Saturday, December 28, 2019

Tosh's Favorite Reads (Books) for 2019

Tosh’s top Books in 2019:

“Typewriters, Bombs, Jellyfish: Essays” by Tom McCarthy (NYRB)

“Rebel Rebel” & “Ashes to Ashes” by Chris O’Leary

“Head-to-Toe Portrait of Suzanne” by Roland Topor (Atlas Press)

“Death Valley Superstars: Occasionally Fatal Adventures in Filmland” by Duke Haney

“The Alley of Fireflies and Other Stories” by Raymond Roussel (Song Cave)

“The Orchid Stories” by Kenward Elmslie (Song Cave)

“Curl” by T.O.Bobe (Wakefield Press)

“Mac’s Problem” by Enrique Vila-Matas (New Directions)

“Another Ventriloquist” by Adam Penn Gilders (J &L Books)

“When I Was a Wolf: Outlaw Takes on Fables and Fairy Tales” by Shuji Terayama (Kurodahan Press)

“The Artificial Silk Girl” by Irmgard Deun (Penguin Classics)

“The Sundays of Jean Dézert” by Jean de La Ville de Mirmont (Wakefield Press)

“In Black and White” by Junichiro Tanizaki (Columbia University Press)

“Ennio Morricone: In His Own Words” by Morricone and Alessandro De Rosa (Oxford University Press)

“Year of the Monkey” by Patti Smith (Knopf)

“Nada” by Jean-Patrick Manchette (NYRB)

“I’ve Seen the Future and I’m Not Going: The Art Scene and Downtown New York in the 1980s” by Peter McGough (Pantheon Books)

“Intelligence for Dummies: Essays and Other Collected Writings” by Glenn O’Brien (ZE Books)

“Life for Sale” by Yukio Mishima (Penguin Classics) 

“The Man Without Talent” by Yoshiharu Tsuge (NYRB)

“Punk Rock is Cool for the End of the World” by Ed Smith (Turtlepoint Press)

“Essays:One” by Lydia Davis

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

"Tony Conrad: Writings" with Andrew Lampert in Conversation with Tyler Hubby and Tosh Berman

Save the date for Saturday | January 4th | 3 PM for the Los Angeles book launch of 'Tony Conrad: Writings' with editor Andrew Lampert in conversation with Tyler Hubby and Tosh Berman. This should be a super fun event... don't miss this!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

"Reggenza Italiana del Carnaro (Italian Regency of Carnaro)" by Tosh Berman

Some actions take place that one can regret and move on, or let the fate of history handle it from now on. Gabriele D'Annunzio was a man who wouldn’t let fate decide his sense of order and passion. The city of Flume was part of the Austrian Littoral. Due to the Treaty of London (1915) was placed in the hands of the Croatian territories into the Kingdom of Serbs. D'Annunzio felt that Flume belonged to Italy. He and 2,600 troops, reportedly shell-shocked from the Battles of the Isonzo, marched into Flume and staged a seizure of the city.

Gabriele D'Annunzio was an Italian poet, essayist, playwright, and equally important, a soldier. Think of Yukio Mishima, but Italian. There is no doubt that d’Annunzio was a Fascist, but one who mapped out his world in such a fashion that relayed a perfect sense of space, and that landscape was Flume. In his own hands, and without the permission of Italy, he and his soldiers annexed the territory to the Kingdom of Italy. Italy, in return, put a blockade of Flume, demanding that d’Annunzio and others surrender.

What’s interesting to me is not the politics or even history, but the fact that a poet/writer led such a campaign. One can argue if d’Annunzio is a great poet/writer, but without a doubt, he was in the avant-garde of the literature of the time. In honesty, he’s more 19th-century than say someone like his peers at the time - specifically Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and the Futurists. Marinetti called d’Annunzio and the leaders of the ‘Exploit’ “advance-guard deserters” So, The Futurists were very much supporters of Italy and its empire. The Italian government, in a compromise, offered Flume’s citizens a modus vivendi, which in Latin means ‘mode of living,’ to co-exist in peace. d’Annunzio was against the modus vivendi and put it to vote in the Italian National Council of Flume. They accepted the proposal from Italy, and then d’Annunzio insisted on being put to the vote with the citizens of Flume. They, too, voted for the modus vivendi.

D'Annunzio distrusted the Italian government that he decided to make the final decision. On September 8, 1920, D'Annunzio became the Comandante; in other words, the Dictator of the Italian Regency of Camaro. The only other country to recognize the Italian Regency of Camaro was the Soviet Union. The constitution, or known as ‘The Charter of Carnaro’, was a combination of Fascist, Democratic-Republican theories, and Anarchist touches. This vibrant cocktail that became a country had, for sure, the touches of a creative poet. The Charter made “Music” a religious and social institution. Besides setting up the standard platform for governance (law, defense, education, etc.), d’Annunzio also set up a platform to support the “superior individuals” such as poets, heroes, and supermen.

Benito Mussolini found d’Annunzio inspiring and loved his style of leadership. The truth is d’Annunzio invented Italian Fascism with his balcony speeches, the roman salute, and his charismatic relationship with the audience or crowds. He even had black-shirted followers. The whole fascistic aesthetic came from this poet.

So like Yukio Mishima, who had his well-dressed army, the influence of those on the right, and their sense of style, elegance, also matched with a great deal of brutality. In America, we are not attached to those who dressed-well. Most Americans find it suspicious and are looking for others who fit in their style or aesthetic.

 Like all things, it had to end. D’Annunzio declared war on Italy, and of course, even though well-dressed, lost that battle. Eventually, it became part of the Empire of Italy.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

"The Criminal Child:Selected Essays" by Jean Genet (NYRB)iI

ISBN: 978-68137-361-4

Those who write and look up to other writers (as a writer should, by the way), I have to imagine Jean Genet is very much 'it.'  As a teenager and a young man in his twenties, I greatly admired Yukio Mishima and Genet.  In no fashion was I going to idolize Robert Benchley (that happened in my 50s) or any writer that appeared on the New York Times Bestseller List.   Genet is a criminal.  And a proud criminal on top of that.   In our world now, criminal writers are looked down upon.  As you gather, a writer has to be, at the very least, a morally upstanding citizen.  Genet is bad-ass.  But a bad-ass that can write about his world in such delicious language.  One of the great presses in the English language is the New York Review of Books (NYRB), and their edition of Genet's "The Criminal Child: Selected Essays is a small and remarkable book.  The title piece is regarding the nature of the French reform-school system, and how much Genet preferred the kiddie-prison of his youth.  Also, his essays/commentary on the visual art of Alberto Giacometti and Leonor Fini is superb. Genet can connect to an artist like a hand attached to an arm.  

