Sunday, July 21, 2019

Rebekah & Matthew

Rebekah's press, Penny-Ante Editions is a vital publishing house, located in Los Angeles. She not only published my book of poems, but also works by Stewart Home, Masha Tupitsyn, Momus, Jarett Kobek, John Tottenham, Beau Rice, and Lynne Tillman. Beyond that, she married a brilliant fellow Matthew who is a lot of fun to hang out with. Matthew did an amazing piece on me for Dangerous Minds. They are expecting a baby in August, but as cruel life can be, Matthew was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer. They both need financial support. I can't begin to tell you how important these two people are in my life. If you ever purchased a book published by Penny-Ante Editions or enjoyed the writings of above, it will be helpful if you can send what you can to this fantastic couple. Please do so in the link below. - Tosh Berman

Friday, July 19, 2019

A Review of TOSH from Hunter Drohojowska-Philp on KCRW

We listen to recorded books and audio newspapers. We read on our laptops and phones. Reading words on paper would seem to belong to the antiquated 20th century.

That is not the position of dozens of small presses who publish novels, poetry and non-fiction, many of them right here on the West Coast. And this weekend they are gathered at the first Little Literary Festival being held at Hauser & Wirth, an art gallery downtown but also a publisher which is co-hosting with the L.A Review of Books.

It is an opportunity to meet authors such as Tosh Berman, who will be signing his delightful memoir, Tosh, growing up in Wallace Berman’s world on Saturday. It is one of the few memoirs to make me laugh out loud at some parts and gasp with shock at others.

Son of artist Wallace Berman, Tosh knew of an LA that we can only envy. Not just the poets, artists and musicians of the post- war era but with all the other characters who ran outside the confines of convention. (Tosh’s paternal grandfather ran a Staten Island candy store that seems to have served as a front for a speak-easy. Tosh remembers his maternal grandmother working as a butcher at Hollywood Ranch market after her earlier years with a traveling circus.)

As an attention getting adolescent, Wallace Berman dressed in zoot suits and hung around the jazz clubs of Central Avenue. He drove around L.A. in a convertible with his cat wrapped around his neck. He was an award winning swing dancer but also a hustler, making money by dealing pot or playing craps. After being expelled from Fairfax High, discharged from the Navy, and even tossed out of Chouinard Art Institute, he was 100 percent committed to the Beat ethos of jazz, art and personal freedom. Despite all that, he married artist’s model Shirley and had Tosh, who was raised in a home dizzyingly, at time distressingly free of restrictions.

Berman is known for the combination of words, symbols and photographs in hand-printed magazines called Semina and verifax collages made with an early version of a copier.

Championed by curator Walter Hopps, he had but one gallery show, at Ferus in 1957. It was shut down by the police for including an erotic drawing and Berman went to jail. The trauma led him to move to San Francisco and then Larkspur for a few years before returning to L.A.

Wallace Berman had an almost shaman-like impact on people. Private to the point of paranoia, he avoided interviews or having his own photograph taken, though he repeatedly photographed his wife and son. In 1976, he was killed in a car crash with a drunk driver in Topanga on his 50th birthday.

Despite a substantial resurgence of interest in his art — there is a small show now of his collages at Kohn Gallery, there has never been much sense of what he was like as a person. His son, of course, had the ultimate insider’s perspective and the result is this joyous book.

Refreshingly for a Me-Moir, Berman does not veer from the unpleasant moments but he neither does he wallow in them. He credits his mother Shirley, only 19 when she married to Wallace, who was 28, with holding a number of full-time, low-level jobs to support her husband, the “artistic genius.” This meant living in modest conditions, a tiny house off Beverly Glen, which Wallace’s mother had received as an additional gift for subscribing to a magazine! She finally deeded it to Shirley because Wallace refused to sign anything with his name on it.

When living on a houseboat in Larkspur, while Shirley commuted daily for work in San Francisco, Tosh was raised by Wallace. When Tosh had to repeat his first year in school, kindergarten, it was shrugged off by his father, who thought all aspects of school were a waste of time.

In Northern or Southern California, Tosh was an only child who grew up with his parents friends so he was treated as an adult.

