tub became quite popular. Before 1842, Americans were tended to be dirty.

Since I tend to use the toilet a lot throughout the night, I do have a sizable amount of water in the bathtub. For one, I don't use shampoo or any soap. Soaking in water should be adequate to enable one to be clean. After I get out of my bath, I use a rubber hose to suck up the water from the tub and put the tube into the other tub. Similar to the practices of siphoning gas from a car. Also, as a rule, I don't put anything unclean in the water, except perhaps a rubber boat, which I like to play with while taking a bath.

So, with this in mind, I can save water and still enjoy my bath time. There is nothing like having the music of George Jones in the background, specifically his early recordings around "White Lightning" and enjoying the landscape outside my window, which is a field of dirt and rocks. Once there was vegetation, but alas….

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Tosh's Journal: September 11



TOSH'S JOURNAL

September 11

When the twin towers fell, I was thinking about Barbarella. When something horrific comes upon me, I immediately turn to a pleasant thought, or to be honest, an escape. There is always that moment in time when you don't know what's happening, and you are on the computer or watching television, and you're not getting news, but just the raw feelings of anxiety, fear, and numbness of watching the jet hitting the building over and over again. It becomes pornography after a while, and I prefer the Eros of Barbarella than seeing a death machine hitting a skyscraper. To have used that jet, not as a missile, but as a spacecraft going to another galaxy for the purpose of having sex with Barbarella. That is the purpose of machinery, to give and receive pleasure, not death.


I had to go to work that morning, and it was strange because I worked at a bookstore, and there were a lot of customers that day. I think they wanted to be with other people, and somehow a bookstore fits the location and the need when those wishing to make contact with others. I remember a customer coming in and asking if we had books on the al-Qaeda. I never heard of them, and it took me a while to get the correct spelling of the name to see if there were any books in print on that subject matter. Then shortly, another customer came in and wondered if we had any books on Osama bin Laden. Again, a name that I never heard of. What was interesting is that a lot of people were either freaking out or trying to comprehend what happened and what does that exactly mean in their lives. One thing I do remember was that the Sheriff's department closed off traffic to the West Hollywood City Hall. I thought to myself of "why would anyone want to attack the city hall of West Hollywood?" Nevertheless, I think everyone who saw a plane in the sky thought it might be a missile of death.


The cultural significance was when Salman Rushdie came into the store to shop, and this may be two or three days after September 11. He just wrote a book called "Fury", and he consented to sign the stock for our store. Rushdie was friendly and very disturbed about the attack. One thing he said that made an impression on me was that his novel ("Fury") is not important anymore. Rushdie stated that his book was the old New York, and now the attacks happened, his version of New York doesn't exist anymore. He was likewise left stranded because he couldn't fly back to his home in New York City. At the time, I read a lot of observations by New York writers, and all of them were interesting. The one that stays in my mind is a column in the Guardian newspaper, written by Jay McInerney, where he comments on the "before and after," and although it is a stock statement or cliché, it is also totally understandable. For me, my fear for the then future would be how the U.S. would react to the crisis. Sadly, and not surprisingly, they did everything wrong. Not only Iraq but our policies in dealing with the international world as well as the terribleness that is happening in the States. The terrorists sent us a box, and the U.S. opened that box without any hesitation. All the evil things came out, and no one will never ever be able to box up the ingredients of pain. The other thing that stayed in my mind was that our best selling title at the bookstore that month was "Zagat Los Angeles 2001."


Somewhere down the line, we traded our fantasies for despair and horror. We could have gone on the Barbarella route - to explore space and bodies, but instead, we now have a world that is not enjoyable or aesthetically pleasing. Just dread, misery, poverty, and a century (the 21st) that will be my last.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Tosh's Journal - September 10 (Georges Bataille)




TOSH'S JOURNAL

September 10

I have weekly meetings with the College of Sociology, which usually takes place at lunchtime at various cafes and from time-to-time, in people's homes. We had a meeting last week, which took place in my living room. The one thing we all have in common is that we strongly disagree with the theory of Surrealism. We all feel that the surrealist's focus on the unconscious privileged the individual over Society, and therefore ignores the social dynamic of experiencing the human that works in various social groupings. As a group, we're interested in "Sacred Sociology, and we study all manifestations of social existence where the active presence of the sacred is quite clear." We have studied and critiqued the army, Marquis de Sade, English monarchy, literature, sexuality, Hitler and of course Hegel. Each one of us must present an essay or a lecture every week.

Within this group, there is a secret society where we meet on a monthly basis, always late at night, in the nearby forest. Our meeting place is by an oak tree that was once struck by lightning. The "acéphale" (greek for headless) Society is devoted to performing certain practices, including nudity and eating raw meat of some sort. Using a flashlight in the pitch blackness of the forest, we read aloud passages from Sade and Nietzsche. We see these two writers as liberators of the human spirit, and therefore in great secret, we celebrate their thoughts as it is written in their books. For purity, we read the works in its original language: German and French (for Sade). We all discuss carrying out the human sacrifice, but we couldn't agree on who the executioner should be. Every one of us in the group wanted to be sacrificed, and none wanted to be the executor.

We were fascinated with the art of "slow slicing," or better known as "death by a thousand cuts." It was a type of torture and execution used in China from AD 900 until it was banned in 1905. During the execution, a knife is placed on the body, where the executors would cut pieces of the flesh, till the prisoner dies. Opium would be applied mostly to prevent fainting of the criminal. The criminal must be conscious of his or her body being stripped slowly. In general, these executions took place in the public square, where the citizens can watch the drama that is taking place in front of them.

