Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Real Copy of RED GRASS by Boris Vian (translated by Paul Knobloch) and designed by Mark Holley

As a publisher I'm so thrilled to be putting out Boris Vian's Science Fiction noir "Red Grass."  Translated by Paul Knobloch.  Introduction by Marc Lepprand.  Book Design by Mark Holley.

I just received an advanced copy from the printers and it is on route to D.A.P./Art Books warehouse and soon to your hands.   More information shortly!

- Tosh Berman, TamTam Books.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Signed Copies of "In The Words Of Sparks... Selected Lyrics" Now at Book Soup and Skylight Books

Ron Mael and Russell Mael (Sparks) have signed copies of their book "In The Words Of Sparks... Selected Lyrics"   For sell and only at:

Book Soup
8818 Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069


Skylight Books
1818 North Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90027
orders@skylightbooks. com

Both stores can do shipping world wide.   First come first serve.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lou Reed Part 2 (the solo Lou)

"Sweet Jane" live in Paris 1974

"Waiting For The Man" Lou Reed & John Cale 1972

Lou Reed full length documentary (American Masters)

Lou Reed "How Do You Think"

Lou Reed "Berlin"  Full Album

October 27, 2013

Lou Reed died this morning.  A major cultural generational shift.  There was a Lou Reed in my life for the past 50 years.  Now that presence is gone, but not really.  The great thing about recorded music is that it sticks to you as long as you have ears, and you have that record machine, or whatever device you want to listen music to - but his death is very sad.  I can’t say tragic, because I think he had a long and rich life.  But it is something to know that I am only 12 years apart from Lou, so yeah, it is really a moment to reflect on one’s ability to stick around or not.  The thing is I think most people thought that Lou Reed could never die.  It doesn’t seem to be part of his DNA.   I guess that is a wrong  thought.  An error on our part.  But man, you can’t beat that guy at his height.  The four Velvets albums (plus the live stuff) and the early solo albums were excellent as well.  Even the stuff I don’t like is never on the hack level.  I just didn’t like it, more about me than him.   But for sure will miss the Lou Reed as of the "now" appearance. 

- Tosh Berman

Lou Reed Part One

Lou Reed "Warhol Screen Test"

The Velvet Underground and Nico Full Vinyl Album

"White Light, White Heat" by The Velvet Underground full album

The Velvet Underground full album

The Velvet Underground "Loaded" full album

"Sunday Morning" by The Velvet Underground

Friday, October 25, 2013

Guy Debord (merci to Daniel Riccuito)

Guy Debord
Truly a great writer.

"Haunted House" by Pierre Reverdy Translated by John Ashbery

Pierre Reverdy
For me it's the perfect book to bring with you in the bathtub.  If you read it slowly, and wait till the water reaches your chin, it is sort of the ideal situation with regards to this book.   "Haunted House" may be the first prose piece or fiction published in English by this great poet Pierre Reverdy.  The poet John Ashbery translated Reverdy's prose into English, which can't be the easiest thing in the world.  Nevertheless this is very much a classic Surrealist text - where the images flow dream-like against the other image.  

In the back of the book the publisher/editor compares this work to Lautréamont's "Chants de Maldoror" which is a fair comparison.  Both books bring up a dread that can't really be described, it is more of a mood piece than anything else.  As a reader you just follow the pathway and let the writing take you to another place.   For those who have a collection of Surrealist text, "Haunted House" is an important part of that textural world.  It is a fave of Andre Breton, so he knows!

The Brooklyn Rail/Black Square Editions (ISBN: 978-1-934029-01-5

Thursday, October 24, 2013

"Americana" by Ray Davies

Sterling ISBN 978-1-4027-7891-9

Ray Davies’ memoir regarding his "affair" with America and its culture is great on so many levels.  The book works on different platforms.  The major theme of this memoir is regarding his life or thoughts on America, which makes it sort of a perfect travel journal.  When I hear the two words together "Ray and Davies" I think of England and Noel Coward.  I think Davies, overall, sees himself as rocker, but the fact he's probably one of the great songwriters that came out of the 20th Century. So yeah of course he rocks, but he is one of the great portrait painters of song.  His "Waterloo Sunset," "Lola, " and others are classic samples of setting character with a melody.  On top of that he is one of the great entertainers, in the tradition of British music hall of the 19th and 20th Century. 

