Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A personal note from the Publisher of TamTam Books - regarding "In The Words of Sparks - Selected Lyrics"

On a personal note, with respect to "In The Words of Sparks: Selected Lyrics" I wanted to do a proper book with them, that would just focus on the poetry and lyrics of Ron Mael and Russell Mael (Sparks).   I felt that their lyric writing was under-appreciated, and obviously to me, Ron is up there with other iconic American greats like Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim, Lorenz Hart, and Ira Gershwin.   I brought the project to their attention, and asked them to select at least 75 lyrics for the book.  They did so, with great care and skill.   A lot of the lyrics are mis-printed on the internet as well as even on the original album liner notes.  Both Russell and Ron selected works that were important to them and then they did some editing.  So what is interesting is how Ron and Russell look at their work - and what's important to them.  It is not my selection nor yours - but Ron and Russell's.  

 I approached one of their biggest fans, Morrissey, into writing an introduction.  At the time, I thought this was going to be an impossible match-up, especially since I only at the time, met Morrissey once.  But he was so gracious and wrote a fantastic introduction describing his love for Ron and Russell's lyrics.  When one is a fan of an artist, it becomes a much smaller world.  To be able to publish Ron and Russell's lyrics, as well as the introduction by Morrissey - it was like I didn't want to wake-up from this perfect dream.   "In The Words of Sparks" is the quintessential introduction to the world of Ron and Russell.  Their music is incredible, but to be in a position to read their words by itself - well that is amazing as well.   Thank you Ron, Russell, and Morrissey. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"The End of the Story" a novel by Lydia Davis

Without a doubt, one of the great books on writing that is not non-fiction, but in fact a work of fiction.  On one level, a narrative (of sorts) regarding the beginning and ending of a relationship, or what we are led to believing is a relationship.  One is not sure, since we're getting the story or narrative from the author -for all I know she maybe making this all up, or it could be a demented diary of sorts.  Fragmented, yet totally readable, the narrator comments on every aspect of her relationship with a younger free-spirit.   She is a college professor who does translations (Lydia is a well-known and great translator) who is writing a novel.  "The End of the Story" is about her relationship or at the very least, based on her affair with this younger guy.   It is also the dread of finishing a novel or a work of literature.  One thinks that it is due to the end of a romance, but it goes down more serious than that.   So far, this is her only novel, and honestly she doesn't need to do another one -because this is very much a perfect work.  Also I enjoy her short (short) stories so much, I never want her to stop that.   Lydia Davis is a great American (but French loving) writer.   If I was teaching writing in a class, for sure the authors I would bring up are: Richard Stark, PG Wodehouse, and of course, Lydia Davis.  A writer can learn a lot from these masters.

Boris Vian - Foam of the Daze BOOK REVIEW

A really nice review of Boris Vian's "Foam of the Daze"  (TamTam Books)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Sunday Series: Sunday September 27, 2015

The Sunday Series:
Sunday September 27, 2015

Well, I was born with everything and I will end up with nothing.   I can physically feel the drain of my finances disappearing, as if it was a personal check written in invisible ink.   The farce that is life, is slowly draining away as well.   I have a fear of looking in the mirror and finding my image gone.    There is a slow leak in my bathtub, and each drop represents my power getting less and less.  I was trying to fix it, but you can't fix something that is fate being written out for you.  I can now understand why friends and even slight acquaintances refuse to see or meet me for a drink.   Why be further reminded of failure?  It is right at this very moment, that I realize what life can be on this planet without me.

The buzz-buzz of the bumble bee, or what is left of the species, will be outside my window, competing with the hum of the early morning traffic.   The sound of people moving from one location to another, not for the sense of adventure, but out of duty.   I close my window, and I can see the one bee hitting against it, over and over again.   The determination to stay on the "program" no matter what, is kind of moving to me, but alas, it's sick.  If there is any happiness for me, it is to be removed from the physical space, and lets myself journey as a spirit.  Even that, I can feel the loneliness of the stores that close their doors as I attempt to enter.   There is no exit. So therefore there should be no entrance for me as well.  

There is something funny about my sadness.   People laugh at it, and that gets me to laugh as well.  I'm so over depression.  It's like the paper you used to wipe up the rain water that came through the house.   Instead of throwing it away, you just let it stay there till it's hardened and mildew takes over.  You can't bother changing the space, so just let nature take care of its own.  

I really want to write a poem.   It's Sunday, and it's either a day that starts off the week, or a reminder that the previous week was one of failure.   I don't go to church, nor do I not drink on Sunday, but instead, I try to dump my head into the thought that is Sunday.  I can't get my head around it.  Why is there a day of the week, where one mediates on their failures?  I have started a manuscript folder that is empty.  Every Sunday I look at the blank white piece of fake computer paper, and wonder "where is the poem?"   So I keep a record of all the empty pages, to remind me that I do try to work, but alas, the brain won't let me forget the darkness that's in my soul.  

At times, I feel the need to disappear into my writing.   If I can somehow take my body and get inside the manuscript, I would be, if not, a better place, but at home.   The brutality of the world is the need for physical comforts, and to be forced away from one's writings, is like the taste of something nasty and not right.  I want to feel right, and therefore I must find the portal to the written world. 

While walking around Los Feliz area of Los Angeles, I went to one of my favorite bookstores "Skylight Books" to purchase a collection of short stories by Emmanuel Bove called "Henri Duchemin and his Shadows."  As I sat at the Brü Coffee Bar, I didn't mean to read a whole story, but I started at the first sentence, and couldn't stop reading till the very end.   All the main characters are male, and too sure of their placement in their world.  Of course, this got me thinking about my problems and how I feel about myself.  Bove, according to the introduction, had a life-time of serious financial mishaps, and I try to imagine myself in his shoes.  In fact, when I look at the ground, and I see my shoes, I think of Bove.  

There is no doubt that I'm heading towards a major fall or breakdown of some sort.  The thing is at this point and time, I need to face up to it, and just either roll with the punch, or if I'm fast enough, must avoid the full hit.   It's odd to read a book and enjoy someone else's suffering. It doesn't make me forget my misery, but somehow enhances the experience as if it was a multi-layered milkshake.  Each bite or drink leads one to another sensation.   The world is not a happy one for me, but nevertheless, it is a landscape that has many textures.  My job is to jump into what is offered to me - both the good and the bad (and to be honest, it doesn't look too good here) and presented in such a fashion, that can hopefully enlighten one.   Or a reader or two.  Or not. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

"Henri Duchemin and his Shadows" by Emmanuel Bove (Introduction by Donald Breckenridge) Translated from the French by Alyson Waters

978-1-59017-832-4, $14.95, nyrb classics

I have never read Emmanuel Bove, and now, I feel like I have a good new friend.  On the other hand, do I need him as a friend?  The short stories all deal with a main character who feels misplaced or not connecting on a human level with others or their settings.  In many ways, they are totally self-destructive figures who seem to enjoy their fall from grace to embrace emotional failure.  Most of his fiction was written between the two world wars, so it's a world that itself is in conflict, and i think Bove is commenting on the nature of that landscape and how one lives on that mental state of depression and fear of the future.  Relationships seem to be built on quicksand than on pavement and ground.  Bove captures these moments that are totally believable, yet they are basically insane people.   Right now, I feel we are going through an age of intense anxiety.   "Henri Duchemin and his Shadows" expresses the culture of the 20s, and makes perfect sense in the year 2015 as well. 

Emmanuel Bove

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


"A Brief History of Portable Literature" by Enrique Vila-Matas

Another superb book by Enrique Vila-Matas. At the moment, he can do no wrong. This short little novel is the 20th century version of Marvel Comics 'The Avengers or DC comic's "The Justice League of America." What we have here is a secretive group called the Shandies, that consists of Marcel Duchamp, Georgia O'Keefe, Man Ray, and other great "modern" literary figures who meets up in distant cities as well as even in a submarine, to discuss literature. Literature that is based on the assumption of portable literature. Sort of the same nature as Duchamp's portable museum or inventory of his art work in a suitcase. Vila-Matas has an incredible imagination, but based on real people and real events. He specializes in re-writing literary history to his own liking. Right now, I think he is the most essential author. But to be honest, it is because he touches on all stuff that Ihave an interest in. Which is literature, books, and their authors. Especially the good ones.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

"Eve's Hollywood" by Eve Babitz

NYRB, 978-1-59017-890-4

Everyone who has resided in Los Angeles for a long time, has a need to put their identity on this landscape.   This is a book about Hollywood, among other things, but it is not just Hollywood, it is "Eve's Hollywood."   The author, Eve Babitz, is a local legend in my version of Los Angeles.  She is known in the world of the artists who live and work here, as well as a friend to the musicians who transformed this city into a world that is totally recognizable, but still a subjective landscape.   I recognize many things in the book as mine as well.   Especially when she talks about films like "Lawrence of the Arabia" and downtown L.A. Mexican food.   It is not obvious to me if this book is a work of fiction or a memoir in parts.  I get the impression that perhaps the original source of this book may have been a column she was writing - I have a faint memory of her byline in an underground paper, but that could be my memory playing tricks on me.  On the other hand, and most important, this is an excellent book on Los Angeles culture - and although, I'm about 12 years younger than her, I can clearly remember the same sites, food, and culture as her.   A very accurate book on that account, and surely a must for those who read or collect books on or about Los Angeles.   Eve is equally a part of another refined world, due to her parents - her dad for instance, was a studio musician who was close to Igor Stravinsky.   So one gets the 1940s bo-ho life as well as the world of rock n' roll and the visual arts.   Nevertheless, the book is truly about Eve and how she deals with her city of choice - with some reference to Rome as well.    Los Angeles as a place but also as a state of mind or being.  I can really relate to this book.

Original paperback edition

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Sunday Series: Sunday September 20, 2015: Tokyo/Paris/Los Angeles

I’m always exhausted, when I get back from Japan.   I go every year, or maybe even twice a year.  We're sort of living there, or more likely, we go there.  We don’t live anywhere.  We just go to places, and see what happens. For me, travel is a form of escape.  When things are sucky in one place, it is time to move on.  The thing is I only like to travel to Paris or Tokyo.  I could care less about the rest of the world.   Like, your hometown has no interest for me whatsoever.   Do you like your hometown?  I don’t.

I don’t hang around here anymore.   The gold gang either got old or they died.   Either way, they’re totally useless for me.  Oddly enough, when I walk through a Tokyo street, for instance in the hills of Shibuya, I think of the Rolling Stones’ song “(Walking Thru) a Sleepy City.” I’m always singing that song to myself, and for some odd reason, always in Shibuya.   My favorite time is when the daylight slowly turns into night, and all the signage from the buildings, restaurants and bars turn on just right before it gets totally dark.   The change-over only lasts for a few moments, but it reminds me of Jacques walking through Pigalle, Paris and he’s walking towards his home after a night of gambling.   He witnesses the neon lights being turned off, and it’s both beautiful and depressing at the same moment.  I live for moments like these.   These memories are fading. Yet I hold on to them as if a thirsty man is left wandering around a drought-like conditions in Los Angeles.

Keiji Haino called me.  He called me a lot of things, but it is always great to hear him say “Hey Tosh.” I get out my rare Dalimaru electric guitar with four strings, and I’m off to a gig in Shinjuku with Keiji.  With him, I never know what is going to happen.   The truth is, we just live from one neon light opening to another.  I’m just lucky that there is FamilyMart’s throughout the route from one point to another.  I swear to God, if it wasn’t for the “One Cup Ozeki,” I would be dead by now.   Or worse, sober.

This Sunday is not like any other Sunday.  Today is the day where I’m going to skip through my past, and make it my present, so I can deal with my future.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

"The Life of a Stupid Man" by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa

On of the three little Penguin books I bought in Tokyo for the plane trip back home.  Here are 3 small selections of the works by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, the king of the Japanese decadent writers, as well as the famous prize given out every year to a contemporary Japanese writer.   Oddly enough, I never read his works, but I knew of him as the iconic writer of his time.  Strongly influenced by the French writers and poets of the 19tth century (he was born in 1892 and died in 1927), there are traces of that type of impressionistic dynamics in his work.  The longer piece "The Life of a Stupid Man" is a poetic commentary of a young man going under.   Romantic and death obsessed.  What writer could resist such a figure. And readers, an enticing adventure(er) to another world.  Of course, I'm going to seek out and purchase a bigger collection of his stories.   And I do have some of his books in my library.  But untouched by my eyes at this moment....

Tosh Berman

Keith Richards / "Crosseyed Heart"

Keith Richards
"Crosseyed Heart" 

I pretty much gave up on the world of the modern Rolling Stones.  I find them totally not interesting.   It's corporate rock.  On the other hand, I love the 1960s Stones.  From the first album to "Let it Bleed," they couldn't do no wrong.    After Andrew Loog Oldham and Brian Jones left, they became a different type of animal.   Which is perfectly OK, I know there are people out there (even good ones) who feel that "Exile" and "Sticky Fingers" are classics.  I'm not going to argue against that, but I prefer "We Love You" to the boogie era Stones.  Which comes to the new Keith Richards's new solo album 'Crosseyed Heart."  It's 100% Keith.  It's Keith of the legendary Keith - the icon.   And that iconic Keith kind of bugs me.  On the other hand, this is a fantastic album. 

  Steve Jordan, Keith's left or right-handed man for this specific album, as well as co-author of most of the original songs, except for the two covers, I think did a magnificent job.   What makes this album great are the arrangements.  He adds unexpected touches throughout the album.  It's a beautifully textured work.  A lot of the songs or recordings remind me of Tom Waits.  Not only Keith's voice, but just how he lets the songs relax, and it rolls really well into the chorus.    Which again, is never expected.  "Heartstopper" starts off as a Keef riff thing, but the chorus is tenderly seductive.  Keith in recent interviews mentions that he doesn't like "rock" but loves the "roll."   Which I believe he's commenting on the groove aspect of a song. "Trouble" is pretty terrific, in how the back up vocals is arranged.  Almost "Shattered" (my fave post-Stones classic era cut) like, in that it builds into this great memorable and very Keith specific "groove."    Jordan I suspect, as well as being a fantastic drummer, is a classic arranger, or I suspect he's the main one here with respect to the arrangements.   There is almost a Jean-Claude Vannier touch he adds to the Keith sound.   Which means this is the closest Richards will get to Serge Gainsbourg.  If you close your eyes, and let the ears hear his version of "Goodnight Irene" one can almost hear the ghost of Brian Jones.

With someone like Keith Richards, one is often thought 'this is only a moonlighting gig," but the truth is, and with this album, he should consider a solo career as his main occupation.   His vocal work is very sexy and reflective of the personality that is his. At the tender age of 71, this is clearly his best work since the classic era of the Stones.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

"My Life With The United Red Army" by Tosh Berman

I’m living near Karuizawa, and I chose to live here because of the Asama-Sansō incident that took place on February 19, 1972, to February 28, 1972, in a mountain lodge near here. Most important, it was the first live television broadcast in Japan - lasting 10 hours and 40 minutes. The final day of the standoff is a classic relationship between the Left vs. Everyone, and the futility of life, as it passes us by. Throughout my life, I have always been secretly attracted to destruction. Although I told people that I had an interest in peace and calm, the fact is I desired the exact opposite. 

The woman I once loved, Hiroko Nagata, was the co-leader of the United Red Army (URA), which briefly I was a member of. Her partner in crime and politics, Tsuneo Mori, was just as brutal as Hiroko. I often fell into the graces of the most horrid people. I met her at Meiji University, when I was going out with another girl by the name of Fusako Shigenobu. We all shared the same politics, where we felt isolated from the mainstream, which condemned us. Fusako, was an early love, decided to leave the group due to the hard-edgeless of Hiroko’s view of being part of the URA. For me, I needed to devote my life to a cause that will make me feel part of a bigger group. To be honest, I was more interested in a life, that would give meaning not only to myself, but those around me. Hiroko, often was removed from my feelings towards her. She even showed slight interest in me from the very beginning of our relationship. To her, I was just a tool to serve the cause. Her ability to look towards the image of Mao, over my shoulder, as I fucked her, always made an impression on me. 

When I first joined the URA, there were 29 members and they lost 14 by killing them less than a year. I could have easily been one of the 14 killed, except I knew when to shut my mouth and kept Hiroko happy. Both Hiroko and Tsuneo were at each other’s throats, when my name came up. Tsuneo hated me from the very beginning, and consistently expressed his opinion of me to Hiroko. The only male friend I had in the group was Moriaki Wakabayashi, who was also a member of my favorite band at the time, Les Rallies Dénudés. Sadly (for various reasons) he took part in the hijacking of the Japan Airlines Flight 351. He eventually ended up in North Korea, and what I last heard, he was still alive, but giving bass lessons to members of the North Korean Army. I can forgive him for that, but I just wished he was with me in these hard, cold and harsh times. 

Hiroko was at her most mean state of mind when attacking other females. I surely think if Fusako didn’t leave the core of the group and started up with another member of the Red Army, she would be tortured and killed by now. Not to sound impolite or even mean, but Hiroko was a real bitch. Especially when you’re working with her or I should say — working under her. 
I don’t know how it happened, but she just became more and more brutal. I once admired for her intelligence and her ability to question authority and what they had offered on the table. But as time went on, I sense she was seeing the world in a much narrower way. At first she would lecture the fellow members, and then eventually she would hit them. For whatever reasons, she physically attacked the women in the group. She would hate it when they showed some form of vanity-especially if they wanted to wear make-up or have colored nails. She thought that was bullshit, and would at first insist that they hand over the make-up, and she would throw it in the trash, or make them break the lipstick and throw it away. 
Also any romantic overtures from either male or female in the group, would cause her to go nuts on us. It seems that she always went out of her way to attack the most beautiful woman in the group. The plain-janes, at first, were left alone, but eventually they would fall into Hiroko’s sight lines and she would eventually destroy them as well. When we were fucking, I noticed that she really had no real interest in the sex act or specifically me. I think she found the sexual act as something beneath her. Hiroko, soon after our sexual affair, became obsessed with the need to see that no one in the group was having sex. Or any sexual activity whatsoever. 

Before Karuizawa, when I was dating Fusako, I wouldn’t be treated so horribly by the dynamic duo of Hiroko and Tsuneo, but both turned against her. Fusako is a very beautiful woman, and she basically left me, because she felt that I wasn’t connected to her, due to my political beliefs. In fact, she always claimed that I was passive to a silly degree. There is truth in what she says. I think there are people who are born leaders, and then there are the followers. Fusako is one of those who people are naturally drawn to. Both, due to her beauty and intelligence. I would think Hiroko just as intelligent, but never would be considered as a looker, if you know what I mean. Yet, there was something very sexual about Hiroko. She did have that ability to seduce — both due to her determination and the razor-like devotion to the group as well as for the cause. Fusako can expand or even change her view-points, but Hiroko never will change her opinion. Once the decision is made, it is written in stone, and never erased by the natural elements. When we had sex, I think she used it as a power over me. She had many techniques in conveying her strength over individuals. 

What set Hiroko off on Fusako, was her beauty. She hated attractive women, especially those who attract men. In an act of revenge, she would give Fusako less food than others - and she made sure that Fusako noticed that I was given a great deal of food, compared to the other men. Fusako would be pissed of course, but I think she was madder at me than Hiroko. She could understand Hiroko’s feelings or her sense of hatred, but had a hard time understanding my indifference. I mostly didn’t want to make waves, so I try to keep out of the hairy situation. Before it got totally nuts here, Fusako and Moriaki left the group and started another wing of the Red Army. Bad things happened to them, but that’s another narrative. As for me, I stayed. There was no question of me leaving, even if I wanted to.
No one in the remaining group understood the relationship between Hiroko and Tsuneo. Both were equal under everyone’s eyes, but Hiroko was an absolute beast - and Tsuneo was just plain sadistic. They both said the exact same things and phrases - the only difference was that one voice sounded feminine and the other was masculine. Other than that, entirely the same. I had a dream once, that both of their bodies became one. And in truth, it is not that far off. What made them scary was their lack of sexual attractions to each other. Their relationship was based on their belief in the political cause and nothing else. The two supported each other and it was obvious that their stance in life would never change. If both were to go to Hell, they would go with great passion. What would happen to us, was no concern for the two. 

We were in an abandoned cabin in Karuizawa, doing our military training in the snow. The location is actually a second-home to a family that owned a company that made fountain pens in Tokyo. Hiroko managed to have a relationship with the son of the owner, and got him to give keys and other essential comforts such as cash, for the purpose of the Cause. Once we all got to the home, the clock and the very day were controlled by Tsuneo and Hiroko. 
To show our commitment to the group, some of us had to strip naked and be tied to a tree during the harsh winter and snowing night. Some were freed within an hour. Others were left there overnight. Those who were still chained to the trees were dead by late morning. I had no idea why they were killed, or why some were just tied up for an hour. All I know is that I was very scared of the two. Logic seemed to be thrown outside the home, and it became a landscape where the mood was totally controlled by Hiroko and Tsuneo. In ways, it reminded me when I was in a gang in elementary school. Our leader, either out of boredom or some sort of hatred within himself, would go out of his way to do cruel things to, not only the other gangs, but also to members of his gang. In a way, it is like if language had failed, and the need to do “action” took over the logic at the time. 
We had one hostage that we got from the village. We were able to hold out for a whole week. Hark and Tsuneo expected us to commit suicide. For those who had a different idea what is life in the group, were beaten to death. My attitude at the time was that I was either going to be killed by the duo, or the police. I thought it would be more profound to be slaughtered by the police than Tsuneo and Hiroko. 

For some odd reason, the police suspected that the hostage was already killed, and there was visual evidence of dead members of the clan. All committed by Hiroko and Tsuneo. So the police made the decision to attack the structure we are in, by sending grenades through the windows as well as the property around the house. I threw myself out the window, and had my hands up. I felt a strong arm pulling me towards the bottom of the hill, and I had my eyes closed during the whole process. 

Prison life is bad, but not as bad as spending the winter with Hiroko and Tsuneo. I have been let go, with great restrictions of course, but now in Karuizawa, thinking that there must be some sort of monument of the lives that was killed on the spot. The structure itself is torn down, and there is a Royal Host restaurant in its place. Perhaps it is best this way. Hiroko died in prison due to brain cancer and Tsuneo killed himself in his cell years ago. Both never lost their vision. I lost mine some time ago, but then again, I realized I never really had a vision about anything. It was then that I realized that my world, my culture - perhaps the world itself, didn’t have a vision as well. The horrible duo, at the very least, died for their vision. Me, I’ll die. No one cares when or, how.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Spirit image caught by Lun*na Menoh on Izu Oshima, Japan

Lun*na Menoh took pictures of her installation piece that took place at Art Islands in TOKYO on Izu Oshima island.   This one image, it seems she photographed a spirit as it walked through her installation.   Notice that the woman on the left side of the photograph doesn't have any legs, yet it seems that the legs are following her.  Not trick photography.  Image taken by I-Phone 5.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Sleep Life on Izu Oshima (images by Lun*na Menoh)

The Sunday Series: Sunday September 6, 2015 (Izu Oshima, Tokyo, Japan)

The Sunday Series:
Sunday September 6, 2015
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 growth of nature.  Once you’re on the island, you are here forever.  Even if you leave, the insect bites seems 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 would haunt it forever.  I don’t believe death is the end, but really 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 of I would choose life over death.  To me, it is basically 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 creature 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 totally normal, except it was huge.  I immediately walked the other direction, because for sure, I felt the animal would have approached and ate 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 human system where one looks for love wherever they can find it.  Even for a dog that clearly 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 truly a beast on their own 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 desert for the insects.

- Tosh Berman, Tokyo, Japan
Images by Lun*na Menoh