"We have in only two certainties in this world - that we are not everything and that we will die." The ritual of death is fascinating and sharing our thoughts within this group, is something that I treasure greatly. "Sacrifice is nothing other than the production of sacred things." We tend to stay by the oak tree till the lightness of the dawn, and then we wander back to our homes, thinking it was just a dream. Alas, we know it isn't because we all shared as series of moments reflecting on death.  Therefore becoming more alive knowing that the moment will happen eventually. A good friend of mine told me once that "work is making a living out of being bored." Thinking of death somehow frees me from boredom, and knowing that, makes living way much more intense. And on top of that, I don't have a job; therefore, I'm never bored.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Tosh's Journal - September 9 (Homage to Colonel Sanders of KFC)



TOSH'S JOURNAL

September 9

This may seem odd, but when I see an image of Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) fame, I think of Japan. There are many KFC outlets in Japan, and each one has an incredible statue of Colonel Sanders by the entranceway. Although he did live, he doesn't to me appear to be a real living person. Only an image. A ghost image to be honest. Also, when I used to eat meat, I liked the Japanese version of KFC. For whatever reasons, which are a mystery to me, the Japanese taste seems different in these chain of fast-food stores. Everyone I know in Japan loves KFC. Now, I don't love the food, but I'm fascinated with the numerous statues of Colonel Sanders.

Colonel Sanders was born on September 9, 1890, in a small house in Henryville, Indiana. The population was 1,905 according to the 2010 census. Weather-wise, Henryville has a humid subtropical climate, which means it has hot, humid summers and generally mild winters. In 1902, after his father died, he moved with his family to Greenwood, Indiana. He didn't get along with his new step-father and drifted away from his home life to move in with his uncle in New Albany, Indiana. His uncle worked for the city's streetcar company and got his nephew a job as a conductor. He then falsified his date of birth and joined the United States Army in 1906, where he was sent to Cuba. He was honorably discharged after only three months and then moved to Sheffield, Alabama, where another uncle lived. There he got a job as a blacksmith's helper, and later eventually became a fireman at the age of 16.


He got married, had three children, and while being a fireman during the day, at night, he studied law by correspondence, and eventually became a lawyer. His legal career ended when he got into a fistfight with his client in a courtroom. He then moved to Jeffersonville, Indiana to work for the Prudential Life Insurance Company, where he sold life insurance. He then got fired for insubordination and got a salesman job with the Mutual Benefit Life of New Jersey. Around this time, he started up a ferry boat company that was a success. He operated a boat that went from Jeffersonville to Louisville and back. He sold his business for $22,000 and used the money to launch a company that made acetylene lamps. Sadly this was not the right type of lamp, because Delco introduced an electric lamp that soon became the format that was sold at the time. He moved to Winchester, Kentucky to work as a salesman for the Michelin Tire Company, but lost that jobs when Michelin closed their New Jersey manufacturing plant. He then met the general manager of Standard Oil of Kentucky, who asked him to run a service station in Nicholasville. But like his luck, that too didn't pan out, due to the Great Depression, and therefore the gas station had to shut down. However, if you failed once, try again. The Shell Oil Company gave a service station to Sanders rent-free in return for a percentage of sales. It was here that he began to serve chicken dishes and at the same time he was awarded the title of Kentucky Colonel, by the Governor of the state of Kentucky.


Colonel Sanders claimed that he had an original secret recipe for his chicken, and the only thing he had to admit to the public was that he used salt and pepper as well as 11 herbs and spices. The big difference between KFC in the U.S. & Japan is that in the States, they use vegetable oil for frying the chicken. In Japan, the oil used is mainly the more expensive cottonseed and corn oil. Therefore the taste difference between the two cultures. So the colonel eventually sold KFC to John Y. Brown, Jr. And Jack C. Massey for $2 million. When many years later Brown and Massey sold the chain for $239 million.


Colonel Sanders died in 1980, but in truth, did he even existed? After he was awarded the identity of being a Kentucky Colonel, he immediately dressed himself as one. He grew a goatee and wore a black string tie with a white suit. He never wore anything else in public, and he bleached his mustache and goatee to match his white hair and white suit. He had a heavy wool white suit for the winter and wore a white light cotton suit in the summertime. Colonel Sanders wore this uniform for twenty years. So even after his physical death, he still lives on as the logo for KFC. But again in Japan, one is accustomed to seeing his features, his white suit, string tie, in front of 1,181 outlets as of December 2013. As of this writing, Kentucky Fried Chicken is well known as being the meal at Christmas time in Japan. Roughly one billion chickens are killed each year, and therefore I usually have a salad on Christmas Day.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Tosh's Journal - September 8 (Homage to Peter Sellers & Alfred Jarry)



TOSH'S JOURNAL

September 8

"There is no me. I do not exist… There used to be a me, but I had it surgically removed." It isn't I can't stand myself, but I'm on the surface extremely dull. There is no spice in my DNA to make me special. What I can do is re-invent myself to a better version of me. Or start from scratch and create a new "me." I tried to do my best to blend in with the crowd that I came to be accustomed to, but clearly, they never took me seriously. All of them feel that I'm a performer, but for the heck out of them, they can't remember one film or theater piece I have done. They know that I exist, but in what degree is totally beyond them.

As a card-carrying pataphysician, I have consistently been mistaken for Peter Sellers. The interesting fact is that we don't look like each other at all. But still, I'm always reminded of him, due to what people think he or I look like. A day doesn't go by, where someone doesn't comment on the resemblance of the dead late comic actor. If he was alive, I wonder if people would still make the comparisons between him and me. "The dead… are more real than the living because they are complete." I suspect if I were dead, then I would get my own identity back. Again, even with that, my lack of uniqueness would be challenging for someone to pin me down. Also, my face is not mine, but a remembrance of someone else's face or appearance.

To live in one's shadow, is a traveler wandering in a neighborhood where he's not invited, but accepted with closed arms. I have often appeared in front of an audience, but they were expecting something else, or even someone else. It takes approximately ten minutes into my performance where the audience realizes that they are at the wrong show. After a while, I believe "that the applause of silence is the only kind that counts." Every day I try to re-think myself in a new position where I find that I need to think what 'my character' would do in a particular or specific incident or plan. It is rarely that I consider "what I would do" but mostly 'what would he or she does." And that is pretty much how I see the world. A fellow pataphysician has commented that "the theater, bringing impersonal masks to life, is only for those who are virile enough to create new life: either as a conflict of passions subtler than those we already know or as a completely new character."

I was reading Siegried Sassoon's poetry, and I came upon a statement by him that touched me: "The fact is that five years ago I was, as near as possible, a different person to what I am tonight. I, as I am now, didn't exist at all. Will the same thing happen in the next five years? I hope so." The only occupation that I'm suitable for is acting. Sadly I can't remember a written line if my very life been dependent on it. What I do is improvised anytime I find myself in a conversation with someone. I never know where or when the conversation ends, but I pretend that I do know, and I think the other person will gently follow my lead - in a sense, it is like dancing the waltz, where one leads the other.

I wrote a play that had one performance, so I guess one can call it a total failure. Nevertheless, the lead character stayed with me, and I adopted his language as my own. For instance, I never say the wind, or it's windy. Instead, I would say "that which blows." Slowly but surely, I built up a character that became comfortable to wear. But I was always aware that the things I said or do were based on another character - sometimes a fictional character. In the future (if there is a future) the play "will not be performed in full until the author (the royal we) have acquired enough experience to savor all its beauties." I tend to see the world as a theater piece, and sadly, I'm the only one in the audience.

-Tosh Berman

Tosh Berman at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center on Saturday, Sept. 14th at 8 P.M.






Saturday, September 14th, 8-10pm 
Venice, CA: Beyond Baroque

Join TOSH at Beyond Baroque!  Beyond Baroque is located at 681 N. Venice Blvd. Venice, CA 90291 For more 310-822-3006; info@beyondbaroque.org  Also interview with Pat Thomas.

A reading and discussion with Tosh Berman, former director of Beyond Baroque and author of the memoir Tosh, Growing Up In Wallace Berman’s World. Tosh will be interviewed by journalist and author Pat Thomas.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Tosh's Journal: September 7 (Homage to Buddy Holly, Jacques Vaché, & Edi...



TOSH'S JOURNAL

September 7

"I have often wished I had time to cultivate modesty… But I am too busy thinking about myself." I don't have a lot of knowledge about the world that's out there, but I do know myself, and at the end of the day, that is all I could offer you. Now, whatever that is good or not, is totally up to you. I can only offer what I know, which is not much. I feel like I'm 250 years old, and man does my eyes feel heavy. All I know is that I'm a man of excellent taste, and "good taste is the worst vice ever invented." To stand out in the world is like asking someone to cut your throat. It's not a nice world out there. In fact, it's a jungle. And I wish I can inform you that I'm Tarzan, but I'm more like George of the Jungle.

I feel the time is marching on, and I'm afraid that I will remain in the dustbin of history, which means ignored, and my writing is lost somewhere in the Central Los Angeles Library. I wake up with the greatest dread, knowing that I'm facing at least 12 or 13 hours of failure. "You know the horrible life of the alarm clock – it's a monster that has always appalled me because of the number of things its eyes project, and the way that good fellow stares at me when I enter a room." I feel time mocks me, and I know when my birthday just passed, people were thinking, "there he goes…"

Not long ago I purchased a six albums (on vinyl) box set of Buddy Holly's music. America has produced many talented people, but none is more important than Buddy Holly. He was a figure that was a modernist, specifically with his take on music-making as well as appearance. The heavy dark rim glasses, with the beautiful suits and sweaters that he wore, it had a profound effect on me, because I had trouble seeing without my glasses. His imperfections became a symbol of perfectionism. He turned the negative into the positive, why that boy was a magician as well as a superb musician. His death, to this day, is precisely what I can't take in. I cannot possibly understand why he went in that dinky airplane in a storm to get somewhere early, so he can do his laundry before the next show. Dandyism is a lifestyle, but it can also lead one to an early death. Yet, there can't possibly be a God, to let go such a brilliant talent. He tested against the elements and lost. I obviously don't have his genius, but I do have the expertise to lose, in a major and significant way.

"Hot water is my native element. I was in it as a baby, and I have never seemed to get out of it ever since." I'm not worthy of living in a world that makes such enormous demands on my ability to create chaos that is my poetry. "Poetry is the deification of reality," and I feel like I'm standing against a wind machine, that is blowing me towards another direction, that I care not to go. "ART does not exist - So it is useless to talk about it - but! people go on being artists - because it's like that and no way else - Well - so what?"

I never got over the death of Buddy Holly and especially Jacques Vaché. Two poets who I feel didn't finish their work. At this point and time, I have outlived both for many years. Holly was quoted in saying that "Death is very often referred to as a good career move." Perhaps he's right, but I feel I was left by the side of the road, and I don't have a compass to tell me what direction I should go to. The art is to wander. "I'm not trying to stump anybody… it's the beauty of the language that I'm interested in." - Buddy Holly.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Tosh's Journal - September 6



TOSH'S JOURNAL

September 6

The one film role that I wish I did, but didn't, for the apparent reason, is to play Count Orlok in the film "Nosferatu." I identify with the character because he's living death or known as "The Bird of Death." I live in a large home that was slowly decaying due to the lack of money and resources on my part. For instance, if I'm sleeping on my back, and at a certain angle, I can see the stars right above me in my bedroom. Luckily there's a drought in California, or I would be in terrible trouble. I tend to have sleepless nights, so I often wander from one room to another. Sometimes with a purpose, but mostly not. I own a DVD copy of "Nosferatu," and I tend to play it around 3:00 in the morning. Being half-asleep and permanently disturbed, I find a certain amount of peace watching this film.