The beauty of this book is the character Ray Davies, who is not only super British, but a very troublesome soul as well.  He wears doubt and depression as one would wear a winter coat during a blizzard.  It is almost second-nature to him, and I think he uses that aspect of his personality for the songs he writes.  To be honest I am not a huge fan of his music done after the late '70's, and still, this book takes place mostly during the Kinks successful years in America.  Which at that time, they became boring to me, music wise - but in the '60's and '70's he couldn't have been better.  On a genius level his songwriting was great - and now, as a prose memoir writer, his genius comes out again.

if there is another character that comes out of this book besides Ray, it is the city of New Orleans.  Ironically enough my other favorite book on this city is by Mod-great Nic Cohn, whose memoir 'Triksta"  is a horror show of a ride.  Both books, written by Englishmen of a similar age, and from the same culture, wrote incredibly and heartbreaking narratives dealing with both the beauty and nightmare aspect of the city.  For Ray, he chose to live in New Orleans, and eventually got shot in the leg during a robbery.  

This of course becomes a huge turning point in his life, and in a way it is about the cultural differences between the British character and the New Orleans citizen.  Ray obviously loves the city and its music culture, but is of course is shocked by the violence of that culture.  Him being a victim, is both heartbreaking and profound.  in a way Davies goes from one crisis to another, but when he pauses a bit, to reflect, its a win-win situation for the reader.

All the usual suspects are in the book, his brother Dave and the rest of the Kinks, but they're sort of side-players in this narrative.  There is more of a focus on people like Bill Graham, his road managers, and dealing with life on the road while touring America.  As a narrative it is not A going to B going to C, but more of a reflection on the people he met in America and how they affected him, both as an artist and on a personal level.   One of the legendary characters that comes out through this book, but almost Phantom like, is the great Alex Chilton.   Clearly Davies thinks of him and his work fondly, and it is a nice surprise to know that he knew and also thought of him as a fellow artist.  Alex of course is part of the New Orleans narrative.

If one had to compare this book to another music memoir it would be Pete Townshend's recent autobiography, due that both are good writers and observers - but I think Ray Davies' is actually more profound, because he has such a strong everyday human element not only for his songs, but I think in life as well.

"The Plum In Mr. Blum's Pudding" Poems By Tosh Berman

Front Cover

Back Cover

Monday, October 21, 2013

"I Spit On Your Graves" by Boris Vian (Vernon Sullivan)

Original French English Translated Edition of "I Spit On Your Graves"

The strange and weird narrative of the Vernon Sullivan novel J'irai cracher sur vos tombes (I Spit On Your Graves) is at times more interesting than the novel itself, which... is still pretty interesting. 

 I Spit on Your Graves
by Boris Vian (1920-1959)
ISBN 0-9662346-0-X
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 97-80958 $17
Translated from the French by Boris Vian and Milton Rosenthal

Boris Vian was a novelist, jazz musician, jazz critic, poet, playwright, a friend of Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Raymond Queneau, Jean Cocteau, Louis Malle, Jean Paul Sartre, and numerous others of forties and fifties Parisian cultural society. He was also a French translator of American hard-boiled crime novels. One of his discoveries was an African-American writer by the name of Vernon Sullivan. Vian translated Sullivan's I Spit on Your Graves. The book is about a 'white Negro' who acts out an act of revenge against a small Southern town, in repayment for the death of his brother, who was lynched by an all white mob. Upon its release, I Spit on Your Graves became a bestseller in France, as well as a instruction manual for a copycat killer whose copy of I Spit on Your Graves was found by the murdered body of a prostitute with certain violent passages underlined. A censorship trail also came up where Sullivan as the author was held responsible for the material. It was later disclosed that Vian himself wrote the book and made up the identity of Vernon Sullivan!

