Tuesday, October 30, 2012

TamTam Books' Cinema: "If...." by Lindsay Anderson

If.... by Lindsay Anderson and starring Malcolm McDowell.   I think I was 14 years old and hated my Junior High School with a great passion.   And then I saw this film, and it changed everything for me.  Now YouTube has it and its the full length film.   Watch it and love it!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Wallace Berman's cover for Be-Bop Jazz Volume Two

Sadly I missed out in obtaining the above image.  Its a 78 rpm release of a recording with Charlie Parker - the first time I believe he as appeared on record.   The other "first" is that the cover was drawn by Wallace Berman, my Dad, when he was a teenager.   Very rare, in fact the package here photographed didn't have the disks inside.  Nevertheless it would have been great to have this, but at the same time I have no regrets.  The memory of something (even if its true or false) is more important than the object.   But i have to say I am rather proud that my Dad is both on the cover of Sgt. Pepper as well as being involved in Parker's first recording for a label.   That's pretty great.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

"Two Hands, One Mouth" Sparks' European Tour

Aural and visual snapshots of Sparks' current European tour.   Their essence is basically genius and its hard to define in a mere sentence.  Truly if anyone doesn't like Sparks, I really don't want to know them.  It's that simple.

Les Charlots singing Boris Vian

Friday, October 26, 2012

"Waging Heavy Peace" by Neil Young

A very interesting book by Neil Young.   For one it is not really a memoir of sorts, but more of an open-ended series of short essays on the nature of getting old, some music, hardcore car culture, and an obsession with the sound quality of digital recordings and the nature of how music has been affected by technology.  All of it is interesting to me, because he's .... Neil Young.

He repeats himself a tad much (the book could use some extra editing in this regard) but still, its nice to get inside his head and this is what the book is really about.  And what concerns Young is the writing of the book itself - in many ways it reads like a private journal to himself, and he is sort of in a wonder how he can write a book.  He is also doing this sober, which is totally new to him.   He writes about not writing a song for a year due to what he thinks is the lack of drinking and smoking pot.  But he's totally open to new possibilities, and one feels that this book is just another avenue for him to dwell in.
The various health issues that run through his life and his family's is quietly depressing to me.  This is very much a book by a 65 year-old man.   in many ways he's inventorying what's important in his life and he looks back not as a nostalgic trip, but more to see how things could have been different or  changed if possible.

Also a large part of the book really goes into his obsession with car collecting – and he has a strong aesthetic with respect to a certain type of American cars from the 60's and 50's.  Young, is without a doubt, is an otaku.  Meaning that he collects things that are important to him, and can obsessively discuss or write on that subject forever.  For him, each car has a certain narrative or history, and it sounds like if he does another book, that will be the subject matter.  He also collects toy trains and he has a firm understanding of its history that is impressive.

I am not a fan of Neil's music, I like some of it, but it doesn't move me the way it moves other people.  But still ,what I find interesting is his love of the sound of a guitar or amp.  His writing style is very simple, but he waxes poetry when discussing sound in a certain type of environment.  The beauty of the hum of an electric guitar or the sounds the amps make when turned on but not in use.  All of this is important to Young's aesthetic and how he makes his music.  Without a doubt he loathes the sound of CD's as well as the MP3.  It seems he has invented a new version of the MP3, where the sound is recording studio quality.  And this book is almost an info-commercial with respect to his company that he started for the purpose of making a better sound quality.

“Waging Heavy Peace” is not a major memoir by any means.  But it is an interesting piece of work by an artist who is still thinking things out.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

"The Lemoine Affair" by Marcel Proust

I came upon this book by accident because I was interested in reading about the con-artist Henri Lemoine, who swindled the diamond company De Beers as well as the author of this book, Marcel Proust.  You think this would be either a work of a journalist (Proust) commenting on the crime, or a sort of a true-crime narrative, but this is ...without a doubt Marcel Proust.