To make savings on electricity and power, I rarely use any lighting in the house, except for the TV, and even that, I only allow so many hours to watch the set. I don't have cable, so what I watch on the TV is mostly my DVD collection. Rice, vegetable stock for soup, and beans are pretty much my diet these days. Thank God that there is a local library in my neighborhood, so I can, in a sense, read books for free. To remove myself from all the abstractions in the world sets me free to use my imagination. I often try to imitate the actor Max Schreck who played Count Orlok, to attempt to ground myself in a world that is shifting away from me. It has been noted that he lived in "a remote and incorporeal world" and that he spent time walking in the forest.

I don't have any paintings or images on the wall. Nor do I have mirrors. I tend to forget what I look like, and I sort of like being in a situation where I can never describe myself to anyone. My only desire is to look like Count Oriok, and therefore why do I need a mirror?

Before dawn hits the sky, I like to wander around my spacious backyard, which is so full of trees and bushes. I want to lie on the dirt and look upwards towards the fading stars, and the reflection of nearby neon lighting of Glendale, and imagining myself coming from this dirt, yet being part of the sky. As I get older, I try to imagine what death feels like. I don't see it being a painful experience, but neither is it an abstract plane. I sometimes think that I have died, and I'm just floating around the residence with not a purpose or plan. - Tosh Berman

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Tosh's Journal - September 5 (John Cage & Yves Klein)



TOSH'S JOURNAL

September 5

It is hard work to do nothing. I'm always filling my day with things to do, to avoid the nothing. Once I wake up in the morning, there are a few minutes of dread where nothing is happening. I'm trying to set my mind on what the day will be like. I check my calendar, and like a lot of people, I'm obsessed with making lists. If I have less than five things to do that day, I feel depressed. Then slowly the feeling of guilt that you should be producing something, even if it's not essential. I open up my computer and look at the blank screen. Nothing is happening. I then look out my front window, facing Waverly Drive, and I see no one. Usually, people are walking their dogs at this time in the morning, but alas, I see only a fat furry cat walking down the sidewalk by him or her self. A dog when is either on a leash or free from it always walks without a purpose or direction. A cat walks going to a specific direction in mind and is rarely side-tracked by anything unless someone approaches it. There is one moment which becomes tense when I see the cat walk behind a parked car, and I wonder if I will see it again exiting that car. The moment I see the cat still, I feel a sense of relief. He or she then enters into an opening of the bush and disappears.

For me, there is no feeling of the cat being cute or beautiful. I like to see it walking down the sidewalk with a sense of purpose or plan. This inspires me to get back to my writing. There is a piece of music that causes me a great deal of anxiety, and it's John Cage's "4'33." It has a strict format where the piano player sits behind his keyboard and doesn't play anything for the duration of four minutes and thirty-three seconds. People think this is a work of silence, but it is the opposite of silence. When you are in a concert hall or theater "hearing" this piece, you are immediately aware of the sounds around you - perhaps a nervous cough, a clearing of the throat, a fart, or the fear of making a farting noise, air conditioner, heating vent, shuffling of feet, and so forth.

When I write, I need consistent sound around me — either music or outside ambient sounds. For instance, traffic noise, as well as a child, is screaming down the block from me. Each sound is like someone hitting me with a live electric wire, which gets my brain to jump. I work in a lonely place, which is pretty much my head. This is no longer a bad thing at all. To actually feel the space between yours truly and the world is an area that I can measure and fill up images with, but I also can subtract imagery as well. The thing is you have to control the noise around you, and something like "4'33" is chaos. Because you can't control the noise level of silence in one's life. So setting everything aside, you sit there for "4'33" in the quietness that is impossible, and also the anxiety or blissfulness knowing that things will happen again at 4 minutes and thirty-four seconds. It has a beginning and an end.

It's very work-orientated. We usually have 8 hours a day to work. Within those 8 hours, we have two fifteen minutes breaks, and often an half-n-hour lunch. Or it could be an hour lunch. Nevertheless, this sets a schedule for the entire day that one can't question or get out of unless you call in sick. Or like me, unemployed. When you don't have a job, you're facing a series of moments that cannot be filled. So one is left with the anxiety of confronting 'nothing.' Drinking is an effortless way of dealing with the sense of time wasting away. Because at least you are taking something that sort of comments on time passing, and you reflect on the failure or happiness of those moments.

-Tosh Berman



I'm trying to do away with my vices, so I focus on being on the entrance to nothing. I want to face that void, and be contented with the blankness that will come upon me. That hasn't happened yet. I remember seeing a performance by Yves Klein called "Monotone-Silence Symphony" in New York, and what the piece consists of is an orchestra of 70 musicians and singers performing a D major chord for 20 minutes, followed by 20 minutes of silence. The members of the orchestra are instructed not to move and sit on their seats. It's a tougher piece than "4'33" because we know that the silence will last exactly 20 minutes. So one is getting around 16 minutes of more silence. But we do get the contrast between sound and silence in this work. I have met someone who went to one of the performances and felt that the work failed because the silence part was not done correctly.



Daniel Moquay, who is in charge of the Yves Klein archive and the estate was quoted regarding the performance of the piece that took place in a Parisian church: "The door of the church was open, and a pigeon came in and sat where everyone could see him," he said. "During the 20-minute silence, he did not move at all. It was kind of incredible. And then when the silence was over, he left."