Sunday, December 15, 2019

BOOK MUSIK, No. 13 "Scott Walker and the Song of the One-Alone" by Scott Wilson

Tosh and Kimley discuss Scott Walker and the Song of the One-All-Alone by Scott Wilson. This will most likely be the smartest book you’ll ever read about a singer-songwriter/musician. But Scott Walker is probably also the smartest singer-songwriter/musician you’re ever likely to encounter. From his early pop idol days as a member of The Walker Brothers in the 1960s to his highly experimental solo albums, Scott Walker is someone who will always challenge and intrigue. Never one to hide his intellectual inclinations, his music has always had strong political and philosophical leanings. Scott Wilson doesn’t hesitate to dig deep into this genius’s work and the well never runs dry.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

"TOSH" One of the Best of 2019 on Dennis Cooper's Blog DC's

Dennis Cooper's Blog

Very happy, and even proud to be one of the titles as best of 2019 in Dennis Cooper's Blog.  It's not only that but to be in such incredible company is amazing to me.  Check the blog out, and notice the other books, films, music as well.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Tosh's Journal : December 8 (Tribute to the Bathtub and Izu Oshima Islan...

My job is to reflect on life, and unfortunately, it doesn’t pay. I have a deep interest in the world around me or how I see that world. To be perfectly honest, the world can easily exist without any input by yours truly. Yet, I have known people who wait to hear from me before they enter such a world. My problem (and it is mine alone) is that I can’t get a regular paycheck for my writings on such an interesting landscape as what is out there. “There” being whatever is not within my world.

My ‘world’ is one where I take long baths and focus my thoughts on the bathroom wall. I notice the cracks in the wall, and I immediately think of them as examples of deep distress that is around me, but quite honestly, not in the bath with me. The tub is a no-zone. My sense of being is how hot the water is, and is there enough shampoo in the bottle? Other than that, the crack on the tiled wall is my total concentration on what that scar means to me.

Due to my poor eyesight, the crack has many dimensions attached to it. I often think of it as an island among the blue sea, since my bathroom tiles are in that color. What is the consistency that makes such an image to be so profound? I imagined Commander Perry as he approached Japan’s little island, Izu Ōshima, in 1854, that is two hours away from Tokyo on a jet boat, but still, such a remote island. It has an active volcano and five restaurants on that island that is full of abandoned cats. What one would think of as a stalled car engine is a wave of the sound of cats’ purring in unison. Feline’s urine can be smelled in the exotic landscape on the island. Houses left abandoned, and the numerous monuments for people who had either died due to plane failure or landslides are scattered in the most remote and public areas on Ōshima. I loved the island because the heavy rains served my mood perfectly. Almost as good as being in my bathtub looking at the island of Izu Ōshima on my blue tile.

The words I write are as useless as the soap bubbles from my shampoo as it mixes in with the bathwater. They, too, become islands in the sea of Tosh’s bathwater. Real depression hits me when I undo the drain and watch the water empty into a pipe that leads to a filthy sewer. Whatever happens, there is always the sewer. No one can lie to that space, because I think the stink and filth is very much part of our DNA.

I dry myself, put some cream on my face (to even out the worry lines on my forehead and mouth area), and then I dress very carefully.  First the underwear, then the socks, a striped t-shirt (since it’s Sunday, I choose a navy blue strip against white) and a sensible pair of walking shoes. I then approach my MacBook Air and try to enter into the adventure.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Tosh's Journal: December 6

I always hate the moment when she leaves the house for the airport. I go outside to help with her baggage and put it in the car for her, and then she is off. I stand in the middle of the road and watch the car disappear into the vanishing point. I go back into the house, and there is nothing louder than silence. I play music on the turntable, but that seems to remind me that she’s not there, and therefore, what do I do?

I go check out her CDs in her studio and found some cool Japanese enka music from the Showa Era. I put them on, and I can feel her presence through the music. I don’t want the music to stop, but each CD is 80 minutes long, and there is a sense of panic in me when the CD becomes silent. Since I don’t read Japanese, I still pretend to understand the liner notes on the packaging. I have been toying with the idea of taking one of her Japanese books and taking a bus ride to Little Tokyo. There is a patio outside the Kinokuniya bookstore at Astronaut E Onizuka Street, where one can sit, and I guess read. I take the bus line 92, and get off Spring and first, and walk to the store. I sit outside and start reading the Japanese book. It appears to be a biography of the actor Otojirō Kawakami. I never heard of him, but my wife talks about him consistently. Now that she is gone, and to stay close to her presence, I start focusing on Otojirō’s life and work.

As my wife called him, Oto was born in Hakata-Ku, which is not far away from my family in Japan. He was an actor, comedian and had his theater group that toured the world. He was “the second son of a second son” of a merchant family, and when he was young, he ran off to Osaka. At 18, he became a cop in Kyoto, which in turn he left to join the “Freedom and People’s Rights Movement,” which was a left-leaning organization devoted to democracy in the Meiji era Japan. Within that group, he became a radical and was quite outspoken in his views. He was arrested about a hundred and eighty times, which was a badge of pride for him. When he was nineteen, he was prohibited from speaking in public in Kyoto for a year, and it was at this time he earned the nickname: “Liberty Kid. ”

Oto was inspired by Rakugo, which is an art form in Japan, where a narrator tells a tale on a stage. Oto decides to start his theater group, inspired by the politics of the West, as well as the ability to stage theater productions as an outlet for his political views. It was near this time that he met his future wife, the actress, and geisha, Sada Yacco. Both became quite successful in staging performances in Japan as well as touring outside the country. Even with that, Oto had money problems that seemed never to go away. To have a foundation to promote himself and theater troupe, he built his theater, the Kamakami-za. It was the first European style theater in Japan, with at that time, had electric lighting throughout the theater. It took him three years to build and raise the money for the venue, and they had their grand opening on June 6, 1896.

While the couple was in Kobe, they met a businessman who wanted to improve his business in the West and decided to sponsor Oto and his troupe for a lengthy American tour. For the next two years, Oto toured throughout the United States as well as Europe. His Japanese troupe was the first to travel in the West. What he did was do a bastardization of the Kabuki for Western audiences. He cut the dialogue out and put in more dancing and slapstick. This was a huge success. When they got back to Japan, he decided to do a tour. Still, instead of doing Kabuki theater, he would present to the Japanese audience, a palatable version of Western theater plays. Mostly his version of Shakespeare.

The beauty of Oto was that he went out of his territory to learn and bring back culture to Japan. His fascination with Western theater from both the United States and Europe (specifically France) was a new phenomenon in cultural Japan. Oto makes me think of my wife because she, too, is an adventurer at heart. I feel bad sitting here in front of the bookstore in Little Tokyo when I should be by her side in Japan. Nevertheless, the distance between us is almost like appreciating a beautiful bottle of wine, but not yet ready to become consumed. I can presume right now she is somewhere in Kyushu, and she is thinking of Oto, and I’m thinking about him as well. At the same time, of course.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Tosh's Journal: December 4

Come on, world, inspire me! There are occasions in my life when I have to check the mirror by putting my nose close to it, to see if I’m still breathing. The room I’m in right now was built for consistent inspiration. There is a turntable on one corner with two gigantic speakers, and a window looking over Astro’s Diner on Fletcher and Glendale Boulevard. The bookcase is filled with books that I haven’t looked at in years.  Yet, the spines of these books are laid out to inspire my writing sessions. But now, a sense of failure is creeping up on me, like a weed in an outside potted plant - it comes alive when you try to ignore it. The traffic noise outside is an unfluctuating reminder of a life that is spent indoors. What do I know of the world, except whatever is through my window, and what record is on my turntable? Other than that, I’m clueless.

“I’ve got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom.” The fear of time passing, and just thinking of time as this abstract body of matter makes me fearful. I feel that “body” looking over my shoulder as I write, and the solitude I crave is not from the people in general, but time itself. I somehow woke up as a teenager, and somehow went to bed that same day as a senior. I don’t even want to think about tomorrow.

Gérard Philipe, the eminent French actor, was 37 when he died from liver cancer. His doctor never informed him that he was that ill, so he worked on, except one can notice fatigue in his facial expressions. He shared that fatigue with another actor in his last film, “Les Liaisons dangerousness” –Boris Vian, who that same year also died, but from a lifetime heart problem. Both had the same look as they were prepared to leave the room, and they couldn’t go fast enough. Time is fundamentally essential, and you have to either trick it or not let it take possession of your life. The sensibility of time is very much being stuck in a narrative, perhaps not of your own choice. Concerning time there is an end, but when? That is the essence of time itself. Otherwise, “life is one long process of getting tired.’

The mental journey from one end of my living room to the other side is a lifetime to me. I go through emotions like one changes pj’s during night sweats. “Extreme joy and extreme sorrow are indistinguishable beyond a certain point.” All I know is that I have to finish my writing and not let time take it away from me. I will take it, not time. “Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you’ll be able to see further.” - Tosh Berman

Monday, December 2, 2019

Tosh's Journal - December 2 (“A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Gra...

Tosh's Journal - December 2

“A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande (Un dominate après-midi à I’île de la Granda Jatte) is a painting that I have always found fascinating. I have never seen it in person, so my observations are like watching a movie on an airplane, and I’m watching someone else’s screen a row in front of me. I get the ‘drift’ of the film, and it’s the same way as seeing a painting in an art book or magazine. Then you have to think about what is the best representation of this painting? An expensive art book, a postcard, online? Some years back, I wrote a poem about this painting, or to be honest, inspired by the picture that was published in a book of paintings by Georges Seurat:

You, boats, dog

& a  A monkey


All under an umbrella or two

Each point

Is sharp

Yet, you don’t look at me

Except for the little girl

She can see the ghost

… Of a chance

When I look at this painting, I think of death. Because surely all these people, real or imagined, would be dead by now. I go through a time tunnel where I’m transformed into that place and time. When I was in Paris, I went to the Île de la Jatte, so that I can imagine what that landscape looked like in Seurat’s painting. Of course, everything has changed, but I still wandered around the area to figure out where the painter viewed his’ scene. ‘I did bring a postcard image of the painting with me, but I decided to look at the landscape without the picture. I wanted to do it through memory, which I find is more accurate in the sense that the thoughts of a place are eventually more important than the facts.

It took Seurat two years to do this painting. He did many sketches and drawings before completing “A Sunday Afternoon.” What I find interesting is that he did a similar painting called “Bathers at Asnières,” which is the flip-side of “A Sunday Afternoon.” Same place (different location), but the bathers are in the sunshine, wherein the other painting all the figures are under the shade, either from the umbrellas or trees.

I’m also intrigued by the woman who has a monkey with her. Was that a regular everyday occurrence in Paris 1884? The more you look at the picture, the more interesting and borderline eccentric imagery comes out towards the viewer. Seurat was very much a theorist as well as a painter. He was genuinely interested in optical and color theory. The whole painting consists of tiny dots or minimal brushstrokes, and what I find fascinating is that he enclosed the canvas with a simple white wooden frame. Again, I have never seen this painting in person. Still, seeing a photograph of the work being displayed in its current home (Art Institute of Chicago), the white frame sets the painting from the world today. When one looks at “La Grande Jatte,” you’re looking at the painter, not the art itself.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Tosh's Journal : December 1 (Nero Wolfe)

Tosh's Journal - December 1

Isolation is the perfect form of a landscape when you have to think for a living. I’m the sort of chap who people feel comfortable with when they are in trouble or need of any advice. I’m no fool, so I charge people for my services. The catch is, if my information doesn’t work, they don’t have to pay me anything. In today’s commerce, you must have the edge over the competition. Not only that, I’m 100% sure my advice will work. From romantic problems to financial troubles - I master all. Also, if you come to me with a problem, and I can’t solve it, I will tell you directly to your face or through e-mail. I will say, “you’re fucked.”

If you come to me for advice, and I accept you as a client, I pretty much study your financial situation.  For instance, if the information I give you brings great monetary awards, I expect 40% of the amount you will get due to my expertise. If it is something easy for me and not time-consuming, I could charge a small fee for my troubles. If it is a question of romance or relationship, I may insist on having detailed information on the other party. If you, as a client, withhold information, either regarding your finances or an essential piece of information, I will walk away from your problem and will charge you a fee for my time.

Now hopefully, that is clear. I will not leave my home to help you. I have an assistant, Archie, who does all my leg work. If you can’t reach me for some reason, you can trust Archie is my voice as well as my stand-in appearance. Usually, the procedure means you come to my home, which is my office. You must make an appointment, and once you do, Archie or I will contact you. If you don’t hear from me, that means I ‘m either too busy or don’t care about your problem. If I do see you, I insist on a strict dress code. If you’re a male, you must wear a tie or a jacket/v-neck sweater. If you’re a female, I insist that you wear a skirt, blouse, and sensible shoes. Think of it as working in a bank office. I don’t want to hear an emotional outbreak, just the facts and a background narrative of the characters that are associated with your problem. You may want to bring your own bottled water because I will not be serving any drinks or food to you during our meeting. These are the rules. Obey them or don’t use my services.

Also, I’m not fond of small talk. So once you’re in my office, and you sit down, immediately tell me what your problem is. I will ask specific questions, and once I decide to take your case, I’ll ask specific questions about your finances. I will insist on seeing all your bank accounts. So bring in your latest bank statements as well as a receipt of your last paycheck. Once you give me all the information I need, I insist that you leave my office and home immediately. The real activity is for me to isolate myself and think about your problem. I tend to my orchids as well as experimenting in my kitchen.   Usually, I’m lost in thought for a few days. I never (unless I’m busy) take more than three to five days to give a customer his or her advice. The thing is if you choose not to take my advice, you will still have to pay for my services. You don’t have to pay anything if my information doesn’t work out, but you must take my advice and use it accordingly. I will give you precise instructions on how to solve your problem. If you fail to follow these directions, then you will be still required to pay me. Now, if that is understood, what is your problem? - Tosh Berman

BOOK MUSIK 12 - "Face It" by Debbie Harry

Tosh and Kimley discuss Face It by Debbie Harry of Blondie fame, probably the most well-known band from the famed 70s CBGB music scene in New York. Harry was hugely influential as one of the first women to lead a rock band and has spent most of her life hanging out with the denizens of the creative worlds of NYC. Andy Warhol, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, and Jean-Michel Basquiat are just a few of the intriguing people who show up in this memoir. She has some tales to tell but we were left with the nagging feeling that there’s more to the story than meets the eye.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Tosh's Journal - November 30 (Tosh's Museum)

Tosh's Journal: November 30.  This is my reading (with lots of more images) of my need to have a museum collection devoted to yours truly.  - Tosh Berman​

Friday, November 22, 2019

Tosh's Journal - November 22 (A tribute to J.D. Tippit)

November 22 stays in my mind, of course, because of “that death,” but also there was another death that day in Dallas, Texas - The death of J.D. Tippit. He was a police officer with the Dallas Police Department.  Read the rest:

Friday, November 15, 2019

BOOK MUSIK No. 11 - "This Searing Light, The Sun and Everything Else: Joy Division: The Oral History" by Jon Savage

Book Musik 11 – This Searing Light, the Sun and Everything Else: Joy Division: the Oral History by Jon Savage

Tosh and Kimley discuss This Searing Light, the Sun and Everything Else: Joy Division: the Oral History edited by Jon Savage. Joy Division seems to be the poster band for the doom and gloom of the industrial city of Manchester, England. This book is a lively telling of their relationship to the city and the development and twists and turns of a young band. Equally important are the key players who helped them along the way including the engaging entrepreneur Tony Wilson, the brilliant producer Martin Hannett and the iconic graphic designer Peter Saville

Sunday, November 3, 2019

"I Read The News Today, Oh Boy" by Paul Howard

At the moment, I'm going through a tunnel that is cold/ill based, and it is books like "I Read The News Today Oh Boy" that makes me want to live.   The comprehensive biography of a young man who didn't live long, and didn't do anything, except was an exceptional presence in various people's lives.  My favorite sort of person.  Tara Browne was a wealthy fellow who was fortunate to have a money background, but also the grace of being a very nice gentleman in the world of the 1960s London pop culture.  A friend of Brian Jones, Paul McCartney, as well as his brother Mike (McGear), this is very much a narrative of England throughout the early and mid-20th-century.  Paul Howard does an excellent job of capturing an era in a positive light that is readable and fascinating. 

Tara was very much of a 'now' personality.  He lived his life in such a manner that is full of love, respect, but also he was blessed to have a mother that was very much a bohemian herself.  As a boy, he was raised among adults and participated in parties and social outings.  He hated school, and in a sense, you can say he was spoiled, but alas, that is not totally true.  I think he was a good spirit that people attached themselves to him.  

Tara Browne died when he was 21 years old.  He was driving fast in London and avoiding another car; he rams his vehicle into a parked car.   Tara was obsessed with cars and speed.  By all accounts, he was an excellent driver.  In a nutshell, Browne was a dandy, car racer, and knew the more beautiful things in life. He introduced L.S.D. to McCartney, for instance. 

His death inspired Lennon by writing "Day in the Life," but to many who knew him, they felt his death was the end of the 60s utopian dream.    For anyone who has an interest in Brian Jones, The Beatles, and London 60s, this book is a must-read. 

Friday, November 1, 2019

BOOK MUSIK No. 10 - "Golden Hits of the Shangri-Las by Ada Wolin (33 1/3 Books)

Tosh and Kimley discuss Golden Hits of the Shangri-Las by Ada Wolin from the 33 1/3 series. The Shangri-Las were a teenage girl group of the 1960s with a reputation for coming from the mean streets of Queens, NY. Their world was bleak and things always ended badly in the melodrama of their biggest hits like “Leader of the Pack” and “Remember.” They had a huge influence on a diverse group of musicians from The NY Dolls and The Damned to Blondie and Alex Chilton. We venture down the path of their dark world.
Theme music: “Behind Our Efforts, Let There Be Found Our Efforts” by LG17

Thursday, October 31, 2019

"Afternoons with the Blinds Drawn" by Brett Anderson

ISBN: 978-14087111842
I avoided Suede in the early years because I was turned off by their image for some reason. Sort of second-generation or even third-generation glam didn't sound that hot to me. Over the years I warmed to their records, and last year I bought and read Brett Anderson's first memoir "Coal Black Mornings" of his childhood and teenage years. That book is excellent. A very detailed description of his surroundings and a fascinating and eccentric father. "Afternoon with the Blinds Drawn" focuses on the high years of Suede, and it is not as compelling as the first volume. For one, I can sense Anderson didn't really want to write about the Suede decades, but perhaps due to the success of the first volume, he or his publishers pushed him to go on. 

Still, he's a very good prose writer. Sometimes when you write about your success, it's not the most interesting part of one's life. I sense there will be a third volume, and that may be more interesting due to new family, his band getting together, and how middle-age life is like when you're still rockin'.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

"The Man Without Talent" by Yoshiharu Tsuge; Translated and Introduction by Ryan Holmberg (New York Review Comics)

ISBN: 978-1-68137-443-7
I'm always fascinated by people who want to disappear in literature.  Yoshiharu Tsuge, the ultimate cult manga artist/writer, seems to be a fellow who wouldn't mind disappearing into the mist.  His manga masterpiece "The Man Without Talent" is a somber journey of rejecting society by staying in tune with one's intuitive choices - whatever it's good or bad.  The series of stories is all about one character that we are lead to believe is the author, with a small son and wife.  The wife is frustrated with her husband's lack of common sense, and the son picks up the tragedy of it all just being there.  He's the little boy who tells his father, "it's time to come home."  

Tsuge's main character decides to open up a 'stone' store by the river.  These are not unique stones by any means, and they all come from the local river.  Anyone can pick up these stones, but Tsuge chooses his inventory carefully so that he can sell them.  Still, a stone is a stone. The absurdity is like people who sell junk, knowing that they are junk, yet, it has a value of some sort. Usually not in a currency sense.  So, his stone selling business is non-existent, yet he works hard daily by being there and selling his stones, that no one buys.   In a sense, he's commenting on his role in life, which is existence on a very absurd term.  There's no humor (at least for this Westerner) here, but Tsuge's work is very much like the films of Robert Bresson in that the artist captures the everyday existence of someone who lives day-to-day. There's a purity of his attempts to achieve his dream, which is basically to disappear.   

As someone who collects vinyl records and books, I find his rock collection interesting as well.  For him, those rocks are priceless or have a price, but to the world, it means nothing to them.  The same goes for his camera collection (in real life as well as in his work), where he buys old cameras cheaply and fixes them up to sell more expensively.   Yet, this is also a dead-end, because eventually, the marketplace will have no need for used broken cameras. 

Ryan Holmberg's introduction (as well as being the translator) is very informative.   I don't know if Tsuge's life is 'exactly' like the way he portrays his main character, but still, it's a skillful method of being in the world of someone who has a hard time dealing with the culture around them.  A remarkable manga.  

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

"Life for Sale" by Yukio Mishima; translated by Stephen Dodd (Penguin Classic)

ISBN: 978-0-241-33314-3
I think I read everything that is translated into English by Yukio Mishima.  Recently three more works came out, which means the Mishima estate is allowing more translations of his excellent writing.  "Life for Sale" is very much a pulp-style story.  It reminds me in of parts of the books by Edogawa Rampo.  Not in its violence, but its pulp-style of prose writing.  And this is very much a page-turner, with some absurdity attached to the narrative.  Mishima wrote this book in 1968, almost exactly two years before he committed suicide.  There are great lightness and humor, but there are substantial traces of the Mishima aesthetic throughout the novel. 

The book takes place during the student riots in Shinjuku, and the 'spring' of the counter-culture in Japan.  Mishima was very much the opposite of those students, yet, I suspect he admired them as well.  The same with the Hippies taking LSD.  Anything going against convention was the sugar in Mishima's tea.   In 1968, this was the height of his right-wing stance, as well as having his private army.  On the other hand, Shuji Terayama, the great writer, filmmaker, and playwright, was making his mark in Japan as a combination of Artaud and Fellini.  Both are important figures of the Shinjuku life in the 1960s.  

The story is about a man who tried to commit suicide for no real reason; he survives.  He then decides to sell his life to whoever comes to his apartment.  Money is not an issue, but a lot comes his way.  I will say no more because of the fun of reading this book are the twists and turns.   I think some will think of "Life for Sale" as a minor work, but for me, it's my favorite Mishima. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Tosh's Journal - October 23 (Tribute to Diana Dors, and happy birthday t...


October 23

When I was living in London in the late 1970s, I was invited to go to an “adult” party at Diana Dors’s house. I haven’t the foggiest idea what “adult” party meant in Diana’s home, but of course, I was a very curious young man at the time. I knew of her slightly, mostly that she was the British version of Jayne Mansfield, and that she made an album called “Swinging Dors,” which at the time, I never heard. Oddly enough, her arranger Wally Stott also arranged the classic Scott Walker recordings of the 1960s.

While in London at that time, I went to a pub called “The Blind Begger” on Whitechapel Road. I didn’t know at the time, but the pub is a well-known hangout for gangsters in the East London area. Ironically enough, it was also the original site that the Salvation Army started. I went in by myself to have a quiet pint of Brown Ale when a gentleman approached me by the name of Terry Denton, who started a conversation with me. He was a bit tight (drunk) but mentioned that he was going to a party at Diana Dors’s house, and he got a special invitation specifically from her. She told him that he could bring another gentleman to the house that night. Usually, I would say no, but for some odd reason, I was intrigued and decided to take up his kind invitation. I mentioned that I don’t know anyone in that world, and would it be still ok if I came with him to the party. He said, “no problem.” So off we went, and we found a taxi in the late night to take us to Berkshire, just outside of London.

Once we arrived, I was surprised regarding the house, not knowing what to expect once I got there. From the outside, it looked like a quaint, but decent sized home. Terry let himself in, and I stood behind him. He said to follow him in, and off I went into what I think was the living room. There were approximately 30 people there, with maybe more than half young girls. They all look like starlets of some sort, but I wasn’t clear if they were in the entertainment world or even women who are professionals in the party world. Terry immediately introduces me to a pair of sharp-suited gentlemen, who strongly resembled each other. One was called Ron, and the other I think, his name was Reg or something like that. Terry later told me that they are twin brothers. Eventually, I was introduced to Diana Dors herself. She was full-figured, had a beautiful face, although, at the time, she looked well-lived, if you get my drift.

She threw her arms around me and mentioned if I needed anything that I should help myself to whatever is out there. The way she said that to me, I wasn’t sure if she was talking about drinks, or what looks like drugs being passed around. Or perhaps it was the woman there! Terry took me by the arm to introduce me to a pretty brunette, whose name I can’t remember now. When I shook her hand, Terry told her that “Tosh here is an American, and he’s producing a film in London.” I gave a glance towards him, but he didn’t return the “look” to me. What I remember was her accent was strong. I could only make out every third for the fourth word from her lipsticked mouth.

Nevertheless, I was communicating with her, and Diana came from behind and took both of our hands and directed us to another room in the house. Once there, I realized we were in a bedroom, and a couple was going at it like stranded dogs in a dog park. I didn’t know what was happening… well, I did. But at the same time, I didn’t. The couple got out of the bed and went towards a full-length mirror.  He started fucking her against the mirror.

Meanwhile, my heavily accented lass took me by the side of the bed, where she sat down and started to unzip my pants. She began to serve me a service that I didn’t expect would happen three hours ago. Afterward, after we finished, I lost her in the crowd at the party and noticed another room where I can hear a film projector going. I went in, and it was Diana, Terry, and the twin brothers watching hardcore porn film. I realized that the setting of this film was the bedroom that I just left. Obviously, she had a camera hooked up and more likely filmed me at the peak of my or “our” adventure.

I found myself back in my flat, in sort of a dazed state. Terry was kind enough to organize a ride back to London with the twins. They were polite, but I felt I shouldn’t say too much in their presence. I also felt that I witnessed something that shouldn’t be repeated or reported in a public forum. So let’s leave it at that.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Tosh's Journal - October 22 (Oscar Wilde + Tosh + Lord Alfred Douglas)


October 22

The love of my life is Bosie. I always felt nervous coming out in such a fashion and then allowing myself to care about a man who, in some circles, is not quite the perfect mate for an older man like me. How much I must take stock in this when he makes comments like “Tosh is the greatest force for evil that has appeared in the World during the last 350 years.” Really?

What did I do to this poor boy? I gave him some luxury necessaries, and most important, culture. I can’t believe I spent seven years with him, and now I’m in ruin, and he has moved on to a marriage like I was an experiment of some sort. He’s the love that dare not speak its name.  I made copies of the letters I sent to him. Those were better days, or were they? I have consistently been at the entrance of happiness, but never actually went through the swinging doors. I have been foolish with my money; in fact, “I fear I must leave; no money, no credit, and a heart of lead.”

I recently wrote to him, begging him to take me back. Why I do this, I haven’t the foggiest idea. Sometimes I wonder if I really loved or in love with him. I think I like the idea of me falling in love with him. That’s a big difference. There were tell-tale signs that this wasn’t meant to be, from the very beginning. Yet, I ignored all the warning signs, and jumped into the fire with both feet, and wearing gasoline as an overcoat to protect me from the coldness that’s life.

Not long ago, I saw him from a distance, and he has changed. What was youthful, and looking at the world in such a bright light, now, his features are turning downward, like he doesn’t want to be recognized as the beautiful man that he once was. Even that, I would take him back. I wish I could understand the nature of love and what nature has done to me. - Tosh Berman

Monday, October 21, 2019

Tosh's Journal - October 21 (Alfred Nobel, Edogawa Rampo & Lux Interior)


October 21

Alfred Nobel invented dynamite, and he blew up my world. I had dreams every night for a whole year of obtaining the Nobel Prize for literature, and then… I didn’t get it. I brought this up before, but I can’t even begin to tell you how much it has disturbed me. I planned around my life on obtaining the prize, and the way I see it, I should have won. Day-after-day, I put words on a blank page, for not entertaining you dear readers, but to convey to the judges of the Nobel Academy my importance to my field of interest - which of course is (or was) literature. But now, and since I missed out on the award, I’m thinking of quitting writing and becoming a criminal. And no, not a literary outlaw type of criminal, but a true one. I will now devote myself to one purpose, and that one purpose will be destruction. If I can’t build up my world, then I’ll tear everyone else’s pathetic dreams down. If for not anything else, at least we will be placed on the same eye-to-eye level.

As Alfred once said, “Home is where I work, and I work everywhere.” I need to get to follow that advice to the “T,” and we’re not talking about Texas. Whenever something goes boom in the night, I’m the face behind the t-made disaster, even if you can’t see my beautiful face among the smoke. “Justice is to be found only in imagination.” Well, baby, I got a big head full of imagination!

The only one is stopping me from doing what I have to do is Kogoro Akechi, who is considered to be the greatest detective in Japan, and perhaps the world. He is a master of disguises, so I’m not sure who is around me. He can even do gender switches. One moment you’re in bed with a beautiful woman, and you wake up in the morning with a male cop. I get the impression that I’m being followed. Especially when I’m walking around Shinjuku. I often look at a window display, and through the reflection, I see a presence looking at me, and when I turn around, he’s gone. This happens a lot. I once received a letter from Akechi, mentioning that he was a fan of my writing. Even that, I suspect he is just buttering me up so he can nail me in the end. I need to ensure the end doesn’t happen.

When I step in a room, I make sure the keyhole is covered up. He’s not into technology. He likes to get his information from the old-fashioned way by looking through windows, keyholes, and occasionally reading one’s lips from a distance. He’s a very trained individual. Sort of like the shoe repairman, or plumber, he knows his trade well. Without a doubt, he’s an enemy. But an enemy I can respect. He also has manners, Unlike Alfred Nobel, who never delivers his promise.

Akechi and I share similar musical tastes. I have been told through my record store connection that he has been purchasing albums by Don Byas, and I’m not sure if he is doing that to pick up more clues about yours truly, or he has a genuine love for Byas’ music. I did see him once at a Cramps show. Both of us we’re located in the front of the pit, right in front of Lux Interior, and we both got red wine spilled on us. Lux had the bottle in his mouth, and he spat out the bottle as well as the wine. Both of us were wearing white suits, and since we were dressed alike, we also had the same splatter of wine stains as well.

To be terrorized, yet committing terrorism, is my lifestyle now. I will wander the landscape, and yet, I must keep my eyes open for Kogoro Akechi because, like Bob Ford shooting Jesse James, I must be vigilant and on guard at all times.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Tosh's Journal - October 20 (Tribute to Jean-Pierre Melville)


October 20

The films I make are easily misunderstood. “I move from realism to fantasy without the spectator ever noticing.” I drive a 1967 Rambler through the streets of Shi-mo-ki-ta-za-wa, looking for landscapes to use for my films. So far, I have made three movies, and the filmgoer has pretty much accepted all of them. On the other hand, I don’t care if they like them or not. I know shit. I want to have fun, you know. “I like to take risks. My films never follow the current trend.” Perhaps that is the reason why I lost my audience.

My current film project is to do a film based on Arthur Rimbaud’s “A Season in Hell,” starring the musician Ivo Pogorelić. It was a matter of entering Hell itself to get funding for the film, but due to the success of “Le Samourai,” I found backers from a small theater group in Shimokitazawa, who want to expand their theater into the cinema world. Besides having a great looking star, Ivo is also going to supply the soundtrack, which will be mostly music by Chopin. The producers (the theater people) want to change the title to “Unhappiness Was My God.” To me, it sounds a touch pretentious, mostly due that I like crime films, with their short to the point titles. Some say poetry is the cinema, but I find it to be more suitable for the pulp crime narrative. So in my script, I have changed Rimbaud’s poetic prose into hard-boiled dialogue. It should work, especially coming from Ivo’s mouth.

The beauty of this project is the fact that it will be my last film. One reason why I’m attached to “A Season in Hell” is because it was Rimbaud’s last book. Doing art is a bit like a slow death. I can stall the mortal moment when the end comes, by doing more work, but I think to have a small number of films under my name, will serve my purpose, artistically and financially in the long (short) run. “By being too sensitive, I have wasted my life.

” On the other hand, my “artistic” life is doing fine. The more I personally suffer, the higher my work becomes. It’s a double-edged sword, but I rather have good work than happiness anyway.

“In the morning, I had a look so lost, a face so dead, that perhaps those whom I met did not see me.” It is hard to drive my Rambler on the streets of Shimokitazawa, due to the smallness of the roads here, which are more like alleys that lead to nowhere and one comes back to a full circle. “A Season in Hell” (my version) is based on driving around here and trying to look for a parking spot. I can never find one, so I continue to drive around and around. Ivo is going to play the driver as he recites critical phrases from the Rimbaud book. He will dress like a French gangster, and I’m also thinking of adding some prose from a David Goodis novel as well. The juxtaposition of Rimbaud and Goodis’ text together can cause a certain amount of tension that will be good for the film.

I will mostly be shooting at night because I feel the material doesn’t work in the daylight. I’m also putting this in my contract that the film must be shown only at nighttime. Even if the theater is dark, I want people to leave the theater and find darkness outside instead of daylight. Everything must work in unison. My last film must be perfect. There is no second act in a European’s life. Once the film is finished, viewers can see my blood on the screen. Due that it takes everything I have to make a film like “Unhappiness Was My God.” The only high I have in life is to watch the finished work, due to the fact “I never drink … wine.”

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Tosh's Journal - October 19 (Crazy Cats, Tokyo Japan)


October 19

I’m alone. There is not anyone here. To feel alone is a high. Human beings, by their nature, are social animals. My needs are food and something to read. Other than that, I have very little interest in anything else. By habit, I like to wander around Tokyo, but usually, I don’t give a thought to where I’  ’m going or what direction. I walk out the door of my family home here, and I go either left or right. I never have regrets if I make the wrong decision. Or give it special meaning if something fantastic happened on that trip. My life is simply an act of reflecting and then moving on as fast as I can.

As I mentioned, I have been out of work for the past two years. When I worked, I was a good worker; in fact, my co-workers were satisfied with me. But then I decided to change. There was no reason why I did so. I just woke up and chose not to go to work. I needed the money (still do by the way), but I said to myself, “Nah, I’m not going to work.” It was just an odd moment because there was nothing in my past or present that would make me follow such a crazy impulse. I only did something like that once before, when after a sound night’s sleep, I woke up and then sold my car and never drove since then. Why? Because I needed to leap into the unknown, but I never studied my impulses. I’m a creature of habit, but at times and unexpectedly, I can make the change into practice as well.

So here I’m in Tokyo, and I haven’t the foggiest idea of what I’m going to do in the future -meaning next year, next month, next week, and tomorrow… if I can throw that in as well. I won’t let myself be swallowed by self-doubt, because I go with the wind.

Around 25 years ago, I went to a movie theater in Tokyo that had a tatami mat, which means all customers had to take their shoes off before entering the theater. There were giant steps in front of the film screen, so everyone just sat on the tatami mat, or if they wanted to, they could easily lay down and look up at the screen. The film they were showing was such a remarkable work, and to this day, I don’t know the title of this film. All I can tell you that it starred Hitoshi Ueki and his band Crazy Cats. What is interesting about him and them is that they were musicians first, and then became successful comic actors as well. Watching the film, it reminded me of Frank Tashlin’s work with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. The beauty of the film is the fact that it looked like a comic strip taking place in front of my eyes. The location where the film is set is in Shinbashi, traditionally the playground for the salaryman.

I think back at that film presentation because now I’m obsessed with capturing the moment when Ueki walks down the street in Shinbashi, not having a care in the world. He just left his job, or what one thinks may have been his job. For all, I know he may only come into the office to have a free cup of coffee or green tea. By the expressions of the co-workers, they may have never seen him before. Therefore he takes up the character of a salaryman as one takes an identity out of one’s closet.

He was that type of character in all of the Crazy Cat films. The illusion of music being played in a small traditional Japanese bar that may fit five or six people, all of a sudden turns into a big-budgeted Broadway musical. Time and place are expanded just by whatever hits Ueki’s mood. Therefore when I walk on the streets of Shinbashi, I too will live in Hitoshi Ueki’s shadow.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Tosh's Journal - October 18 (Lee Harvey Oswald, Shinbashi, Lotte Lenya)


October 18

“To exist to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.” I keep that in mind as I wander through an empty parking lot in Shinbashi, looking for a Chinese restaurant that is placed on the third floor. It is a Saturday night and not a person’s insight. Alas, the restaurant is closed.  After 20 minutes of walking overpasses that connect the large boulevard and then down steep stairs to the entrance of the lot, and then to climb two staircases to reach the floor of the restaurant - and it being closed seemed to be a slight miscalculation on my part. I should have known that these types of businesses are closed on a Saturday night. Also, it has been noted to me that this specific restaurant is the oddest eating joint in Tokyo. Shinbashi, a business district in Tokyo, is famous to me, due to the Japanese film series “The Crazy-Cats, which is a combination of Martin & Lewis mixed in with the world of the Salarymen. A lot of the key scenes in the film series were shot in this part of Tokyo.

On my journey here and on the streets of Shinbashi, I kept hearing the voice of Bobby Troup and Anita O’Day singing a duet. Oddly I don’t think they ever made a record together. Yet, in my mind, I can hear both voices singing, perhaps “On Route 66.” I always have that talent of taking something that is out there and somehow making it mine. I look at the world as one big reference library, and I’m just a guy roaming around the stack and aisles of ideas, trying to connect “C” to “Q.” For instance, I could have sworn that there was or is a store that is devoted to Lee Harvey Oswald as an iconic figure. Not that far from Marilyn Monroe or Elvis. His presence becomes more important than who he was. The more literature out on Oswald, the more obscure he gets, and eventually, he becomes a symbol that is empty.   Yet we know he is part of a landscape that caused either pain or awareness that things will never be the same again.

I was drinking a bottle of Chinese sake, which causes me to lose time and memory. Or even oddly enough, causes me to make my memory up. Therefore this Oswald store may not even exist. But why do I clearly remember the key chain being sold at this store that represented the foreign-made rifle as well as his image (the mug shot) after he got arrested for murdering the Dallas cop. There is something of a Huell Howser in me that likes to see Tokyo as a series of objects that somehow people contain these objects as livable space. It seems impossible, yet here I’m, slightly dazed and of course, confused.

Lotte Lenya of Berlin could easily be part of the Tokyo landscape, as well. Never have I ever been in a city where one can watch the daily life of going to work, being at work, and then going to Shinbashi, before going home for dinner.  Having that quick drink of beer or sake, as you gather dutch courage to make it back and knowing you will be facing the exact actions the very next day.  Ms. Lenya (Weill) had the power to convey the struggles of the mice against the machine that is society. “Metropolis” has many forms and disguises, and I see it here in Shinbashi, as I can still smell the tension of the new high-rises fighting against the low-life, and culinary level of the eating places that serve the white-collar worker. I always inspired to be the A. J. Liebling of Tokyo where “I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write faster than anybody who can write better.” To document time as it passes by me, in such a violent manner, is truly being alive at the very moment of realizing that this is it.

My only refined moment is to attach my earphones to my ears and listen to the sarcastic voice of Catherine Ringer, and I wander the streets of Shinbashi. I’ll never go back to that Chinese restaurant in a vacant parking lot, nor be able to find the Lee Harvey Oswald store, that again, could have been part of my imagination - as well as the Chinese restaurant. All I know is that I can express myself in a world that may not exist.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Tosh's Journal - October 17 (Montgomery Clift, Nathanael West, & Miss Lo...


October 17

I’m drinking coffee here at the Meguro headquarters and reading the letters sent to Miss Lonelyhearts. Since I’m über-broke at the moment (and more likely for the rest of my life), I have been writing for The Japan Times, and they recently gave me the job of writing the Miss Lonelyhearts column. The column runs every Tuesday, so the work is not all that demanding, but I must go through 100 letters or more per week, and it kills my creative fun reading time. On the other hand, the letters are entertaining as well as a touch creepy from time-to-time. All the correspondence is from throughout Japan.  All, if not most, are written by foreigners, which are no surprise since the paper is orientated to the English language. I didn’t realize how many people are lonely here in Japan, and most of it is due that they don’t know the language or culture here. Me I just a visitor myself… so how in the hell can I give these people advice? For example:

Miss Lonelyhearts,

“I have been living in the Kyoto area for about ten years, and I have been teaching English for six out of those ten years. The problem is I have a big crush on my boss, who is Japanese, and really can’t speak English. I can only speak English, and I’m having a hard time conveying my need for attention from him. I suspect he’s married. I know he likes whiskey and water - and that is about him. Am I wrong to feel something special for my boss? Elizabeth"

“Dear Elizabeth,

At the end of the day, all we know is that the sun goes up and the sun comes down, around dusk. Beyond that, what do we know? I hope my answer helps you.” Best, Miss Lonelyhearts

“Miss Lonelyhearts,

I feel terrible. I’m 45 years old, have a young son, and a wife. We moved here from Billings, Montana, so that I can work in the computer field in Hakata. For the past month, I have been having an affair with a co-worker who works under me. She is much younger, fun, and I enjoy being here with her. The thing is I don’t love her; I just like having sex with her. The terrible situation is that I have lately been short on money, and I find myself time-to-time going through my wife’s purse for extra cash here-and-there for my dates with the co-worker. I know this is wrong. I often feel guilty, but this somewhat makes the sex better with my co-worker - at least on my part. I don’t think I should feel this way, yet, damn the torpedoes! I am going to hell. Can you give me some sane advice? I know this is WRONG. Best, Burt from Hakata”

“Dear Burt,

Pain is a four-letter word. We all have felt the pain, yet pain is hard to overcome. Yet, surely, as the wave hits the beach, we must go on. I hope that this answer helps you. Best, Miss Lonelyhearts"

I have consistently been told that I have a comforting presence, especially with girls who are going through terrible breakups with either their husbands or boyfriends. I appear to be there when some sort of disturbance happens. More like instinct is at work than planning out my life to fulfill someone’s misery. But writing letters to people, I don’t know, or even know if these problems are real or just a projection of what they need or want in life… I think the big question is, “what is life?” And I do ask that to myself all the time. The answer, to be frank, is that I don’t care. I don’t care about the people who write to me. Nor do I care about my friends who are going through difficulties. All I know is that I have to look like I care, and therefore I do care, but I know, deep down, that I don’t care.

I hate myself for not caring. I think to be human to be concerned about your fellow suffers. Yet, when the moment arrives, I know how to act like I’m caring. When you get down to it, I don’t know myself that well, and therefore you shouldn’t either.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Tosh's Journal: October 15 (Kato, Michel Foucault, S.S. Van Dine, & P.G....


October 15

“The Voice of love seemed to call me, but it was the wrong number.” That seems to happen a lot in my life, and yet, I tend to keep moving on. Although I have been financially strapped for a while now, I still keep a man-servant with me. I had to sell off my rare vinyl and books, but I think I made the right choice. A butler is a sort of combination of spiritual advisor as well as taking care of one’s schedule and clothing. In a way, it is like an I-Phone, but I prefer the human touch to the mechanical one. Kato was born in Kobe, and eventually ended up in Los Angeles as a student of the English language and to study the fine art of Judo. When he was thrown out of language school, due to an overnight game of Go, where some say he swindled various participants of their parent’s pension money.

Nevertheless, I hired him as a butler, and he moved in with me in my single room apartment at the time off Melrose Avenue. Over time I got married, and people come and go in my life, but my butler remained with me thick and thin. And due to his cooking, the thin part is losing out to a considerable amount of fat. Even though I’m suffering from the physical point, I’m gaining in a peace-of-mind that is opening doors left and right for me. Of course, eventually those doors shut tight as soon as I leave the exit, but I go through life as an experience, and not as a result.

I began to write a detective novel that is based on my life. Not the case itself, God no, I never even seen a dead body before, but the fictional detective is based on my character. I’m not one of those writers that can write third person, only first-person narratives. Even when I dream, it is me watching the dream unfolding in front of my eyes. I’m in the audience, and oddly enough, the figures in my dream narratives are not based on people I know. They are usually an archetype of a specific type of person — usually the slut, the loser, and so forth. But when I awake, I can’t write the narrative as a nameless observer. I need to be in the story as well, and it has to be told from my point-of-view. Therefore my character is a foppish dandy and one who is part of society that is slowly decaying. As people who know me, decay is very much a process in life that I find fascinating. Kato always supplies me with clothing that is slightly worn or torn even. Maybe the collar is even moderately stained. It’s imperative to show life as it moves from one plane to another - and a detective murder narrative is very much part of that world. For instance, I come upon a room where there is a lifeless body, and my detective character comments and to quote from my book “The Canary Murder Case”: “Why the haste, old dear?” I asked yawning. “The chap’s dead, don’t y’ know; he can’t possibly run away.”

When you have a man-servant, one takes a stand in life that says I’m going to drink that cup of life and not find a dead beetle at the bottom. The ability to transform oneself into something hopefully better is one of the great things regarding to be alive in such a horror show of a world. “I don’t feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning.” And there lie the great adventures that come upon us.  As we slip into a world that looks like the outside. It is an inner landscape that Kato and I dwell in. I once asked Kato if “trousers matter?” He told me that “the mood will pass, sir.” - Tosh Berman

Book Musik: "Year of the Monkey" by Patti Smith

Tosh and Kimley discuss Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith. As a punk rock icon, she rocked our impressionable teenage souls and now she’s taking us on a dreamy literary excursion with her latest memoir. Patti Smith may be best known for her groundbreaking albums “Horses” and “Easter,” but we find that her latest writing takes her to an even higher plane. She shares the ups and downs, both personal and global, of the year 2016 – the Year of the Monkey.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Tosh's Journal - October 14 (Pooh the Bear, Cliff Richard & The Shadows,...


October 14
“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” I followed that advice to a “T” and it left me miserable and quite alone. But alone is perfectly OK, because I can’t stand the mindless chatter of my fellow citizens, even if it is to go from point A to Z, there is too much noise that goes with it. To find that one piece of silence and to be able to groove with it, ah, that’s amore! Even poetry is way too loud for me. I recently picked up a book of collected poems by e.e. Cummings, and man is he unnecessary loud or what? “Yours is the light by which my spirit’s born: - you are my sun, my moon, and all my stars.” Total shite. When you compare it to Dean Martin’s song and to quote:

“When the moon hits your eye

Like a big pizza pie, that’s amore

When the world seems to shine

Like you’ve had too much wine, that’s amore.”

The above song is blaring, but it also fits perfectly as a form or stanza. The e.e. cummings poem is also a lie. I don’t believe him when he writes such sentiment - even he was a life long Republican who supported Joseph McCarthy, so fuck him anyway. On the other hand, the Dino song perfectly reflects a realistic approach to life, that doesn’t make moral demands on one’s ability to love or not to love.

Even that, I need to secure myself from the brutality that lies in front of me. Life, to me, is a series of elimination. There is such a thing in having too much. When you have it all, you forget where you’re standing, and therefore space becomes more important than the clutter that surrounds you. As a child, my mother read me “The House of Pooh Corner,” and there is a segment that explains everything important in my life. To quote”

“...” But what I like doing best is Nothing.” “How do you do Nothing?” asked Pooh, after he had wondered for a long time. “Well, it’s when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it, What are you going to do Christopher Robin, and you say, Oh, nothing, and you go and do it.” “Oh, I see,” said Pooh. “This is a nothing sort of thing that we’re doing right now.” “Oh, I see,” said Pooh again. “It means just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear and not bothering.” “Oh!” said Pooh.”

Now that’s amore! La Monte Young had a conceptual piece that was equally important to me. He recommended to draw a straight line and follow it. That, and his composition “The Well-Tuned Piano,” which in a typical performance can last five to six hours - is just heaven to me. There is no beginning, and no end, just an existence where you float upon what’s inside your head, and only the beat of your heart is the only rhythm one needs.

For the past ten or so years, I have been listening to Cliff and The Shadows, trying to bring myself closer to a culture that I understood being essential to one’s mindset. I even danced in front of the mirror, imitating the choreography of that band’s intimate and quite beautiful dancing, but even that, I was hearing someone else’s noise, and I needed to live and reflect on my “noise” than someone else’s. Therefore the dream that is in front of me is one of my own makings, and with that knowledge, I jump in with both feet and not a thought in my head. - Tosh Berman