This edition is a translation by Vian and an American GI buddy of his, that was never published in America. I Spit on Your Graves is an extremely violent sexy hard-boiled novel about racial and class prejudice, revenge, justice, and is itself a literary oddity due to the fact that it was written by a jazz-loving white Frenchman, who had never been to America.

Basically what i did for the TamTam edition was to keep Vian and Rosenthal's translation in tact.  I didn't clear it up due that I didn't want to change Vian's original translation of his own novel, even though there is 'odd' or awkward translated phrases within the book.  But it does capture a slightly and darkly surreal view of America and its language perceived by Vian at the time. 

When Vian was put on trial for the Sullivan book he was told by the court to produce the original English manuscript.  Vian said of course.  It was on a Friday, so over the weekend him and Rosenthal quickly translated the book into English - which of course there was no original English edition of the novel.   If you noticed the original "translated" edition is titled "I Shall Spit On Your Graves" and I changed it to the more American(ized) "i Spit On Your Graves."  Due to the nature of the subject matter and location, I felt the "Shall" should be removed from the title.
TamTam Books edition
The first printing of this novel is here and one can order it at your local bookstore or purchase it at your favorite on-line store.  

Jane & Serge. A Family Album. TASCHEN Books

It seems the world of Serge Gainsbourg is making a huge dent on the American and English speaking world at the moment.  There's TamTam Books' great biography "Gainabourg" by Gilles Verlant, the 33 1/3's wonderful book on Melody Nelson (read review down below) and now Taschen is putting out what I hope will be a great photo book.  Andrew Birkin, Jane's brother, took the images, so this promises to be something desired by us Serge fans.  Down below is text from the Taschen website, plus a link:

The highly public love affair of French singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg and British actress Jane Birkin captured the hearts and imaginations of a generation. The moment Jane and Serge met on a movie set in 1968, sparks flew. They would spend the next 12 years together, a passionate union that produced the controversial duet "Je t’aime... moi non plus" (whose explicit lyrics and orgasmic moans caused so much fuss that the Vatican declared it offensive) and, in 1971, the legendary album Melody Nelson as well as a daughter, Charlotte, who has become a successful actress in her own right. From the earliest days of Jane and Serge's romance until their split in 1980, Jane’s brother Andrew Birkin was a frequent presence in their lives; an avid photographer, he snapped thousands of candid family photos during those years. Birkin’s pictures—very few of which have ever been published—offer a rare view of daily life for the couple, bringing us back to a place and time we have long idolized. Though more than 30 years have passed since the two parted ways, and over two decades since Serge parted from this world, the passion for Jane and Serge has endured. This treasure trove is sure to fan the flames of its undying embers

Designed by M/M (Paris), the photo album comes in a clear plastic cover with the following goodies tucked inside:
  • Text booklet featuring an introduction by Jane Birkin and Andrew Birkin’s memoir of Jane and Serge, illustrated by Birkin family childhood photos
  • Softcover contact sheet booklet
  • Fold-out poster
  • 5 photo prints
  • Sticker sheet
  • Embroidered patch
The photographer:
Andrew Birkin is a writer and film director. He won the Royal Television Society's award for "The Lost Boys," his trilogy of films based on his biography of J. M. Barrie. Later he won a BAFTA award for "Sredni Vashtar" as well as an Oscar nomination, and in 1993 won the Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlin Film Festival for "The Cement Garden."

The editor:
Alison Castle received a BA in philosophy from Columbia University and an MA in photography and film from New York University (NYU/International Center of Photography masters program). She is the editor of titles on photography, film, and design, including Some Like it Hot, The Stanley Kubrick Archives, Linda McCartney: Life in Photographs, and Marc Newson: Works.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

33 1/3 "Histoire de Melody Nelson" by Darran Anderson

Darran Anderson's little study on one of the great albums that came out of Europe, "Histoire de Melody Nelson" is a superb study on Serge Gainsbourg and his masterpiece.   First of all I am touched that both titles ("Gainsbourg" by Gilles Verlant & Serge Gainsbourg's short novel "Evguenie Sokolov) that i published are in the bibliography.  So with the music and the books he's coming from a good place!