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Tosh's Journal: September 4 (Artaud Special)




TOSH'S JOURNAL

September 4

Is there a more celebrated face than the face of Antonin Artaud? For my entire life, I have always been in the presence of his face. My father, along with portraits of Brigitte Bardot and Jean Cocteau, would have an image of Artaud by his work table in Beverly Glen, and later in his studio both in the Glen and Topanga. I was a teenager when I saw Carl Theodor Dreyer's "The Passion of Joan of Arc," and like others, I was very much impressed with the face of Renée Jeanne Falconetti as Joan. Like Artaud, Falconetti suffered from mental illness throughout her life, and eventually committed suicide in Brazil in 1946. When I was working at Beyond Baroque, Viggo Mortensen took me to see "The Passion of Joan of Arc," which at the time, he was obsessed with the film. He brought me along because he just liked to share his love for the film and who he considered the greatest actress. Falconetti! He also knew I was a huge Artaud fan, and the scenes in the movie, to me, are dueling faces at work, which is quite remarkable, because Artaud looks so calm, almost evil in a tranquil sense.

When I found myself in Tokyo, I was fortunate to see Kabuki theater in the Ginza.  What I found fascinating was how the audience re-interacts with the actors and what was happening on the stage. There were moments when it seems that the audience becomes part of the theater play. When one walks into the theater, the lighting on the audience side is not darkened. So one cannot only see what is occurring on the stage in front of you, but one is also aware of what the audience is doing. For instance, I was surprised to hear people talk in normal tones during the performance. After a while, once my ears and eyes become accustomed to the "new' environment, I accepted that the whole theater or building was a performance. One also notices how flat the Kabuki play looks on the stage. No one is highlighted, and it is like seeing a film of a John Ford landscape in Utah, where mountain peaks match the importance of the human figures traveling in that landscape.

When Artaud saw Balinese dancers perform at the Paris Colonial Expo, he must have been affected by the technique and aesthetic of accepting the audience as part of the performance. Also most important is the ritual aspect of the production and how the dancers use all parts of their body to express themselves, including head and eyes movements. Kabuki is over-the-top as well, and one follows the narrative by its grand gestures than say the quiet moments.

Artaud wrote a play called "Jet of Blood" which starts with a young man and a young girl repeating the lines, "I love you, and everything is beautiful," "You love me and everything is beautiful." They repeat the lines in different accents and styles to each other. Then when the man comments that "the world is beautifully built and well ordered" - a sudden violent storm appears, including a hurricane which separates the man and girl, with two stars colliding, and assorted objects falling from the sky — mayhem rules in the world of Artaud.

Artaud is an artist whose life is not separated from his art. An ill man all through his life, plus an addiction to hard narcotics made him vulnerable to the outside world. His mania got worse when he obtained a walking stick of knotted wood and was convinced that this cane once belongs to St. Patrick as well as Lucifer and Jesus Christ. He spent the last years in a mental hospital.  Artaud didn't do many performances either on film or on the stage.   His writings have become influential literature for poets, actors, and those who are abused by the system of living in a world of not their making. I, myself, can not escape his influence, especially concerning how he sees space, distance, and the performance that somehow falls between the different categories. To provoke an audience is one way of changing the world. To feel, to create, and throw oneself in the storm that is, society is truly wonderful. Unless that society is there to reject and harm you.  - Tosh Berman

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Tosh's Journal: September 3 (Homage to Alan Wilson of Canned Heat)



TOSH'S JOURNAL

September 3

I remember Alan Wilson's death, from acute barbiturate intoxication, because I was living in Topanga at the time. He wasn't world-famous, but famous in Topanga. He was a member of the band Canned Heat, and although I never actually met him, I for sure saw him at the local market. The only Canned Heat song I liked was "On The Road Again." I love the minimalism of the recording. The consistent drum beat and the distinctive sound of the cymbal, with the additional tambura, which is an Eastern string instrument. It's the blues, but with an unfamiliar presence due to the instrumentation. I first heard that song when I was in bed, around 3 a.m. I had a transistor radio glued to my ear, and I remember this song, and it seemed so eerie and depressing at the same time.


When I have my moments of despair, the song comes to me from the back to the front of the head. Alan Wilson was a friend of depression as well. They found his body in the hillside behind the lead singer Bob Hite's Topanga home. Wilson loved nature and preferred to be in the outdoors as much as possible. He liked to take his sleeping bag, and finds a beautiful tree and sleep there. It was reported that Al had a hard time connecting with people, perhaps being on the Autism Spectrum. He was a passionate conservationist, and read books on botany and ecology. And of course, an academic on the subject matter of the blues.


Interestingly, a man who was so removed from human interaction would have a love and understanding of something so poignant as the blues. Yet, his blues was something that I feel was close to the bone for him. To quote the whole song:



"Well, I'm so tired of crying

But I'm out on the road again

I'm on the road again

Well, I'm so tired of crying

But I'm out on the road again

I'm on the road again



I ain't got no woman

Just to call my special friend



You know the first time I traveled

Out in the rain and snow

In the rain and snow

You know the first time I traveled

Out in the rain and snow

In the rain and snow



I didn't have no payroll

Not even no place to go



And my dear mother left me

When I was quite young

When I was quite young

And my dear mother left me

When I was quite young

When I was quite young



She said, "Lord, have mercy

On my wicked son."



Take a hint from me, mama

Please don't you cry no more

Don't you cry no more

Take a hint from me, mama

Please don't you cry no more

Don't you cry no more



'Cause it's soon one morning

Down the road I'm going



But I ain't going down

That long old lonesome road

All by myself

But I ain't going down

That long old lonesome road

All by myself



I can't carry you, baby

Gonna carry somebody else"


I find this song moving because it seems to be a tight circle, where one can't get out of its rhythm or structure. The actual drone of the music that is the foundation for the other instruments is relentless. The singer is in hell, and here in a small number of words describes the landscape that there is no escaping from. Throughout my life, I always find 'chance' as a 'free from jail' card, but here "On The Road Again" its permanent groundhog's day, where and when misery matches with the solid beat. Endless.