What we have here is Lemoine as a subject matter, but Proust choses to riff on the idea of this con-artist as literature written by Flaubert, Galzac, and Saint-Simon.  So its a parody, but also a lit-crit book on the side.  In other words it is very much of an eccentric little book by the master.   Without a doubt a must for the Proust fanatic, and after all, this is the first English translation of this small, but interesting work of literature. 

"A Cup Of Water Is No Sake" by Tosh Berman

I am lost. The first taste of sake is like the last. Always good. Looking into the clear liquid one would think it was water, but alas, its poetry in liquid. A taste of life that's life being taken on another level. This piece of music is the soundtrack to that feeling.  click on the link down below

A Cup Of Water Is No Sake

"The Mad Dancers of That World"

In Vienna, a place I never been to, but read about, and this I imagine is the theme song to the city.  Overly dramatic, overly romantic, overly sexual, ... overly nice.   I put this piece together with those thoughts in my head.  Probably on the thin line between chaos and order - but more likely, and knowing me, chaos.  Play the link down below.

The Mad Dancers of That World

Thursday, October 18, 2012

"Roppongi Hell" by Tosh Berman

Roppongi Hell

A piece of music for Roppongi by yours truly.

"Sayonara Tokyo" by Tosh Berman

Sayonara Tokyo

A piece of music I put together in Tokyo.  It was inspired by my many walks in the Ginza area of Tokyo.  The neon lights in this particular district has a strong late 1950's or very early 1960's feel for me.  Each area of Tokyo has its own separate identity, which makes this city very unique.  I tried to capture the characteristics of Tokyo in a series of music pieces.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"ANTIEPITHALAMIA & Other Poems of Regret and Resentment" by John Tottenham

Marriage is not a splendid form of love for poet John Tottenham. It is sort of a combination of hell and a bad night out. Or maybe the one and the other are the same. Nevertheless "Antiepithalamia" is a collection of bite sized poems that gives the reader a very humorous ride into the outskirts of an imagined state of mind where the need is too much of a bother. The flip side of Pablo Neruda's love poetry, Tottenham serves as the dark prince or adviser to those who find the taste of love... a slight disappointment. That feeling is well documented and well-said through Tottenham's skill with the right turn of a phrase.

Reading this beautifully designed book (like all the other editions by the publisher Penny-Ante) is sort of like the Bonnie & Clyde of paper meets poet. The book is beautiful to hold and look at, but it contains the poison of its poetry - and its the poison that adds the aftertaste of romantic failure done in a very seductive heady manner. Once can say "Antihistamine" is an anti-valentine classic, but I see it as the essential book for that holiday and times. The Baudelaire of Los Angeles tasting the bitter yet desirable fruit that is past its prime - yet the aspects of love is hanging on a desired tree. it is how one eats the fruit, that is the art of it all.

"A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of The Smiths" by Tony Fletcher

Over the years i have heard or read all the tales in this book, via mostly British music magazines - but the author Tony Fletcher tells the tale very well. Fletcher interviewed Johnny Marr and their bass player Andy Rourke, but sadly not Morrissey or Mike Joyce. Perhaps they didn't want to dwell in the past again, or maybe due to legal issues still on the table.

Nevertheless The Smiths were a perfect band at a very specific and important time in pop music history. in the land of the 'New Romantics," The Smiths were truly romantic about their upbringing and their home town of Manchester. But not only that, Morrissey via his lyrics and visual sense, captured all the great aspects of 1950's and 1960's British culture. Listening to The Smiths and purchasing and studying the album graphics, one can get an incredible education on artists, books, and film culture from that era.

Also The Smiths are probably the last band that actually had the work load of some band from the 60's. Their existence was very short (little bit over four years) yet they produced four studio albums, one live albums, and many many b-sides and singles. Being a Smiths fan at the time of their existence was a lot of fun - a lot of trips to the record store. Remarkable music, incredible personalities (and Morrissey to this day is a fantastic pop music figure) and this book exposes or conveys the inner-relationships of this band. It could be a tale of any band really, because it is always a family type relationship. It goes sour, because that is the nature of the human beast. Some bands go through drummers like a leaky pipe, but The Smiths seemed to use and lose managers on a regular basis. On one level it was their downfall - career wise, but then there is a special brilliance about this band that didn't use logic. Morrissey is the genius of the moment, and i think for a long time, Marr understood and appreciated that. What's kind of surprising to me is the after-life of Johnny Marr. It seems like he does everything except to be a permanent member of a band. One would think he would start over with another singer or songwriter partner - but he seems to be drifting. But that maybe over due to his future solo album and tour.

For me the best book on Morrissey/Smiths is "Mozipedia" by Simon Goddard, but this is an essential read for the fans, and again, Fletcher is a good skilled journalist, and I think The Smiths breaking up was a good move in the long run. I know there are people who will disagree with me, but I actually like the Solo Morrissey better then The Smiths! And I love The Smiths. Go figure! The book will be out this December in the U.S. and its published by Random House.

Fascinating documentary from The South Bank Show on The Smiths down below from the late 80s.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sympony 1 in Some Minor by Tosh Berman

Sympony 1 in Some Minor

My first classical piece. At the time I didn't think of it, but now it reminds me of Jack Smith's work. It's not a symphony but surely a sympony!

Friday, October 12, 2012

"Artaud Page Having a Troublesome Dinner By Himself" by Tosh Berman

Artaud Page Having a Troublesome Dinner By Himself

combination of Antonin Artaud, the great poet & actor and Jimmy Page.   I imagine them having a quiet  dinner together in some French Chateau, and this music comes out of that meeting.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Here She Comes" by Tosh Berman

Here She Comes

"Here She Comes" is a romantic thought that may or may not happen. The image i get is someone at the make-up counter at a large department store - and you're waiting for her to show up - which again may not happen. It is sort of a Proust moment of thinking of that moment and how that moment plays itself out.

- Tosh Berman

Sunday, October 7, 2012

"Venus Bound" by John De St. Jorre

This is the book that made me said 'yes' to start my own publishing. Here is the story of Maurice Girodias and his press Olympia. He took a lot of authors out to cocktail lunches, lost a lot of money, always dressed well, had a love for both pornography and high art - really, a man I can truly admire. Maurice Girodias is my patron saint.  And my ruin as well of course.

Photo by Gilles Larrain

Friday, October 5, 2012

"Doing Time" by Kazuichi Hanawa

"Doing Time" by Kazuichi Hanawa is truly an unique and amazing document of life in a Japanese prison.   First of all there is hardly any narrative, but just the daily activity of a prisoner in his cell with the others, but beyond that it goes into almost fetish like detail about the food served in prison.  Which according to Hanawa is not bad, not bad at all!

There is also architectural design of the cells as well as a detailed account in what is in each cell.  How many towels a prisoner can keep, or how many books as well as observations on toilet practices and when and how one can take a bath.  Prison clothes is also shown in great detail, and how one folds their bed, shirts, pants and so forth.

In a way I am sort of reminded of a Robert Bresson film where you are seeing factual actions as they start their day to their bed time.  There is nothing harsh about this prison, in fact it looks nice in many ways.  But still one gets the impression of being locked up with others - and dealing with the issue of space, work and eating together.   Also there are flights of fantasy or surrealism, but it fits perfectly with the theme of the graphic novel, or more rightly this memoir.

Hanawa, the author and artist, was arrested for carrying and owning an illegal weapon - a gun.  Without a doubt the NRA would be tearing their hair out of their head's if they read this - but Hanawa doesn't make any bones or any thought of un-justice - life is what it is.  Without a doubt I feel this book is very much a masterpiece.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

TamTam Books tribute to Brigitte Fontaine

Brigitte Fontaine, who is now an ageless 73, is a remarkable singer, songwriter, jazz artist, figure in the electronica movement, as well as a novelist, poet, and playwright.   To me she's a combination of performance artist, art-song-pop singer, and genius.  She has worked with Sonic Youth, Stereolab, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Grace Jones, Jacques Higelin and the great arranger and songwriter Jean-Claude Vannnier.  Here are some of her highlights.  Oh, and she started off doing songs by Boris Vian!

with Jean-Claude Vannier arranging