Anderson's book is very brief, but there's no wasted words.  He has a deep understanding of Gainsbourg's work, and not only does he talk about the Melody Nelson album, but it is also a brief biography on the great artist.   As in the Verlant biography, it is moving as well as terrifying to read about Gainsbourg's childhood running away from the Nazis.  Over time I have read tales dealing with the Occupation, but the Gainsbourg narration is one that really makes me emotionally aware how horrible those times were.  Almost unthinkable, yet it is these surroundings that probably inspired the greatness in Gainsbourg's songs and his very own iconic stance against authority.  

The book also captures the flavor of Gainsbourg's love for literature and how that inspired him as well.  Baudelaire, Jarry, Rimbaud, and the lasting influence of Boris Vian played a big role in how Gainsbourg looked at life and art.   Anderson is a wonderful writer, and his smart, intelligent take on Gainsbourg is right on the button.    Essential read for anyone who even has the slightest interest in the world of Serge, but also insightful in how bad things (occupation) can charge a shy figure into a warrior of sorts.   This book along with Gilles Verlant (The granddad of Serge bios), Sylvie Simmons' English bio and Gainsbourg's "Evguenie Sokolov"  we now have a great representation of the world of Gainsbourg in print.  

SUN OF A BEACH + Performance Lun*na Menoh Headshirt

A video/footage put together by French curator/artist Denis Brun on the exhibition he put together in his studio in Marseille called  "Sun Of A Beach."  The artists in the exhibition:

Kisito Assangni (Londres)
Laurette Atrux-Tallau (Bruxelles)
Vassili Balatsos (Athènes)
Loïc Beillet le Béhérec (Marseille)
Nathalie Bujold (Montréal)
Victor Cartagena (San Francisco)
Marc Chevalier (Nice)
Daniel Clapp (Miami)
Ghislaine Dantan (Athènes)
Charles Gouvernet (Marseille)
Caroline Hanny (Marseille)
Jay Reto (Los Angeles)
Julien Levy (Marseille)
Patrick Lombe (Marseille)
Rolly Love Hate Love (Yogyakarta)
Lun*na Mennoh (Los Angeles)
Mourad Messoubeur (Marseille)
Ingrid Mourreau-Kelleman (New-York)
Thomas Negrevergne (Monaco)
Stephen Paul (New-York / Fréjus)
Didier Petit (Marseille)
Philippe Turc (Marseille)
Agnes Roux (Monaco)
Thierry Rouyer (Fréjus)
Sylvain Sorgato (Paris)
Gauthier Tassart (Paris)
Fred Vaësen (Paris)
Thomas Zoritchak (Paris)

The last three or four minutes of the video is a performance with Lun*na Menoh's mask.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tosh Talks Boris Vian "Foam Of The Daze" (L'écume des jours)

Boris Vian, as you know is a great passion in my life.  Here's my latest little chit-chat from Tosh Talks regarding Boris Vian's great novel "Foam Of The Daze" (L'´ecume des jours).  Published by my press TamTam Books.  Translated by Brian Harper.

"Ron Mael is the closest thing to Chaucer the pop world will ever know" - Morrissey

ISBN: 978-0141394817 Penguin Classic
I haven't read one word of his memoir (getting my copy later this month) , except what Morrissey wrote about regarding Ron Mael of Sparks.  To quote:

"Ron Mael is the closest thing to Chaucer the pop world will ever know"

Also keep in mind that Morrissey wrote a beautiful and brilliant introduction to "In The Words Of Sparks... Selected Lyrics."   

"In The Words Of Sparks.... Selected Lyrics" is available on all online shops as well as your favorite independent book shop down the street/read from you.  

ISBN 978-0985272401 TamTam Books

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Genius of The Honeycombs

I never fell out of love for The Honeycombs.

Raymond Queneau's "Hitting The Streets" (Translated by Rachel Galvin)

Carcanet Press ISBN: 9781847771575

The combination of poet and city is a hard one to find fault.  i never admired the poet who writes about 'nature,' but give me a poet who writes about buildings, streets, concrete, and the waterway around the city, and I am there for them.   Especially if that city is Paris and the poet is Raymond Queneau, the overall essential literary figure of the 20th Century.

"Hitting The Streets" is a proper title for this collection of poems regarding the theme of human and city.  And when the city is Paris, it becomes even more interesting.  Perhaps because it is an iconic location, but in truth a good poet can write about their city block - any city block  - and make it interesting.  So perhaps it's not the city itself but Raymond Queneau.

He is such a giant talent, and what I love about his work is his playfulness.  In theory he must be hell to translate to another language, but Rachel Galvin the translator did a good job.  The book is bilingual so for those who want to read the work in its original language (French) can do so.  I can't read French, but still, I can read it for the music of it, and the sounds.   For the Zazie fans out there I think this book is a must for your collection.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

"In The Words Of Sparks... Selected Lyrics by Ron Mael & Russell Mael Introduction by Morrissey

ISBN 9780985272401

Sparks--the long-running duo of Ron and Russell Mael--are among the most respected songwriters of their generation, their songs ranking alongside those of Ray Davies (The Kinks having been a formative influence), George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Stephen Sondheim. Formed in Los Angeles in 1971, Sparks have issued over 20 albums and scored chart hits with songs such as “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us,” “Cool Places” and “Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth.” While their musical style has changed dramatically over the course of 40 years--embracing the British Invasion sound of the 60s, glam rock, disco (they teamed up with Giorgio Moroder for 1979’s “No. 1 in Heaven”) and even techno--their work has consistently stretched the boundaries of pop music and the song form. Sparks continue to break new ground: they are currently working on a project with filmmaker Guy Maddin and are soon to embark on a world tour. Now, for the first time, the Mael brothers have chosen their favorite Sparks lyrics (to some 76 songs), editing and correcting them for presentation in In the Words of Sparks. As James Greer--novelist and former member of Guided by Voices--comments, “Sparks-level wordplay is a gift, and more than that, an inspiration.” This book also includes a substantial introduction by fellow Los Angeles resident and longtime fan, Morrissey.

Vintage Boris Vian Record Covers

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"True Stories" by Sophie Calle

ISBN 9782330023416

Odd enough this is my first entrance into the world of Sophie Calle.  I have known of her work over many years, but never ever purchased or read her books.  Till now, and I love "True Stories."   Right now since I am working on a memoir project, I'm very much interested in how a subject matter looks at their life via writing.  What impresses me is Calle's seeing her life or even her desires as a conceptual art work.  So the visual element (one story and one image through out the book) is really strong, and also I love how she treats objects as fetishes or an entrance to a series of memories. Sometimes very Proust like, other times just kind of nasty sexy.   It's all good to me!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The XYZ Club present "Panorama View Of Dirty Collar Collection" by Lun*na Menoh (October 20, 2013)

The XYZ Club present "Panorama View of Dirty Collar Collection"
Singer - Sewing - Artist  Lun*na Menoh talks about her lifetime art project, "Ring Around the Collar"
special exhibit + lecture + mini-fashion show + party!
There will be a special "Sewing Service" perfromance
Bring your own dirty collar for a new fabric replacement!!

The Velaslavasay Panorama
1122 W. 24th Street  Los Angeles, CA 90007
For tickets:

The XYZ Club was founded by a merger of entities in the Greater Los Angeles region to "promote the advancement of science, mathematics, history and craft, to provide a forum for enthusiasts to meet and exchange knowledge in a sociable setting, and to prolong the lifeline of The Velaslavasay Panorama, whose presence is tested by the firm grasp of economics."

"Sparks-Tastic" by Tosh Berman & Tosh Talks About The Book

In my own nervous way I chat about my book "Sparks-Tastic."