I imagine Alan Wilson looking out to the stars, in his sleeping bag and thinking, at the very least, a limitless vision that must have been an escape of some sort. Now eternal sleep.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Tosh's Journal: September 2nd



Tosh's Journal

September 2nd

I can't forget the night I met you. That's all I'm thinking of, and now you call it madness, but I call it love. Alone from night to night, you'll find me. I'm too weak to break the chains that bind me. For one command, I stand and wait now, from one who's master of my fate now." It is like you never died, or maybe you've been dead for a long time. No one told me that you left the earth. They played your records and said to me that these were recent radio broadcasts. The letters I read from you, till recently realized that they were not from you, but signed by another to give an appearance of your being near me. My dream is broken in two, but it can be made like new on the street of dreams.

You're too beautiful for words. Alas, that is all I could offer. I started to paint because I feel that it was my former language, where I can say things I can't say, but can on canvas. I often roam inside the Jardin des Plantes, and when I go into the glasshouses, and I see the strange plants of exotic lands, it seems to me that I enter into a dream.

I wait patiently for a letter from you, but I never know if it comes from your heart, or if it is even real. When you last wrote to me, you said, "goodnight sweetheart, may dreams guide you." Ever since then, I wait for the mailman to bring some news, but the bills and advertisement to the local shopping mall, remind me how empty I feel. Will you not come back to me and give me some reason to keep on living? And I do live, but only to count the days since you have gone.

You're my everything underneath the sun and moon. My only dream, my only reality - you're the song I sing, and the book I read. When I say this to you, or write to you, I sound so dumb, but if I can add Russ Colombo's croon, then I think you understand my words, as it should be voiced.

I don't know why I love you as I do. You appeared to be interested in touching me only when we are dancing. How I long for the music to stop, and never take my arms off you. Tears without measure, my life seemed so wrong - and with a smile, you banished sorrow. But that is all changed because together we will live in dreams. Even separately. - Tosh Berman

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Tosh's Journal - September 1st (Izu Ōshima, Tokyo, Japan)





TOSH'S JOURNAL

September 1



Izu Ōshima, Tokyo, Japan



"If I live, I live, if I die, I'll die." There is very little here, except the ocean, which surrounds this island, and the mountains. All structures and shops are close to the water as if it has second thoughts being in the jungle-like the growth of nature. Once you're on the island, you are here forever. Even if you leave, the insect bites seem to stay with you for a long time. I have rashes on top of other rashes, and for sure, me being here, must have shortened my life by at least minutes if not longer. If I die on this island, I will haunt it forever. I don't believe death is the end, but a continuation of one's hell. Once you throw the dice against the wall and your numbers don't come up - you're fucked, and you're fucked for life.



I came to this island because I needed to test myself in the sense that I would choose life over death. To me, it is the same. The fact it is in the middle of summer, which means the weather is not only hot 24 hours a day, but also humid, where one's sweat seems to attract every insect in existence on this island. The most common insect I have here is an overlarge spider. When you walk down one of the paths or even the street that circles around the island, which is a two-lane road, one often walks into a giant spider web. If I take a ten-minute walk anywhere, I find my hair has cobwebs and an occasional living creature of some sort. The other animal I see here, and I see a lot of is cats. Most, if not all, are wild. They don't look approachable, but still, they are beautiful creatures. I wasn't sure if it was due to my exhaustion from the heat, but I could have sworn I saw a cat as big as a large dog. It was an orange kitty, and looked normal, except it was huge. I immediately walked the other direction, because for sure, I felt the animal would have approached and eaten me. I think it would go for the eyes first and then the hair of my body. I then imagined that the cat would drag me into the bushes and eat the rest of my body.



I did see an odd sight when walking down a dark road, there were two crows in the street, picking on something. As I slowly approached these flying rats, I can see they were eating a dead squirrel. Which amazingly enough, I never see these critters on trees or anywhere else. Only once, and this squirrel is quite dead, yet still, a meal for the birds. I even saw a deer with horns, but he or she pretended to hide from me in a bush. The deer never lost sight of me as I slowly walked down the street. As a human, I don't feel that I should be on this island whatsoever. It belongs to creatures and nature. I often felt this way when I walk around the dog park in Silver Lake. Humans take their dogs here, but it seems like a concentration camp to me. There used to be grass, but now it is nothing but dirt and dogshit. There is something depressing to me when I see humans playing with their pets - it reminds me of master and servant. One can't escape the horror of being human and being part of the social system where one looks for love wherever they can find it, even for a dog that is with you because one feeds it. The beast must conform to the human's point-of-view of what an animal is - in other words, their pet or animal must reflect the owner's ego. Here on the island, beasts (cats) run free and I find it beautiful because here they are - as they are meant to be — not a human's concept of a beast, but indeed a creature on their terms.



I spend my time writing, mostly at the abandoned elementary school. My wife and I set up a portable studio within the space, which is jammed full of images of students and teachers who are no longer working there, and more likely no longer alive. Even then, nature is taking over the room. Insects roam freely from one body to the next, and when I take my clothes off to take my daily cold shower, I look like a map, not made by human intelligence, but from an insects point-of-view. So if I do die here, I will become part of the natural world - food for the cats, crows, and a dessert for the insects. - Tosh Berman

BOOK MUSIK: "Under The Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk



Tosh & Kimley discuss "Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk" by John Doe with Tom DeSavia and friends. Having both experienced the L.A. Punk scene firsthand, we found this to be a nostalgic and at times underwhelming look back at a scene that defied definition with bands ranging from the pure pop of the Go-Go’s to the hardcore thrashing of Black Flag. So what is L.A. Punk? We discuss both the Hollywood and Latin influences unique to the L.A. scene as well as the strong graphic visuals and DIY aesthetic that permeated all aspects of the scene. Contributors to the book include Exene Cervenka of X, Jane Wiedlin and Charlotte Caffey of the Go-Go’s, Mike Watt of the Minutemen, and Henry Rollins to name just a few.

Book Musik: "Under The Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Tosh's Journal: August 31st (Meditation on Power)





TOSH'S JOURNAL

August 31st



Power. I love power. There is something so beautiful about the nature of power in that at the end of the day, all that matters is… power. The people who tend not to like power are the ones that usually are not fit in that position or have a role in power. Also oddly enough they appeared to be getting fucked on a regular basis. They're almost wearing a sign around their neck, saying, "Kick me." But also keep in mind in the role of society, you need these pathetic people, because they will always take abuse, and on times, thank you for it. They can usually survive due that they can always find another loser among the ranks that will help them out. One thing that weak people are good at is finding other defenseless people. What they share is their hatred of those who are entitled. In fact, it is virtually a mania for these people. The more that they express their contempt for the powerful, the more powerful I get. It is just like a broken water pipe during a drought. They blame the neighbor watering his lawn too much, but meanwhile, they sheepishly accept the real-power-to-be and become bullies themselves. It never fails, in that, they are frustrated by those who control their lives, but they will take it upon themselves to make a fellow citizen feel the blows of their world.



It is usually a huge gesture that makes the powerless feel even more helpless. Public, almost random, executions always drive them batty. They run back to their shabby homes and frown in front of their computers. If you overload them full of rotten images, they usually become numb to them. Excess is my perfume; for another, it can smell like shit.



Nevertheless, my role is intended to be an entertainer of sorts. I am dishing out punishment as much as favors. My philosophy consists of keeping them guessing. It is sort of like being behind a mammoth recording mixing board, and you control the sounds in that room. More vocals, but to do that you have to lessen the cello player's input. He or she will complain, but when the moment seems almost too bleak, throws them a bone. They'll gobble it down with pure happiness and a sense of regret.



They say power adds a certain amount of isolation. This is true. I have put numerous prisoners through solitary confinement, and the irony is, I too put myself in that state of mind. I basically like people to have sex with, and the ability to master their lives. This gives me great comfort at the end of the day. For Love, I have assorted animals that I am quite fond of. I never mistreat an animal in my life, because I know by their nature that they will if they are given the opportunity, eat me up.



On the other hand, people reason themselves for survival and therefore rarely strike back in a consistent method. If you consistently push and push a crowd or a group, they will eventually fight back. The thing is the fact that they are so frustrated and so full of false pride, they will do something quite futile, like using a useless weapon of some sort. Once they are doing that, then I can bring the army in and crush them. Not enough to destroy them, but sufficient for them to experience the power of my will.



I allow elections and a governing body into my reign of 'pleasures. 'However, I make sure that they are either voting for Heckle or Jeckle. The best policy is to ensure that each party fears the other. Therefore a voter will vote out of fear for the other person, and they will never vote for what they desire. In a democracy, even a fake one like ours, people tend to vote in a negative fashion. They fear the other politician because so-of-so, but the fact is both parties are the same thing. Which again, by the end of the day, is intended to support yours truly. All I can say is let them hate (me) so as long as they fear (me). Whatever becomes of me, it will just be my body gone, therefore, and for all purposes, I live. - Tosh Berman.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Tosh's Journal: August 30



TOSH'S JOURNAL

August 30

All artists aim at creating their world. What makes them a good artist is their ability to be pleased with their vision when it now comes to life. I have consistently been intrigued by Victor Frankenstein because he had an idea, and he failed. Decay is a fascinating subject in itself. I often buy fruit, such as a banana, not to eat, but to see it die. Although technically fruits are dead when they arrive in your kitchen or at the market, but to me to see it in such a beautiful shape and then, over a short period, turn ugly, and ripe with goo, which is almost like blood, and it's a fascinating process for me. Frankenstein appears to be not that much into life, but more of watching the decay in action, and having that figure (his monster) commenting on the decline of life.

One of Doctor Frankenstein's significant influences was Paracelsus, who lived in Swiss Germany from 1493 to 1541. An occultist, but one who didn't study from manuscripts, but from nature and life in front of him. He gave zinc its name and also discovered that some diseases are rooted in psychological illness. With that inspiration, Frankenstein collected body parts from various graveyards to see if he can bring dead tissue back to life. He eventually succeeds, but alas, his sense of the aesthetic and design was terrible. The "creature" turned out ugly. Very ugly.

Seeing his invention come to life, and not to his liking, he flees the creature. In a real sense, he's the father who leaves the child, but even worse, he doesn't provide for the creation that he created. Alone, Frankenstein's "monster" demands that he makes him a mate, a female that he can be with. He does, but the "good" doctor destroys his creation, realizing that he started a new race. With that in mind, his monster swears that he will kill him and anyone he comes in contact with. So what we are confronted with is revenge, stupidity, and passion for creating something that wasn't there before.

I'm often jealous that I have never created a character (besides myself) that either makes their world or at the very least, have some importance to the world out there. I never loved Robert Crumb.  I have consistently admired the fact that he presented a landscape that is so full of his characters and even has a soundtrack attached to those images. Eros becomes one's world if they focus and concentrate on making that world. I don't accept a lot of his imagery, but that is perfectly fine because one can enter or leave the entrance to one's desire. There is always an exit, but unlike Victor Frankenstein, he didn't make a proper exit for his invention.

The role of the dandy is to re-make the world into their vision. This is sometimes not a workable solution; nevertheless, an adventure does come out of the process. The art of it is to embrace your creativity and feed and entwine oneself around it no matter what the cost is. For inspiration, I look upon Joan Blondell in "Gold Diggers of 1933. A citizen of the depression, she makes efforts to embrace a new career in illusion, which is the essence of show business - to create a world that doesn't exist, to exist. Every day, every hour - I work hard to live, and I appreciate the spirit that wants to create, but again, it is the art of living. Some are masters, and some are just failures. But one can learn from both positions.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Tosh's Journal - August 29





Very rarely has my father dealt with his memory of a place or time. He looked at the world as "now," and history I think meant a lot to him, but he was a person who existed for the present. So one would never ask him what it was like being in a recording studio with Charlie Parker. My father is dead, and I'm curious to know these things now, for instance, what did Parker say or do in that recording studio in Glendale, California? To hold that much culture on one's shoulder, one would think someone needs to share that information. Alas, as time marches on, the faces and names get cloudy, but surely Charlie Parker is important enough to share that tib-bit of details regarding what it was like to be in a room with Charlie Parker.



It comes as no surprise that I feel like Pinkie in Graham Greene's novel "Brighton Rock, which was also an excellent film starring Richard Attenborough. I'm so full of anger that I take out - anything, anyone, anywhere. I want to destroy so I can be devastated. My existence is so full of holes, that if you drew it on paper, you would need to have a mouse sticking his head through one of the cheese holes. Because that is what my life is like, Swiss cheese.



Then again, I should relax a bit more. One thing that is important to live is to laugh. I sometimes forget how significant it is to be able to walk into a movie theater, hopefully, a comedy, and just putting your angst aside and laugh what's on the big screen in front of you. What's in back of you can wait till the film is over. The thing is, I project Pinkie's face over everyone in the movie. I laugh, but it is like swallowing air, and it makes me sick to my stomach. I'm searching like a manic that there is some humor, either being said or implied. For all I care they could be showing "Night and Fog," and I would be laughing my head off. I sit in the theater, and I feel my scar on my cheek. I remember when I got into the fight, and he slashed my cheek. It didn't hurt for some reason, and when I went into the bathroom to examine the wound, I was intrigued by the cleanness of the cut. I took my thumb and little finger on my right hand, and open the cut to see if blood would come out. It reminded me of a woman's vagina, as I opened and closed the wound on my face. Thinking about the cut on my cheek in those terms made the pain bearable. It seemed like it didn't happen. I often dream at night that I have a loose front tooth, or an open scar on my body that is bleeding in front of the public, and when I wake-up, I feel that those physical dreams are quite real. It takes me at least five minutes to recognize that I was dreaming and the fact is that I don't have a loose tooth or a scar on my cheek. Yet, I play with my cheek, thinking that I have such an injury.



I wonder at times if I'm here or not. I often felt that I'm in someone else's dream or vision of a life that is not exactly mine. Perhaps Charlie Parker didn't exist, nor did my father. I feel I have seen something, and I can remember the scent of my father's shaving cologne, but as one gets older the senses get duller, and you eventually have a memory of having the experience of smelling such a scent. I imagine Joan of Arc, who heard voices from another world, as she knew the game was up and had to face the bonfire, that she had no choice but to follow the voice that came within, and surely not from another source outside her body. At the very least, I have the physical copy of the album cover that my father did for Dial Records, which is the first time Charlie Parker has appeared on a disk. That's real, and my memories are a movie as if it was directed and written by Preston Sturges.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Tosh's Journal: August 28





Some days I wake up in the morning, and I can't bear the world -mine, their's and yours. I remember seeing there was a commercial on TV many years ago when the adult, in bed, woke up with a smile on his face, due to the smell of fresh coffee being made or a bowl of cereal waiting for him in the kitchen. I never had that type of morning. Instead, I get a wave of anxiety that I have to set aside, or I will never get out of bed. In a way, I live in separate compartments, where one room is total despair, and I have to suck that feeling out of that space and put it aside or put it in another part of my brain. There is something wrong when one wakes up and is in a moment or two of pure panic. What I feel is "knowing is not enough; we must apply. "Willing is not enough; we must do. Generally, I do not give in too much to feelings. An overly sensitive heart is an unhappy possession on this shaky earth."



Every morning I do an inventory of everything I did the previous day poorly — one horrible blunder after another. As a child, I remember we had a statue of a female in our backyard. I would spend a great deal of time touching her face, feeling that somehow I could capture the emotion she's expressing, but also I was drawn to the coldness of the marble. It would give me comfort, and when no one was around, I would embrace the statue and stand there with my arms wrapped around its head. At times, I could have sworn that her marble face would change an expression. Either it was unmoving and non-judgmental, or it could have a faint smile on her lips. "Raising a child is a creative endeavor, an art rather than a science." This is precisely how I was raised, and I grasp anything that will keep me on balance in a world that has pits, holes, and rings of fire at every step.



The Velvet's "White Light White Heat" maybe the most excellent song ever. Every time I put it on my turntable, I can feel the power of the words taking me to another place, but yet, I'm aware that I'm still here, in an area that has no room for me. I like to read fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm because I think they put the reader right in the front of a headlight of an oncoming car, and I think any child would learn to jump away from the blinding light. I tend to embrace the sun, and I think it is one of the reasons why I love the song "White Light White Heat."



I learn lessons from all my mistakes, yet I can't correct anything. I hit the side of my head and go 'Hey dummy,' but that's about it. My life is like holding a bowl of burning flaming liquid on the top of my head.   I'm just trying to avoid all the sinkholes on the ground. I want to contain everything I have and not spill it out on the pavement in front of me. But most of all, I want to rock. And. Roll.