Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Death of Hilly Kristal

Like the late and great Tony Wilson of Factory Records fame, Hilly Kristal is important to New York City culture. He had a club in the Bowery. It was called CBGB. So super essential that it is not even funny. Tom Verlaine walked by and thought, "Hmm, this would be a great place for my band Television to play in. Patti Smith did the same. And there fore one had Television, Patti Smith Group, The Ramones, Blondie, Suicide, DNA, Talking Heads, The Heartbreakers, Richard Hell and countless others. So in other (if I may use that word again) Kristal had the brilliant idea to say "yeah" to Verlaine.

In the late 70's I went to New York for my late father's show at the Whitney. There was a party afterwards and I convince everyone to go to CBGB's to see Richard Hell. So the whole party in various cabs went to the Bowery to see Hell in a club that was the Mecca for a music lover like me.

I walked in with the party and the first person I saw there was David Johansen of the New York Dolls in deep discussion with John Lydon (Johnny Rotten). Richard Hell came on and I went 'blank.' He played "Blank Generation.' It was a perfect moment because the guy, who was an art critic for Artforum, I came in with was some leather queen who wanted someone to piss on him. My Mom said to me that Johnny Rotten was cute (she was there) and I think Dean Stockwell (forgive me Dean if my memory is wrong or failed me) passed out on the floor. And I thought 'Damn this is CBGB and this is the center of the universe. This is New York City.

I went back again to see DNA at CBGB's - and to this day I can't remember if it was on the same trip or not. But for sure I know this wasn’t the New York I visited some years ago.

So Hilly thank you for the memories. In your own way, you are also a lost boy.

Jon Savages's "Lost Boys"

Jon Savage in today's Guardian wrote a nice little piece on "The Lost Boys." They are

Brian Epstein

Joe Meek

Joe Orton

All three died in 1967.

Read the article here:,,2158800,00.html

Friday, August 17, 2007

Wallace Berman Film Event at the Billy Wilder Theater on August 25, 2007

About a year ago I found some film footage underneath my studio table
– and alas it was a great find! I sent the footage to The Anthology
Film Archives in New York – and presto! What we have is "Artifactual:
Films from the Wallace Berman Collection."

U.C.L.A. Film & Television Archive will be screening "Artifactual" as
well as my Dad's film masterpiece "Aleph" on Saturday August 25th at
the Billy Wilder Theater in the Hammer Museum in Westwood Los Angeles.
The screening is set for 7:30 PM

The address is:

10899 Wilshire Blvd
at Westwood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90024

Yours truly (Tosh Berman) will give an introduction to the films as
well as a little bit of Q&A with the audience. Also Book Soup has
arranged to have "Wallace Berman Photographs" (Edited by Kristine
McKenna and Lorraine Wild) and "Semina Culture: Wallace Berman and His
Circle" (Edited by Kristine McKenna and Michael Duncan) on sale at the
lobby of the Billy Wilder Theater before, during and after the

For further information regarding the screening and purchasing tickets
online check out

Also I will have detailed information about "Artifactual" on my blog
website shortly. The address there is:

Down below is a brief description of the other films at the screening.

Saturday August 25 2007, 7:30PM


This program of films from both New York and Los Angeles will include
such landmarks as Saul Levine's New Left Note (1968-82) and Paul
Sharits' T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G. The evening will be anchored by the work of
Wallace Berman, including screenings of Aleph (1956-66) and
Artifactual: Films from the Wallace Berman Collection.

In person: Tosh Berman

16mm, 35mm, 100 min.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Tony Wilson

I went to bed feeling edgy and I woke up this morning by reading about the death of Factory Records Visionary Tony Wilson. By heart attack. Maybe due to the cancer of his kidney. Morrissey for sure put the M in Manchester, but really the honor should go to Tony Wilson. A man who believed in his city so much that he started his own music scene, club scene and I guess a graphic arts sense of his world as well.

When I worked in a record store in the early 80's I worked with a gentleman named Jim, who was the biggest music geek freak ever. He collected records. To be more specific he collected releases from Factory Records as they were being released. Before the Internet one had to depend on import music shops or mail order. Sometimes both systems were kind of 'faulty.'

Wilson developed a system where each release had a specific number for a particular Factory Records product. Jim had to have each numbered Factory product. The records themselves were hard enough, but when Wilson started attaching a number to an "egg beater" I think it forced Jim to become an art collector of sorts. I think he bought an eggbeater from the local market and then presented it as part of his Factory Records collection. So in a way about way, Wilson introduced my manager at the store the structures of objects and how they become art. Marcel Duchamp became a useful reference for rock n' roll.

Being 19 or 22, how can one not love Joy Division. Impossible not to love them. They had a spiritual far right aspect to their look, and they sang about despair, death, and broken romances - for sure my type of band. A Certain Ratio was my favorite other Factory Records band as well. Although Tony Wilson didn't write a note of music, nor took the haunting photos of the bands he promoted via his label, nor designed any of the expensive record covers - he was in all sense Factory Records.

He saw the big picture where others couldn't see it. And he made it happen. Like the other great rock n' roll managers - for instance Andrew Loog Oldham, Simon Napier-Bell, Kit Lambert, and in an odd way Joe Meek. They all had a vision and knew it when they saw or heard it. That's a fantastic talent.

I saw and met Tony Wilson a couple of times. He came by to my work whenever he was in Los Angeles. I remembered he spotted a special issue of Mojo magazine on the stand focusing on Manchester. He got into a little rage when they put a giant photo of Morrissey on the cover and on the corner there was a little image of Joy Division's late singer Ian Curtis. After all those years he felt a strong loyalty to Ian and other members of his label.

Oh, and his business sense was sort of radical. Basically it was a 50/50 agreement between band and Wilson. There were no contracts. The band could leave any time they wanted with the master tapes. For reference read Wilson's '24 Hour Party" People or see the hysterical film.

When I started publishing I thought of myself in the same league with the great publishers of the past & present: Grove, New Directions, Olympia, Exact Change, City Lights. But at the same time I was thinking of the great record labels: Motown, Stax, early Reprise, Rough Trade, Immediate, Track, and of course Factory. So yeah, when I started my press, Tony Wilson was very much on my mind.

Now there is one less soldier against the battle....

Friday, August 3, 2007


For those who are interested please check out the latest (August) issue of “The Believer” where they have a seven page article on the one and only Boris Vian.

For a taste check out:

Also for those who missed the New Yorker article on Vian, it’s here at: