Friday, August 31, 2012

Black Scat Books Window Display

"To Hell With The Ugly" by Boris Vian sharing space with other great titles
Read more about Black Scat Books and their adventures at
And I am very happy that they have my Vian title on display at their window.

Monday, August 27, 2012

TamTam Books Tribute to Johnnie Ray

The second song he sings here  is "Soliloquy Of a Fool" which is my all-time favorite Johnnie Ray recording.  Great version here, and to my ears, the orchestration is almost from another part of the world. 

His ability to match up emotion with the weather is simply amazing to me.  And you can clearly see his hearing aid in his right ear.

Great song

Again the mixture of nature and high emotional state.

Friday, August 24, 2012

TamTam Books' Tribute to Andre Hodeir

Andre Hodeir is very much a mysterious figure to me - because its difficult to find his work and I suspect that he may be obscure in his native country France.  But saying that, Hodeir is a Jazz composer/arranger and a jazz theorist.  He has written numerous books like down below

"Andre Hodeir Jazz Reader" is still in print as far as I know and its a great collection of his writings on Jazz.   As for his other books I usually find them in very literate used bookstores in various parts of the world.  Grove used to issue his books during the 1960's.  

I discovered Hodeir through my obsession on Boris Vian.  He knew Vian, and in 1968 he did the soundtrack to L'écume des jours, which  One of the best music EP's I have ever heard.  A mixture of classical, jazz and early electronics.   It took me forever to find an original copy of the disk

You can hear a touch of the music in this clip from the film:

 But when I did, I totally forgot what I paid for it.  A lot of money (at the time) but like something pleasurable that has pain attached to it - you forget the pain and only the pleasure stays in your mind and ears, in the particular case.    

His album "Jazz et Jazz" is probably his masterpiece.  A collection of uber-cool orchestrated jazz music with the title cut being probably one of the great eccentric recordings of the 50's.   The spirit of Joe Meek is in Andre Hodeir and the spirit is in Meek as well.   Listen to this amazing piece of music:

Jazz et Jazz by Andre Hodeir

Here's rare footage of Andre Hodeir conducting a band featuring Roger Guerin doing "Jordu."

Here are some cuts from the incredible "Kenny Clarke Plays Andre Hodeir

Here is Andre Hodeir with the great Christiane Legrand, Henri Crolla,  "Une Parisienne OST

Some very early Hodeir music:

James Moody with Strings.  Arranged and conducted by Andre Hodeir:

Here are some of his album covers:

Hodeir at work!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Boris Vian album (and one cassette) covers

Cassette: a recording of a reading of L'ecume des jours (Foam of the Daze)

TamTam Books Tribute to Philippe Clay

I know very little about Philippe Clay, except that he was a singer, actor and worked with both Boris Vian and Serge Gainsbourg.  He is also commented in Gilles Verlant's "Gainsbourg."  A very much of a hardcore French showbiz figure.  But an artist with a remarkable face.  Born in 1927 and passed away in 2007.  Oh, and I like his music.  

"J'suis sous"

Philippe lay chante Boris Vian "rue Watt"

"Le danseur de Charleston"

Serge Gainsbourg and Philippe Clay

"a perpete"

Philippe Clay chante Boris Vian "la Complainte du Priapisme

Monday, August 20, 2012

Recent Vinyl Buys

I have been looking for the album for awhile and now have it.  "Jack Good's Oh Boy" was recorded in a TV studio in London on October 19, 1958.  Starring a very young Cliff Richard and the always fantastic John Barry Seven.  With appearances from Vince Eager, The Vernons Girls, and smoothy singer Peter Elliott.  Hardcore British late 1950's culture.  Probably one of the first and of course the earliest example of the Rock n' Roll variety show.  Totally fascinating.  Purchased this album from Rockaway Records in Silverlake.

Here is an example of the original show.  From 1959:  Including the fantastic Billy Fury

Oh Boy Part 1

Oh Boy Part 2

Another episode of Oh Boy (April 4, 1959)

Oh Boy Part 1 April 4, 1959

Oh Boy Part 2 April 4, 1959

Oh Boy Part 3 Aprio 4, 1959 (a great Chris Andrews sequence)

One of my all time favorite singers is Paul Jones. He was the lead singer for Manfred Mann, and starred in the very odd but wonderful film "Privilage."  This is a solo album of his from 1967 or 1968.  Not perfect mind you, but nevertheless a wonderful odd work by Mr. Jones.  I just purchased this album from Mono Records in Echo Park. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Excerpt from Boris Vian, La vie jazz

This is a mere intro to a documentary that I think would be fascinating.  If anyone reading this has seen the documentary, do write to me.  The Director/filmmaker is Philippe Kohly and it came out in 2009.  I think it was made for French TV.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"I Am Sitting in a Room" by Brian Dillon

This morning I was researching writers for future projects, and a fellow writer recommended this writer.    I tracked down this book in the D.A.P. catalog and I was immediately turned on by the idea of this book. I bought the book at Book Soup this afternoon (around 3PM west coast time), and read it on the bus heading towards home. Brian Dillon, an editor for the great journal "Cabnet" has started a project where a writer sits (or stands up) and writes a book within 24 hours i.e. one day.

The first title of this new series is Dillon's "I Am Sitting in a Room."  The author worked in his office at Cabinet Books and from December 10th, 10 A.M to December 11th, 10 A.M wrote and finished this book.

Brian Dillon at his temporary desk at Cabinet writing this book
And I have to say its a really good book.  The big part of the book is about writers and their writing spaces.  I don't know if readers are interested in this subject matter, but for sure writers are. In fact space, time, and place are important for an writer, as well as his/hers writing equipment, desk, and whatever books are on that writing table as well.  

So there is structure set in place and part of the charm of this book is to see what he ate or drank within the 24 hour period as well as a list of his favorite writing spots/places.  The one thing I find odd is that he doesn't seem to be listening to music while writing.   Maybe on his computer?  But he doesn't mention it. 

Nevertheless this is a perfectly charming book and a meditation on the importance of location, but also he treats writing as a fetish, and its quite a seductive world between the writer and the reader.  

Tosh Berman while writing this particular blog on Brian Dillon

Sunday, August 12, 2012

TamTam Books' Tribute to Glenn O'Brien

Its not easy to find men of great taste, but as a teenager I was a huge fan of "Interview" magazine, not really because of Andy Warhol (who's pretty good), but the monthly writings of Glenn O'Brien and his column "Glenn O'Brien's Beat."   I enjoyed his work because his take on music was super interesting to me at the time, and also he was a man who seemed to be well-read and knew culture from the bottom to the top.

Just recently I discovered his cable show from the 1970's "TV Party" which is an incredible snapshot of Manhattan being truly Manhattan.

First episode of Glenn O'Brien's "TV Party" (December 18, 1978)

TV Party "Halloween Show" (October 1979)

Survey of music guests on Glenn O'Brien's "TV Party" (with Blondie, Klaus, etc)

Jean-Michel Basquiat (SAMO) on Glenn O'Brien's "TV Party

O'Brien also wrote about the visual arts, and very recently on fashion.  Again, it is his character that makes his work so appealing to me - and the fact that he's very good on the page.

Glenn O'Brien's interview regarding fashion and his book "How To Be  A Man"

Glenn O'Brien on how to wear a pocket square

Interview with Glenn O'Brien

Here's a book review i did on his collection of essays: "Soapbox."

Soapbox: Essays, Diatribes, Homilies and Screeds 1980-1997Soapbox: Essays, Diatribes, Homilies and Screeds 1980-1997 by Glenn O'Brien

Whenever I see the name "Glenn O'Brien" in a magazine I usually buy that issue. I first discovered him during the highlight years of Andy Warhol's Interview magazine. He always struck me at that time as the perfect Manhattan journalist. He had good music taste, loved the visual arts, and was super urban witty in that classic Algonquin Round Table mode. One would think he would know Dorothy Parker, but alas, different generation and perhaps taste.So what we have here are a collection of essays originally published in Interview and Artforum and other locations. They deal with big issues like gender, art, music, sports, and culture among other subject matters. But the genius of O'Brien is that he makes these subjects personal and he is also peppered the writing with his good nature. Christopher Hitchens without the emotional up and down, just straight forward clear thinking yet a touch odd point of the view look at the world. Also buying this book in the used section at the Strand made it kind of an essential type of purchase in New York City.

Wikipedia on Glenn O'Brien:'Brien

Glenn O'Brien's website and blog (with an incredible interview with Gore Vidal) /

Alain Goraguer's great score for J'IRAI CRACHER SUR VOS TOMBES (I Spit On Your Graves) 1959

Front Cover

Back Cover


Friday, August 10, 2012

"Many Subtle Channels" by Daniel Levin Becker

Superb book that is both the history and the explanation of the great literary group OULIPO. Daniel Levn Becker, the author, actually became an official member of the OULIPO, and it's with great humor and appreciation of these rather 'eccentric' characters that make up this group that are obsessed with word games and how those games turn into literature.

When I first picked up the book I thought it maybe a very dry look or approach to OULIPO, but alas, it is anything but. "Many Subtle Channels" is a personal look into the works of Georges Perec, Raymond Queneau, Harry Mathews, Jacques Roubaud and others. What sounds like party games is actually a deeply involvement with literature and how it works. But done with great humor and wit. An important book on its subject matter, but also a great read.

"Bookworm" with Michael Silverblatt.  Interviewing members of Oulupo.

Oulupo at work

Georges Perec

Raymond Queneau

Jacques Roubaud

Serge Gainsbourg Volume 1 1958-1962

Serge Gainsbourg Volume 1: 1958-1962

My Serge Gainsbourg obsession is not going to die out.  Especially now that I published Gilles Verlant's amazing biography on the man ("Gainsbourg").  Not that long ago I bought this incredible vinyl box set of Serge's early 7 inch 45 rpm EP's.   Mono recordings. Beautiful package.  All with original front covers and back covers and it comes with  a little booklet.  

Ah, but what about the music?  Well for me, the iconic one can't do wrong, but without a doubt my favorite time period - musically speaking - is his work from the 1950's to the early 60's.  I love his jazz foundations for his songs.  Alain Goraguer is sort of my arranger god, and his work with Gainsbourg is amazing.  Like his work with Boris Vian recordings, Goraguer knows how to serve the artist - and its really a beautiful relationship between Gainsbourg and Goraguer.  Reading the Verlant bio, they had an up and down relationship - but overall a good one.  

Serge Gainsbourg Volume 1: 1958-1962