His father took his very young son to see the film And God Created Woman starring Bridget Bardot, who he still adores, leading to one of Tosh’s great lines: “It seems childhood never leaves. It just continues with facial hair and erections.” He hung out with his father at City Lights before he could read and was given first editions of the Wizard of Oz by poet Robert Duncan and Jess. Surrounded by books, Tosh educated himself by reading and has long had his own publishing imprint, Tam Tam books.

So, not a conventional upbringing but he was featured as “Boy” in Andy Warhol’s first film Tarzan and Jane Regained… Sort Of in 1964 at their house off Beverly Glen. Regulars who came from the world of film to hang with Wallace were Dennis Hopper, Toni Basil, Dean Stockwell and Russ Tamblyn, whose poet/actor daughter Amber wrote the introduction to this book.

And then, there is the mudslide of 1965, which destroys their house and much of what is in it. But Stockwell buys them another in Topanga! Neil Young soon rules the Topanga scene and the Bermans are a big part of it.

All of this time, Tosh yearns for a world outside the small, hermetic and pot-infused realm of Topanga, a wish that comes true when the family go to London, staying in the flat of art dealer Robert Fraser, who happens to be in jail due to infamous Rolling Stones drug bust. It was Fraser who had included the faces of L.A. artists like Wallace and Larry Bell on the cover of the Beatles, Sergeant Peppers album. It is the verbal, stylish London that sparks Tosh’s enthusiasm and subsequent lifelong interest in style, rock music and words.

Yet, it is his off-beat, funny accounts of growing up Berman that makes the book such a pleasure. It is like a mosaic of fragments coming together to offer a view of a lost world.

Fittingly published by City Lights, Berman will be signing copies of his memoir this Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Little Literary Festival, which is held July 20 and 21 from 11 a.m to 6 p.m. 

Tosh Review on Art Talk KCRW

Tosh Berman for a Book Signing of "TOSH: Growing Up in Wallace Berman's World" July 20th

It's no secret that one of my favorite locations on this planet is the Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles. So, I'm thrilled that Artbook invited me to be at their booth on Saturday, July 20th from 4PM to 5PM to sign my memoir TOSH Growing Up in Wallace Berman's World (City Lights). Also, I'm going to be there to enjoy the rest of the LITLIT: Little Literary Fair, as well as the galleries, the food, and you. - Tosh Berman

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Write Good Reads review for TOSH



Thursday, July 11, 2019

Tosh & Kimley discuss their favorite lyric collections. Including collections by Sparks, Cole Porter, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Kate Bush, Ira Gershwin, Scott Walker, Jarvis Cocker and more…
Theme music: “Behind Our Efforts, Let There Be Found Our Efforts” by LG17

Book Musik 003 - Lyric Collections by Book Musik

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Wallace Berman Exhibition at the Kohn Gallery this Summer 2019

This Summer, The Kohn Gallery has a small exhibition of Wallace Berman's artwork up for the viewer's pleasure. And ironically enough, one can also purchase my book TOSH at the gallery as well. Do go!

Monday, July 8, 2019


My dear friend Kimley Maretzo and I started a new podcast series where we just focus on books on & about music. Including musician memoirs, biographies, history and so forth. Our first podcast is on Lou Reed. Do listen, and hopefully, it will be an enjoyable experience for you the listener. - Tosh Berman

Friday, July 5, 2019

Tosh Berman Signs "TOSH: Growing Up in Wallace Berman's World" Saturday, July 20th, 2019 at 4PM

Saturday, July 20th at 4 PM, Artbook at Hauser & Wirth Bookstore and City Lights Books invite you to join Tosh Berman for a special book signing of 'TOSH: Growing Up in Wallace Berman's World". The signing will take place during LITLIT: Little Literary Fair in the courtyard of Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles.

'TOSH' is a memoir of growing up as the son of an enigmatic, much-admired, hermetic, and ruthlessly bohemian artist during the waning years of the Beat Generation and the heyday of hippie counterculture. A critical figure in the history of postwar American culture, Tosh Berman's father, Wallace Berman, was known as the "father of assemblage art," and was the creator of the legendary mail-art publication Semina. Wallace Berman and his wife, famed beauty and artist's muse Shirley Berman, raised Tosh between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and their home life was a heady atmosphere of art, music, and literature, with local and international luminaries regularly passing through.

Signed copies of 'TOSH" are available to pre-order with free domestic shipping! Email us: